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Pantry Chat Podcast – Q & A

Welcome to this week’s episode of the Pantry Chat where we’re answering your questions!

A man and woman clicking their coffee cups together in cheers.

We’re discussing topics from tips to create an instant garden and rocks in the soil, to troubleshooting your fermenting questions.

You can watch the Pantry Chat below, or listen to the podcast here (or on your favorite podcast app). Check below for a list of resources and links mentioned and thanks for hanging out with us today!

Topics We’re Covering in the Pantry Chat

  • How to tell the difference between a weed and the plant that you intended to plant.
  • Why weeds have a purpose and how to reduce weeds where you don’t want them.
  • We’re getting enough that we’re ready to sell our excess eggs.
  • The sad experience we had on the homestead this week but how we’re finding value through it.
  • Stocking up on feed and grain.
  • Making more sour cream, less butter, and more lard.
  • Fermenting vessels and tips during fermentation.
  • Tips for creating an instant garden.
  • Using frozen fruit to make fruit leather… does it work?
  • Adding herbs to homemade fresh bread.
  • How to store produce so it lasts longer.
  • Whether it’s OK to add meat to your compost.
  • Why we pasteurize our milk before making homemade yogurt (and why you might want to also).
  • How to grow enough to preserve it all at once in large batches.
Two kids picking spinach in a large garden.

More Pantry Chats You May Enjoy

Josh: Hey, you guys, this is Josh.

Carolyn: And Carolyn.

Josh: With Homestead Family. And welcome to this week's episode of the Pantry Chat food for thought.

Carolyn: This week, we're talking about ferments and compost and all sorts of other things, because we are answering your questions.

Josh: That's right. But first we're going to get into a little chit chat, talk about the week, how things have been going around here. And then we're answering your questions all the way through. So we'll dive right into that.

Carolyn: If you want to skip the chit chat and you're watching on YouTube, you can check the timestamps below, because we have that all time stamped for you. So you can move ahead, but the chit chat's the fun part. You should hang out.

Josh: That's right. A lot going on here.

Carolyn: All right.

Josh: So anyways, but diving right in. How you're doing? And what's going on? Spring is finally springing around here. It's been a little slow coming.

Carolyn: It's been slow. It's been a slow start, but that means, you're kind of like, "Don't get going too fast. Don't get going too fast." But then when it gets here-

Josh: Run.

Carolyn: ... you have to make up all that time. And so, yeah. It's like, go. It is go time around here, which means we're starting to feel a little tired. There's a lot to do. The to-do lists are long.

Josh: Starting?

Carolyn: Starting to feel a little tired.

Josh: Starting to feel tired. Did that ever stop?

Carolyn: We like to keep ourselves busy.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: Sometimes too busy. So anyways, spring is going. Things are popping up. Plants are popping up. Weeds are popping up. Baby animals are popping out. They're popping all over the place. Lots of popping. So we're just trying to keep up with the basics of that. Do you know how to tell the difference when you've got all these little seedlings in your garden? Do you know how to tell the difference between the plant that you want, that you put in intentionally, and a weed?

Josh: Well, I can think of several different things. I'm not sure if you have some specific idea you're-

Carolyn: I do.

Josh: ... getting to.

Carolyn: I do. Yeah.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: You tug on it. You pull it out. If it comes out really easily, it was the plant you wanted. If it like is in there and it's not going to go anywhere, then it was a weed.

Josh: I don't think that's a test you really want to apply, though. I don't know about.

Carolyn: For brand new gardeners. That's a joke. Don't actually do that. Okay. But it's just a point that sometimes those things that you're trying to grow, feel really delicate and you're like, "Baby, baby, baby."

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: And then you're watching these weeds pop up all around and you're like, "You don't have to baby those things." Those things are robust and healthy.

Josh: Nop.e

Carolyn: And those roots are locked into that soil.

Josh: Well, and that's a whole discussion in and of itself because what we call weeds, really weeds are anything you don't want in your garden or whatever you're growing.

Carolyn: In a place you don't want. I've added that part of definition.

Josh: In a place you don't want. Right. Because that's why I said garden, and that could be the different gardens.

Carolyn: A sunflower could be a weed if it's in the wrong place.

Josh: Absolutely. So you need to know what those plants are that you call weeds and why they're there. And the reason that those don't come out well is because they are very hardy. They are made to restore the ground, because nature doesn't like bare ground. It doesn't like naked soil, wants it covered. And so those plants are made to grow in difficult situations, and pull nutrients, minerals up. So all that to say they do have a value sometimes. And so just know that as you're building your paradigm and what those weeds are, why they're there. And most of the time they got to go.

Sometimes they can make good ground cover for an area. I heard Joel Salatin, talk about areas where the ground's been disturbed and it's been weedy, and it's taken a few years, but they've actually let the weeds run their course because they are building soil. They're building up the ground. Now we can't do that in a vegetable garden most of the time.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: That's counterproductive.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: But they do have a purpose.

Carolyn: Yeah, absolutely.

Josh: Anyway.s

Carolyn: And sometimes the purpose is to eat them. Sometimes they're very edible.

Josh: Oh, absolutely.

Carolyn: A lot of times you're pulling out weeds and they're more new nutrient dense, they're better than the crop that you have planted there. Occasionally it's because you don't like the taste of them as much, but dandelions, purslane.

Josh: I love purslane. I will, actually, a lot of times let purslane go. It makes a low ground cover. So it doesn't grow up and compete with the plants and it tastes great. It's a great snack.

Carolyn: Delicious. Good. So anyways, we've been trying to keep up with the growth around here, but along with that, that means we have our egg flush in right now. We are getting about 70 eggs a day, between 65 and 70 eggs a day.

Josh: Just got to say, you asked for it.

Carolyn: I did. I absolutely asked for this.

Josh: She said we haven't been getting enough eggs the last couple years.

Carolyn: We haven't. And I don't want to buy eggs in the winter. So I want to have enough to preserve them for the whole winter. So preserving eggs is a whole nother topic. We actually have an entire class on it, mini class on it. You can check that out. I'll put the link in the description. But this year we're doing it. We're definitely going to have enough eggs to get through the winter.

Josh: You think this is too many for the homestead? Are we getting into having overflow to sell?

Carolyn: Yes. I think we're at the point where we could probably start selling eggs now.

Josh: Okay.

Carolyn: And we have enough to get us through the whole year and now our excess can go into supporting the farm in a different way. So that's kind of exciting.

Josh: Well, good. We'll to decide whether we want to go that route.

Carolyn: Yeah. Or reduce the amount of chickens one or the other.

Josh: Yep.

Carolyn: But right along with that, the milk cow just came into milk, I think you'll-

Josh: She freshened. Yes.

Carolyn: ... probably talk about that in a minute, a little bit more. But that means today was the first day we got two and a half gallons of milk into the kitchen this morning.

Josh: Yep.

Carolyn: So-

Josh: And that's just to start, get ready.

Carolyn: That's just a start.

Josh: Because Tilly will give six to eight gallons a day at her peak in about three months.

Carolyn: You can imagine that becomes a management project right away, on the milk side, there's only so much milk even our large family can consume. So we dive right into making cheese, making yogurts, making all sorts of great stuff, and finding different ways to preserve the milk also, which is exciting. Butter, of course, butter.

Josh: Butter.

Carolyn: Lots of butter.

Josh: And we're talking maybe sour cream this year.

Carolyn: More sour cream.

Josh: Making more sour cream. It's always a battle with the cream, how to best use the cream for your household. We've started making, growing more lard pigs with the kunekune, so that we can replace some of that butter with lard, which is great.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: But then still do you make sour cream? Do you make butter? Do you make other things?

Carolyn: So to put it in context, though, for those of you guys who don't know us. We have a large family. And so there are right now, there are regularly 13 people at our meal table, with a lot of meals. When we have guests or other family over or something like that, it goes up, that number goes up. So we have to make a lot of stuff, a lot of food. And so in this battle between what gets priority with the cream, we've always kind of tended towards the butter, just make the butter. Make the butter. Well, when I started thinking about it, we can replace a lot of that butter with lad, which is great. The only thing that people don't like replacing with lard is like, if you're going to butter bread at the table.

Josh: Your potatoes, your bread.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Where you're putting fresh butter on, you want that butter.

Carolyn: At the table. You really want it there. But the rest of it can go. And it's a lot easier to make lard than it is to make butter. However, making sour cream, the ingredients in sour cream at the grocery store are awful. It is not just cream and culture like it should be. It's all sorts of other things. So I think we're going to start making our own sour cream, as the priority. And then the rest of it's going to go to butter, and ice cream.

Josh: And so these are decisions you've always got to make with different things that you're growing or producing on your homestead, and a dairy cow's really one of them. Where's the best value for your family?

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: We all tend to think of butter. That's what we tend to go to. But we also eat a lot of sour cream and like Carolyn was saying, getting good, clean sour cream, that's basically organic and pure, very hard to do in the store. You can get pretty good butter. We have access to good butter. So if we've got to pick buying something, we've realized, you know what, maybe we actually want to start making more sour cream, a little less butter, and then supplement the butter. Especially since we've got the lard covered. Those are always important things to think about with your own situation and how your family uses things. And what's the best use of the resources that you have.

Carolyn: Absolutely.

Josh: I'm excited. We eat quite a bit of sour cream. We eat a lot of Mexican food and potatoes, we enjoy sour cream on. So I'm really excited at that thought of homemade sour cream.

Carolyn: It's good.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: It's going to be great.

Josh: Very good.

Carolyn: Okay. So what have you been up to? That's kind of about what I've been up to.

Josh: Wow. Well, we've just been adjusting through the wet season. It's been a wet, cold spring and yet having babies. We had one beef cow this last week or beef calf.

Carolyn: Yeah. Little heifer calf.

Josh: A little heifer calf, that went great. The goslings. Brand new goslings, four of those. Momma did great.

Carolyn: Oh, they're so cute. They're all fluffy and little and they just bob around behind your-

Josh: Yep.

Carolyn: Oh my goodness.

Josh: Yep. And then, we do have a bummer side of the story here, and that is with dairy cow, we had a calving problem, and we had to pull that calf and that calf did not survive. So that was a real bummer, real loss.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: And we're very selective about our animals. Animal problems are often a result of genetics in your own care. And so we've been very careful over the years with the genetics that we purchase, animals that ease of calving is a big deal.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: When we purchase a dairy cow or beef cow and any animal, we want to see that they're birthing well. We want to know that they've got longevity and then we need to do our part with nutrition and feed and everything. With that though, we've had very low incidences of say calving problems and other medical problems. And I know this works for people, I'm reading through Joel's book, Polyface Micro, Joel Salatin. Great book, you guys, Polyface Micro. It's all about animals on the homestead and pasturing. Fantastic book. A lot of it's stuff that I'm familiar with, but I really, really want to recommend that.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: I've been meaning to say this for a couple weeks.

Carolyn: We'll a link down in the description for you guys, so you can find it.

Josh: But he talks about this. He talks about this in a section about disease. And he said straight up says, "I don't have a lot to say, because of our management practices we've had to do with very little."

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: So he is actually not the expert in that area. And we get people asking us questions and I'm kind of the same way. Well, we followed a lot of those principles.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Anyways, coming back around, bad things still happen sometime. And we had a calf and several of us were working on that calf and I pulled on it for an hour and a half, it took to get, after she had been in labor for a long time. And it was sad. It was a real bummer. I've not had to go through that before of just nurturing that life, trying to save that life, right there, up close, and actually losing it in the process and knowing that, and yet still having to finish the job. And after talking to the vet, it was a Sunday, couldn't get the vet there in time. And after talking to him, it sounds like there was probably a deformity in the intestines because the calf came out bloated.

Carolyn: Very extended in the stomach.

Josh: So yeah, some sort of, sometimes in the growth, intestines don't develop. He had some technical terms I don't remember. But the calf will bloat and then it can't pass through well.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: And so anyway, that was a little bit of a bummer. But we move on, we do compost those things as well. You can compost just about anything, and we don't want to waste that life. And so that goes back to the land and continues to build soil fertility.

Carolyn: It's a good lesson. It's always hard. The kids are excited about the calf and all of us are excited about the calf. And so there's always that little bit of hard, but we've gotten so removed from the cycle of life, in our modern culture. We don't see death, really.

Josh: We don't up close.

Carolyn: We send people off to the hospital. We send them away. We don't experience that very often. And it's just a really good thing to remember, our own mortality and the mortality of the people around us, and the animals and the things around us. And I think it's always a good, good, reflective moment.

Josh: There is no real life without death, and that's a spiritual principle and that's definitely a principle on the homestead that you get up and close with. But it's something important for us to realize. For us to live, something has to die. Sometimes there are casualties that aren't expected, like this calf. But that is a cycle of life and it's important. It's important for us. And it's really important for the kids. I think it's a much better perspective for them to work that through that too. So even in death, there's value sometimes.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Even though it's hard and sad. Anyways, that's been a lot of the last week.

Carolyn: Yeah

Josh: We're stocking up on our grains. I am actually going today to purchase, I don't know what it is, it's probably 10 to 12 tons of feed.

Carolyn: Wow.

Josh: For most of the year for us, and you guys don't wait till the fall-

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: ... if you're on homesteads, if you're relying on gray. Gray. Hay and grain. Gray, okay. You need to be thinking about purchasing early in the season. Prices are already up, if you're not aware of that. And this fall, when we come around to the harvest, they're likely going to be a lot higher. We've still got a lot of supply issues, and those are likely going to feel a lot worse when the wheat harvest that's coming in should be coming in, is reduced particularly on the world supply. So anyways, we're stocking up majorly, so I'm having to rearrange a whole bunch in the barn, because I don't usually stock up quite that much.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: And getting ready for that. And that's about it, besides working on STS.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: School of traditional skills.

Carolyn: Working on that. And it's nice to have you here for two weeks in a row. We're enjoying that.

Josh: Nice to be here. Yep.

Carolyn: Good.

Josh: I think-

Carolyn: And then I think we're going to lose you for a few weeks.

Josh: Yeah. And hey, if you guys are not familiar with Brandon Shear, the farmstead meatsmith, check him out, look him up. He is a fantastic resource. And I'm going to be hanging out with him here soon, and hopefully having him on the show with us and that's going to be a fun conversation. He's a really neat guy, and our inspiration for a lot of butchering and meat processing.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah. Just getting to talk with him on a couple meetings this last week, I get so excited because when you get somebody who's really thinking through the depths of what they're doing, it's exciting.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: So, and he's very passionate about curing pork, particularly, and proper butchering and raising of pork. And so it's very exciting thing to get to talk to him.

Josh: It is. And he brings a lot of poetic beauty to it.

Carolyn: Yes.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah, absolutely.

Josh: Yep. So that's it.

Carolyn: Okay.

Josh: Day in the life of.

Carolyn: That's it. That's all you're doing.

Josh: Day in the life of. Yeah. Good stuff. Well, hey, we've talked enough about us.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: Let's get on to you guys, to them. And dive into the questions here. It looks like we've got a pretty good list of them today. And we're going to start with one for you, Carolyn. Cat K on how to ferment for long term preservation. Let's see, "I've been wondering if my ferments could be shelf stable for a while now, because I run out of room in the fridge quickly." Sure understand that. "I'm so excited to try this out and experiment. One question I have. I have access to a ton of my grandma's old Bale lid canning jars. Do you think I could ferment in those if I get new rubber seals for them?"

Carolyn: Yes, absolutely. The one trick that you're going to have is during that active ferment phase, you have to make sure you're letting them vent out really well. So you may have to tip them a little bit sideways, the lids on those Bale ones, you kind of like tip them, just to make sure it can vent. And then when those bubbles come to a stop, you can then lock it down. And you will want the new rubber lids. The one challenge that you have with that, is if you're using a Mason jar, you can just lightly screw, like a modern Mason jar with the two part lids, you can just lightly screw that lid on, so that it does rest down unless gas needs to escape. When you're using the old Bale ones, you kind of have clamped or non clamped those are your two options.

You may possibly want to leave them unclamped just because you don't want to build up a ton of pressure inside there. Even after the initial active ferment, you are still going to have a little bit of off-gassing. So if you don't over fill it, and you wait until that active ferment has really seriously died down. You can probably get away with capping it, locking it all the way down. If you're not sure I would just put the lid on and not lock it down just to be sure. Because if the gases can push their way out of the lid, they will, they'll do that. And they'll keep you from having an explosion.

Josh: I was going to say, they're going to find their way to push out though one way or the other.

Carolyn: Eventually the glass gives way under the pressure.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: So you don't want to do that, but-

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: ... yeah. So you can definitely use those.

Josh: Okay.

Carolyn: Good.

Josh: Okay.

Carolyn: Okay. Jennifer Misquith on how to create an instant garden.

Josh: Okay.

Carolyn: Lots of people like that. A lot of people thinking about gardening this year, so that's good.

Josh: Yep. And this one's a good start if you just need to get something in quick.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: You can do it. "Thanks for the video. Why do you cut the grass and not just layer your lasagna on top of it? Does it make a difference?"

Josh: Yeah. So good question. And I got to give a little backdrop to answer that. So the standard lasagna garden, or sheet mulch garden, generally, if you're not trying to do an instant garden, not trying to do this quick, you want to put it down in the fall. Okay. That's when nature puts down all its materials. And this method of sheet mulching with construction paper or newspaper or cardboard, you can definitely put that down right over your sod, good and thick, and then add your mulch or your compost and mulch.

And if you're going to do that, you do that in the fall. And then it has the fall, the winter, and into spring to really activate and work. What we're trying to do here is accelerate the process. So while, we're always trying to work with nature and mimic nature's systems, there's times when we want to accelerate those or maximize those. And so in this case, we're trying to speed the process up in an instant garden.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: So I cut the grass down to accelerate the process of things breaking down and also slow down the sod underneath it. Now, usually if I was doing that, I would even dig up or til up the soil a little bit to loosen everything up and really help get it going. But I was, in this case, in this video, I was demonstrating doing it without any power equipment and making it pretty easy just by layering. So the grass just gets that material, gets it dead, real fast. And I think in that video, I haven't seen it in a while, I even added some food scraps in there.

That's just getting a bunch of nitrogen going, which is going to charge that system underneath your sheet mulch, to get it broken down, because you're then going to place your sheet mulch, cardboard, or whatever, and then build up some soil on top, where in that case you also need to use the compost. So it just helps accelerate the process. Do you have to do it? No. I think it's just going to be a little bit better if you're doing this instant method and trying to get it going quickly.

Carolyn: Hmm. There you go. Good.

Josh: Okay. Jody Lund on Fruit Leather Secret Ingredient. "I had to freeze my strawberries and now want to make fruit leather. Can I use those once thawed or will they be too watery?"

Carolyn: Ah, you can use them once they're thawed and you do want to save the juice that thaws out of them, and use that also, especially if you're using the method that I share in that Fruit Leather Secret Ingredient video, that makes the best fruit leather. Oh, it's thick. It's not too tough like some regular fruit leather can often be really like jerky. This is more like, I don't know, it's like what you find in the grocery store. I don't know what to say besides that. That's really what it is. So, but if you're using that method, you definitely want to keep all the juice from the defrosted strawberries, but you can use any frozen fruit, that works out just fine.

Josh: Not funny how that's usually a compliment. We're trying to get away from the grocery store, but usually when we say it's just like the grocery store, it's because that's the texture we're used to, or that's the thing we're used to. And so it's this contradiction, right?

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: In one way we're always trying to get away from it, another way we'll refer to it. And I don't mean just you and I. I see a lot of people do this. It's like, "Oh, that's just like the way you buy it." And it's a compliment. It's like, "Wow, you got it. You nailed it."

Carolyn: I remember-

Josh: And in that case, I know that's what that reference is, because that's what we're used to.

Carolyn: Yeah. I remember the moment that I knew that I had made it in making homemade bread and that's when I put that loaf of bread on the table and you said, "Oh, why aren't you making our own bread?" You said something about it being store bought bread. And I was confused for a second. And then I realized, you thought my homemade whole wheat bread was store bought bread. And I was like, "Yes."

Josh: This is all perfect loaf and perfectly brown.

Carolyn: Just right. Just what I was looking for.

Josh: That's great. Okay. Graveyard Addict, wow, okay. I'm not going to really ask where you came up with that. But Graveyard Addict, okay, on Save Money on Groceries This Year. "Hello. I'm having a very hard time keeping my fresh produce fresh." Yep. "My celery gets limp in one week and the lettuce gets brown in two days. How can I keep produce fresh to last a week until the next big shopping day?" This is a challenge.

Carolyn: Yes. This is a challenge. And obviously the great answer is, well, leave it in your garden until you're ready to harvest it. But even for us, there's seasons where we don't have fresh produce in the garden, and you may not have fresh produce in your garden. You may not have a garden.

Josh: Yeah. Imagine dealing with the grocery here.

Carolyn: Yeah. You have to go to the grocery store, and that's reality. So usually this comes down to storage. I do have a few tricks for this. One is find out when your grocery store gets lettuce delivered. Lettuce is the worst for this. If you need to, you live out of town of ways and you need to go do a big grocery shopping and then bring it home. And it needs to last you for a few weeks for you to be able to eat your veggies, make sure you find out when your grocery store gets the lettuce and go when they have very, very fresh lettuce. That's kind of my trick there.

Josh: Kind of any produce, right? If you can?

Carolyn: Any produce.

Josh: Especially.

Carolyn: I feel like the lettuce is the most susceptible-

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: ... but, yeah, because they often bring things in on different days.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: So it's not just one day. When you get home, get the lettuce out of the packages that it came in, and you need to keep it dry. Lettuce goes bad because it gets wet or it gets damp. So one thing that I do and I even do this with our homegrown lettuce, I'll go out and cut a bunch. So we have easy salads for lunch or for dinner. I actually take a whole one of the produce bins in the refrigerator.

Josh: Those drawers.

Carolyn: I take the whole drawer out. I clean it. I like disinfect it, well with vinegar. We can't technically call that disinfecting it, but I make sure it's really, really clean, really, really washed. And then I layer some towels in there. And then I put the lettuce directly in that, layered in additional towels. You could use paper towels if you wanted. And then make sure the whole thing's covered up with a towel on the top. That's going to keep it really dry. And that's the important part.

You could also, if you're getting like those clams shell boxes, take some out, layer paper towels, or a regular towel, like a real absorbent cotton towel, and then put it back in, put another layer. Something like that is really the key trick for the lettuce to get it to last a little bit longer. Celery is a little bit hard, because it does go limp really quickly. But if you cut it, if you prep it, and store it in water, it does much, much better in your refrigerator.

Josh: So the opposite of the lettuce.

Carolyn: It's the opposite of the lettuce. You want it in cold water. So prep it, either slice it or just take the top and the bottom off, and get it into sticks, and then put it in like a big one of those glass Tupperware things, or even a Mason jar, and just make sure it's covered in water. And that will make it last much, much longer. Carrots store like that really well. If you have some carrots.

Josh: Does it help to add ice to that? If you really want to extend that, like cooling the water off a little more-

Carolyn: I never tried that. I do not know that.

Josh: ... in the fridge.

Carolyn: Yeah, because you don't want it to get to freezing, but-

Josh: Yeah. The ice would just cool the water down-

Carolyn: Would just cool it down.

Josh: ... a little bit.

Carolyn: Probably.

Josh: Which seems like that would help. I don't know.

Carolyn: Yeah, it might. So there kind of tricks and you have to know them, because each produce is a little bit different, the way you want to store them. Don't store basil or tomatoes in the refrigerator, leave them on your counter. Basil, just put it in a little jar of water like you would a bouquet of flowers, and leave it out on your counter. So you kind of have to find the trick for each type of vegetable. That would probably make a really good video all by itself, like go through a bunch of the different veggies.

Josh: Oh, it would. Yeah.

Carolyn: Because-

Josh: You could do like coming off the homestead, but also from the grocery store ,and the differences and everything.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Because there's a lot of things that are challenging like this, and you can't grow everything. So we all got to go to the grocery stores for some things at times, so-

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: ... makes a lot of sense. I got to give a plug though for gardening a little bit, because if you're a lettuce eater, I'm guessing here, because you're really talking about that, so you're probably buying quite a bit of lettuce. Lettuces are great, like chickens are kind of the gateway to homesteading in animals and stuff. Lettuce is a great gateway to gardening. It is easy to grow. It doesn't take a lot of space. You can grow a lot of it in a small space and it's a really great starting point.

And then you can harvest it fresh, and eat it fresh all the time. Or at least it's going to store a lot better, because you're harvesting it and getting it right in the method Carolyn's using.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: So anyways, just want to encourage you to be growing some food if you can. And that is actually a really good place to start if, if you're not doing anything yet.

Carolyn: Yeah. Good.

Josh: Cool. Let's see, Lisa Lisa on Easy Fresh Bread Every Night, "Can you add herbs and other items to the dough that you pull out of the main dough to change up the baked bread each night? If so, how would you do that, and still use a Dutch oven?"

Carolyn: Yes you can. I would just knead them in that final kind of stretch and pull time where you're working in your bucket, or your big batch of dough. But the real thing here is make sure you just go light on the seasoning, because the longer that sits, the more intense that flavor's going to get into the rest of the dough. So just make sure you go kind of light on that until you know what you like. And especially, until you know what you like when it's sat until you're using the last bit of dough for the last loaf. That's kind of the real key to that one.

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: But yeah, you can mix in all sorts of great things. All right, let's see. Quinani Doran on How To Create an Instant Garden, same video-

Josh: Okay.

Carolyn: ... asked a question. "Can your soil have little rocks in it?"

Josh: Yes, absolutely. Rocks are good as long as there's not so many of them that there's not enough soil to grow your plants in.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: And makes it hard to grow certain things. So they're good to eliminate extent. But we've grown in very rocky soil. Done very well. Little rocks are just fine. They're a little bit of a nuisance, but they don't harm anything. And honestly, they actually in good active soil, they are a so source of minerals. So they're good.

Carolyn: Our terrace garden has a couple of beds that are actually quite rocky.

Josh: Oh gosh, we've got some large areas that are quite rocking.

Carolyn: Yeah. But they grow great greens. They grow all sorts of great things.

Josh: Yeah. And if it is very rocky, this is again, I mean I'm always going to promote building soil up, not turning everything in every season. Building up. And that's one of the things you do is just keep layering up and eventually you start to get up above the rocks a little bit.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: We had a place when we first came to Idaho, we had to do that for like three years before I could plant any root crops. Three or four years of heavy layering. Yeah. But works.

Carolyn: Very rocky.

Josh: Let's see here, Elizabeth Atkeltson, Elizabeth Ekelton, hope I got that right, Elizabeth. On Super Fast and Easy Green Beans, "How long does fermenting last? How long to store and storing conditions please?"

Carolyn: Ah, this is a really good question, because we're used to food kind of having an expiration date. But with fermented vegetables, you kind of don't have that problem. It not really like it's going to go bad at some point, unless it gets moldy. It would get moldy because maybe the food drops below the liquid level, or you're storing it for a long time without doing the sterilizing the container, like we talked about in there, or something gets introduced into that during a long period of storage. So that would be the way that it would go bad.

Now what does happen is ferments continue to get more and more sour as that lactic acid builds up. They can also go mushy. In fact, they will go mushy.

Josh: Eventually. Yeah.

Carolyn: However, on the counter, on the shelf, I've pulled off shredded carrots that I've had fermenting for two years. They've sat there for two years on the cool shelf. So it's not warm kitchen temperatures, but it's cool.

Josh: Basement temperatures, right.

Carolyn: Basement temperatures.

Josh: 60s.

Carolyn: In the 60s. Yeah.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: It's not cold, but it's cool. And they've still been in phenomenal shape, so they can last a really, really long time. So you can keep going with that. In general, you want them to be as cool as possible for long term storage. That's kind of your big thing. Cool. And you don't want them to be in direct sunlight and the more you can keep them dark the better. So a cabinet, a cool cabinet is ideal.

Josh: Yeah. And the cooler the better, right if you can get it cooler?

Carolyn: Yeah. You don't want it to freeze.

Josh: You can get into the lower 50s, is that where it starts to really slow down the fermentation?

Carolyn: Really slows it down.

Josh: [inaudible].

Carolyn: If you can get under 55 degrees, it's pretty much for the sake of a ferment about the same as sticking it in the refrigerator, it just slows that way, way down.

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: All right. Another one here on fermentation. Suzi G on How to Ferment for Long Term Preservation, "How do we top off the water after active fermentation, if we are not supposed to introduce anything into the jars when finished?"

Carolyn: Yeah. Good question. Just make sure you have very clean water, freshly boiled or something distilled, or something like that will work just fine. But you're right, you don't want anything that has a bacteria load in it.

Josh: Yep.

Carolyn: You want it to be real clean.

Josh: Good.

Carolyn: Okay. Let's see. Melissa Stewart on Meat in your Compost, "What about cooked foods that have meat in it? Would you place that in your compost pile also for no waste?"

Josh: Oh yeah. Any of it. Now we try to feed some of that higher value waste to the animals, first, like the dogs.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: The pigs, the chickens will all eat the meat, and the high protein. Any of your omnivores or carnivores on the property. So that to me is a higher value than the compost pile. So, I recommend doing that, giving it to dogs is a whole nother discussion. But if you can feed it to one of your farm animals, great. And then, yeah, the compost, as long as it's organic and clean, you can put any food in there that you want and the bones take a little while longer. And occasionally we get a few bones popping up in our compost. But it's all good for the compost pile and it's better than throwing it away, just hands down.

Carolyn: There you go.

Josh: Alrighty. Anna on Fermented Ginger Carrots, "What if mine has air pockets? Is it okay to mess with it in the jar the next day?"

Carolyn: Yes. The next day is fine. You have about five to seven days of active fermentation that you can kind of mess with it. You can even add new produce if you need to, to that process. Let's say you didn't have enough cucumbers on day one to start fermentation for all of them. You can come back on day three and add some more. But once that active fermentation dies down, you really want to leave it alone at that point.

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: So that's where you would stop.

Josh: All right. Allison Rittener, on How She Makes All Her Dairy in Two Hours, "Why are you pasteurizing the milk?! Doesn't that kill the enzymes, et cetera, that help your body to digest it."

Carolyn: Ah, yes.

Josh: Good question.

Carolyn: This is a great question. And what she's referring to is me making yogurt in that video. And yes, I do pasteurize my milk for yogurt. If you don't, within two generations, you're not making yogurt anymore, you're making clabbered milk, because the native bacteria in the milk will take over whatever culture you have in there. And you'll end up with a clabbered milk instead of a yogurt, technically yogurt. And it's really a matter of taste. When you're culturing the milk, even if it's pasteurized, you are reforming all of the enzymes and all of the bacteria.

So I know, there's a real push towards raw milk. Raw milk is phenomenal to drink, because it does have all those enzymes, all that good bacteria, all those things in there. It really helps you to digest it. Cultured milk, even if it has started by being pasteurized also has all of those enzymes and bacteria, and all of those good things in it, by adding that bacteria back in it recreates all of that, but it does it within a certain flavor and texture profile.

So if you want to make good yogurt, that also has all those things, but it tastes nice and clean, has the flavor you expect, has the texture you expect, then you really want to pasteurize and start with kind of like a clean slate and then add the correct bacteria that you're looking for into it. There is nothing wrong with clabbered milk. There's nothing wrong with the wild bacteria. It just doesn't always do what you expect it to do, because you don't really know what bacteria you're working with.

So sometimes, it's going to give you flavors that you're not expecting. Those could be great flavors. They could be kind of odd flavors that you're not excited about. They could be downright bad flavors that you're like, "Ew, I don't really like that." They can give you off textures too. So instead of like thickening up like that nice thick yogurt, they could get kind of stringy and ropey and a little bit slimy. So that's the benefit of the yogurt is you really know exactly what you're dealing with time to time and you know what flavor you're going to get out of it.

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: So you can do both. You could do either. But there really isn't an inherent benefit to making yogurt with raw milk that you've never heated the raw milk. The only benefit to that is you're not taking the time to pasteurize it.

Josh: Yeah. And I think this kind of gets into that area of working with nature, so just doing the clabbered milk, and that's just kind of letting nature do its thing-

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: ... and you can get a good product out of it. But we often want to shape that process. So we're still working with nature. We're just manipulating it to get a product that we want-

Carolyn: Right

Josh: ... or to increase production or whatever the goals might be.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: And that really fits in here, because there's just certain things that we want and that we enjoy.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: Right.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: And doing that doesn't take away the value of raw.

Carolyn: No.

Josh: And there's still a value to raw milk and certain raw products. But there's still value to these other products as well.

Carolyn: I feel like this is one of those cases of like the pendulum swing, like we were way over here, everything was pasteurized. We were scared of bacteria. And then we started going, "Wait, that's not right." And now we've kind of swung over here where it's like, "Everything has to be raw all the time."

Josh: Right.

Carolyn: Even the cultured milk. And so it's like let's find the balance.

Josh: Yes.

Carolyn: Please do not drink just plain pasteurized milk. It's not good for you. It's not good for your digestive system. Just don't do it. But you want that bacteria and the enzymes. How it gets there, we have options for how those bacteria and enzymes get there.

Josh: It also gives you a lot of freedom within your homesteading journey and doing all these things-

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: ... living at these pendulum swings, whether it's the industrialized sterilized over here, it's a lot of work. It's a big job. The ideal over here at raw is also a lot of work and a big jaw.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: Whatever. I lost my words.

Carolyn: Job.

Josh: Big job. And so a lot of times, just to make things doable, sometimes maybe they're not always ideal.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: But we want to make it doable. You want to make it enjoyable. You want things that you're going to enjoy.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: And that are accomplishable. So it's important to find balance in there to make this life doable and enjoyable.

Carolyn: Yeah. That's a good question though.

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: Really good. I-

Josh: Tackle this one for his last one?

Carolyn: Sure.

Josh: I think, we were getting now there time.

Carolyn: Okay. One more. Shannon Robson on Does Homesteading Save You Money, "How do you grow enough that it is ready to be harvested at the same time so that you can have enough to can it? I never have enough to make a canning recipe."

Josh: Okay. Well to me there's several different topics in there-

Carolyn: Yes.

Josh: ... and you've got some perspective, because this is garden all the way into the kitchen. And one of those is actually staggering some of your things. You need to grow enough volume, right? So if you want to can green beans, but you kind of got to know how much do you want to can and grow enough green beans. So one, focus on a crop. If you're trying to learn how to figure this out, one year, focus on a major crop, and we'll just use green beans, because it's easy.

Do more green beans that year, figure out what you need to grow. Do your planning, grow it, see how it goes.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: And get that down. Maybe you need to do that for a couple years, and you're growing less of other things. But you're getting a system down.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: That's one way. The other thing is you can try to stagger some of your things. So you don't have green beans, corn, tomatoes, everything else at once that you want to can.

Carolyn: Yeah. It might be that you just need to grow more of something too, to have enough all at one time.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: So you may just need to put in a couple extra plants and check the varieties. So if it's tomatoes, you want to make sure you're growing the determinant variety tomatoes for canning projects, so that they do kind of come ripe all at the same time instead of a little bit here and there with the indeterminate.

Josh: Unless you live in north Idaho, and you just you're doing anything you can to get any of it ripe in time.

Carolyn: Whatever-

Josh: Tomatoes.

Carolyn: ... ripens really. Hey you guys, it's been great hanging out with you and we hope you have a great week.

Josh: See you soon. Bye-bye.

Carolyn: Bye.

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