Homemade Borax-Free Dishwasher Detergent

I have tried many different “eco-friendly” dishwasher detergents over the years.  From 7th Generation to Ecos, Method to Ecover, I just couldn’t find one that worked very well.  And with a price as high as those, I certainly wanted something that worked.

Eventually I came across a recipe to make my own dishwasher detergent.  It contained washing soda, borax, salt and citric acid.  It worked… somewhat.  I wasn’t satisfied with the results and neither was I satisfied with the ingredient Borax.  I am not convinced Borax is safe, especially when used on eating utensils etc.  After discussing the homemade recipe with some others, the thought came up “what if we just removed the Borax?”  So when I ran out of my detergent I did just that.  I removed the Borax.   I also added white distilled vinegar as a rinse aid.  The combination provides great results!!

So here is my borax-free dishwasher detergent recipe:

  • 1 cup washing soda (old recipe used  baking soda)
  • 1/4 c. citric acid
  • 1/4 c. coarse salt
  • 10-15 drops of citrus essential oil (Optional.  Orange, grapefruit, or lemon essential oils have great cleaning as well as antibacterial properties.)
  • Distilled white vinegar (in the rinse aid compartment)

Mix first 3 ingredients well in an air tight container. Add essential oil.  Mix again.  Fill your rinse aid compartment with undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Use 1 tsp. detergent for average loads.
Use 1 tbsp. detergent for extra greasy, dirty loads.

UPDATE:  More is not better!  If you are having any build up issues use less! 

Where to find ingredients:
Citric acid is easily purchased in bulk at  U-Brew  stores.  You may find it at grocery stores near the canning supplies, or in the bulk section.  You can also buy it at Mountain Rose Herbs Co.   Some people use plain, uncolored koolaid and get the same effects.  (Make sure you use the colorless koolaid or you will dye your dishwasher!) This is because koolaid is very high in citric acid.  I don’t like the other ingredients in koolaid though so I choose not to use it.  Lemi Shine is also sometimes used to replace citric acid.  I feel the same way about lemi shine as I do about koolaid.
Coarse salt: same as pickling salt.  Found in most grocery stores or purchase coarse sea salt online at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Don’t use regular table salt because of the iodine content.
Baking Soda: We all know where to find it!
Essential Oil: Found in most natural food stores or online at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Tips:

  • I rinse off my dishes reasonably well ever since I switched to chemical-free dishwasher detergents.  Rinsing off grease and baked-on food will help any cleaner, not just a homemade one.
  • Hard water: I don’t know if this would work in hard water or not because my water is soft.  However, my own research indicates that citric acid is often used in addition to regular dishwasher detergents to help prevent mineral deposits on the dishes.  Try it out and let me know!
  • I placed one glass in the dishwasher and left it in for many loads as my tester.  I have done over 30 loads with this recipe to date.

Cost: (based on Mountain Rose Herbs prices)
5 lb. of citric acid is $20.
5 lb. of baking soda is $11.75.
5 lb. of coarse sea salt is $15.
Essential oil (optional) varies in price..

Is it worth it to make your own?
Based on the prices above (not including essential oils), and the fact that there are 36 tbsp. of sugar in a lb. (similar texture and weight to this detergent), I worked this detergent out to cost $0.08 a load. 

7th Generation dishwashing tabs (about 1 tbsp. each) are $6.99 for 20. (based on online price from London Drugs)  So 7th Generation dishwashing tabs cost $0.35 cents a load.   

You’ll be saving a lot of money (not to mention your health and the environment) by making your own eco-friendly detergent.

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #25, Simple Living Wednesday, Homestead Helps Wednesday #5, Homestead Revival Barn Hop #61MorrisTribe’s Homesteading Blog Carnival #6, Whole Foods Wednesday #56 and  Fat Tuesday.

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Recipe that rises like white!

I have searched for and tried MANY 100% whole wheat bread recipes.  I have ruined countless loaves, and wasted a lot of flour and money trying to make 100% whole wheat bread.  I have tried adding gluten, lemon juice, citric acid, soy lecithin and more to get nice-rising 100% whole wheat flour.  My family has eaten many a failed loaf.  Eventually, I gave up.  I accepted the “fact” that you cannot make 100% whole wheat flour that rises nicely without using strange ingredients and additives.  I settled for a recipe that was about 70% whole wheat and the rest white flour to make it rise.  The recipe never completely satisfied me though.  It was somewhat crumbly and just didn’t really cut it for a sandwich bread.

My mother-in-law came across a great recipe that made 2 loaves of bread, was made from 100% whole wheat flour, and it rose nicely.   I was very envious, but I didn’t want a 2 loaf recipe, I wanted an 8 loaf recipe.  And I didn’t think you could just straight out double (or quadruple) a bread recipe without using too much yeast/salt.  Since I couldn’t figure out how to double it, I started searching again for a good recipe.  I came across a recipe from Heavenly Homemakers that made 2 loaves, and called for soaking the flour first.  I was intrigued by all the good feedback she received and so I tried it.  I had to add significantly more water to the recipe but I was able to make it rise nicely.  My first success!

I contacted Heavenly Homemakers and she informed me that she had doubled it straight across with good success.  So I tried it and it worked beautifully.  I added some other good stuff like flax, hemp hearts and chia seed, and ended up with a recipe that works perfectly, every time.  I am still excited about it!  (Simple pleasures, you know!)  It makes 4 loaves, and I haven’t tried re-doubling it yet to make 8 but that is my next step.  I don’t want to be baking bread more than once a week.  ** I have now successfully TRIPLED the recipe!  15 loaves in one go!

Today my friend, who swears she has never been able to successfully make a yeast bread, white or otherwise, is visiting.  I had her make the recipe following my instructions.  The bread looks fabulous!

Here is the recipe:

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
Makes 4 loaves
Ingredients:
  • 12 cups whole wheat flour, divided in 2
  • 1 1/2 cups seeds (optional) (ie. hemp, chia, flax, sunflower, sesame etc)
  • 4 1/2 tsp. yeast
  • 1/2 c. liquid honey plus 1 tbsp.
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • water (see below for amounts)
Directions:

1.   Soak for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours:

  •       6 cups flour in 5 cups warm water (If you are using freshly ground flour cut back to 4 1/2 cups.)
  •       Up to 1 1/2 cups seeds (optional)
  •       Cover with damp tea towel

Flour/water mixture shouldn’t be watery.  Water should just mix into flour without any excess.
Make sure there is no dry flour.  Add by the tbsp. if needed.

2.   Start sponge (half hour before starting):

  •       in 1/2 c. warm water, gently mix 4 1/2 tsp. yeast and 1 tbsp. honey until just mixed. Set aside.  Do not over-mix.

Sponge should be visibly active: bubbles forming etc. before adding to recipe.

3.   Melt 6 tbsp. butter.  Cool to room temperature.

4.   After flour is soaked and sponge is bubbly add to soaked flour/seed mixture:

  •       melted butter at room temperature
  •       sponge (should be bubbly with yeast obviously active)
  •       If you are adding extra seeds or grains you may need to add up to 1 cup luke warm (not hot!) water ONLY as needed.
  •       1/2 cup liquid honey (not hot!)
  •       2 tsp. salt (sprinkled in)

5.   Mix/ knead in 5-6 cups flour to right consistency.  (Stir in until it is too hard to stir, then dump on lightly floured countertop and knead in.)  Dough should feel pliable and not dry. Sprinkle counter top with small amount of flour as needed to prevent from sticking to the counter.  Knead for 15 minutes.

6.   Place dough in large, greased bowl.  Cover with a damp tea towel.  Place in warm (not hot!) corner on counter top.  Allow to rise until double: up to 2 hours.

 

7.   Remove from bowl, punch down and kneed for 2 minutes.  Divide into 4 even sizes.

8.   Kneed each individual loaf.  Roll with a rolling pin and then roll up dough.  Pinch to make a loaf shape.  Place in greased loaf pan.  Repeat for all 4 loaves.  Cover loaves with damp tea towel.

9.   Allow to rise until double: up to 2 hours.

10. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until loaves are lightly browned and smell amazing :).

11.  Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes on wire rack.  Remove from loaf pans and cool completely on wire rack.  Brush tops with butter if desired.  It makes the loaf tops nice and soft.

Notes:

  • Any ingredients added to a bread recipe should not be hotter than luke warm (drop some water on your wrist.  It should feel the same temperature as your wrist) or you may kill the active yeast culture.
  • Bread rising time depends on room temperature, air pressure, altitude etc.  I am located at sea level.
  • Yeast amounts in a bread recipe can vary based on altitude. Click here for an altitude adjustment chart.
  • You can add 3 whole eggs to the ingredients to make the loaf more moist/chewy.
  • Make sure your yeast expiry date hasn’t passed.  Yeast can be too old to work properly.
  • If you aren’t adding extra nuts or seeds then don’t add the extra 1 cup of water unless it feels too dry.
  • I now have TRIPLED this recipe with great success!  I can make 15 loaves at one go :D
  • Click here for a video tutorial on how to knead bread.

Please let me know how this recipe works for you!  Feel free to share the recipe, giving credit where it’s due :).  Enjoy!

This recipe has been linked to Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #22, Our Simple Lives: Simple Living Wednesday Link Up, Turning The Clock Back: What’s Cooking WednesdayThe Morris Tribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival #3, Whole Foods Wednesday #56, Fresh Bread Fridays and The Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.

Cheater Vegetarian Chili that Kids Love!

With my latest resolution to start Meatless Mondays this year, comes moments of scouring the internet for kid-friendly vegetarian meals.  Usually right before I need to start cooking, not right before I go grocery shopping.  So then I am forced to use what I have.  Since no one really knows (including myself) exactly what is in my pantry, this can be a challenge.  Or, a great opportunity to look outside the recipe box and into the fridge for inspiration. 
Tonight was no exception, or, the exception being, dinner turned out great, and the kids actually ate it.  I started chopping vegetables, and before long I had what turned into a great vegetarian chili.  With left over whole wheat biscuits from lunch, our meal was done.  No need for a side dish of vegetables when the whole meal is meatless! 
The last time I made a vegetarian chili (and followed a recipe) I used great ingredients like cumin and chick peas.  My husband and I loved it, but the kids did not.  We have to work on these new spices, and while I am not defeated, I didn’t feel like a fight tonight.  Besides, it is so much more satisfying to see empty plates rather than the alternative, and be forced to make a huge bedtime snack.  This recipe uses good ‘ol carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, peas, corn and pumpkin.  Because that is what I had in my house.  And the kids didn’t recognise the broccoli, pumpkin or cauliflower, fortunately.  The rest, they know and love.  
Now, I call this a cheater vegetarian chili.  The cheating part is not the hidden meat (there is none) but rather, the jars of pasta sauce I had stashed in the pantry.  I usually try to post only made-from-scratch recipes here, but we ran out of my own homemade pasta sauce a few weeks back, and quite frankly, there was no time to whip up another batch.  When you start a meal a half hour before it is served, you have to use what you have.  So, forgive me, this recipe calls for 2 jars of pasta sauce and if you are so good as to have pasta sauce already made up, then please use it in the recipe!  But you can also choose a good, organic, all natural pasta sauce from the store and it is pretty incredible tasting on it’s own.  The beans I used were cooked and previously frozen which is my newest weapon against BPA from the lining in cans.  (There, does that make up for it?)  Of course canned beans would work too.
So let’s make chili!
Ingredients:
  • 2 large carrots, peeled.
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2 cups kidney beans (canned, or cooked)
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped VERY finely
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped VERY finely
  • 1 cup cooked pumpkin or squash, cut into cubes.
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
     
  • 3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 jars tomato pasta sauce (about 5 or 6 cups)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder (or to taste)

Directions:

  • In a large pot, heat oil, and add all vegetables except corn, peas beans.  Saute until tender, 5-10 minutes. 
  • Add pasta sauce, Worcestershire sauce, corn, peas, beans and chili powder.
  • Bring to a boil, and simmer for 15 minutes, until vegetables are cooked through.  Stir frequently. 
  • Serve!  makes about 8 portions. 

Notes:

  • Serve with biscuits, on rice, with corn bread, bread or nothing!  Enjoy! 
  • I used organic ingredients because that’s the way I roll.
  • Feel free to use what is in YOUR fridge.  Have some egg plant?  Try it out!  You could change this recipe to make it as gourmet as you like.  Let me know how it goes!

Healthy and Delicous: Cinnamon Squash Muffins

I still have squash and pumpkins left over from a great squash year in my garden.  They need to be used up though, and so I baked some of them.  My kids don’t do squash straight up very well so I searched around on the internet for a while until I found a great looking muffin recipe. 
Naturally, it wasn’t quite healthy enough for me so I made some changes, and the muffins turned out to be fantastic!  Light, moist, tender and tasty.  A great way to use up squash or pumpkin, and also a great way to get squash or pumpkin into your kids!

So with no more delay, here is the recipe:

Cinnamon Squash Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 4 farm eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 c. virgin olive oil or unrefined coconut oil (melted)
  • 2 c. pureed (or mixed until smooth), cooked organic squash
  • 1 c. organic whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. organic unbleached white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
  • 3/4 c. brown cane sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 3/4 c. organic walnuts or raisins (optional)

Directions:

  • Blend eggs, oil and squash until smooth
  • Blend flour, sugar, baking powder cinnamon, nutmeg (optional), salt and raisins or nuts (optional) until mixed.
  • Combine wet and dry, and fold in until just mixed.
  • Fill greased muffin pans to about 3/4 full.
  • Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes.

Makes about 12 good sized muffins. 
Muffins can be frozen for later use.
This recipe is mix-friendly.  Mix dry ingredients and store in a jar.  Mix and add wet ingredients when you are ready to make your muffins. 

Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Butternut Squash Muffin Recipe.

This post has been linked to Whole New Mom: Traditional Tuesdays , Natural Parenting Unnatural World Make Ahead Mondays, Common Sense Homesteading’s Living Well Blog Hop #24, The Homestead Barn Hop # 45Attainable Sustainable’s Patchwork Living Blog Hop and Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.

Pumpkin flax pancakes from scratch.

Canadian thanksgiving has come and gone.  The turkey is eaten, the pies are done, but the remaining pureed pumpkin sat in the fridge waiting for me to make something with it.  I made pumpkin loaves last week, and so this week I pulled out the pumpkin and made pumpkin flax pancakes.  Easy, quick, fall-flavoured pancakes make everyone happy!  For once, all of my kids ate their lunch.  All of it.  I served it with homemade blueberry syrup, homemade apple sauce and locally-grown apple-pork sausage.  The left over pancakes are great frozen and popped in a toaster for a quick, healthy breakfast, or eaten as snacks with peanut butter and jam on top. 

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. organic whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. organic white flour
  • 4 tbsp. ground flax
  • 4 tbsp. cane sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice mix (ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 beaten free range eggs
  • 2 cups goat milk
  • 1 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. organic canola oil

Directions

  • In a large bowl combine flour, flax, baking powder, baking soda spices and salt.  Whisk well. Set bowl aside.
  • In a separate bowl, combine eggs, milk, pumpkin, vanilla and oil.  Whisk well. 
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and fold to combine.  Do not over-mix.  
  • Ladle onto greased griddle or frying pan.  Cook on medium heat until bubbles have popped. 
  • Flip carefully and cook for another minute or until lightly browned. 
  • Remove from pan and serve hot!
 Notes
  • Add a few tbsp of water to the batter if you like thinner pancakes. 
  • Obviously, substitute any organic ingredients with non organic, and goat milk with regular or almond/rice/soy milk.
  • This makes a large batch.  Recipe can easily be halved. 
Simple, healthy, delicious food NOT from a package!!  Taste the difference, feel good about the ingredients, and celebrate whole food!

This post has been linked up to Fat Tuesday: Real Food Forager.  Check out the links for great, REAL food!