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Sustainable Living

About Asphyxia

Food and Nutrition

  • Traditional Foods
    My health has dramatically improved after changing my diet for a more traditional way of eating, as advised by Sally Fallon.
  • Food Flower Poster
    Forget the food pyramid! It was developed by the agricultural industry, not by nutritionists. Instead, print this Food Flower poster, which shows a visual guide to choosing nutritious and satisfying traditional foods.
  • Sourdough bread Recipes
    I make delicious sourdough bread in my bread machine - recipes and tips here.
  • Raw Food
    Should we be eating a diet of 100% raw food? Here's what I found by way of "scientific proof".
  • Raw garlic to cure colds & flu
    If you feel a cold or flu coming on, eat a whole clove of raw garlic, three times a day - it works miracles.

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24 April 2010


Wow, this is so impressive and inspiring! I am at the same time envious and anxious to try something like this myself. I can imagine it would have been quite a time sink though - how much time do you think it took you?

Also, how did you dry your fruits? Sun-dried, in the oven, a dehydrator... or some other method?

Congratulations - it all looks great!

Fixie: It definitely took time, but I don't know that "time sink" is quite the right word for it. I'd call "time sink" something like the time spent on Facebook, watching TV or surfing the net without being especially efficient. Afterall, at the end you have something very tangible to show for your efforts. On average I spent 2-4 hours a week on this project from November through to April. I see it as work that I do to help the world be a better place for our children, akin to the time spent washing clothes/nappies and doing the jobs that go with having children. I also found it quite pleasant work - definitely more fun than doing admin on the computer.

As for how I dried my fruit, I used an electric dehydrator. One project I hope to complete in time for next summer is to make a solar attachment for it. I'll post on my blog when I do so you can see how it's done.

Envious and anxious to try it yourself? Why don't you start collecting jars with metal lids now, and watch in an op shop for a big pot or two. Ask around and my might even find someone with a vacola and spare jars, though you definitely don't need them to preserve food. Then make a promise to yourself that come November you'll preserve something each week - even if it's just one tomato that you dry on the window sill, a batch of small jars of cherries that fits into your biggest pot and so on. You'll be surprised how it accumulates, and as you get more confident maybe you can tackle bigger preserving jobs...?

Let me know how you go!

Thanks Fixie. Perhaps 'time sink' was not the best phrase. When I wrote that, I was thinking of how to fit in another activity when I already have so many things on the go. I'm sure you have heaps on too though, and you managed! 2 to 4 hrs per week doesn't sound like too much, either.

I've never done any canning before - can I just use any old jar (like a pasta sauce or curry sauce jar, or a jam or pickle jar) or do they have to be canning jars? What about reusing lids? Google brings up a lot of differing (and often strong) opinions.

I look forward to hearing more about your dehydrator when you post about it!

Fixie: Yes, you can use any old pasta sauce or curry sauce jar. Just make sure it has a metal lid, not a plastic one. Find your biggest pot, put in it several jars of roughly the same height, so you know how many jars fit in your pot, then fill those jars with some kind of fruit or tomatoes. Top it up with liquid (water will do) and add some honey if you want to sweeten it. Do up the lids, put them in the pot, and add water to about an inch below the jar lids. Bring it to the boil and let it boil for about 45 mins to an hour. Leave it to cool, and you're done. Most of the lids should suck in and be held tightly once cool. One or two of them might not, in which case the lid might be dodgy - eat them up in the next week or so, or else re-do the contents in another jar, or the same jar with a better fitting lid.

I reuse my lids from fowler jars. My understanding is that as long as they seal, they are ok. The thing to watch out for with canning is botulism, because this survives the heat treatment. As my uncle likes to point out, the first symptom of botulism is death. But before you freak out - you risk botulism every time you eat something that came in a can. Commercial produce is as much at risk of botulism as home produce. Botulism can't survive in an acidic environment, which is why canning fruits is generally safe, as they are high in acid. If you are unsure, add in a spoonful of lemon juice. Don't do vegetables with this method of canning - you need a pressure canner to preserve them safely. Chutney recipes are generally safe, even though they include vegetables, because the vinegar content provides enough acid to kill the botulism.

Why don't you give it a try this week? Apples and pears are in season. Stew up some apples or pears, put them in jars, boil them up, and put them on the shelf. Then you've got some fast food next time you need it, and you will have gained a bit of confidence to tackle the next thing. Doing it the first time is the hardest - after that it really doesn't take a lot of focus. Let me know how you go!

Re time: you are right, 2-4 hours per week is not that hard to find. I think it came out of my socialising time, but interestingly, I've managed to have some fairly social occasions with friends who decided to help or to do their own at the same time.

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