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


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.

Homemade Cherry Juice from the Steam Juicer

I continue to be blown away by the results of our steam juicer.

Homemade Cherry Juice from the Steam Juicer steam juicer Cherry cherries [Read more...]

Sausage, Peas, Onions and Ale

I love peas.  I often forget how much I love them until early summer hits and suddenly I’m flooded with peas.  Peas, peas, peas.

Sausage, Peas, Onions and Ale sausage Peas pea onions Onion [Read more...]

Strawberry Balsamic and Basil Salad Dressing Recipe

Dana took one look at the bright red bowl of salad dressing before looking up at me and asking, “What’s in it?”  She, like me, is an adventurous eater so I knew she wasn’t questioning whether she’d eat it – she just wanted to know what ‘it’ was.  I told her the ingredients.

Seems like there’s a whole lot going on.

It wasn’t exactly a rave review.  But I held out hope – and it was worth it.  Despite having a lot of ingredients, this really was a fantastic dressing and she agreed.

Strawberry Balsamic and Basil Salad Dressing Recipe Strawberry Basil Balsamic [Read more...]

How to Cook Sausage on the Stove

On a blog where many of the readers make their own sausage from scratch it might seem odd to write a post about something as basic as cooking said sausage.  Sometimes, when I write posts like this, I am informed that ‘everyone knows how to do that’ and I sometime hesitate at sharing the fundamentals.

There’s 3 reasons why I share these things:

  1. They’re fundamental.  Important.  If you don’t do them right you’ll be paying the price many times in your life.  They’re more important than the next food trend or obscure ingredient because you’re likely to use them often.
  2. Not everyone knows how to do them.  Really, it’s true.  Even experienced cooks can improve their cooking by examining the flaws in their fundamental techniques that were often learned long before many learned to ‘properly’ cook.
  3. I messed them up.  I like to share my mistakes and my mistakes give me an opportunity to learn and share.  I’ve burned more sausage while also serving plenty of the same sausage undercooked than I care to admit.  In order to overcome this I ruined plenty of sausage by cutting into them to test if they were done and drained most of the moisture, fat and flavor from them.

How to Cook Sausage on the Stove [Read more...]