Posts Tagged ‘homemade’

Homemade Soy Sauce – Project underway

I found some instructions online for making sun-brewed soy sauce at home. So far I have:

  • Found 2 pounds of organic soybeans
  • Cooked them
  • Mashed the cooked beans together with flour – made a dough
  • Separated the dough into flat patties
  • Left the patties out in my computer room to purposefully grow mold
  • Set them out in the sun to let them finish drying out
I guess that after the soybean cakes dry out, I’m supposed to put them in a bucket, cover them with a brine solution, and then set the bucket out in the sun for a couple months.
I’ll update on the progress from time to time.

Picture unrelated. Just wanted you to know that I'm not ALL work.

Homemade canned cat food

I made some homemade canned cat food today. Yummers!

As we ate the CSA chickens for the last few months I had been saving the hearts, livers and gizzards in the freezer. I was trying to build up the nerve to deep fry them and have them on Superbowl Sunday. I chickened out, pun intended.

Today we cooked our CSA turkey and it had VERY BIG guts! I decided it was time to do something with my large collection of internal organs.

My cat eats dry cat food 90% of the time, and that number would be even higher if he didn’t catch the occasional mouse in the yard. He’s already getting all the nutrition he needs, I just wanted to make him a tasty snack.

I defrosted all the livers, gizzards and hearts and boiled them until they were mostly done. I put all the “meat” through an antique cast iron meat grinder and then ran the last of it through with a couple pieces of wheat bread. I added about 35% rice to the mixture and then pressure canned it in cute little 4 ounce canning jars.


Kitty approves.

Home made cat food! Hooray!

Making Sauerkraut from scratch

I have begun making a 2010 batch of sauerkraut!  Full disclosure: my garden grew pitiful cabbage this year. The two larger ones shown below are (gasp) from the grocery store. I wasn’t able to find any cabbage at the farmer’s markets either, and Farmer L. didn’t have any. :sigh: All of the smallish looking cabbages in the second picture down came from my garden.

The hardest part of making sauerkraut from scratch is obtaining a large crock to put the food in to ferment. Have you priced what new ones sell for? The easiest part is the fermentation.

The most time-consuming part of the project is cutting up lots of cabbage into tiny shreds. The reward is a wonderful product that is ALIVE and good for you! Eating homemade sauerkraut (that has not been canned) aids in digestion by benefit of the beneficial bacteria Lactobacilli plantarum. Read more.

I did most of my slicing with this mandolin slicer, which saved me a lot of time, but there were still lots of end pieces that had to be cut by hand. I started with 12 1/2 pounds of cabbage and even with a helper the slicing took over an hour. Shred into 1/16th inch pieces.

This is the second year that I have used this awesome 4 gallon crock to make sauerkraut. My parents had this crock around when I was a kid, just sitting in the garage literally gathering dust for 30 years. I’m happy to put it to good use now. It ends up about 60% full with a 12 pound batch, which leaves enough head space for the weight and bubbling to safely happen without spilling anything.

I mixed 12 1/2 pounds of cabbage with a half cup of salt. Last year the salt was enough to draw out the water from the cabbage, but this year I had to add brine. I guess it depends on the variety of cabbage and how much rain the plants received.

At any rate, mix the shredded cabbage with the salt at a rate of 1 cup of salt per 25 pounds of cabbage, working in small batches so that all the cabbage gets an even amount of salt. Then pack it down tightly into the crock. Make sure that all the cabbage is covered with liquid. If your batch needs to have brine added, your recipe book will give you a recipe for the salt/water ratio.

The important thing is that the cabbage stay submerged in an anaerobic environment devoid of oxygen. I put a dinner plate and 3 filled quart jars on top to help hold it down. I actually filled the quart jars with salty water so that if they leak the sauerkraut will still be good!

Keep the kraut submerged, and cover the crock to keep dust and cats and such out of it. Every day, lift the towel and skim off any surface mold that has formed. You will know the veggies are fermenting because there will be bubbles coming up. The product will be finished fermenting when the bubbling quits. If it is rather cold in your house, the fermentation process could take 6 weeks, maybe even more. In my house it only took 2-3 weeks last year.

Fermented sauerkraut may be safely kept, unprocessed and alive, in the refrigerator or a very cold room for several months. This is a tangy taste treat that many of us have never experienced, and is much healthier than most store-bought kraut. People used to just move the crock to the root cellar and leave it there, scooping out a few servings when needed.

If you don’t have room for something like that, you can make the sauerkraut shelf-stable by canning it. It still tastes great, and you still know what went into your food. Follow the canning guidelines in your recipe book.

Shown above are 6 jars canned in 2009. This was delicious in our calzones. My mouth is watering and if you knew my history with sauerkraut you would be laughing at me right now. I used to refuse to be in the same room where someone was cooking or eating sauerkraut. Homemade is just so much better than canned product!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I have begun a months-long process attempting to make homemade vanilla extract.  The instructions make it sound fairly simple.

  1. Cut up a bunch of vanilla beans and put them in vodka for a long time.

The number of vanilla beans, the way you cut them, the length of time for steeping, and the amount of vodka are all up for debate based on all the recipes I found.  I combined the ingredients in two quart jars and put them in a paper sack in the top of my closet to keep it out of the light.  By some time this fall I should have a huge amount of vanilla extract.  I will need to source some (hopefully glass) amber/brown bottles (again to keep the extract out of the light) and then decant it into the smaller containers.

It will make a special gift I can give to a few friends, and I’ll have enough for home use for 2 years.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent: $6.00 for 100 loads

I made my own mix of dishwasher detergent last weekend after reading about it on quite a few web sites. We have been testing the mix on every load of dishes we have run (daily) since Saturday and are quite pleased with the results.

I bought a big box of Borax powder, a big box of Baking Soda, and a small box of Cascade powdered dish detergent.  I layered them together using ratios of approximately 25% Cascade, 40% Baking Soda and 40% Borax.  Yeah, that’s 105%, but I said approximately. I had an extra set of plastic dollar-store measuring spoons lying around in the aquarium stand, so I have dedicated a tablespoon to live in the container and meter out the mixture.

I completely filled a 4.5 quart tall tupperware-like container and did not completely empty the three ingredient boxes.  I could have made at least 5 quarts, maybe 5.5.  The cost of the ingredients was right at $6.00.  For that $6.00 I’ll get over 200 heaping tablespoons of my mixture, which will be enough to run the dishwasher 100 times.  6 cents per cycle.

But how does it do?  Honestly there is no difference from the more expensive options.

Why not leave out the Cascade and just use the other two ingredients?  Baby steps!  Maybe next time.  I was more comfortable with this as a first try at home-mixed product.

(Ok, technically this is a second step.  I’ve been using straight white vinegar in the “Jet Dry” reservoir for a couple months now and I love it!)

We made Applesauce!


At the Apple Farm

At the Apple Farm

We went to a local apple orchard last weekend and found a great apple peeler for a really decent price.  We also found their section of “Number 2” apples that had a speck or two of black or bruise on them…for half price!  We came home with 1/2 bushel each of Gala and Jonathan apples for the grand total of $12.50. Time to make applesauce!


S. concentrates as he turns the crank

S. concentrates as he turns the crank

The boys helped a little bit.  The peeler also runs the apples through a coring blade and rotates them through a spiral slicing blade.  The end result, in 20 seconds, is an apple ready to simply cut in half and throw into a cooking pot.


H. peels one too

H. peels one too

So, we peeled and canned a bushel of apples over the course of two days…probably 5 to 6 hours work.

After a stock pot was full of sliced, cored, peeled apples, I added a few cups of water (slightly less might have worked too, I had to cook some off) and boiled / steamed them with the lid on until they were mushy.

I smashed them down with our Pampered Chef mashing device tool thingy and then blended them to a chunky consistency with a handheld blender.  We still don’t have a food mill, but we wanted it chunky anyway…or so I was told.

At the end, we added a cup or two of sugar to taste, and cinnamon to some batches.

Home canned, homemade applesauce

Home canned, homemade applesauce

Somewhere around 25 pints resulted, plus a few pints we ate right away in the kitchen.  I processed the jars for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath and every one sealed.

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