Author Archives: Homesteader's Supply

Making Kombucha!

Freshly made Kombucha fermenting on the counter with a happy minion!

Freshly made Kombucha fermenting on the counter with a happy minion!

The weekend right after Thanksgiving was my time to start thinking about healthy eating again. Right after the all the stuffing, and potatoes, and pies, and ice cream…  guess I don’t have to go on, you probably get the drift.

About 2 weeks ago a friend gave me a scoby, or starter culture for making Kombucha.  I watched him drinking Kombucha every time I saw him.  Then of course, I had to start buying it again at the grocery store which can get expensive.  I love the different fruit flavors and the fizz.  It reminded me of how delicious my Kombucha was when I made it about a year ago, but as usual, I got so busy I stopped making it.  I bet all of us have had an experience like that… dropping something that is good for us because of the “I’m too busy” reason.

Now that my fresh Kombucha has fermented for about 10 days or so, it was time to bottle it up. I had just shy of one gallon of Kombucha which filled five 16 ounce e-z flip or grolsch bottles. So I thought I’d share my recipe and process so you could see how relatively easy it is.

What you need to for making Kombucha

  • 1 Kombucha Scoby or mother culture… you can buy them or get someone to give you piece of theirs
  • 1 cup of raw organic sugar or coconut sugar
  • 3/4 gallon non-chlorinated drinking water
  • 2 tbsp fresh tea leaves ( I use English Breakfast Tea) (or you can use a decaf tea like Rooibos)
  • 1 cup of starter tea ( the liquid that comes with the Scoby or mother culture)
  • Gallon jar
  • Stainless Steel strainer/filter

Brew your Kombucha

  • Bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat.
  • Add your tea to the hot water and let it steep for 10 minutes.  I place my tea into the middle of a piece of cheese cloth, then bring up all the corners and tie it closed.  This method makes it easy to remove the tea from the water after 10 minutes.  Otherwise you can put loose leaf tea into the water and then strain it out.
  • After 10 minutes, remove the tea.  Then slowly add the sugar into the water, stirring to make sure it all dissolves.
  • Pour the tea into your brewing bottle or container.  We use a one gallon glass jar.
  • Let the the tea cool down to room temperature.
  • At room temperature, slowly add the Scoby or mother culture along with 1 cup of the starter tea that came with it.
  • Cover your jar with cheesecloth, secured with rubber band.  Wait about 4 days and then start tasting your Kombucha. Each day taste it until you find a flavor you really like.  Remember, it shouldn’t be sweet, as the sugar is used up in the fermenting process.
Mother Culture, cup of raw sugar, gallon jar, and tea ball.

Mother Culture, cup of raw sugar, gallon jar, and tea ball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I allowed mine to ferment for about 10 days.  I could see some bubbles at the top, and I could see that the mother culture was now floating on top… a good sign.

Bottle your Kombucha to make fizzy drinks

  • Clean and set up your E-Z Flip or Grolsch bottles.
  • Cut up pieces of fruit to flavor your Kombucha fizzy drink.  I always use about 1 tbsp of cut up fresh raw ginger in every bottle.  Then I add some different fruit in each one.   I use freeze dried fruit, seems to work perfect for this process.  This day I used some raspberries, apple, peach, and apricot. You only need about 1 tbsp of cut up fruit to each bottle. I love to have a variety to choose from.  You can use fresh fruit too!  Have fun and experiment!
    Adding fruit to your bottles!

    Adding fruit to your bottles!

    Filtering when filling the botles!

    Filtering when filling the botles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Place a filter with a stem into the bottles. Pour your Kombucha into the filter and allow it to drain into and fill the bottles.   Cap your bottles securely.
  • Made sure you leave at least a cup of Kombucha tea along with your Scoby to start the next batch.
  • Place tape on each bottle and label the fruit you added along with the date it was bottled.
  • Leave bottles on the counter at room temperature for about 4 days. Then place into the refrigerator.
Bottle Full, Ready to make more Kombucha!

Bottles Full, Ready to make more Kombucha!

 

Happy Kombucha!

Happy Kombucha!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you open your bottles of Kombucha, you will enjoy a variety of fizzy fruit flavored beverages that are so enjoyable to drink and healthy for you too!   Enjoy…    jerri

We’re giving away a Fermenting Kit!

Celebrate the Harvest

It’s Homesteader’s Supply week! We are giving away the Fermenting Kit AND a $35 gift certificate!

fermenting kitHomesteader’s Supply and Countryside & Small Stock Journal invite you to preserve the harvest and reap the many gifts the earth provides this time of year. Click on the photo or link above to enter.

Enter weekly to win a prize package from one of our sustainable living sponsors. Your weekly entry will also be included in the grand prize drawing (value of $5,000) in September!

cys-harvest-FB-variants-1

 

 

Reasons You Should Buy Locally

The gardens are producing, we’re putting up food and there are vegetables and fruits to share, but do we have enough of all we want? If not, let’s do what we can to buy locally.

Do you know how old your grocery store purchased fresh vegetables are?  According to the Economics of Food, Farming, Natural Resources and Rural America Economic Research Service, which is part of the USDA, food travels an average from 1500 to 2500 miles, depending on what it is and where it was grown or raised, from the field to your dinner table.  Your food will be much fresher than its grocery store counterpart that needed 7 to 14 days to reach its destination after being picked.  That’s a lot of traveling, time and fuel to get that food to you.  Every day thousands of semis are on our interstates bringing food to us.

According to the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and transportation of food use up a lot of our non-renewable petroleum.  They say one fifth of all petroleum in the United States is used in agriculture alone.  If you shop at a farmers market, farmstand or are a CSA customer you’re food will have maximum freshness, contain less packaging and use less fuel for transportation.  Fewer emissioins will be produced which will help to keep our air cleaner.  You probably won’t find styrofoam trays and plastic wrap (petrochemical products) used as packaging at your local farms.  You’re more likely to find baskets of unpackaged food to choose from.

bell pepper, buy local

Nutrient content starts to decline after fruits and vegetables are harvested so the sooner you have them on your plate the better.  According to David Suzuki, loss of nutrients also comes from picking unripe fruit so that it will last extended time in transport.  Additionally, he also says chemicals are often used to prevent mold and fungus from growing during transportation and storage.

Shopping locally keeps your money in the local economy longer.  If the farmer spends that money in the community the local economy benefits from those same dollars again. You’ll also help create local jobs.  Farms need workers.  And don’t worry about cancelling out a job at the big box store.  We’re no where close to having that much locally grown food available – but there’s hope!  The Buy Locally movement continues to spread and gain followers as people learn more about its importance.

cherry tomato, grocery shopping is expensive

Juliet tomato

Grocery stores don’t offer the unique varieties you can find on farms. Grocery stores must have produce grown to look appealing and hold up well during transportation.  According to Mary Choate, author of “A Good Tomato in Winter, Where?” most fresh fruits and vegetables produced in the US are shipped from California, Florida and Washington.  Food has to hold up to handling, being bumped around a lot, and long rides to stores.  You don’t get as many varieties because of this.  Thin skinned tomatoes, for example, often taste wonderful but they’re more prone to cracking during the rough handling they’ll get.

You’ll support family farmers.  Since 1935, the United States has lost 4.7 million farms.  Fewer than one million people claim farming as their primary occupation now.  That’s terrible.  We need more farmers growing and raising healthy food closer to our homes.  In order for those farmers to run sustainable farms we need to show them our support.  When you support your local farmers you know where that food is coming from.  What do you know about food imported from foreign countries?  You can see the growing practices they use for vegetables and fruits.  Chickens and turkeys raised on pasture have very different lives than their commodity farm raised counterparts.  Pasture, fresh air, sunshine, eating bugs and grass like birds are meant to do, and natural fertilizing as manure is dropped versus cement floors with litter to collect manure, no sunshine, no natural foods, not moving around to catch bugs: it’s an easy choice for me.  The texture of a pasture raised bird is incredible.  You get meat that needs to be chewed and enjoyed.  And, there’s something serene about passing a pasture full of cows, don’t you think?  I grew up in the suburbs.  One of my favorite things was to stand at the fence of a pasture filled with replacement heifers owned by a dairy farm 20 miles away.  I will always love that sight.

Preserve the Harvest! Let’s Celebrate

Celebrate the Harvest

cys-harvest-twitter

Homesteader’s Supply and Countryside & Small Stock Journal invite you to preserve the harvest and reap the many gifts the earth provides this time of year. Click on the photo or link above to enter.

This week’s prizes are a one-year subscription to Countryside & Small Stock Journal, a FD-61 food dehydrator, and a box of Pomona pectin.

Enter weekly to win a prize package from one of our sustainable living sponsors. Your weekly entry will also be included in the grand prize drawing (value of $5,000) in September!

 

How to Keep Chickens Cool

How to Keep Chickens Cool

The hottest part of summer is here. We think about keeping ourselves cool and if we have chickens, we’re concerned with how to keep chickens cool. If your chickens are spreading their wings, neck outstretched, and panting, they are too hot. These tips will help you keep chickens cool and put your mind at ease a bit.

how to keep chickens coolcelebrate the harvest

  • Spray the roof of the coop.
    Cooling down the roof can cool the inside temperature 10° quickly. Spray the roof until the water running off is cool. If you live in a particularly hot area I suggest putting a sprinkler on the roof for convenience. Adjust it so that it sprays only the roof, and turn it on and off at the faucet.
  • Place an exhaust fan at the high point of the ceiling. It will pull the hot air out at the top and the cooler air in through the windows. Let it run all night if possible. Chances are the neighbors have their windows closed and the AC on and won’t hear the fan.
  • Provide shade. That seems like a no-brainer but there might be something here you hadn’t thought of. Shade the windows on the south and west sides. You can hang a curtain rod outside the coop. Leave a couple of inches between the cloth and window to allow air flow. Shade the pen by clothes pinning a reflective tarp on the outside wall. It will provide shade up against that wall and reflect the heat.
  • Chickens will stand in a shallow pan of cool water. I thought at first that I had some chickens that weren’t very bright, then I realized they were doing it only in the summer. Add a block of ice and place the pan in the shade to keep the water cool longer.
  • Make a muddy spot in the shade. It doesn’t need to be dripping wet, just damp.
  • Add a block of ice to their drinking water. I water my chickens outside most of the year because it keeps the coop neater but on hot days, they’re waterer is inside, out of the sun.
  • If possible, let them spend the day on grass in the shade.
  • Freeze water bottles and place them in the coop. It might take them a while to figure out but eventually they might start using them.
Buff orpington, layers, laying hen

Buff Orpington

If you discover a chicken in serious distress you should cool the bird by submerging it in cool, not cold, water. Let it shake off and dry indoors or in a cool corner of the barn. Be sure the chicken is drinking. If you think it needs a boost, mix up a batch of homemade electrolytes.

Homemade Electrolytes

1/2 gallon of water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp sugar

Remember to keep air circulating, provide shade, and act quickly when you have a chicken in distress. Stay cool!

Celebrate the Harvest – Giveaway Week 1

Celebrate the Harvest

Homesteader’s Supply and Countryside & Small Stock Journal invite you to celebrate the harvest and reap the many gifts the earth provides this time of year. Click on the photo or link above to enter.
preserve the harvestEnter weekly to win a prize package from one of our sustainable living sponsors. Your weekly entry will also be included in the grand prize drawing (value of $5,000) in September!