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I live and work with dirt, in one form or another, all day long. It is in the air that we breathe on this dry, dusty road. It is our cohort in food production and is often present under my fingernails long after I’ve come in from the garden this time of year. It is the very thing I battle daily at the kitchen sink, in the laundry tub, and on those little faces and hands I love to kiss and hold.
It is a very real part of a very real life in which you work with the land, sometimes as a happy little dance and other times as a very real struggle.
Which is why soap making is definitely on the top of my "must do" list. Of course I’m not doing it yet because of the thousand other things that seem more urgent and the fact that without our own pigs, lard is a precious commodity reserved for cooking.
So I am happy to use handmade soaps like those from Nourishing Days’ latest sponsor, Third Day Naturals.While many of the "soaps" you can buy commercially are a weird hodge-podge of chemicals, detergents, and petroleum products; this real soap is made simply with real ingredients like fat, lye, and essential oils.
I don’t wear makeup. I don’t buy cleansers. I don’t have a "beauty routine". But the basic daily routine of wash and moisturize (during the colder months) is made all the more lovely when that soap is handmade and has the lovely scent of many of my favorite plants.
Oh, and the lip balms – a product that I do actually use regularly- are lovely as well. And while I told my four-year-old "No, you can’t eat it." I kind of wanted to take a bite of the chocolate lip balm too.
Over the years we have been contacted now and again by those interested in sponsoring Nourishing Days. We were usually too busy to handle advertising on our own so we relied upon Real Food Media (now Village Green Network). We are now happy to be able to invest the time to help small, family-run businesses who are interested in connecting with Nourishing Days readers.
Today we are officially announcing our new sponsorship offerings. If you, or someone you know, would like to sponsor Nourishing Days please click here to learn about our traffic volume, ad rates, and ad locations.
As always we appreciate your support more than words could say.
I was recently asked how we make our kombucha as bubbly and tasty as the bottles you can buy in the store. As I was replying I looked through old posts to send the link to an article that surely I had written on just this topic.
For the life of me I could not find that post. How could this be? We’ve been making fizzy, fruity kombucha for years and I haven’t once told y’all about it in my usual over-sharing way?
Stewart absolutely loves this stuff. This from the man who stood in our 600 square foot apartment and looked skeptically at me five years ago when I held up a bottle of fizzy, tangy witchamacallit and asked "You wanna’ try it?"
"Uh, no." He said, with that look he gets when I’m trying to convince him of something new and weird (and usually fermented).
It’s the exact same look he gave me when I first waxed poetic about the health benefits of butter six years ago. It’s the exact same look I got when I tried to talk him into milk kefir using the phrase milk champagne. And it’s a little kinder than the look he gave me when I said "Honey, there’s beef heart in those hamburgers."
A little advice, ladies – don’t mess with a man’s hamburger.
Anyway, he loves fizzy kombucha. I wondered about the sustainability of buying a bottle of juice every time I got ready to bottle a new batch, though. So now I like using fresh or dried fruit as the flavoring. You can read about all things kombucha in the vast collection of articles, some of which I wrote, at Cultures for Health.
The batch in the photos was made by simply adding a slice of the only fruit we had in the house- an orange – to each bottle. So if you’re thinking it’s a lot of work and super complicated, then don’t.
Because you know that if it was either of those two things I probably would have quit making kombucha regularly a long time ago.
Fizzy Kombucha: The Second Fermentation
- Perform an initial fermentation on your kombucha in an open-air vessel covered with a towel. "Harvest" this kombucha when it is still just a bit sweet, even if you like it really tangy like we do.
- Pour into a bottle that will remain airtight once capped, leaving some room for an ounce or two of juice or fruit. We use kombucha bottles that we bought from the store and saved or quart jars.
- Add juice, a tablespoon or two of dried fruit, or a segment of fresh fruit to your bottle. Grape juice, pears, apples, oranges, grapefruit, and berries are all delicious candidates. If you aren’t adding much fruit but still want more carbonation you can add a bit of sugar or honey. The culture will feed off of the sugar in the sugar, honey, or fruit, and produce the gas necessary to create carbonation.
- Seal the bottle tightly and place in a warm spot to ferment a few more days and up to a week, depending on your temperature.
- Kombucha is ready when it is good and carbonated upon opening. Do be careful not to let it go too long because it can get dangerous, depending on what type of vessel you are using. Exploding kombucha can get messy.
- Once carbonated you can drink it right away or put it into some type of cold storage. The cooler temperatures slow down the culture which slow down the carbonation.
One of those lovely old-fashioned skills every respectable pioneer woman ought to know is how to render animal fat. Lard from pigs or tallow from cattle was a prized possession for those who lived off of the land. It is the cooking fat of choice for many reasons and can also be used for lighting.
Lard was especially prolific as pigs can be raised on buckets of slop and food from your garden or grain field. We don’t have pigs yet because our garden, grain field, and slop buckets aren’t developed yet.
Thankfully we do have wonderful neighbors who are raising pigs. So when the words "Fat bags for sale." rang out you can bet I tried not to yell out "Sold!" too loudly, and Stewart’s ever-present fist bump followed.
Once all of the pork was canned we got out the kitchen shears (my fat slicing implement of choice) and cut up somewhere around 40 pounds of pig fat. That rendered out to 18 beautiful quarts (4.5 gallons!) of lard which should last us a good long while.
You can use it for just about everything – frying or roasting vegetables, frying meat, cooking eggs, as the shortening in biscuits or pastries, spread on toast with a sprinkling of salt, as a substitute for butter in your cookies or cake… the possibilities are endless… and so are the ways in which you can use "fat bag" in a sentence.
We are grateful to the Lord for providing us with fresh homegrown pork and lard and for the opportunity to practice these types of skills.
my (grain-free) cookbook
All information found on Nourishing Days is editorial in nature and therefore meant to motivate and inspire rather than be construed as medical advice.
Any statements or claims about the health benefits of supplements or foods made here have not been evaluated by the FDA and as such are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease..
And in the spirit of full disclosure: I do earn a small commission from some links, images and advertisements.
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