Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Budget Garden Preparations

During World War II, the United States was forced to ration food. It was the family Victory Gardens that pulled the hungry nation through.
Two percent (2%) of the US population feeds the other 98% as well as millions of other people around the world.  This makes our food supply chain very fragile.  Many things could disrupt it.

Every adult who is responsible for the lives of others should have the following gardening preps:
  1. Garden Hoe - top quality and sharp - $57
  2. Round point shovel - no plastic nor fiberglass - $40
  3. Garden Rake - 16 metal teeth - $30
  4. Vegetable Heirloom Seeds - sealed and kept frozen; rotate them each year - $16
  5. Fertilizer - use compost or 10-10-10 sparingly - $12
  6. Quality Garden Hose ($35) and metal water sprinkler ($8) IF you don't have one already.
  7. Gardening Book -  The Vegetable Gardner's Bible is a good choice - $20
All tools should be good quality, heavy duty, with hard wood handles that can be easily replaced and no plastic. Preferably Made in the U.S.A.  The hoe is the tool you will use the most so having an extra one is a good idea.  Doing so will also allow two people at once to work in the garden.

I recommend alternating your seed source each year to provide diversity.  Date each container of seeds when you put them in the freezer.  Don't discard old seeds as they are good for 2-5 years although the germination rate decreases.  I plant or spread my old seeds some where, in the woods, in a meadow, along the back roads, creek or river in hopes of having a hidden food or seed supply in the future, if ever needed. Some plant seeds or plants around their apartment hedges and in the flower beds with a small stake so the lawn care people don't pull them up.

Compost is a great natural fertilizer, but if not available, a commercial time release 10-10-10 fertilizer is good for beginners as it will reduce the risk of burning your garden up from over fertilizing.  Experienced gardeners will use different fertilizers for different vegetables and based on the results of soil tests.

There are a number of good Gardening books on Amazon.  Get one that is rated four stars or better with a low percentage of 1 star ratings.  The more ratings by verified buyers, the more reliable the rating. Get a hard copy book, not an electronic version. 

The one time investment for quality tools is less than $200, then $15 for fertilizer and then less than $20 per year for the seeds for a operating cost of $35 each year for a productive hobby and hundreds, if not thousands of dollars worth of fresh healthy food.

Beyond this, an electric Garden Tiller is a great addition to help prepare your soil.  Start breaking up your garden plot by February before the grass and weeds start growing, then again a month later.

Don't wait! Enjoy fresh grown vegetables this year.

For additional information see the following links:
Blog Table of Contents

Gardening Links
Gardening 101– Soil Basics
Green House for year-round food supply
Vegetable Planting Dates
Vegetable Days to Harvest

Seeds for Survival
Preppers Garden

Prepper Livestock series
DIY Solar System

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Random Security

The biggest weakness of any security plan is predictability.  WARNING:  This post represents the harsh reality of Anarchy if our fragile society breaks down. 

Prior to an attack, an enemy will access your security to find an opportunity to penetrate it undetected, capture or kill your people and steal your supplies. During the dark ages, it was called rape, pillage and plunder.  The point is, your security plans are important

They will scan the radio frequencies to see if you are using them for communication, and if so, which channels.  Then they will listen to everything you are saying, learning more about you and your group.

Using binoculars, they will watch for days (or even weeks) from a distant vantage point (that you should be watching) to determine:
  1. How many armed capable people (threats) you have?
  2. What your shift change schedules are?
  3. What are your lookout vantage points and what views and area can they see and protect; more importantly, where they cannot see nor protect.
  4. Which of your security teams are not alert and could be easily eliminated?
  5. Do you have roaming security patrols, if so, where do they cover, how often, and how long does it take before they come back around again.  Do they use a "Leave Behind' person at times?
They will develop a plan and probe your defenses to test your ability to detect them and your response, IF you do.

Attacker plans are likely to include a range of things:
  1.  Lure your Security Team away (via a diversion), or into a trap. 
  2. Quietly snipe your security one at a time with a cross bow, or several at once with sound suppressed fire arms; most likely at night, using night vision when others are sleeping and they can sneak in undetected.  Once security is taken out, they storm your central Command Post. 
  3. They may use smoke, tear gas, pepper spray or fire to flush people out and shoot them when they run out.  Fire is less rational as it burns valuable supplies, but may be used by hot heads.
  4. Snipe some of your people when out working, or snipe some of your equipment; when your people come out to work on it, snipe them.
  5. Capture your group's children, women or leaders as hostages to have an inside spy, who will allow them in, or hold them for ransom/barter. When group family members "leave" (read disappear) unexpectedly, certain security must be put in place to watch the remaining family members who may become hostile to save their hostage family member(s).
  6. If your enemy is smart, they will keep your hostages after taking all your guns & ammo, then require regular payments from your group of food and any supplies you can salvage. They will bully your group, harass your women and hurt or kill one of your strongest members occasionally to keep your people in line, just like on one of the Top TV Series (#4).
For these reasons, it is critical that you develop randomized and unpredictable security plans such as those outlined in the Prepper Handbook and that you know what to expect to develop the best plans possible. These plans should be unpredictable so that even your security team doesn't know what the plan is until they report for duty.  Your Security Team Leader should have someone (friendly) probing your defenses often, to determine weaknesses and keep your Security Team alert.

For additional information see the following links:
Blog Table of Contents

Search: Security

Red flag warnings its time to Bug Out

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Power Outage Heater

Its freezing cold and the power is out for who knows how long.

Even if you have solar power with a battery back-up it won't last long using an electric heater.  A 100 Ah 12 VDC Battery will run a 1,500 watt heater for about 48 minutes. So here is what the author of the Prepper Handbook recommends.

This is a top rated heater that doesn't use electricity. It is safe for indoor or outdoor use.  This Mr Heater is one that I've tested and found to work great during cold winter nights.  I even used mine in a car when my heater was out. 

It uses these small propane bottles below  One bottle will last 6 hours on low and 3 hours on high, and produce about 2.6 times more heat than a 1500 watt electric heater.  Walmart sells these fuel bottles for $3.50 each.You can often get a multi-pack for even less per bottle.

Six of these cost about $21 and will keep you warm for 24 hours. This makes a good Prepper Gift for someone who does NOT have a fire place AND wood or natural gas.  If they have a fire place and NO wood or natural gas, they need help. They are also good for running a cooking stove.  For under $150, you can stay warm and cook your food.  These are also great for camping. 

For more information:
Blog Table of Contents
Power Outage Preps
Power Outage Heater
DIY Solar System 
The SHTF Day One
Survive a 2 week Power Outage

See similar topics by clicking on the labels below

Pioneer Recipes

Complete Sustainable Living Plan
Acorn Flour Pancakes
Pemmican Recipe
Hardtack Recipe
Texas Brisket
Corn Bread
Sour Dough Bread
Corn Fritters
Apple Cider Vinegar
More on making Vinegar
Backing Soda vs Yeast
Baking Soda uses
Best Foods to Store

For additional information see the following links:
Blog Table of Contents
Building your food stores the right way

Emergency Water Supply
Complete Sustainable Living Plan

See similar topics by clicking on the labels below

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Prepper Livestock - Horse

Through out history, horses have proven to be reliable transportation and a strategic advantage for those who have them, yet most people don't even know how to ride.

In our BEST Prepper Transportation post, a Horse was one of the highest rated. They are:
  1. Quite - No loud exhausts that will attract danger.  In fact, few modes of transportation are quieter. No headlights to give away your position when you ride at night.  Using Night Vision or Thermal Vision while riding can be a huge advantage.
  2. Security - they are alert, can smell and hear danger at great distances.
  3. Reliable - Low maintenance, no maintenance, rarely break down. EMP hardy with no electronics.  Horses can also reproduce so they are sustainable long term.
  4.  Street and Off-road capable - Ability to go places many vehicles cannot go. When being pursued, or trying to stay off the beaten path, you can ride through a field, the woods, a narrow alley, foot trail or down the train tracks, which is a big advantage.
  5. Carrying Capacity - Sufficient capacity for your individual needs. See Rule of 3's to prioritize the supplies you pack.
  6. Long Travel Range - A horse is excellent for a Nomadic life style and great for regional scouting.  You can get where you are going without running out of fuel.
But horses are useful beyond just transportation.  They can carry/pull heavy loads, including wagons, plows or a travois like the Native Americans used.  They make good companions and provide security as well as a large amount of meat as a last resort, i.e. much more versatile than cows.


While soft earth tone horses blend in to their surroundings better, Native Americans preferred horses with a pattern.  This provides a decorative value but also a broken up pattern is harder to distinguish lines and see vs. a solid color as shown below.

Wild horses were hunted for food and appeared in Paelo cave art as early as 30,000 BC, New DNA testing suggests they were domesticated starting 8,000 BC or over 10,000 years ago.  Solid evidence suggests they were clearly domesticated by 6,000 years ago. 

The point is, the Horse has been tested and proven reliable for thousands of years. Take riding lessons and consider horse riding as a hobby.  Perhaps this will evolve into owning your own horse some day.  Popular Breeds include:
  1. Arabian - is one of the oldest breeds, known for its spirit and endurance. They are versatile, intelligent, and loyal. Suitable for advanced owners and generally healthy.
  2. Quarter Horse - is arguably the most popular breed in the United States and the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world. Known as the fastest breed of horse over short distances (up to 55 mph), they are used for pleasure riding and western events such as barrel racing, roping and cutting, but they can also make excellent hunting mounts and even racehorses. Suitable for slightly experienced riders and known to have below average health.
  3. Morgan - compact, brave and agreeable, best known for its versatility. Small in stature but big in heart, they are used today as a riding horse and cart pulling horses. Suitable for slightly experienced riders and known for being healthy with no genetic diseases.
  4. Appaloosa - were developed by the Nez Perce Native Americans They are genetically diverse, versatile, tough, independent, hardy and sure-footed, with big bodies and sparse manes and tails. Appaloosas are often used as stock horses and pleasure mounts, and also make excellent trail horses.  Suitable for Slightly experience riders and known for being healthier than average. This would probably be my first choice as a Preppers horse followed by a Morgan.
Here is a Horse Breed Selector this is obviously biased to a POA breed but also suggests an Appaloosa, Paint and Quarter Horse are ideal for me which is confirmed by my own personal research.  I've included links on each breed above to help you select one.  IF you already have horses, I'd be anxious to hear what breed you like best.

Good luck and may I also suggest visiting our Livestock link below.

For additional information see the following links:
Blog Table of Contents


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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Corn Bread

Pioneers depended heavily on Corn Bread instead of our wheat bread of today, because corn and its larger kernels were much easier to harvest than the smaller wheat or rye seeds, especially without equipment. Prior to this, Hardtack was popular along with Pemmican.  In later years, Sour Dough Bread became a popular bread.

Grow corn until it dries out, then harvest the ears of corn and store in a cool dry place until needed.  Feed the corn stalks to your hogs or till them back in to the soil.  Take stored corn ears and grind the corn in to meal; Pioneers used stones to do this.

  1. Corn Meal - Two (2) Cups
  2. Large eggs - Two (2)  
  3. Butter Milk - One and one half (1-1/2) Cups
  4. Sugar - 1/4 Cup; Pioneer alternative: Honey
  5. Flour - 1/4 Cup; Pioneer alternative: Sour Dough Starter
  6. Baking Powder - Two (2) Teaspoons; Pioneer alternative: Sour Dough Starter
  7. Crisco- One (3) Table Spoons; Pioneer alternative: animal fat
  8. Salt - One (1) Teaspoon 
  9. Black Cast Iron Skillet - 11"-12" Diameter 
In the absence of butter milk, you can 1 tablespoon of vinegar per cup of regular milk.  Without flour or a sourdough starter, you can still make our Corn Fritters. which requires only corn meal, water and seasoning.
  1. Heat over to 400 F
  2. Put the Crisco in the skillet and sprinkle the bottom with corn meal. 
  3. Put the skillet in the oven and preheat. 
  4. While the oven heats up, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl until smooth
  5. Pour the mix in the preheated skillet and bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly brown. 
  6. Slice in to triangles and serve.
For additional information see the following links:
Blog Table of Contents

Complete Sustainable Living Plan
Blog Table of Contents
Acorn Flour Pancakes
Pemmican Recipe
Hardtack Recipe
Corn Bread
Sour Dough Bread
Corn Fritters
Apple Cider Vinegar
More on making Vinegar
Backing Soda vs Yeast
Baking Soda uses

See similar topics by clicking on the labels below  

More on making Vinegar

A trusted product since 1869

What Is Vinegar?

The French word vinaigre means “sour wine.” In Wild Fermentation, author and fermentation expert Sandor Katz writes that his experience with vinegar-making began as winemaking gone awry. “Vinegar is an excellent consolation for your winemaking failure,” he writes. (To avoid getting vinegar instead of wine, you should store your vinegar-making projects far away from your homebrew batches.)

If a liquid has fermentable sugars or alcohol in it, the liquid can be turned into vinegar. Wine makes wine vinegar, cider makes cider vinegar and beer makes malt vinegar. Your kitchen is well-stocked if you have wine, cider, and possibly malt and sherry vinegars.

When alcohol is exposed to oxygen, it is transformed by aerobic (oxygen-loving) acetobacter bacteria into acetic acid, more commonly known as vinegar. The ubiquitous acetobacter bacteria in the air find the alcohol in loosely covered wine, cider or beer and go to work. Katz says the simplest method — albeit sometimes faulty — to make both alcohol and vinegar is to let unpasteurized apple cider sit for a week until it becomes alcoholic, and then let it sit for another couple of weeks until it becomes vinegar.

To ensure your fermentation creates flavorful vinegar, however, use a “mother of vinegar.” The mother is a gelatinous mass of vinegar-making organisms that forms naturally in vinegar. You can order a starter of live vinegar containing particles that will clump together and form a mother during fermentation. Add the starter (or mother) to a new batch of alcohol — wine, cider or beer — and leave it there until the vinegar tastes right to you, at which point you may remove the mother and use it for a new batch.

Step-by-Step Process

1. Gather your vessel. Because acetobacter bacteria need oxygen to work, a wide-mouth crock, glass jar, food-grade plastic bucket, bowl, wooden cask or other non-metal container is best (vinegar corrodes metal). Do not fill the container more than about half-full to maximize the surface area ratio.
2. Gather your starter. You can get a mother of vinegar from a friend who makes vinegar. Or, order a starter from wine and beer supply shops or online from Adventures in Home Brewing, Leeners, Cultures Alive, or Etsy.
3. Gather your ingredients. To make wine vinegar, you want 1 part starter (or mother), 1 part unchlorinated water and 2 parts alcoholic beverage. Use unsulfited organic alcohols if possible, because sulfites kill acetobacter bacteria. If your wine contains sulfites, let the mixture sit for a half-hour. (If your water is chlorinated, boil it first and let it cool, or let the water sit out on the counter overnight.) For cider and beer vinegars, omit the water. Add alcohol and water, if using, to your vessel. Stir. Pour in the starter (or gently add the mother).
4. Cover the top. Place cloth or a few layers of cheesecloth over the container and secure with a rubber band.
5. Store the vessel. Set the vinegar pot where the temperature stays between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the container out of sunlight and drafts.
6. Monitor the vinegar. Over time, the mother on top of the vinegar will become thicker. It may develop a brownish cast, which is fine. If you see mold or smell a paint-thinner aroma, toss the batch. (This is rare.)
7. Taste the vinegar. After a couple of weeks, sample a spoonful of the vinegar. Simply remove or lift the mother out of the way. It’s OK if the mother sinks. If the liquid tastes like vinegar, it’s ready. You may want to leave it to ferment longer for a stronger flavor. In warm temperatures, vinegar may be finished in two weeks. In cold temperatures, it may take a month or more — it’s OK to let it go longer. Vinegar is stable for a long time, though it will begin to lose its potency in time.
8. Draw off your finished vinegar. Pour the liquid through a strainer. Decant almost all of it to a clean, glass jar with a narrow neck and a top with a tight-fitting lid or new cork to reduce further oxidation. The vinegar will continue to age and mellow in the bottle.
9. Save the mother. Put the mother back into the fermenting vessel and pour remaining vinegar over it. This is the mother of vinegar for your next batch. You can either start a new batch now or let your mother sit at room temperature for up to a month until you’re ready to use it again.
If you plan to share the mother, now is the time to split it.
10. Age the vinegar. Store the vinegar at 50 to 60 degrees for six months to mellow and let particles settle. The vinegar will improve for up to two years, then slowly decline. Use the vinegar as is, dilute it to your taste, or infuse it with herbs or other flavors.

Source 2:

Vinegar is an alcoholic liquid that has been allowed to sour. It is primarily used to flavor and preserve foods and as an ingredient in salad dressings and marinades. Vinegar is also used as a cleaning agent. The word is from the French vin (wine) and aigre (sour).

The use of vinegar to flavor food is centuries old. It has also been used as a medicine, a corrosive agent, and as a preservative. In the Middle Ages, alchemists poured vinegar onto lead in order to create lead acetate. Called "sugar of lead," it was added to sour cider until it became clear that ingesting the sweetened cider proved deadly.

By the Renaissance era, vinegar-making was a lucrative business in France. Flavored with pepper, clovers, roses, fennel, and raspberries, the country was producing close to 150 scented and flavored vinegars. Production of vinegar was also burgeoning in Great Britain. It became so profitable that a 1673 Act of Parliament established a tax on so-called vinegar-beer. In the early days of the United States, the production of cider vinegar was a cornerstone of farm and domestic economy, bringing three times the price of traditional hard cider.

The transformation of wine or fruit juice to vinegar is a chemical process in which ethyl alcohol undergoes partial oxidation that results in the formation of acetaldehyde. In the third stage, the acetaldehyde is converted into acetic acid. The chemical reaction is as follows: CH 3 CH 2 OH=2HCH 3 CHO=CH 3 COOH.

Historically, several processes have been employed to make vinegar. In the slow, or natural, process, vats of cider are allowed to sit open at room temperature. During a period of several months, the fruit juices ferment into alcohol and then oxidize into acetic acid.
The French Orleans process is also called the continuous method. Fruit juice is periodically added to small batches of vinegar and stored in wooden barrels. As the fresh juice sours, it is skimmed off the top.

Both the slow and continuous methods require several months to produce vinegar. In the modern commercial production of vinegar, the generator method and the submerged fermentation method are employed. These methods are based on the goal of infusing as much oxygen as possible into the alcohol product.

Raw Materials

Vinegar is made from a variety of diluted alcohol products, the most common being wine, beer, and rice. Balsamic vinegar is made from the Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes of Italy's Emilia-Romagna region. Some distilled vinegars are made from wood products such as beech.

Acetobacters are microscopic bacteria that live on oxygen bubbles. Whereas the fermentation of grapes or hops to make wine or beer occurs in the absence of oxygen, the process of making vinegars relies on its presence. In the natural processes, the acetobacters are allowed to grow over time. In the vinegar factory, this process is induced by feeding acetozym nutrients into the tanks of alcohol.

Because acetobacter bacteria need oxygen to work, a wide-mouth crock, glass jar, food-grade plastic bucket, bowl, wooden cask or other non-metal container is best (vinegar corrodes metal). Do not fill the container more than about half-full to maximize the surface area ratio. 

Mother of vinegar is the gooey film that appears on the surface of the alcohol product as it is converted to vinegar. It is a natural carbohydrate called cellulose. This film holds the highest concentration of acetobacters. It is skimmed off the top and added to subsequent batches of alcohol to speed the formation of vinegar. Acetozym nutrients are manmade mother of vinegar in a powdered form.

Herbs and fruits are often used to flavor vinegar. Commonly used herbs include tarragon, garlic, and basil. Popular fruits include raspberries, cherries, and lemons.


The design step of making vinegar is essentially a recipe. Depending on the type of vinegar to be bottled at the production plant—wine vinegar, cider vinegar, or distilled vinegar—food scientists in the test kitchens and laboratories create recipes for the various vinegars. Specifications include the amount of mother of vinegar and/or acetozym nutrients added per gallon of alcohol product. For flavored vinegars, ingredients such as herbs and fruits are macerated in vinegar for varying periods to determine the best taste results.

The Manufacturing

The Orleans method

  1. Wooden barrels are laid on their sides. Bungholes are drilled into the top side and plugged with stoppers. Holes are also drilled into the ends of the barrels.
  2. The alcohol is poured into the barrel via long-necked funnels inserted into the bungholes. Mother of vinegar is added at this point. The barrel is filled to a level just below the holes on the ends. Netting or screens are placed over the holes to prevent insects from getting into the barrels.
  3. The filled barrels are allowed to sit for several months. The room temperature is kept at approximately 85°F (29°C). Samples are taken periodically by inserting a spigot into the side holes and drawing liquid off. When the alcohol has converted to vinegar, it is drawn off through the spigot. About 15% of the liquid is left in the barrel to blend with the next batch.

The submerged fermentation

  1. The submerged fermentation method is commonly used in the production of wine vinegars. Production plants are filled with large stainless steel tanks called acetators. The acetators are fitted with centrifugal pumps in the bottom that pump air bubbles into the tank in much the same way that an aquarium pump does.
  2. As the pump stirs the alcohol, acetozym nutrients are piped into the tank. The nutrients spur the growth of acetobacters on the oxygen bubbles. A heater in the tank keeps the temperature between 80 and 100°F (26-38°C).
  3. Within a matter of hours, the alcohol product has been converted into vinegar. The vinegar is piped from the acetators to a plate-and-frame filtering machine. The stainless steel plates press the alcohol through paper filters to remove any sediment, usually about 3% of the total product. The sediment is flushed into a drain while the filtered vinegar moves to the dilution station.

The generator method

  1. Distilled and industrial vinegars are often produced via the generator method. Tall oak vats are filled with vinegar-moistened beechwood shavings, charcoal, or grape pulp. The alcohol product is poured into the top of the vat and slowly drips down through the fillings.
  2. Oxygen is allowed into the vats in two ways. One is through bungholes that have been punched into the sides of the vats. The second is through the perforated bottoms of the vats. An air compressor blows air through the holes.
  3. When the alcohol product reaches the bottom of the vat, usually within in a span of several days to several weeks, it has converted to vinegar. It is poured off from the bottom of the vat into storage tanks. The vinegar produced in this method has a very high acetic acid content, often as high as 14%, and must be diluted with unchlorinated water to bring its acetic acid content to a range of 5-6%.
  4. To produce distilled vinegar, the diluted liquid is poured into a boiler and

    brought to its boiling point. A vapor rises from the liquid and is collected in a condenser. It then cools and becomes liquid again. This liquid is then bottled as distilled vinegar.

Bascsamic vinegar

  1. The production of balsamic vinegar most closely resembles the production of fine wine. In order to bear the name balsamic, the vinegar must be made from the juices of the Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. The juice is blended and boiled over a fire. It is then poured into barrels of oak, chestnut, cherry, mulberry, and ash.
  2. The juice is allowed to age, ferment, and condense for five years. At the beginning of each year, the aging liquid is mixed with younger vinegars and placed in a series of smaller barrels. The finished product absorbs aroma from the oak and color from the chestnut.

Quality Control

The growing of acetobacters, the bacteria that creates vinegar, requires vigilance. In the Orleans Method, bungholes must be checked routinely to ensure that insects have not penetrated the netting. In the generator method, great care is taken to keep the temperature inside the tanks in the 80-100°F range (26-38°C). Workers routinely check the thermostats on the tanks. Because a loss of electricity could kill the acetobacters within seconds, many vinegar plants have backup systems to produce electrical power in the event of a blackout.


Vinegar production results in very little by-products or waste. In fact, the alcohol product is often the by-product of other processes such as winemaking and baker's yeast.

Some sediment will result from the submerged fermentation method. This sediment is biodegradable and can be flushed down a drain for disposal.

The Future

By the end of the twentieth century, grocery stores in the United States were posting $200 million in vinegar sales. White distilled vinegar garners the largest percentage of the market, followed in order by cider, red wine, balsamic, and rice. Balsamic vinegar is the fastest growing type. In addition to its continued popularity as a condiment, vinegar is also widely used as a cleaning agent.

Where to Learn More


Lang, Jenifer Harvey, ed. Larousse Gastronomique. New York: Crown, 1984.
Proulx, Annie, and Lew Nichols. Cider: Making, Using and Enjoying Sweet and Hard Cider. Pownat, VT: Storey Communications, 1997.
Watson, Ben. Cider Hard and Sweet: History, Traditions, and Making Your Own. Woodstock, Vermont: Countryman Press, 1999.


Alcoholic Drinks of the Middle Ages: Vinegar. December 2001. < >.
Sonomna Vinegar Works Web Page. December 2001. < >.
Mary McNulty

Apple Cider Vinegar

Save up any apples that are beyond their prime—not rotten ones of course, but pulpy or spongy apples that are no longer suitable for eating are great for making vinegar. Of course, you can use fresh apples that are absolutely perfect too but I find that making apple cider vinegar from older apples is a good way to use up older ones without sending them to the compost bin.

Push them through an electric juicer to make apple juice. If you don’t have a juicer, just cut the apples into quarters and puree in a food processor (you can leave the cores and skins on). Then, push the apple pulp through a muslin-lined sieve or muslin bag to remove the fiber from the juice.
Pour the juice into clean, dark, glass jugs or bottles without putting a lid on them. Cover the tops with a few layers of cheesecloth and hold in place with an elastic band. Store the bottles or jars in a cool, dark place for between 3 weeks to 6 months, depending on the level of tanginess you prefer in your apple cider vinegar.

The longer the juice sits, the more acidic the vinegar will taste, while shorter times taste more like juice and only mildly like vinegar. Keep in mind that some alcohol may develop during the process, so if you use your vinegar early on in the fermentation cycle, it may actually taste more like apple cider wine than vinegar. Simply leave the apple juice/cider to ferment for a longer amount of time until the alcohol converts into acetic acid, which means it is now ready to use as vinegar.
If you purchased apple juice or apple cider, you can simply secure the cheesecloth over the top in place of the lid and store in a cook, dark place until it becomes vinegar.

You may notice a thick substance that forms on the top of the juice/vinegar. That’s the “mother” as it is known—the collection of bacteria that form in the juice that are responsible for converting it to vinegar. You can save the mother to use as a starter culture for the next batch of apple cider or other type of vinegar if you’d like. Using an existing mother helps to slightly speed up the process of making vinegar. Once you’re happy with the level of acidity, simply cap the bottles and store until you are ready to use.

For more great common sense tips on how to use everyday household items instead of expensive chemical based products, see

For additional information see the following links:
Blog Table of Contents

Complete Sustainable Living Plan
Blog Table of Contents
Acorn Flour Pancakes
Pemmican Recipe
Hardtack Recipe
Corn Bread
Sour Dough Bread
Corn Fritters
Apple Cider Vinegar
More on making Vinegar
Backing Soda vs Yeast
Baking Soda uses

See similar topics by clicking on the labels below 

Baking Soda vs Yeast

Which ingredients you use and their combination will affect the taste and texture. But what is the real difference?

Yeast is a little organism called a fungus, that when activated, consumes the sugars in flour and releases carbon dioxide as waste. When making a traditional (“slow”) bread, you combine it with flour, sugar, some liquid and other ingredients. When you knead the dough, the proteins inside form a stretchy matrix called gluten. This matrix traps the little gas bubbles produced by the yeast. Without a leavening agent like yeast, you'll end up with a dense blob that works better as a building material instead of bread.

The yeast produces gas when you let the dough rest for a while after kneading, and then expands again once heated in the oven. Once your ball of gas-filled gluten gets hot enough, it sets into the spongy, fluffy structure we call bread.
You'll notice that baking bread takes a while due to all of this waiting for yeast to work. We have some faster alternatives that instead rely on a chemical reaction between an acid and base to produce carbon dioxide.

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. It will react with a liquid, acidic ingredient to produce carbon dioxide. You can see this for yourself by adding a bit of vinegar to a little baking soda in a small bowl. It will start to fizz immediately after adding the vinegar. Because the reaction is so fast, foods made with baking soda must be cooked immediately after mixing. For instance, pancakes made with baking soda will come out tall and fluffy if you can get it onto the griddle right away. However, if you let the batter sit for a while, say 30 minutes, they'll come out dense with a gummy center since the gas was lost while sitting. Baking soda also adds flavor and color to pancakes, muffins, and cookies by hastening browning.

Baking soda (aka sodium bicarbonate) is said to have an infinite shelf life, but after you've had it for a few years you should test to make sure it hasn't lost all its potency. Unlike baking powder, baking soda only reacts when you add an acid to the solution.

NOTE:  Store plenty of Baking Soda 

To test it, add half a teaspoon of vinegar to a cup of hot water, then stir in half a teaspoon of baking soda. Like the baking powder, if it produces a lot of carbon dioxide bubbles, it's still good.

Baking powder is essentially baking soda mixed with a starch and powdered acid. Activating the reaction to generate carbon dioxide requires adding a liquid, like water. Most baking powders are “double acting”, which means they produce gas when moisture is added, and again when heated. This means that goods leavened with baking powder tend to be lighter and fluffier compared to foods leavened with only baking soda. Substituting baking powder with baking soda is possible, but the final product won't have the same flavor since it won't have the extra acidic ingredient that baking powder brings.

Baking powder usually has a shelf life of about 9 to 12 months. Testing it is super easy. Just stir about half a teaspoon of baking powder into a cup of hot water. It will immediately start to fizz and release carbon dioxide gas if it's still fresh enough to use. This trick should work with both single- and double-acting powder.

For a homemade baking powder, you can substitute a teaspoon of store-bought baking powder for a ¼ teaspoon of cornstarch, ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar, and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. This will not be double acting, so you'll need to be very quick about getting your batter or dough onto the griddle or the oven.

When baking bread, 2 cups of sour dough starter are the equivalent of one (1) table spoon or packet of modern dry yeast which is sufficient for a loaf made from 3-4 cups of flour.  To make waffles or pancakes, just use the proofed sour dough starter after it has risen to its peak.

For additional information see the following links:
Blog Table of Contents
Acorn Flour Pancakes
Pemmican Recipe
Hardtack Recipe
Corn Bread
Sour Dough Bread
Corn Fritters
Apple Cider Vinegar
More on making Vinegar
Backing Soda vs Yeast
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