Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Homemade Bathroom Cleaners

There is really only one thing that I hate more than cleaning the bathroom: Washing Dishes. 

And since there was a nice big pile of dirty pots and pans in the sink from my canning project yesterday, I thought today would be the perfect day to clean the bathrooms (and then spend more time blogging about it). The dishes will still be there later, right? The unfortunate answer to that question is always "yes." 

Off I headed to the FOUR bathrooms in the house to scrub and clean. My usual weekly regimen is to just wipe down everything with a disinfectant wipe and scrub the toilet with bleach. But, since it's been at least a week since I really scrubbed them down (ok, more like three weeks...... don't judge me), I decided to do a really good job. Besides, I have this really big pile of dishes waiting for me, so the longer it takes to clean the bathrooms, the better. 

I've been learning all about the natural germ killers, like vinegar, so I've been trying to use less and less commercial cleaners.

According to Wikipedia, 
"Vineagar is reputed to have strong antibacterial properties. One test by Good Housekeeping's microbiologist found that 5% vinegar is 90% effective against mold and 99.9% effective against bacteria,[48]

I make a cleaner that I use for just about everything. (See original post HERE ) 

All Purpose Cleaner
16 oz spray bottle
add 2 Tbsp vinegar, 1 tsp Borax, and some warm water
swirl until borax is dissolved
add a few drops of dish soap (Dawn)
fill the bottle with warm water

(I use a 32 oz bottle from an old cleaner that I had, so I just double the recipe. You can adjust for the size spray bottle you have).

Nice fancy label, right?

I even made my own Orange Infused Vinegar to add the cleaning power of orange oil to the concoction. 

Orange oil "is also an effective, environmentally friendly, and relatively safe solvent, which makes it an active ingredient of choice in many applications, such as, but not limited to, adhesive and stain removers, cleaners of various sorts, and strippers."  Wikipedia.

Orange Vinegar
Collect orange peels and allow them to air dry (toss any that grow mold)
Break up the orange peels and put them in a jar
Fill jar with vinegar
Seal jar and set aside for 2 weeks
Strain orange peels out and keep sealed in a dark location

 I use this spray to clean countertops, showers, and the floor. So far I've been really happy with it. I ran out of it today, so my 4 year old daughter helped me make some more (she loves to stir and mix things). 

Before I knew it, the bathrooms were clean. I couldn't stop there, though, because I needed to put off the dishes for just a bit longer.

I'm always on the lookout for new cleaning recipes to try, and I've been looking for a new disinfectant spray. I came across a recipe for a thyme based disinfectant. (See original post HERE)  

"Oil of thyme, the essential oil of common thyme (Thymus vulgaris), contains 20-54% thymol.[5] Thyme essential oil also contains a range of additional compounds, such as p-Cymenemyrceneborneol and linalool.[6] Thymol, anantiseptic, is the main active ingredient in various commercially produced mouthwashes such as Listerine.[7] Before the advent of modern antibiotics, oil of thyme was used to medicate bandages.[1] Thymol has also been shown to be effective against various fungi that commonly infect toenails.[8] Thymol can also be found as the active ingredient in some all-natural, alcohol-free hand sanitizers." Wikipedia.

Since I have a TON of thyme in my garden, it was really easy and cheap to whip up. 

Thyme Disinfectant
Boil 5 sprigs of thyme in 2 cups of water
Turn off heat and cover, allowing the thyme to soak in hot water for 30 minutes.
Pour in a spray bottle and add 1/4 cup Borax (shake to dissolve).

How much is a sprig? I don't really know... I just grabbed a bunch. More is better when it comes to disinfecting power (in my opinion).

How easy is THAT? And is smells really nice too. 

So, my bathrooms are clean and I have a new disinfectant spray to try. These cleaners are so easy to make and do such a good job, that I still have enough time to do all of my dishes before picking up my son at school. 

Darn it!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Homemade Sauerkraut

I LOVE sauerkraut. 

When I found out that I could make it at home, I was SO excited!! And SO scared! What do you mean I put cabbage in salt water and let it sit for 3 weeks? Really? You just let it sit there at room temperature? I was overwhelmed and too chicken to try it.

Lucky for me, though, my mom made me aware of some free classes nearby that were all about canning. In particular, there was a class on making pickles and sauerkraut! I attended the class given by the Master Food Preservers, and got to see just how easy it is to make sauerkraut. I've got my first batch going, and now, so can you!

You will need 6 lbs of shredded cabbage, 3 1/2 Tbsp salt (with no additives), water, and a large jar or crock for fermenting.

Step 1: Shred the cabbage.

Step 2: Put cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle salt on top. 

Step 3: Using your hands, gently toss the cabbage and salt until the cabbage becomes limp and wet like the picture below (this is the same amount of cabbage as the above picture, so you can see how much it shrinks).

Step 4: Wash and dry a large jar or crock. I used a jar from pickled jalapeƱos (about a gallon size).

Step 5: Begin putting the cabbage in the jar (crock) a handful at a time. Each time, pack it down with your fist to release more liquid from the cabbage.

Step 6: On top of all of the shredded cabbage, place a few whole cabbage leaves to prevent the little pieces from floating up.

Step 7: In a saucepan, mix 1 quart water and 1 1/2 Tbsp salt. Bring to a boil. Cool completely. Use this mixture to add brine to your cabbage if the moisture from packing it down is not enough to completely cover the cabbage leaves. You do not want any cabbage exposed to the air.

Step 8: Fill a ziplock bag with brine to act as a weight to help keep the cabbage down. Place the bag on top of the cabbage. Cover the jar loosely with plastic wrap (you want the gases from fermentation to be able to escape).

Place the entire jar into a bucket or other large container to catch any spillage or fermentation overflow.
Put the bucket into a basement or other area that maintains a constant temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

That's it! Leave it for 3 weeks, then refrigerate, can, or enjoy! Be sure to check the kraut daily to make sure that there is enough liquid in it. If the liquid is low, just add more brine mixture. And remove any scum or mold that forms.

I have my batch going and it will be ready in a few days. I will post an update with pictures of the finished product!

**UPDATE  8/21/2012**

I just processed my first batch of sauerkraut! 

To can the finished kraut, you put it in a pan in it's own juices and heat it to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Put it into clean hot jars, and process in hot water canner for 15 minutes.

**UPDATE 7/20/2013**

We ate our sauerkraut this past winter and shared some with friends and family. My favorite was on New Year's Day when we cooked a pork loin in it. YUM! (It is amazing with my Caraway Pork Rub). I have been told over and over by my family that my sauerkraut is the BEST they've ever had (and I don't think they are just being nice. Haha!) I just finished a batch, but this year I'll be making two or three so we don't run out of it like we did last year. This is SO EASY and SO GOOD! I hope you try it!