Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Life over the past few months has been, well, exhausting.  Between all of our efforts dealing with getting better have added a lot to the wife's plate, and mine as well. 

Bone Broth

Every other day we are putting a new batch of cow/chicken bones into a turkey cooker with some apple cider vinegar and 2 gallons of water... we drink a few cups of this daily... but cleanup is the hardest part!  Yea, there's a good bit of fat in that stuff... and when the kids don't drink it all, the fat solidifies and we have to figure out how to clean the dishes without plugging up the pipes going out to the septic tank... so far it's involved a lot of dawn dish detergent, really hot water and a lot of work.  We try to put as much in the trash as we can, but I fear a good bit still goes down the drain...

The Rash

Anyone who has done any brewing of alcohol knows that yeast feeds on sugar.  Unfortunately, when the yeast is living inside of you... it's not a good thing!  We are slowly working our way through the process of removing the excess yeast from the kids gut.  It seems whenever they eat fruit, their faces get this nice red rash on them... almost like they've been out playing in the cold, only they haven't.  The worst part is, their behavior takes a nose dive.  I don't know really how to explain it... but it's exhausting!  We are outnumbered and out gunned! 


For me, the frustrating thing is that some mysterious substance seems to be affecting me.  Was it the 1/4 cup of applesauce we canned last Sept that set it off... what was it?  I can assure you, I don't know... but whatever it is, I get grumpy and frustrated over, well, everything?  Sunday was that way for me... the last time it happened, it was after I ate some ribs at the company Christmas lunch.  The four days after were pretty rough for me and the family...

Last night

Last night was a blessing!  I felt good, the kids felt good and my wonderful wife felt good too!  I got to read to the boys as they were soaking in the tub... until one of them pooped... again!  The last 3 times I've given them a bath, he's pooped in the tub... I even had him sit on the pot before and after!  Seriously?  I digress...  Anyway, we are going through the normal things... "Stop eating like a cow, nobody wants to hear you chew up your food."  "Stop using your fingers to eat your food.  Use your fork!"  "No!  Don't put the food in your hair!"  Etc... you get the gist.  Anyway, after bath time I got to read a book to the boys before bed... they didn't pay attention till I laid on the floor... then they both came down and laid next to me till I was done... I' better cherish those moments!

Deer Hunting

Every year for the past four years now I've been able to harvest at least one deer.  This year, not the case.  I figured it out too late... I sighted in my bow with the broad-heads, then later on while practicing with field points I adjusted my sights to match the field points.  This year I put two arrows through two shoulder blades and, despite my efforts to track them, never found either of them.  Well I guess that was my chance... I blew it.  Technically I still have till Feb. 7th, so I'll be out there... but I'm running out of hope.  I did get a trail camera for Christmas... which is neat... unfortunately I've figured out that the deer only come through one area of a property on Thursdays from 1pm to 3pm... while I'm at work!  <Sigh> 

Fermenting for Sale?

Well the health department seems to have stopped responding to my e-mails... there is a slim chance they are diligently working on researching the answers to my questions... but I'm not going to hold my breath on it... bummer, because we made some pretty good pickles that will never be able to buy from us!


Life has been like living on a swinging pendulum... it's hard to tell if it will be a good day or a bad day... but I'm learning to be grateful for every day.  At this point, I don't think anybody in my family has cancer, nobody is in the hospital, I'm employed, the propane tank just got topped off... we are blessed! 

That said, prayers are always appreciated!

Take care,

Thursday, January 21, 2016


So I'm looking into selling Sauerkraut and thought maybe I should check out the legality of it first (potentially mistake #1 - Ask permission first.)  So here's how it's gone so far...  
(Hint: The Government = Department of making you sad!)
I'm wondering if it is legal to sell home made sauerkraut and pickles.  If no, 1) what are the health concerns that make it so? 2) Can I give it away?  My family and I eat it on a regular basis and I was curious.
Thank you,


No, those items would not qualify for either a home bakery or a cottage food exemption and therefore must be made in a commercial kitchen which adheres to good manufacturing practices to ensure proper sanitation. Because of the process involved, FDA may have special guidelines for producing these types of products (sauerkraut and pickles) depending on how they are produced.

The law doesn’t prohibit anyone from giving food away.

Thanks for your inquiry.

(Gov't employee),
Aside from not being in the home, what are the requirements for a commercial kitchen?
Thank you,

(Gov't employee),
I just did some research and located a commercial kitchen for rent in LOCAL TOWN 30 MINUTES AWAY.  If I were to use this facility, what other requirements would your office have? 
Also, do you have a contact for me at the FDA, or should I send an e-mail over to their general contact box?
Thank you again,



You will need to contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture at the information below and they should be able to help you.  If you still have questions, please feel free to contact our office.

Ohio Dept. of Agriculture Food Safety
8995 East Main Street
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068
Phone: (614) 728-6250
Email: foodsafety@agri.ohio.gov

(Gov't Employee) 

Well I left it at that and decided to contact the department of agriculture.  (Can somebody explain to me why in the world the department of agriculture is dictating to me how I should process veggies that I buy from somebody else?)  Here's how it went:

I have been referred to you by the Hancock County Board of Health.  I am trying to determine what is required before I can legally sell fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and pickles.  As this does not fall under the cottage industry regulations, the only requirement I have been able to determine so far is the use of a commercial kitchen to prepare the veggies. 
If you can help me to understand what will be required in addition to this, I would very much appreciate it! 
Thank you for your time,

You will need a facility that is inspected by the Division of Food Safety and complies with Good Manufacturing Practices (http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/901%3A3 ).  There will be a registration fee based on the size of your facility.



Division of Food Safety
Ohio Department of Agriculture

 I was planning on renting time in a local commercial kitchen to process the veggies.  Is this the facility you are referring to?
Thank you,

That should work as long as it is inspected by the Division of Food Safety.

So now I'm left to wonder how to interpret all of the legal lingo in those codes mentioned above... 

On a side note, I have officially given away my first quart of pickles... I'm told she will donate $10 to the cause... 

1/2 Qt left after offering it to everyone I could find...

Anyway, it appears I need to find a commercial kitchen nearby and possibly get in touch with a lawyer and tax accountant!  This could be fun...

Update!  02-02-2016

 Sorry, I'm a little behind right now... anyway, last Friday I had a good conversation with a guy we'll call Daniel.  He's a food safety supervisor for the Ohio department of agriculture.  I got an e-mail from him asking me to call him... I expected a Ben Stein like personality, but was surprised to speak with a level headed real person!  He took a good bit of time to explain to me all the little catches and gotcha's I might run into, and it seemed I was on the right track.  We talked about the need for a commercial kitchen and what the requirements are to have one approved...

Here's what I gathered in terms of requirements for a commercial kitchen:
  • A 3 bin sink to wash stuff (not sure what is special about the number 3)
  • A sink to wash your hands that you can turn off and on without using your hands.
  • So much light per square foot...
  • A surface to work on that can be cleaned (doesn't catch dirt)
  • Screens on the windows, doors that don't let dirt in... common sense stuff.
  • If it's on well water, the water has to be tested once a year for bacteria..
Here's the big one...
  • A plumbing permit: if the drain from the sinks goes to a septic field, you need the approval of the county to tie in first... <sigh>  (I doubt that would ever fly... and I'm afraid to ask in case they come out and inspect and find something wrong!) 
    • This is stupid... the amount of water that we'd use could easily be stored in a rain barrel and be used to water the garden!

There's one last hope... if I can find a nearby commercial kitchen that is already approved, I can do it there... now I just need to go find a kitchen that will let me rent/use some space!

We'll see how things go... if we can prove it out in the back of somebodies kitchen, we may attempt to build a shed in the backyard and get it approved... it's a thought...

I gave somebody a quart of pickles the other day, with the understanding that she'd donate $10 to the cause... I guess it really was too good to be true...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

DIY Crock weights... on second thought?

Well I thought I'd give an update... I trimmed the wooden disk down to a smaller radius, thinking that would be good enough... it wasn't.  I just ordered another set of weights ($25) as I don't have the time (or is it energy?) to deal with that right now.  Hopefully later on I can come up with the ideal design on some wooden weights...

One thing I did lean, however, is that the wood can harbor mold and yeast cultures... so on second thought, maybe it's not my best idea as of yet...

Thursday, January 14, 2016


This one is quick... I have a refurbished Cannon T3i camera that can take video in NTSC and PAL format.  I'd love to take some videos of what I've been doing to put up on here, but so far have yet to find a good translator from NTSC to MP4 or whatever Microsoft Movie Maker will accept.  If any of you have any suggestions or experience with this, please let me know!

In the mean while I'll keep recording in hopes that one day I'll be able to figure it out...

Thursday, January 7, 2016

DIY Crock weights

$20 Plus shipping... and a few days...

Recently I found myself in a pickle... well, it was still a cucumber actually.  I had 25lbs of cucumbers packed into my crock with salt, dill and garlic... all in need of a way to submerge them, so they don't get nasty!  I'd hard of boiling a rock and putting that on top... eh, no thanks!  I'd heard of putting a plate on top and submerging it... there's got to be something better!

Well I decided to take matters into my own hands and see what I could do.  In the garage I had a section of 2x12 that I'd bought to make some apple crates... I can work with this!  The inside of my 5 gallon crock measured a hair over 11" in diameter, so I figured going a quarter inch under size would give me plenty of wiggle room... so I measured and found the center of the 2x12, on the flat side and made my mark by drilling a small hole through it.

A blank slate...

Next I used a scrap piece of wood to create a compass to draw a perfect circle.  10.75 / 2 = 5.375 or 5-3/8in long for my compass.  I measured it, marked it and drilled two more holes.  The nail seen above goes through the compass into the wood and a pencil goes through the other hole to draw a circle.  Next, cutting it out on the band saw and drilling holes so I could pull it out of the crock...

Houston, we have a problem...

Well it worked well enough at first, but after a week of being submerged while we were away on a trip, that wood soaked up some water and expanded.  When we got home it was wedged in the crock pretty good and going nowhere!  I'm actually quite fortunate that it didn't expand more and bust my crock!  As you can see above, I had to put some screws into the wood and use my crowbar to pry it out...  a quick trim on the band saw (Let's try 10-1/2in diameter this time) and it's good to go!  It did seems to require some weight on top of it, as the wood is less dense than the stone... but I cam sure make a bunch of these for the $20-$50 I'd spend on more weights elsewhere!

(See my follow up to this article here)

Lacto-fermenting Dill Pickles, Part 1

A dill pickle (Thanks Wikipedia!)

Lacto-fermenting Dill Pickles... it's on everybodies to do list, right?  Eh, maybe not so much... but after diving into Sauerkraut for a few months now, we have begun to broaden our horizons!  But let me first start off by stating what may be obvious... pickles are pickled cucumbers.   The pickling process can either be done using vinegar to provide the acid, OR, in our case, letting Lactobacillus, which lives on the surface of a lot of veggies, digest the veggies and produce lactic acid... while living in a salty environment, which prevents the growth of some nasty bacteria until the acid levels come up.

The recipe we used came out of this book:

Available on Amazon here

25lb Pickling Cucumbers
112 cloves garlic
4 cups dill weed
1/2lb Salt (Not sure about this one, my memory is failing me after 2-1/2 weeks)
A couple gallons water... eh, you'll need to check the book out from the library or buy it...

That said, I've got some pictures... those are more fun that reading anyway!

Pack'em in there!

The first step for me was to pack a layer of cucumbers in the bottom as tight as I was able to... I didn't think everything was going to fit into our 5 gallon crock.

Adding the dill, and garlic in there...

I would pack in a layer, like the first pic, then thrown some garlic in there and half the dill, then do another layer of cucumbers and throw the rest of the spices in... I think there was only two layers before I got this thing about topped off.  Either way, the next step didn't go quite as it will next time...

This recipe was for a gallon crock and I scaled it up... only problem, I packed the pickles in a bit tighter than the recipe expected and I didn't have room for all the brine.  I can't recall what I did, but I eventually had to taste the brine in the crock and compare the taste to some brine from the book.  Next time I'll mix up the brine in a jar and pour it in until I top things off... oh well... it seems to be working so far!

I'll try to take some more pic's and show you what it looks like as it ferments!