Sunday, August 29, 2010

My 5 Gallon Vinegar Experiment - Part 1

Today I started a new experiment. I'm going to attempt to make vinegar. Now, most recipes I've found online only recommend making either red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. That's all well and good, they are all focused on vinegar as a culinary treat. I don't need some fancy vinegar. I just need a vinegar with 5% acidity that I can use to can with. So I came across some info that said I could make it from a sugar solution. Perfect! I don't want the flavors that fruit can add to the vinegar so sugar it is.
The first step in making vinegar is you have to make alcohol. Easy enough, I've got lots of practice at that. Here's what I started with:

8 cups of granulated sugar
4 1/2 gallons water
Yeast Nutrient
Bread Yeast

I decided to go with the bread yeast because I'm not interested in the yeast creating certain flavors, and well, I have TONS of bread yeast on hand so it's just less money I had to spend. So I set everything up much like when I make hard cider.

So that's what I've done so far. In about 2 weeks I'll start the actual vinegar.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


This project is making us rather...hmmm, what's the word? Desperate? No...Well, maybe. So here we are trying to plan for our usual things. Coffee of course being one of them. I don't know about you, but I can't even contemplate making it through a whole day without at least one cup. But to be honest I really don't actually like coffee. I like what it does for me, but the taste is too much. At least here in the States. When we were in the UK their coffee was nothing short of phenomenal. It wasn't bitter at all and it had this smooth, almost nutty flavor. Well, I've heard the same thing about roasting your own beans at home. Coffee bean roasters can be quite pricey though if you're cheapskates like us. The green beans however, are much cheaper than buying coffee from even the grocery store. So what should we do to roast our own coffee? Why, use an air popcorn popper of course! I found some instructions onhow to use our old air popper to roast beans. How awesome is that? Now we can have fair trade organic beans that are freshly roasted every morning.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Milk Found! ...Maybe....

I think I may have found two sources for milk. While not ideal they might have to do if I can't find a better option. Apparently there are no dairies near us that will deliver milk or allow us to pick the milk up from them. The first option is our co-op. They offer organic milk in bulk. This is definitely not my first option because I don't really want to have to freeze milk. Our second option is Planet Organics. They are kind of like a CSA but slightly more grocery like as they also offer household items. Again, not ideal. We used them a few years ago. They drop off a box of seasonal organic produce (or dairy or handmade food) that is from local farms and restaurants once a week to your home.

To be honest I'm torn about this. While Planet Organics is not a grocery store, it is definitely walking the line. On the same token there is the issue of gas. It would be much more efficient to have them deliver to us than for us to drive every week to some far off dairy (if we can find one) or farmer's market just to buy milk.

Planet Organics is also a better option compared to the co-op, not only because of the freezing of the milk, but also because the milk won't travel as far. Through Planet Organics, the milk originates in Sonoma County, gets delivered to Sonoma and then delivered to us. Through the co-op it originates in Sonoma County, then gets delivered to a warehouse in Rocklin (past Sacramento) and then comes all the way back to us.

We hope to only need this milk for 5 months - then our goats will take over. I don't really want to give up milk and I know Tom definitely doesn't want to give it up.

So my awesome readers, what's your opinion on these choices? Do you think Planet Organics would be cheating? If you do then we will continue our search.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


So several people have asked where to find a co-op and where mine is. Well, I found ours (technically a buying club) by searching the internet of course! So here are a couple of resources:

Co-op Directory Service
Organic Consumers Associations (this is where I found mine)

And for those that want to know (Janice, I'm looking at you!) about our buying club you can find their listing here for more information.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Milk - Where are You?

Milk. Wow! I didn't think it would be that difficult to source milk outside of a grocery store considering there are dozens upon dozens of dairy farms around us. I'm also finding that most farmers' markets don't have anyone selling dairy and if someone does it's only in the form of cheese or butter.

I did find some milkmen - yes, the traditional milkman that delivers milk once a week to your door - but they seem to only be located in affluent areas and well, I don't live in one of those. It's quickly becoming clear to me that due to my location this might be a more difficult project than I thought. We are in a very economically depressed area, but unlike other cities like Oakland we don't have an upper crust or foodie scene.

We do have goats, but we haven't bred them yet and are waiting until October to do so. Then we have to wait another 5 months before they give birth before we can start milking them. So we need to find a milk source for at least the first 5 months of our project.

If you have ideas on where I can find milk please let me know.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What We've Already Got

There are a few things we've already got plenty of - at least enough to last the entire year. The bonus is these items never came from a "banned" store. Many, many years ago - before I was even born - my mom was a Mormon. Mormons are known for their ability to stockpile essential goods in case of an emergency. These goods included buckets and buckets of wheat and granulated sugar. My mom is no longer Mormon and since she's moving she really didn't want to haul all of this stuff halfway across the country. Tom and I graciously took it and are now storing it. So we are fortunate now to have all the wheat and sugar we could ever possibly want.

I've also got a 50lb bag of salt in our garage (don't ask because I really don't know why I bought it), a quart of commercial lemon juice in my freezer and a whole turkey. I'm not sure why we have so much lemon juice (other than it's very handy for canning goods), but I do know that we got the turkey right after Thanksgiving last year because it was ridiculously cheap. Oh, and also have several gallon bags filled with pork from a BBQ we had last June where we roasted a whole hog (bought straight off the farm).

The next things I need to find are vinegar and vegetable oil. Oh, and I need to find a dairy for the next few months.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Anything you Could Ever Possibly Need

I'm incredibly excited! We just got the catalog for our local co-op! All of the things I was worried about getting, like pepper, vegetable oil, oats, baking powder/soda, etc. are all available through the co-op. They even have dairy products.

I don't know why we didn't do this before? The prices are much cheaper than even going to Trader Joe's. I can see this being a permanent change for us.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Well, this is the very first post. It's a bit early as we're not actually going to be starting our project until January 1st but as I find new places to get food I'll be posting here.

So far we have the Vallejo Farmer's Market. We are very lucky as it is year round. The only issue is that it's only once a week so we have to make sure we plan ahead every week to either make time to go to it every Saturday or buy enough for two weeks at once.

I've also recently found a co-op here in Vallejo. I just ordered the catalog to see what all they offer.

Some of the things I will need for processing food includes a coffee roaster and a grain roller mill to roll grains into cereal. Tom thinks he can give up coffee. He currently drinks the equivalent of 2-4 cups per day. We'll see how that goes. I love coffee as well and while I could give it up, I don't know if I want to.