Homemade Hard Apple cider without a press

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We have been enjoying the fruits of our Labour testing and tasting the cider from the apples we have been foraging. I really wish I knew what variety of Apple’s we are using as I’ve searched and searched and I can’t find any information. The tree is over 50 years old possibly closer to 100 so we will be saving some seeds if we can’t find a young seedling underneath the tree. The apples as absolutely scrumptious – sweet and crunchy but deceptively green at first sight and take on a slight yellow tinge once ripe looking a little like a cross between a golden delicious and a granny smith.

As we don’t own a press or a juicer I’ve been hunting for recipes I could follow without these.
I had seen a post on how to convert a old washing machine into a giant juicer and if anyone is interested in this I’ll post the link. It’s something I will definitely consider doing for the future or I will save up for a manual press.

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Our first lot of cider was successful but the recipe I followed said to cook the apples and I found the finished product a little grainy. We did a second strain before serving and while it tasted good it didn’t taste right.

The next lot of cider I decided to use the food processor to crush the raw apples. I used about a kilo of Apple’s and after crushing them as fine as I could I popped them in a 5litre food grade bucket with 2 cups of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of cider yeast and 4 litres of water. Then I covered with a muslin cloth and rubber band and popped them up on my fermenting shelf.

I left this mix for 4 days stirring daily. After this I strained off the pulp squeezing to get as much of the liquid out as possible.

I then bottled and left for a second ferment so it carbonated. You don’t have to carbonate and can drink it still but I like the bubbles. I only needed to leave it for two days to get the level of carbonation I wanted.
After this make sure you store in the refrigerator.

Now I’m sure more seasoned home brewers would disagree with this method but it worked for me and I’m happy with the results.
We are now experimenting with flavours and maple cinnamon is a definite favorite. Next I’ll be making a pumpkin and Apple spiced cider that I won’t carbonate so I can heat it in the cooler months for a instant winter cider!

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When life gives you apples..

I’m finally sitting down to write this week’s blog post. I’ve accepted they will be weekly if I’m lucky!

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Blogging is a funny thing, If I could plug into my internal monologues there would be so much content to share! I keep telling myself I will keep a note book handy to jot down ideas for posts but the reality is I often write my most interesting posts when I’m somewhere random like weeding the garden so for now you will just have to put up with nonsensical ramblings whenever I squeeze time in between animals, babies, gardening and home chores!

Right now I am enjoying a glass of the blackberry sparkling wine I made last week. The warm weather means that it has fermented a lot quicker than my recipe stated so I need to amend that(especially since my friends who used my recipe had some exploding bottles!!!)

Our market last weekend went well we had some surprise visits from old friends which was wonderful. We survived with no Nanna help by bringing a travel cot to make a extra play space for the kids.

Dane has picked up some extra work so the homesteading chores have greatly fallen on me which has kept me busy. I’ve still had to squeeze in getting products ready for the Bathurst riverside market this weekend and Taste of Bathurst on the 12th. I’ll be trialling a new fermented summer garden pesto which I’m excited about.

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Kisses calved and it was exactly what we wanted a little bull calf that Miss Nyah has named Seaweed (our last calf was stingray). I’m so excited about having our own beef and although it is always hard taking the life of a animal we have grown attached to we know it’s had a good life and we truly appreciate the gift.

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I have been going well on my personal challenge of processing all the fruit in the freezer.
I did set myself back a little though by taking the kids on a spontaneous foraging adventure to this tree I had been eyeing off for a while nearby. I suspected they were apples but wasn’t sure until we got there to confirm it. On legs with Nyah by my side, Banjo on my back, Gypsy on the leash and Haggis the tortishell cat following behind I felt like we were characters in a story book heading off on a wild adventure! The apples were delicious and we filled the bag to the brim and struggled back home. I’m sure we looked a sight but we were all in good spirits and I have been merrily processing the harvest and will be back for more apples!

So far I have fed a bucketful to kisses with molasses which she greatly deserves, made two buckets of experimental hard cider, canned some Apple pie filling and used the cores and ‘waste’ materials to start another batch of cider vinegar which I will share the recipe for below. You can also save all your Apple cores and discarded toddler apples in the freezer to make this when you have enough but organic is best if you can get it.

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        Apple cider vinegar

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Ingredients

5-10 apples or cores,skins ect
Filtered water
1 cup honey or Sugar

Method

Put all your ingredients in the  jar or bucket (I use a 5L food grade bucket) and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Cover with a cheese cloth or tea towel and secure with a string or elastic band

Leave on the counter for at least a week mixing once a day. The sugar will ferment into alcohol and start to bubble.

Once the Apple/scraps sink to the bottom you have made hard cider!
Strain the apple/scraps off and recover the bucket or pour into a fresh bucket to continue fermentation.

Leave for another 3-4 weeks to allow alcohol to turn to acetic acid. The small amount of sediment at the bottom is normal this is the ‘mother’

After 3 weeks start tasting and once it is to your liking bottle. It will never go ‘off’ but may produce extra mothers that you can use to speed up future batches.

We use ACV all the time. We make it continuously whenever we have enough apple cores saved. It’s great for our health and well being but also great for treating animals as well.

Homemade Cordials

We had a wonderful weekend with friends picking blackberries and enjoying delicious food. Foraging is certainly more fun with friends and the bounty at the end of the day is far greater. We hauled two big buckets and saw lots of other pickers out and about too which was a pleasant surprise.

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Most of the berries from this haul I have frozen but I reserved 3kg for making BlackBerry cordial and I will include the recipe for this after my ramblings!

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This time I decided to can in the vacola jars using the pressure canner. Usually I just pop into sterilized bottles as we go through it so quickly but this means we drink 5 litres of one flavour which can get a bit boring so instead I want to be able to shuffle the flavors around depending on what we feel like.

Homemade cordials are really easy and inexpensive to make and contain none of the nasty artificial flavours , colours or preservatives.I must confess I’ve never been a huge water drinker. I go through phases where I drink it and I try to drink it more in front of the children but sometimes I really cringe when I drink it! Awful I know. I used to make lots of cold sugarless herbal teas which I’d have on hand in the fridge but I haven’t been doing it this summer.
The flavour in homemade cordial is so strong that you really only need the tiniest amount in a large glass of water. You can make cordials out of any fruit, herbs and edible flowers even out of pineapple skins which being frugal as I am is one of my favorites.
My last batch was pineapple and lime and there’s nothing more refreshing than a tropical flavour hit on a hot summer day!

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Recently I was reading a recipe for nasturtium cordials I’m certainly keen to try it but this is one I am skeptical on but we have had some delicious experiments with cherry plums and lilac flowers.

BlackBerry Cordial syrup

Ingredients
3kg blackberry
Sugar
Tartaric acid
Water

In a large pot simmer blackberries in water for 20 mins

Strain berriers and measure liquid by cups

For every cup of liquid add 1 cup of sugar

Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 2 mins

Add 2tsp Tartaric acid simmer 20 more seconds. Take off heat and pour into warm sterilized bottles or can using your preffered method.

This will keep in the fridge for 3 months or you can store in a cool dark place.
Canned it should last a year.

Enjoy!

Busy Busy

It has been another busy week here. The freezer is absolutely chockers and I had no room to fit in the plums we got last weekend. Over a few days (and in between kid and animal wrangling)  we managed to bottle some whole, make a few different varieties of Jam and sauces, replenish the Worcestershire stocks and try our hand at fruit leather.

I think I have found a new addiction in fruit leather as it’s simple to make and really delicious ( If you are Australian you might know the processed version of fruit leather known as roll ups) . We first tried it in Tasmania where it is widely available at market stalls and I had been researching different ways to make it.

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The first lot we made by simply pureeing the fresh plums adding a little sugar and popping in the dehydrator. I found the puree wasn’t consistent so I tried a different method of baking the plum halves with a sprinkling of sugar on top before pureeing in the food processor. This made a much smoother consistency and resulted in a delicious leather.

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In between all this we managed another family forage for Elderberries. Miss N was kept busy taking photos of us and we filled 3 5 litre buckets and will go for more later when the tree in our other spot is ripe. We tried a few different methods of de-stalking the berries. This is a very painstaking and tedious task and we can see why the berries are not available commercially. The first de-stalking method involved  was freezing the berries on the stalk and then breaking them off this works well in the beginning but as the berries start to defrost its not really that effective.

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The most effective and fastest method for us was using a fork and using it to pull the berries off the stalk. This saved our fingers going purple and got us through the mountains of berries. Elderberries are a antioxidant, diuretic, laxative, immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory and is high in vitamin A,B and C

I’ve made up two versions of syrup which is a health tonic to get us through the winter and keep cold and flu at bay. My first version is Raw honey based one it doesn’t taste as good but has the added benefits of raw honey. I’ve decided not to hot process it as I was worried about damaging the benefits of the honey so this one is stored in the fridge. I’ve made enough for our supplies and enough to sell some jars.

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Version number two was sugar based this tastes a lot better and I pressure canned it so I can store it in the pantry.

Both versions contain the benefits of the berries so I really don’t know which is better and I think it comes down to personal choice.

We have also bottled up batches of Elderberry Kombucha and the last job will be making Elderberry fruit leather. Through all this chaos I’m still passionate (and obsessed) with preserving but I really do NOT want to deal with another plum until next year that’s for sure!

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Now we are off to get ready for the Tarana Farmers Markets tomorrow. We love our market days because it’s a chance to share our passion for good food and local produce but it’s also a great way to meet people in the community and we have made many friends since starting markets. If your new to a small rural community and feeling a little lost and alone get out and chat to the stall holders chances are they are looking for new friend too.

Until next post keep gathering!

Plum Cordial

It has been another busy week and we are finding ourselves crumbling into exhausted heaps all over the place. I wish we could tap into the kids energy supplies. They are bouncing around and we find ourselves playing with them over doing our chores as it’s more fun.

We have been social butterflys this week catching up with many friends before they go away. We were gifted yet another two huge boxes of Plums so more and more preserving and experimentation is waiting on the kitchen counter.

We also went foraging and got a huge bunch of Elderberries.

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We will be heading out for more tomorrow afternoon after our interview for community radio. This was a very unexpected request from a customer who bought some vinegar from us at the last market and is talking to different home bakers and cooks in the area. I will be sharing with her the same recipe I will share today for plum cordial.

This cordial truly is the essence of the saying “a season in a bottle”. The plum flavour is divine and the colour is vivid. While making it I thought it would make a wonderful natural dye and if I ever manage to find time to add learning the art of natural dye I will be experimenting with some plums (and Elderberries!).

Please read the entire recipe though particularly if you are like me and go for it then realize half way through you’ve done something wrong and have to back track!

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Plum Cordial

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Ingredients

1kg Plums

3 Litres of water

Sugar

Tartaric acid

Method

Place plums and water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer for 15 mins

Scoop out plums with a slotted spoon then strain liquid though a sieve or muslin cloth measuring as you go

For Every cup of liquid add 1 C of sugar bring to boil stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Reduce heat and simmer for 2 mins then add tartaric acid

Pour into warm sterilized bottles and seal.

If you like you can cook longer to reduce the liquid and make a thicker syrup suitable for Ice cream. You can also use it to flavour cakes, cookies , icing , fillings or in cocktails. Experiment and have some fun!

Weekend Work and Foraging Fun

We had a wonderful day at our stall at our local Oberon Farmers market we nearly sold out of Kombucha and met so many lovely people who were new to the area and had lots of great chats about foraging and preserving. One of these chats revealed the whereabouts of a wild elder flower tree not far from our place.

This morning after our regular chores of watering the garden, chickens and animals I spent some time bottling Tepache which is a mexican beer recipe made by fermenting pineapple skins, brown sugar and spices. I will leave one bottle to do a second and maybe another to do a third ferment to be alcoholic and I can’t wait to try it at Christmas time!

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After the Tepache is was time to bottle more Kombucha I decided this time to try out a new flavor of Hibiscus, Honey and Jasmine. It will be a real struggle to wait another week to try this one as it smells heavenly.

While I kept bottling Dane went out to collect the seeds from our Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Kale. We have huge amount of seeds much more than we will need but I hope we can use them to Barter with other growers to get some more varieties of seeds later on.

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Kombucha bottled we discussed our plans for the day and decided we would go on a adventure to try and find this elder tree to forage some more flowers for cordials. I didn’t have high hopes as generally when we go on adventures to try and find things we don’t have the greatest success but this tree was exactly where we were told it was the only problem was all the best flowers we would need a cherry picker to get too!!

We collected enough to make 7 litres of cordial and 5 litres of Sparkling wine

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I had already been making fermented soft drinks last year and I discovered the process is very similar to country wine so the only thing I did differently is add the wine yeast IMG_4846

I will let everything sit for a few days in the container stirring it everyday and then I will bottle it and give it a few months where I will open a bottle in winter to enjoy the tastes of summer.

it is now getting cool enough outside that we can venture back out and collect some raspberries. I haven’t managed to get enough for my products yet as the kids keep hoovering them up as soon as they come off the bush!

Until next post enjoy the rest of your weekend

Kale catch up!

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Spring is such a busy and beautiful time! We’ve had lots of lovely visitors and have been so so busy in the garden. I recently had a friend say to me “Do you ever get bored at home with the kids?” I had to giggle to myself! We always have so much to do that some days I long to be having a rest. At the moment our Kale is starting to go to seed and we need to get our patch ready for the Spring/Summer Vegie crop. I’m only just going to start sowing these today as frost is still a risk here until November!

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So back to the Kale wow do we ever have a lot! I really didn’t want it to go to waste (not that it ever does as the animals get our “waste”) So I’ve been googling and experimenting to develop some more products for market. I’ve nearly sold out of last seasons preserves and the freezer is now empty of fruit but I want to still be able to sell products where the base ingredient is either home grown or sourced locally from friends and local farms. I think it’s important to show case the wonderful area we live and also show people the variety of things you can do with a simple base ingredient.

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This brings me to Experiment 1. Fermented Kale Pesto at first I was thinking of just making a regular kale Pesto and canning it but the information on Canning pesto is a little vague some say it’s safe while others warn against due to the garlic content so I thought to be safe bottling and refrigeration as the best option. I stumbled across a recipe for fermented kale pesto and then had a chat with my fermenting guru Zoe from Warinyan farm and off I went with my experiment. One 5L bucket of Processed kale, local apples,balsamic caramelized onions, vinegar,orange, lemon balm, garlic and rosemary infused olive oil plus 5 days and YUM the experiment was a success! We ate ours with home made pasta and bottled the rest for sale. I’ve now started another batch of Garden Pesto and added some brassica leaves for a different depth of flavor.

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The other thing I am experimenting with is Kale powder. The kale is dehydrated and then crushed to a powder which can be added to smoothies, sauces or whatever takes your fancy. I used a Dehydrator at  55 degrees but you could also do it in a oven at a low temperature. I added a teaspoon to our pasta sauce the other day and YUM intense kale flavor so I think this is how I will process the remaining plants (we still haven’t managed to harvest it all!) I’m not yet sure if I will sell this but through my research i have actually discovered you can buy kale powder from health food shops so It’s something I will definitely consider.

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In Other news Our lovely mother of the year Straighty One eighty (aptly named as she is a Wyandotte with a straight comb) has hatched our 9 beautiful French wheaten maran chicks I am especially happy about this as this is the 4th lot of eggs we have had posted and the ONLY lot we have ever had success with. These ones came all the way across country from W.A so I’m very happy indeed! We have another lovely mumma due next week with our own Araucana and have set another 17 Gold laced Wyandotte eggs under our Black Brahma so we will have lots of new additions soon.

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On Friday Miss Nyah, Mr Banjo, Myself and the cats went for a walk around our garden and paddocks and collected Dandelions. Since last year I have been wanting to make Dandelion Syrup and Jelly. We foraged a big basket of Dandelions and made the Syrup which I have included the recipe for below. It is a little tedious but the result was surprisingly delicious and tasted just like Honey!!! I’m eager to try some on Pancakes and can’t wait to see peoples reactions to trying it at the market.

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Dandelion Syrup 

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Ingredients
  • As many dandelion flowers as you can pick (I had 3 cups)
  • 1 litre water
  • 2 – 3 cups sugar (or stevia or anything you prefer)
  • juice of half a lemon
Instructions
  1. Wash flowers then cup green bits off with scissors, cut off as close to the base as you can.
  2. Boil the kettle and pour all the water over the petals leave over night then strain with a muslin cloth
  3. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep overnight in a cool place. A cool counter or the fridge is ideal. Use the back of a spoon to squeeze out and extract as much liquid as possible.
  4. Return water to pot (or save in fridge/freezer until you get time for the next step), add sugar and lemon, and simmer on low heat for 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. Check for desired consistency by dipping spoon into syrup, letting it cool a bit, then testing it with your finger.
  6. Bottle and store as desired -Canned in jars, pressure, waterbath or in plastic containers (3 months for plastic)

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Now I’m off outside to start our vegie seedlings and convert our old chook dome into a extra green house. I hope everyone enjoys their weekend and gets a chance to get out into the garden 🙂