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Weekly Top Posts: 2018-10-21
2018-10-21 04:00 UTC

  1. Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It
  2. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  3. Silky Smooth Chocolate Pudding Recipe
  4. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  5. Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-10-14
2018-10-14 04:00 UTC

  1. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  2. Silky Smooth Chocolate Pudding Recipe
  3. Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It
  4. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  5. www.reformationacres.com/2016/10/gardeners-soap-recipe.html

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-10-07
2018-10-07 04:00 UTC

  1. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  2. Silky Smooth Chocolate Pudding Recipe
  3. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  4. www.reformationacres.com/2016/10/gardeners-soap-recipe.html
  5. Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-09-30
2018-09-30 04:00 UTC

  1. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  2. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  3. Silky Smooth Chocolate Pudding Recipe
  4. www.reformationacres.com/2016/10/gardeners-soap-recipe.html
  5. Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-09-23
2018-09-23 04:00 UTC

  1. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  2. Silky Smooth Chocolate Pudding Recipe
  3. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  4. Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It
  5. www.reformationacres.com/2016/10/gardeners-soap-recipe.html

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-09-16
2018-09-16 04:00 UTC

  1. Silky Smooth Chocolate Pudding Recipe
  2. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  3. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  4. www.reformationacres.com/2016/10/gardeners-soap-recipe.html
  5. Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-09-09
2018-09-09 04:00 UTC

  1. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  2. Silky Smooth Chocolate Pudding Recipe
  3. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  4. www.reformationacres.com/2016/10/gardeners-soap-recipe.html
  5. Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-09-02
2018-09-02 04:00 UTC

  1. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  2. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  3. www.reformationacres.com/2016/10/gardeners-soap-recipe.html
  4. www.reformationacres.com/2016/02/kid-approved-sweet-minty-tooth-powder.html
  5. Silky Smooth Chocolate Pudding Recipe

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-08-26
2018-08-26 04:00 UTC

  1. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  2. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  3. www.reformationacres.com/2016/02/kid-approved-sweet-minty-tooth-powder.html
  4. tidd.ly/b15cbfe4
  5. www.reformationacres.com/2016/10/gardeners-soap-recipe.html

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-08-19
2018-08-19 04:00 UTC

  1. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  2. tidd.ly/b15cbfe4
  3. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  4. www.reformationacres.com/2016/02/kid-approved-sweet-minty-tooth-powder.html
  5. tidd.ly/c456ee83

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-08-12
2018-08-12 04:00 UTC

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Weekly Top Posts: 2018-08-05
2018-08-05 04:00 UTC

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  5. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-07-29
2018-07-29 04:00 UTC

  1. tidd.ly/c456ee83
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  5. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-07-22
2018-07-22 04:00 UTC

  1. tidd.ly/c456ee83
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  4. tidd.ly/8b276ac7
  5. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-07-15
2018-07-15 04:00 UTC

  1. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  2. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  3. www.reformationacres.com/2016/10/gardeners-soap-recipe.html
  4. www.reformationacres.com/2017/02/cast-iron-conditioning-bars.html
  5. Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-07-08
2018-07-08 04:00 UTC

  1. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  2. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  3. Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant
  4. www.reformationacres.com/2016/10/gardeners-soap-recipe.html
  5. www.reformationacres.com/2017/02/cast-iron-conditioning-bars.html

Sweet Pickled Cucumber Slices
2018-07-02 19:55 UTC by Quinn


The post Sweet Pickled Cucumber Slices appeared first on Reformation Acres.

Pickled cucumber or cucumber pickle? Either way, this recipe for canning Sweet Pickled Cucumber Slices makes the tastiest & crispy pickles!Pickled cucumber or cucumber pickle? Either way, this recipe for canning Sweet Pickled Cucumber Slices makes the tastiest & crispy pickles!


There is a small child sitting on my lap.

She smells like a cucumber pickle.

Let’s talk about why that is, shall we?

Well. I’m sure you know why that is. I mean it’s pretty obvious. She’s had her whole fist in the pickle jar all the live long day.

She is one of my many children who have been walking around the past few days since I made my first batch of sweet pickled cucumber slices this season and telling me just how much they LOVE my pickles.

(In fact, they love them so much the older children learned how to can their own pickles!)

So it’s either make my children unhappy and stop making the pickles or put up with the pickle stink.  I love my kids and they’ve smelled worse before. So we’ll go with happy pickle munchin’ munchkins.

CANNING SWEET CUCUMBER PICKLES- Pickled cucumber or cucumber pickle? Either way, this recipe for canning Sweet Pickled Cucumber Slices makes the tastiest & crispy pickles!

Pickled cucumber or cucumber pickle? Either way, this recipe for canning Sweet Pickled Cucumber Slices makes the tastiest & crispy pickles!


Pickled cucumber or cucumber pickle? Either way, this recipe for canning Sweet Pickled Cucumber Slices makes the tastiest & crispy pickles!

Honestly, I can’t blame them. I’ve never been big on pickles myself, but these are mighty fine ifIdosaysomyself.

I want to feel guilty deep down inside about these not being the super healthy fermented, even lacto-fermented pickles that make for superhuman guts & immune systems, really I do. But what good would it do if I did?

No one would eat them unless a threat or a promise were involved. Food should bring pleasure, not punishment or bribery. And since these pickles lack the sodium benzoate, yellow 5, and polysorbate 80 of name brand pickles, I’ll be content with that, reminding myself just why we don’t stick to only one food fad. 

Pickled cucumber or cucumber pickle? Either way, this recipe for canning Sweet Pickled Cucumber Slices makes the tastiest & crispy pickles!But what about the crunch you ask. Are they crunchy?

Are they ever! Even after nearly a year, they retain their crunch. Beyond that, I can not attest to. For no matter how many I’ve made, they’ve never lasted that long.

I do have a few tricks up my sleeve that make them crunchy. First is removing the blossom end of the cucumber and discarding it.   They have an anti-crunchy enzyme in them that makes the pickle break down into an undesirable state of crunchlessness.

Next is thicker slices. Obviously, if your slices are too thin, then your pickles will mush up more quickly.

The third trick is the salting and the icing. That draws out some of the liquid.

I’ve heard about tossing a grape leaf in your pickles too. Now that we have a grapevine, I tried that in a few jars, but doubt it will make a difference since I used the other tricks.

Pickled cucumber or cucumber pickle? Either way, this recipe for canning Sweet Pickled Cucumber Slices makes the tastiest & crispy pickles!

Recommended Canning Tools & Resources

PPickled cucumber or cucumber pickle? Either way, this recipe for canning Sweet Pickled Cucumber Slices makes the tastiest & crispy pickles!

Sweet Pickled Cucumber Slices Recipe

Sweet Pickled Cucumber Slices

Pickled cucumber or cucumber pickle? Either way, this recipe for canning Sweet Pickled Cucumber Slices makes the tastiest & crispy pickles!

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs. pickling cucumbers
  • ¼ cup salt (sea salt, kosher salt or pickling salt)
  • 2 cups sweetener, I used evaporated cane juice
  • 2 ½ cups vinegar
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • For each pint sized jar-
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • large pinch yellow mustard seed
  • small pinch celery seed

Instructions

  1. Prepare the cucumbers by removing and discarding the blossom end. (Adding it to your pickles will made the soft and not crunchy.)
  2. Slice the cucumbers into 3/8″ slices or so.
  3. Place the slices in a large bowl.
  4. Sprinkle the sea salt on top and toss them together.
  5. Cover with a towel then cover with a layer of ice.
  6. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
  7. If you’re canning the pickles, prepare a waterbath canner for use by filling it 2/3 full of water and putting it on a burner on high to bring the water to a boil.
  8. Bring vinegars, tumeric, and sugar to a boil, dissolving sugar.
  9. Meanwhile, cold pack the slices into pint sized canning jars leaving a 1/2“ headspace. (Cold pack means you don’t have to warm the slices or the jars before placing them in the jar.)
  10. Divide the spices among the jars.
  11. Using a funnel & ladle, divide the boiled, sweetened vinegar among the jars.
  12. Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a wet rag or paper towel and top with lids and rings.
  13. Slowly lower the jars with a jar lifter into the boiling water of the water bath canner.
  14. Cover and boil for 10 minutes.
  15. Using the jar lifter, remove the jars of pickles and set them on the counter to cool.
  16. Before storing, make sure the seal is good by gently trying to lift it. If it didn’t seal, place the jar in the fridge and enjoy your refrigerator pickles first.

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @reformationacres on Instagram and hashtag it #reformationacres.

 

The post Sweet Pickled Cucumber Slices appeared first on Reformation Acres.

SmartSteader Digital Homestead Management Binder

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-07-01
2018-07-01 04:00 UTC

  1. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  2. Beginner’s Freezer Jelly Recipe
  3. 36 Free Chicken Feed Ideas
  4. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  5. Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-06-24
2018-06-24 04:00 UTC

  1. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  2. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  3. Beginner’s Freezer Jelly Recipe
  4. Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant
  5. 36 Free Chicken Feed Ideas

A Medley Of Zucchini Recipes
2018-06-20 16:57 UTC by Quinn


The post A Medley Of Zucchini Recipes appeared first on Reformation Acres.

‘Tis the season when gardens are burgeoning with zucchini! Harvesters are finding themselves wondering what zucchini recipes to use with their prolific crop and are often sharing their abundance with anyone willing to take them.

In addition to giving them away, I have in the past processed them for freezing. A year later, I reluctantly threw every single bag away. I hadn’t been too excited about finding uses for frozen zucchini at the time (outside of adding it to pasta or a bread or muffin recipe) and eventually forgot all about them.

A collection of tested zucchini recipes including main dishes, side dishes, breads, breakfast, desserts, and ways to preserve zucchini.

I’m excited about my zucchini crop this year too because last year my zucchini plants produced pumpkins which just doesn’t taste the same (or produce as abundantly!) I’m determined to make as much use of the harvest as I can and have been scouring the internet for zucchini recipes.

With over 100 zucchini recipes to choose from, now there is no excuse to get in a rut! I’m sure you’ll find many new favorite recipes in the collection of zucchini recipes I’ve compiled!

 

100+ Scratch Zucchini Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert, and Preservation

100+ Zucchini Recipes

Main Dish Zucchini Recipes

Stuffed Zucchini With Ham & Mushrooms
Spaghetti with Peas and Zucchini Ribbons
Stuffed Zucchini with Turkey Sausage
Chicken Zucchini Bake
Cheeseburger Zucchini Boats
Corn and Zucchini Chowder
Bruschetta Chicken with Zucchini Noodles
Lentil Stuffed Zucchini
Meat Lovers Zucchini Lasagna
Greek Zucchini Bake
Shredded Zucchini and Beef Tacos
Garden Fresh Zucchini Lasagna
Sheet Pan Ratatouille
Zucchini, Carrot, and Black Bean Quesadillas
Chicken and Roasted Harvest Vegetables
One Pan Lemon Herb Salmon and Zucchini
Cheesy Meatball Zucchini Skillet
Chicken and Zucchini Noodle Casserole
One Pan Garlic, Parmesan, Chicken, and Zucchini
Chicken and Veggie Skewers
Chickpea and Zucchini Veggie Burgers
Late Summer Vegetables Soup
Veggie Enchiladas
Parmesan Quinoa with Zucchini Yellow Squash and Carrots
Penne with Prosciutto, Tomatoes, and Zucchini
Zucchini and Ricotta Pie
One Pot Zucchini Mushroom Pasta
Charred Corn and Zucchini Enchilada Pasta Salad
Zucchini Chorizo Butter Stew
Zucchini Mac & Cheese
Quinoa & Zucchini Stuffed Peppers
Tomato Zucchini Tart
Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Fresh Mozzarella Pizza
Grilled Garlic and Herb Pork Tenderloin with Zucchini and Corn
Zucchini Carpaccio
Grilled Zucchini Gyros

100+ Scratch Zucchini Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert, and PreservationSide Dish Zucchini Recipes

Zucchini and Potato Bake
Zucchini and Yellow Squash Gratin
Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Caper Butter
Zucchini Potato Patties
Nettle Basil Pesto Zucchini Noodles
Garlic Zucchini Fries
Zucchini Fritters
Corn, Zucchini, and Blue Crab Fritters
Zucchini Garlic Bites
Oven Zucchini with Garlic Aioli
Zucchini Corn Salad
Sweet Corn Zucchini Fritters
Grilled Summer Salad
Stuffed Zucchini Cups
Fried Zucchini Strings
Cheesy Zucchini Rice
Zucchini Coleslaw
Parmesan Baked Zucchini Spears
Stir Fry Zucchini Noodles
Baked Parmesan Zucchini Rounds
Chicken and Zucchini Poppers

100+ Scratch Zucchini Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert, and Preservation

Bread & Breakfast Zucchini Recipes

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins with Buckwheat Streusel Topping
Sourdough Zucchini Muffins
Zucchini Buttermilk Pancakes (Add 2 cups of shredded zucchini, squeezed to drain the liquid)
Cornmeal Zucchini Pancakes
Zucchini Cornbread with Hot Peppers and Cheese
Zucchini Oatmeal Waffles
Carrot Zucchini Muffins
Zucchini Pizza Crust
Cheesy Garlic Zucchini Bread
Zucchini Peach Streusel Muffins
Zucchini Breadsticks
Zucchini Banana Bread French Toast
Zucchini Lemon Poppyseed Bread
Zucchini Bread Coffee Cake
Zucchini and Egg Breakfast Burritos
Zucchini Bread Oatmeal
Chocolate Pistachio Zucchini Donut
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread Oatmeal Bars
Zucchini Breakfast Boats
Zucchini Walnut Crackers
Bacon Squash Quiche
Veggie Loaded Breakfast Casserole
Zucchini Egg Breakfast Muffins
Farmhouse Casserole

Dessert Zucchini Recipes

Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Chickpea Zucchini Brownies
Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Gummy Zucchini Candy
Zucchini Chocolate Chip Oat Balls

(You can also find my favorite Zucchini Cake recipe in my cookbook Cake Stand: Fresh from the Market Farmstead Cakes as well as a recipe in Farmstead Pie for a mock Apple Pie made with zucchini instead of apples! You’ll never know the difference!) 
100+ Scratch Zucchini Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert, and Preservation

Preserving for Later Use in Zucchini Recipes

Freezing Zucchini
Charred Sweet Corn and Zucchini Relish
Pickle Relish Sweetened with Honey
Zucchini Fridge Pickles
Zucchini Pickle Relish
Zucchini Butter Pickles
Dehydrating Zucchini
3 Ways to Dry Zucchini
Lemon Ginger Zucchini Marmalade
How to Can Zucchini
Zucchini Salsa
Habanero Mango Zucchini Salsa
Zucchini Butter
Sriracha Pickled Eggplant & Zucchini
Lacto-Fermented Curried Squash and Zucchini
Zucchini Salsa Verde
Zucchini Planks

I’m always looking for new zucchini recipes. How are you preparing zucchini for your family this summer? If you happen to have a great recipe or even a tasty zucchini link up your sleeve, do share!

 

 

The post A Medley Of Zucchini Recipes appeared first on Reformation Acres.

SmartSteader Digital Homestead Management Binder

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-06-17
2018-06-17 04:00 UTC

  1. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  2. Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant
  3. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  4. Beginner’s Freezer Jelly Recipe
  5. 36 Free Chicken Feed Ideas

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-06-10
2018-06-10 04:00 UTC

  1. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  2. Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant
  3. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  4. 36 Free Chicken Feed Ideas
  5. Beginner’s Freezer Jelly Recipe

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-06-03
2018-06-03 04:00 UTC

  1. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  2. 36 Free Chicken Feed Ideas
  3. Beginner’s Freezer Jelly Recipe
  4. Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant
  5. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-05-27
2018-05-27 04:00 UTC

  1. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  2. Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant
  3. 36 Free Chicken Feed Ideas
  4. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  5. Sourdough Muffins Recipe: Four Different Variations to Try

Beginner’s Freezer Jelly Recipe
2018-05-26 01:32 UTC by Quinn


The post Beginner’s Freezer Jelly Recipe appeared first on Reformation Acres.

Freezer Jelly is a GREAT way to start making homemade jelly without having to learn to can.One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to make homemade freezer jelly. It is so very simple, requires no processing, and you can store freezer jelly for an entire year.  (In the freezer, of course.)

The possibilities are endless. You are limited simply by the type of juice you find.  Freezer Jelly is a perfect confidence builder for the beginning “canner” who is working on building their homestead skills set.

The first time I made freezer jelly, I was looking for ways to add pomegranate to our diet as it is extremely high in antioxidants. I found a recipe for a beautiful Crimson Pomegranate Jelly that has a nice balance of sweet and tart flavor.


For children that are die-hard grape jelly fans, as I was when I was a child, freezer jelly made with grape juice is a fantastic cost effective way to prepare their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches… without resorting to high fructose corn syrup laden jars from the store.

There is a downside to freezer jelly. (Which is actually great because that could be incentive to learn to waterbath can!) First, it doesn’t last forever in the freezer. The shelf life of canned jelly is much longer.

Making Freezer Jelly with Pomona’s Pectin

In my opinion, the other problem with freezer jelly is the amount of sugar required to preserve it. I’m a convert and HUGE fan of Pomona’s Pectin which allows you to use a lot less sugar in your jellies and jams. Though the yields are lower, the flavor of the fruit really can shine through!

The recipe I share below is a great place to start, but if you’d like to try making it with Pomona’s Pectin, check out this video:

 



Beginner’s Freezer Jelly

Freezer Jelly

Homemade freezer jelly is a perfect jelly for the beginning “canner.” It’s simple, needs no processing, and stays in the freezer for a whole year.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups 100% fruit juice
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 ¾ oz. package powdered fruit pectin
  • 4 ½ cup evaporated cane juice, or sugar (Buy cane juice here)

Instructions

  1. Pour the fruit juice and the lemon juice into a large stock pot.
  2. Sprinkle the pectin over the juice and let it stand for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Stir to dissolve the pectin.
  4. Bring the juice to a full, rolling boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently.
  5. Stir in the evaporated cane juice or sugar.
  6. Return to a full, rolling boil, stirring often. Boil hard for 1 full minute, stirring constantly.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat and quickly skim any foam off with a metal spoon.
  8. Immediately ladle into containers. Cover and let it stand for 24 hours.
  9. This will last for several weeks in the refrigerator or you can freeze it.

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @reformationacres on Instagram and hashtag it #reformationacres.

Enjoy!

Freezer Jelly and Jam Recipes

Here are a few other freezer jam & jelly recipes for you to try!

Spiced Apple Jelly
Peach Peel Jelly
Sunshine Strawberry Jam
Crabapple Freezer Jelly
Plum Jelly
Nectarine Blueberry Jam
Raw Cherry Freezer Jam
Honey Sweetened Strawberry Freezer Jam
Blackberry Freezer Jam
Jalapeno Freezer Jelly
15-Minute Strawberry Jam
Raspberry Peach Freezer Jam
Blueberry Cinnamon Freezer Jam

 


The post Beginner’s Freezer Jelly Recipe appeared first on Reformation Acres.

SmartSteader Digital Homestead Management Binder

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-05-20
2018-05-20 04:00 UTC

  1. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  2. 36 Free Chicken Feed Ideas
  3. Sourdough Muffins Recipe: Four Different Variations to Try
  4. Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It
  5. Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant

36 Free Chicken Feed Ideas
2018-05-15 03:50 UTC by Quinn


The post 36 Free Chicken Feed Ideas appeared first on Reformation Acres.

Free Chicken Feed Ideas -After I started raising backyard chickens, I learned feed isn't cheap! Here are 36 free chicken feed ideas to save money on the chicken feed bill!I don’t know about you, but one of the reasons I started raising backyard chickens was so my healthy, happy hens who would give our family nutritious eggs. Ok. I was really hoping to save money on eggs too! But I quickly learned that feed isn’t cheap and if I wanted to do better, I was going to need to come up with some free chicken feed ideas to save money on the chicken feed bill!

After you learn what chickens can eat and what they actually will eat (because remember, animals don’t like to stick to our generalizations,) it’s time to start getting creative! It’s fun to come up with chicken feed ideas that your hens love and yet are easy enough for you to manage. I always make sure to keep homesteading records to make sure my efforts are worth the while. More than once, I thought I was saving money to justify the extra work to save, but in the end, when I looked at the records, I was only fooling myself.

Here are my best free chicken feed ideas! They work great with either laying hens or the broiler chickens you’re raising for meat.  You can do side-jobs to earn money homesteading and help pay the feed bill or try some of these ideas on your hens at chore time. Check them out and see which would work for you to help you save!Free Chicken Feed Ideas -After I started raising backyard chickens, I learned feed isn't cheap! Here are 36 free chicken feed ideas to save money on the chicken feed bill!

36 Free Chicken Feed Ideas to Save Money on the Chicken Feed Bill

Grow Your Own Chicken Feed

Grow cover crops and rotate them through using a chicken tractor
Try growing alfalfa, clover, buckwheat, oats, wheat, barley, or sorghum.

Grow Winter Squash
Some varieties of winter squash, such as Sweet Meat, hold very well in storage. Cut them in half and let the chickens eat the flesh and seeds.

Sprouting Lentils for Chickens
Sprout legumes such as lentils for seeds and greens.

Grow Fodder for Chickens to Eat
Fodder is a great way for chickens to get their greens even when in the dead of winter.

Grow Sprouted Grain
Sprouting grain adds to the nutritional value of the whole grains you feed your chickens and using whole grains in your feed reduces your costs.

Grow Perennial Crops
There are many perennial plants you can grow that make excellent chicken feed! The best part about using perennial trees, bushes, and vines is they require less maintenance and cost each year. While yields go up, your chicken feed bill goes down!

Grow Duckweed
Dehydrated duckweed is high in protein and easy to grow.

Grow a Chicken Feed Garden

Grazing Boxes
Building grazing boxes allow you to simulate a free-range or rotationally grazing system even if your hens are confined in a run. Our aerial predator load here is high so this year we’ve had to shut up our free-ranging hens. Grazing boxes are definitely going to be part of our new coop system.

Grow Sunflowers 

Grow Herbs for your Chickens
Nettles, comfrey, chickweed, and more. Check out these herbs for chickens.

After I started raising backyard chickens, I learned feed isn't cheap! Here are 36 free chicken feed ideas to save money on the chicken feed bill!Feed Chickens Waste

Kitchen Scraps
Saving your kitchen scraps at each meal is a great way to cut your chicken feed costs. Every little bit adds up and there isn’t much they won’t eat.

Garden Scraps
There is often a lot of waste that comes out of a garden. From the tops of roots to cleaning up plants done bearing, and more, the chickens can turn those scraps into eggs. Dandelion, plantain, lambs quarter, purslane, and chickweed are all great choices, but try feeding others and watch for what your gals like to eat.

Crushed Eggshells
Feed chickens crushed eggshells back to them so they get extra calcium without having buy oyster shells.

Grocery Store Scraps
You’d be surprised at how much produce grocery stores throw away! Ask them to save you some of the “waste” and feed those vegetables back to your hens.

Butchering Waste
Chickens are omnivores. That means they love to eat meat and all that protein is a great way to turn scraps from butchering into eggs. Though we work hard to reduce as much waste as possible, there is still always a 5-gallon bucket of scraps that get split between the chickens and dogs.

Farmers Markets Waste
Sadly, produce farmers sometimes have extra produce that didn’t sell. Sometimes it can be saved for the next market, but many herbs and greens won’t be good enough to offer for sale again. We would always share some with our neighbors but the rest went to the chickens. It doesn’t hurt to ask!

Feeding Chickens Weeds
You definitely want to pull the weeds in your garden. (I’ve got 11 reasons why.) But that doesn’t mean they’re waste! You can use them to reduce your chicken feed bill.

Dairy Products
Feed your chickens soured milk or whey leftover from cheesemaking. Even better, soak your ration with it. They LOVE it! (If we have extra milk from our dairy cow, sometimes we’ll just give them fresh milk too!)

Compost
Contain your chickens in your compost pile and let them pick through the scraps and bugs for food while keeping the pile nice and aerated.

After I started raising backyard chickens, I learned feed isn't cheap! Here are 36 free chicken feed ideas to save money on the chicken feed bill!Find Protein Sources

Maggot Bucket
This is such an awesome idea I learned from Permaculture Chickens! It is a great way to turn your meat scraps into even more protein for your chickens.

Grow Mealworms
Learning how to grow mealworms is a great way to give your hens a protein boost. When our hens were molting last fall mealworms helped them get back into production sooner. (And when we ran out, guess who stopped laying again?!)

Black Soldier Fly Larvae
These are an alternative to growing mealworms.

Japanese Beetle Bags
Set out Japanese Beetle bags in the summer. They attract the beetles with their scent and trap them inside. Dump them out for the chickens and watch them feast! Just make sure to check the bag every day because if they die the chickens aren’t interested in them anymore.

Free Chicken Feed Ideas -After I started raising backyard chickens, I learned feed isn't cheap! Here are 36 free chicken feed ideas to save money on the chicken feed bill!

Feed Management Ideas

Mix Your Own Feed
Mixing your own feed allows you to source cheaper materials and buy in bulk to save.

Rationing
Free-choice feeding your hens actually causes them to lay fewer eggs. They don’t really practice portion control and will eat it if you serve it.

Cull Hens
Learn whether or not your hens are still laying and cull the ones that are no longer productive. After 3 years, your hens are only occasionally laying, but they’re eating just as much as ever. It’s not easy on the heart, but culling hens will definitely save you money on your chicken feed bill.

Soak the Chicken Feed
Soaking feed decreases waste but this is especially true with mash. That powdery stuff flies all over and a lot is lost. The soaking feed means that more is sitting in the trough for the hens to eat.

Free-Range Your Chickens
If you can… even for a few hours a day. We’re not sure how free-ranging is going to fit into our new homestead, but on our other 2 homesteads, we let the gals free-range for most or all of the day. In some years, we didn’t feed them the entire time the weather was warm enough for the grass to grow and bugs to be out. That meant 5 or more months of a chicken feed bill of $0!!!! And we got just as many eggs as ever! Probably more because I have definitely noticed that when our hens are cooped up they lay fewer eggs.

Use a Garden Moat
These are so cool and I’m going to use one on the new homestead. While chickens are valuable in the garden for tilling the ground and reducing the pest load, if they aren’t contained they can wreak havoc on the crops you still want to have grown. I’ve tried talking to them about where they need to go. They don’t listen.

Ferment their Chicken Feed
Fermenting the chicken feed is just like soaking it, but letting it sit for a couple days to being to ferment. Fermenting the feed makes more of the nutrients available for your chicken’s bodies.

No-Waste Feeders
There are lots of great ideas to use no-waste feeders to feed your chickens. And less waste means less money spent on feed.

Boredom Busters
Hens cooped up often get bored. There are lots of great boredom busters you can give your flock that are food! Every little bit adds up! Try making some like Coconut Oil Suet Cakes.

Serve up the Grit (and Probiotics)
Improved digestion means they’ll get more from their feed.

Get Damaged Bags from the Feed Store
If the feed store has bags they can’t sell you may be able to score a deal.

Keep Homestead Records
One of the many reasons to keep homesteading records is so you can track your expenses and yields so you can see how much you are actually saving when you implement a new system on your homestead. I use the homestead management app, SmartSteader, to make it super easy (and math-free) to keep track. Comparing these numbers with your experiments lets you see where the real savings are at to help you make decisions about what is worth your time and what isn’t.

What are some of the best chicken feed ideas you’ve used to save money?


The post 36 Free Chicken Feed Ideas appeared first on Reformation Acres.

SmartSteader Digital Homestead Management Binder

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-05-13
2018-05-13 04:00 UTC

  1. 36 Free Chicken Feed Ideas
  2. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  3. Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant
  4. Sourdough Muffins Recipe: Four Different Variations to Try
  5. Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-05-06
2018-05-06 04:00 UTC

  1. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  2. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  3. Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant
  4. Sourdough Muffins Recipe: Four Different Variations to Try
  5. Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-04-29
2018-04-29 04:00 UTC

  1. Sourdough Muffins Recipe: Four Different Variations to Try
  2. www.reformationacres.com/2014/10/fresh-spanish-rice.html
  3. Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It
  4. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  5. Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant

DIY French Bistro Apron Tutorial (No Sewing Required)
2018-04-26 16:36 UTC by Quinn


The post DIY French Bistro Apron Tutorial (No Sewing Required) appeared first on Reformation Acres.

Learn how to make the perfect no-sew DIY French Bistro Apron. Out of a flour sack towel! It's a frugal, functional, and super cute absorbent cafe apron! Learn how to make the perfect no-sew DIY French Bistro Apron. Out of a flour sack towel! It’s a frugal, functional, and super cute absorbent cafe apron!

I have a bad habit of not wearing aprons. And you know what happens? I end up using my clothes as a towel when I’m working in the kitchen. Not exactly the best way to keep your clothes in great condition, now is it?

But to be honest I don’t find those pretty cotton prints at the fabric store to be very absorbent. And I put so much work into making the aprons, it kills me to soil them. My Gathering Apron is lined and it just feels too heavy to me for everyday use. They sure are a lot nicer than the plain t-shirt I’m trying to protect from kitchen mess…

My solution has been to carry a flour sack towel around tucked into my back pocket or thrown over my shoulder. But there’s only so many times you can drop that thing on the farmstead floor kitchen and still feel ok about using it in food production.

My solution: A quick and easy no-sew flour sack towel bistro apron!

Now I can just wear my towel! My clothes stay cleaner. I don’t have to worry about dropping it on the floor…. I love the way it looks! 

And I didn’t have to break the bank buying it. (It costs about $3 per apron.) OR take all day making it. (I was done in about half an hour and that’s with taking photos.) Saving money and time makes me happy!

But the biggest perk for me (yes more than how inexpensive it was to make) is I didn’t even have to sew a single stitch!

My sewing machine is in storage and won’t be coming out in the next 1-3 years. So that’s a long time to wait to make an apron. But being a no-sew apron is great if you haven’t learned that homesteading skill yet!

Learn how to make the perfect no-sew DIY French Bistro Apron. Out of a flour sack towel! It's a frugal, functional, and super cute absorbent cafe apron!

No-Sew Bistro Apron

Supplies

I got my Flour Sack Towels from Lehman’s cause you KNOW everything they have is farm-tough! They work beautifully for everything from natural cleaning, drying dishes, or these 25 other homestead uses!



Take 10% OFF Orders with code “COUPON10” at Lehman’s. Valid now through 7/1/18.  Shop now!


Cost Break Down

$1.50 Half of a Flour Sack Towel

$1.16 Twill Ribbon

$ .54 2- 2-yard sections of Stitch Witchery

$3.20 per apron (Plus any decorating you want to do with it.)

Assembly Instructions

(If you want to embellish your apron with the French Ticking Stripes, see the tutorial below first… Or check out my other ideas for making your aprons pretty!)

  • Wash, dry, and press the flour sack towels.
  • Neatly fold one in half and press a crease along the fold.
  • Cut along the crease. (Photo 1)
  • Fold up a ¼” hem and press it flat. (Photo 2)
  • Cut your Twill Ribbon to length. (Measurement of your waist + about 40″ )
  • Tear off 2 sections of Stitch Witchery that are the length of the entire top of the apron.
  • Find the center of the ribbon and match it with the center of your apron.
  • Arrange 1 layer of Stitch Witchery, the Twill Ribbon, and then another layer of Stitch Witchery   ” from the top of the apron. (Photos 3, 4, 5) 
  • Fold the top over, lining the folded ¼” top with the bottom of the Twill Ribbon sandwich. (Photo 7)
  • Pin the layers at the ends and middle.
  • Wet a clean rag and lay it on top of the hem you’re creating.
  • Press and hold a hot iron on the wet fabric for 10 seconds. (Photo 8) 
  • Repeat over the remaining length of the hem. (You may need to re-wet your rag if it drys out.)

That’s it! Now you have yourself a lovely little bistro apron! The Stitch Witchery should have formed a bond and you have a nice pressed hem! Without sewing a single stitch!

Learn how to make the perfect no-sew DIY French Bistro Apron. Out of a flour sack towel! It's a frugal, functional, and super cute absorbent cafe apron!Flour Sack Bistro Apron Embellishment Ideas

French Country Ticking Bistro Apron

I used a few cheap supplies to make some French Country Ticking Stripes on my apron. It turned out beautifully!

Additional Supplies

Painting Instructions

You will be laying down 6 pieces of tape and painting the spaces between. Make sure that you press the tape firmly into the fabric or the paint could bleed under.

  • Find the center of the apron.
  • Lay Tape One 1″ to the right of the center of the apron. (Photo 1)
  • Lay Tape Two 1″ to the left of the center of the apron. (Photo 2)
  • Place Tape Three 1″ to the right of Tape One. (Photo 3)
  • Lay Tape Four 1″ to the left of Tape Two.
  • Lay Tape Five ¼” to the right of Tape Three. (Photo 4)
  • Place Tape Six ¼” to the left of Tape Four.
  • Paint the fabric spaces in between the strips of tape. (Photo 5) 
  • Allow it to dry (I forced it with a hair dryer) and carefully peel off the tape.

Do you wear a bistro apron in your farmstead kitchen?



Take 10% OFF Orders with code “COUPON10” at Lehman’s. Valid now through 7/1/18.  Shop now!


The post DIY French Bistro Apron Tutorial (No Sewing Required) appeared first on Reformation Acres.

SmartSteader Digital Homestead Management Binder

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-04-22
2018-04-22 04:00 UTC

  1. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  2. Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It
  3. Sourdough Muffins Recipe: Four Different Variations to Try
  4. Silky Smooth Chocolate Pudding Recipe
  5. Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant

Sourdough Muffins Recipe: Four Different Variations to Try
2018-04-20 11:40 UTC by Quinn


The post Sourdough Muffins Recipe: Four Different Variations to Try appeared first on Reformation Acres.

Add a little variety to your mornings with these four recipe variations for sourdough muffins all based off a basic sourdough muffin recipe.Since firing up a new batch of sourdough starter, I’ve been trying to add sourdough quick bread into our breakfast menu. Sourdough muffins obviously bake up faster than bread so my batter is going into muffin tins and baking for 20 minutes rather than a loaf and baking for an hour.

One of the challenges and frustrations I encountered was the wide variety of methods and ingredients and inconsistent results.

I wanted to simplify and come up with a basic recipe that I could slightly modify depending on what type of muffin was being requested or craved. In our home, most often that means Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Sourdough Muffins, Blueberry Sourdough Muffins (or Blackberry Muffins), Banana Nut Sourdough Muffins, or Apple Cinnamon Sourdough Muffins, but you could make the necessary changes to create your own sourdough muffins!

The result was a basic overnight preferment and a simple muffin recipe with a few additions/changes being made for each recipe.

Unlike many muffin recipes, this basic recipe results in a nice tall, rounded muffin instead of one that is flat or worse sunken.

Add a little variety to your mornings with these four recipe variations for sourdough muffins all based off a basic sourdough muffin recipe.

Notes
•I use the Kitchen Aid mixer to stir in the thick preferment. I’ve decided though that for mornings when I want to be quiet in the kitchen and not wake anyone up, an inexpensive tool like this one might come in awfully handy.
•I’ve learned that due to the nature of sourdough, greasing the muffin tins first is better than using cupcake papers because the papers stick horribly to the muffin.
•We also like Pumpkin Nut Sourdough Muffins a whole lot and really like the recipe I’ve been using the last few years. So much so, I’ve decided not to fuss with it.
•Applesauce is highly recommended as a butter substitute in the Apple Cinnamon Muffins.


Add a little variety to your mornings with these four recipe variations for sourdough muffins all based off a basic sourdough muffin recipe.

Basic Overnight Sourdough Muffins Ferment

Basic Overnight Sourdough Muffin Ferment

Ingredients

  • 2 cups active sourdough starter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ cup unbleached all purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and mix really well. The dough will be very stiff.
  2. Cover with a cloth and allow to sit until morning.

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @reformationacres on Instagram and hashtag it #reformationacres.

Add a little variety to your mornings with these four recipe variations for sourdough muffins all based off a basic sourdough muffin recipe.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Sourdough Muffins

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Sourdough Muffins

Ingredients

  • Basic Overnight Preferment
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup cocoa
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar (or Sucanat)
  • ½ cup butter, melted (oil or applesauce can be substituted)
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • *2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 c. nuts, chopped (optional)*

Instructions

  1. In the morning, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Whisk together the the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa in a small bowl.
  3. Place the honey, brown sugar, butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla into a mixer and blend thoroughly with the paddle attachment.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients, mixing well.
  5. Add the overnight sourdough ferment and stirring until well combined.
  6. Mix in the chocolate chips, zucchini, and, if desired, nuts.
  7. Fill greased muffin tins.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffin springs back when lightly touched.

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @reformationacres on Instagram and hashtag it #reformationacres.

Add a little variety to your mornings with these four recipe variations for sourdough muffins all based off a basic sourdough muffin recipe.

Apple Cinnamon Sourdough Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Sourdough Muffins

Ingredients

  • Basic Overnight Preferment
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • *1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg*
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar (or Sucanat)
  • ½ cup butter, melted (oil or applesauce can be substituted)
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • *2 apples, shredded
  • 1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)*

Instructions

  1. In the morning, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Whisk together the the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl.
  3. Place the honey, brown sugar, butter, eggs, milk and vanilla into a mixer and blend thoroughly with the paddle attachment.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients, mixing well.
  5. Add the overnight sourdough ferment and stirring until well combined.
  6. Mix in the shredded apples and, if desired, nuts.
  7. Fill greased muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffin springs back when lightly touched.

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @reformationacres on Instagram and hashtag it #reformationacres.

Add a little variety to your mornings with these four recipe variations for sourdough muffins all based off a basic sourdough muffin recipe.

Berry Sourdough Muffins

Berry Sourdough Muffins

Ingredients

  • Basic Overnight Preferment
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • *1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg*
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar (or Sucanat)
  • ½ cup butter, melted (oil or applesauce can be substituted)
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • *1 ½ cup berries (blackberries, blueberries, mulberries, etc..)
  • 1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)*

Instructions

  1. In the morning, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Whisk together the the baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  3. Place the honey, brown sugar, butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla into a mixer and blend thoroughly with the paddle attachment.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients, mixing well.
  5. Add the overnight sourdough ferment and stirring until well combined.
  6. Mix in the berries and, if desired, nuts.
  7. Fill greased muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffin springs back when lightly touched.

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @reformationacres on Instagram and hashtag it #reformationacres.

Add a little variety to your mornings with these four recipe variations for sourdough muffins all based off a basic sourdough muffin recipe.

Banana Nut Sourdough Muffins

Banana Nut Sourdough Muffins

Ingredients

  • Basic Overnight Preferment
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar (or Sucanat)
  • ½ cup butter, melted (oil or applesauce can be substituted)
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • *4 bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)*

Instructions

  1. In the morning, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Whisk together the the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Place the honey, brown sugar, butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla into a mixer and blend thoroughly with the paddle attachment.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients, mixing well.
  5. Add the overnight sourdough ferment and stirring until well combined.
  6. Mix in the mashed bananas and, if desired, nuts.
  7. Fill greased muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffin springs back when lightly touched.

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @reformationacres on Instagram and hashtag it #reformationacres.

Enjoy!
What is your favorite type of muffin?

 

The post Sourdough Muffins Recipe: Four Different Variations to Try appeared first on Reformation Acres.

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Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant
2018-04-18 11:14 UTC by Quinn


The post Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant appeared first on Reformation Acres.

There are many herbs you could grow in your garden, but how to choose which ones? These tips will help beginner's choose what to plant in the herb garden. There is a countless list of plants you can grow in your herb garden (and just as many reasons why you should be growing herbs!) But narrowing the list down and figuring out what to put in the herb garden doesn’t have to be confusing and frustrating!

When I first started planning what herbs I wanted to plant in my garden years ago, I admit I totally went overboard. I bought all the things!

And ended up regretting it, big time!

It turned out to be such a waste of my time and money. (Unless you count the lessons I learned. Then it’s never a waste.) But these herbs were persnickety and managing all their specific needs made starting them from seed a real challenge.

There are many herbs you could grow in your garden, but how to choose which ones? These tips will help beginner's choose what to plant in the herb garden.

There are many herbs you could grow in your garden, but how to choose which ones? These tips will help beginner's choose what to plant in the herb garden.As I read through The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion by Amy Fewell I was impressed with her strategy for planning the beginner’s herb garden! It was just plain good common sense!

The easiest way to begin your herb garden is to choose five herbs that best suit your homestead needs. My initial list looked something like this:

  • respiratory
  • seasonal allergies
  • common cold and flue
  • wounds
  • pretty things

Yes, “pretty things was definitely on my list. I wanted  some herbs just for their aromatic benefits, like lavender, and to be pretty too…. As our homesteading journey went on, so did my needs. –The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion

Isn’t that a great approach? 

There are many herbs you could grow in your garden, but how to choose which ones? These tips will help beginner's choose what to plant in the herb garden.

Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant

Expanding on that herb garden planning idea from The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion, here are 5 things to consider as you decide what herbs to plant in your garden. Begin by prioritizing your list. Amy suggests choosing your top 5 herbs to master this year.

But save that list, because it will help you decide how to expand next year. (This is just one of the ways the principles we used when starting our homestead help us to stay sane even now. They can continue to be practiced so we can avoid burnout  and become masters of our homestead!)

Make sure you keep good homesteading records to reinforce what you’re learning about these herbs so you know them inside and out. Snag yourself a set of The Homestead Management Printables to help you know what information to record. (There’s also a handy Seed Sowing Calculator in there you can customize to your specific frost dates and know exactly when you should plant your herbs!)

There are many herbs you could grow in your garden, but how to choose which ones? These tips will help beginner's choose what to plant in the herb garden.What Types of Herbs Should You Grow

Do you want to grow culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, or (like me) BOTH! Thankfully, some culinary herbs are also beneficial in the kitchen as well as the medicine cabinet.

Thyme is amazing on chicken but is also wonderful for making Lemon Honey Thyme Cough Syrup.

Sage is my favorite herb for flavoring pork, but it also does double duty as a tea for sore throats, coughs, and laryngitis.

Cayenne pepper gives our food some kick. And it works great in pain relieving salve. I use it for sore muscles or back pain.

We use garlic honey “pills” to boost our immune system when we get sick, but most of the time our homegrown garlic is used for mealtime prep.

Check Your Spice Cabinet

What herbs do you use most frequently in the kitchen when preparing homemade meals? Are there some that have been sitting in your cupboard longer than you can remember? (Don’t grow those.)

In my kitchen, it’s parsley, sage, oregano, and thyme. Thankfully, these herbs are all really easy to grow and self-sow abundantly so I only have to start them once. (That’s just one of the many reasons I never cook with essential oils.)

There are many herbs you could grow in your garden, but how to choose which ones? These tips will help beginner's choose what to plant in the herb garden.What is Your Family’s Health Needs?

Does your family come down with the same type of illness each winter? Does someone suffer from chronic headaches? Grow feverfew. Eczema? Maybe try growing calendula. Insomnia? Plant some chamomile for homemade Sleepytime Herbal Tea Mix. Think about your family’s specific health needs and choose to grow herbs that will support their well-being.

Consider Your Garden Site

Every garden site has specific needs and some garden sites may be limiting. Thankfully there are several culinary and medicinal herbs that grow well in part shade or shade gardens.

Companion Planting

Companion planting herbs in your vegetable garden is one of the ways to increase your yields and invite pollinators to visit.

But many herbs also have symbiotic relationships with the vegetables in your garden. It will be worth your while to learn what to plant together in the herb garden. Amy recommends planting chives to enhance the flavor of your vegetables. Or mint to repel cabbage moths. (You can bet I’ll be giving that tip a try! I’ve all but given up on cabbage!) According to The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion, basil will deter pests. And garlic will keep the bunnies away.


 

The Homesteader's Herbal Companion by Amy FewellThe Homesteader’s Herbal Companion is a beautiful resource to supplement your herbal library! It was a delight just to flip through the pages and admire the photography. (But then again, I’m like a kid and I like books with pictures.)

The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion includes chapters on:

  • The Basics of Herbalism
  • The Homesteader’s Herb List
  • How to Grow Herbs
  • Wild Herbs in Your Backyard
  • Seed Saving; Drying and Storing Herbs
  • Herbal Teas and Tinctures
  • Medicinal Syrups and Other Herbal Home Remedies
  • Infused Oil, Salves, and Poultices
  • Everyday Herbal Care and Beauty Products
  • Homestead Essential Oils
  • Cooking with Herbs on the Homestead
  • Herbs for the Home and Barn
  • Herbs for Our Four-Legged Friends
  • Herbs for Chickens and Other Poultry
  • Herbs for the Homestead Pollinators
  • My Herbal Medicine Cabinet and Pantry
  • Resources for Further Learning

It has an extensive Materia Medica tailored for the homesteader and is LOADED with lots of recipes for you to try. Several recipes are “basic” so you can get creative and customize them to your needs. There are recipes for salves, syrups, cleaners, tinctures, delicious sounding meals enhanced with herbs, Spice Mixes, body lotions and other beauty products, soap, ways to use herbs for the coop and livestock. (I love her idea of using Hot Cocoa as a carrier for medicinal herbs to soothe sore throats and coughs with the Respiratory Marshmallow Hot Cocoa!)

The information in Amy’s book is easy to read and thoughtfully presented.  There is something in it for everyone! When readers are through, beginners will have a thorough understanding and the confidence to get started without feeling overwhelmed. And more experienced herb-lovers will have their knowledge challenged. The beauty of the pages and variety of recipes are truly inspirational!


What herbs do you want to grow in your garden?

 

The post Beginner’s Herb Garden: What to Plant appeared first on Reformation Acres.

SmartSteader Digital Homestead Management Binder

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-04-15
2018-04-15 04:00 UTC

  1. Silky Smooth Chocolate Pudding Recipe
  2. Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It
  3. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  4. When To Plant Garden Seeds Using a Seed Sowing Calculator
  5. 25 Gardening Tips to Increase Yields

How To Make Your Own DIY Potting Soil Mix
2018-04-14 13:50 UTC by Quinn


The post How To Make Your Own DIY Potting Soil Mix appeared first on Reformation Acres.

Learn how to make a DIY potting soil mix using a few simple ingredients you can easily find at the gardening supply store for an organic soil mix.After years of less than stellar results from pre-made mixes, I’m now using an easy recipe to make my own DIY organic potting soil mix using a few simple ingredients I’m able to easily find at my gardening supply store.

Nothing frustrates me more than a poor quality potting soil mix. There’s a lot riding on whether you’ve got a good soil from the beginning for your tender seedlings…  In fact, the success of your whole garden depends on it. Weak, under-nourished seedlings won’t bear nearly as early or produce as much as a strong plant that was healthy from the beginning.

I hate ripping into a bag and finding it practically dust, it’s so fine and dry. There’s soil that you’ll struggle to keep wet until the day you can get the plant into the ground. Others seem like they’ll do well only to find that they seem to run out of nutrients to give to the seedling before they’re large enough to transplant meaning you’ll have the extra investment of additional fertilizer (I use cold-pressed fish fertilizer). The worst was one year when I couldn’t find anything other than Miracle Gro Potting mix. I ended up with furry soil with the most peculiar orange fungus-y mass growing on top of the soil. Suffice it to say, I never used the mix again. Not surprisingly, I haven’t had that problem recur in all my years of seed starting.

The recipe for this potting soil mix is so simple. It’s a “Parts” recipe so it doesn’t matter how big the bucket you’re measuring out scoops with.

But the measurements of the amendments are based off a 4-gallon bucket so adjust the amendments accordingly.  (So if you use a 1-gallon bucket, you’ll only need a ⅛ cup of the agricultural lime. You should easily be able to find all of the ingredients at your garden center or on Amazon. Depending on how much you make, you can mix it in a 5-gallon bucket or trash can. Pop on the lid and roll it across the ground to help mix it!

Other amendments you can consider adding would be rock phosphate, greensand (iron & potassium), and blood meal, bonemeal, or feather meal (nitrogen). But making sure that your potting soil has enough nutrients to feed your seedlings until it’s time to transplant them in the garden is a great way to increase your garden yields (without tilling up more garden space.) And gets you healthier, more nutrient-dense vegetables.

When you’re ready to use your potting soil, transfer the dry potting soil to another container. Add enough water that it’s fairly wet and you can ball it up into a clump. But not so much that you can squeeze water out.

If you’re using pots instead of a soil-blocker (which are my fave), I like to fill the cups all the way, press them down so they’re packed about ¾ of the way full, and then fill them up all the way again without packing the second time. Doing this helps to provide loose soil for the young seedling near the top. And it avoids the problem of settling that happens later on when the soil sinks to half the cup level.

Regardless of whichever seed-starting container I prefer to use, I sprinkle the top of the potting soil in each cell with vermiculite to prevent damping off disease.

I store any dry, unused soil in the bucket or trash can. Mixing extra ahead of time saves time when your seed starting calculator tells you it’s time to start seeds again!

How to Make Your Own Organic Potting Soil Mix |www.reformationacres.com

UPDATE: I’ve received many comments questioning the sustainability of using peat moss in this mix. This winter while reading The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman I came across an excellent assessment of the peat controversy.

“I do not share the anti-peat moss sentiment I occasionally hear expressed. The anti-peat moss movement began in Europe where, because of population density, limited peat deposits, and centuries-long use of the resource, they are at the point where finding substitutes for peat makes sense. But the same is no the case in North America. Of the peat lands in North America, only 0.02 percent (2/100 of 1 percent) are being used for peat harvesting. On this continent peat is forming some five to ten times faster than the rate at which we are using it. And even if we don’t include bogs located so far north that their use would never be economic, peat is still a resource that is forming much faster than we are using it. To my mind that is the definition of a renewable resource.

Obviously, it behooves us to make sure that every natural resource is managed sustainable and that unique areas are protected. My investigations into the peat moss industry don’t give me cause to worry…

Someday we may need to find a substitute for peat moss, but I do not believe that day is here. In fact, I do not believe it ever needs to arrive. But if we do need a substitute, some of the present contenders, like coir fiber imported, at great expense and energy, from faraway South Pacific islands, which need that organic matter to maintain their own soil fertility, make very little sense. If I am going to react against using peat to improve agricultural soils, I want to do it with all the facts at had, both as to whether the problem actually exists and as to whether the supposed solution is logical and environmentally appropriate.”

How to Make Your Own DIY Potting Soil Mix

  • 3 parts peat moss
  • 2 parts perlite or vermiculite
  • 2 parts compost
  • 1 part garden soil
  • 1 cup blood meal (Buy here) or bonemeal (Buy here)
  • ½ cup agricultural lime (in a 4-gallon bucket parts recipe) (Buy here)
  1. Thoroughly mix all ingredients together.
  2. Add enough water, mixing well until you can squeeze the soil into the clump with your hand. Try to find a balance between too dry and dripping wet.
  3. Use as you would any other potting soil.

Recipe Credit: The Market Gardener

Have you ever tried your own potting soil mix? 

The post How To Make Your Own DIY Potting Soil Mix appeared first on Reformation Acres.

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Silky Smooth Chocolate Pudding Recipe
2018-04-11 17:31 UTC by Quinn


The post Silky Smooth Chocolate Pudding Recipe appeared first on Reformation Acres.

After trying every variation of homemade chocolate pudding out there, I finally discovered the secret to rich chocolate flavor and silky smooth texture.After trying every variation of homemade chocolate pudding out there, I finally discovered the secret to rich chocolate flavor and silky smooth texture!

It wasn’t long after you all tried my Creamy Homemade Vanilla Pudding recipe that you started asking if I had a recipe for chocolate pudding that was just as delicious. And until now, sadly, I had to say no. When I wanted a chocolate pudding I made something called Bittersweet Chocolate Creams from The French Slow Cooker. They are amazing! But, not really chocolate pudding.

So when our Jersey cow freshened last month my first mission before diving into cheesemaking was to perfect a chocolate pudding.

After trying every variation of homemade chocolate pudding out there, I finally discovered the secret to rich chocolate flavor and silky smooth texture.

But that was actually a lot harder than I expected! With “hard” being relative because let’s face it, the fact I didn’t hit upon a good recipe meant I had to keep trying. Which meant I had to keep making and sampling chocolate pudding.

Which is really not that hard at all. Even with a “bad” recipe.

I found the recipes for a classic pudding to be weak in flavor and almost watery in texture. The cocoa powder left an unpleasant grit on the roof of my mouth. I just wasn’t satisfied and knew there had to be a better way.

Unlike with vanilla pudding, adding butter to the chocolate pudding made an incredible difference in the smoothness and flavor. We all liked it so much better! After that, it wasn’t about whether to add butter, but how much?

I also knew right away that my pudding recipe was going to be a “double chocolate” pudding. I needed the chocolate flavor but it couldn’t come with cocoa powder because of the grittiness. In the end, I like the ratio of 1 Tablespoon of cocoa powder per 1 cup of milk. Anything more and I noticed the chalky grit.

I think this recipe has the perfect balance of sweetness but I did use 60% bittersweet chocolate chips so if you use anything lighter than that you may need to back off the sugar a touch.

After my experiments with different thickeners in vanilla pudding, I didn’t even bother to test the others in chocolate pudding and assumed that the best texture would come from cornstarch. You could use flour in a pinch, but it might not make the finest pudding possible.

I’m looking forward to using my yellow cake recipe from Cake Stand to make a pudding cake! Or even turning this pudding into a Farmstead Pie if I don’t have the time to make Chocolate Silk Pie. 

After trying every variation of homemade chocolate pudding out there, I finally discovered the secret to rich chocolate flavor and silky smooth texture.

Silky Smooth Chocolate Pudding Recipe

Silky Smooth Chocolate Pudding Recipe

After trying every variation of homemade chocolate pudding out there, I finally discovered the secret to rich chocolate flavor and silky smooth texture.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ⅔ cup sugar (I use evaporated cane juice)
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, (I use these bittersweet chips and buy them in bulk, they’re so good!)
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

  • Whisk the sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. 
  • Separate the yolks in a bowl and whisk them until they’re smooth. 
  • Whisk in 1 cup of the milk into the egg yolks and whisk until the mixture is uniform in color with no bits of brighter yolk. 
  • Add the egg/milk mixture along with the rest of the milk to the saucepan and whisk it until the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. 
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat while gently whisking. 
  • Once the pudding begins to simmer and thicken, turn the heat down to low and continue to whisk for another 30-60 seconds until you like the look of the thickness. 
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips and butter until they are melted. 
  • Stir in the vanilla. 
  • Add the pudding to a bowl or ramekins and cover with plastic wrap to prevent it from skinning over. 
  • Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight until chilled before serving. 

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @reformationacres on Instagram and hashtag it #reformationacres.

Enjoy!

 

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Weekly Top Posts: 2018-04-08
2018-04-08 04:00 UTC

  1. Pruning our Only Old Apple Tree (and it was a mess!)
  2. Do These 102 Side Jobs and Earn Money Homesteading
  3. Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It
  4. 25 Gardening Tips to Increase Yields
  5. When To Plant Garden Seeds Using a Seed Sowing Calculator

Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It
2018-04-06 15:31 UTC by Quinn


The post Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It appeared first on Reformation Acres.

Cooking with essential oils is a smoking hot topic! Whether you choose to use essential oils in your kitchen is a personal decision. These reasons for not cooking with essential oils are simply the why to the how I season food in my farmstead kitchen.Cooking with essential oils is a smoking hot topic! Whether you choose to use essential oils in your kitchen is a personal decision. These reasons for not cooking with essential oils are simply the why to the how I season food in my farmstead kitchen.

This topic has been on my mind the last few weeks. I knew I wasn’t comfortable with seasoning our food with essential oils. But I felt like I wanted a clear reason why so if I stumble across information going forward, my resolution stayed firm.

As with all food and health advice, my standard for discernment is to follow the money trail from the source. So before we go any further I just want you to know, I’ve got no stake in the game.

I want to clarify that I’m not talking about ingesting essential oils for medical purposes. Though I do have an opinion on the topic, and deep trust issues (remember that whole money trail thing?), the efficacy and safety of the practice is a can of worms I’m not ever going to open. Ultimately, we’re all responsible for our own choices and decisions. We are all doing the best we can and need to respect that in each other.

Also, I’d like to point out that cooking with essential oils is NOT the same as using an extract like vanilla. Tincture-like extraction is a completely different process from the methods used to isolate the volatile oils in plants. (And see Reason #2 for why volatile oils aren’t the healthiest choice for our foods.)

Beyond all of the current talking points on each side, I think there are 6 very good reasons for not cooking with essential oils on the homestead you may not have heard before.

Cooking with essential oils is a smoking hot topic! Whether you choose to use essential oils in your kitchen is a personal decision. These reasons for not cooking with essential oils are simply the why to the how I season food in my farmstead kitchen.

Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It

Essential Oils are Expensive

Not sure if you noticed that or not, but depending on where you buy them from, essential oils are expensive! Fresh herbs and spices, not so much. Especially when we’re growing them in our own backyard. Over time, they end paying for themselves many times over both in expense and pleasure.

Using Whole Herbs and Spices is Healthier

Whether you should even ingest essential oils is up in the air. However, whether essential oils lose their health benefits during the cooking process is not. Essential oils no longer add any nutritional value to your food when you cook them. They’re just there for quick (expensive) flavor. If you want your food to be your medicine, whole herbs are a healthier choice.

For the sake of argument though, let’s suppose you’re extremely careful in the cooking process and the essential oils didn’t lose their nutritional value in cooking.

Are they still the healthiest choice?

I would suggest no.

Volatile oils are simply one component of any plant.  The fact is that when we use fresh herbs, flowers, citrus, etc. in our cooking there are volatile (essential) oils as one of the constituents in the plant. But there are other constituents too.  All of those parts in a plant often work together to create a full, well-rounded nutritional and health profile.

I think willow bark is my favorite example. One of the key constituents in willow bark is salicin which is what aspirin is also made from. But willow bark taken as a pain reliever doesn’t come with the side effects that aspirin does. Because there are other properties in the plant acting together to be gentler on our systems, there is built-in protection. (Not to mention that willow bark is also an antiseptic, antioxidant, and has anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. But not so with only the acetylsalicylic acid in aspirin.)

Using whole herbs, flowers, and spices, whenever possible, is highly recommended by knowledgeable herbalists.

 Essential Oils are Less Sustainable Than Herbs

A homesteading and “local food” lifestyle goes hand-in-hand with being sustainable.

If we want to be earth-stewards and make conscientious choices about what we purchase and consume, cooking with essential oils makes very, very little sense. When you look at the amount of fossil fuel it took to produce one little bottle of essential oils and compare that to the abundance of package-free organic herbs you could walk out your back door and harvest, it’s easy to see which choice is more sustainable.

Not to mention when you learn to cook or perfect your recipes based off of drops of essential oils, you become dependent on the oil supply (pun not intended, but in proofreading there it is-lol!) to keep trucking them to your door.

And if homesteaders are anything, we’re independent!

Cooking with Essential Oils is Antithetical to the Slow Lifestyle I’m Trying to Cultivate

We live in an age of fast and easy consumerism. Convenience foods, convenience packaging, heck, we don’t even want to chop our vegetables ourselves and the trend at farmer’s markets is for the farmer to cut the veggies for their customers. (Like they don’t have anything else to do.)  Using essential oils in the kitchen as a convenience food (or ingredient) goes against the grain of one of the many reasons why I love the homesteading lifestyle so much.

I embrace the slow food movement. So after spending an hour in the kitchen preparing our meal and I’m ready to add in that last pop of bright color from the herbs, it’s invigorating, refreshing, and a joy to walk outdoors and snip a bundle of herbs to bring back indoors to finish off the meal. You couldn’t PAY me to give up that luxury!

Essential oils aren’t my back-up plan for poor menu planning (which I am notorious for). Neither do I stock microwave dinners “just in case.” Instead, I have a few meals I rotate through on my menu-planning-fail nights. Even if it’s just Buttermilk Pancakes. (Which I really don’t mind if we have our own maple syrup. Talk about a slow food flavoring!)

My Herbs Give Back, Essential Oils Don’t

When I use essential oils in my cooking, they may flavor the food that feeds my family, but they will never go on to also feed my land.

Growing my own herbs allows me to create compost, helps retain soil over the winter, feeds the bees I want to bring to my garden, and create micro-climates where they are planted which nourish the soil food web.

You can’t get that from a glass bottle!

I Can Stockpile My Herbs

When you grow your own herbs there is usually more than enough to use fresh and have enough to dehydrate for use over the winter. (I put up a QUART of powdered sage this year!) With essential oils, there is no way for abundance to happen and bless us with the increase. The gratitude those full jars of homegrown preserved herbs cultivates an attitude of thankfulness that can never be bought in a bottle.

Choosing not to cook with essential oils is simply my preference and practice. As with all things, I would encourage you to do thorough research. Make the best decision for yourself and your family. (Which is easier said than done in the noise of information online, I know.) Once you’ve made that choice, then go forward confident in your decision! Neither judging others nor feeling judged by others… again, we’re all just doing the best we can!

The post Cooking with Essential Oils: 6 Reasons to Never Do It appeared first on Reformation Acres.

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