Kombucha: The Elixir of Life

Kombucha seems to be trending… Which bugs me. I hate being involved in trends because I feel like it affects my individuality. Yet, I guess if it’s trending, maybe people will find this and read it and enjoy it. I will say this though, everyone seems to LOVE the taste. NOT SO MUCH here. My first experience with Kombucha tea was my mother in law (Superwoman) and my father in law toting it’s benefits and how they felt better when drinking it. You know, a lot of old timers swear by it though not Kom-buch-a… Kombuchie tea… Though not pronounced right, it’s still the same.

For me, I thought it tasted like pure vinegar! YIKES! Though I fully believe in benefits of raw apple cider vinegar, I don’t enjoy drinking it personally. I more or less treat it like a whiskey shot (Not a fan of whiskey either lol) and mix a little with lemon and honey and down the hatch! followed by orange juice to drown out my gag reflex 😉 BUT it definitely helps me when I have a cold or whatnot so I bear through it. Really isn’t a happy time to be a picky person in those moments. You should see the look on my face…

Back to Kombucha aka Kombuchie, I never latched on because it was so horrid when I tried it at the in laws place. I lost touch with it for a couple of years until further researching it and the many benefits it exudes. Just some of the things are that it enhances mental clarity, energy boost, aids in detox process, promotes longevity, maintain probiotic health, etc. The properties in this probiotic tea are the obvious: probiotics, malic acid, amino acids, oxalic acid, nucleic acid, acetic acid, enzymes, lactic acid, gluconic acid, analgesics, vitamins, and don’t forget caffeine from the tea itself.

What’s not to like right?? As for me and my household… We would say: The Taste.

But keep in mind, we are picky. So before I come up with some simple solution for this, let’s dive in to the HOW DO WE MAKE THIS LIFE CONDITIONING ELIXIR?? THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH!

What You’ll Need to Make Kombucha

  • 8 tea bags or 2 tbs of loose tea (black tea or green tea, unflavored–good chance of flavors killing the good SCOBY except I’ve heard Jasmine Green Tea seems to work but I haven’t tried it yet)
  • 1 gallon jar
  • SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria & Yeast) which is the brains of the outfit–you can get this from a friend or a health food store
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3.5 quarts of water
  • 1-2 cups of starter Kombucha which you can get from a friend or use store bought
  • Clean breathable fabric or coffee filter
  • rubberband
  • vinegar (I just used some Apple Cider Vinegar)

So relatively simple ingredients other than the acquiring of the SCOBY 

Before we move on to the ‘How to’ part of this, you need to make sure everything is sanitized and I don’t mean with bleach. What I did was clean all my utensils and containers then I rinsed with Apple Cider Vinegar even my hands as well. Otherwise there could be a chance it messes up your batch. I do know this from experience. When we first started milking our cows and trying to improve on the cream extraction– we bought one of those 3 gallon mason jar looking pitchers that have the spout at the bottom. We used it for quite a while and then changed our process so I stopped using it. I thought it would be perfect for Kombucha batches but after a few weeks, mold popped up on my SCOBY and I tried another batch and it happened again. The spout, no matter how much I tried to clean it was causing things to go wrong, they never fully would get sanitized. On my third try, in just a regular gallon jar, it went perfectly.

How to Make Kombucha

  1. Brew your 3.5 quarts of water with your 8 tea bags
  2. Add your sugar and let this cool, other wise it can kill your SCOBY, which is a living organism affected by temperatures
  3. Pour in the SCOBY after temperature has cooled and isn’t hot anymore
  4. Add in your 1-2 cups of starter Kombucha
  5. Cover with a paper towel, coffee filter, clean breathable fabric, whichever–and put rubberband in place to hold it there.
  6. Put it in a dark area with a temperature ranging from 68-75 degrees F for 7-12 days

The other Old SCOBY should have New one attached to it so your brew should be done. So here is where my solution to the sour vinegar taste can be altered and it’s just simple and most people know it, it’s just that I had no clue at the time. The easy solution to get the benefits of Kombucha tea is to flavor it. There are many different flavors your can come up with, the sky is the limit but I’ll let you know what I did.

First off, I really suggest in purchasing some swing top bottles. I avoided it until I absolutely needed to but ultimately they aren’t too expensive especially since they are reusable. I bought mine at The Home Brewery in Ozark, MO which I’ve previously mentioned in the Homemade Wine post. 

Like i previously mentioned, the sky is the limit but let’s go VERY easy with this. What I used is frozen fruit but you can use fruits, juices, honey, herbs, spices.

Flavoring Kombucha along with the Fizz Bonus

  1. Sanitize your bottles and add in your brewed kombucha
  2. Add fruits and if using the bottles then you’ll definitely need to chop up to fit in and easy to strain. Also, fruit tends to sink to the bottom so you might not have to strain. The mixed berry version I did was that way (I did read one article on pureeing fruit and putting in the bottom and pouring in the kombucha and personally I didn’t like this. One, the texture if you drank it straight is… bleh. The mix floated to the top so you had to drink it through that. Makes me cringe just thinking about it. Two, it’s hard to strain if you don’t like said texture)
  3. If you want a fizzy kombucha like soda then you’ll need to go through a second ferment so the bottles need to be latched in place and put in the same area you fermented before but this time it will only be 3-5 days. 
  4. Put in the fridge to stop fermentation process. When you open these, they will flavored, slightly sweet, and surprisingly bubbly 🙂



Mixed Berry (no fizz)

    New Batches

    After the bottling process, you’re left with the Old and New SCOBY so you’ll divide them by pulling apart from each other and you can make 2 new batches or just one more batch and give the other to a friend in need of the addiction that is Kombucha hehe

    I hope this was helpful and that you can start making your own batches and get those health benefits it doles out. I’m pretty new to this so if I left anything out, please let me know! What are your experiences with Kombucha???

    Back in the Old Days: Lard

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    A little over a century ago; everyone used lard (Okay maybe not the Jewish communities). It was a homestead staple. I’ve even read books based in the late 1890s where they always had a barrel of lard on hand to store their meats/sausages (The Little Britches Series which I highly recommend). How could it go from being a staple to being frowned on? Read on my friends 🙂

    When it costed less for industrialized companies to make vegetable based oils and shortenings… That’s when Lard developed a “bad rep.”Kind of like butter as well but that’s another story. Also, there was a fictional book about people being killed in vats of lard. Totally fictional but it put a bad taste in people’s mouths on lard. Even though these were natural products fresh off the farm… There was money in lard making because it was a byproduct for the pork industry, just extra moo-lah and need I say NATURAL once more?

    Also, if you were unaware you body does require fats to survive. But with going diet trends of the past and even now people think, “You eat fat, you get fat.” Which can be true but it’s not like you’re picking up a stick of butter and eating it like a candy bar! This little idea pushed us into the “low fat” era. Think about this though, if you take the fat out and it still tastes good… Where you do you think that comes from? SUGAR. Then when people figured that out came “low fat and low sugar.” Surprise… Now it has aspartame in it and let’s not even broach that in this article. I’ll go on a rant. We’ll cover that some other post. For profits and not a care for people’s health big industrialized companies come up with this junk. Most people trust that if can buy it at the store, it’s safe for your health.

    **Don’t forget to start looking into this for yourselves, you’ll be surprised at what you learn. Some companies are trustworthy, they seem to care about health but it seems far and few between so do you own digging to be aware and figure out what is good and what is bad.

    Back to Lard

    To understand all of this let’s go back to before the civil war– It all started with Crisco. I could cover how that came about by who, what, when, where but I feel like that’s covered. I’ll try to do a little summary for you and if you want to know more I’ll attach the links (Rise and Fall of Crisco and Ever Wonder Who Killed Lard and there’s always Wikipedia)

    The basic is this: Two brothers (Proctor & Gamble) one a candle maker, the other a soap maker and they decided to tag team together. Lard and tallow controlled the prices set for candles/soap making. So they bought all the cottonseed mills because they had a German chemist who developed hydrogenation. The cottonseed oil became a solid liquid resembling lard. Being as society was leaning towards using electricity having candles wasn’t that necessary anymore so they thought they could market it as a food product. There’s quite a bit more but I’m going to leave it simple.

    I personally never thought I would be using lard. Actually, I was raised on the Best Choice version of Crisco. That’s all my mom used. She didn’t know any different that it was full of trans fats and even if she did, I doubt she would have really cared. There’s a point when you meet people that know the difference and you wonder and have curiosity about the things they were taught (Yes, I’m referring to the husband) so you start listening and learning and researching… Then a few years pass-what do ya know you start a blog haha-But seriously, I also came into a family that had their own pork processed at the local butcher and then you acquire lard that needs to be rendered which leads me to the reason I decided to write this article…

    For a couple of years, I’ve had the lard left over from the pig in my freezer and never did anything until I needed to clean the freezer out for more room and decided to just jump in. It’s actually fairly simple really.

    You might be wondering what to use lard for… Baked goods, soap making, the best fried chicken you’ve ever had… The list is endless.

    How to Render Lard (in a crock pot)

    1. Cut lard into pieces and cut any meat from it (In my case, the place I had it butchered cut into pieces for me which made things A LOT! easier)
    2. Put into crock pot with a little water (about 1/4 cup) to the bottom so it doesn’t burn lard before it becomes a liquid
    3. Let it cook until it’s liquid (Make sure it’s clear, if it’s not, it isn’t fully done)
    4. Strain lard, the leftover pieces are called cracklins which are similar to pork rinds but 10x better! (In my opinion)
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    This is how they cut and bagged it for me

    So this next image I’m adding has a picture of a jar that I’m filling for of the liquid but… It isn’t quite clear enough and when my husband saw it he said it needs to be more clear to keep well and when it solidified… It wasn’t pure white and that’s what you’re really looking for. So here’s a don’t do what I did image for reference. Just let it cook longer.

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    Needs to be clear NOT that color

    And the extra bonus 🙂

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    Cracklins

    Well… I hope this was hopeful. I might edit this article in the future about fats being good for us and what not. Maybe even stuff about hydrogenation. Let me know what you guys think!

    So It’s Been A Bit…

    Life has thrown quite a few obstacles our way in the past 5 months. I’ll try to sum it up simply by saying Jeremy’s job last November was on the outs. Someone new tried to take over so for a few months it was a tight squeeze money wise but we did okay and made due. Then in January, the new owner let us know he wouldn’t be able to sustain two offices so he would only be running his side of it and we were out. After that we ended up merging with another company and we’ve been there for 1 month and I will tell you, this blog has suffered. I’ve been super busy and not had ANY time to devote to it yet it seems I’m getting a few followers here and there and I thank you guys! Getting traffic is a big part of this, I just need to do my side and get a few posts going weekly if possible but it’s going to be hard time wise.

    I just hope that I can maintain everything. The job is a necessary part of life and I just need to figure out how to balance it all. Hate to say it but it will get a little harder because as we near warmer weather, that means planting time. I’ve already started my tomatoes and peppers though my peppers are fighting me but the tomatoes have popped up 2 inches! Just bear with me through this! I’ll get the hang of it, promise.

    So what’s new in your lives?? With us, the new jobs and we actually are working in the same office which is different but in the end, nice. Sometimes we get on each other’s nerves but not too bad. Concerning the farm, we are looking into solar power which would be great and eventually if that works… Off grid, yay! That’s seems far away but very cool. Our Jerseys are due this month so hopefully we’ll have some new babies and I HOPE HOPE HOPE that they have heifers!

    Back to gardening life, I plan on ordering more asparagus crowns, more strawberry plants, and maybe some blueberries, blackberries, grapes, and yellow raspberries. My go to place is Simmons Plant Farm. They are relatively local (Arkansas) to our climate here in Missouri. I’ve also found some wild raspberry plants here in our woods so I pulled them up and transplanted them in my yard. We’ll see how they do. I made some blackberry/raspberry wine that was divine so I’m hoping to recreate it with local raspberries from my farm now. 

    Since we’ve acquired more Muscovy ducks from our neighbor, they have NO BOUNDARIES! so I need to re-fence the garden so they’ll stay out. I don’t want to clip their wings since they seem to LOVE flying and that’s their only defense mechanism with wildlife around here so hopefully they stay out once the fence is up. I’ve been meaning to fence the garden for a while now. Every year, Dandy (our golden retriever/great Pyrenees) gets into it just as you planted everything and digs and rolls around so this ought to put a stop to him as well. Another nice thing is when the garden is done for the season, I can put my hens in there to have what’s left over and to dig and scratch around.

    Speaking of chickens and gardens, one of things I want to do this year is to make a little run about half a row size (our rows are 75 ft) and put a few chickens in the run and let them scratch out the weeds and what not. I always have a hard time weeding or at least, sticking with it so this might be a great solution. If anyone has tried this, let me know how it went!

    By the way, if anyone wants me to post about a particular thing I’d be glad to do it– like plant profiles or uses, farm life stuff, etc. Worst thing I can say is no… But I doubt I would unless I had completely no idea about the subject matter and even then, I’d probably research a learn 🙂

    Well, that’s my update for now. I’ll try and get some good articles out for you guys soon!

    Meet the Gang: Luna

     

    Luna is one of our inside cats. The other is Lennon which we recently realized is a girl and not a boy… We are idiots. To be fair though, at the time we had four kittens that were abandoned by the mother who never came back to the farm so I’m assuming a coyote disposed of her. The kitten Jeremy was going to keep who was a boy died and so Lennon was the replacement and we just assumed he was a boy.

    Back to Luna, she isn’t sweet like Lennon. She has attitude and she flaunts it and loves to play and fight and climb things as high as possible. You are there strictly to let her sit on you lap only… No touching is preferred. She is a complete brat! But they are amusing together and are buddies even though they are complete opposites. So that’s Luna, our black smoke pixie bobcat.

    Homemade Creamer

    jar-of-cream

    Fresh cream from our jersey cows Daisy & Maisy


    If there was something I could change about myself, it would be that I didn’t need creamer for my coffee! SO MANY CALORIES! GAH! Yet, I do like creamer in my coffee and I really prefer to avoid soy if possible and almost all coffee creamers seemed to be soy based.

    You can buy half n half or just heavy cream but a product that Jeremy and I really liked was the Dunkin Donuts Extra Extra coffee creamer. It actually is made with cream unlike International Delight or Coffee Mate. I do like those but… soy. I know they have the Natural Bliss stuff that seems a bit better but I have Jersey cows, surely I could figure out how to make cream.

    In my mind, it seemed only logical that it would be half milk/half cream (half n half) but definitely wasn’t. Something that isn’t on my side through all of this is that I can’t homogenize my milk and cream. Homogenization is when the fat droplets in milk are emulsified and the cream does not separate. So it is uniform and not separate. In my case, either you have milk or cream and that’s your only option.

    I tried different amounts, sugar syrup mixed in, flavors, etc. I just got frustrated and we kept buying the Dunkin Donuts kind. I even went on Pinterest to find a “natural” creamer and even tried a few that involved using sweetened condensed milk and didn’t really like them. I use to go to a dear ladies house every Friday to write letters. Her name was Carol and she was always in high spirits to have me and several other girls over every Friday no matter her health (which was pretty bad) she passed away last year. I sure do miss her. She would always have coffee ready for us and all she had for cream was heavy cream. It got me to thinking, I can just use the cream and add sugar and cook it over a stove top until the sugar dissolves. It was so simple and it was exactly like the Dunkin Donuts Extra Extra. The only thing I’ve changed about it is I’ve cut the sugar in half. It starts to add up.

    Oh yeah, and if you have the cream from cows… It’s so much cheaper to make your own creamer rather than buying it from the store so that’s always a plus.

    Farm Fresh Creamer

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 gallon of fresh cream or heavy whipping cream from the store
    • 1 1/2 cups of sugar (or an alternative but I haven’t really tried anything else other than my homemade coffee syrups)

    **If you don’t like it too sweet, you can always decrease the amount of sugar

    You’ll need a medium size sauce pan

    Instructions:

    1. Take cream and sugar and put into sauce pan over low to medium heat (I put on 4 setting on my stove top)
    2. Stir every once in a while so that it doesn’t stick
    3. Cook 5 min or more until dissolved
    4. Let cool and put into old creamer container
    5. Shake before use

    Hope you like it! We do!

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    Here’s a pic of when they were little 🙂

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    Yes, I know our barn needs work! Here is my cow Maisy following after Jeremy leading her with her own calf

    Make Your Own: Homemade Wine

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    I’m really not an avid wine drinker but I’d like to be. I’m convinced I just haven’t found one that I like. I’ve been to a few wine tastings. Here in Missouri there are surprisingly a lot of vineyards the most famous probably being St. James Winery which is the first place I did a wine tasting and decided that I’m probably a sweet wine kinda girl. When it comes to the drys I like cooking with it more than drinking it. Like I said previously, not an avid wine drinker but making your own… I could definitely become one! You get to kind of develop your own “taste.”

    Making wine can be pretty cheap if you wild craft your berries or grow your own fruits. I haven’t made a strawberry wine yet but this year I plan too since my mother in law (aka Superwoman) usually has extra and last year I planted a strawberry bed so maybe I should have my own. I’m pretty excited since they are local to my climate here in the Ozarks. I purchased them from Simmons Plant Farm out of Arkansas. They ship them when it’s time to plant. The prices are great and everything I ordered and planted grew awesome, even asparagus which is hard to grow in my opinion. If I buy from a place like Lowes, the plants never seem to do good at all. Although this year, I’m planting my comfrey beside them in hopes that my fruit trees that I did buy from Lowes will perk up.

    Back to story, I never wanted to really make wine or have an interest until I was watching The Legend of Mick Dodge and on an episode he goes throughout the forest to collect a gallons worth of wild berries to make “Forest Wine.” Which he collects then mashes the berries together, adds water and heats and adds yeast as well. He just puts into 1 wine bottle. I thought, if it’s really that simple I’ll do it.

    In the town of Ozark, we have a place called Home Brewery where they have anything and everything you would need to make wine, beer, mead, cheese, yogurt…. The list goes on. They sell EVERYTHING you need to become a home brewer. I highly recommend stopping by if you’re local to Ozark, MO or close by and even if you’re not you can order online. They are super helpful and no matter how many questions you ask…(I always ask A LOT!) They are a laid back bunch that want to help you as much as possible. They also give you a recipe to make a basic fruit wine. I haven’t moved past basic yet since I’ve only made 5 batches (Mulberry, Blackberry, Plum, Blackberry-Raspberry, Pear Apple) The best tasting was my last which I cracked open last night… WOW! Soooooo goood, which was the Blackberry-Raspberry.

    When I went in trying to explain that I just wanted simplicity like Mick Dodge the guy tried to explain that yes, theoretically, it would be wine. If you watch the video, there doesn’t seem to be any sugar added and the guy (I think Todd from Ozark Brewery) said that for a good fermentation you need sugar (Without the addition of sugar… You might not havegreat alcohol contents, it would be classified as wine but only certain grapes, some pears, and cider apples to well without the addition of sugar) and after it is wine I can only imagine the amount of sediment it would have in the bottom and actually it would probably be half full with it. After it’s all said and done and Mick Dodge has “wine” it probably wouldn’t taste that great.

    It’s actually easier to just be sure you did everything right and there’s no contaminants or wild yeasts going all crazy in your wine. If you watch the episode that I linked above, you’ll see the wine is a gooey mess. They explained if you want something clear that looks like wine, you’ll need to clarify it. You need to think about sanitation as well. I thought it would be expensive and it can be if you do the kits or whatever or buy juice but if you harvest your own fruits–that’s pretty inexpensive. So the only things you need are equipment and things like sugar, water, fruit/juice, pectin enzyme, yeast nutrient, acid blend, campden tablets, potassium sorbate, and your wine yeast. I definitely assumed that would be expensive but each one of those things is $2 each and the wine yeast is cheaper than that.

    Brief Summary on what those things do:

    Pectin Enzyme: Breaks down the cell walls, fiber or pulp of fruits to facilitate juicing and extraction of color and flavors.  Also helps prevent pectin haze.

    Yeast Nutrient: Yeast Nutrient is a combination of DAP (diammonium phosphate) and food grade urea.  These provide yeast the vitamins and nutrients they need to thrive and encourages faster and more complete fermentation.

    Acid Blend: Bumps the acidity up more for suitable wine making conditions

    Campden Tablets: A convenient way to sterilize your must and accurately sulfite your homemade wine. (Kills wild yeasts)  Contains Potassium Metabisulfite, which acts as a sterilant and antioxidant when dissolved.

    Potassium Sorbate: Stabilizer, used after fermentation but before bottling, that inhibits yeast reproduction.  Recommended to be used with Potassium Metabisulphite (Campden Tablets) to fully stabilize a wine before sweetening and bottling. Stabilizing prevents re-fermentation inside the bottled wine which can produce sparkling wine (at best) or worst case scenario – popped corks or exploding wine bottles.  Stabilizing is critical if you plan to sweeten your wine.

    Wine Yeast: The role of yeast in wine making is the most important element that distinguishes wine from grape juice. In the absence of oxygen, yeast converts the sugars of wine grapes into alcohol and carbon dioxide through the process of fermentation. (The link above for wine yeast is the one they recommend for your basic fruit wines)

    Equipment Needed

    I will say: For equipment you do need to make a few investments but in the long run–it’s not that pricey. So a startup cost but you have a waiting period since things have to ferment. Buy what you need to start like your gallon jars with lid, air lock, stopper, and your straining bag if you do it that way and that’s it other than your ingredients.

    Equipment wise I only do a gallon batch which is what this recipe is for. You’ll need:

    2 gallon jars with lids: You need two because you’ll do a transfer after fermentation

    Airlock: Down below is what an airlock looks like. (One kind anyway) Some people use balloons but the Home Brewery has these for… I think .95 cents but if you wanna go high dollar for $8 there’s a glass one

    Drilled rubber stopper: for the airlock

    fermentwine

    This was using an old pickle jar that I cut a hole in for airlock but was unsure on if it was sealing properly so I added a little plastic around the top side

    Wine bottles: You can buy these but I just ask people for their leftover bottles. People usually throw these away. Glass is reusable so I remove the stickers and sanitize before using.

    Hydrometer: You can measure the alcohol content using these but I really don’t care too much about that. I do have one but hardly use it.

    Rubber gloves: To get your sack of fruit out without contamination

    Straining bag: To put your fruit in if you aren’t just using juice

    AutoSiphon: You don’t necessarily need this but… When you are watching out for sanitation and using a tube to siphon yourself that might be of issue and these things are GREAT ($11)

    Tubing: for the autosiphon which is cheap as well

    Corks: I think you get around 30 for $5

    Corker: Here’s a little video clip of me corking my Pear Apple Wine (Can run from $10-150, I just borrow from a friend I haven’t bought one yet)

    You can get fancy and get labels but… I don’t. I usually just use a sharpie and write it on the bottle.

    My Way

    The easiest way that works for me… I pick my fruit and put it into a crock pot and let the juice work it’s way out of the fruit and then i strain and press with a sieve and get the most juice I can. The biggest thing about making wine is waiting. It feels great to know you made this. You took the time to pick the fruit/grow it and then you got the juice and you added everything together rather simply then waiting for the fermenting, then the clarifying and low and behold, it is wine. The sweetening is the best part. You get to taste and adjust… That’s the wonderful thing about making your own wine. I hope you experiment with this simple thing and reap the benefits. I love to do it. I like making it more than drinking it. Having the satisfaction that I made it myself is exhilarating to me . I share it with friends and family… Anyway, let me know if you guys try it! Or have done it already!

    FYI:

    1 gallon batches make 5 bottles of wine. Most people that are really into wine making usually do a 5 gallon batch in one shot so if that interests you and you want to try to go cheap on that as well–go to a bakery (I go to Price Cutters) and ask if they have any white buckets, they are food grade. Most of the time they are frosting containers; the last 3 I got were. Point is, they are free and most likely are going in the trash anyway and they almost always have the lids with them. If they don’t have any (at least in my personal experience) they’ll hold some back for you and you can pick them up in a few days. So all you’ll need is to drill a hole in the top and add your stopper and airlock.

    wine

    Basic Wine Recipe

    Basic wine recipe (NOTE: This recipe is for a ONE GALLON VOLUME OF WINE made from fruit OTHER THAN GRAPES. Fully ripe grapes do not need the addition of 2 lbs of sugar per gallon. Take a hydrometer reading to tell how much extra sugar you might require when making wine with grapes.)

    Mix together these items:

    2-4 lbs of fruit juice/concentrate/puree, or whatever source of fruit you are using. (If you are using pureed or chopped fresh fruit, place the fruit or puree into a straining bag, tie a knot in the bag, and drop it into the fermenter.)

    2 lb of sugar

    Pectic Enzyme per our label instructions

    Yeast Nutrient per our label instructions

    Acid Blend or Tartaric Acid (¼ teaspoon to start, as you can add more later)

    Water in whatever amount to reach the appropriate volume for the batch size you are making Any other ingredients called for in your specific recipe

    Stir well to dissolve.

    Crack or crush one Campden Tablet and add to the above mixture. Attach the fermenter lid and airlock. 24 hours later, remove the fermenter lid and add the yeast. Reattach lid and airlock and allow the wine to ferment.

    If you have the fruit in a straining bag, after about ten days, sanitize rubber gloves or your hands and remove the bag of fruit pulp. Squeeze as much juice as you can from the bag, then top up the fermenter with water to the original volume (to account for the volume of fruit pulp you have just removed). If you have used fruit juice, you can bypass this step. Reattach the lid and airlock and allow the fermentation to complete.

    Once the wine is finished fermenting, siphon it into a secondary container and allow it to clarify. When the wine is clarified, add 1 more Campden Tablet and Potassium Sorbate per our label instructions. Let the wine sit for a few days. You might need to use one of the chemical clarifiers to speed up the clarifying process, or the wine might clarify on its own. Every wine is different.

    Sweetening finished wine (This step is totally optional, but the basic process is as follows): After the wine is clarified and stabilized, rack it into another carboy to get it off the sediment from the clarification and stabilization process. Thief out a 1 cup sample and add granulated sugar 1/8 teaspoon at a time, stirring to dissolve it, and taste until the desired level of sweetness is reached. Then multiply the amount of sugar used in the sample by the number of sample volumes in the total (there are 16 cups in 1 gallon, for example). Using the sugar amount arrived at by the multiplication, add ½ teaspoon of acid blend (or tartaric acid, or whatever granular acid you are using) and bring this mixture to a boil in 1 to 2 cups of water. Cover it and allow it to cool. Pour it into the carboy with the wine, stirring gently. (If you have a really full carboy, you will want to siphon out a volume of wine equal to the volume of the sugar solution you are adding.) Let the wine sit for a few days to one week to make sure it does not restart fermentation after adding the sugar solution. If it is still clear and has not started re fermenting, it is ready to bottle.

    NOTE: You can also adjust the acidity of the wine at the same time you adjust the sugar level. If the wine is sort of bland, that means it needs more acid. Add acid blend (or whatever acid you are using) 1/8 teaspoon at a time to the same sample you are adjusting for sugar level, and do the same multiplication up for the total volume that you use to adjust the sugar level.

    Here’s the recipe from their website which is the exact same as the recipe you just read.

    Dandelion: Not just a weed folks!

    dandelion-1684456_1920

    Most people see Dandelion flowers and completely lose it. It’s annoying and in their yard, EVERYTHING must be immaculate, no dandelions aloud!!! Uh… Obviously, this isn’t me and I’ve never been the “immaculate” yard keeper anyhow… I live on a farm/homestead. I do keep our actual yard and the adjoining yards that lead to the barn mowed down because if we don’t… Snakes show up. I can handle the black snakes, they have a purpose but not the ones of poisonous persuasion. There again, once black snakes start eating duck eggs or anything… They are on my list. Before Jeremy does that first cut though, I saw “WAIT!” I try and collect the dandelions for different odd and end things which I’ll post about some other time!

    My experience with Dandelion in my life thus far is as a kid. Every kid and their brother/sister/cousin/etc picks a dandelion and blows the seeds across the yard. It’s like a right of passage into childhood. I’ve always had a curiosity about plants even as a teen before I even knew I was actually interested in this stuff. If it’s a weed, what was the point Jehovah? (FYI: Jehovah is God’s personal name check out Psalm 83:18, look it up! Jw.org is a good resource!!)

    I think most things have a purpose even if our society today doesn’t see much use in them, the example being dandelion for this post.

    So earlier this November I was trying to get my ducks and chickens to do a little digging in my garden so I put out some feed. While doing this, I saw a huge dandelion plant. Looking around, there were actually quite a few; I already had the potato fork so I dug them up. They came out pretty easily because it had rained the day before so the soil was manageable.

    I actually had hopes that I would have time to make Dandelion Coffee (So I’ll do a separate post sometime about that) but I never got the time so I looked up what else the roots were good for. Usually when I’m curious about a particular plant I go to The Herbal Resource.

    Dandelion Tincture

    1. Wash your roots then chop up into smaller pieces
    2. Put dandelion root in a jar and cover with 100 vodka. Make sure you at least cover with an inch of vodka above the dandelion roots.
    3. Cover tightly and allow to steep for 6 weeks, shaking daily.
    4. Strain out the root using a cheesecloth and put in a dark amber dropper bottle (Or blue one) You can compost the strained roots
    5. For optimum health, take a few drops daily in juice or water.

    Benefits of Dandelion

    Natural diuretic, lowers blood pressure, reduces blood sugar, stimulates the liver, rich in vitamins C, K, B2, A, Lowers bad cholesterol, kidney cleanse, fights anemia, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, mood enhancer

    Nourishes liver against free radicals to counteract acetaminophen liver toxicity, mild appetite stimulant, destroys acid in blood, blood builder & purifier, detoxifies poison & toxic waste in body, stimulate bile production, helps with fluid retention, discourages growth of harmful bacteria, helps flush foreign particles from gallbladder

    **Though I want to be helpful to you with information; do you own research so you always have a better idea about things as well!!

     

    Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information from Blue Missouri Skies Homestead is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease or be taken as medical advice.


    Sources

    http://deeprootsathome.com/homemade-dandelion-tincture/#comment-42969

    http://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/dandelion-root.html

    http://www.naturallivingideas.com/harvest-use-dandelion-roots/

    100 Year Old Doughnut Recipe

    donuts-1481159_1920

    1 egg
    1 cupful of milk
    1 and 1/3 cupfuls of sugar
    2 teaspoonfuls of cream of tartar
    1 teaspoonful of soda
    Piece of butter the size of a walnut
    1/4 teaspoonful of cinnamon or nutmeg salt
    Flour enough to roll soft

    Beat the egg and sugar together and add the milk and butter. Stir in the soda and cream of tartar into the flour, dry; mix all together, with the flour and salt. Cut into rings and fry in deep fat. Lay them on brown paper when you take them from the fat.

    So that’s the recipe. This is just my measurement and I could be wrong but I used about 4 and half cups of flour

    This came from a book called Things Mother Used to Make A Collection of Old Time Recipes, Some Nearly One Hundred Years Old and Never Published Before. I think it was printed in 1913 or 1914.

    Not Just Another Simple Poke Cake

    I have seen on Pinterest lately that Poke Cakes and Dump Cakes are kind of… trending?? I think the basis of it is because it’s easy. Everybody falls into the… “I don’t have time” category and I understand or at least I did when I was working the 40 hour work weeks and trying to maintain a farm. You know, take a Saturday that you’re at home in the kitchen and make it. It’s a lot of work but it’s so worth it. You’ll feel a complete since of pride. You didn’t use a cake mix, you didn’t use canned fruit, you didn’t use boxed pudding… That amazing taste from the moist cake you made, came from your hands and your hands alone so I encourage you to try this. There might also be people like me that don’t stock their kitchens worth a darn… No powdered sugar, no pudding mix, nothing. It might seem like I’m a failure but you know, I came up with some things on my own.

    Just letting you know, you will have the insane need to brag on yourself if you make these recipes from scratch, but it’s okay, you deserve to if you didn’t use a cake mix!

    The example of a Poke Cake that I’ve seen is through my old boss (she was a caterer, which made me a catering assistant at the time) and would take a cake mix and bake it, then pokes holes in it. Either she’d add sweet condensed milk or a pudding to it and either cool whip or whipped cream. I think Pioneer Woman does the “Dump Cake” which is taking canned fruit, adding to the bottom of pan, pour cake mix over and add pieces of butter to it. Which really sounds like a crisp to me. (By the way, I have a great crisp recipe that I’ll share some other time, super simple and delicious) WARNING: I do have to warn you, from this point on, there will be about 3 recipes I’m listing and that’s not counting whipped cream. It will take a bit of time but if you do it right like, prepare you cake and get it in the oven then make your pudding and put in the fridge then make your blueberry sauce…. By then your cake should be done and you can start poking holes and add the your other recipes to it.

    Picture

    Yellow Cake Recipe

    • 2/3 cup butter, softened
    • 1-3/4 cups sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2-/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1-1/4 cups milk

    This is how you do it:

    1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time, beat in vanilla.
    2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to creamed mixture alternately with the milk. Beating well after each addition.
    3. Transfer to a 9×13 pan, spray or grease it. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 min (I’m not sure how much the time was, I’m not a timer kind of gal, my oven never matches the time when I do use a timer, just keep an eye on it and test in the middle with a tooth pick)

    Vanilla Pudding Recipe

    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 3 tbs cornstarch
    • 3 cups milk
    • 4 egg yolks, beaten
    • 1 tbs butter (I’m not saying “or margarine” because that is chemical crap…. Use sweet cream butter, better yet buy a cow and you can make your own butter or just get some heavy cream and here’s how)
    • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla (Even more delicious would be vanilla bean but I’m out need to order more)

    Here’s how you do it: (If you’re tired at this point, I don’t blame you if you want to use the pudding mix)

    1. In a sauce pan combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk to the beaten eggs. (TIP: This is called tempering the eggs. If you add them all at once or too quickly, you’ll have chunky scrambled egg pudding. Remember to stir/whisk when you’re tempering eggs)
    2. Add egg mixture to saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat. Stir in butter and vanilla, pour pudding into a bowl. Cover surface with plastic wrap, put in fridge to cool.

    Picture

    Blueberry Sauce Recipe

    • 2 tbs cornstarch
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (by the way, it doesn’t have to be blueberries I’m sure you could do whatever berry you prefer I just had a lot left over in the freezer from when we went to Persimmon Hill Farms which I LOVE! It’s in Lampe, MO. If you’re a local, I highly recommend this place they have a little bit of everything including an amazing blueberry muffin that they serve with ice cream)

    This is how you do it: (If you’re tired at this point, I don’t blame you if you don’t want to make whipped cream there’s always cool whip 🙂

    1. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Stir in the water until smooth. Add blueberries; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir 1 minute longer or until thickened.

    Picture

    After I “poke” the cake, I thought adding some blueberry sauce over the cake would be awesome sauce (haha pun intended)

    Picture

    Picture

    Time to add your pudding to the cake

    Picture

    Yes, it looks sloppy but that won’t matter. Put this baby in the fridge for 30min-1hr

     

    Since your cake has been chilling in the fridge a few minutes before you’re ready to serve or eat it or whatever make up some whipped cream (or cheat and buy some or cool whip)
    The final touch which adds another flavor profile to the decadent cake is zest a lemon and orange, maybe about 1 tsp each and put it in the whipped cream. Put the whipped cream on the cake and then add the last of your blueberry sauce. AMAZING!!!!!!! Take a bite into heaven, don’t you agree??

    Morning Rituals: Roast Your Own Coffee

     

     

     

    coffee-break-1291381_1920

    Imagine this: Your alarm clock is going off and you stumble around mid dream to the realization that that is in fact, your alarm going off. DANG IT! Then you hit the snooze! A few times… When you finally get yourself up, you’re groggy and need coffee immediately. UNLESS! You’re a morning person and if that’s the case then BUG OFF! 😉

    Yet we partake of the magic elixir known as coffee. I’ve swore I’m going to quit it over and over because I don’t like that it CONTROLS MY LIFE! and I do quit for a bout a month or more then I can’t take it anymore and I go right back to it. So to embrace my addiction hehe, I thought I’d talk a little about my history with coffee and tell you guys how to roast your own coffee beans.

    My history with coffee

     

    My first interaction with coffee was always being curious as a little girl wondering why my dad always ordered it at the Apple Tree (Which no longer exists in the little town on Sparta, it was replaced by a Chinese buffet). You know the little cups creamer comes in? Well, one time when my dad ordered coffee I expressed an interest and he made me a “mini” cup with the creamer cup and I tried it and liked it but that’s about as far as it went.

    My next interaction was with my sister Tammy. I don’t support cigarette smoking whatsoever but I remember her saying, “If I have a cup of coffee and a cigarette in the morning, it’ll be a good day.” (She passed away in 2007, I sure do miss her!!) I never shared her love for coffee at that point but I was in my teens I didn’t need the extra energy. My love for coffee probably came from Jeremy (the hubs) because it was special to go in the morning to have coffee at Starbucks and chat.

    In the process though… He created a monster. It started with a simple little vanilla latte, then to caramel fraps, then the specialty ones that are only seasonal (hate that btw!) My weakness was caramel brulee latte. LOVED IT but it was starting to get rather costly so as you know from a previous post, we invested in an espresso machine. Then, I would buy the starbucks syrup off of Ebay when it was out of “season.” Still expensive compared to making your own Syrups!

    I go through phases. Sometimes I just want regular old coffee. Other times, I like my lattes. Still yet other times when I’m just in a hurry and don’t want to spend a lot of time, I like to brew an espresso shot by itself. Right now I’m kind of in the regular ole coffee stage but I’m getting to where I can’t stand Folgers anymore. Maybe it’s because since Jeremy’s coffee pot finally gave out he started using my percolator. The only way I used my percolator was the pot itself. I’d heat up water in my kettle and pour it over the grounds. I really liked it that way but now he has taken it over as his “Coffee Maker.” It reminds him of his grandma and grandpa because that’s how they always made their coffee but to me… It just taste burnt.

    My newest coffee experience is that I have been ordering green coffee beans on Amazon and roasting them myself. I didn’t think it was that much of a difference but when I went to Starbucks the other day as a treat to myself–I got a White Mocha Latte–I was sorely disappointed! It tasted burnt, just over done. The latest coffee shop experience I had before that was at Dunkin Donuts. Then I tried Jeremy’s Folgers… Eck. Then I made my home roasted… DELICIOUS! Very mild. I LOVE IT!

    So I guess I’ll tell you another way how I’ve ruined my life with coffee taking control yet again: roasting your own coffee beans.

    Choose Your Poison

    You need to find some green coffee beans. I just went to Amazon and looked around. The company I ended up using was Heirloom Coffee, LLC The first type I got was Costa Rica Dota Estate (Nectar) here’s the product info,

    “We seldom get “nectar” coffee in the USA because it is such a limited picking. What makes “nectar” coffee? It is the first picking of the harvest, right after the rainy season, with the highest sugar content (sap/nectar) in the bean before the dry season really sets in. Farmers often give this micro-harvest special treatment, as in this case when the producer adjusted the washing methods to minimal water, to preserve some of the pulp to enrich the beans during sun drying.

    The extraordinary nature of this first harvest starts from an incredibly select picking of ripest beans only, through special drying processes, resulting in a coffee so superb it is almost in a different class from anything else produced in the region that season. Move over Geisha, Dota Estate Nectar Coffee is in town!

    When we talk about “sugar” in coffee, it is not to say that the coffee tastes like it has been sweetened, but rather that the character of the coffee is so smooth and free of bitterness due to the “nectar’ present in the bean during processing that the coffee is perfect for drinking black if desired. In Costa Rica, the tradition is to serve coffee with warm milk and sugar, but in the case of the nectar coffee, it is often consumed without any added sugar, because the brew already has a strong honey taste and tone to it. The amount of “honey” in the taste is adjusted by the roast level. You will enjoy trying this coffee at dark and medium roasts to compare the difference, it is amazing how different the profiles are.

    We have a limited supply of rare nectar coffee, and when it is gone it will be unavailable until next season.

    As with the main harvest, this coffee is safe & sustainably grown with virtually zero environmental impact, at altitude of 2000 m (~6000 feet), in Dota canton, Tarrazu.” [1]

    My second pick was Nicaragua Matagalpa Catimor Arabica which I like even more. You can look up the info by clicking the link.

    Choose Your Roasting Method

    There are a couple of options. Depends what you have available to you and if you willing to purchase something to work for you. Originally I wanted to use a heat gun because I knew there was one abandoned on the homestead but it was broken– as I soon found out– so I ended up buying a popcorn air popper. (By the way, you’ll need to get one that blows hot air in from the sides and not upwards–not that I know that from experience or anything…)

    • Stove top/frying pan method
    • Oven roasting method
    • Heat air gun method
    • popcorn air popper method
    • air roaster

    There are you options but I’m only covering one and not too in depth. If you want more in depth, I learned from Sweet Marias. They go in depth and tell you different ways to roast your beans.

    How to Roast Coffee Beans

    It’s actually fairly simple and doesn’t need too much explanation but here you go anyway:

    1. Make sure there aren’t any rocks or debris in with you coffee beans. Depending on where you got them from… My place comes straight from the farm so sort it like you would regular beans.
    2. Add coffee beans to your air popper (I use a nostalgia, I got it from Bed Bath and Beyond for around $20) and don’t over do it. When you turn the machine on, they should spin. If they aren’t, you over filled it. Best way to know, measure your amount once you get it right the first time and just remember that’s what fits into your machine. (I should also tell you, you need to have a container to catch the chaff that’s going to shed off the beans)
    3. What you’re looking for as far as the roasting goes is “cracking” noises but since the popper is loud, you’ll have to pay attention. For me, most of the time I let it run a bit and just turn off to check the color but be careful because it will burn if you let them sit for too long. When I notice it is starting to brown I turn it off and listen for the crack. First crack (Blonde roast aka light roast) will be light sounds whereas Second Crack (medium roast) is a bit more volatile. You can go past that which leads to the darker roasts. If you go past that… I wouldn’t it. It will end up like the first batch I did…. Charcoal roast 😉
    4. Once you reach your roast preference, pour beans into colander or something similar to cool them. They them cool 4-8 hours.
    5. Grind up and enjoy!

    Video of my air popper

    Extra Info

    As far as knowing your roasts and first and second crack here’s how to know from Sweet Marias:

    “- Yellowing: For the first few minutes the bean remains greenish, then turn lighter yellowish and emit a grassy smell.

    – Steam: The beans start to steam as their internal water content dissipates.

    – First Crack: The steam becomes fragrant. Soon you will hear the first crack, an audible cracking sound as the real roasting starts to occur: sugars begin to caramelize, bound-up water escapes, the structure of the bean breaks down and oils migrate from their little pockets outward.

    – First Roasted Stage: After the first crack, the roast can be considered complete any time according to your taste. The cracking is an audible cue, and, along with sight and smell, tells you what stage the roast is at. This is what is called a City roast.

    – Caramelization: Caramelization continues, oils migrate, and the bean expands in size as the roast becomes dark. As the roast progresses, this is a City + roast. Most of our roast recommendations stop at this point. When you are on the verge of second crack, that is a Full City roast.

    – Second Crack: At this point a second crack can be heard, often more volatile than the first. The roast character starts to eclipse the origin character of the beans at this point and is also known as a Vienna roast. A few pops into second crack is a Full City + roast. Roasting all the way through second crack may result in small pieces of bean being blown away like shrapnel!

    – Darkening Roast: As the roast becomes very dark, the smoke is more pungent as sugars burn completely, and the bean structure breaks down more and more. As the end of second crack approaches you will achieve a French roast.

    – Ack!! Too Late!: Eventually, the sugars burn completely, and the roast will only result in a thin-bodied cup of “charcoal water.” [2]

    Ending Thoughts

    My experience with roasting your own is that coffee is no longer bitter and you want regular creamer, not the flavored kind. You want to taste the coffee and it’s unique undertones. It’s completely different and a real treat. The cool thing is, you get to try different kinds. I especially like the place I order from because they seem to-most of the time-focus on small farmers and to help them gain business. It’s pretty neat to be a part of and to try new things is always nice as well. Hopefully this will cause that little curious part of you to leap out and make you want to try this! ENJOY!


    Cited Sources

    [1] https://www.amazon.com/Costa-Estate-Unroasted-Coffee-Nectar/dp/B00KTLLC8E/ref=sr_1_5_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1484241382&sr=8-5&keywords=heirloom%2Bcoffee%2Bllc&th=1

    [2] https://www.sweetmarias.com/instructions