Step-by-step: making sauerkraut

It’s been cold, wet and raining for the past while (with snow, in some areas!!), which meant it was the perfect time to stay indoors and finally make sauerkraut.

While I remember my mother making sauerkraut when I was a child, and I know I helped at least a little, I have never made it myself before. In fact, it was my mother’s sauerkraut that had me believing I didn’t like the stuff at all. She made incredibly strong kraut, and it was many, many years before I tasted any other and found it… okay. LOL Then one evening, while we were hosting a home schooling historical pot luck set in a pioneer theme, one of the families brought a fresh jar of sauerkraut. Fresh as in, just made that day and no fermentation. I was surprised by how good it tasted.

Cabbage, however, was one of those things I just didn’t tend to buy. In fact, it wasn’t until we moved here that we started to pick it up regularly.

I have an old friend from high school that has shared on social media about the sauerkraut she has been making, and with all the food preservation stuff I’ve been getting more and more into, I found myself wanting to try my hand at it. I did some research and found that it is incredibly basic – but it didn’t sound like what she was making. So I messaged her and got her recipe. It’s more like fermented vegetables, with added probiotics, than sauerkraut.

I decided to do both.

This post will be on the basic sauerkraut I made first.

Here are the ingredients.

Continue reading

Photo of the day: Judging

Junk Pile kitten is judging me.

Note: I’m going to be changing my “critter of the day” posts to “photo of the day.” Partly because the critters have not been very co-operative lately, so there’s not been a lot of variety in subject matter, and partly because I have non-critter pictures I’m really happy with that I’d like to share.

It will probably still be mostly critters, but I’ll have other things mixed in, too.

Critter of the day, plus apples for my mother

Yesterday I was finally able to grab the step ladder and pick some of the last apples that are pick-able for my mother.

The cats were VERY interesting in the bag! Especially Cheddar! 😀

I was able to pick all the crabapples from the one tree, where the apples were the biggest and they had finally gotten sweet. Previously, they had almost no taste at all; not even the usual sour taste of crabapples, but now they have that delightful sweet/sour taste crabapples are the best for. There weren’t very many, so I picked some from the tree next to it. You can really tell which apples came from which tree! This tree had quite a lot of little apples that are more sour, but still quite edible.

Since I was there, anyhow, I took advantage of the ladder and cut away dead branches. The one tree with the bigger apples has a main trunk that is basically dead, but I did see some leaves on some of the branches at the top, so I just cut away the ones I knew for sure were dead. I pruned dead branches off a couple other trees, too, but I will save a major pruning for the spring.

I was able to bring the crabapples to my mother pretty much right away, and even get a little visit in. She was very happy to see them. Usually, there is someone who leaves their extra apples in the lobby where she lives, free to whomever wants them, but there were none this year. So now she will be able to make herself some apple sauce and compote that she likes. I also brought one each of the different flavoured jellies I’d made. I even remembered to bring an extra knife sharpener we has, as she was looking for one while we were out before. She was looking for a file, actually, so I brought her what I thought would be much easier for her to use.

I didn’t realize she wanted it for the hoes provided for the little community gardens where she lives. LOL I have, however, discovered that she has a knife sharpener with an antler handle, that matches the meat fork we found here. She tells me there used to be a knife as part of the set, but it’s one of the things that disappeared over the years.

I’m glad I was able to bring the sharpener I have, though. In the process, I discovered my mother has no good knives. At all!

Something to take care of for her, soon!

The cold, meanwhile, is already starting to show.

For the past while, I’ve been doing my rounds in grass sopping wet from dew, but this morning, it was all frost! The furnace has even been turning on regularly during the night.

We still have lots to do before winter!

The Re-Farmer

People actually enjoy this?

Today the girls and I headed into the city for our monthly shop.

I know that there are people out there who actually enjoy shopping. I don’t get it. I really don’t!

Okay, so today turned out to be a more complex shop than usual, but still… Ugh. It’s just so draining!

So here is a picture of a fungus. Because it cheers me up!

With all the rain we’ve been having lately, mushrooms are showing up everywhere!
Continue reading

Clean up: west fence line and maple grove

Today turned out to be too cold and damp to do the mowing between the trees I cleared last year, that I hoped to do today. I thought I might be able to at least use my reciprocating saw to cut some of the smaller stumps of trees I took down last year to ground level, so I could mow over them. In the end, I decided it was just too damp to drag out the extension cords and use electric tools.

Instead, I worked on an area I left partly unfinished last year; a double row of elms leading to the garden gate at the west fence line.

Here is how it looked before I started.

Continue reading

Clean Up: mowing the big garden

Today started early for me, as I had to drive to my mother’s to take her for an appointment to get her CT scan. She had a requirement to drink a litre of water an hour before her appointment, then restrictions on going to the bathroom shortly before, so I wanted to make sure she got there early enough to not have to worry about the restriction. Given how long it takes to drive from her town to the city where her appointment was, that meant she had to start drinking her water while we were driving.

She also had to fast 4 hours before the scan, but my mother went a bit overboard and, aside from eating some crackers with her morning medications, she had fasted since the supper! So as soon as we were done, I made sure to take her to lunch somewhere fast.

By the time I got home, it was mid afternoon. The weather was holding, so I decided to break out the push mower and get as much done as I could. (I only got rained on a tiny bit! 😀 ) I was going to start working in the trees, but then decided to do the old, overgrown garden, instead.

When my brother brought the mower back, he walked me through what he had done. It started fine when we tested it, but he mentioned that he felt the prime pump wasn’t doing its job. So, just in case it wouldn’t start, he showed me where to open up the side of the engine, where there is a filter and an opening behind it, and told me I could basically just splash some fuel into it, and that should be enough to start it.

I’m very glad he told me that, because it wouldn’t start. I ended up having to do it twice! The second time was after I ran out of gas, but I found that if I filled the tank before it was completely empty, I didn’t have to do it again. Except I didn’t just splash it. I tipped the mower onto its side and poured a tiny bit, using the cap of the jerry can spout to hold the tiny bit of fuel I needed. After that, it started just fine.

Mowing the old garden ended up taking about 4 hours.

It is not a small garden.

It was also incredibly rough. Plus, I had to look out for stuff like this.

Thankfully, it wasn’t sticking too far out of the ground, but that’s something we’re going to have to dig up at some point. Maybe. Depends on how big it is, underground!

Here are the before photos.

Right now, the garden area is split by the section we covered with straw to mulch it, used some RoundUp when things started to grow through the mulch, then covered with tarps, that I worked around. That is where we are hoping to be able to start planting something next year. I also tried to get into those trees my mother left growing when she transplanted her raspberry bushes, as much as I could.

Here is what it looks like now.

Did I mention it was rough in there?

This picture barely begins to show how rough it was! It’s hard to grasp from the photo, just how big that hill in the foreground is. When this area was last plowed, this is where the tractor turned, so there are huge ridges all over.

If the weather continues to hold tomorrow, I want to work on mowing between the trees in the maple grove, plus the area leading from the big garden to the gate. My mother said she planted elms in there, so the area had not been mowed, but I see no signs of them.

And now I have to try and get the burrs out of my pant legs.

The Re-Farmer