The simple life is a lot of work…!

22 09 2013

I haven’t posted much lately…. because as Spring has sprung, and maybe as much as six weeks ahead of time, everything I would normally do in October I now find myself doing right now.  Like, believe it or not, robbing the hives before they swarm.  My partners in crime with whom we bought our original thirteen hives have sold their abode in Cooran and moved on.  We split the bounty and the toys that come with them, and I was left on my own to suit up for the harvest.  And what a harvest……  thirteen kilos of beautiful honey , and before Winter was even over.  Let me tell you, it’s hard work on your own with just two hands…  Everything’s pumping, covered in flowers and nectar, the bees are having a great season.

Walk in pantry

In the meantime, I finished the pantry.  All tiled now, with the freezer moved to the back verandah.  What a difference this has made….  that room is now 4° or more cooler, and will at long last be the coolest room in the house for food storage as it was originally designed to do.

The little goat is turning out to be productive beyond all expectations, giving us 1½ litres of milk a day, causing me to make cheese every three days…..  it won’t be long before the cheese fridge is chockablock full….  I suppose, who am I to complain?  Cheese like that costs almost $10 each at the shops!  there are already twelve in the fridge, and I have to make some more tomorrow.

nightkilnIf that wasn’t enough, she who must be obeyed had to create more ceramic work for her university course, and the Raku kiln was fired twice this last week, at night, causing a spectacular display we were unaware of when we first fired it up in broad daylight.  Glenda’s very pleased with the results, even though I managed to step on her prize tile, breaking it……

The photo of the kiln really doesn’t do it justice, because the flue was glowing red hot for half its length, and half metre red flames were shooting out of it……

But the worst part of this early heat is that the so called cabbage moth (a butterfly in fact…) has been active way ahead of schedule, and I’m starting to harvest my brassicas before they are to proper harvest size.  But ask Tony Abbott, and Climate Change is crap…..

quarter So today, for the first time, I’ve attempted to make Saurkraut, and it’s all turned out rather well….  here is how I did it.  Click on the thumbnails for full size pics….

After harvesting your cabbages (just two for now, red ones…), chop off the stems and discard the outer leaves.  I was amazed at how many grubs and slugs I found, but I guess it’s proof they are organic!  So if you try this, make sure you wash everything very well to ensure your Saurkraut is in fact vegetarian!

fine chopQuarter the heads, cut out the cores, and then finely shred and chop the leaves up.  Mix in a large bowl, adding salt as you go.  You don’t need much, and I used that pink rock  Himalayan salt that’s supposed to be crammed with good minerals.

‘Massage’ the cabbage by hand until you squeeze a lot of moisture out of the produce.  The gorgeous purple juice mixes with the salt, turning it into brine.  it’s in that brine that your cabbage will ferment in and turn into that great stuff known as Saurkraut.

massageI didn’t time this part but I expect it took five to ten minutes.  The longer you persist, the limper your cabbage becomes and the more brine you have for fermentation.

Once you’re happy with the result, jam the cabbage and brine tightly into a jar (I used one of those French jobs with the clip down tops and rubber gasket), ensuring that it’s all covered with brine by pushing the cabbage down hard to the bottom of the jar.  Apparently, an earthenware crockpot is just as good, might even get Glenda to make me one some time in the future when we have nothing else to do…squeeze

juiceIt takes a week or two before it’s real Saurkraut, and as gas is created in the jar, it’s a good idea to open now and again to release the pressure.  It should keep for ages, but I suspect it will be all eaten well before the imaginary use by date is ever reached…!

saurkrautThat jar has a capacity of one litre, and as you can see, two cabbages didn’t fill it up…..  just as when I made the passata, one doesn’t realise just how much produce one needs to match the easily accessible and cheap produce the shops have on their shelves.  Next year, I’ll have to grow ten times as many, obviously!  And the problem is that the cabbages I still have in the garden have not yet reached full harvest size, so it’s a race with the cabbage moth to see who gets to eat the most.  Aaargh…!!




9 responses

22 09 2013
Shirley Goodbar

When I was growing brassicas (cabbages, etc) I found that I could deter the cabbage butterflies by putting ordinary flour in a hessian bag and giving the bag a jolt over each plant. This coats the leaves with a fine mist of white flour. The butterflies don’t seem to like it, and it’s not poisonous.

22 09 2013

Right…. thanks for that tip!

22 09 2013

Good to see you productive dad xo

22 09 2013
Ben Pennings

We’re camping in Cooran Mike. Was thinking last night about a visit/tour if you guys are around. Give me a buzz on 0418 164 014. Cheers.

23 09 2013

Hi Mike,
Your mention of goats cheese reminds me of a time about 10 years ago when I was keeping goats (2 does). They were anglo nubians and produced the same as yours. We consumed about a third a litre of milk each day, which meant that I was making cheese about every four days, with three day old milk. Unfortunately I was also running a “one man band” civil engineering design business. Since the process takes all day to make the cheeses (I was making Halloumi, feta and camembert) it was severely cutting into work time to make about one kg of cheese from the 9 litres of milk. I know it’s not continuous but between making starters, pasteurising, cooling, adding culture ,adding rennet, etc etc, you know the deal. It was somewhat therapeutic though. I was under the impression that goats are very hardy animals and were almost immune to all diseases. Not so and I found out they are just as susceptible to blackleg as cattle. My property is worm central and eventually I changed to sheep, which are more resistant to worms and still turn inedible grass into meat and wool. This doesn’t prevent me from buying milk from a local dairy and making cheese when I choose. I sometimes wonder how you find the time to do all the things you do and still keep up your blog. Maybe you think its better to wear out rather than rust out.

23 09 2013

Yeah Don, rusting out doesn’t seem that great…! I’m making more cheese again today, but I don’t make my own starters though I’d like to know how to do that…. and I don’t pasteurise my milk, the whole idea of making my own is to do it with raw milk.

I’m told that goats are tough as nails, until they get sick….. and I can vouch for the fact that if they get sick, they die. The little kid born a month ago died after two days, of pneumonia Glenda thinks. That had never happened here before, but it’s apparently not that uncommon, they can catch it from old hay (which is what may have happened here…) and when they are that little, it’s impossible to save them apparently. Besides, apart from not having the funds to start with, I really resent spending the astronomical fees vets demand to save animals of nowhere near that much value….. I’ve lost two does now, and it’s not a whole of fun, especially when you have to decide to put them down yourself to end their suffering…. but I suspect that’s all the vet would have done, and then charge me for the ‘pleasure’. Is it normal to get this pragmatic with age…?

23 09 2013

Hi Mike,
Re starters, I should have said preparing starters. I buy small amounts of starters and subculture them to extend the amount and so reduce the cost. I did a cheese making course over a couple of weekends and while it was not inexpensive it gave me a good grounding. Also I purchased a book titled “Home Cheesemaking”. Because I give some of my cheese away to friends I have to be extra careful about bacterial contamination since cheese making temperatures have to be just right for bacterial growth (as some Australian cheese manufacturers have found to their cost recently). Hence my pasteurisation.

23 09 2013

I think I read that nasturtiums are good for cabbage moth (do they get apples too? I read it regarding apples and so planted some under my dwarf pink lady.) I gather the moths are supposed to go for the nasturtiums instead of the good stuff.

23 09 2013

I have nasturtiums everywhere…… doesn’t seem to make any difference.

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