Jan 182014

Win an Excalibur 3900 Dehydrator.

Spring is officially only about two months away, and I know some of our southern gardeners are already busy digging in the dirt.  If you’ve always wanted a home dehydrator to preserve fresh produce from your garden, CSA or farmer’s market, this is for you. I’ve pitched in with a number of my blogging friends to purchase an Excalibur dehydrator, which we are offering in a group giveaway.

The contest is over.  Thank you to everyone who entered.

Win Your Own Excalibur 3900 Dehydrator Continue reading »

Oct 192013

Autumnberry-Apple Cider Jam @ Common Sense Homesteading

I was reading Nature’s Garden by Samuel Thayer recently when I realized that my backyard shrubs had been misidentified, and were covered with fruit that was perfectly safe for me to eat – autumnberries.  Score!  If you’d like to read Mr. Thayer’s eloquent and passionate dialogue on the virtues of the autumnberry and it’s uses, you can check out his post at the Forager’s Harvest.  He notes that the juice and pulp like to separate, that the plants are extremely productive (3,600–12,600 pounds per acre), and that the fruits are loaded with lycopene – about 18 times as much as tomatoes. Continue reading »

Oct 062013

How to Make Hard Cider @ Common Sense Homesteading

The most basic hard apple cider can be made on your counter top in a matter of days, and is one of the easiest home ferments.  For long term storage, you need a bit more equipment, time and patience, but it’s still a fairly straightforward process.  I’ll share three ways to make hard cider in this post.

Did you know that back in colonial times, most apples were pressed into cider?  And since there was no refrigeration, the only fresh apple cider came right off the cider press.  The rest was served as hard cider.  The book Wild Fermentation notes that in Massachusetts in 1767, annual hard cider consumption was greater than 35 gallons per person – that’s a lot of cider! Continue reading »

Oct 032013

How to Harvest, Cure and Store Onions - Root Cellaring, Braiding, Dehydrating and Freezing

You can enjoy home grown onions for months after the growing season has finished with just a little extra time and effort. In this post we’ll cover onion harvest, curing onions, and several different onion storage methods.

Which Onions are Best for Storage?

I usually grow onions from onion sets (the little mini onion bulbs).  Out of the red, white and yellow varieties I’ve tried, the yellow Stuttgarter Riesen has been the best keeper. Stuttgarter Riesen is a large, deep golden-yellow onion with firm white flesh.  The reds and whites I’ve tried have not kept as well, so I usually use them first.  My friend, Tami, said that the onions she started from seed were much more solid and less prone to rotting than the ones that she started from sets.  The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible recommends Stockton Reds for storage.  I’ve grown them, and they store fairly well, but the Stuttgarters store better.  He also recommends the varieties Copra and Prince. Continue reading »

Sep 272013

2 Homemade Ketchup Recipes – Home Canned and Lacto-Fermented @ Common Sense Homeasteading

My youngest loves ketchup.  I think he could almost live on salsa and ketchup, if I’d let him.  This year we’ve turned roughly 130 pounds of tomatoes into salsa, and around 60 pounds into ketchup.  When I make homemade ketchup, I generally use it as a means to use up all the odds and ends of tomatoes rolling around, such as excess cherry tomatoes or slicing tomatoes that have split.  I’ll put a pot on the back of the stove and keep measuring tomatoes into it over a day or two, slowly cooking them down while I’m working on other projects in the kitchen.  (You could also use a slow cooker.)  The taste of this recipe is similar to a popular national brand – no big range of added spices – but like most home processed products, the flavor is richer and deeper.  You can really taste the fresh tomatoes, onions and garlic. Continue reading »