String theory

I used to think that I could officially be classified as ‘crazy’ when the cat population in my house exceeded three. This did happen some years ago and the situation got so bad (factions formed – there was war) that I had to find a new home for one of them. I have, however, revised my classification… this is because we now only have dogs but I don’t think I got any saner with the reduction in feline numbers (maybe it’s a threshold thing and once you’ve had four cats, there’s no going back).

Anyway, This morning as I constructed a frame for my runner beans to climb up, it dawned on me that I may have achieved new heights of craziness. “Why?” I hear you ask… well, I realised that I have started collecting small pieces of string. The bamboo canes needed tying together and, rather than getting out my ball of twine, like any sane person, I was able to lay my hands on enough short pieces of string to fulfill my needs. And then, to make matters worse, I found myself photographing my string so I could share it with you:

 

Some of my string collection

Some of my string collection

String in action

String in action

But, it’s not just string… I also have a bag of yarn scraps:

Odds and ends

Odds and ends

Which I have been using to stuff hexipuffs, but not fast enough to stop the collection growing.

And then there’s my inability to throw out apple peel and cores, although this has produced some lovely vinegar:

Apple scrap vinegar

Apple scrap vinegar

Perhaps I just need to embrace the crazy…

 

A sour taste

Fermented apple scraps

Fermented apple scraps

About a month ago I started making apple scrap vinegar, and I can report that the process is going well. The idea was to find a use for apple peel and cores rather than simply putting them on the compost heap (although that is not a bad use in itself). By making vinegar, however, I am able to obtain an additional yield and still have compostable material… three outputs from one resource!

The strained liquid - each jar holds three litres.

The strained liquid – each jar holds three litres

It’s good to be deliberately making vinegar – I have done it inadvertently in the past, in the days when I used to make my own wine! Having added some sugar-water and allowed the scraps to ferment naturally for a few weeks, yesterday I strained the liquid off and put it in a couple of large glass jars. It’s fascinating that the mixture had not gone mouldy, but naturally occurring  yeasts had caused the fermentation (you don’t add any brewers yeast). I could have allowed it to ferment for a bit longer, but I need the space that the bucket was occupying, so I decided to move on to this next stage of the process.

Covered with loosely-woven fabric and ready for the next stage - vinegar formation

Covered with loosely-woven fabric and ready for the next stage – vinegar formation

I covered the large jars with cloth squares (lovely colour because these are off-cuts from the kitchen curtains) and transferred the jars onto the dresser to allow the liquid to continue its progression towards apple vinegar. Apparently I can now leave it for between two weeks and two months before it’s ready for filtering through a fine cloth and then it can be used directly or pasteurised to allow me to store it. The fermented apple scraps cannot be fed to the chickens (I really don’t want a drunken ‘hen party’ outside my bedroom window), so they have gone straight onto the compost heap. In fact the girls have not been missing out as they’ve had lots of scraps whilst I’ve been processing more apples for the freezer… there’s a limit to the amount of apple vinegar that a girl can make use of!

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