bottling olive oil from bulk

My metal funnel

I love local olive oil, and local sunflower oil, and peanut oil.
I want to show my local industries the love and buy local rather than import, and I want to reduce my consumption of glass given it has such a lower rate of recycling than metal/tin.

My favourite local olive oil is Red Island. I spend about $20 for a 3 litre tin, or it is about $9 per litre in a bottle. I use my trusty metal funnel (about 25 years old now) and decant from the tin to my dark glass bottle (olive oil doesn’t like direct sunlight, so I use the dark glass) that has worked well for more than a decade. The same bottle will easily last another decade or more. When the metal cap or plastic inner pourer break, given the diameter of bottle opening is standard, it is easy to find a replacement 🙂 I have decided that when this little plastic pourer thingy dies, I won’t bother replacing it at all.

The sunflower oil is in the clear bottle, and my peanut oil is in a hand charged mist sprayer, which is about 5 years old now.

So, no spray cans, no plastic bottles, three glass bottles for the decade, and tins of local oil that are cost effective and readily recyclable.

Job done – I’m happy. 


reduce your kitchen waste

The Stock Cycle

We grow, make and store, but that’s not near the whole story. 
In order to really make the most of our resources, and reduce food waste, we need to be sure every single edible part of the plants we grow can be used.

To this end, we are very grateful for Grandma’s ‘stock cycle’ routine, and have taken the concept a step further with our stock and herb blocks.
Read on..

  1. KEEP a container marked ‘STOCK’ in the fridge for no more than a week, being sure to use one just the right size to put into one stock pot or your Thermomix. Use it to make your stock on a regular day of the week so it doesn’t sit there too long.
  2. FILL with all manner of fresh veg goodies:
    veggie ends,
    citrus rinds,
    herb stalks,
    onion roots,
    beet and celery leaves,
    left over veg that is near it’s end of fresh life…

    Important to say NOT to include anything cooked or mouldy – only fresh edible bits – and of course leave out any parts that are not safe to eat, like Rhubarb leaves or greened potato 🙂
  3. COOK in a pot using a basic stock recipe, and strain to freeze or use right away for a brilliant soup (leftover cooked bits into the trenching box), or if you have a Thermomix, use the basic book stock recipe and make your own stock paste – we freeze our paste in these silicone block trays, stack and freeze then cant into a container.

THE SLOW ROAD: If you are unlikely to save enough stock-fodder in a week or run out of time, keep the Stock Cycle container in the freezer instead and collect there. You can also do this for chicken or beef stock, freezing carcass or other meaty bits in the freezer to turn into stock another time.

So, keep your veggie bits, make stock, and reduce waste. x


harvesting thyme

Herbs, cut & freeze.

You may have a small herb plant or a whole bed planted out with seed.
The fresh cut-as-you-need-it is fine for each day, and gifting to neighbours and friends is one of the pleasures of growing but if you have a glut, you should harvest the herbs whilst at their best, which is usually at their most tender before hardening off later in the growing season. That way the stems are still soft, so the whole herb can be tossed right into your cooking, like thyme, rosemary etc. which will become quite woody later on if you wait. After cutting the lot, some will grow back, and this is more than enough for the casual pick-as-you-need-it 😉 

This year I missed the sweet spot for tenderness but no matter – even if the stems have hardened, my thyme will freeze beautifully and I can deal with the stems later – read on…

Some folks dry herbs, but I like freezing. I freeze enough for the whole year. These shallow containers stack beautifully and are not so deep as to make the contents inaccessible. Here are my top tips for harvest and freeze:

  • Grow organically without sprays, washing plants off the night before cutting and allow to dry in the morning.
  • Cut in the morning as that is the freshest time but do wait long enough for dew to dry off so you don’t have too many ice crystals in the freezer container later.
  • Brush your hand across the growing herbs a few times before cutting to encourage little bugs to escape impending doom.
  • Use shallow freezer containers and don’t pack down too full, so that the herbs freeze with space around them rather than as a solid squished block.
  • Don’t wash them after cutting!! Organic growing and prior washing in the garden (see above) means they are clean and dry so won’t wilt and be covered by ice crystals in the freezer. It gives you a ‘dry freeze’ effect.
  • Don’t keep for too long out of freezer as they will start to then wilt in the container. Grab out tray, pinch desired amount out and get that tray back into freezer quick-sticks! . ‘Crumble’ your pinch/handful into cooking (this is where you can toss the stalks etc into your trenching/compost box if they are a bit hardened – no need for chopping). If you are successful at this, then your herbs will be crunchy, not frozen solid.
  • Use stable containers designed to freeze – these ones are Decor brand, BPA free, and are not used for any purpose besides freezing (ie they are not heated). I have had and used the same ones for eleven years now. I have just the right number for my freezer, in three different sizes, all shallow and stackable. They just need a quick hand wash and dry, and ready to go again.
  • Write with permanent marker on a smooth side so it can be wiped off with a quick spritz of rubbing alcohol or tea tree spray and relabelled next time. 
  • Frozen herbs are for cooking – their flavour is still perfect but of course they generally wilt upon defrosting. Some of the woodier herbs like thyme do stand up well after defrosting and can still be sprinkled on top of cooked food like soup.

So there it is – freezing is the BOMB.