Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Projects: tomatoes, meat, wool, etc......

Project 'Get Those Tomatoes Sorted out'

I have made a start on the surprise harvest of tomatoes we have had..... five jars of prepped green tomatoes en route to the canner.

Twenty minutes at 5lb pressure, and all done.

However, I don't seem to have made a dent on the amount of tomatoes waiting to be done,

Project 'Prepping The Spun Wool'

Now I have the facilities, (a nice big sink) I can get on with washing the skeins of spun wool that I have hanging here and there all round my home. Being aware that winter is on its way I am on the move now with getting the wool prepped for weaving, (if I get the loom ordered) or for knitting / crocheting with.

One soak in hand hot water with a splash of laundry soap added.....

One soak in hand hot water for the rinse.

...then out on the line to dry. I don't use weights on the wool to straighten the fibres, I just give the skeins a hard pull to straighten them out then let the weight of the water dripping out of them do the rest. The fibres still have a pronounced twist, but this is DIY wool and the irregularity of the twist is what gives it an 'artisan look'. 

And ongoing to the Wool Project is the need to make some DIY dye so I can give variety to the dark brown and cream colours that our wool has. 
Now I love this bread bin. I have had it for some years now and is getting quite chipped and battered. 
In the UK it was used to store bread. When we first came to France it was then used to store vegetables because it was too big to go on the gas rings of the mini cooker of the caravan. 
Then it was used for cheese making, then for making chips because the enamel has started to chip (I had graduated to a bigger stove by then and the caravans were long gone)
but we don't have pan fried chips anymore so it is not much used. 


..... fill it with fig leaves (shredded), put water in to cover the leaves, pot on to stove,
cook contents for an hour, or until I remember to switch the pot off, which was two and a half hours later, and leave overnight. Strain. And then investigate what colour I have fetched up with. At the moments it looks a dirty brown colour! It will be interesting to see the actual dye colour I have ended up with. I think this is a good use for the bread bin.

The Meat Project:

This is ongoing from yesterday.....
this is the meat which was in the huge pot, still chilled from its stay in the freezer....

..... and now minced.
Next stage.....canning, but might take a handful of mince for lunch. 

Lester spent the day working on the Chicken Hut Project, 
and I did a little bit of clearing out of the veg garden, but not a lot because it got too hot to work.
It is starting to get chilly in the early morning, but by mid morning the sun comes out and the temperatures zoom up making uncomfortable to work outside. Living close to the mountains but parallel to the Mediterranean gives us this see saw range of temperatures. Not to worry, it is as it is, ...

But I need to get on with the day,

so bye for now.

Vera x


Kerry said...

Our tomatoes keep coming and I've just had another go at canning, but not green ones. What do you use the green ones for?

Dawn McHugh said...

Oh my that yarn was dirty, I am still fermenting fleece so it can be stored ready to spin, I am intrigued on your fig dye and a great use for the bread bin :-)

Vera said...

KERRY, I use the smaller canned green tomatoes for soups and stews. They keep their shape unless cooked for a long time, so make a visual addition to the dish. The larger slices of green tomatoes I egg wash, then dip in breadcrumbs, then pan fry them. This makes a change of food during mid winter.

DAWN, yes that fleece was dirty! But I have not had the facilities here to wash fleece, (in a 'normal year' I would expect to spin at least seven / eight of our fleeces) so have preferred to spin from the raw fleece, then wash the yarn afterwards when it is been spun. But I have been following your experiment with fermenting fleece to get it clean, and I am of a mind to have a go next spring after the sheep have been shorn. Apparently the lanolin stays in the fleece during fermentation, which is a necessity for me as I don't think I would like the feel of spinning squeaky clean fleece!
The fig 'dye' has come out a light yellow, but the true colour will only be seen once a skein of wool has been dipped in it. At least it has not come out a dark brown! I don't want bright unnatural colours added to the wool, I just want a slightly different tone to offset the dark brown of the natural wool.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

wow! what a lot of work - great job! do you hands get soft from cleaning the wool? with all the lanolin?

Vera said...

OFG, my hands benefit from spinning raw fleece, and I suppose they must also benefit from washing the wool as well!

PioneerPreppy said...

Interested to see how the fig leaf dye turns out myself since we got this fig tree that rarely does anything but grow. Only part of the wool process I pay any attention to is the shearing these days except when Mom wants to dry some then I am the one that has to go find her the boards and saw horses of course.

Cro Magnon said...

Did you sterilise the toms in a pressure cooker? I tend just to boil my jars of vegs in a big pan for about an hour (Le Parfait jars, capsules, etc). Loads of toms here too; a late flourish.

Vera said...

PIONEER PREPPY: Our fig tree has not put up much fruit this year, but has instead put on a lot of growth. We shall be pruning it heavily this winter but only after we have made the new chicken hut for the chickens. They like to roost up that tree!

CRO MAGNON: I use an All American canner, which is a pressure cooker which works at a high pressure, so that would sterilize and seal the tomatoes in the jars. It doesn't matter what method we use though, as long as those tomatoes get into jars! Good luck with keeping up with your tomato harvest!

ally said...

Vera, will you need to use mordant to fix the fig dye? If you don't have any try urine as in days of old! I used to spin in the grease too and loved seeing it come up so clean after hand washing. Don't spin so much now as it hurts my ankle and hip a bit. I kept and bred Angora rabbits and used to blend their fur with silk, alpaca and wool. Poor wee things looked very ridiculous after their hair cuts. Made lots of goat cheese, natural face creams, hand cream and now wish I had the energy to do as much as you here in Normandy. So many pears at mo. No one wants them, like coals to Newcastle, so into the freezer they will go, along with brambles, blackcurrants, greengages, peaches , apples. Anyway, keep on trucking'! Does your bad hip play up when spinning?

Vera said...

ALLY: \I presume that I shall need a mordant, but haven't researched into that yet.

Wow! Spinning angora rabbit hair! You must have had lots of patience to do so! But shame about your ankle and hip. I don't spin for longer that half an hour at any one time because spinning makes me feel dizzy, but legs and everything else alright. Shame about all that fruit as well. I would love to take some off your hands, but Normandy is a bit too far away.....I live in region 65, down near the Pyrenees! You have a lot of skills that I would like to know more about Ally. Vx