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Roundup Is Making Us Sick

 

Photo from online Roundup advertisement

Part 1: The history of Roundup and how it affects our food

The world looked very different in the 1980’s, the decade I spent in medical school and family practice residency. Even though my job was mainly with the ill, people in general then seemed so much healthier than today. Back then, most cancers and all Alzheimer’s disease, autism and auto-immune diseases were rare. Why have they become so prevalent in the last three decades? For the last few years I have been looking through research to find answers. What I keep bumping into is the link between the introduction of Roundup and the increase in illness.

It’s not only physicians of my vintage that are alarmed at the rapid increase in previously-rare diseases. Veterinarians are witnessing a surge in livestock infertility and miscarriages. Dogs are getting cancers at an unprecedented rate. Plant pathologists tell of previously confined plant diseases, like bacterial wilt and fusarium, which are now rapidly spreading across the country. Although there are many poisons in our environment today, when we understand the history of Roundup and how it works, it becomes clearer why it’s a major factor in making us sick. We can then use this knowledge to keep ourselves and our families healthy.

Roundup’s history: Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, was patented as a “descaling agent” in the 1960’s by Stauffer Chemical Company. Its purpose was to clean industrial pipes and boilers by binding, or “chelating” residual minerals. In areas where the used-glyphosate was discarded, plants died. Monsanto Corporation quickly saw its herbicide potential and bought glyphosate for herbicide use in 1969.

The FDA and USDA required no independent safety studies before allowing glyphosate on the market. Monsanto’s convincing argument was that humans don’t have the chemical pathway that glyphosate interrupts to kill plants and bacteria. Therefore, in 1974, the sale of glyphosate began as “Roundup.” It was marketed to both farmers and homeowners as a weed-killer.

In addition to the mineral-binding component, glyphosate, Roundup also contains “adjuvants”-like surfactant. A surfactant breaks the surface tension of water and allows Roundup to enter all parts of a plant. As you will see in Part-2, surfactant also has a major role in making us sick.

Roundup’s use as an herbicide was limited at first because it couldn’t be used directly on crops without killing them. When Monsanto developed glyphosate-resistant soybeans and corn in 1996, the use of Roundup soared. This was also the beginning of previously rare diseases becoming common.

Crops that are genetically engineered to be glyphosate-resistant have come to be known as GE (genetically engineered) or GMO (genetically modified organisms). Most GE crops were developed to be used with Roundup and are called “Roundup Ready.” When these crops are sprayed with Roundup, they don’t die. However, Roundup does become “systemic,” or everywhere in the plant--including in what we eat. It’s now believed that GE crops are not harmful in themselves. Research shows that it is the Roundup in the GE crops that make us ill.

Roundup is everywhere: There are four main reasons there has been such a rapid increase in the amount of Roundup used since 1996: “Roundup Ready” soybeans and corn grew to become almost 100% of the United States’ market by 2014. Secondly, weeds rapidly gained resistance to Roundup--the first resistant weeds were reported in the late 1990’s. To counteract this resistance, the amount of Roundup used in each field has doubled since 1996. Thirdly, the number of GE crops has grown to include sugar beets, canola and potatoes in addition to the original soybeans and corn.

Finally, the use of Roundup is no longer limited to GE foods. It is now used extensively as a pre-harvest desiccant to “dry down” crops. Non-GE crops like wheat, oats, barley, and sugar cane are sprayed with Roundup about a week before harvest so their foliage will be dry and easier to harvest with a combine.

Monsanto originally told the Food and Drug Administration that Roundup did not stay in the soil or the crops. It’s become clear that this is not true—high residuals have been found in the soil and then in waterways after it rains. It also resides in the entire plant and grains that are harvested and we ingest. Because Roundup is in food and water, it’s should not be a surprise that it is found in human urine, breast milk, central nervous system and bone marrow. Urban dwellers are as vulnerable as their rural counterparts in this regard.

If Monsanto found it so easy to convince our government that Roundup couldn’t hurt humans or other mammals, then why should we be concerned? To answer that, we’ll look first at what is now known to happen to plants and then our bodies when contaminated with Roundup.

Roundup makes our food less nutritious: Besides pleasure, the main reason we eat food is for its caloric and mineral content. As we know from its history, Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, chemically binds to minerals and makes them inactive. When it binds the minerals in soil, these nutrients can’t become part of the plants which are our food. Roundup’s success at binding minerals was apparent when the USDA decreased the weight of a bushel of corn by two pounds since the use of Roundup began. That’s two pounds of minerals lost per bushel.

Fewer minerals in plants mean fewer minerals for our bodies. We’re familiar with calcium and phosphate for our bone structure, and potassium to keep our hearts beating. But our bodies also need a trace amount of other minerals, like manganese, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, and selenium to serve as enzymes and co-enzymes for the hundreds of chemical reactions in our bodies. When Roundup is used on crops, these minerals stay in the soil instead of becoming part of our food.

A second way Roundup makes our food less nutritious is by killing the soil’s bacteria. These bacteria are an essential part of the soil-food web that delivers the minerals from the soil into plants. In 2010, Monsanto patented glyphosate as an antibiotic—and antibiotics kill bacteria. Glyphosate could never be marketed as an antibiotic because it only kills “good” bacteria and not the “bad.” But glyphosate’s role as an antibiotic continues in the soil, resulting in even less nutrition in our food.

Part 2 will describe how Roundup directly affects our bodies.

Mary Lou retired as a physician and now homesteads with her husband, Tom, south of Columbus, Ohio. Her book, Growing Local Food can be bought through Carlisle Press at 800-852-4482.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

8 Things we Make at Home to Save Money, Reduce Waste, and Eat Healthier

Make it at Home

 

Grocery bills can be scary.  They never stop coming, and they seem to just get bigger as kids grow older and families get bigger.  After all, we have to eat.  And no matter how much coupon clipping or thrifty shopping you do, the numbers still add up.

One of our strategies for saving money at the register is to make more things at home that we would otherwise buy.  We try to focus on the items that are more of a hit to our pocket, show up on our grocery list on a regular basis, and are not too hard to make at home.  Because I work from home part-time, I try to dedicate “Make it at home Mondays” to the task of preparing at least 2-3 of these items.  Others I know, dedicate time on Sunday to do this.

In addition to saving money, we’re also saving a ton of packaging – from bags and boxes to paper cups and plastic bottles, which makes us feel good about our choices.

Lastly, making these items at home allows us to choose our own ingredients and leave out the less healthy preservatives, sweeteners, and artificial ingredients you would find in store-bought items.

Here are 8 ideas for things you can make at home instead of buying (with links to helpful recipes and tips):

Bread – this is the biggest one for us. A nice, high quality loaf of whole grain bread at the grocery store will cost about $4-6 where we live.  Likewise, a loaf to have with dinner will run about the same.  So, three loaves of bread a week = $15.  You can make a double-sized batch of our favorite maple oat sandwich bread using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method for less than $5 (or $2.20 a loaf); a simple loaf without maple syrup and oats would be even cheaper.  Our cost is also lower because we buy our flour in large bulk bags and we have our own honey.  That means that our loaves cost less than $2, cutting our costs for bread by more than half and also cutting out tons of artificial ingredients and increasing the yum factor.  For more information on getting started with bread making, check out our series of articles on the topic.

Savings from making our own bread: at least $10/week.

Yogurt – we use about 2 large 32 oz containers of yogurt per week between kids’ snacks and breakfast. Because we want high quality yogurt, we usually spend about $5 per container.  Instead of buying those quarts, we can use our Instant Pot to make yogurt, 2 quarts at a time.  The ingredients are simple – just 2 quarts of milk and a packet of starter.  Once you’ve been making yogurt, you can save money on the starter by using a tablespoon or two of the previous batch of yogurt as your starter.  Making yogurt at home cuts the cost in half, plus you can sweeten to your liking with maple syrup or honey and don't have to settle for high sugar alternatives.

Savings from making our own yogurt: $5/week

Granola Bars – our kids take a granola bar with them to school almost every day for their afternoon snack. While I can sometimes get the high quality organic granola bars on sale, they typically cost about $4-5/box and we often go through 2 boxes a week.  By making them at home with simple ingredients, I can cut that cost in half.  I can also mix and match ingredients for some fun variation and have the kids make bars with me as a way to spend time together.  I use the flexible recipe on Inspired Taste and I often cut back on the sugar just a bit to make them a little less sweet.  Likewise, while you’re buying your oats in bulk you might as well also make your own granola.  I like recipes that are low in sugar or use honey or maple syrup instead, like this one from The Kitchn

Savings from making our own granola bars: $5/week

Pancakes and other Baked Goods – ok, I know not everyone eats pancakes and waffles on a regular basis, but we eat them almost every weekend and then we save the leftovers for weekday meals. As such, it’s important to us to use high quality healthy ingredients and whole grains in our pancakes so we’re not just eating fluffy white flour all of the time.  Getting a high-quality mix would cost $5 per batch of 20-24 pancakes, plus you’d have to use your own eggs, oil, and/or milk anyway.  Instead, we make our own whole grain pancakes with our favorite nutty-tasting recipe, or we make our own mix that we can use multiple times using King Arthur Flour’s homemade whole grain pancake mix  Once again, we also know exactly what we’re putting in our pancakes and we cut down on sugar compared to most boxed options. Speaking of not using a mix, we also make our own brownies, cookies, scones, muffins, etc. without buying mixes.  You get to control the ingredients you want to add and save money without that much more work in the long run.

Savings from making our own pancakes or pancake mix (and other baked goods): $6/week

Salad Dressing – if you keep a well-stocked cupboard with decent olive oil and a few jars of vinegar (balsamic, red wine, etc.) and have dried herbs on hand, there is really no reason you need to buy salad dressing at the store. For mere pennies on the dollar, you can whip up your own salad dressing that will taste fresh, unique, and delicious.  You can use a dash of maple syrup, honey, or sugar to add a touch of sweetness and help your oil and vinegar mix.  Our favorite is a simple maple balsamic dressing but you can also get into making your own buttermilk ranch or honey dijon with a quick google search for recipes!

Savings from making our own salad dressing: $2/week (in summer salad season)

Homemade Veggie Burgers

Veggie Burgers – we love a good black bean burger, and there are some decent-tasting frozen options out there, but they really can’t compare to a homemade version. Homemade veggie burgers have more depth of flavor and texture, more of a shape to them, and more options in terms of ingredients.  And by adding some simple mix-ins to a can of beans or (even cheaper) some prepared dried beans, you can create twice the number of veggies burgers you’d get in a package for about one quarter of the price.  Our favorite recipe for black bean burgers uses garlic, eggs, bread crumbs, and spices to make a delicious burger.  You can also double the recipe and stock your freezer so you have your own homemade convenience option for easy, cheap dinners.  If you want to get even more creative, we are big fans of the “Dixie Burger” from the Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook which combines black eyed peas, tofu, and sweet potato.  So delicious!  Bonus points for making your own easy rolls at home (see bread making above)! 

Savings from making our own veggie burgers: $5/week (especially during summer grilling season)

Hot drinks – if you’re a coffee drinker, you probably know how much cheaper it is to make your coffee at home instead of buying it at the coffee shop. But this option goes way beyond coffee.  Making a big batch of hot chocolate mix, or simply a single hot chocolate with cocoa powder and sugar (or maple syrup), at home can save money over buying those pre-packaged envelopes that really don’t taste as good anyway.  Likewise, if you’re a fan of a chai latte and you’re willing to invest in a simple milk frother for your counter you can make a maple chai latte at home that is just as good if not better than what you buy at the coffee shop!

Savings from making your own hot beverages: $5-10/week (depending on whether you’re a regular morning consumer and how many of you consume!)

Cold Drinks – making your own beverages at home is sooooo easy, and is a great substitution for so many of the things you might buy in big plastic bottles. Those big plastic bottles also often contain tons of sugar that really just isn’t necessary for a yummy beverage.  From lemonade to soda, you can make things at home out of simple inexpensive ingredients and with lower sugar content than you’d find at the store.   If you have access to your own honey or maple syrup, you can skip white sugar altogether and sweeten beverages to the level you desire rather than the level society tells us we should like.  You can use your own pitcher or buy a soda machine to eliminate tons of plastic bottles (and yes, you’ll find savings over the long term even with this initial investment).

Savings from making our own cold beverages: $4-6/week (especially during the hotter summer months when we’re drinking them more often)

By making some or all of these things at home instead of buying them at the store (as often as we can find the time), we save between $30 and $50 every week, which cuts our grocery bill by at least $100 a month! 

I’m sure there are so many other things we could add to this list!  What do you make at home??


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

The Artisan Exchange: How To Launch Your Food Business

One of Chester County’s best-kept secrets is the Artisan Exchange. Hidden in a light industrial area in the town of West Chester is the brainchild of Frank Baldassarre. Frank realized the difficulty craft food and beverage makers had in securing a commercial kitchen space at an affordable price and wanted to ease that challenge. Frank and his partners Maryann Baldassarre and Joseph Stratton set about refurbishing the building that formerly housed mushroom houses and later a coffee roaster. When opened in 2013 the Artisan Exchange offered vendors either their very own commercial kitchen nook or a flexible space they could rent out as needed to test a new food product.

Inside the Artisan Exchange

Inside the Artisan Exchange Saturday Market.

Four key areas of support

1. They offer affordable kitchen space and a common sanitization area, thus cutting the cost of needing a cleaning space in each kitchen unit. Business owners get to choose from individual proprietary manufacturing spaces from as little as 130 sq. Ft. up to 3,000 sq. Ft. depending on their needs and budget.

2. Access to a retail market. Each Saturday food business owners that rent kitchen space at Artisan Exchange can sell their goods at the Artisan Market. For a fee of $20-30, the vendors can set up a table and sell hot food, frozen food, or packaged products from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Saturday Artisan Market.

3. Production flexibility with commercial kitchen spaces that can be rented by the hour, day, or month using the online reservation system. Kitchen space is available 24-hours per day and seven days per week. This 24-hour availability helps budding entrepreneurs keep their day job and work during their off-hours in a commercial kitchen.

4. Sales and distribution services. This kind of sales help is valuable to a food company just starting out. Artisan Exchange helps new food companies sell to big companies like Aramark, Whole foods, and other outlets.

Startup food companies also receive much-needed support in navigating the paperwork jungle. Frank Baldassarre told me “In one case we had an entrepreneur come to us for commercial kitchen space and needed help getting setup. Within one week we got her in a suitable kitchen space, business insurance, and a license from the Pennsylvania Department Of Agriculture. By the next Saturday, she was selling her product at our Artisan Market.” Due to a history of helping more than 170 startups navigate the necessary paperwork, Frank and his team can expedite this challenging process.

Help with getting products out the door

Each vendor has access to shipping, receiving, and delivery facilities. With help from the management, vendors will need such shipping space as many have been fortunate enough to sell to several outlets in the greater Philadelphia area and beyond. Over 170 owners have started at Artisan Exchange, and several have had their products sold in local Whole Foods stores.

Sallay of Sallamin Foods International

Sallay at Sallamin Foods International

Another benefit of producing food products in this environment is the owners tend to learn from each other. An exchange of information covering packaging methods, health regulations, paperwork, and more, are freely discussed to the good of all. To manufacture and distribute a food product is a mind-boggling endeavor and these mom-and-pop startups need all the help they can get.  Once the food business owners get up and running they can store their products in their own freezers, refrigerators, or rolling security cage. When put on rollers, the refrigerators and freezers are pushed into the vendor’s kitchen area for ease of production. If the cost of such refrigeration and storage facilities is too much in the beginning, vendors can use community refrigeration and storage to save on costs.

The 900 sq. ft. community commercial kitchen is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. After signing on with Artisan Exchange, the vendors using the community commercial kitchen go online and reserve the time slot needed. This 24-hour accessibility offers startups a chance to try their hand at making and selling food products and hold down their day job. Once they get traction in the marketplace, they can rent bigger kitchen space on a month-to-month basis or longer if needed.

Kitchen equipment for food production is expensive, and most startups can’t afford such a luxury. The Artisan Exchange provides cooking and cleanup equipment to help out. The entrepreneurs have access to a 20-quart mixer, six burner stove, a convection oven, and a tilt skillet. For cleanup, they have the use of an automatic dishwasher, 3-bay sink, hand washing station, and a mop sink. The commercial kitchen supplies tables, shelves, food prep sink table, freezers, refrigeration, and warming cabinet.

BrendAmore at Saturday Artisan Exchange Market

Brenda of BrendAmore Italian Catering at the Saturday Market

Both the food business owners and the public flock to the Saturday market throughout the year. Open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this market is sheltered from the elements inside the Artisan Exchange. Customers find up to 20 or more vendors each Saturday. What were once just food products for sale has expanded to include candles, tea, and bath products. Come hungry as many of the vendors serve delicious foods to sample or have for lunch on the spot.

The Artisan Exchange is a prototype for what every state should have to benefit food product entrepreneurs. Those living in or visiting the Philadelphia area are lucky to have such a market nearby. Food entrepreneurs have come from neighboring states of Delaware, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland to get a jump start. Even if you live far away consider this a great place to launch your dream of a successful food product business. Or start your own version of an artisan’s exchange where you live. This model works!

Kurt Jacobson writes about travel, food, wine, organic gardening, and most anything else from his varied professional life. His articles appear in Alaska Magazine, Fish Alaska Magazine, Metropolis Japan Magazine, Edible Delmarva Magazine, North West Travel and Life Magazine, and Mother Earth News. Kurt lives in the Baltimore, MD area with his wife, dog and cats.

Kurt’s articles also appear on several websites like: GoNomad.comTrip101.comMotherEarthNews.comAdventuresstraveler.comand several others. Kurt is a regular contributor to GoNomad.com writing about Alaska, Colorado, New Zealand, Japan, and the Mid-Atlantic areas.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Celebrate the Wisconsin Cranberry Harvest with this Crustless Cranberry Pie Recipe

crustless cranberry pie from Great Expectations

Think beyond Thanksgiving cranberry sauce when it comes to this ruby red powerhouse fruit. Packed with nutrients, cranberries add color and flavor zing to both savory and sweet dishes such as this super easy Crustless Cranberry Pie recipe from Great Expectations, a cozy local eatery in central Wisconsin that celebrates these berries on their menu during the fall cranberry harvest and throughout the year.

“One of the biggest comments I hear from folks is ‘I don’t like cranberries,’ but we’re on a mission to change that here,” laughs Amy Scheide co-owner of Great Expectations with her husband, Ryan. “The vast majority of cranberries grown around here go into processed foods like sauce and juice and people unfortunately don’t know what a real, fresh cranberry even tastes like.”

Scheide creatively experiments with cranberries throughout the menu, from a cranberry vinaigrette salad dressing to adding cranberries to everything from chicken salad to bread pudding. With a strong commitment to supporting area farms and food artisans, Great Expectations sources seasonal ingredients far beyond cranberries. There are cocktails made with Door County Tart Cherry Shrub by Siren Shrub and their Unforgettable Grilled Cheese featuring grilled, locally-raised butternut squash and a cranberry-pepper jam and, of course, Wisconsin cheddar. Stay tuned for that unique combination recipe from Great Expectations in a future post.

“History and research have proven the health benefits of cranberries,” shares Fawn Gottschalk, a fifth-generation family farmer at Gottschalk Cranberry Marsh outside Wisconsin Rapids, who joined photographer John Ivanko and I for lunch at Great Expectations after a tour of her farm. “From promoting urinary tract to cardiovascular health, it’s a super fruit high in fiber, vitamin C and the highest of all fruits in antioxidants.” Interestingly, cranberries are one of only three fruits indigenous to the United States, the others being blueberries and concord grapes.

Fawn Gottschalk a Cranberry Farmer at Gottschalk Cranberry Marsh  

We love these native cranberries here in Wisconsin. Our state produces over 60 percent of the nation’s crop, securing Wisconsin as the number one cranberry producer in the United States for the 24th consecutive year. The cranberry harvest runs from mid-September through mid-October, where you can see these bright red marshes – called bogs on the east and west coasts. The long-vined cranberries grow in soft acidic soil, usually near wetlands. The harvest process involves flooding the marsh with water and “combing” the vines with special harvesting equipment to loosen the fruit, which then floats to the surface. The cranberries floating on the surface create an amazing pool of color.

“I love cranberries in any form but eating them here is my favorite option,” adds Gottschalk, enjoying a break from the busy harvest for a cranberry-infused lunch at Great Expectations. “It’s an honor to know our growers and be able to showcase their hard work,” sums up Scheide. “We are blessed to have such a wonderful farming community here in central Wisconsin that are both our suppliers and also dear friends.”

The Crustless Cranberry Pie, a favorite on the Great Expectations menu year-round, is super easy to make at home and just takes one mixing bowl. The crust naturally caramelizes and this also makes a nice morning coffeecake or to-go snack. Scheide bakes this in her divided cast iron pan that makes uniform “slices,” but a regular pie pan will work just fine. She recommends hand-stirring; no need for a mixer. And for those increasingly cool fall days, serve it warm with a drizzle of caramel and homemade maple whipped heavy cream!

For those food product entrepreneurs who have embraced your state’s cottage food law and who are baking and selling from their homestead kitchens, this Crustless Cranberry Pie might be worth trying out. Thanks to the successful home-baking lawsuit in Wisconsin, we can finally sell such non-hazardous baked goods legally from our home kitchen. A Wisconsin win-win: Supporting the community economy with baked goods and celebrating seasonal, local ingredients.

Slice of crustless cranberry pie at Great Expectations 

Crustless Cranberry Pie

Courtesy of Amy Scheide, Great Expectations, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin

Yield:  8 slices

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
Pinch of salt in a bowl
1 ½ cup fresh cranberries
3/4 cup  chopped pecans
½ cup butter, melted
2 tsp almond extract
2 eggs 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray your cast iron skillet or pie pan.

2. Combine sugar and flour and a pinch of salt in a bowl.

3. Add fresh cranberries and coat with mixture.

4. Stir in chopped pecans and then melted butter and almond extract.

5. Whisk the eggs and pour over mixture and stir.

6. Bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch.

Lisa Kivirist, with her husband, John D. Ivanko, a photographer and drone pilot, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by renewable energy. Kivirist also authored Soil Sisters. As a writer, Kivirist contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, Living with Renewable Energy Systems: Wind and Solar and 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam and millions of ladybugs.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Easy Buttermilk Cheese

Bits of Leftover Milk 

Leftover Buttermilk?

Why would someone routinely have leftover buttermilk in varying amounts?

I make scones every week for our local Farmer’s Market. Fresh baked every Saturday morning, 168 regular size and 48 mini scones in 6 flavors roll out of the kitchen in just under 3 hours. Customers rave about the light texture. In addition to minimal handling, using buttermilk creates a delicate, moist scone. The downside to my weekly scone habit is it doesn’t take an even amount of buttermilk. Each week takes a slightly different amount depending on the scone flavors and the moisture content of the flours. Out of a gallon of buttermilk, there is always some random bit left. If you don’t have leftover buttermilk, just purchase a quart to test this for yourself.

No Waste

I hate to waste, but have few other recipes where I can use a cup to a quart of buttermilk every week. Occasionally I make biscuits, but I don’t want them every week. Then I started thinking about cheese. I love cheese and have several books about making cheese. I have made simple cheeses but always find myself running to the store to get a full gallon of whole milk. I wanted a way to just use up the leftover buttermilk plus any other half used jugs of milk taking up space in the refrigerator. Time to start experimenting with whatever amounts and kinds of milk I had on hand.

The Recipes

I discovered two versions that will do what I need.

1. All buttermilk.

As long as it isn’t outdated, I may save up the leftover buttermilk for a couple of weeks. When I have at least a quart, I pour it in a pan, add salt to taste, heat slowly to approximately 180 degrees. The milk will begin to separate into curds and whey. When the curd holds together and the whey is light yellow, turn off the heat. Let it sit for 5 minutes or so, then ladle into a straining cloth, hang over a bowl for 15 minutes or until it stops dripping. Easy cheese. Essentially, heat buttermilk until it separates. Nothing could be easier.

2. Buttermilk plus sweet milk.

Sometimes, I have partial jugs of milk that are nearing the expiration date, so I will use buttermilk to acidify the sweet milk and make cheese. To do this, add a cup or so of buttermilk to up to a half gallon of sweet milk, add salt to taste. Then use the same slow heat process. At about 180˚ the milk will separate into curds. Follow the same straining and hanging process as in #1 above. The proportions of buttermilk to sweet milk do not need to be precise. If the milk is not separating at 180º, you simply need more acid. Add lemon juice a tablespoon at a time until separation occurs.

These fresh cheeses will keep 2-3 days in the refrigerator.

Spreadable vs. Firm Cheese

One technique I stumbled upon by accident will alter the cheese into a more spreadable version. As the milk is heating, stir frequently with a slotted spoon to keep the curds smaller while cooking. After straining, this will make a spreadable, almost cream cheese texture. For a firmer cheese, only stir gently on occasion, just enough to keep the milk from scorching on the bottom.

Straining Cheese in Hanging Bag

Straining

You will find recommendations to use cheese cloth, specially made bags for straining cheese and I’ve been successful with a thin muslin. However, my best results have been from using the vegetable storage bags we received with our bookstore purchases at Mother Earth News Fairs. The bags come in several different sizes, are washable and food safe. I set the bag in a jar or bowl, ladle in the cheese, then loop the end through one of my cabinet door handles. Place a bowl underneath to catch the dripping whey and soon I have delicious fresh cheese from leftover buttermilk.

Flavors

These cheeses also accept other flavors quite well. I have added cracked black pepper and smoked paprika to the milk  of individual batches while heating. You could combine these or use any herbs and spices that appeal to you. I have also rolled the finished ball of cheese in minced fresh basil.

Finished Cheese

Now I enjoy fresh home-made cheese every couple of weeks with minimal fuss and use up leftovers in the process.

Julia is the co-owner of Five Feline Farm and author of Simply Delicious, a memoir of cooking. She loves to turn bits of leftovers into new tasty and beautiful offerings.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Making Mozzarella Cheese in One Hour

I have never made cheese. I have never even thought about making cheese. When I think of cheese, I think of those giant wheels that have to be stored for years and years in a hole in the wall before you can even consider eating them. So seeing a DIY Cheese Kit in the Mother Earth News store that promises delicious cheese in just an hour made me pretty skeptical.

This specific kit offers the directions for two different cheeses: mozzarella and ricotta. I went with mozzarella, since it sounded easier to me. There are other kits available for those who want to tackle for different cheeses, like feta or yogurt cream cheese.  I was intimidated immediately; full disclosure, I didn’t understand all of the cheese-related jargon sprinkled throughout the directions. At one point in the instructions, it says something along the lines of, “Even if your cheese has failed, making it to this point is a huge deal!” I was sure that was written specifically for someone like me.

Once I began making my mozzarella, the directions made a lot more sense to me, since I was able to put the foreign words together with what I was seeing happen in my kitchen. Once I understand the vocabulary, the direction were clear and easy to follow. They even included helpful cartoon-like illustrations that helped guide you through what your cheese is meant to look like at each stage, and what route to take if your cheese isn’t matching the illustrations.

I really liked making my own cheese because it allowed me to salt my mozzarella to my preference, instead of depending on someone else to get the flavor just right. Since this kit comes with cheese salt (I never knew there was a specific salt just for making cheese), you can make it as bland or salty as you want!

I think my favorite thing about this kit was the fun facts and tips offered in the directions. It really helped me know what to expect when I was making my cheese, and it also just gives you a few interesting tips about making cheese!

One of the cons of this kit was the fact that mozzarella cheese does not last long once you have made it. This kit helps you make cheese my the pound, and I found it a little difficult to go through that much mozzarella in just a few days before it started to go bad.

Overall, this product was a ton of fun to use, and made me feel like I could actually accomplish something I had always thought would be too difficult for me. Though my mozzarella didn’t store for very long, it was delicious, and it made me feel really proud that I could make it myself – seriously, I called my mom and bragged about it, that’s how proud I was.

You can try your hand at making your own cheese by purchasing this kit from the Mother Earth News store!

Soothe a Sore Throat with Spice

Cayenne-spiced tomato soup is a wonderful sore-throat remedy.

We’re on the brink of cold-and-flu season, which in our house means a lot of snotty noses and sore throats. With a first-grader, a fourth-grader, and a husband who teaches high school, my family is basically a triple threat of illness, usually ending up with some sort of plague-like gunk during the winter months.

Over the years, I’ve drilled into the kids the importance of hand-washing and coughing into their elbows (Or, basically anywhere other than directly into my mouth … sigh.). As they’re running to the bus, I’m sure I can be heard yelling: “Don’t let anyone breathe on you! Don’t touch anything with your bare hands!” while throwing handfuls of kale and hand sanitizer at them.

And while I can’t send the kids to school wearing hazmat suits, being around other kids means that all of our efforts don’t always go in our favor, and someone ends up getting sick (usually my husband … with the dreaded “man cold,” which we all know is way, way worse than a regular cold.).

I’ve found that using small amounts of spices, such as cayenne, can help alleviate a sore throat and sinus pain. Cayenne is an analgesic, meaning a pain-reliever, and an anti-inflammatory, which can subdue swollen tissue, which is why it is also great for sinus infections.

At about a $1 a bottle, dried cayenne powder is an inexpensive spice that is an effective remedy against sore throats. And, if you grow cayenne peppers in the garden, they’re easy to dry and process into powder with a good blender or food processor for next to nothing.

There are many ways to use cayenne to soothe a sore throat. I’ve made a simple tea with a pinch of cayenne powder in hot water, but I find that kids do not like this. I must admit, the flavor isn’t really that great, but it does offer a nice afterburn in the throat, which ironically, temporarily soothes the inflamed tissue. You can also try adding a pinch of cayenne to a spoonful of honey.

But I’ve found that there’s nothing like a mug of hot soup to help me feel better when I’m suffering from a cold. Here’s a recipe I like to make to utilize my favorite natural pain-reliever: cayenne. In fact, my neighbor asked for the recipe and said that he thought it was good, too. Ryan messaged me later that he upped the cayenne to a half teaspoon and used thyme as his fresh herb. So, adjust the herbs and spices to your preference and enjoy!  

Cayenne-Spiced Tomato Soup

Ingredients

¼ cup finely minced onion
¼ cup finely minced celery
3 cloves finely minced garlic
3 tbsp butter
1 15 oz. can low-sodium tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz. can low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup whole milk OR heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp cayenne powder (or more, depending on your preference)
Salt and pepper to taste (I like celery salt in this soup, but regular salt it fine, too.)

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and add onion and celery.

2. Saute for a few minutes, until the onion is clear.

3. Add garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add the tomato sauce, broth, and milk. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.

4. Add the sugar and seasonings. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with sliced green onions, chopped parsley, or a drizzle of sour cream. Here in the picture, I used a few fresh, torn oregano leaves because I still had some in the herb garden, but you can garnish with any fresh herb you like. Be sure to have plenty of grilled cheese sandwiches to accompany this awesome soup!

Corinne Gompf is a writer and hobby farmer in Morrow County, Ohio. She is a graduate from the University of Toledo, with a BA in English, creative writing concentration. Along with her husband, Matt, and two children, Fletcher and Emery, Corinne raises poultry, Boer goats, rabbits, and chemical-free produce. Connect with Corinne on her Heritage Harvest Farm Facebook page.


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