Saturday, February 25, 2012

Catching Up

The Conscious Shopper pops in for a chat.

Hello, friends! It's good to see you again. I feel like we have so much catching up to do. Shall we pretend we're sitting down for a cup of tea and a chat? I've got some fresh homemade bread I'd be happy to share.

So what's been going on with me? Well...

Last fall, wheat bugs discovered my year supply of organic pasta. When I opened the pantry door, it sounded like rice krispies - munch, munch, munch, snap, crackle, pop. This was a tragedy! $80 worth of pasta, now inedible. I may have cried a little.

I needed a better way to store my pasta. Bug-proof, tightly-sealed, preferably not plastic, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. A gigantic glass pickle jar might work...if I could get rid of the vinegar smell.

Have you ever tried to get the vinegar smell out of a pickle jar? At first, it seemed to be an impossible task. No matter how many times I washed it or how long I soaked it, the smell would remain. And then I discovered the solution: newspaper. Fill your glass jar with crumpled balls of newspaper, screw on the lid, let it sit for a long time (at least a few days), remove the newspaper, and there you go. A gigantic glass pickle jar ready for all of your food storage needs (or whatever other needs you may have).

Speaking of smelly things, last year I read somewhere that if you use 100% cotton dishrags, they will not get that icky dishrag stink. This is not true - do not believe it. After I read that, I crocheted myself all new dishrags with 100% cotton yarn, and it was true for several months - maybe even a year - and then...Winter came, cold house, dishrags not drying out, and the stink returned.

If you have the stinky dishrag problem, here's what I do now: Put some water in a bucket (you only need enough to cover your dishrags). Add a slosh of vinegar. Toss your dirty dishrags into the bucket when you're done using them. On laundry day, put the wet dishrags in the wash. Empty bucket and refill with fresh water and a slosh of vinegar. No more stink.

Last fall, when I canned applesauce, I experimented with making apple cider vinegar out of the fruit scraps. Here are the basic instructions if you're interested. Sadly, however, I did not successfully make apple cider vinegar. Apparently, I made hard apple cider. It was very fizzy and stunk like alcohol. Have any of you ever tried making apple cider vinegar? Tips?

Although my attempt to use up my apple scraps was a fail, I have found a great way to get a second life out of orange peels: I fill a jar with vinegar, and then as we work our way through a box of oranges, I add the peels to the vinegar in the jar. When the jar is full, I let it sit for a month and then strain out the peels. The orange-infused vinegar makes a great-smelling all-purpose cleaner.

Kind of funny that all of these things I wanted to tell you about had to do with vinegar...

What have you been up to lately?

11 comments:

SustainaMom said...

Always love learning more about vinegar! My husband will love orange-scented cleaning options! Good to see you here :)

Green Bean said...

Lol on the vinegar in the pickle jar smell! I love the idea for the orange vinegar. Sounds like you've been busy!

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

Love the orange peels in vinegar idea! We go through lots of citrus over here. Wonder how it would work with grapefruit peels? I hate to admit it, but my food storage is in plastic buckets. Sorry, world.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Betsy - Any kind of citrus will work.

Truffula said...

I ended up dumping my apple scrap vinegar experiment, too. I just started a new one yesterday with half Bragg's ACV and half apple juice.

Extending the dish cloth washing topic to include rags: how do y'all wash your cleaning rags (say, those for cleaning the bathroom) vs. those you use in the kitchen? This has been the subject of discussion here at home...

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

These are all great tips! If you get a coffee bar and use it not only will it get rid of all kinds of odors on your hands but if you wash out your vinegar jars it will eliminate the smells from then as well. The orange peels in the vinegar is such an awesome idea. I will be doing that asap!!

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Truffula - I wash all rags and towels (regardless of where they come from) on hot, and I wash them all together. I know many people wash all their laundry on cold, but I was raised by a germophobic mother and have terrible allergies, so I haven't been able to convince myself that cold is okay for those things. I don't have a problem mixing bathroom and kitchen, though. I'm curious what the sides to your family's discussion are. Do share!

Brandislee said...

If you had hard cider you were actually on your way to vinegar- unless you start with a vinegar "starter" you have to pass hard cider before you get to vinegar. I did the apple scraps to vinegar thing, too, and it turned out okay. It's lighter in color and more, um, yeasty smelling than what I made from juice, but it does the trick. I save it (mostly because of the slightly off smell) for non-food uses like hair rinsing. But it's something I'll definitely do again as it takes advantage of something I would normally chuck into the compost. When I use the scraps for ACV then I get the last goodness out of them, they go into my chickens' deep litter so they get apple AND probiotics (and some fruit fly larvae, one of my cloths wasn't tight enough), and what they don't eat composts into the litter (with what they do eat, in a less direct way!).

Truffula said...

@Erin One household camp says that bathroom + kitchen cloths can go into one load together. The other thinks it might be better to separate them into two loads because it feels unsavory to combine them. The problem with that is that we don't really have enough for two full, separate loads... which then means that it's longer between loads while you wait to collect enough items, or you run a less efficient load because it's not full...

Truffula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Brandislee - So how much longer after the hard cider phase should it take to get to vinegar?

@Truffula - Until you mentioned it, I'd never actually given it any thought, but now that you've mentioned it, I've thought about it a bit, and here's my opinion (for what it's worth). If you've got some real nasty messes in the bathroom - sick people say - a separate wash might be a good idea. But for every day cleanliness, I think the washing machine will get it all clean even if it's mixed. That's what I'm going to tell myself anyway since, like you, we don't make enough for two separate loads!

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