Friday, 20 December 2013

Dec Update

With only a few days left for Christmas, everything is settling down here at the cottage.
The boys have finished their last day of school for this year. The recent storms have kept us all indoors and thankful for comforts such as open fires.
There is a daily countdown to Santa as the kids eagerly await his arrival. 
We will spend Christmas away from the cottage in the homes of extended family.

I have been experimenting with several fermented foods/drinks; water kefir, milk kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut. 
When I get the hang of them, I will write some posts in the new year. 

I made up a large batch of fed for the bees yesterday. I poured them into old take away container and I shall place them upside down over the crown broad.
I am restocking their food supplies every month at the moment.
As the temperature are still quite high, the bees are still flying and taking feed when they can.

I bought a competition horse last week. We are keeping him at a nearby stables that has a indoor arena over the winter. The plan is to show jump him next spring at SJI events.
I gave up horses after having our third child and it is nice to get back into it again. The children are enjoying helping looking after him and we are considering getting them a small pony this summer. 

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Greek Yogurt

We eat a lot of yogurt in our house, especially the nice thick Greek yogurt. As it is very expensive to buy and difficult to find Greek yogurt, not Greek style yogurt, I have started making our own.

A batch of freshly cultured yogurt staying warm in the slow cooker using the 'warm' setting.

It is very similar to making regular yogurt but with the added task of straining the yogurt to drain off the whey, producing a rich, thick yogurt and without the tart taste of regular yogurt caused by the whey.

Find the post on making homemade yogurt here.

Once the yogurt is ready, strain it for 4-8 hrs depending on how thick you like your yogurt.

The whey can be used to start off many fermented foods such as sauerkraut or used when baking bread or to feed chickens and pigs.

Once you are happy that it is thick enough, scope into jars and place in the fridge. It should keep for a minimum of a week.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Making Sauerkraut

We have plenty of veg still growing in the garden and I need to be more disciplined about making use of it all.
I am considering reducing the size of our veg garden for next spring, which might mean less work but greater efficiency with the space.

We currently have a great deal of onions in storage that need using. They are strong and I find that I avoid them due to the crying they invoke. 
We have lots of cabbages that need to be used and beetroot and turnip that are coming ready in mass numbers. Little may be more when it come to our veg garden!
It is hard to get around to everything and I hate to see waste, although the pigs enjoy the wheelbarrows coming!

I decided this week to try sauerkraut, to use up some cabbages and in the pursuit of healthy fermented veg to help my family's gut flora.
I got out my bible of health - Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions, and looked up the sauerkraut recipe on page 92.


1 cabbage
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1 tbsp sea salt
4 tbsp whey

I washed the cabbage and shredded it into a bowl. 
I added the salt, whey from yogurt but omitted the caraway seed as I didn't have them.
I used my hand to massage the cabbage mixture together and help release the juices.
I placed an over turned bowl on top and left it in the warm kitchen to start to ferment.
The recipe says to leave it like this for three days and then place in the fridge for use.

Fingers crossed!

I later packed the sauerkraut into a kilner jar and topped it up with whey, as I had it spare from straining yogurt to make Greek yogurt. 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Salami Update

It has been eight weeks since we made the salami. At five weeks cured I tasted it and although it had a light salami taste, it was followed by a bitter after taste. I was disappointed!

I had more salami today and it was wonderful. It has cured for eight weeks now. The after taste is completely gone and it tastes like a mild salami that you would buy in a shop only richer and more substantial.
This has encouraged me to try stronger spices when we make another batch.

And the kids love it, they have eaten about half of the cured sausages so far.
I intend to hide a few from them and taste test them at different ages so as to learn for next time the ideal curing time.