Monday, 29 April 2013

Dill pickles

For the long weekend we had a nice relaxing time down in Pemberton, about four hours south east of Perth. Upon our return I found quite a few cucumbers a good size for making my first attempt of dill pickles! Thankfully today my order from arrived that contained lots of wonderful things I needed to make my pickles, so I got cracking!
I didn't have a huge amount of cucumbers, probably about 15 small to medium, but I didn't want to leave them on the vine any longer as the plants themselves seemed to have died off with what looked like a while dusting of mold on the leaves while we were away, and I wanted to get some pickles out of them before they died completely. I'll have to do some more research on what this might be, there did seem to get a lot of aphids and ants on the cucumber plants while they were growing, which I did try to deal with with some organic pest control, but it didn't seem to do a huge amount of good.
This was the harvest mid clean. Not a huge harvest, but still better than none! I had intended on putting the cucumbers in two 1 litre jars, but upon packing found I had too many for just one, and too little for two, so I decided to use the beautiful smaller blue vintage ball jars I ordered and that has just arrived that day. I also used a Kosher Dill Pickle pre-made spice that also had something to make them extra crunchy, along with some vegar and water and brought that to the boil. Then in it went and back into the boiling water canner for 15 minutes. All three of my jars got a nice loud pop when sealed, so I was happy. 
 These were the large 1 litre jars packed but not full enough. How annoying. But these things happen, so we persevere! I did have the chance to use all my new fancy canning equipment seen above, which made canning so much easier!
 These are the three smaller jars packed with pickles shortly before adding the brine. I think I could have packed them a bit tighter as once the brine was in them they all floated to the top of the jars, so you could see how much space was left in the jars, but a lesson well learned I guess, I didn't want to over pack them.

Finished product! Three little beautiful jars of homemade pickles! I am so going to get some more of these blue vintage inspired ball jars in different sizes as they are so pretty! Will make storing my canning jars more of a work of art rather than just trying to shove my jars somewhere out of the way! Maybe I'll put in a high rail all along the kitchen and sit them up there until I use them.... We'll see what Dave thinks of this idea. ;)
The haul from, my beautiful blue jars, enough canning salt to last until the apocalypse, pickling spice and the very helpful book of Putting Food By. New bedtime reading methinks!!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Cheesemaking update

So it has now been nearly four months since my dad and me made our first hard cheese. We made a colby which has now done it's time so to speak and was time to have a look at. The first thing I noticed was there were a few cracks in the wax around the cheese, not big enough to notice if you weren't studying it carefully, but big enough to allow in mold I suppose as it had a few healthy colonies of different mold species growing on the surface.

Cheese with original wax still intact (except the side I picked open to look inside right before taking)
Cheese with wax removed and mold in full glory. :P
After googling what to do with a moldy wax rinded cheese, scraping off the mold affected area, followed by an application of cider vinegar to the surface of the cheese seemed to be the way to go. I cut off all the surface mold, then noticed that the cheese was slightly holey in the interior, which the mold had started to grow down into (picture below) so had to cut off a good side section to remove all the affected areas.

 This is a side shot of the cheese when sliced through the edge. Quite a few air bubbles. More than I was expecting. Perhaps we didn't use enough pressure when in the cheese press? We did go as hard as it would go, so my other thought was that we didn't have quite enough cheese in the press for it to achieve maximum pressure on the cheese. Who knows, it's trial and error at this stage.
Cross section of aforementioned holy cheese.

Final product after mold resection
So now I will rewax the cheese until I find out if it still fit for human consumption, as I don't particularly want to get sick from eating off cheese. Maybe I'm just a bit wimpy, I'm sure my dad would dig in. We shall see, past experiences have given me a fine appreciation for patience, especially when it comes to mold, as I have a healthy respect for their abilities to make one feel less than spectacular. Will update once we either throw it out/eat the damn thing.
1/2 rewaxed

Fully rewaxed!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Growing steadily

Updates of front garden plants and finally started mulching the beds at last! All the plants seem to be doing really well, and I've started harvesting decent amounts of rainbow chard and radishes so far, with Emma taking home some radishes and a beetroot on her last visit round. Not much else to report on the gardening front, just watching the plants grow (literally). Enjoy :)

First eggplant flower

eggplant leaf, substantially bigger than my hand!

First mulched bed


cheesy self portrait with my beautiful veggies.

Friday, 5 April 2013


Anyone have any suggestions on what one could do with a bunch of radishes? I think I may have planted a couple too many. Will update with what we end up making from it all.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Front yard finishing touches

This Easter long weekend gave us the chance to get a big chunk done on finishing the front yard off once and for all. This included leveling and staking in the final two raised beds and getting two loads of soil from Good Life Soil Co. in Midvale. Then it was onto filling the two beds and taking a load of green waste to the tip in the hopes to get some free mulch to spread in between the beds, but on inspection we didn't like the look of it, so it was back to Good Life to look at what they had, and they recommended some jarrah sawdust, which was actually perfect as it matches the raised beds, looks nice and natural and feels great underfoot, and keeps me from getting too messy while gardening. Plus it just makes the whole front yard look so much better! We sadly ran out of time and material on the weekend so we are going to finish it off this weekend coming, but here are some pics of what we got done so far. :)
Before starting out, beds placed, but not leveled or staked

After staking the bed filling it with newspaper and then weedmat

Filled with soil, Dave showing off his handywork

Weedmat down between the beds, right before starting to add the jarrah sawdust

After some of the sawdust had been put down

How far we got on the weekend, sawdust between the three beds and along the flower bed