Thursday, March 10, 2011

Self-sufficient syrup

I am a bit of an autodidact. I think if I was not one, I probably would not be living the lifestyle that I live. I have taught myself to use my treadle sewing machine, knit, preserve food, garden, make sourdough, make yogurt. Each year I learn something new.

Not always intentionally.

There was the year when the lamb came head first when it should have come out hooves first. Mark's hand would not fit to pull it out. My hands would fit. So it was up to me. In matters of birth and death on a farm this was a big lesson. We have not tried for farm babies since. But we do hope to join a friend when their sheep lamb this year and learn a bit more about this.

More often or not the lessons come out of necessity or a sense that with a little problem solving I can find a better solution. I learned this lesson recently when I wanted to make something that needed mayonaise. But we didn't have any. More often than not I ask myself what did folks do before there were grocery stores? I was able to find a recipe in a couple of my cookbooks. Egg, vinegar, oil and a little mustard powder. The texture is not the same as store bought mayo but for what I needed that day it was just right.

Often the lessons end up saving me money in the long run. Organic store bought yogurt costs about 4.00 a quart. If I make the yogurt myself it costs about 1.75 a quart including cultures. And I can be assured that the milk is from a local farm.

The recent cold that has resided in our home presented a chance to learn something new. Last year we started using elderberry syrup. I was able to buy it through Associated Buyers last year. It was about 7.00 a bottle and a little more affordable than at the local healthfoods store. I was not able to take it because it had echinacea in it. MS does not react well to echinacea. I have a couple of elderberry plants but they are not mature enough to produce enough berries to do much with. Well, when we started getting sick I went to the healthfood store to find some syrup for my guys. They did not have any syrup but they did have lozenges. Pricey. 15.00. But they also had dehydrated elderberries for 3.43.

Why couldn't I make my own syrup? I found this recipe for elderberry syrup. So instead of 7.00 or 15.00 I spent 4.00 and the quantity was much greater than the amount of syrup that was in the purchased bottle. Also, because I can make it without echinacea, I can take it too. Hopefully I will have some elderberry from my plants this year. If I do then I will only have to buy the honey.

For me, this is what being self-sufficient means. I will never be able to provide everything for my family. But in large ways, like my garden, and small ways, like with mayonaise, I provide better quality than store bought. I am saving my family money. And I am learning something new.

Pretty cool.


Wendy said...

Awesome! I love learning to do-it-myself. It's such a feeling of empowerment!

Hope everyone is all mended.

Linda said...

I add ciinamon, ginger and cardmon to my elderberry syrups.. If I have orange peel, that goes in as well. These herbs help aid with digestion and mucus. They should all be good for you to take as well.

I'm finding more and more that I am my own best teacher as well.....along with necessity of course.

Fleecenik Farm said...

Thanks for the tip Linda!