Apple cider vinegar is full of beneficial properties. Most significantly if it’s raw, organic, unpasteurised and unfiltered. Unfiltered means it is bottled with the “mother”- a cloudy residue that sits at the bottom of the bottle. Apple cider vinegar, or ACV as it’s commonly referred to, comes packed with with health-enhancing enzymes, amino acids and minerals. When taken daily it regulated the body’s PH and is said to contribute to weight loss. It cleans up lactic acid, which can accumulate in the body and be a common cause of fatigue. ACV, with the help of its potassium and enzymes provides a much needed energy boost when reserves are low. Quite the wonder food. Several years ago I used to take a tablespoon every morning together with a tablespoon of honey in a cup of warm water. I did this for a number of months and the most (pleasantly) surprising outcome was silky soft skin.
You can imagine my enthusiasm then to recently learn that ACV can be made in the comfort of your own home (thanks Juli!
). All you need are the apple scraps from your baking – cores and peelings, a bucket and some patience. Really, it’s that simple. After the bountiful apple harvest we’ve enjoyed this autumn it was an obvious go-to project. Here’s my progress to date.
Having used the actual apple flesh to make yummy desserts I placed the leftover skin and cores in a clean plastic bucket to turn brown. Following that, I covered it all with water and left the bucket in a warm place covered with a dishcloth. After five days I lifted the cloth for an inspection only to be faced with a thin layer of grey-green mould growing over the surface. Apparently this is fantastic, absolutely no need to panic. So after reinstating my cloth I returned the bucket to a shelf in the airing cupboard, where it still sits. The liquid needs to brew for at least a month. In another few weeks, if everything goes to plan, I will have my very own homemade ACV. I’ll strain the liquid into a sterilized bottle making sure not to discard the mother. I’m hoping this will become a routine in my kitchen. It not only makes best use an otherwise waste product, it also avails of local produce and means I’ll never have to buy another bottle of ACV again!
So a month has passed and to be honest the blanket of mould is not very appetising. And, as Keri (see comments) has rightly pointed out, mould is never good (unless it’s a chunk of Roquefort cheese…). Onto the compost heap with my appley slush and back to the drawing board for my homemade ACV recipe. All part of the learning process, folks! I have been advised to agitate the contents every day to avoid mould growth so I will be stirring the next batch at least daily. Loads of great vinegar making tutorials here.
Watch this space for round two!
I’m pleased to report that I’ve finally got to grips with my cider vinegar making. The secret is to make small batches, leaving it in accessible spot in the kitchen to be stirred at every available opportunity. After four weeks I’m rewarded with a mildly flavoured cider which I bottle to use for salad dressings, in cooking and to make herbal tinctures.
Read Full Post »
James Finlayson is a green freelance writer. He become interested in water conservation issues when he first started working for http://www.londonpumps.co.uk, where he still works today. In his spare time James loves to cook and grow his own veg.
Me: Hi James, I know you are passionate about water conservation – can you share your thoughts on the subject with Green Jam Jar readers?
JF: Gallons of one of our most important natural resources falls all around us and leaks into the ground almost daily and many of us do nothing about it. Of course, this natural resource is nothing other than water. On average, each person uses about 150 litres of water per day, and for many, that water comes through our pipes from water treatment plants which purify the water so that we can drink it. But the majority of our water usage is for purposes other than drinking, like watering plants and lawns, washing clothes and vehicles, and flushing the toilet.
150 litres of water per day? Wow! So basically we are wasting the valuable resource that is drinking water. What can we do about it?
JF: Harvesting rain water is a great way to save on purified water, and it helps the environment, which is always a good thing! You can also save money on water bills. Another advantage to harvesting rain water is that you get to have your very own source of water. This may not seem like a great benefit, but it will in those hot summer days when the country’s suffering from a sudden drought and there’s barely any water coming from the taps. You’ll be the envy of your neighbours with all your harvested rain!
Me: What’s the best way to go about collecting rain water?
JF: The best way to collect and save rain water is to set up a harvesting system. There are plenty of different types of systems, ranging from simple water butts to whole house water systems like the Lowara rainwater harvesting system. Most systems work in the same way.
Me: Can you explain how a water harvesting system works?
JF: Rain water is collected from the drains around the roof of your house. The water is diverted down a pipe to your water butt. This is where you decide if you want a simple butt or something that will supply rain water directly to your house. If you choose something more professional, the water is then be filtered to get rid of dirt and residue from the environment. It then drains into a collection tank that can be buried out of sight beneath your garden.
This it is then hooked up to your house so you can use cleansed rainwater to run your washing machine and flush your toilet.
A simpler water butt is great if you just want to use rainwater to water plants in the garden or wash your car. But if your household uses a lot of water you may want to connect it to a good harvesting system with pump. This basically provides your home with a second source of readily usable water, and the best thing is, you will never have to pay for rain water.
Me: Sounds like a terrific idea. Thanks James for the useful information!
Read Full Post »
International World Water Day is held annually on this day, March 22nd. It is a public awareness day aimed to highlight the need to conserve and protect fresh water supplies. The first World Water Day was held in 1993, after it was recommend during the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), and has run each year since.
Wexford native Dan Roche of Bathshop123 is a leading campaigner for this issue. Being in the business of selling bathrooms he has dedicated a considerable amount of time and energy to highlighting problems associated with water consumption.
As a bathroom retailer we supply thousands of water-related products per month, and we take water consumption seriously.
Here in the UK and in many countries we benefit from constant access to fresh water, and it is important that we use our resources responsibly. Many people take water for granted which can result in substantial wastage every day, and we have committed to doing our bit to help educate people about water consumption in the run up to World Water Day 2013.
In early 2013, Bathshop321 launched our very first annual Water Usage Survey.
We contacted a section of our customer base, as well as some of the general public, and asked a few simple questions about water usage habits in the home. The aim of the survey was to understand how people treat water consumption in the home, and to identify areas where water wastage could be reduced.
In total, we surveyed 508 people, and some of the key highlights can be found here.
We don’t experience extreme water shortages this side of the world and with our frequent rainfall it’s hard to understand why we should preserve our water supply. But clean water is not a given- it’s a precious commodity that takes time and effort to manage. You can see from the above statistics provided by UN Water that it is vital we take responsibilty for our water usage. Take a look at this site for tips on saving water in our own homes and do your bit for World Water Day.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Family, Green household tips, tagged alfalfa sprouts, beans, food, health, multi vitamin, seeds, sprouting, vegetarian on December 2, 2012|
2 Comments »
It’s hard to eat salad this time of year when a hot bowl of hearty soup is infinitely more appealing. To get the beneficial antioxidants from fresh greens I like to harvest bean sprouts in the comfort of my own kitchen. Years ago I first tried to sprout seeds by way of a large jar with muslin tied over the opening. I never had much luck with this method – it usually resulted in dingy looking sprouts with a faint musty whiff. This may have had something to do with me forgetting to rinse out the jar on a very regular basis. Anyhow, after several failed attempts I abandoned the process altogether.
That is until a month ago when I took another stab at growing sprouts. I was at a friends house where she introduced me to her favorite new kitchen gadget- a home sprouter. A lidded perspex unit with several tiers to it. It’s easy-peasy she said. Just pour water into the top layer twice a day. It’ll drain down through the tiers into the base tray. You can feed your plants this residual water as it’s full of nutrients. After 2 or 3 days you will have a lively crop of wholesome sprouted beans or seeds. Bigger sprouts like those from Mung beans take about 4 – 5 days to grow to size. I was eventually seduced by the vast array of vitamins and minerals packed into those little mini plants and off I trundled to my local health food store to bag myself a home sprouter.
It sits on my kitchen top, pride of place. We now get to enjoy fresh alfalfa sprouts on our sandwiches or in our soup. A convenient and natural way to get our daily multi vitamin boost. And full of tasty cruchiness to boot!
Read Full Post »
Christmas festivities are fast approaching. Time to dust off the decorations and to jolly up your environs with tinsel and flashing lights. If your Christmas lights have been with you since that time in your life when Santa was as real as the tooth fairy then it may be time to replace them. Older lights are likely to be incandescent bulbs and, although reasonably cheap to buy, they use far more electricity than the newer LED versions. So if you are replacing or adding to your Christmas light collection consider the benefits of LEDs.
But LED lights are not just for Christmas! Recently we replaced some of our spot lights with Panasonic LED bulbs. We were pleasantly surprised at how much LED technology has improved. The light is soft and atmospheric in comparison to the glaring cold light of the first generation spots we installed a few years ago. The cone of light is 36 degrees – suitable for most applications. The LED spot uses a mere 4 watts compared to its halogen equivalent of 35 watts, giving us an impressive energy saving of 89%. Brilliant!
Read Full Post »