Recycling Milk Cartons, Flower Pot Grill, and Other Country Lore

This installment of a regular feature includes short segments on a method of recycling milk cartons and a of using a flower pot grill.


| July/August 1981



070 country lore - recycling milk cartons2

Diagram shows a method for cutting, folding, and recycling milk cartons into freezer containers.


ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

The following  housekeeping tips and other items of country lore were submitted by readers.  

Recycling Milk Cartons

Jim and Shawn Pannell of Chico, California have discovered a way to recycle half-gallon waxed-paper milk cartons into simple, stackable freezer containers. After rinsing each carton, the Pannells cut the spout section off (using a knife or pair of scissors) and then make a horizontal cut 1/2 inch down from the top and around three sides of the container. (Be sure not to cut the strip off, however.) The next cut is made vertically—beginning under the 1/2-inch band—from each of the four corners: Cut halfway down the remaining length of the box. Now all you do is fold down the flaps created by that last cut, and slip the strip over the bottom to hold the box closed. The result is a handy little freezer carton that won't cost you a cent!

Flower Pot Grill

A Mount Vernon, Georgia man has a good tip for any folks who are tired of buying expensive outdoor grills that often burn out their bottoms in one season. Wayne Trautz made a flowerpot grill from an unglazed clay container that was 11 inches deep and 11 inches across. He filled the pot to about five inches from the top with dirt (gravel or sand would work, too).

When he's ready to cook, Wayne places foil over the earth and adds charcoal. He takes care not to let hot coals touch the sides of the pot, because the heat might crack the clay. Finally, he places a rack over the top (a cake cooler or a leftover grating from one of those burned-out barbecues, but not a refrigerator or other galvanized rack, since that would produce toxic fumes when heated) and he's all set to cook up a summer picnic!

Paraffin Substitute

Of course, once the freezer is filled to the brim, there's nothing left to do but make jams and jellies with the fruits and berries from your orchard or bramble patch. And those of you who have difficulty obtaining the paraffin needed to cover your precious preserves can try this idea from Charlotte Brown. After the jelly is poured into the glass containers and cooled, Charlotte beats some egg whites until they're frothy,. then cuts out circles—one inch larger in diameter than the jars—from white tissue paper. The resident of Atwater, Ohio dips each circle carefully in the egg white mixture, places it over the top of the jar, and presses firmly (being careful not to tear the paper). She lets the sealers dry ... then stores the jars in the refrigerator or a cool, dry cupboard. (The jelly shouldn't be frozen, of course.) Mrs. Brown reports that she's used her unusual sealing method for eight years and hasn't yet experienced any spoilage or "bubbling out" (which does sometimes occur with wax).

Bottom-Up Wax Sealing

For those of you who still prefer the paraffin method of covering jellies, here's a trick that may save you from a lot of the mess and bother that comes from working with hot wax. When Barbara Day makes jelly, she shaves slivers of hard paraffin into the bottom of her jars, then pours the hot jelly over that. The McLoud, Oklahoman says the waxy substance will melt, rise to the top, and seal the jelly! Barbara does warn, however, that—after the jelly has completely cooled—the paraffin will sometimes shrink and pull away from the jar, so she recommends that you pour another thin layer of the melted substance around the edges to insure a secure closure.





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