Homemade Raspberry Mint Vinaigrette with canning instructions

Raspberry mint vinaigrette

I’ve been pulling out frozen food from the freezer and using it up in preparation for the onslaught of fresh fruit and vegetables coming soon.  I had a few bags of frozen raspberries, and since my bushes are loaded this year I need to use up the older berries now.  Some of them were used in fruit leather, but I decided to make some into raspberry vinaigrette.

I’ve been wanting to make my own salad dressing for a long time, and while I have conquered homemade mayonnaise and ranch dressings, I haven’t had anything I can safely can yet to make shelf stable.  Oil, cream and eggs can’t be safely canned at home.  But anything that is acidic can be, and raspberry vinaigrette can be made without the oil (to be added later, when opened).

raspberries and mint

It isn’t hard to make, uses up extra berries, and is flexible… you can add or sub different vinegars, or even make with other fruits.  I added lime juice to one batch to make raspberry lime vinaigrette, and fresh mint to another.  The mint is my favorite.

Homemade Raspberry Mint Vinaigrette from Scratch
Author: 
Recipe type: salad dressing
Cuisine: American
 
Homemade raspberry mint vinaigrette has a tang and sweetness that match the best commercial dressings available. Instructions for canning included.
Ingredients
  • 8 cups raspberry juice
  • 1½ cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 8 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. dry mustard powder
  • 6-8 sprigs (stem and leaves) fresh mint
Instructions
  1. Prepare raspberry juice. Place frozen berries in large thick-bottomed pot and heat on low to thaw. Strain through a fine sieve to remove seeds.
  2. Measure and add remaining ingredients except mint. Heat to almost a boil. Whisk well; sugar should be dissolved.
  3. Add mint. Remove from heat and steep mint in vinaigrette until it is cooled. Remove mint.
  4. Pour into prepared jars. Wipe rims clean, add lids and rings. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. Remove from canner and cool. Store, without rings, for 12 months or more.
  5. When you open the jar, pour into a larger jar and mix 2:1 vinaigrette to oil of your choice. .
Notes
Makes 6 pint sized jars.
Feel free to sub lime juice for the mint, or remove the mint altogether.
You can use therapeutic-grade peppermint essential oil in place of fresh peppermint if you like. Start with just a few drops... it's powerful!

Raspberry Vinaigrette with lime

 

Berkey Water Purifier Co-Op Opportunity! *Updated*

Berkey Systems Co-Op Contact us June 22nd***Updated!***  The Co-Op has been extended to June 22nd to give everyone a chance to get the full discount!!

Hello everyone!  I am thrilled to offer you an exciting opportunity!  I have been working with United Environmental Solutions recently, and today they are offering a unique deal, open to all of my readers, myself, and a few select other bloggers and their readers.    As you know, I recently worked with some other homesteading bloggers and Berkey Water Purifiers to provide our readers with an opportunity to win a system.  That contest is now closed, and Berkey is now offering us a Co-Op Program where you and I can get a fantastic deal on a Berkey Water Purifier system, depending on the number of people who join the Co-Op.  The Co-Op is open June 2nd 2014 to June 22nd 2014.   This is an unheard of deal for Berkeys, and we are thrilled to offer it for the following systems:

    • The Berkey Light
    • Big Berkey
    • Royal Berkey
    • Imperial Berkey
    • Crown Berkey
    • Go Berkey
    • Travel Berkey

*Recently updated to include the Go Berkey and Travel Berkey too! Plus, shipping is included in the cost*, so there won’t be any extra surprises! Not only that, but Berkey is also offering 10% off replacement filters. The Berkey Water Purifier Systems are a big name in homesteading, green living, permaculture and survivalist circles.  The thought of having pure water from a trusted source is undeniably delicious. *The Co-Op is open to USA and International customers, but shipping will apply for international customers.  Some restrictions apply to California and Iowa residents.  Message me for details. Straight from the source:

Berkeys have the capacity to remove harmful pathogenic bacteria, cysts, parasites, and unhealthy chemical contaminants such as Chlorine to levels higher than 99.99%, while at the same time leaving in the essential minerals your body needs. Did you know that over 60% of US municipal water is fluoridated? Berkey water filter systems also distinguish themselves from many other filtration systems by having the capabilities to significantly reduce fluoride and arsenic via the “PF” line of filters. Berkey Water Filter systems are capable of purifying both treated water (municipal/city water) and untreated raw water from such sources as remote lakes, streams, stagnant ponds, and water supplies in foreign countries.

With the peace of mind brought to you by a Berkey Water Purifier system, you will have more time to enjoy life and one of its main elements: water.   Interested in buying a Berkey for your household? Email me at myhealthygreenfamily@hotmail.ca  for more information or to get your order in now! * If you don’t hear back from me within a day please comment below and I’ll get back to you.  I am having trouble receiving emails from some of you.  Thank you! The Co-Op is open from June 2nd, 2014 to June 22 nd, 2014.  Orders must be in on time. I am looking forward to working with you!

-Leona Free Range Mama My Healthy Green Family Berkey Water Filtration System Affiliate

* a few models are back-ordered.  It is typical for co-ops to ship within a month from the order being placed.  Some will ship out faster.

Big Berkey Giveaway! UPGRADED to IMPERIAL!!

Don’t miss this giveaway! I am thrilled to join forces with some of my favorite homesteading bloggers to give away a Big Berkey, a well-known and respected water filtration system. I have been eyeing these systems for years and all I can say is… too bad I can’t enter and I hope you win!

The Big Berkey is a 2.25 gallon water purifier, which makes it perfect for small- to medium-sized families, or outdoor activities. Its filtration system is so powerful that it removes viruses, pathogenic bacteria, pesticides, and much more, without stripping the water of beneficial minerals.
Big Berkey Upgrade

***** Update!!  The giveaway has been upgraded to an Imperial Berkey, including 2 fluoride filters!!*****

United Environmental Solutions is one of the top distributors of Berkey water systems. Today, the amazing folks at United Environmental Solutions (UES) have generously offered a Big Berkey water purifier to one lucky reader. Thank you so much to UES for this opportunity!

Ten of my favorite homestead and natural living blogs are co-hosting this giveaway. Be sure to visit their websites as well!
The Toups Address
The Browning Homestead at Red Fox Farm
Little Mountain Haven
Hullabaloo Homestead
Whistle Pig Hollow
The Faulk Farmstead
Reformation Acres
Ever Growing Farm
Homestead Honey
Learning and Yearning

Giveaway for a Big Berkey Water Purifier | Homestead Honey

Follow These Four Easy Steps to Enter

1. Visit the UES Website to check out the Berkey, Propur, and AquaVida water systems that they offer.

2. Leave a comment as to why you’d love to win a Big Berkey water purifier.

3. Subscribe to the My Healthy Green Family newsletter by entering your email below




You are free to unsubscribe at any time after this giveaway has ended. I will not share your email address with a third party. Your email address is solely used for the My Healthy Green Family newsletter (sent with new blog posts), and occasional special news.

(If you are already a subscriber, thank you! Just continue to step 4. You will confirm your subscription in the Rafflecopter widget below.)

4. Head on down to the Rafflecopter widget below to confirm your entries and unlock opportunities to gain additional entries.

The winner will be chosen via random.org. This giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Sunday June 1st. The winner will be contacted by email, and will have 48 hours to respond with his/her full name, address, and phone number. There is no purchase necessary to win. This giveaway is open to US residents only.

Good luck!

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Pamper Yourself Giveaway!

Here’s a chance to pamper yourself with some gorgeous hand-made natural body products! Have you ever experienced the luxury of goat or sheep milk in soaps and lotions? They are extremely hydrating, nourishing and healing. Great for everyone! Three products and three winners! Learn how to enter below, and best of luck in the giveaway!
soap-giveaway

A big thank you to our sponsors for this giveaway:

Humble House Gardens – Goat’s Milk Hand & Body Lotion (see their shop page)
YB Urban – Lemongrass and Peppermint Retro Luffa Soap (see their shop page)
Cedar Springs Farm & Dairy – Honeysuckle Lavender Sheep’s Milk Soap (see their shop page)

Be sure to visit the other blogs co-hosting this giveaway!

Blue Yurt Farms
Green Eggs and Goats
Faulk Farmstead
The Jahner Farmstead
Whistle Pig Hollow
Homegrown & Healthy

Follow These Two Easy Steps to Enter

1. Subscribe to the Blue Yurt Farms Newsletter by entering your email below.




You are free to unsubscribe at any time after this giveaway has ended. I will not share your email address with a third party. Your email address is solely used for the My Healthy Green Family newsletter (sent out with new blog posts).
(If you’re already a subscriber, just continue to step 2. You will confirm you subscription in the rafflecopter widget below.)

2. Head on down to the Rafflecopter widget below to confirm your entries and unlock opportunities to gain additional entries.

Three winners will be chosen via random.org. This giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on Monday, May 12th, 2014. The winners will be contacted by email, and each will have 48 hours to respond with his/her full name, address, and phone number. There is no purchase necessary to win. This giveaway is open to US residents only!

Good Luck!

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Soothing Body Butter With Aloe

Body ButterI’d like to introduce you all to a fellow Canadian blogger who has a beautiful new blog all about natural living.  She has some fantastic DIY tutorials for all natural body products and she has offered to share one here, in a guest post!  Please welcome Carly from Modern Hippie Housewife! -Leona from My Healthy Green Family

So another weekend unfolds, and my kitchen, once again, resembles a meth lab (Breaking Bad fan over here.) This weekend I’ve been experimenting with body butter. And I don’t mean to “toot my own horn” but, after some trial and error, I’ve really nailed it–this body butter is one-of-a-kind!

[Read more...]

With coconut oil, shea butter, avocado oil, vitamin E oil, and aloe vera, this body butter is soothing, nourishing, and highly moisturizing.  Use as your daily, body moisturizer or to sooth after-sun skin. If you’re pregnant, rub it on your baby-bump (and boobies) to ease the itchiness of a growing belly.

Why I Switched to Homemade Moisturizer

Aside from the obvious savings, I’ve made the switch to homemade body butter with my health, and the environment in mind. Fragrances, preservatives and dyes, found in the majority of moisturizers and cosmetics, are absorbed into your skin, and are toxic to your body, as well as the environment. The David Suzuki Foundation has compiled a helpful list of the “Dirty Dozen” Cosmetic Chemicals to Avoid–so at the very least, avoid cosmetics that contain harmful ingredients on the list. Or, even more effectively, make your own! It’s easy, affordable, and you’ll ALWAYS know what the ingredients are!

A Bit About Aloe…

This is my first time experimenting with aloe vera in my lotions, and after researching it further, it seems like a no-brainer. Aloe vera gel, commonly used for soothing sun-burns, has so many incredible properties–to name a few…

  • Aloe vera gel contains more than 200 active amino acids, vitamins, anti-oxidants, minerals, enzymes and sterols.
  • Aloe vera is rich in nutrients, and when consumed, is believed to aid in digestion, relieve ulcers, and help combat constipation.
  • There have also been claims that aloe “boosts the immune system and acts directly on abnormal cells, thus preventing or treating cancer.”
  • Used externally, aloe vera gel is highly moisturizing, can help treat acne, and decreases the appearance of scars, stretch marks and aging.

So naturally, I wanted to incorporate it in to this body butter.

How to Make Body Butter with Aloe Vera

First you’ll need to gather your ingredients. For this recipe, you’ll need coconut oil, shea butter OR cocoa butter, organic aloe vera juice, vitamin E oil, and some kind of unrefined, liquid oil, such as avocado, olive, jajoba or almond oil. I use avocado oil in the recipe below because that’s what I have on hand at the moment. (Read more about the benefits of avocado oil in my Homemade Facial Cleanser post.)

If you have an aloe vera plant, you can use the gel from that instead of buying the juice. Just make sure you pulse the gel in a blender prior to adding it to the lotion.

Melt  the coconut oil and shea butter in a double-boiler. Anyone can do this: first, add the two ingredients to a small, glass jar, then place the jar in a pan of lightly simmering water.

Double-Boiler Method

As soon as the mixture has melted (the shea butter will be the last to melt), remove it from the heat, and leave it at room temperature until it becomes opaque, but still soft.

Opaque

Next, add the “opaque mixture” to a stand mixer bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and using the wire whip attachment, whip the ingredients until it’s light and fluffy. This will take about between 5-10 minutes–let’s say 7 :) If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can achieve the same result using a hand-mixer. The picture below still needs to be whipped for a couple more minutes.

006

The body butter is complete once it becomes light, fluffy, and can stick to an upside-down spoon.

Spoon Test

Transfer your body butter to an airtight container, and store in a cool place. Apply it to your whole body as frequently desired!

As you can see, this soothing body butter with aloe vera  is easy and affordable to make–I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Body Butter with Aloe Vera
Author: 
 
Soothing Body Butter with Aloe Vera
Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp Shea Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut oil
  • 1 tsp Vitamin E Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Aloe Vera
  • 1 Tbsp Avocado Oil (OR Olive, Jajoba or Almond Oil)
  • 10-15 Drops of Essential oils of choice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Melt coconut oil and shea butter in a double boiler. You can create this by putting the ingredients in a small, glass jar and then placing the jar in a pan of simmering water.
  2. Remove from heat once melted and let the mixture cool until it's opaque (to speed this is you can put it in the fridge, but don't let it become solid.)
  3. Next, add the remaining ingredients and the coconut/shea mix to a stand mixer bowl, and whip until ingredients are well combined, and the mixture is light and fluffy (about 5-10 minutes.) It's finished when the body butter can stick to a spoon when held upside-down.
  4. Transfer to an a small container or jar and store in a cool place.

Meet Carly, the Modern Hippie Housewife

MODERNHIPPIEHOUSEWIFE_logo-page-001 (1)Carly is a stay-at-home-mom and wife, who left her career in finance to stay at home, raise her daughter, and pursue her passion: growing and cooking awesome, wholesome food for her family, and leading a sustainable, minimalistic life. You can follow her journey to cleaner, greener living (on a budget) by visiting her blog at www.modernhippiehousewife.com.

 

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Homemade Facial Cleanser

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Homemade Sustainably-Sourced Chocolates. Easy To Make and Delicious.

I stopped buying those cheap, junky chocolate Easter eggs from the dollar stores a few years ago. They are probably made in China, and definitely not all natural or sustainably-sourced. When my kids get treats, I like them to be at least made with safe ingredients. Even better, from reliable sources that aren’t damaging both the natural environment and the people who are growing and processing the cocoa beans.
Last year I bought sustainably-sourced chocolate bars, broke them into squares, and wrapped them in aluminum foil. This worked fine… but was kind of boring. This year, I made my own. It turned out to be a fun, rewarding experience, and was simple enough to have the children help out!

I made several different recipes, but found these two to be the best:

The recipe by Wellness Mama is made with sustainably-sourced cocoa butter and cocoa powder, raw honey and vanilla. Nothing more, nothing less. The recipe by Cupcake Project can also use sustainably-sourced, organic ingredients. One of the batches of chocolates I subbed 3/4 of the powdered sugar for raw honey and it turned out really well. In another batch I added a tbsp. of cashew butter to the white chocolate recipe for a nutty treat. If you can’t find organic powdered sugar you can make it yourself from this recipe from Whole New Mom using certified organic cane sugar and arrowroot powder to avoid the typical GMO sugar and GMO corn starch.

 


Both provided easy-to-follow instructions, used ingredients that can be sourced sustainably, and created a delicious product that I’ll be working with in the future! Think… dark chocolate with sea salt and butterscotch… white chocolate hazelnut… the possibilities are now endless! And what great gifts they would make!

If you make some, please let me know how they turned out, and if you varied the ingredients with great success! Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Easy Homemade Marshmallows Recipe

Marshmallows are a fun treat.  People roast them over bonfires, melt them in hot chocolate, make s’mores with them, make rice crispy squares with them and so on.  But have you ever read the ingredient list on a bag of Jet Puffed marshmallows?  It isn’t very pretty.

Corn Syrup, Sugar, Dextrose, Corn Starch Modified, Water, Gelatin, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate A Whipping Aid, Flavor(s) Artificial, Color(s) Artificial (Blue 1)

Corn syrup is super-concentrated, highly processed, and made from GMO corn.  Sugar is made from GMO sugar beets.  Corn starch is made from GMO corn.  Tetrasodium pyrophosphate A is… well, a chemical used as a thickener, and if ingested in large doses requires immediate medical attention.  It is also a skin and eye irritant.   Yum.  Artificial flavor and color (color?  In white marshmallows?!) is self-explanatory.  So basically, they are trash.  I don’t want my kids to eat them, period. But wait!  You CAN make them at home with safer and natural ingredients.  Easily!  You don’t have to forever ditch marshmallows!  And they taste better than store-bought ones. Let me just say this first: everyone should make marshmallows at least once.  Partly because it is a fun, tasty treat, but also to demonstrate first-hand how much sugar is in a marshmallow.  It is rather astonishing, and proves that marshmallows should, indeed, be a once in a long time treat, even if you make them with safe ingredients.

Easy Homemade Marshmallows Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: snack
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24 marshmallows
 
Simple, delicious homemade marshmallows without the artificial ingredients, color, additives or GMOs.
Ingredients
  • Butter, for greasing the pan and parchment paper
  • 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 3 c. granulated sugar (I used organic white cane sugar)
  • 1¼ c. raw honey
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ c. confectioner's sugar (icing sugar)
Instructions
  1. Grease a 9x13 inch cake pan with butter. Add parchment paper on top of the buttered pan, and carefully fit it inside the pan. Allow 1 inch overhang on each side. Grease the paper well. Set aside.
  2. Put sugar, honey, salt and ¾ c. water in a small pot. Heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat.
  3. Put ¾ c. cold water in mixing bowl and then add gelatin. Stir well and let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. With a mixer, whisk water/gelatin mixture and add honey/sugar mixture slowly. Increase speed and whip on high until mixture is thick, white and forms peaks. Whip in vanilla. This could take 10 minutes.
  5. Pour into prepared baking dish, scrape bowl and smooth the top with buttered spatula.
  6. Set aside uncovered until firm, about 3 hours.
  7. Sift 1 c. icing sugar onto counter top. Grease your hands and a knife. Flip set mixture onto icing sugar on the counter top. Cut into squares.
  8. Dip marshmallows into remaining icing sugar on all sides and set on a plate.
  9. Serve immediately or store for up to a week in an airtight container.

The recipe is above.  For more details and photos please read below. Notes:

  • It is very important to grease your hands and utensils before touching the marshmallows once the mixture is combined or you may be permanently stuck to the marshmallows!!
  • The marshmallows are slightly softer than store-bought ones.  The more days you let them sit, the firmer they become.
  • If using on a bon-fire, be very careful… they melt faster than store-bought ones and may fall off the stick if you don’t watch closely.
  • Unless you are using certified organic confectioners sugar you will be using GMO sugar with GMO corn starch added.  You can easily make your own confectioners sugar using organic white cane sugar and arrowroot powder by following this recipe.

1. Grease a 9×13 inch cake pan with butter. Add parchment paper on top of the buttered pan, and carefully fit it inside the pan. Allow 1 inch overhang on each side. Grease the paper well. Set aside. 2.Put sugar, honey, salt and 3/4 c. water in a small pot. Heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat. 3.  Put 3/4 c. cold water in mixing bowl and then add gelatin. Stir well and let sit for 5 minutes. 4. With a mixer, whisk water/gelatin mixture and add honey/sugar mixture slowly. Increase speed and whip on high until mixture is thick, white and forms peaks. Whip in vanilla. This could take 10 minutes. 5. Pour into prepared baking dish, scrape bowl and smooth the top with buttered spatula.  Set aside uncovered until firm, about 3 hours.   6. Sift 1 c. icing sugar onto counter top. Grease your hands and a knife. Flip set mixture onto icing sugar on the counter top. Cut into squares. 7.  Dip marshmallows into remaining icing sugar on all sides and set on a plate.  Serve immediately or store for up to a week in an airtight container.  

 

 

Local Bite Giveaway!

Welcome to the Local Bite Giveaway! I am honored to be a part of such an exciting contest and challenge, with such a fantastic group of bloggers! One winner will be selected to receive ALL of these fantastic prizes.   My hope is that these items, coupled with the Local Bite Challenge itself, will help one winner continue on their journey to a more locally centered way of eating and living!  Good luck!  And please consider taking part in the challenge in whatever way you can!  Follow My Healthy Green Family on facebook as I enter my household of 6 into the challenge.

Learn more about each of the items and enter to win this phenomenal giveaway by following these four easy steps!

1) Click the below links to take a closer look at the amazing items included in this giveaway package! After reading about them all come back here to complete steps 2-4.

  1. One $200 Gift Certificate to Local Harvest, purchased by all of the bloggers participating in this giveaway (see the full list below)
  2. One “Locally Grown” t-shirt, graciously donated by Fed by Threads
  3. One Preserving by the Pint book, graciously donated by Marisa McClellan
  4. One set of autographed Homemade Living Series books, graciously donated by Ashley English
  5. One The Art of Gardening: Building Your Soil eBook, graciously donated by Susan of Learning and Yearning



3) Complete the mandatory skill question in the Rafflecopter.

4) Leave a comment below letting me know which prize you’re most excited about and/or why eating local is important to you!

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to confirm the above entries and unlock even more! Just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget.

For even more ways to win, be sure to visit and subscribe to all of the amazing blogs who have come together to help me offer you this exciting giveaway!

Attainable Sustainable

Blue Yurt Farms

Ever Growing Farm

Faulk Farmstead

Five Little Homesteaders

Green Eggs & Goats

Homestead Honey

Mama Philosopher

The Jahner Farmstead

A winner will be randomly chosen via rafflecopter.com. We will announce the lucky winner on Monday, July 21, 2014. The winner will have 48 hours to respond with his/her full name, address, and phone number. There is no purchase necessary to win. This giveaway is only open to U.S. and Canadian Residents, ages 18 and older. Please see the full Terms & Conditions in the Rafflecopter widget

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GOOD LUCK!

Raising Pigs for Free: How to Scavenge Food For Your Pigs!

Bacon. Ham. Pork chops. Sausages. Pastry. Lard. So many great products from one animal.

My husband and I have been raising our own animals for meat, dairy, eggs and honey for the last few years. Up until last fall, the only meat we had produced ourselves was chicken. And farm-raised, free-range chicken is unbeatable. But you can’t make bacon out of chicken, and while we aren’t huge pork eaters, we do appreciate good quality pork on occasion. The problem was, I couldn’t find organic pork locally, and if I could, we would be paying a horrific price for it.

We are huge supporters of local, pasture-raised meat. We are also huge fans of certified organic products to avoid GMOs. We soon discovered that it was going to be impossible to find these products locally, and so if we were going to eat it, we would have to produce it ourselves. Bring on the pigs.

As usual, we jumped in. Sink or swim… we have learned to swim. And with pigs we learned fast.

We had a secure location for them, a nice, small barn, and… three bags of organic feed. We picked up 2 Yorkshire female piglets, age 6 weeks. They were just starting to get past the cute stage… a good thing. And they loved to eat. And eat. And eat. At $24 a bag for organic hog feed, we learned pretty quickly that we would have to come up with a better solution for food. At the rate we were going, our pigs would cost their weight in gold!

Pigs can do really well on pasture. They root up everything, eat weeds, roots, shoots, greens… everything. If you have an area you want cleared, as long as it is properly fenced, they will clear it for you and you won’t have to buy much food for them. If you DON’T have a secure field for them, you will have to provide a lot of food. LOTS of food. We live on just under 2 acres, and much of it is heavily treed. We really are only using about an acre, if that. Fencing is very expensive and our property is challenging to fence. So we knew that, at least this time, our pigs would be relying on twice-daily feedings of good, quality food.

In my opinion, hog feed isn’t awesome. In our area, the hog feed that is available, even the organic feed, is chock full of corn (pig junk food), and soy (cheap protein). Unless it is certified organic, both ingredients are likely to be GMO products. (Unless you are raising them on your own corn). Corn isn’t great for pigs… especially exclusively. It makes for a lot of fat, and not so much meat. Hog feed also generally contains vitamins and minerals, which may or may not be sourced naturally or GMO-free. And it is dry. I honestly can’t think of any mammal that would enjoy eating dry food its entire life. Or any mammal who would benefit from it. We don’t even feed our dog dry dog food. (She gets raw, frozen dog food).

Everyone knows pigs will eat anything. We needed to come up with something that was healthy, easy to source, and cheap. And everyone knows that it is who you know, not what you know. We raised our pigs on stale certified organic bread, and all the vegetable trimmings they could eat, provided from a local produce store. We also produced the best tasting ham, bacon, pork chops, and roasts you can ever imagine.

Sourcing free food:
Bakeries
Most bakeries have extra, stale bread that they need to get rid of. I found several local bakeries that gave away their stale bread. And stale?? Not really… more like, not sellable. 2 day old stuff won’t sell if there is fresh stuff. Phone around, talk to the local bakeries, and see if you can find one who will give you stale bread. And if you want organic, you might get as lucky as we did. We found a bakery that produces certified organic sourdough bread, and that would give us their extra. BIG TIME SCORE!

Produce Stores
Here is where you might have some issues. Don’t go to the big box stores, unless you know someone who can pull some strings for you. Go to the smaller, independently owned ones, and ask the owner or manager. We have connections with a small grocery store with a large produce section, and they gave us bags and bags of vegetable trimmings and fruit that was no longer sellable. Those pigs got everything from kale and chard to strawberries, watermelon and pumpkins! Their favorite, believe it or not, was kale. They didn’t like whole potatoes, eggplant, peppers, or citrus peels.

Milk Products
Pigs loooooove dairy. If you are so lucky as to have a cheese-making business nearby, ask them for their leftover whey. Pigs drink up whey like I would (like to) drink chocolate, and they benefit from the protein in it. Again, whey is a by-product and companies like to give it away rather than pay to dispose of it.

Bedding
Another tip… pigs need clean bedding. They are messy eaters, and they tend to get their bedding full of potato peelings and banana peels. If you don’t get wood chips delivered by the ton (and we don’t have storage for that kind of thing), then you know that wood chips by the bag are expensive. Head out to your local high school. Chances are they have a wood chipper and all their wood ends go through the chipper. I get bags and bags of wood chips for FREE from a local high school. Occasionally I drop off a dozen eggs for the teacher who lets me in, but that trade is worth it! The schools in our area have to bag it up and put it in the trash otherwise, which costs more to dispose of, so they are usually very willing to give it away.

We brought our pigs in to be processed almost a month ago now. We had the butcher package up the ground pork, roasts and chops, and the rest they gave us back fresh, uncured, unsmoked, to do ourselves. We spent the better part of 2 weeks curing 4 hams and 35 lb of bacon, then smoking it all on the BBQ. It wasn’t hard, although it was time consuming. But WORTH IT! Oh man was it worth it!

The flavour, the texture, the richness, made it worth it. Knowing that we raised our own pigs for our own meat in a humane, healthy environment, was worth it. Even the hard work made us feel good. We knew every mouthful of food that went into those pigs. We knew exactly how they were raised. We were happy to say that up until the very last moment, where they were killed humanely and efficiently by a local butcher, they were in our hands and well taken care of. Hard work pays off! In the end, we sold most of one pig, and kept the rest for ourselves. The cost of the butchering and packaging was paid off by the meat we sold. The benefit of having a local butcher do the processing was that the meat was inspected and so was legal to sell. And everyone wanted some! I think if we had raised 10 pigs we would have had no trouble selling the meat.

Thank you pigs. Indeed, it was your life for ours; we are very grateful.

 

 

 

 

Homemade Shampoo With Rye Flour: Natural Pro-V for Thick, Shiny, Healthy Hair!


In our day and age shampoo is a necessity.  Everyone has it, and everyone uses it frequently.  Most commercial shampoos are made of a number of ingredients, almost all of them being chemicals, and almost none of them being natural.  Shampoo is actually a detergent, rather than a soap.  If you read the ingredients, you won’t find soap in there at all.  Many of the ingredients are questionable as far as our health goes, including potential carcinogens and developmental and reproductive toxicity such as glycol, diethanolamine DEA and cocamide DEA, methylparabens, propylparabens and formaldehyde.  Shampoos contain many thickeners, artificial fragrances and colors, and known skin irritants such as sodium laureth sulphate and alcohol.  If you can’t pronounce the words on the ingredient list, chances are you shouldn’t be pouring it on your scalp at regular intervals.

The good news is that there ARE alternatives.  Many of you have probably heard about washing your hair with baking soda.  This works in that it cleans the oil out of your hair, but it is also a strong base on the pH scale, and can dry out your hair if you use it long enough.  Some people also complain that it changes your hair color.  I used baking soda for 2 and a half years.  I liked using a 1-ingredient product that I was familiar with, but eventually I started noticing it was drying out my hair, and I started using conditioner to help with that.

Then I came across an article from another green blogger. Sonya from Kanelstrand shared her experience using rye flour. This article has inspired me to write this post.  In fact, it has brought me to great levels of excitement and I can’t help but tell everyone I see…

Rye flour.

Yes!  3 heaping tbsp. of organic, finely ground rye flour mixed with water so that it resembles a runny paste.  Rub it evenly onto your scalp and let it sit a few minutes while you finish your shower.  Then rinse off very well with warm water.

It is as easy and as cheap as that.

Does it work?
Yes!  Check out my pictures!  It leaves my hair squeaky clean, and adds a shine and softness incomparable to baking soda, or anything else.  No greasy roots, no dry ends.  No stripped hair.

Why does it leave your hair shiny and healthy?
Rye flour is loaded with vitamins, proteins and minerals.  You remember all those Pantene ads on TV where they talk about the Pro-V they add to their shampoo?  Well, the pantothenic acid they add in synthetic form is actually present in rye flour, in its natural form.  You can actually buy synthetic pantothenic acid vitamins to add to your hair to increase the strength, shine and overall health.  While those versions are man-made these occur naturally in rye flour, helping restructure dry and damaged hair, boost shine and improve manageability. Click here for more information on how pantothenic acid benefits hair.

Rye flour also contains all the vitamin Bs, vitamin E, and phytonutrients such as lignans, phenolic acids, phytic acid, plant sterols and saponins which are also used to help with hair re-growth and even skin regeneration.

Rye flour is naturally perfectly pH balanced.  This is a huge reason why you should use it over baking soda.  Rye flour tests 5.5 on the pH scale which is the same as our hair, and so will not dry it out or strip it of its natural oils.

What kind of rye flour to buy?
I use certified organic dark rye flour that is finely ground.  (ie. you can’t see bits of husk in it).  I have a flour mill so will likely try grinding my own soon…

Who shouldn’t use it?
Those with Celiac disease should not use it since rye flour contains gluten.

Is it easy to switch to using rye flour?
As with the baking soda method, you may experience a period of time when your scalp and hair adjust to the change.  If you have been shampooing every day with a regular commercial shampoo you may notice a few weeks where your hair gets greasier faster, but you may not experience it at all.

Can I use a conditioner with it?
Yes you can.  Or you can use apple cider vinegar (with a ratio of 1 cup water to 1 tbsp. vinegar) as a rinse.  Pour it on your hair, let it sit a moment, then rinse well.  Once your hair dries, it no longer smells like vinegar.  Apple Cider Vinegar works as a detangler.

Tips:

  • After washing with rye flour, rinse VERY WELL to make sure there is no flour left in your hair.  It will itch… I have done it.
  • Do not use if you have Celiac Disease.
  • Make sure the flour you use is finely ground and doesn’t contain bits of husk or you’ll be brushing that out of your hair forever.

For more information on washing your hair with rye flour read:
Kanelstrand: Homemade Shampoo Review: Rye Flour
Washing Hair Without Shampoo: Rye Flour

This post has been shared on From The Farm Blog Hop, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #112, and Heritage Homesteaders Blog Hop #4.