30 May 2013

Bottling plums

Now on to something much more aesthetically pleasing than nappies...

Plum season is at an end and once again I was looking for ways to keep plums ready for our porridge through the coming months. The last couple of years we froze them, but our freezer doesn't really have room for storing months worth of breakfast plums. This year I decided to try bottling them.

We purchased 4.4kg of plums at the end of the season.
I initially searched online for no-sugar bottling options, as the amount of sugar our jamming experiments had required somewhat alarmed me. I found plenty of options, including one with no sugar, but it seemed too good to be true and I didn't have a second chance, so I compromised with a light sugar syrup loosely based on the second recipe here. I dissolved two cups of sugar with 1.5L of water. Measuring sugar in cups rather than kilos (as for jam) was a good feeling.

Plums were scrubbed and quartered, then squashed fairly firmly into jars. Warm sugar syrup was poured in to fill the jars (tapping to remove air bubbles) then they were closed and set into cold water on the stove.

These were then heated to boiling, and left to simmer for 20-30 minutes. I was unsure whether the water should cover the jar lids or not, but the size of our pots only allowed it to cover two jars and these did not work as well, so next time I think no covering the jar lids.

Pot lids were balanced on as best I could, as this reduces significantly the amount of heat required to keep a pot simmering. 


The finished product - 8 jars of plums - is delicious. Sweet but still tart. Lightly cooked but still fresh tasting.

Initial Time: About two hours.

Initial Cost: About $17 for plums. Either we missed the week they were in bulk and super cheap, or it never happened at our market this year.

Ongoing time or cost commitment: Zero

Impact: Again we are challenging the mass-production excess-packaging meet-every-whim-regardless-of-season food culture we live within. Its a little drop in a big ocean, but a good drop none the less.

24 May 2013

No More Nappy Sacks

When Eva was born I was given a pack of Nappy Sacks. They were convenient but wasteful. I told myself that when they ran out I would buy no more... but I did.

With baby number two I have decided, really, NO MORE! I took this action months ago but wanted to wait to see if I could stick to it before blogging about it. (There are several secret actions in this category...)

When out and about I use the packaging from bread to bring dirty nappies home. I also have one 'Pea Pods' nappy bag - a wet-bag that a Pea Pod brand cloth nappy came in, a gift from a friend. Apparently all Pea Pod nappies come in these, but as I only have this one of their nappies (which doesn't work as reliably as the Baby Beehinds ones we mostly use) I have only one bag, which I wash and re-use.

I am delighted to say we are now a Nappy Sack free house.

For the uninitiated (you lucky, lucky people who have no dealings with children's poo), Nappy Sack is the brand name for little light-weight orange plastic bags designed for single-use transfer of dirty nappies into a bin. They look exactly like the bags in parks for dog poo. In fact I think they could well be the same thing rebranded.

Initial Time: A few seconds each time we finish a loaf of bread to shake the crumbs from the bag, tie it in a baby-safe knot, and store it in the nappy bag.

Initial Cost: Zero 

Ongoing time or cost commitment: This is a cost saving. Nappy Sacks cost about $8 for a pack of 300. Bread bags come free (if you buy the bread inside).

Impact: I only used Nappy Sacks when we were away from home, and I think we used 3 boxes (900 plastic bags) to get Eva through nappies and start out baby number two. Maybe four. Many people who use disposable nappies use a Nappy Sack for every nappy, even at home, which would be thousands of plastic bags. By my estimates, I will avoid putting several hundred, but no more than a thousand, little plastic bags into landfill.