Judith Pi

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since Aug 21, 2019
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Recent posts by Judith Pi

Don Goddard wrote:So for those who would like to live without a refrigerator, I would ask is that Live without any such device or would a satisfactory solution be to live without a "refrigerator" as we know it? ....
Now the one component that is frequently overlooked is the mechanical power source that runs the compressor...

There were small ice makers available early last century driven by hand crank or other power sources via belt. The Raplin ice-maker was one such device in Britain. A google image search for that term brings up other similar ones. Would be lovely if there was a way to reproduce. You can make ice blocks and use them in a well insulated coolbox stored in a cool place. I've been searching for an antique one for some time without success. Image is from the book "Forgotten Household Crafts" by self-sufficiency guru John Seymour. I think the maker of the Raplin ice-maker is the same who made a Geryk Fleuss type vacuum pump, which you can still get on ebay etc.
1 month ago
Last summer I made blackberry shrub (type of cordial, I guess), all raw. Very simple, and I didn't sterilse anything, just gave things a good wash. It contains a lot of sugar, but it is so concentrated that you only need 1 part cordial or less to about 10 parts water. You can make it with other soft fruits too.

Mix equal parts by volume:

mashed fruit
apple cider vinegar - raw with mother, if possible

Leave for a week or two or three - not too critical
Strain and bottle

For good measure I added a couple or so tsp of citric acid (helps prevent and dissolve kidney stones, yeah!). Judging by how the unstrained concoction doesn't go mouldy in the damp UK weather, I would think the citric acid is overkill.

The shrub lasted well into this year (around late spring, I think) and may still be fine now in September if I hadn't run out of it. It may even work without the vinegar and could be used for a second ferment kamboucha or water kefir drink where the sugar would be consumed. The easiest and cheapest way to preserve berries. I will be making elderberry shrub this year in the same way.

After straining the mash I poured water over it and strained it off for a drink to get as much goodness out of the pulp as possible. Alas, blackberry mash has too many very hard seeds it it to be useful for further processing. Other leftover fruit pulp could be dehydrated into a leather.

1 month ago

Nokomis Woods wrote:

Jesse Glessner wrote:HEY ALL:  Something missed on this forum is "How to keep the jars on the shelves during that HUGE Earthquake" and believe me that is important.
One would be putting up a retaining board high enough to keep the jars on-shelf, but low enough to be able to pull the jars...

Those in Quake Country might find some useful inspirations on "containment" and efficient simple stabilized shelf systems by googling and browsing images of marine cabinetry.

I've seen a clever simple way to stop jars on a shelf cracking against one another by weaving some rope around the jars and through the front retaining bar. The image is a sceenshot I took of the shelf from a video of a schoolie conversion.

As for rubber rings, I bought some silicone replacement rings for my Kilner jars as they last forever, and can be used over and over again, as long as they don't get damaged mechanically. They won't perish with acids, fats or oxygen. You can also get them for use with Mason/Ball jars. Well worth the extra price.  I've had brand new rubber rings go hard and crack in storage, and others perish when used once with a ferment that came into contact with them.

Edit: I should have said the rope goes through the front and back retaining bars.
1 month ago
Here is an idea how it might work in a simplified form (all theory and not tested). Separate the heat store from the dehydrator during the day and bring them together at night. Fill your pit with dark mineral material and cover with glass as you suggest to absorb heat from the sun. The dehydrator would do it's own thing with the sun standing a short distance from the pit. You could incorporate a few rocks inside to heat up along with the food to get you over any brief cloud cover. The thermal mass could also be the dark backing of the solar collector. At night remove the glass cover from the pit and move the dehydrator over it to take advantage of the radiant heat from the pit, as well as some convection. The dehydrator would have a removable floor or hatch. The pit and dehydrator would fit together without gaps around the edges and both are insulated. There would be a small air intake from the outside into the pit and the dehydrator would have an adjustable vent at the top so that there would be a small amount of air movement at night to also take warmed air through and remove the moisture taken up by the air. If the pit needs to be larger than the footprint of the dehydrator for maximum heat absorption, then the surplus surface area could be covered with insulated panels at night only leaving an opening for the dehydrator.
1 month ago
I can't comment on how to spin sewing thread, but another couple tips on use. As mentioned before, thread has a direction. On commercial thread you thread the original end through the eye as the bits that stick out point towards the spool. I also use bees wax by just running it over the edge of the block - in the same direction as sewing. Goes a long way, and as Carla mentioned, it reduces tangle. What I do to prevent wear on the thread where it passes through the eye (which can either break it as you sew, or worse, create a weak spot on the seam) is start with threading about 1/3 of the end through the eye and as I sew gradually slide the needle along the end to distribute the wear along the thread. And when pulling up the thread I try not to tug on the needle but pull on the sewing end of the thread.
I've made a simple, raw shrub with blackberries. 1 part each of mashed fruit, raw apple cider vinegar and sugar. Though I try to reduce the sugar a bit, and it still works with the vinegar. I let it stand in a jar for a week or two or three, according to memory, strain, add about 2-3 tsp citric acid per roughly 3/4 litre. No sterilising, no boiling, no mould, no alcohol. It is very concentrated and you could probably dissolve a penny in it. To drink, I use about 1cm of cordial in a tumbler and fill up with water. It is still fine at least four months after bottling. When I say bottling, I mean chuck it in a bottle and put the cap on. It would probably work just as well with other berries, but not sure about more pulpy fruit, as not tried yet.
9 months ago
I can share my somewhat limited experience with two types of trikes. A bit of background - I was a very experienced cyclist with a bike as my only transport for decades and doing long distance trips. The first trike I only tried. It was an upright one, one front wheel, two in back. I got on it, started pedalling (about 3-5 ft) and promptly hit a wall. The fork had a weird way of suddenly tilting if you even slightly turned the handlebar. The next trike was a recumbent with under seat steering, two front wheels, one in back. I had it for about a year and then sold it. Wasn't happy with it. When you are close to the road and leaning back, you feel very vulnerable, not to mention the fumes you inhale close to the exhaust pipe. It was difficult to get up hills, and pushing it was even more difficult. If you don't have some kind of suspension you really feel the camber in the road with a trike, which is very disconcerting. It also makes it imperative to keep weight very low. That meant paniers on the back wheel for the recumbent. I had a basket on the top of the rack, but managed to overturn the trike a couple times on a bit of a camber becasue of it. I later added a small assist engine which didn't do much to improve the experience. I would highly recommend your friend try a trike before opting for one. They are not the easiest to operate. That said, there are many different styles, configurations, geometries and with/without suspension. My experience is just a pointer for a few things to watch out for.

She's really struggling with having to ask people for rides to work every day, and with getting groceries, etc.

Is she asking it as a favour each time she needs a lift? That would feel awkward, I'm sure. What about finding a regular lift with someone who could be even further down the road, but passing daily, as an official car pool setup. She pays the person towards their fuel cost, and both are happy in a fair exchange. Worth putting out a sign on the side of the road or ask around. A lot cheaper, safer and flexible.
9 months ago
This thread https://permies.com/t/123461/Biochar-space-heater discusses a space heater which is basically an enclosed TLUD commercially availbale (link in thread). If you watch the demo videos on the seller's website you get an idea of how it works and it might give you ideas of how to make one and add some mass. It is actually very similar to a backpack TLUD, only bigger, taller and enclosed in a prety case with a chimney added. That model produces a bunch of char, if that is what you are after. From my (limited) experience with a backpack TLUD you can burn many different shapes and sizes of fuel and you are not limited by having to use pellets. I've even seen a video where they split a log like a mini Swedish torch and burnt it in a backpack TLUD stove with just enough gap to allow the gases to rise. They also raised the logs on a couple of horizontal twigs for free movement of air from the bottom. There is lots to build on and experiment with, including ways of NOT ending up with a bunch of char, if you just want to use it as a space heater or cook stove most of the time. Maybe have a height adjustable plate for smaller volumes of fuel which, I assume, would burn completely to ash if not removed from the stove prematurely and quenched.

A TLUD has some of the desirable principles of a rocket stove (clean, efficient burn) and may be more appropriate in some situations. Designs can be adapted to specific needs, maybe hybridised with an RMH or masonry stove. Does it really have to be a RMH? Horses for courses, as we say in ol' Blighty.
10 months ago
For the sewing list I can also think of "family cloth" (a substitute for toilet paper for No.1s for ladies) and handkerchiefs. Not very difficult, but saves on resources. Easily made from old shirts, towels, bed linen etc., ideally softer cotton like flannel.
11 months ago

William Bronson wrote:

The second is probably close to what Judith does now.
The jar to be sealed sets inside a larger  jar,  you apply the vacuum, and the smaller jar is sealed when you are as K the seal on the bigger vessel .

Yes, the method show about half-way down the page of the second link, using the Food Saver canister, is closest to how I do it. However, I use either a stainless steel canister or large glass vessel with the Pump-n-Seal marinading disc as seen in the second half of this short video
. The disc shown in the video, btw., has a rubber mat underneath to provide the squishy seal between two hard surfaces. It is held in place with a little water - something they don't show in the video, though you can see the cream-coloured underside as he moves the disc to the bowl. Some canisters have suitabe lids which could be drilled (1-2mm) to take a check tab/valve. Metal canisters with clip-tops and rubber gasket work well as a vacuum chamber. You can even vacuum seal glas-topped preserving jars (e.g. Fido, Kilner, Weck or Le Parfit) inside vacuum chambers as they have nice squishy gaskets. On my short-term to-do list is experimenting with brine fermenting in an initial vacuum which removes the oxygen. When the active CO2 producing, vacuum destroying phase slows down, give it a few more pumps to prevent air ingress. It may even work without weights or float guards. No oxygen, no mould or aerobic spoilage bacteria. The initial suction will also draw trapped air from rough or irregular-surfaced produce like chopped cabbage or broccoli, just as it is used in degassing resin casts. That P-n-S video above is an impressive demonstration of how liquids are pulled into the food and air is expelled.

I've written a post on the P-n-S and adapting the Vacu Vin pump to be used on the little tabs, but have not yet updated the post with the vacuum chamber idea.
http://www.judyofthewoods.net/diy/pump.html. There is an article I link to from there about converting a bicycle pump and using a chamber. One thing the article points out, something difficult to observe but to kind of feel, is that the vacuum in the inner jar is formed when you quickly release the vacuum. It slams the lid shut. That might explain why sometimes getting a vacuum is hit and miss - too slow opening the valve and the vacuum is lost.

Coincidentally I just landed via google on this permies thread about hand vacuum pumps https://permies.com/t/83732/kitchen/Hand-pump-version-vacuum-sealer.
11 months ago