Wild Berries – All About the Yeast

I love wild berries.  I don’t come into a supply very often but when I do I know that it’s going to be a good day!

My Mother grew up with all sorts of wild berries in Nova Scotia.  Blueberries were the most common for her there.  We’re fortunate to have a few stashes of wild raspberries near our cabin up North and run into a few other types of berries here and there.  But most of my wild berries come from farmers markets.

Wild Berries   All About the Yeast Yeast Foraging Fermenting [Read more...]

Why is my fermenting not working?

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There are all sorts of reasons why a ferment (like sauerkraut, kimchi or fruit wine) may not ‘work.’

In my estimation, here’s the most common reasons why fermenting fails:

  1. Your room is too hot.  If the temperature is nearing 80 degrees of higher, fermenting can be a challenge.  Spaces like the top of your fridge or above your stove can be a few degrees higher than the rest of your kitchen; be aware of ‘micro climates’ that can be warmer (or cooler) than your average room temperature.
  2. Your room is too cold.  If it’s under the mid-60s fermenting can struggle.
  3. Your water isn’t pure.  Water with chlorine or chloramine will generally kill any good bacteria and prevent fermenting.  Chlorine can be boiled off or evaporated; chloramine can’t.
  4. Your jars aren’t cleaned/ rinsed properly.  If you left soap or disinfectant in the jar, it can prevent fermenting.
  5. Your starter or yeast (if using either) was dead before using.
  6. The liquid or jar was too hot when it mixed with starter or wild yeasts and killed the good bacteria and prevented fermenting.
  7. Your salt is iodized.  I’ve never had this problem but iodized salt can prevent fermenting.
  8. You’ve used too much salt (it can prevent a ferment).
  9. You haven’t waited long enough.  In this case it’s not really a ‘problem’ – but a few days of waiting can make a difference.
  10. You’re expecting a volcano but sometimes it’s more subtle.  Some of my ferments barely bubble or only bubble when stirred.

What would you add (or remove) from this list?

Preserving Raspberries Round-Up

We send a weekly newsletter focused on a single-topic related to preserving, cooking, local food, foraging, gardening or something else.  Our goal with the newsletter is “to be the most useful resource in your inbox.”  The newsletter includes links to many other websites with ideas sharing knowledge about the topic as well as original content, announcements and occasional contests from us as well.  As an added bonus we send all subscribers the link to a file for labels that Dana hand-designed so you can print your own designer labels to decorate your jars.  You can sign up here.

This weeks theme was: Rapberries!  New preservers will find everything they need to learn to preserve raspberries and veterans will (hopefully) find new ideas and great preserving ideas for one fo my favorite all-time berries to preserve!

Water Bath Canning

  • Raspberry Jam with Natural Pectin (Rachel Cotterill)  Raspberries have a lot of seeds – and that means there’s a lot of pectin.  By avoiding additional pecting you avoid additional sugar (pectin is generally very bitter); here’s a recipe for jam without pectin.
  • Raspberry Chia Jam (A House in the Hills) If you’re looking to add a little something ‘extra’ to your jam, why not consider this?
  • Rhubarb Raspberry Jam (Kitchen Joy) I had planned to make a batch of rhubarb-raspberry jam this year but rhubarb season ended a little early…
  • Russian Raspberry Preserves (Girls’ Guide to Guns and Butter) Although I’m not Russian, I grew up with jam similar to this as well.  It is really fantastic to see how different cultures identify with food that is sometimes so similar to what I grew up with as well.  I loved reading Sofya hinting that it was worth getting sick to eat this jam!
  • How to Make Seedless Raspberry Jelly (New Life on a Homestead) How to make seedless jelly from raspberries.  This recipe uses a jellysack to strain the berries (and has a great place to tie it from!)
  • Red Raspberry Jelly (Making Memories with Your Kids) Also a seedless jam, this  recipe shows you how to remove the seeds without a sack.
  • Honey Sweetened Raspberry Preserves (Food In Jars).  I love sweetening preserves with honey and Food in Jars shows us how.

Dehydration

  • How to Dehydrate Raspberries (Are We Crazy or What) I love that this post uses a vacuum sealer as an extra step to preserve the tastes of the berries at the end!
  • Raspberry Fruit Leather (Nosh on It)  Just like the fruit roll-ups I had as a kid – only different since these are homemade!

Cellar, Fridge and Freezer

  • How to Freeze Raspberries and Strawberries (Keeper of the Home) I like the mention of re-using parchment paper in this post.
  • How to Freeze Berries (Lakeview Farms) A super-short guide to freezing berries that’s perfect for quick-reads or skimmers!
  • 5 Ways to Freeze Berries (Raspberry-Blackberry.com)  Freezing can go beyond just preserving the berries as-is. Here’s a bunch of ideas for different ways to freeze berries (and a short round-up of ideas on how to use the frozen berries).
  • One-Pint Raspberry Jam (Canadian Living)  How to make 1-pint of jam for your fridge.

Fermenting Berries

  • Fermented Raspberry Leaf Tea (Hunger and Thirst) This is a fascinating idea!  A brilliant post that uses a pasta cutter to slice raspberry leaves and you ferment them to create tea leaves!
  • Red Raspberry Leaf Tea Kombucha (Patrice D’Agostino) Use raspberry tea (like the one above) to flavor – and how to make your own SCOBY for kombucha.
  • How to second-ferment/ Flavor Kombucha (Devine Health from the Inside Out) How to add flavor to kombucha featuring raspberries and 23 other ideas.
  • Fermented Raspberry Sauces (Neo Homesteading).  I fermented berries for the first time a few years back and love making small ferments like this one; they are bitter and sweet and INTERESTING.
  • Lacto-fermented Berries (Oh Lardy) Oh Lardy makes a ‘fermenting stock’ to increase the amount of bacteria with the berries to encourage fermenting.
  • Fermented Rasberry Preserves (Nourishing My Life) Another take on fermented berries; I love to ferment raspberries as they often have a significant amount of wild yeast on them and are easy to work with).
  • Fruit Kvass (Rebecca Wood)  If you like kmbucha or are curious about fermenting non-alcoholic beverages, this recipe is a mist-read.
  • Raspberry Cordial (alcohol) (Too Many Chefs) Making booze is easy; this shows how remarkably simple it is.  The recipe is about a sentence long and there’s a page of tips to support it.  In short: raspberries and sugar will make booze.
  • Raspberry Wine – Tips from the Pros (Wine Maker Mag)  “Making” booze is easy but there’s an art to refining it.  Here’s a great place to learn some of the nuances.

From Our Archives

Tomorrow Night – $700+ in Prizes, Community Support and Fundraising

I don’t normally push our own events this hard.  But desperate times call for desperate measures.

I visited 3 restaurants in Leslieville tonight and, with construction, there were a total of 8 people dining at them.

In order to promote local food businesses we are having a fundraiser at Hi-Lo tomorrow night (100% of proceeds are being donated to local charity; we’ll share the amount publicly of course) and are giving away more than 40 prizes from local restaurants. The prizes are meant to encourage the winners to get out on the town in the middle of construction season.

Tomorrow Night   $700+ in Prizes, Community Support and Fundraising

Prizes have been donated from:

  • The Riverside BIA
  • Leslieville Farmers Market
  • Left Field Brewery
  • F’Coffee
  • Dangerous Dan’s
  • Butchers of Distinction
  • Appetite
  • Hi-Lo
  • Table 17
  • Enoteca Ascari
  • Tabule
  • Aft
  • Prohibition
  • Glas Winebar
  • Skin and Bones
  • The Vine Agency
  • Rock Lobster
  • Boots and Bourbon
  • Comrade
  • Mary McLeods
  • Random House
  • Hooked
  • and more are still coming in…

We’ll be selling raffle tickets and encouraging all to mingle. There are more than 40 prizes and the bar fits about 60 people – your chances of winning are great!

(We start selling tickets at 7 and will start drawing at 8 and hope to wrap up draws by 10:30 if not earlier)

Please consider coming out and liking/ sharing this post to encourage others to do that same..

If you’re not in Toronto, you can still support your local businesses.  Summer is a deceptively difficult time for many restaurants and small businesses and your support makes a big difference to them – and your community.

What Preserving Looked Like in 1917

Caution: Do not follow the recipes photographed below.  These methods were acceptable in 1917 but are not considered safe today.  More on that below..

My friend Brock (from Kensington Brewing Company) approached me with a smirk.

I have a gift for you.

His arm extended forward and he handed me this:

What Preserving Looked Like in 1917 [Read more...]

What Jar Should I use for Fermenting?

We get this question from time to time (or one like it:

What jar should I use for fermenting?

There are endless options: ceramic crocks, mason jars, bowls, plastic (not uncommon in brewing and winemaking) and many others.

My answer comes with 2 caveats:

  • The question is somewhat flawed; more information is needed.  Are you fermenting a gallon of cider, a 6.5 gallon carboy of wine, a few cups of carrots or something else?  The volume – and the ingredient – play key roles.
  • There is massive differences in personal opinion and many of them are cultural.  For example, mead (honey wine) is often fermented without oxygen using an airlock while T’ej (an Ethiopian Honey Wine) is often fermented in open air.  And, of course there are exceptions too.  This means, almost certainly, that any advice I share is bound to be met by a protest that my advice is wrong (which, to some, it will be).

My first thought is that, generally, there are few wrong choices.  Start with something clean, non-reactive and lead-free (some old ceramic crocs are not) and you’ll do just fine.

The problem with this advice is that it’s incomplete – ‘fine’ is a relative word.  You could technically ferment grapes on a non-reactive cookie sheet (i.e. a thin layer of juice spread over a wide area and lots of air) and it would ferment.  With the significant amount of oxygen involved, it’s likely that you would end up making vinegar which would be fine if that’s what you wanted – but it you were aiming for booze then you might want to choose something that will allow you to remove the oxygen (like a carboy, gallon jug or fermenting bucket).

And while there are exceptions, a general rule for making booze is using something with a thin neck (like a gallon jug or carboy) or a container that you can attach an airlock to (including fermenting buckets or mason jars with airlock attachments).

If you’re fermenting vegetables, I ask myself a few questions to help guide my decision of choosing the ‘right’ jar:

  1. How much am I fermenting?  Will it fit in the vessel I wish to use?
  2. Where am I storing this when done?  If it’s in the fridge, will this jar fit?
  3. Does the ferment need to be weighed down (common with things like cucumbers that you want to stop from floating above the surface of the water)?  If so I need to choose a container that will allow for something to hold the vegetables down (this includes using a 1/2 cup mason jar inside a wide-mouth mason jar or plates in a large ceramic croc).
  4. Do I want to keep the air out?  If so, this eliminates bowls and many wide-mouth jars and means I’ll use a mason jar with a regular opening (like this) or for larger batches I’d use a croc with a water channel that acts as an air lock (like this).
  5. What do I have on hand?  I’ve used cookie jars, mason jars, open bowls, crocs and more.  It rarely requires specialized equipment so I look around the house.

For those of you who are experienced fermenters, how would you answer this question?  We’d love to hear your take on this answer woo.. What Jar Should I use for Fermenting? Fermenting

Cherry Round-Up

We send a weekly newsletter focused on a single-topic related to preserving, cooking, local food, foraging, gardening or something else.  Our goal with the newsletter is “to be the most useful resource in your inbox.”  The newsletter includes links to many other websites with ideas sharing knowledge about the topic as well as original content, announcements and occasional contests from us as well.  As an added bonus we send all subscribers the link to a file for labels that Dana hand-designed so you can print your own designer labels to decorate your jars.  You can sign up here.

This weeks theme was: Cherries!  New preservers will find everything they need to learn to preserve cherries and veterans will (hopefully) find new ideas and great preserving ideas for the first fruit of the year!  Strawberry wine, spicy preserves and recipes for beginners are all included.

Cherry Round Up Cherry [Read more...]

In Toronto or Campbellford, Ontario? See WellPreserved in Person…

When it rains it pours.

We haven’t had an event in almost 2 months and now we have 3 in the next 8 days!

In Toronto or Campbellford, Ontario?  See WellPreserved in Person...

There’s some amazing events happening in the next week and I’m thrilled to be part of them.  Here’s what’s going on in the next week:

  • The Raconteurs Story Telling (Toronto).  Wednesday, July 9th.  ($10 tickets) Doors 6:30, sow at 7:30.  I am so excited to be going to this event.  This awesome group of people curate 10 speakers to share short stories around a single topic.  Each person has 7-10 minutes to share their story to a live audience (the stories are also recorded and broadcast online).    I’ve been watching their stories on their YouTube Chanel over the last little while and I’m inspired by the ability of great story tellers to share so much in so little time.  I’ll be sharing a story about my earliest food memories and the persistent connection of emotion and the decisions I make on what I eat (and how we ended up largely opting out of the grocery store).  I have no problem admitting I’m a little nervous for this – the idea of transitioning from ‘public speaking’ to ‘story telling’ is partly symatec but I’ve had a mental wall to climb to get there.  I can’t wait!
  • Incredible Edibles Festival (Campbelford, Ontario).  Saturday, July 12.  All day.  This is a massive event!  Food, entertainment, speakers, vendors and a town festival to celebrate food, farming and community.  There will also be a goat fashion show and goat races!  The Campbellford Farmers market will swell to more than 50 vendors and a celebration of local food.  We’re friends with some of the organizers, have worked with others and are meeting more on the way.  This has been an inspired group of people and we’re excited to share the stage with a stellar lineup of passionate speakers.  And goats!
  • HomeEc Construction Season (Riverside, Toronto) 7:00-11:00PM. We’re hosting a party to raise funds for a local charity and raise business for local businesses during the worst construction we’ve ever faced (one of Toronto’s busiest intersections which brings people from more than 3 major street car lines is closed for a month)!  We’ll be raffling more than 20 prizes away over a few hours – each of the prizes will help bring people to local businesses who are struggling with the reduced traffic due to construction.

It’s going to be a busy week – hope to see you out!

HomeEc – Construction Season – July 16th

OK team, we need your help!

We live in Riverside (near Leslieville) in Toronto.  Construction has closed the intersection of Queen and Broadview which is dramatically decreasing business for the local business in our community.

You can help support local business in the middle of the worst (but needed) construction project we’ve ever faced – and you can win a whack load of prizes!

HomeEc   Construction Season   July 16th HomeEc

Here’s the deal:

  • Come to HiLo on July 16th.
  • We’ll be selling raffle tickets and have some form of silent auction.  100% of raffle proceeds are being donated to local charity (we’ll announce the amount here; we’re planning to donate to The Red Door which is a shelter in our neighborhood).
  • We’ll be selling tickets from 7:00PM onwards and we’ll start drawing winners at 8:00PM.
  • Raffle prizes will consist of small-large prizes (supporting local food businesses in the area; each prize will be redeemable from July 17th – August 4th.  Prizes will range from a free pint of beer, a $30 bar tab to HiLo, apps and mains from Table 17 and Enoteca Escari and more!  The prizes are all incentives to come out and support our neighborhood in the toughest construction season we’ve faced in recent memory.
  • So far we’ve received prizes from:
    • Butchers of Distinction
    • The Comrade
    • Dangerous Dan’s
    • Enotecta Ascari
    • Glas Winebar
    • Hi-Lo
    • Left Field Brewery
    • and more!

Left Field Brewery will also be attending and bringing a keg with them – it’s the first time you’ll be able to have Left Field on tap at HiLo!

We hope you’ll come out and help spread the word – and we hope you’ll join us in supporting local business in the midst of a challenging time!

list of businesses offering prizes will be updated on our NEW I Love Home Ec website (the place to keep up with all our events!).

Automating Your Garden? A Handy Tool

I’m a pretty serious geek.  Always have been and always will.  I enjoy small obsessions over tiny things and one of those pursuits has long been about household and lifestyle automation.  Making the machines work for us; not us for them.

I’ve been using a tool call IFTTT for a few years.  It stands for:

IF This Then That

You can use it to do cool thins like:

If I arrive at my House, Then turn my cellphone to silent

Or:

If I change my picture on Facebook , Then update my Twitter picture.

It’s not rocket science but it’s awfully neat.

I’ve noticed that they’ve added a bunch of automation task for gardeners.  Things like:

  • Send me a text message when it’s going to freeze overnight
  • Alert my phone when my plants need watering
  • Send me an email to remind me to water the plants.

Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool.  And thought you might want to check it out too.