September 2013


One of the guys working on the house gives us fresh milk from time to time. We’ve been meaning to make butter from it for a while. I had a spare 15mins this morning so gave it a go:

 

If we ever want to live on our own food all year through we have to learn how to preserve what we have an abundance of in the summer. There are plenty of ways to do this, stick it in the freezer would be the obvious one, but we want to avoid a mains hook up on our house in the future, so we need something a little less energy hungry.

I started with two easy ways: Making Alcohol & Jarring.

I had quite a few tomatoes that were beginning to turn, and which were a a little blighted, so I cooked them all up and jarred them. It’s easy to do, a bit of outlay on jars the first time, unless you managed to collect your old jam jars (which I did but now don’t know what happened to them), but it pays in the end. So just make the sauce the way you like it and then completely fill jars that have been in the oven at 150c for 15mins or so. This is easier said than done, and it was a a good thing I didn’t video it, I may have had a few choice words for the jars as I burnt my fingers. But all worked out well in the end, although we’ll have to see what the contents is like in a few months.

Next is something I’m very interested in learning about. One of my little pleasures is a beer or drop of wine in the evenings after a hard days work. Ensuring I can make my own is very important for my survival. We have a few old elderberry trees about so I thought I would give some elderberry wine a try as my first attempt. This is my method so far:

  1. Pick 3lb of elderberries, make sure they are nice and black.
  2. Boil up 8 pints of water.
  3. Mix some wine yeast with a bit of warm water and leave for 25mins whilst doing the other bits.
  4. Meanwhile pick of the berries into a bucket and mash up with your hands.
  5. Pour half the boiling water into the mashed up berries. Allow to cool.
  6. Pour other half into another container with 3lb of sugar.
  7. Pour berry mixture into the sugar water container through cloth.
  8. Add teaspoon of citric acid and the yeast.
  9. Pour into demijohn and seal with bung & airlock.

My only real problem was that I didn’t have a big enough bung for the demijohn and didn’t have an airlock. Solved the 1st problem temporarily with some electric tape wrapped around the smaller bung (suggested to me by the guy down the hardware shop in the village). Next day got an airlock and bigger bung, it is now bubbling away nicely. I also wasn’t quite sure how much yeast to put in. My packet said enough for between 10-35 Litres. I had 5L, so put half the packet in, we’ll see.

I have to research the next steps but I know I have to wait for the fermentation to stop first, I also know I wont be able to taste it and find out what I did wrong for 8 months or so. My next project is cider, I don’t think you have to wait as long to drink this.

I thought it would be interesting to have a look at what we harvest, when we harvest it and how much of it we get. I struggled a bit to find the best way to display it, this is what I ended up with. All numbers are weights in Kilos.

Some highlights are 29kg of cucumbers, which is a large increase from our last attempt in Cornwall of 130g, and tomatoes, so far at 14.8kg with some more still to harvest in the tunnel and outside. I’m also interested to see what our potato total will be, due to dig them all up next week. We have 21kg from our 1st row, with another 10 rows to harvest.

From June to end of August  we have harvested 117kg of veg from a cultivated area of 330 m2.

 

Harvest 2013_2

 

I’ll add an updated graph each month as I get the info, and start summarising the different veg to try and clearly show how much we sowed and how much we harvested (any suggestions on how to do this welcomed!).

 

I was given this toy from a friend of mine before leaving England. I finally got a chance to put it to the test when I cam up against some logs that were a bit too wide for my chainsaw.