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Stanton de Riel

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since Feb 27, 2018
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Recent posts by Stanton de Riel

This is a pronged tool, stamped Pat Feb 11 1919, came from a farmhouse/barn ~ 100 years old in West Windsor, NJ, land being sold to be "developed". What is it? Dual prongs are ground flat on both top and bottom, and pointed; the throat-crossbar between is also sharpened on both the front and back edges. The gap behind the crossbar is ~6.5 in. to the metal handle-clasp area. Including a wooden handle, 35 in. long total. Something for tensioning heavy fence wire, perhaps?

P.S. Found it, ref. http://www.leevalley.com/US/newsletters/Gardening/1186/WhatIsIt.htm
-- it is a fancy weed-puller, designed to core and lift weed with entire root. I'm going to try it on some dandelions right now!
P.P.S. Quite useful tool; even though frequently 2 jabs are needed to find the weed root, the metalwork is strong enough to use as a pry-bar to break the root if need be. Entire root removed 20% of time, else partial root broken at 2 in. This also aerates the soil at the weed site. Note: I don't aim for a turfgrass monoculture, but yellow hawkweed, broad-leaf plantain, and eventually dandelion will push other spp. out, so I periodically knock them back, so to speak.
5 months ago
re/ unpopularity of "stone" fruits as foods: They're tough to crack efficiently without mashing them! Most people try hammers, or vice grips(TM), or vices. The secret for seeds with hard shells is inertia, not kinetic energy. A heavy metal wedge (e.g. for log-splitting) (high ratio of inertia:kinetic energy) (several pounds) wielded by a gloved hand, against another heavy metal wedge (with nut detained if needed by the other gloved hand), provides ideal means for hand cracking even black walnuts (after the husk is removed, and the nuts-in-shells cleaned and dried). [Additional hint: provide means to spread the impulse generated safely out over a strong support surface.] A hammer (low ratio of inertia:kinetic energy) tends to send shell pieces flying at high speeds, unpredictably, and smash the nuts besides. Vice Grips (TM) and vices are slow and clumsy by comparison -- vicegrip must be adjusted precisely for each kernal, and can pinch your hand when the shell yields under stress, and vice requires winding in and out for each item. A useful device, tradenamed Robo-grip pliers (TM), offers low-mechanical-advantage jaw travel until the jaws bite on the nut, then automatically pivots into a high-mechanical-advantage device, sufficient to do manual secondary cracking on black walnuts, for example. Industrially, oscillating wedged jaw machines provide the same effect at greater throughput rate.
1 year ago
re/ cooking with paw paw pulp: numerous reports on web that cooked paw paw frequently induces nausea in humans. Current hypothesis is that the unsaturated fatty acids in the flesh are altered (e.g. oxidized) during heat exposure (drying hot, or cooking) to produce nausea-inducing byproducts. This seems reasonable to me, though I'm not hot-to-trot to investigate in a scientific way (cook a large batch, extract the fatty-acid materials, separate them, determine structures by LC-MS, and consume each to assess human response). As an alternative, *most* things that could be prepared by cooking can also be prepared cold. Example: for a "custard"-style pie, cook up a gelatin-containing concentrate (commercial mixes for this usually contain also a fruit acid such as citric, tartaric, or tartaric, and possibly some sugar as well) , then cool it to room temperature, mix in paw paw pulp (stored frozen, and pureed), and allow to set in a refrigerator. This is then gelled, and non-nausea-inducing (as I can attest!). Result is every bit the equal of key-lime pie!
Cheers!  -- Stan de Riel
1 year ago
Pawpaws to pigs? That's a hard one to answer. On the one hand, pigs are usually good at detecting what's good for them and what's not. On the other hand, they're likely to swallow the seeds, and that's probably not a good idea, since all the sugar apple family fruit seeds are toxic, and pigs' biochemistry loosely parallels humans'. You might inquire on an IFAS (or equivalent) site in Puerto Rico, perhaps. A secondary issue might be, if the pigs were neurologically affected, would the annonacin have been metabolized, or would it still be present in the carcass and meat? Reference (noting lack of epidemiological evidence for pawpaw neurotoxic effects): https://www.reddit.com/r/foraging/comments/6zu8fj/dont_eat_raw_pawpaw_it_contains_a_neurotoxin/#bottom-comments
Speaking of which, consumption of large quantities of persimmon fruit is said to dispose one to formation in the stomach of insoluble tannin masses, called bezoars. Have you ever read of anything similar happening with pigs?
1 year ago
to Gwen Griffin: You may dissipate cyanide by boiling your elderberries, but (if you haven't already found out) you will cook a green, tannic slime out of elderberry seeds if you cook them too long. The juice then becomes queasiness-inducing, to say the least.
1 year ago
Kudos to Nicole for a plausible account of a possible cause for people reacting to cooked/baked/dried paw paws. Unsaturated fatty acids and related chemicals (e.g. epoxides) can exert gross effects on the body -- see "pine nut dysgeusia" for example, or "urushiol". To try a pie, if you can't stand cooked pawpaw, get unflavored gelatin (available in sheets, or as a prepared powder for Vodka gel shots) and work it up in 1/2 the recommended total (vs. the final product, including vodka or whatever) volume of water. Let it cool to room temperature, then mix in the other 1/2 as pureed pawpaw pulp (if you freeze it in airtight containers (e.g. used plastic screw-cap peanut butter bottles) it retains color and flavor), then chill in pastry shells. Voila\!
I tolerate unlimited amounts of raw pawpaw (so far!), and will happily provide free seedlings if you happen by Princeton, NJ area (609.731.3882 for directions).
If you process large amounts of seed you might want to wear a rubber glove. A micropile-fiber glove is also handy if you rub your own dried sage leaves, to avoid skinned knuckles (micropile doesn't shed the way cotton would) ....
1 year ago