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Pantry Chat Q & A – Episode #74

by | Feb 13, 2021 | Podcast

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Q and A sessions are always needed! Whether you’re brand new to homesteading or have been at it for years new twists and turns can pop up at any time or ALL the time. 

Listen in to hear the ins and outs of everything from creating a great garden to building the perfect homestead. 

Come grab a drink and hang out with us in the Harvest Kitchen as we answer your homesteading questions.

In this Episode

  • Carolyn describes her book-reading habits.
  • Josh and Carolyn share resources for brand new gardeners.
  • Josh and Carolyn review best practices for gardening success.
  • Josh and Carolyn provide advice for making easy bread (in just five minutes!)
  • Josh and Carolyn discuss helpful tips for all types of pet gardening issues.
  • Josh and Carolyn explain how they create salves and lotions.  
  • Josh and Carolyn talk about the best age to start homesteading. 
  • Josh and Carolyn provide an overview of all of the differences in milk.
  • Josh and Carolyn explain how to make butter. 
  • Josh answers a question on where you should place everything on your homestead. 
  • Carolyn describes how to use herbs in compresses. 
  • Josh and Carolyn give tips on the skills you need to be a homesteader.
  • And so much more! You don’t want to miss this special Q & A.

Links & Resources Mentioned In This Video

More Pantry Chat Episodes

Josh: Hey, guys, this is Josh.

Carolyn: And Carolyn.

Josh: With Homesteading Family. Welcome to this week's episode of the Pantry Chat: Food For Thought.

Carolyn: This week, we're going to be answering your questions. It's going to be a lot of fun. This episode of the Pantry Chat Podcast is sponsored by MadeOn Skin Care. MadeOn specializes in skin care, specifically for dry skin, and they use as few ingredients as possible to get the job done. You guys, this is the type of skincare I would make myself if I had time to make it in my own home. The great thing is Renee even shares her exact recipes with you.

Carolyn: The Bee Silk lotion bar is my go-to lotion when my hands get dry and cracked, and it's only made with three ingredients. Renee created it when she needed something to fix the splits in her fingers, cracks in her feet. And then she found out that it also worked great on her son's seasonal eczema. Go to to find out what Josh's favorite MadeOn products are, and also use the code Homesteading Family, for 15% off today's purchase.

Josh: All right. Today we are going to be answering your questions and we've got a great range of questions here from gardening questions, to fermenting, to some herbal questions, dairy. So there's a lot going on here. It's going to be really fun.

Carolyn: Yeah. We haven't done a Q and A session in actually a long time.

Josh: Wow, I think it's been a couple of months.

Carolyn: These are probably my favorite videos to do-

Josh: They're fun.

Carolyn: ... all together. So I'm excited.

Josh: Yeah. It's nice to be able to talk about a variety of topics and things that we're not necessarily always thinking about every day or planning out. Plus, hopefully it helps you guys out. But before we dive into that, here we are. It's February. Hey, Happy Valentine's Day coming up tomorrow.

Carolyn: You're supposed to tell me, not them.

Josh: Happy Valentine's Day.

Carolyn: Okay. Thank you.

Josh: I was going to remind the guys out there to make sure you're not forgetting and you're taking care of your ladies.

Carolyn: Scramble quick if you've already forgotten.

Josh: Besides Valentine's Day and prep for that, what's going on?

Carolyn: Well, it is still that time of year where we're just enjoying that winter time and we're focused on our indoor quiet things a lot. We do get out and do get to do some winter sports and play outside a little bit, but the heavy focus right now is on school, homeschooling, and on reading and some things like that. That really is what's taking a lot of my time, is that, just insulating activities, sitting by the fire and drinking coffee.

Josh: Are you reading any good books right now? Well, I know you are. Is there anything...

Carolyn: I read about 10 books at once. I have different books set in different places where I might sit down and read. So you're springing that one on me because I wasn't ready with any title in particular. But one that I'm really enjoying right now is called Still Room Cookery. It is an old older book. I don't know if it's still in print. It's really fascinating. It's really looking at different methods of food preservation and then cooking out of your pantry. It's really fun and I'm learning a lot from it and really enjoying it.

Carolyn: I don't know that I can give you a link to it because I don't even think it's in print right now. I'll look and see, and if I can find it, I'll put a link to it down in the description. But if you can find it, it's worth getting.

Josh: She is great at finding some amazing resources. You just come up with the most interesting stuff, which is why you know so much and have so many good tips about things, because you really dig in and-

Carolyn: [crosstalk] a lot.

Josh: ... find this historical information that's hard to find.

Carolyn: Well, and I've got to give credit where credit's due here, which is this book came as a recommendation from our amazing community manager, Michelle, who is always learning new things and she's always sharing them with me. I just learn so much from her. She really recommended this book and I am so excited to be able to have it. She's just amazing. She is runs our bread community that we have for students of our bread class. So it's a fun book.

Josh: Bring it on. Very cool.

Carolyn: Yeah. What about you? What have you been up to?

Josh: Wow, well, still working on that addition, little bits at a time. Yep. That's coming along. Lot of planning, and just a lot of planning for the year, from garden planning, to just projects. That's the tough one. We've got so many projects we want to do. So we were just making up our list of what we'd like to do and went, "Yeah. Okay. No wonder we're tired."

Carolyn: I don't think we can approach it that way this year. We did last year. We went gung ho-

Josh: We just went after it, did everything we could.

Carolyn: We did everything and we were exhausted.

Josh: Yeah. This year we're trying to get a little wise and actually prioritizing, marking things as high priority, priority, or can wait. And so we're working through that. Man, that is really hard. There's so many things want to get done.

Carolyn: Right? I want to do it all and I want to do it right now.

Josh: I mean, it's hard not to say need, we need to get it done. But anyway, so that's a lot and figuring that out so we can pace ourselves a little bit better this year. We're going to talk about that maybe a little bit in one of these questions, on just getting things done. Yeah. So that's been good, and a lot more reading right now.

Carolyn: A lot more reading. Yeah. Hey, as we're talking about planning, if you're a brand new gardener, I know we've had a lot of brand new gardeners join us this year. Check out one of our latest blog posts on when to start your seeds. That is really, really important to get off and get your year off right for the garden. And so, check the link in the description for that.

Josh: Yeah, you bet. Cool. Well, we better just dive right in here-

Carolyn: Sure.

Josh: ... I think.

Carolyn: Okay.

Josh: Talking about gardening, the first questions are right out of one of the recent videos. This question is from Laurie Shatney, hey, Laurie, on backyard gardens can seriously produce. She says, "I recently purchased a GreenStalk and I was wondering if you grew anything in your house in the GreenStalk in the winter. If so, how did it do?"

Josh: Well, first of all, for those of you that don't know, the GreenStalk is a vertical planting system that you can use outdoors on your porch, small spaces in the house, like we'll talk about here in a moment. We've got large acreage, but we use a couple of them to grow some veggies sometimes right close to the house. And we're going to use them even more for some leafy greens here in the early season, which gets to that question, have we grown anything in the house with it? Not yet. We're planning to. We've been meaning to all winter-

Carolyn: Yeah, we've been meaning to.

Josh: ... to experiment having it right inside a big glass door and we haven't gotten to it. But part of the plan is to go ahead and grow leafy greens in that here. Probably start them in February, and see if we can just get a little bit of jump on the lettuce in the house early. You can totally to that. People do do that with these GreenStalk Planters.

Carolyn: Yeah. They're really formulated just to do that. They're made to be able to do that and they're a great system.

Josh: They're on casters, so they're easy to move-

Carolyn: So you can spin them and move them.

Josh: ... in and out even when the seasons are changing. You can take them out during the day, bring it in inside. We'll leave you a link to that. They give our subscribers a discount, so we'll leave you a link below. You can go check those out. They're really useful and well-designed.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Okay. Alexandra [inaudible]. Hope I got that right, Alexandra, on backyard gardens. "Just wondering if you have pros and cons of adding blood to compost and or the garden. I butcher pretty much all year, but have not tried this."

Carolyn: Yeah, this is a good one.

Josh: This is a good one. I love this question, and it freaks a lot of people out because a lot of people think you shouldn't put any blood, any awful, any of your butchering waste into your compost. There are some cons. You could develop some toxins, some bad bacterias if you don't do it right. But it is totally viable and a great use of your resources. Blood itself is high in nitrogen. And so, they make a nitrogen additive out of blood meal. You can totally add it. You just want to make sure you've got a good compost pile and that it's working and is really digesting well, and biologically active and not just sitting there going bad. Do you have a thought?

Carolyn: That's where you have problems. Well, that's where people have problems. That's where this idea that you don't put meat or animal products into your compost piles is because they don't have an active compost pile with probably enough carbon and it's actually active. And so, they end up with a pile of rotting material instead of something that's actually composting.

Carolyn: But if you're doing that butchering at home anyways, you have to get rid of the blood somewhere. It doesn't make sense to just go dump it because you want that nutrients actually in your garden. Those are great nutrients to have.

Josh: Absolutely.

Carolyn: So it's really a good idea if you can do your compost pile right.

Josh: What we do in the fall, when we start butchering, is we just use tons of wood shavings. And you can literally bury it. Our dogs don't even get into it if we bury it so well. And that gets it breaking down. We mix it in the middle of the pile, then cover it in wood shavings. And then through the fall, we start to add garden waste and lots of other stuff to it.

Josh: So you need to do a little research on that. We can't go into it here, but it is totally viable. It's just a great thing to do. There's no reason to haul it to the dump or do anything else with it. You just want to recycle right there on your property.

Carolyn: Now let me ask really quickly, are there other ways to use blood into the garden? Can you dilute it down enough or is it better to compost it?

Josh: I've taken it, and with that idea of a blood meal, but I haven't tried to make blood meal and dry it out. I just don't think that's ... You need to use a lot of energy to do that. And there's just no reason for that really, unless you're just going to go buy it because you need that source and you don't have any other way to get it. But yes, I have tried watering it down and watering the plants with it.

Josh: It works. I haven't got real specific, and I've never had a problem with it. I think it's done good, but I haven't been very scientific about it. The problem with it is the blood gets thick and it's pretty hard to get it fully dissolved. So I always still end up with a bunch that I've got to throw in the compost pile. So if you're needing a source of nitrogen and you want to play with that, it works fine. I've never seen any damage from it.

Carolyn: Think a general rule of thumb is to water it down 10 to one, one part blood to 10 parts water. Is that right?

Josh: That's certainly if you're going to get into urine. That's about what it is. Some people say 20 to one, 10 to one. On blood, I don't have that on top of my head, but that would be pretty safe. I would say that was pretty safe. You're not going to overdo it if you're at 10 to one.

Carolyn: Okay.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: Good.

Josh: All righty. Let's see here. Binary Atlas on easy fresh bread in five minutes, says, "I could use some advice. We love the bread, but I'm having trouble with portioning the right size to make a low for sandwiches. Any tips?"

Carolyn: Yes. If you're having a hard time eyeballing, and I am a very inexact person. Every time I grab a little ball of that dough to cook, I'm sure it's a different amount. So if you're trying to fill loaf pan just right, your best bet is to weigh out your dough. Most loaf pans will come with a reading of how many pounds loaf it's supposed to hold. So weigh out your dough and just get... If it's a one and a half pound loaf pan, then go ahead and get about a pound and a half of dough and get it in there. That should help you get the exact right proportions.

Carolyn: Now, you may have to, if you still don't have the original information that came with your loaf pan, just measure your loaf pan and go and find information on the internet from a new loaf pan with the same measurements, so you can get that poundage.

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: All right. I love this question, and this is just life on the homestead and solving different problems in the garden here. Amanda Taylor on backyard gardens can seriously produce, says, "My barn cat keeps using my raised beds as his litter box. What do I do about that?" Right. Yeah, totally understand. We get a lot of questions about what's the best defense against gophers and small... Cats, it's hands down, cats. Nothing works as well as good cats.

Josh: However, cats sometimes really like the beds. I struggled with this, this year on our raised beds where we were growing lettuces and I didn't have them mulched because I had to be starting little seeds in succession. And the cats just wanted to get all in there. It drove me nuts.

Carolyn: They loved it.

Josh: You know what? I don't have a full-proof solution for you. Keep as much mulch as you can. They would not touch the beds that were mulched heavily with wood shavings. They didn't mess with that. They weren't interested with that. What they liked was that nice bed that was just freshly composted after I had seeded these small seeds, which I couldn't mulch because we're growing lettuces and leafy greens real close together. And I couldn't do anything but really run the cats off.

Josh: I mean, you could get a motion sensor with a sprinkler and maybe train them. Some people do that for a variety of pests in the garden. But then you still want the cats in the garden. So we just dealt with it. We had some areas that we just couldn't produce from, but it wasn't bad. This is where you've got to have a little bit of give and take because we're wanting to use nature there in the form of the cats, to control what are actually much more damaging critters than their little bit of fooling around.

Carolyn: Yep. I do want to say really quickly, though, because some people are concerned about the health problems related with cat scat in the gardens. That can be a real problem. But if your soil is biologically active, it should be able to handle those things. Just make sure you're focusing on having soil that is alive and working, and that should help balance out any of the health problems, any of the... What would the word be? There's there's a really good word, right there. Anything that might get into your soil that would not be good.

Josh: Yeah. I mean, obviously, too, if you've got plants that you're harvesting, they're grown, wash them. Usually what the cats like, in my experience, is those areas that I've just seeded. What happens is nothing really grows there anyway, so I don't even.

Carolyn: If the cats get into [crosstalk]. Yeah.

Josh: Yeah. Because you just end up having to just leave that area a while and maybe remove the poo if it's there. You don't end up getting really anything out of that anyways because they've disturbed it so much. Okay. Jade Mcgur on herbal salve asks, "Do you keep a bowl, spoon, etc., for only making salves and lotions, so a dedicated spoon. If not, what are your tips to get them very clean?"

Josh: Man, I just found a jar that the kids had. Oh, it's our salve for the cow that you make for keeping the teats moist and everything. I tried to wash that thing out. I was like, "Oh my goodness. What do you do with this?" So I'm wondering this too.

Carolyn: Okay. There's a give and take here. At one point, I actually had a separate set of bowls, and measuring spoons, and all sorts of things for salve type things. Then I had a whole nother set for making soaps. Then I had a whole nother set for my kitchen, just regular stuff. And somewhere that just became ridiculous. I just can't have all these different sets of things. Now, I will say, if you're working with something with bees wax in it, it can be challenging to get off.

Carolyn: And so, you may want a separate set of items for that, just because you're never going to be able to get it quite as clean as you would like. You would really have to probably put it into a pot of boiling water and boil it out, honestly, to get it all the way out. So for something like selves or the lotions, it's probably a good idea to have a second set. I just keep scrubbing, personally, at this point.

Carolyn: Occasionally we get a jar, something like that, that just doesn't come clean really well because it's hard to get your hand in there, but again, if you boil it, it should. I try to just keep those aside and then use them for salve a second time. So as long as they've been washed and all the way dried, they're just fine to refill a salve. As far as the soaps and using... You didn't ask about this one, Jade, but I know a lot of people keep a whole separate set of utensils just for soap making.

Carolyn: And it finally dawned on me, here I'm washing my dishes with soap and I'm making soap, why can I not use these things, these bowls that I'm making soap with for my food, because I'm going to use that same soap that I just made in order to wash all my food dishes. So it didn't make much sense to me to keep those separate. Just make sure you wash it out well so you don't have any grains of lye. That's the only big thing that you don't... Yeah.

Josh: All right. Sabrina D. Lane on an apartment to 40 acres. "Hey, I love your videos. Thank you for sharing all your knowledge and experience with me. Do you believe age is a factor in homesteading. When starting at a later age, say, fifties, should we perhaps not consider livestock or limit livestock to chickens, goats, rabbits? Thanks."

Carolyn: Yeah. Sabrina, I think that really is going to have to do with you and your personal circumstance, honestly. Some people have had animals for their life or maybe have had experience with animals, and in their fifties, they're very adept and capable and feel very comfortable with having large livestock around. Some people, if it's a brand new experience, it's just too much to start at that point in life. So I think you really have to take stock of how you feel about it.

Carolyn: If it's something that's scary to you, it's probably not a great place to start. You want to start with something that's easy. Again, you mentioned chickens, goats, rabbits. Honestly, I've got to say something that I don't hear talked about very much. A cow is way easier to keep than a goat, in most cases.

Josh: That's our opinion. I mean, we know a lot of people that do goats and-

Carolyn: We do.

Josh: ... it's just never been our thing.

Carolyn: Your fencing is a lot easier to deal with, with a cow than it is a goat. They're a lot... I don't want to say slow. They're larger animals, so they don't move as quickly as a goat, although they can move plenty quickly.

Josh: We're talking dairy cow.

Carolyn: A dairy cow. Yeah. I think you just have to find what's going to work for you. I think it's going to be different for everybody.

Josh: Well, and obviously the shape that you're in physically is a factor in that. And then also the resources you have available to you. The more you can create systems upfront and be well thought out and planned out, the easier it is going to be to manage whatever animals you have. That's the case, but obviously smaller ones, they're easier to work with if you don't have as developed a systems. So the more you can create a system and an infrastructure to work with your animals for your situation the easier that's going to be.

Josh: But yeah, I mean, we're all aging and so we need to be careful about what we do and be wise about what we take on so that we don't overdo it and burn ourselves out. And that's easier to do at 50 than at 20.

Carolyn: We're starting to feel that, aren't we?

Josh: I'm realizing that.Yep. Yeah. My mind still thinks I'm 20. All right, Tyler McCurry on no fuss herbal salve, which is not an herbal salve question though. "Can you please explain to me the difference in milk from the time it comes from the cow until it's all separated out? Like whole milk has cream, right? Then the cream comes off and what's left is the skim. Is the liquid that comes from the butter-baking... Butter-making process, sorry, called buttermilk? And," I think this is the best part of the question, "If so, why doesn't it taste like buttermilk from the store?"

Carolyn: Okay. This is a big question and there's a lot-

Josh: There's a lot here to-

Carolyn: ... in here to unpack. But I think some of the challenges is there's a difference in terminology that's used in grocery store dairy products than what we use from homemade dairy products. When you go out to your barn and milk a cow, you have what is truly whole milk. That is actually called cream line milk if you want to get into a different term. The reason there's a different term there is because the whole milk you buy from the grocery store is actually about 4% milk. It has already had 4%-

Josh: Four, fat or cream.

Carolyn: Yeah, butterfat.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: What they've done at the groceries with the grocery store milk is they've skimmed all the milk off. They've put about 4% of butterfat back in there and they call that whole milk. It is not really whole milk like it would come out of the cow.

Josh: So you're kind of getting ripped off.

Carolyn: You're getting cheated, honestly. That shouldn't be called whole milk because it just isn't really. If you have a Jersey cow and you bring in truly whole milk from your cow, you're going to be amazed at the difference in creaminess. That's because it's got a lot more cream in it. But once you skim the cream off the top of your milk, then you are removing that butterfat from the milk, or at least a percentage of it. Now, if you're just skimming with a spoon, it's very unlikely that you're going to get non-fat milk.

Josh: You're probably closer, just if you're not using a separator, which is what most of us are doing, we're not using a separator at home, we're just skimming it with some fashion or another, you're probably, by the time you're done and you've skimmed off that cream, you're probably closer.

Carolyn: To a whole milk.

Josh: I don't know if it's 4%. I mean, you'd have to technically analyze it, but you're getting closer to what the store calls the whole milk.

Carolyn: Right. Exactly.

Josh: Even though we would still call that a skimmed milk.

Carolyn: It would still be a skim milk to us on the homestead, but it wouldn't be a non-fat like at the store. So there's a lot of confusion with all those terms there. You can get into cream and all the different terms that have to do with cream. And there's a lot of them. Now the buttermilk question is a great question because what we call buttermilk that comes from the store is a cultured milk. It's not actually the leftovers from making butter. It's actually a whole different product right now. It would be more like a yogurt than it is the leftovers from making-

Josh: It's milk that's been cultured.

Carolyn: It's milk that's been cultured, so it's had bacteria purposely added to it and let sit so that culture can grow and take over the milk.

Josh: I don't know the exact history here. Maybe you do, but did they take originally buttermilk and then use it to culture milk to create buttermilk? Or did they let the buttermilk itself go cultured?

Carolyn: No, it actually happened the other way, is that traditionally in order to make your butter, you would allow your cream to culture.

Josh: Right. That's right. That's right.

Carolyn: So you would culture it a little bit, and you can still do that. If you watch my butter-making video, I talk about that and turning it into a little bit like lightly buttermilk, lightly cultured-

Josh: That's right.

Carolyn: ... in order to make your butter come out. So then the leftovers of that cultured milk that then got turned into butter would have been a cultured buttermilk.

Josh: That would have been the buttermilk... Like my grandfather drank buttermilk from the farm and loved it. And then he drank the [inaudible] or whatever it was when I was a kid. That was different, he said, but he still really liked it.

Carolyn: But he still really liked it. Yeah.

Josh: But I think comes from... That's the original process.

Carolyn: But if you just make butter, just fresh butter, and then you take what's left over, it's not going to taste anything like store-bought buttermilk or homemade cultured buttermilk.

Josh: Right.

Carolyn: So I hope that I helped clarify that.

Josh: Oh, I think that was good. Yeah.

Carolyn: And that I wasn't confusing.

Josh: No, you did great. Yeah.

Carolyn: All right. Great. All right. Here's another question. "We have two corn fields, maybe five acres each."

Josh: Wow.

Carolyn: Right, those are big cornfields. "I know they sprayed them with chemicals. Any tips on restoring the soil and getting rid of the chemicals from the soil?"

Josh: Yeah. Great question. You probably don't know exactly what they sprayed on there. Most of those chemicals in, let's say, a normal biological scenario, meaning the soil's got average biology going, and it's five to seven years to totally get rid of those. Does that mean you can't use the ground? No. I mean, I think we have to be careful, we can't be purists. If it's so damaged, it's not going to grow much, then you're going to have to do a little restoration before you even use it.

Josh: But because of the size there, you're not going to be able to import, say, a bunch of compost. That's going to be very hard to do. But you've got to get the biology going and improve the health of the soil because it's actually the microbes that are going to break down the chemicals and make them inert and break them apart. The biology is very, very powerful. So really it's going to be cover cropping is going to be probably the most inexpensive way, though that's going to take longer and that's growing a diversity of cover crops and building your soil that way along with nitrogen fixers and whatnot.

Josh: So the best thing I can do is recommend that you check out a book by Gabe Brown called Dirt To Soil, fascinating book. Very good. He'll give you a lot ideas about how this works and even different cover cropping scenarios. That'll get you going. But that would be the best way that I would recommend, that's not going to cost a ton of money for something that scale.

Carolyn: Could you do large amount of compost tea? That's 10 acres. That's a lot of land. So could you do a big spray on a compost tea?

Josh: You certainly could. That just gets a little more advanced. That's why I didn't bring that one out. But yeah, if you wanted to get into compost teas, but I couldn't even begin to tell you how much you would need. To make that compost tea correctly and then be able to apply it at that scale becomes another larger project. A great way to go about it, and you could even combine that with cover cropping or a crop that you're going to use.

Carolyn: That would be really good.

Josh: So, absolutely. Yeah. That's a whole nother area to go into that I can't speak to a whole lot.

Carolyn: Okay, great. Okay. And another one. "We recently purchased 113 acres."

Josh: Woohoo.

Carolyn: Yay. Congratulations.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: "We will need to build a house, so we are starting from scratch."

Josh: Wow.

Carolyn: "I watched your video about zones." I'm assuming that means permaculture zones.

Josh: I think so. Yep.

Carolyn: "Any other tips about where to place everything outside of the buildings?" Good question.

Josh: It is. That's an excellent question. It's so good you're thinking about this right now and you're starting from scratch. So you really have an opportunity to set things out really well for yourself. First of all, I'll have a tip here in a second, but dive into permaculture, sorry. You can get the... I'm sorry, I just went blank, The Introduction Of Permaculture by Bill Mollison. There's some just great information in there. We'll get you a link to that book as well.

Josh: But in a general sense, what you're trying to do is focus on areas of activity. So the things that have the most activity that you're going to go to multiple times a day, you want closest to your house. Then there's going to be things you're going to maybe go to one times a day. That can be a little further out. And so on. That's just the general tip, but you really want to dive in and get some resources like that introduction to permaculture or some videos online that will really start to lay that out and give you examples of that. That will help you so much. And you'll just be off to a great start on that property, is to get things laid out with that thought process.

Carolyn: Yeah. When you can do that, that just ends up saving you so much time and so much energy because you can just arrange your area so that you're not walking further than you need to walk every day. It ends up actually saving a lot of time and making your energy a lot more useful in places-

Josh: Even your pathways, just as an example, you might have some things that you go to multiple times a day and a certain types of gardens, the chicken coop, there's different areas like that. And then you may have, say, a barn that sometimes you're multiple times a day, sometimes you're once a day. But it's got to be a little further out. Well, if you can line things up, you want your [inaudible] to be able to even be lined up-

Carolyn: Meaning...

Josh: In how you're coming and going. You can go out to the barn and do what you need to do. Stop back by, say, the chicken coop on the way in, instead of having going one direction for this and another direction for that. I mean, there's an infinite amount of possibility, so you just have to apply that to your situation. But that kind of thinking is going to help a lot. And the more you can just look at examples through videos online and some books like that Introduction To Permaculture, the more you'll start putting the pieces together for your own situation.

Carolyn: Good. Good.

Josh: Okay. Michelle Mays Martins on butter three ways. Another butter question here. Let's see. "First of all, love your channel." Thank you. "Second, I have a question about the start of butter. You say add some buttermilk to the cream the night before. Is that the buttermilk that is the by-product of making a previous batch of butter or the type of buttermilk you can buy in the store?"

Carolyn: Okay. There were back to the buttermilk question.

Josh: People are really thinking about that right now.

Carolyn: Yeah, people are really thinking about buttermilk.

Josh: That's good.

Carolyn: Okay. Again, we're going to go back to the difference of those things. You can just go to the store and buy an active live buttermilk. That is absolutely correct to use here. If you, though, culture your cream the night before with that buttermilk, you then have made buttermilk, cultured buttermilk. So at that point, your buttermilk is a cultured buttermilk, which means you can take that buttermilk and use it for the next batch. Does that make sense?

Carolyn: You need to start somewhere. You need to start that process with some store-bought buttermilk so you get the right culture in there. But then you can get the process going so that you can use your buttermilk in your buttermilk. Now, I've got to say, usually that only works for about four generations before you want to go back to the store-bought buttermilk to refresh those cultures. But honestly, you can just keep doing it until you notice a change in the cultured taste.

Josh: Because you're just going to get other bacteria-

Carolyn: It's going to just start changing. Yeah.

Josh: ... other things competing with that. It's going to adjust over time. Yeah.

Carolyn: Especially if you're using a raw cream to make your butter, because there's already bacteria in that. And that's not bad. That can be a great thing. You're just moving towards a clabbered milk instead of a buttermilk, which we can get into a lot of technical differences there. But yeah. Again, hopefully I have clarified not confused on that one.

Josh: You did a good job. You did great.

Carolyn: Okay.

Josh: Okay. Let's go a different direction here and talk about some herbs.

Carolyn: Oh, good.

Josh: Salem [inaudible] on bone-healing comfrey compress.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: Right, good one. "Do you reheat the liquid when you go to use it again to do more compresses throughout the day?" And, of course, just real quick for you answer, Carolyn's got a great video on using the comfrey compress. So you can go check that out. We'll link to it for you and that'll put this question in context.

Carolyn: Absolutely. And, yes, I do reheat the liquid because that warmth is a really important part of that compress. It just helps your skin to actually absorb all the really important parts of those herbs. So you do want to reheat it, but don't use it for more than a day because you'll start losing a lot of the properties right there as they evaporate off. So after one day, go ahead and get rid of it, make a fresh batch of your compost...

Josh: Compost.

Carolyn: We're doing a compress.

Josh: Compress. Yes.

Carolyn: There we go. Make a fresh batch of your compress and then you can reheat it for that day too.

Josh: Cool. All right. Now we're moving on to canning. Laurie Grass on how to pressure canned beef stew. "You make it look so easy." We do. I hear that a lot. "But I've got a question. Could you use dehydrated veggies in canning?" She's got several questions here, but that really does sum it up here, the can you use dehydrated veggies in canning?

Carolyn: That is a really good question. This is one of those areas where, because they it hasn't been tested, because the National Center For Home Food Preservation has not had the funding to test everything they want to test, so the default answer is no. If they haven't tested it, not because there's anything unsafe or anything they think might be unsafe, but just because they haven't tested it so they can't say it is safe. So therefore the default answer is no. Now, there's some of these things though that we can use our brains and puzzle through and work out. And personally-

Josh: It's good they're still allowing us to do that.

Carolyn: Well, you just have to do it quietly. Don't tell anybody, but personally I'd have no problem with it. What you would want to make sure you did, though, is make sure your vegetables are well rehydrated before you use them. Okay.

Josh: Okay. Seems like there wouldn't be a lot of point then.

Carolyn: To, well, rehydrate them?

Josh: Well, to go through that, as opposed to... I guess just if you don't have anything else in your canning and you've got dehydrated veggies. Okay. I was-

Carolyn: You're thinking through it.

Josh: ... thinking through that one, going, "Okay, well, it seems like a lot of work to rehydrate to can. But-

Carolyn: No, you want to rehydrate them because if you put them in dry and they slowly rehydrate, they're going to absorb liquid and then you're going to change your liquid balance on things. And you need to make sure you have that liquid balance correct. So you want to put them in hydrated, even if you start with dehydrated.

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: Okay.

Josh: All right. We're going to get down and dirty here a little bit.

Carolyn: All right.

Josh: This is just some reality on the homestead of dealing with things that are a challenge. Not huge, but nonetheless. Daniel Roy... Danielle Roy, sorry, Danielle, on our early evening chore routine. "How do you keep up with all the dishes?"

Carolyn: It's a daily battle.

Josh: "Do yo have a dishwasher? Do you run the dishwasher three times a day? Do you hand wash throughout the day and run the dishwasher at night? We're a family of seven and keeping up on the dishes is difficult for us." It sure is.

Carolyn: Yes, it is. We do have a dishwasher. We break dishwashers left and right. And I think the reason is because, yes, when we do have a dishwasher, we run it three times a day.

Josh: I did the calculations. I'm sorry, because we've gone through dishwashers and I'm like, "Why don't these things last?" It's very hard to get information on, but we have some other friends that independently did this. We didn't know it. We came up with the same conclusion. The way we use a dishwasher, we use it so much that what should usually last 10 years by the stats, we do in a year and a half.

Carolyn: Yeah. By the amount of washings that we do because we use it three times a day.

Josh: Yeah. We've got 13 people in the house, and there's a lot of people that come and go. There's often 15 or more people at our table. So the dishwasher runs, the hands run, everybody-

Carolyn: Everything. Yeah.

Josh: ... pitches in.

Carolyn: Yeah. Here, to give you a little more practical answer, because we actually... I say that the dishwasher breaks often because then we're in a different scenario as we wait to either replace a dishwasher or get it fixed. Luckily, our oldest son has become a whiz at fixing appliances, which is-

Josh: Just about rebuilt the current one we have, which you can do.

Carolyn: Get somebody who might be interested and start having them learn how to do it because it saves a lot of money in the long run. But we try to make sure that somebody is assigned dish washing after every single meal, somebody or a group of people. It's not always just one person. That way we're always keeping up with the dishwasher. My rule is that even if the dishwasher isn't always all the way, a hundred percent full, which is very rare, we run it anyways three times a day.

Carolyn: Now, we're not going to if there's just a small percentage of things in there. But if it's close to full, we're going to run it three times a day and it gets unloaded and put away. If we're at a place where we're hand washing, like if the dishwasher's broken, we just went through about a month and a half, two months of the dishwasher not working.

Josh: While we were waiting for parts. Yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah. Then we just hand wash the dishes after every single meal and make sure they're washed, dried, and put away so that it doesn't pile up on you. Because once it starts piling up, it's just so hard to face the kitchen the next meal.

Josh: Well, I've got to say, usually there's hand washing going, even when the dishwasher's going, because there's pots, there's just different things. So it's a real team effort and, yeah, use a fair amount of time to keeping the dishes clean.

Carolyn: The real key to it is coming up with a system that works for you and sticking to it, like getting your family trained to it and just making sure it's taken care of every single meal so it's dealt with.

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: Okay.

Josh: All righty.

Carolyn: Couple more before... I think we're starting-

Josh: I think so.

Carolyn: ... to get pretty long here.

Josh: Yeah, I think we can get a couple more in.

Carolyn: Okay, great.

Josh: Okay. Let's see here. I'm looking to see if there's anything new just on subject wise. Let's do one more garden type one and one more bread one. How's that?

Carolyn: Okay.

Josh: Okay. So you want to take that one? You could read it, I'll take it.

Carolyn: Professor Kitchen on how to create an instant garden.

Josh: Professor Kitchen. Right on. I like that.

Carolyn: It says, "Informative video. Where do you store your compost? I can get some from a neighbor, but don't have a barn to store it in."

Josh: Yeah, totally understand. Most of the time, you don't. A covered structure is ideal, but having the resources to have a structure just for your compost sometimes isn't real feasible. We've got some in our barn during the winter and then we have a large pile outside. And so, you can keep it outside and keep it covered as much as you can, especially during the rainy season. You do need to uncover because you need to let the offgassing and everything out.

Josh: But when it's dormant in the winter, if you live in that environment, it's fine to cover it so that the nutrients don't get leached out, especially from the rain.

Carolyn: Did you say how you cover it?

Josh: Tarps, usually. Big tarps. Yep.

Carolyn: Yep. [crosstalk].

Josh: That's the best way to go at it unless you can afford to have a roof overhead. Okay. Let's see. One more here. Sorry. Lola M. on five-minute bread. What's the difference between active and instant yeast?

Carolyn: Okay. Good one. Instant yeast is formulated so that you don't have to let it sit in warm water before you start baking with it. Active dry yeast, it's usually best to let it sit in the liquid for 10 to 15 minutes to let it re-activate. I always recommend baking with the active dry yeast. I find that the instant yeast is much less reliable in the results that it gives. So I really, really recommend that active dry yeast.

Carolyn: You can get active dry yeast that is non-GMO, which is really nice. I don't know if you can get instant yeast that is non-GMO. If it doesn't say non-GMO, though, you've got to know that, at least in the United States, pretty much all of our baking yeast has been genetically modified. So you want to get something that says not genetically modified. That would be really, really good. So yeah, I recommend using the active dry yeast.

Josh: Very cool. Well, that was a good bit of questions.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Thanks, you guys, for those. You know what, keep them coming. Just drop them in to the conversation down below, and we collect those between Pantry Chats, and we'll get to as many of them as we can next time.

Carolyn: Yeah. It's been great hanging out with you guys.

Josh: We'll see you soon. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Pantry Chat: Food For Thought. If you've enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review.

Carolyn: To view the show notes and any other resources mentioned on this episode, you can learn more at

Josh: We'll see you soon.

Carolyn: Goodbye.

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It is our goal to encourage you in the path to a more healthy, more secure and free lifestyle by sharing and teaching the skills that lead to greater sustainability and self-sufficiency for you, your loved ones and your community.

– Carolyn and Josh 


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