This year has been a big experiment in new canning recipes, and foods. In doing that, my wife especially has been learning a lot as she has stretched beyond some of the basic recipes we’ve used in previous years.
Well, over on her own blog, my wife made a comment about something she’s learned this year. Go check out what she’s learned on the difference between liquid and powdered pectin.
And boy has she been using that a lot this year. I’ve been grabbing pictures to post up here, hopefully I can get to it soon.
Harvest season is upon us here in Utah, so I’ve been pretty busy preserving the harvest. This year I grew pepper plants from seed and have LOTS of peppers in my garden. Some are hot and some are mild. This is a good thing if you like peppers a lot, but I do not. Thankfully my husband does, but even a pepper lover like him can only eat so many peppers. So what do we do with all those peppers? We eat a few, put a few in salsa, and save the rest for later by dehydrating them.
I have been searching for the best way to store zucchini and have found the answer: in bread. Instead of trying to freeze the zucchini itself, make it into bread first and freeze the loaves.
Other options that I am trying are freezing the shredded zucchini pre-measured in individual bags and as bread dough, pre-measured in individual, disposable baking tins. Freezing the shredded zucchini allows for convenience as you only have to thaw exactly what you need and it’s already measured for the recipe. The frozen dough is even more convenient as it only requires baking, saving you time and a messy kitchen. The most convenient option of course is pre-baked loaves though as they come out of the freezer ready to eat. I’m going to do some comparisons through the winter to see how much of a difference in taste and texture there is between bread baked from frozen dough and the pre-baked frozen loaves. If it turns out that the frozen loaves are just as good as freshly baked bread, then I will stick with that. It’s much easier and saves a lot of electricity to have a baking day where you cook it all at once. Continue reading “Store zucchini in bread”
When starting a flint and steel or striker type of fire, char cloth makes all the difference in being able to actually get the fire started or just making a bunch of sparks that never catch anything on fire. Char cloth (sometimes also called charred cloth) is one of those amazing mountain man items that is still very useful today. Char cloth is pieces of blackened fabric that easily catch a spark and burn similarly to the way steel wool burns–no big flame, but a nice ember burn that doesn’t blow out once it’s lit. The spark lights the char cloth and the char cloth is used to light the other tinder. I’ve been wanting to add char cloth to my fire kits and having used all my char cloth made by others, I decided to make a batch of my own.
I had some basic directions to go off of, but had never made it myself, so here’s how the first round went. I got some 100% cotton fabric–I used jersey fabric (an old T shirt) and cut it into approximately 2″ squares. Mine was kind of a natural color, but you could probably use any color you have, just avoid screen-printed designs, etc. I cut the ribbing off from the neck and sleeve ends as well as the seams. You just want the fabric.
Next, I got a metal can–I used an old cookie tin. I punched a vent hole in the can lid with a hammer and nail. You can use whatever metal can you have–I’ve seen it done with smaller tins as well as cleaned out food cans with foil for a lid.
I put the cut up fabric squares in the tin, put the lid on, and put the can on my grill on low and let it cook. You definitely want to do this outside–burning fabric doesn’t smell all that good. My instructions said to cook it until it stopped smoking. I had the tin fairly full, and cooked it close to 3 hours before I decided to turn it off. It never smoked a lot. When it cooled, I opened the can and only the bottom 3-4 layers were black, the rest of the fabric was brown.
I turned the pile over and put it back on the grill on Medium this time and cooked it another close to 3 hours. This time it was all black when it was finished. However, it didn’t catch a spark very well. I could light it with a flame, or an occasional large spark, but it was very frustrating to work with. Nothing like the char cloth I’d had before that a friend of ours made from terry cloth (old towel).
So I put it back on the grill again, this time I only filled the can about 1/3 full and cooked it on high another 3 hours or so. Now it was a little more fragile and easy to tear (as char cloth generally is), but it still didn’t catch spark well. I had no more ideas to make it better, so I decided to start over.
The second and far better batch of char cloth I made started with 100% cotton monk’s cloth I got at Walmart. Notice the loose weave and air holes. Those made a huge difference. I cut it a little smaller this time–about 1 1/2 inch square as 2″ was a little larger than necessary. There is some shrinkage as it cooks, but not that much. I wanted to see if it would work straight from the store without washing the fabric first, so I only cut 5 squares of it.
I put it in a smaller tin which also got the hammer/nail air vent in the lid.
Feeling like I’d spent enough of my grill gas on this project, I opted to do this round real mountain man style and build a fire and toss the tin in the fire. I pretty well buried it–it’s in there somewhere.
It did not cook long in the fire–maybe 15 minutes (of course it was in a smaller tin than the first round, but I’m guessing even a large tin wouldn’t take 9 hours in the fire). I couldn’t tell when it stopped smoking since it was in a fire with all the rest of the smoke, so I just guessed at when to pull it out. It wouldn’t matter if it stayed in there until the fire burned out as long as no sparks got in the airhole and caught all the fabric on fire in the meantime.
I fished it out, let it cool, and opened it to nicely blackened monk’s cloth.
This second round of char cloth lights up with minimal spark from a firestarter or flint/steel. It is more fragile than the jersey char cloth, but works much better. I’ll have to post on flint/steel firestarting another time :)
So, to recap, to make better char cloth, start with a 100% cotton fabric with texture and a fairly loose weave. Use a fire pit if you can to save on gas. Cooking on higher heat and cooking a smaller batch help speed up cooking time. Happy firestarting!
FAILURE WARNING: After two weeks two barrels started to collapse due to insufficient support. I plan to add a 2×6 or 2×8 across the middle to increase the surface area supporting the barrels. I was anxious to share this project and should have waited longer to see if my concerns about too little support were legitimate. I will re-post this article once I have a proven design.
I will I stumbled across this DIY project recently for storing 55 gal. water barrels horizontally. The biggest drawback of standard upright water barrels is getting the water out when needed. This generally involves either a siphon or a hand pump. Storing the barrels horizontally and adding a spigot to one of the caps makes using the barrels much more convenient. You’ll also be more likely to exchange the water every six months since it will be easier to do.
One of the most significant weaknesses in my gardening has been storing my harvest. Gardens aren’t just about fresh produce. People used to live off them year round. With so many people struggling to make ends meet or struggling to establish adequate food storage, I am surprised there are so few gardens. This year I have committed to educating myself on effective storage techniques and significantly adding to the variety and quality of my food storage with the fruits of my garden.
There are many ways to preserve and store food including canning, smoking, bottling, drying, and freezing. Each has it’s own advantages and weaknesses and varies in effectiveness depending on the food. For example, I could eat canned green beans with meatloaf every night of the week but would rather eat dirt than canned peas. Of course, if it really came down to it, I would likely choose to supplement the dirt with the canned peas to avoid death. Thus, I would recommend having a variety of food stored in several different methods.
This year I was going to plant “garbage can potatoes”. If you haven’t heard of this method it goes like this: plant potatoes in a garbage can, add 8 inches of dirt and when the plant grows out of the dirt and is 8 inches tall, add another 8 inches of soil and so on. This method is supposed to yield about 50 pounds of potatoes in the garbage can. An alternate method is to use old tires, a bucket, or a large trench that you continually add soil to.
Pandemic Preparedness is one of the simpler types of prepping – mostly because it relies heavily on you already being prepped with other things like food storage, water storage, etc. A major component of Pandemic Prepping is preparation for quarantine. Sanitation is a major part of Pandemic and quarantine preparedness. While sanitzation is always important, during quarantine, sanitization will be extremely important in order to keep everyone healthy. In this post we’re going to talk about killing germs and how to do it safely with household products.
Taught by Debbie Kent who is a preparedness/food storage specialist in her stake in California. Debbie has taught numerous classes on every aspect of preparedness and has consented to share the latest up to date methods and ideas on how we can each secure what we need for the future.
Tuesday April 7th at 7:00 p.m.
Spanish Fork South Stake House
1240 South 1158 East
Spanish Fork, UT
Here is the PDF handout for the class. [download id=”4″]
My name is Bryan. I am one of the 3 B’s. The three B’s are as follows: Bryan, Brian, and then there’s the other Bryan. I tell you that so you don’t get us confused. We are all beekeepers. If you were to tell any one of us a few years ago that we would be beekeepers, we all would have told you that you were stone cold crazy! Yet here we all are keeping honeybees…..and loving it!!! So…what happened? Continue reading “To Bee or not to Bee?”