Mid-April Homestead Happenings

Mid-April Homestead Happenings

A lot is happening on the homestead this spring.

Strawberries are coming through the winter straw. The plants look healthy and vibrant.

This year’s strawberry patch

If you search hard enough, you can find some strawberries blooming.

Rows of blueberries in full bloom

The bees are happily pollinating the blueberry blooms.

Our honeybee hive survived the winter. We are so excited to have these helpful workers on our homestead.

Rows of blackberries

The blackberries are opening.

Raspberries are popping through the ground. We are hoping to have a few to sell for the first time this year. 

What’s happening on your homestead this time of year? Are you as excited as I am? Share you comments below.

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Frugal Living on the Homestead: Make Homemade Yogurt

Homemade Yogurt

When we started planning our transition to a homesteading lifestyle, one of the things I tackled first was trying to find ways to make some of the things we eat the most. For me, yogurt is on the top of the list!

I eat yogurt every…single…day. I have always struggled a little from digestive issues, and yogurt seemed to help regulate the problem. I figured I was spending about $10-$15 per week on yogurt. Once I realized that I could make a gallon of yogurt for little more than the price of a gallon of milk, I knew it was worth my time and effort. Luckily, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort…just a little wait time.

Since learning how to make my own yogurt, I have now transitioned to making organic yogurt. Even considering the purchase of organic milk, I am still at a considerable savings from what I was previously spending. The yogurt lasts over a month in the refrigerator (although I run out long before the yogurt has gone bad).

One thing that has helped stay prepared for my yogurt-making excursions is keeping a steady supply of organic milk in the freezer. It still blows my mind that you can freeze milk! We just pour a little off the top (to allow room for expanding when frozen) and plop it down in our freezer.

When we’re ready for a new gallon, we just set it in the kitchen sink the night before. It is not totally thawed in the morning, but it has a big milk ice cube floating in the middle. There usually is enough to pour out for our daily need. We just pop it in the refrigerator in the morning and off we go.

How to Make Homemade Yogurt

  1. Heat one gallon of milk in a crockpot on high for 2.5 hours. When it is done, the outside will look bubbly and there may be a layer of dried milk across the top.

2. Cool the milk to 110 degrees. You can do this by waiting a long time, or pouring it into a different pan and put in a water bath for around 5 minutes. I use a candy thermometer to read an exact temperature. I have also heard that it if you can dip your pinky in for three seconds without getting burned that it is the correct temperature. Whatever suits your fancy!

3. Pour the milk back into the warm crock. Add your yogurt starter. I buy organic yogurt and freeze it in ice cube trays. Two cubes is enough to turn the whole gallon of milk into yogurt. Just set them out to thaw while you are heating your milk. Make sure you choose a yogurt that only has two ingredients: milk and several yogurt cultures.

4. Stir the mixture well. Put the lid back on the crock and wrap it in a thick towel. I use a beach towel.

5. Do not touch it for 8 hours. Yogurt bacteria do not like to be moved when they are working their magic. After the 8 hours, unwrap the yogurt and put it in the refrigerator to cool.

6. After cooling, the yogurt is ready to eat. It will be runnier than yogurt you purchase at the store. It works good for smoothies when it is thicker. I prefer a thicker yogurt to eat so I strain the whey out of my yogurt before I eat it. I line a colander with coffee filters, and fill it up with the yogurt. Put the colander into a larger dish so the whey strains in. Then I cover the yogurt with a coffee filter and sometimes put a ziplock bag full of water on top of it to apply a little pressure. I put that back in the refrigerator while it strains. The longer you let it strain, the thicker it gets.  

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Add a little raw honey, fresh berries, and granola, and you have yourself quite a treat!

What have you tried to make from scratch to save some money? Share your comments below.

How to Make Homemade Cereal

Homemade Granola

One of the things that my family loves is cereal. When we started shifting to a healthier lifestyle, we knew our evening snacks routine needed to change. No more sugary snacks in the evening, instead we ate cereal.

Cereal for breakfast…

Cereal for an evening snack…

Any time we wanted something sugary, we reached for the cereal.

Little did we know we were only exchanging one unhealthy treat for another.

In my family, we refer to processed, boxed cereal as “poison” cereal. The amount of preservatives, sugar, and extra chemicals are enough to put our bodies into a tailspin. I have challenged myself to try to replace our store-bought cereal, with a wholesome, protein and energy-packed alternative. The key has been to find something that tastes good, and my children will eat.

When we eat this homemade cereal for breakfast, we find we can eat about half a cup topped with whole milk and be full and focused until lunch. I also like to sprinkle a little on top of my homemade Greek yogurt for a little extra crunch.

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1. Gather your materials and preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

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2. Mix your dry ingredients.

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3. Heat coconut oil, honey, molasses, and water in a bowl until it is liquefied.

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4. Pour the mixture over the dried ingredients and mix. Then spread it on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.

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5. Bake for 30 minutes. Then add the dried fruit and return it to the oven for 15 more minutes.

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6. Remove from oven and let cool. Then store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

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Have you started your journey to more eat less processed food? What have you tried? Leave your comments below.