Archive for October, 2012

Apple Cider, the old fashioned way!

ImageLast weekend I met up with some girlfriends for a Sunday afternoon of apple pressing in the country.  It was a blast!  Love getting together with other ladies who enjoy organic foods, gardening, home food preservation, good company and fresh air!  While I had a fun time, apple pressing is hard work.  Megan was gracious enough to open her home and farm up to us and share with us her apple press and grinder.   We all came with local and organic apples, glass jars and a pot luck meal. 

We had an assembly line going beginning with washing the apples and cutting off any wormy, bad spots.

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Next we ran the apples through the grinder. 

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Then we filled the pillow case-lined wooden bottomless barrel with the ground apples.

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They are ready to be pressed!  We turned the crank as far as it would go then inserted a stick for a leaver to crank it down further.  We had to then loosen and repeat with a wooden block under the press to squeeze out all of the juice.  Megan’s husband, Ian helped us get every last drop!  We repeated this over and over again until all of our approximate 4 bushels of apples were processed.  This may sound quick and easy but ittook 7 of us about 3 hours to make 6 gallons of cider to share.  We also had many unwanted guests there, and it wasn’t the fruit flies from my kitchen.  Bees!!  Honey bees everywhere!  Including many that probably got pressed along with the apples.  There were more and more of them by the minute.  We made it through with only one person getting stung once, not too bad.

With the 3/4 of a gallon of apple cider I took home last week there’s maybe a cup left!  DH thought it had a “weird aftertaste” but the boys and I loved it and made some apple cider popsicles too.  I had a great time pressing apples in the country, but I do also appreciate that I can do the same in a fraction of the time with the Jack Lalanne juicer in my kitchen.

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Our garden fresh potluck!  Love the handmade from reclaimed barn wood giant kitchen table too!

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Homesteading & Sustainability

Ready to dry/freeze

Hello blogging world. It has been a while but I have had homesteading on my mind and decided to write about it.  I have been on a homesteading and sustainability mission lately.  We are trying to slowly increase our self-sufficiency now that we have settled into our first home.

In case you were wondering, here is the definition of homesteading via Mother Earth News and the EPA’s definition of sustainability:

  • Homesteading is “….a lifestyle that promotes greater self sufficiency – wherever you live. It’s about using less energy, eating wholesome local food, involving your family in the life of the community and making wiser choices that will improve the quality of life for your family, your community and the environment around you.”
  • Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment.  Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.

We choose to adapt this lifestyle as much as possible for several reasons:  to leave a small carbon footprint on this planet, for better health, and it’s good knowledge to have and to pass onto our children.  We have a lot of respect for those who came before us who homesteaded out of necessity.  And in some respects I feel it has come full circle.  As a health practitioner, and health conscious individual, it is frustrating and scary the amount of toxic chemicals that surround us:  in the grocery store, the cleaning isles, garden centers, the make-up counter, they are everywhere.  In a way, I feel homesteading is a necessity, not in the same way as our ancestors, but as the best way to reduce the toxins in our lives and to not contribute to the growing toxins entering our environment.

 What we have done so far

We have been making small steps toward becoming more self-sufficient and sustainable.  Here is what we have accomplished:

  1. Vegetable and herb garden

    Photo by Elizabeth Bernstein Photography

  2. Green house
  3. Line drying our clothes in the summer
  4. Composting
  5. Well water and septic
  6. Canning
  7. Homemade candles
  8. Homemade vanilla extract
  9. Shopping at local farm market
  10. Homemade household cleaners
  11. Some woodworking and handy work
  12. We buy pantry items from amish and online co-ops with organic and fair trade products.
  13. Homemade gifts
  14. Rain gauge and barometer (does that count?!)

What we want to do in the future

  1. Plant apple, pear, cherry and maybe peach trees
  2. Build and instal 2 rain barrels
  3. Chickens! And build a coop first
  4. Find new ways to reduce electricity usage
  5. Grow some mushrooms
  6. Make our own soap
  7. Sewing
  8. Grow more and new produce
  9. Save seeds
  10. Grow herbs indoors in the winter
  11. We are installing a portable generator this fall (thanks to my generous in-laws)

ARE YOU HOMESTEADING?  WHAT DO YOU DO FOR SUSTAINABILITY?  WHAT ELSE CAN I ADD TO OUR FUTURE LIST?

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