Monday, 25 August 2014

Ginger Beer Plant

I bought some ginger beer plant culture a few weeks ago via the internet. I love the idea of cultured and fermented foods and this one was another to play with.

The beer plant came dehydrated for ease of transport and I let it settle in sugared watered overnight to activate again.

I played around with a few recipes and I have settled on my favourite; ginger & lime !

To make 2 litres:

250 g sugar
Juice of three limes
7 cm of ginger
Tablespoon of ginger beer plant culture

Strain the juice of the limes into a large glass jar and add the ginger, grated in a muslin or finely sliced loose.
Add the sugar and then some boiling water, and allow to sit for 10 mins, stirring occasionally.
Make up the balance with cool water.
Add the ginger beer culture.
Cover the jar with a cloth and elastic band to keep out flies.
Leave it to ferment for 3-5 days.

Pour it into clean bottles and add a half teaspoon of sugar to each bottle to allow for a second ferment. This will produce the fizz. Make sure your bottles are of a good standard and will be able to handle the pressure as it builds. After 2-3 days store them in the fridge. This slows down the fermentation process.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The new piglets

We counted ten cute piglets this morning!
Sally sow is very proud of her new family and was smiling and grunting happily this morning when we came to visit. 
I give her a few biscuits as a treat and a good scratch.
I think she will be a very good mum, and the piglets are so cute! 
Spotty ones, white ones and two brown striped little piggies :-) 

Piglets coming soon :-)

Sally sow has been growing very big these last few weeks. Her udder started to show about three weeks ago and milk  started to leak today. 
This was noticed by the amount of flies around her. We cleaned out her accommodation and put in fresh bedding. She is delighted and settling in now. 
I suspect that she is currently in labour. She is very restless and noisy at the moment although she normally takes a nap after dinner. She enjoyed a good scratch from us while trying to rest between grunts and position changes.

We will be checking in on her regularly and hopefully by morning she will have a healthy litter of piglets.
Exciting !!! :-)

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Update on mating nuc experiment

The mating nuc was not as successful as I had hoped, but it was a good learning experience!

The bees ate through the sealant to access all four chambers which left me with one lovely queen that was laying well until I accidentally killed her!
The photo above is of the workers trying to revive/groom her. I found her on the floor of the nuc, I assumed that I crushed her as I removed the frames. This is the first time that I have killed a queen, I felt like a guilty queen killer :-(
I took her out of the hive and placed her on the roof of another hive. A strong wind lost her!
I had planned to store her in alcohol, If I can remember this is an effective swarm lure. 

I had ordered three six frame poly nucs. I spilt the mating nuc into two (instead of four) and moved them into two of the poly nucs. This was made up of four frames with stores and eggs from the queen I had killed, with two additional frames for the bees to fill with stores. 

A week later, I checked them very carefully and they both had multiple capped queen cells. 
The poly nucs are very handy as there is a built in feeder and a clear screen to view the bees without upsetting them. I gave them both a block of fondant. I don't plan to do anything with these two nucs until next spring other than feed them. I'm sure they will sort themselves out regarding a queen.

I used the third poly nuc to house a weak colony that I had used for spilts earlier in the year. I'm hoping the better insulation will allow the workers to start foraging earlier instead of heating brood. I really want this hive to build up for winter as I love their queen. A lovely native dark queen, that produces docile and vigorous bees. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Fluffy & Light Fruit Scones

I'm Back!! After a bit of a break from blog land. 

I baked some yummy scones this morning for friends that are visiting later today. My sister loves this recipe and says it makes the best light fluffy scones ever. I'm not so into scones but I do bake them regularly for her.

To make six large scones:

300 g self raising flour
3 tablespoons of sugar
Half cup of raisins soaked in hot tea
pinch of salt
3 eggs
butter/ milk to mix ( use butter if using shop bought milk or just milk if using heavy jersey milk)

Mix the ingredients together until it looks like the above photo. The raisins should be strained first. It should be fairly wet.
Dust the work surface with flour and gently shape the dough without working it too hard.
I used a cup to cut out the scones.
Place the scones onto a flour dusted oven try.
Glaze with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Place in the oven for 20 mins at 200 degree.

Enjoy with a cup of tea xxx