S Tonin

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since Oct 17, 2015
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Recent posts by S Tonin

I'm just going to jump in here and share some of my own experiences, maybe it'll help.

I'm emetophobic (fear of vomiting).  Because of this, my eating is pretty disordered.  It's pretty well managed right now, but if it gets triggered and I start to spiral... it isn't good.  Even at the best of times I have all kinds of quirks about food that "keep me safe," like cooking and cleaning rituals and a list of forbidden foods that changes whenever the weather does.

For years I wouldn't eat anything from my garden unless it was scrubbed and completely cooked.  Nothing raw whatsoever, ever.  If roots had too many nooks and crannies, off to the compost they went.

But then it changed, and I'm not sure exactly why, but I think it was when my peach tree first fruited.  I washed the peach and peeled the skin, then sliced it up and ate it.  I added that specific food and procedure to my "safe" list.

Another time, I ate peas out of the pod right there in the garden (being extra careful not to let my mouth touch anything on the outside of the pod and not to let my fingers touch the peas.  Since the pod was like the wrapper, the peas inside were "clean."

I had a few lettuces (grown for my parents) in an area safe from the cats using it as a bathroom.  After a rainstorm I actually ate part of a leaf right off a plant.  I don't do that very often, I feel like it's rolling the dice a bit too much (and also I don't really like any kind of green raw).

I've started doing a lot of fermenting, which would have been unthinkable to me 10 years ago.  I look at it as a way to make food "safe," since the acid and good bacteria take care of the bad, and it's very easy to know just by smell when something is wrong.

Anyway, I totally understand the fear.  Symptom of modern marketing, I think.  I can't really give you advice, except to try just a little bit, and then if you're fine, try more.  Botulism is its own thing, and not generally something you have to worry about with fresh foods.
Gulkand, via blend with spices:


   1 cup Rose Petals tightly packed (petals of fragrant and light pink roses)
   3 tbsp Sugar


   Collect the fresh and fragrant rose petals.
   Gently wash the petals with water and let them dry on a paper or cloth.
   Put the petals into the mixie. Quickly pulse the petals one or two times to shred them. You can also chop the petals into pieces.
   Spread a layer of rose petals in a dry glass jar.
   Now spread a layer of sugar over the rose petals evenly.
   Then again spread a layer of petals over the sugar layer.
   Repeat till all the petals are over.
   Close the jar with a lid and keep it in the sunlight for 7 – 10 days
   Mix the gulkand every other day using a clean spoon.
   Store in an airtight container and refrigerate it.
   You can store it for a year or more.
6 months ago
I tried making rose petal jam a couple years ago; I used a recipe very similar to this one.  I cooked it waaaay too much and ended up with caramelized hard candy in my jar.

Here's a recipe for something that's more like a jelly, using powdered pectin.  In that vein, you could probably make an infusion and strain it to have a totally clear jelly.  Adding a few dried hibiscus flower will give you a nice red color and a bit of tartness (I just learned that from an Azerbaijani YouTuber who made lilac flower jam).

There's also Gulkand, which is just sugar layered with rose petals and left to macerate.  (one recipe here, another in the first link at the bottom)
6 months ago
I've never had saladitos, but that sounds good.  I make umeboshi, so I would just follow the same procedure/ guidelines (see below).

The fruit should be unripe* (green and hard, but full size) and blemish free.  Soak the fruit for 3 hours to overnight ( the internet doesn't seem to agree so follow your heart), fully submerged in cool (plain) water (use weights/ plastic bag of water to keep them under).  

After soaking, pick out any woody bits left in the stem end with a skewer.  Pat fruit dry.  Weigh fruit (in grams, makes the math easier).  Weigh out salt at a 20% ratio (20g salt for every 100g fruit); you can go as low as 18%, but no lower.  I do 20%.  

Sterilize your crock or jar with strong alcohol (I use vodka, but anything high proof will work).  Sprinkle a light layer of the pre-measured salt on the bottom.  Arrange a layer of fruit on top of it.  You don't want them all smashed down like kraut, but a little snug together is okay.  Sprinkle a layer of salt, add another layer of fruit.  Continue until you run out, making sure there's some salt left to sprinkle on the top.  Use a (sterilized) plate or sheet of parchment paper to completely cover the top of the fruit (this is for a huge batch; if doing like a quart or 1/2 gallon jar, then just the weights themselves are enough to keep the fruit from being exposed to air).

Add weight to gently press the fruit (not more than 2x the weight of the fruit or the skins could split).  Cover with a lid (if your vessel has one), or use plastic wrap (or oilcloth, I guess, if you're anti-plastic, maybe even a dried pig's bladder if you really want to get authentic) to seal everything up--you don't want mold spores getting in there.  Store in a dark, cool (-ish, since I do mine in early summer, ambient temp is usually in the mid-low70s F in the cabinet where I keep them).  Keep a record of the start date, preferably right on the container.  

Let them sit for a week before opening them to check progress (though if you're using glass you can look at them whenever you want).  By this time, the plums should all be submerged in their natural brine.  If they aren't, you can gently rearrange them with clean hands/ utensils and put the weight back on.  This is also the time to add the shiso, if you're using it.  Let them sit another month (or longer, sometimes life happens and I had no issue with the jar I let sit for almost 2 months).  When finished, drain the brine/ vinegar and save that in the fridge as an awesome condiment; dry the fruit using your favorite method (sun-drying over the course of 3 days is traditional for umeboshi, but I just use the dehydrator set low/ ~115F and it's fine).

I'm thinking that you could probably mix chili flakes into the salt to flavor the apricots, kind of like adding the shiso to umeboshi.  If I can get some apricots this year (the last few years have been bad and there was crop failure at every orchard in a 25 mile radius of me), I'll have to try it.

*This is for umeboshi and sour peach pickles (I forget what they're called).  For something sweeter, ripe fruit is probably okay, but has a higher chance of the skin splitting.  If using ripe fruit, I'd skip soaking and just wash them well.
7 months ago
I've never canned bacon, but BexarPrepper has two videos about it (this was the first one I saw years ago).  How-to:

Taste test one year later (+ bonus spaghetti carbonara recipe from prepper food storage):

And this lady has an interesting tip to make the slices nicer going into the jar and come out with less liquid:

(When oven-frying the bacon, cook it on parchment and it doesn't shrink and get all wonky)
8 months ago

Alfrun Unndis wrote:Easiest koji I've ever made: Instant Pot, custom yogurt setting, double conander inserts, a bit of water in the bottom pot (for humidity) remove the rocker weight and the button pressure indicator so some air gets in.  I can even check the internal temp by sticking my electronic thermometer probe in the pressure indicator button hole. Works with tempeh and natto too though with different settings.

I know it's been awhile since you wrote this, but can you go a little more in depth about how you use the instant pot?  How long do you set it for?  Do you wrap the rice in a towel or line the colander or anything?  Do you use it for the whole incubation or just the first step?

I started making miso in October, first with purchased koji rice and then inoculating my own.  I've had pretty okay results so far, but I feel like I can do better.  I don't want to build a fermentation chamber, but the oven isn't ideal, so the instant pot option is intriguing.  

Also, I wouldn't recommend Tiger Eye beans for a white miso.  They got a kind of unpleasant cheesy funk to them; I do wonder if it's because they were overcooked and pretty wet.  Lesson learned either way though, I think a firmer bean is better than one described as having a creamy consistency.
1 year ago
For the rice bags, maybe try taking the rice out and heat it in a frying pan (like toasting it), and then putting it back in the bag.  I have an old tube sock full of lentils I use for that kind of heat (I do heat it in the microwave, though), and it's pretty easy to untie the end and retie it so I can wash the sock part.
1 year ago
I spend a lot of time on Tumblr, and permaculture and sustainable ag are definitely having a moment thanks in part to the "cottagecore aesthetic," which is basically Instagrammers doing a Holly-Hobbie-meets-Martha-Stewart thing.  Lots of weathered wood and dewy produce; it's idealism and escapism, but it's like a gateway drug to gardening/ homesteading/ farming for the nerds (full disclosure: I am a nerd).
1 year ago
Orefield and the surrounding area is really nice, though getting pricier and more developed every day (the greater Lehigh Valley is the warehouse capital of the world).  I don't roam that far more than a few times a year (I live in SW Monroe Co.), but Crooked Row Farm is into regenerative and sustainable ag and I think most everything they sell is big-O Organic.  They might have some resources as to who's in the know.
1 year ago
I dry most of my puree every year and haven't had any issues so far.  I use an Excalibur dryer and do 2 cups puree per (lined) tray.  To store I break or tear into pieces that will fit in a gallon freezer bag.  I've found it's better to store this way and use a coffee grinder to powder it as needed, since the powder tends to absorb humidity and form a solid mass in a jar.  The dried puree stores for about 18 months, though it tends to get darker in color and loses some flavor after a year.

Also, to speed drying in the dehydrator, I put the puree in a fine mesh strainer (not lined with cloth or anything, but you could) and drain over a bowl for like 30 min to half an hour.  I use the water to cook rice or in soups etc.  The puree isn't quite as sweet and has more fiber, but it dries down a lot faster.  

Even though the pumpkin is low-acid, the lack of moisture prevents growth of unwanted organisms.
1 year ago