I was pretty blown away by this project.
Mikey and Wendy live on an off-grid, homestead in New Mexico (see their Holy Scrap Homestead blog). As such, they were looking for more efficiency from their appliances. Mikey has come up with a temperature controller that has allowed them convert a small chest freezer into a refrigerator and so downsize from their full-size fridge that cost them a lot in energy and was underutilized.
The temperature controller can also be used to regulate temperature for stuff like tempeh and yoghurt making, incubation, heat pads, raising bread dough, and controlling the temperature on simple crockpots and on hot plates for tasks like candy-making. There are a lot of possible uses.
The design and instructions on how to build it are “open source” in other words, free, off his website but he also sells kits to build it yourself and already completed units from there, as well.
Here is Mikey talking about the controller and what he was able to do with it. BTW, I don’t know Mikey or Wendy and they haven’t asked me to blog this. Just stumbled across this and thought it should be shared.
Here’s Wendy making yoghurt using the device:
Wendy using the temperature controller to make tempeh:
Mikey raising bread dough.
These are very easy to make yoghurts because you don’t have to mess around with warming milk or closely monitoring temperatures.
Instead, mesophilic yoghurts culture best at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and all you have to do to start them is to add the culture or already cultured yoghurt to milk and wait a few hours.
Really easy and all you have to do to keep things going is to feed the yoghurt with fresh milk or cream (these cultures love cream) periodically. They can be used to culture non-dairy milks also, but will also need to be fed dairy regularly to be kept healthy.
The mesophilic yoghurt cultures readily available online all come from the Nordic countries:
Viili which comes to us from Finland. Has a mild, creamy flavor and goopy texture (kind of like okra)
Piima, more of a buttermilk type of cultured product
Filmjolk, which has a cheesy flavor.
We’ve tried viili and piima and the viili won out. I keep a large crock, that I feed periodically in the fridge. It’s easy to keep going.
A Finnish friend of mine told me that her grandmother had a viili cabinet and I can see why, as the culturing is temperature sensitive and can be affected by drafts or even by higher room temperatures caused by cooking.
I’ve let mine go longer than I wanted/be out when the temperature was higher and got a thicker cottage cheese type culture (which we also liked). Our viili culture likes cream, sheep’s milk and full fat unhomogenized cow’s milk. It doesn’t perform so well with goat’s milk (the mixture stays runny).
Anyway, here is the CulturesforHealth video on viili (process is exactly the same for piima and filmjolk).
Please let us know of your experiences with these cultures.
This is an easy process (another lacto-fermented pickle) and a good way to preserve your bounty if you have a lemon tree or to extend your lemon-eating period if you eat seasonally.
Re ingredients, at its simplest, you just need lemons (in Morocco a specific kind is used, but any kind will do), salt and a sterilized jar. In this video, Jules also adds green bay leaves for color and a bit of flavor.
She ferments them for several weeks and says that the preserved lemons will keep in the cupboard, sealed, for about one year. Once open, she stores the jars in the fridge.
Tara shows you what the finished product looks like (she adds spices to her lemons in the jar) and tells you how to use the preserved lemons (you discard the preserved pulp and use the rind cut up finely to flavor dishes) and what they go well with. She says the unopened jars will keep “practically forever, really.”
Probably most people have heard of kimchee by now, but I’m guessing that fewer of us, unless we have Japanese roots or have lived in Japan know about hakusai tsukemono, Japanese-style pickled cabbage.
Apparently, it’s eaten flavored with perilla leaf (shiso), hot pepper, ginger and/or garlic with soy sauce as an after-fermentation-add-in, as a snack or light meal. Here are two versions:
kenjisan makes his hakusai tsukemono which he says his family calls “koko” with chopped cabbage and perilla leaves as the base. After fermentation, to finish it offer, he adds ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Then it’s ready to be eaten with rice as a snack.
superscheu shows us how to make pickled cabbage over three days. This version sees large Napa cabbages sectioned in quarters, salted and weighted and salted and drained repeatedly. The cabbage is flavored at the end stages with red chilies.
I don’t know enough about Japanese cuisine to weigh in on which method is more “authentic.” Maybe we can have duelling chefs. Anyway, my guess is that there are all kinds of variations on this pickle, though the differences in the two remind me of whole cabbage kimchee vs. the cut-up cabbage kimchee.
A great quick tip on what to do with your excess tomatoes from Heidi at lightlycrunchy by way of Survival Farm/Town and Country Gardening in Oklahoma.
Tomato photo by Eat More Chips
This video shows the science behind the pot-in-pot refrigerator, aka the Zeer pot. Pot-in-pot refrigeration is ancient technology that has been revived with a lot of success in Saharan Africa and rolled out to other developing regions. In those countries small farmers use the pots to store produce for market.
Here in North America, we could use it as a picnic/drinks cooler, to free up fridge space, to save on electricity, during an emergency or if we live off-grid and electrical refrigeration isn’t an option.
This is cheap, pretty easy-to-apply technology and gives you a cooler without the ice. My wish would be for someone to produce interlocking unglazed ceramic cubes or low rectangles so that this solution would be easier to fit into a kitchen or pantry. I know from what I’ve read that the pots have to be unglazed for the device to work – since it is cooling through evaporation through the porous pottery.
I am curious about what affects how quickly the pot cools (the presenter seemed to suggest that the temperature around the Zeer is a factor) and how long the effect lasts.