Copy-Cat Campbell’s Tomato Soup with Fresh Tomatoes!

My family gave up Campbell’s soup years ago because of the additives, and then we gave up canned soup altogether when we became more aware of the BPA in the lining of the cans. I make soup from scratch now, and I must admit my children still prefer the flavour of Campbell’s soup to my own soups. While this is disappointing, it must be said that kids LIKE Campbell’s soup. It isn’t fancy, it isn’t spicy and it tastes good. Why fight a losing battle my making soup they won’t eat in the first place? So my next step was to try and copy it, but with fresh, wholesome ingredients.

I started with pure tomatoes and no added water. This year I have had 100+ lbs of my own tomatoes so I am thrilled to use them any way I can. I seasoned with salt, then I added one of my own onions, some celery stocks, and handful of my own fresh basil. After letting simmer for a bit I put the whole lot through a food strainer, then threw in some organic cane sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and presto! I have a healthy version of Campbell’s tomato soup! I then pressure canned it and it is now shelf stable for many months. It can also be served fresh, or it can be frozen.  A quick, healthy lunch is just a jar away! And the best part is, the kids love it. Makes 16 pint sized jars (or 32 servings).

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Copy Cat Campbell's Tomato Soup for kids with Fresh Tomatoes!
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 32
 
Ingredients
  • 20lb Fresh Tomatoes (Washed, stemmed and halved.)
  • 1 Onion (Peeled and halved.)
  • 6 stalks Celery (Whole.)
  • 5 teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 12 leaves Fresh Basil (Including stocks.)
  • ½ cup Organic Cane Sugar
Instructions
  1. Add tomatoes to a large soup pot and mash with a potato masher to release juices.
  2. Add onion, celery, salt and basil. Bring to a boil.
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring regularly.
  4. Pour through a food mill or food strainer. Alternatively, you can use a fine, wire sieve, pushing the vegetables through the sieve until all that is left are the skins and seeds. Compost the skins and seeds.
  5. Pour soup back into a pot. Bring to almost a boil then turn heat off.
  6. Add sugar and stir well.
  7. Serve fresh or freeze or can the soup.
  8. For canning, pour into prepared jars, wipe rims clean with a clean cloth, add prepared lids and rings and pressure can according to your pressure canner's instructions. My Presto required 11 lb of pressure for 25 minutes for pint jars.
Notes
This recipe is made to be canned, but can also be served fresh, or can be frozen. If you want to make it a cream of tomato soup do not can it with milk in it. Add milk to taste when you are reheating. For cream of tomato soup do not bring to a boil: boiling milk will curdle the milk.

 

How to Make Kombucha Tea: A Fermented Probiotic Beverage

Kombucha is a fermented tea made with tea, sugar and water, using a SCOBY (Or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) to start the fermentation process. It is naturally carbonated, has a sweet and sour taste, and a low alcohol content. [Read more...]

Probably originating in Manchuria, kombucha is just another way a beverage was preserved without the relatively new invention of refrigeration. Food preservation, in the past, consisted mainly of dehydration, candying, salting and fermenting.  Without the modern convenience of refrigeration it was challenging to store food and beverages, and so fermentation was often used for beverages.

SCOBY:  The SCOBY is similar in some ways to a MOTHER in apple cider vinegar.  A scoby is best acquired from another person who makes kombucha.  Once it is placed in the tea, it feeds on the sugar and ferments the tea.  The SCOBY culture produces a bacteria that ferments the yeast, also from the SCOBY.  This increases the acidity which keeps the alcohol content minimal.  It is the acid and the mild alcohol content that inhibit the growth of undesirable bacteria or mold.  When brewing your kombucha, the SCOBY will make a second SCOBY.  You will have one to give away to a friend, or to start a double batch with.  You can also just throw it out (although if you are like me you will become oddly attached to the thing as if it were alive). The chickens like it too!

Where To Find A SCOBY: Your best bet is to get one from a friend or acquaintance.  You can often find them advertised on craigslist.  Some people have had success making them from a bottle of original GTs Kombucha, which is a commercially prepared kombucha purchased at many health food stores.  You can also find them on Etsy and they can be shipped by mail.

Health Claims: Kombucha contains active enzymes and amino acids.  This means it may be good for the intestines by providing it with beneficial probiotics.  Others have made more specific health claims which haven’t been scientifically proven, so you can do your own research on that matter.

Alcohol Content: Kombucha is undeniably alcoholic.  That said, the acidity keeps the alcohol content from being over 1% and in many cases in only about 0.5%. (Similar to a dealcoholized beer.)

How to make Kombucha:

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 L (Quarts) Water
  • 1 cup white sugar (I use organic white cane sugar)
  • 8 black tea bags
  • 1 SCOBY in 2 cups of kombucha

Directions:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot.  Remove from heat.
  2. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Add 8 tea bags.
  4. Allow to cool until tea is room temperature (several hours)
  5. Remove tea bags.
  6. Pour tea into a large, glass (not metal!) jar.  A large pickle jar is perfect.
  7. Dump SCOBY and kombucha into the tea (only at room temperature!).
  8. Cover with cheese cloth and hold cloth tight with an elastic band.
  9. Place in a cool, dark location for 7 -10 days.
  10. After 7 days, taste the tea.  If you would like it more sour (which would mean less sugar content) let sit longer.  If you are happy with the flavour, remove SCOBY, separate the new SCOBY from the old, and store both in 2 cups each of kombucha in the fridge, covered with cheese cloth, or start a new brew.  Be sure to reserve 2 cups of kombucha with the scoby for your next brew.
  11. You can strain the kombucha if you wish to remove the strands and lumps.  I usually do.  Pour into bottles and cap tightly.  You can use mason jars.  Cap tightly.
  12. Let sit on the counter in the same cool, dark location, for 2-4 days.  This is a second fermentation, and an anaerobic one, so the alcohol content may increase during this process.  This will also increase the carbonation content.
  13. When you have finished the second fermentation, place bottles in the fridge.   This effectively stops the fermentation process and your tea is ready to drink!  Enjoy!

Notes:

  • The SCOBY will store in the fridge for several weeks before it starts to break down.
  • When you choose your tea, make sure it is black tea, WITH caffeine.  It won’t work without caffeine.
  • DO NOT USE EARL GREY TEA!  The tanins in it may destroy the SCOBY.
  • You can substitute several of the bags with a flavored tea or a green tea, but make sure your main tea is black tea (for example, English Breakfast).
  • You can add fruit juice, fruit, ginger, herbs and more to your second ferment (when you bottle it).  Play around with it!
  • When choosing bottles, look for ones that can be capped tightly.  You can use mason jars if necessary.  The ideal bottles are home-brew style bottles with reusable caps that clamp down.  Find them at U-brew stores.
  • The longer you let your kombucha ferment, the more vinegary it gets, and the less sugar content it will have.  Go by taste!
  • When you place your SCOBY in the tea for the first time it may float.  It may sink.  It may line up vertically in the jar.  That’s ok!  Let it do what it wants to do.  The new SCOBY will form on the top of the jar.  You will then peel them apart if they are attached.
  • A healthy SCOBY is thick and peach colored.  An unhealthy SCOBY is thin, frayed looking, darker in color and looks…. sick.  It may still make a new SCOBY but it needs to be fed!
  • If your SCOBY or your brew ever shows mold on it discard it.  You have an imbalance of yeast and bacteria somehow.
  • Don’t mistake your newly forming SCOBY for mold on the top!  It will be whitish and thicker in some spots than others.  Over time it will get thicker and form a new SCOBY on top.  If you are uncertain, just wait a few days and you’ll know for sure.  Also, your brew should smell a bit fermented but not moldy.

This post has been shared on From The Farm Blog Hop.

 

 

 

Go Greener: Clean Your House With Just Baking Soda, Vinegar and Lemons.

Going green can be a very expensive transition, or it can be cheaper than you’ve ever thought possible.  Green doesn’t have to mean buying all the “eco-friendly” products that are available for twice the price as the nasty stuff.  In fact, a lot of those “eco-friendly” products, when you read the labels and figure out what is actually in those products, are not very natural at all.  They may not contain phosphates or chlorine bleach etc., but they contain a lot of other ingredients that are not so great.  Especially when you can get a good clean with a few cheap ingredients that are readily available.  And, when your little helper wants to help you clean, you can comfortably and safely hand her a spray bottle of lemon-infused vinegar and a rag.

So lets go greener than green-cleaning products.  Lets make our own out of simple, economical ingredients.

I clean my entire house with a spray bottle of lemon-infused vinegar water, with plain vinegar and with baking soda.

Lemon-infused vinegar, also known as citrus vinegar, is simply a jar of lemon (or other citrus) rinds soaked for 2 weeks in white distilled vinegar. You can check out a DIY tutorial for it here.  Strain, dilute to a 1:1 ratio of citrus vinegar to water, and pour into a clean, empty spray bottle.  Lemons and vinegar both cut grease and grime, break down soap scum, and leave surfaces shiny and clean.  The acidity of both kills germs, making them perfect for a bathroom cleaner, a kitchen counter cleaner, and pretty much any kind of cleaner.

Distilled white vinegar.  Vinegar diluted 1:1 with water in a spray bottle is perfect for cleaning mirrors and windows.

Baking soda.  Baking soda is perfect for lifting grease, soap scum and grime.  Baking soda is also a great deodorizer.

Lemons.  Lemons can be used to clean a lot of surfaces. The acidity naturally kills germs and the fresh smell of lemons is pleasant.

Baking soda and vinegar.  When you add baking soda, a base, to vinegar, an acid, you neutralize the two of them and basically render both useless.  I have read a lot of articles talking about combining the two to clean toilets etc.  While the volcano-like explosion is pretty cool, in most cases it doesn’t actually achieve much since you have effectively created a neutral product.

How to Clean Your Kitchen:

Counter tops: Lemon-infused vinegar spray cuts grease and kills germs.  Simply spray on and wipe down with a clean rag.
Kitchen sinks: Lemon-infused vinegar spray works well, or if it is extra dirtly, sprinkle with baking soda and scrub clean with a scrub brush.  Alternatively, you can use a lemon that has been juiced, to scrub your sink with.  Rinse clean.
Stove tops: Lemon-infused vinegar spray will cut the grease.  To help with burnt bits, make a baking soda paste with a bit of water, smear on, let sit for 30 minutes, then wipe clean.
Floor: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will make laminate, tile and linoleum sparkle, leaving no build-up.
Fridge: Spray down with lemon-infused citrus spray, then wipe clean.  Leave an open box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb food odors.  Replace the box every few months.
Microwave: Heat up a small bowl of 1 cup vinegar for about 4 minutes.  The vinegar and steam loosen the grime and make it easy to wipe clean with a rag.  You can also use lemon juice the same way, with the same results.
Stove fan filters: Bring water to boil in a large pan.  Add 1/4 c. baking soda and mix well.  Soak fan filters in it for 1 minute, then turn over, soak for 1 more minute, then remove and rinse.
Dishwasher: Add white vinegar to the rinse compartment of your dishwasher to help prevent buildup on your dishes.
Cutting boards:  Clean stains and germs off of your cutting board by squeezing a lemon on the board and allowing it to sit for 30 minutes.  Scrub clean.

How To Clean Your Bathroom:

Bath tub and shower stall: Scrub bathtub with a baking soda paste and a scrub brush.  The baking soda cuts soap scum and grease off the tub and walls beautifully.  Rinse clean.
Toilet: Sprinkle baking soda in the toilet and scrub clean with toilet brush.  Clean toilet seat, lid, and around base of toilet with lemon-infused vinegar spray.  Wipe dry.
Sink: Scrub sink clean with a baking soda paste and and a scrub brush.  Clean chrome or stainless steel with lemon-infused vinegar spray.
Mirrors: Plain white vinegar in a spray bottle, diluted 1:1 with water does the best job of cleaning mirrors.
Floors: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will keep bathroom floors clean and sparkly.

Cleaning Other Areas:

Floors: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will clean all floor surfaces beautifully.
Walls: Lemon-infused vinegar spray cleans walls beautifully.
Windows: Plain vinegar in a spray bottle diluted 1:1 with water.
Dusting: Spray your duster very lightly with lemon-infused vinegar to replace products like Pledge.
Carpets: to deodorize a carpet, sprinkle generously with baking soda, leave for 30 minutes, then vaccuum up.
Mattresses: To deodorize urine or vomit stains sprinkle with baking soda, leave for 30 minutes, then vaccuum.  For fresh, wet stains, scrub with white vinegar and rinse with clean water.  Test fabric first.
Laundry: lemon juice, placed directly on grease stains on fabric, and left to sit for 30 minutes, can lift the stain.  Vinegar, poured directly on tomato-based fabric stains, can remove the stain.  Test your fabric first.
Tile grout: Lemon juice and an old tooth brush will bleach tile grout clean.
Drains: One case in which baking soda and vinegar combined can work is with a clogged drain.  Since the physical “explosion” can actually move things around, you can unclog a drain with it.  Pour a cup of dry baking soda down the drain.  Add a cup of vinegar.  Immediately plug with a rag and leave for 30 minutes.  Rinse down the concoction with boiling water and you may have success if the conditions are right.

So forget the bottles of fancy green cleaners.  Ignore the eco-friendly advertising.  Save  your money, save your family’s health, and go greener!  Make your own cleaners with baking soda, vinegar and lemons.  So easy, so cheap and so effective!  Please share any other cleaning methods you might know using baking soda, vinegar and lemons!

You might also enjoy reading about my homemade dish-washing detergent, my homemade laundry detergent, my DIY deodorant recipe and how my entire family’s hair is safely and perfectly cleaned with baking soda (wash) and vinegar (rinse).  All of these recipes use some of the above ingredients as well as a few others.

 

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #64Waste Not Want Not Wednesday #16 , Seasonal Celebration Wednesday, Get Real Frugal Friday Blog Hop #5 and Homestead Abundance #8.