Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Homemade Fruit Vinegar

Making vinegar is super easy!

All you need is fruit scraps, water, honey, a large jar, a paper towel and an elastic band.  Last year I made vinegar from pear scraps and apple scraps.  I will do apple vinegar again in about a month.

This is pear scraps in the big Tupperware bowl.  I thought of posting this near the end of today's canning.  It isn't enough for the 1/2 gallon jars I used, but you can make it in any size amounts you want.

This is four cups of water and three tablespoons of honey that is almost solid.  Last year I used three cups of water and two tablespoons of honey.  Most recipes I found used one tablespoon of honey to one cup of water. I seem to recall that the first recipe I found in a book, but I can't remember the book name, called for three cups of water and two tablespoons of honey.  I don't think that the ratio of honey to water really matters much.  Whatever you choose you need a 1/2 gallon jar to make it the way I am making it.
So again if you are confused:  This is 4 cups of water with 3 tablespoons of honey. I stirred the honey to dissolve most of it. No stirring needed if your honey is liquid.

This jar contains the pear scraps that were in the bowl. This is not enough. You need to fill the jar to the neck.

Fold a paper towel in half and put it on top of the jar and secure with an elastic band.  This will go into the refrigerator until I get more scraps tomorrow.

This is what I have from peeling and coring 21 quarts of pears. I do not use the stems.  Now the three jars on the left need to go into a dark space for 3 weeks.  Check weekly for mold or sour/vinegar smell.  If there is mold then it is definitely ready for the next step. I did not get mold on any of the vinegar I made last year.

As you can see the nice dark place I use is under the bathroom sink.  This cupboard is not opened often.

In three weeks or sooner if mold appears it is time for the next step.  Skim off any mold and drain the liquid out of the jars into a temporary container. Now put the liquid back into the jars and cover the same way as before and place back into the dark place and let it finish turning into vinegar for 6 more weeks.
NOTE: I like to strain the liquid again before it goes back into the jars through many layers of cheese cloth to get rid of a lot of the sediment.

I'll post pictures as it is time for the rest of the vinegar making steps.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Oct. Emergency Preparedness - More about Milk and Info about Fats and Salt

More about Milk

Milk Gravy
Milk gravy is the same as white sauce, except that white sauce is usually made with butter or margarine, while gravy is made with other fat.  You can use the two interchangeably as long as the fat is pure and flavor is mild.  Use it as the base for cream soups and casseroles, as well as gravy to top biscuits.  Add any meat bits to it for a main course.
2 teaspoons flour                                                         1 cup reconstituted dry milk
2 tablespoons fat

Melt fat over medium heat, sprinkle flour in, while stirring.  Continue stirring until the mixture barely starts to brown.  Add milk all at once.  Stir briskly to avoid lumps.  Return to boil and cook 1 – 2 minutes to thicken.  Makes 1 cup.

White Sauce

3 cups warm water                                                      1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 –1 cup dry milk                                                     3 – 4 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon shortening or oil

Reconstitute dry milk with water.  Whisk in flour and salt until smooth.  Cook over medium heat until mixture is thickened.  Add fat, if desired.  Serve hot over rice, macaroni, or toast.  Thin for use as chowder-type soup with beans, rice and wheat.

Graveyard Stew

Salt and pepper toasted and buttered bread.  Pour hot milk over and eat.  If no toaster is available spread shortening on sliced bread and fry in skillet.

Cemetery Stew

2 slices of bread, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup milk                                                                   sprinkle of sugar

Pour hot or cold milk over bread, sprinkle with sugar, and eat like a bowl of cereal.

About Dietary Fats

Fat is an important energy-providing nutrient.  A small amount of dietary fat is necessary for our bodies to properly absorb fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K.  Fat also assists in vitamin D absorption, which helps calcium get into the body, especially to the bones and teeth.

Fat is an essential ingredient in almost all baking.  The taste, texture and appearance of foods improve even when it is only used in small amounts.  Food textures change with the use of different fats because of their individual characteristics.  Shortening makes baked goods fluffier and flakier, while oils provide a denser, heavier product.  Fats in bread are interchangeable, measure for measure, whether liquid or solid.  One tablespoon fat to four cups flour is sufficient for bread.  Fat serves as a preservative in bread and other foods.
Shortening does not contain water.  To get the same results when substituting shortening for butter or margarine, add 1 tablespoon water for each half cup of shortening used.  A cookie made with shortening and no extra water added is higher and lighter, while a butter cookie is flatter and crisper.

Storage conditions that affect the deterioration of fats, oil and food in general are summarized in the acronym HALT: Humidity, Air, Light, and Temperature.  Reducing exposure to humidity, air, light, and warm temperatures will prolong storage life.  Fats and oils vary in their ability to store for prolonged periods.  Generally shortening can be stored for many years; cooking oil must be rotated more frequently.

About Salt
A body may endure periods of lack of food, but without salt and water, would quickly perish from dehydration.  The average person contains about eight ounces of salt.  Salt is in every cell of the body.  It helps wounds to heal and body fluids to be properly regulated.  Salt regulates electrical charges through the nervous system which helps contractions of the heart and other muscles.  Salt is necessary for the digestion of food and flow of nutrients.  As hunters, humans got all the sodium they needed by eating meat, but with the switch to agriculture came the need to add salt to a grain and vegetable diet.

Salt played an important part in the survival of the human race long before recorded history.  Drying or curing with salt was virtually the only know ways of preserving food.  These practices helped elimate dependency on the seasonal availability of food and made travel possible over long distances because it inhibited the growth of bacteria.  Thanks to canning, drying, freezing and refrigeration, salt is no longer a primary means of preserving food.

Salt is mostly used in the kitchen and on the dining table.  Salt accents the flavor of meat, brings out the individuality of vegetables, puts “oomph” into bland starches, deepens the flavor of delicate desserts and develops the flavor of melons and other fruits.  No other seasoning has yet been found to satisfactorily take the place of salt.

Iodized salt is standard table salt with iodine added.  Iodine is a component of the thyroid hormone, which controls the rate of energy production in all cells.  It thereby influences the growth and general activity of every organ.  Iodine reduces mental retardation.  Iodine deficiency causes a 10 to 15% reduction in a population’s IQ capability.  It was the first nutrient to be added to foods as a supplement.  Since and adult only requires about one teaspoonful of iodine over a lifetime, eating fish once a week is enough to fulfill the average iodine requirements.

A question frequently asked is: Does water boil faster if you put salt in the water? Answer: when a small amount of salt is added to water, such as when cooking pasta, the amount of time needed to come to a boil is insignificant between plan water and salted water.

There are about 10,000,000 crystals in a pound of salt.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sept. Emergency Preparedness - More about Sugar and A Little About Powdered Milk

More about Sugar

Almost Caramel
NOTE: Read through recipe first.

2 teaspoons flour                                                         1 – 2 teaspoons shortening
1/2 cups sugar, divided                                               1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons dry milk                                                dash salt
1/2 cup hot water

Prepare a lightly oiled plate, 5” bowl or similar size heat-safe container and set aside.  In a separate small bowl, stir together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, salt and dry milk.  Using a fork, blend in 1/4 cup water.  Whisk until lump-free.  Set aside.  Measure shortening and set aside.  For a firmer candy use the lesser amount of shortening.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar in the bottom of a metal pan, turn on medium-high heat, and melt sugar.  DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED.  As sugar starts to melt, gently push dry sugar to center.  When syrup is apple juice-colored, quickly pour 1/2 cup hot water over syrup and cover.  BE CAREFUL. When water has quit sputtering and sugar has liquefied, stir in milk mixture.  Turn heat down to medium and stir in shortening.  Continue to stir and cook until candy is firm when a small amount is dropped in cold water.  Pour caramel into previously oiled dish.  Cool and cut.
Note:  Caramelizing determines color and flavor; the darker the color the stronger the scorched flavor.

Bean Ball Candy

1/2cup bean flour                                                        1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar                                                              1 teaspoon shortening (butter flavored)
3 tablespoons dry milk                                                1/8 teaspoon salt

Butter a small flat dish or saucer and set aside.  Combine all dry ingredients in a saucepan.  Stir in water.  Cook on medium-low heat until very thick.  Be sure to cook at least 5 minutes to get bean flour cooked.  If it thickens too fast add more water and turn down heat.  Stir with a pancake turner to keep bottom scraped.  Remove from heat and beat with a whisk.
When cooked, scrape out on saucer and let cool.  Form into balls and roll into Toasted Oat Crumbles.

About Dry Milk

Non-fat dry milk is a wholesome dairy product made from fresh milk.  Only the cream and water are removed.  It still contains the calcium, minerals, vitamins, natural sugar, and high quality protein that make liquid milk such a valuable food.
Dry milk should be stored in a tightly covered container.  Dry milk powder will take in moisture and become lumpy and develop off-flavors.  It will keep at room temperature for several months.  For longer storage it is necessary to store in a cool, dry place.
The dry milk that is non-instant does not mix easily for drinking purposes.  Experience has shown it will mix in easier if the water is slightly warm, but not hot.  Measure the powdered milk into a container and add about half of the water needed.  Stir, shake, beat with wire whip or blender on slow speed to incorporate milk.  Add enough cold water to finish making the desired amount milk.  Mix thoroughly, cover and refrigerate preferable overnight.  Any lumps will soften and can be stirred in the next day. (Dry lumps can be grated on a metal strainer).
When milk is specified in recipes, add dry milk to dry ingredients.  The water for reconstitution should be added in with the liquid ingredients.
Quick Reference for Reconstituting Non-instant Dry Milk

Fluid Skim Milk          =          Dry Milk                     +          Water
1 quart                                     3/4 cup                                  1 quart
1 pint                                       1/3 cup                                  2 cups
1 cup                                       3 tablespoons                         1 cup
3/4 cup                                    2 T. + 1 1/2 t.                         3/4 cup
2/3 cup                                    2 tablespoons                         2/3 cup
1/2 cup                                    1 T. + 1 1/2 t.                         1/2 cup
1/3 cup                                    1 tablespoon                           1/3 cup
1/4cup                                     2 1/4 teaspoons                      1/4cup

NOTE: When reconstituting dry milk the amounts given may vary depending on the brand purchased and personal preferences.

Evaporated Milk

1 1/2 cups warm water                                                1 cup dry milk

Mix ingredients thoroughly.  Refrigerate, preferably overnight.

Whipped Evaporated Milk

Best if prepared just before serving.  Thoroughly chill 1 cup evaporated milk.  Whip until stiff.  Sweeten with sugar.  Makes about 3 cups.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

3/4 cup dry milk                                                          3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup hot water

Combine milk and sugar in mixing bowl.  Pour hot water into blender; add the milk and sugar mixture and blend until smooth.  (A hand mixer may be used.)  Use as substitute for canned sweeten condensed milk in recipes.  Makes 14 ounces.

Caramel Sauce

Pour sweetened condensed milk into top of double boiler; place over boiling water.  Simmer over low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until thick and caramel-colored, stirring occasionally.  Beat until smooth.

Buttermilk or Sour Milk

Add 1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 cup reconstituted dry milk.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

August 2016 Emergency Preparedness - More About Beans and A Little About Sugar

More about Beans
Bean Flour
1 cup dry beans = about 1 1/8 cups flour

Dry beans can be ground to a fine flour using a hand grinder and strong muscles for small quantities, or electric mill for larger quantities.  A small amount of bean flour added to baked goods increases vitamin and mineral content and contributes towards a complete protein.  Bean flour is great to have on hand for making “instant” soups, sauces, dips, gravies and sandwich fillings, and to add to almost everything you cook or bake.  When added to boiling water, bean flours thicken in only 1 minute; cooked 3 minutes they are ready to eat.
Baby lima and small white beans have mildest taste.  Other favorites are pinto, small red and garbanzo.  Some varieties of beans require more liquid than others.  You will have to experiment.  Store flour on cool, dark shelf in an air-tight container.  Best used within 3 months.

Instant Bean Soup/Gravy

Use 2 tablespoons white bean flour per cup of liquid for thin soups. 3 tablespoons for medium-thick and 4 – 5 tablespoons for thick soups, stews or gravies.  Whisk into soup stock or boiling water with 1 teaspoons bouillon or soup base per cup.  Cook 3 – 5 minutes.

Dips and Sandwich Fillings

Stir 1 cup bean flour and 1 teaspoon salt into 2 1/2 cups boiling water.  Cook 1 minute, stirring until mixture thickens.  Reduce heat to low, cook 5 minutes.  This is fluffy; similar to refried beans.  Add spices for more flavoring.

Pinto Bean Paste

Firm Paste: 1 cup bean flour to 1 1/2 cups boiling water
Fluffy Paste: 1 cup bean flour to 2 2/3 cups boiling water

Stir bean flour into boiling water and let sit 3 minutes.  This paste can be whipped with seasoning and butter and used in place of mashed potatoes, added to patties, and casseroles.  This paste does require further cooking.  It should be added to recipes that will be cooked or baked further.  Or continue to cook 3 to 5 minutes more to eat as is.

Cream of Bean Soup

3 cups boiling water                                                    1/2 cup bean flour
1 – 2 teaspoons salt or bouillon

In a saucepan whisk bean flour into boiling water and seasoning.  Stir and cook 3 minutes.  Puree in blender for a “souper” creamy texture.  Serve over pasta or stir in cooked wheat or beans.  Use as a gravy over cooked rice.  Soup thickens as it cools, and can be refrigerated for up to one week.  Use it in place of canned soup.
Cream Sauce: Use reconstituted dry milk for part of the water and add a little oil or non-dairy creamer.

About Sugar
1 pound granulated = 2 cups
1 cup honey = 1 1/4 cups granulated plus 1/4 cup water

Sugars are carbohydrates which provide fuel for the body.  Carbohydrates account for up to 80% of the caloric intake in many countries of the world.  Simple or fast-acting carbohydrates include fruit juices, refined white bread and white rice which are digested quickly and easily by the body and provide a quick, but short-lived, burst of energy.  Complex carbohydrates which include whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables take longer to break down in the body and provide a sustained, longer-lasting energy.
Sugar plays important roles in foods for many reasons that go beyond the sweet taste they impart.  They add taste, texture, and color to baked goods and provide energy for yeast used in baking breads.  They add body to yogurt, help balance acidity in tomato sauces and salad dressings and act as preservatives. They increase the boiling point or reduce the freezing point of foods, and add bulk and density.  There are many types of sugars.  The most familiar is sucrose: common table sugar.
Table sugar can be caramelized (scorched) to give it a pleasing flavor and darkened color.

Pancake Syrup

CAUTION: Read through recipe before making.

1 Cup sugar, divided                                                  1/2 cup cold water
Dash of salt                                                                 1 teaspoon shortening
4 teaspoons white flour                                               1/2 cup hot water

Measure 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and flour into a small bowl.  Stir in 1/2 cup cold water until lump free.
Sprinkle 3/4 cup sugar evenly in the bottom of a silver pan (so you can see it change color).  Heat over medium-high heat.  As sugar melts, gently push dry sugar to the center of syrup.  When syrup is apple juice color or almost as dark as you like, remove pan from heat.  Sugar does not need to completely dissolve.  With lid in one hand and pre-measured 1/2 cup hot water in the other, quickly pour hot water over syrup and cover pan with lid.  BE CAREFUL…it will sputter and steam.  Tilt pan back and forth a few times and return to heat.  Uncover when the pan has quit steaming.  When sugar is liquefied, stir in mixture in bowl and cook until syrup is thickened.  It will thicken more as it cools.  Makes about 1 cup.  Stores in refrigerator 3 months.
NOTE:  Caramelization determines flavor and color.  Darker color = stronger burnt flavor.  To stretch the sugar, a smaller amount can be used (may need to increase flour) with a decrease in flavor occurring.