Friday, August 25, 2017

You Need to Start Saving Seeds -- Easy and Sustainable!

12:54 AM
It's getting to be that time of year when our gardens are starting to wind down. If you're a lazy farmer,
chances are you've let some of your plants already go to seed.  That's actually a good thing, if you think about it.  Saving seeds is an excellent way to maintain sustainability and to take your future into your own hands -- instead of relying on big corporations to provide your food for you.

Why Bother to Save Seeds?

It's hard to imagine a day when we have no food.  And yet, throughout human history, people have endured famines.  We're facing a real possibility now with monoculture harvests that are genetically engineered.  Although many scientists endorse and back GMOs (genetically modified organisms), one only has to look into history at what monoculture crops have done.  We can point to the Irish potato famine as the poster child for why we shouldn't be planting all of one species or subspecies of food plants, genetically modified or not. Furthermore, there are patents on GMOs which prohibit people from saving and using that seed.  Don't believe me?  Monsanto has filed lawsuits against some 147 farmers since 1997 for saving their patented seeds for reuse.  And they have won, because food is apparently patented.  As we progress toward more GMOs, there are fewer heritage plants left, more monoculture crops, and other non-sustainable practices.

Why Worry About GMOs?

Now, whether the GMOs are safe to eat or not are up for debate.  While some folks are naturally hinky about eating a plant with bacterial or animal DNA in it, the issue is more how much herbicide and insecticide doused the plants and ended up in your food. How nutritionally dense are the GMOs compared to heritage plants.  We know that our fruits and vegetables are becoming less nutritious because of soil depletion, due to modern food production methods, so it's obvious that GMOs wouldn't have the same nutritional content as those foods grown using sustainable methods.

From a Scientific Point of View, Monoculture is Bad

Monoculture is a bad idea.  It's founded on the principle of planting one species, variety, or subspecies of plants, or investing in one variety or breed of livestock. Big agriculture often does this to maximize yields and profits.  It's a nice idea until a disease or pest adapts to target that particular variety.  In history, we've seen how disease wiped out entire crops and herds.  Yes, it cause famine, with undeniable human suffering.

Any engineer knows that having single points of failure is a bad idea.  And that is precisely what
we're doing with our agriculture.  The more we rely on one source, one variety, one breed, we open ourselves up for real problems.

You won't save the planet saving seeds, but you'll be taking a step in the right direction securing your own food. Saving heritage seeds from your garden can make the difference between having food and not having food.  Yes, it is that serious.

Saving Seeds is Easy

If you've never gathered seeds, you're in for a real treat.  Saving seeds is remarkably easy and ensures that you will have a crop next year.  If you have fruit, you'll have to wait for it to ripen in order to save seeds.  If you have beans or pods, you'll have to wait for the pods to dry out and get the beans out that way.  If your plant has flowers, wait for them to dry out and collect the seeds there.  Dr. Vandana Shiva and her colleague, Rishi Kumar, the founder of The Growing Club, shows you how in the video below.  

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Welcome to an Updated Eating Wild Montana!

4:56 AM
As they say in the advertisements: New Look!  I've been meaning to revamp the blog for some time,  
but hadn't had the time to do it.  But with the LocaCarnivore (our sister site) up and running with a spiffy format, this site needed a serious overhaul.  (By the way, while you're at it, do check out The LocaCarnivore and let me know what you think.)

Ewww, Bugs!

First, I'll admit that there's going to be some bugs somewhere. No matter how careful I am, it's bound to happen.  Two I know of, which I'll be fixing in the next couple of days, but I'm sure something else will crop up.  On the other hand, this new format is more flexible and modern, which means it's in a hopefully a more reader-friendly format. 

The two bugs have to do with comments and social networking.  I need to update the links on both.  But have no fear, I'll be doing that very soon.  Stay tuned...


You may notice that we have advertisers!  Yay!  They're affiliates, so if you see something you're interested in, please go through the links and make a purchase.  You'll not only be buying some cool stuff, but you'll also be supporting this website and keeping it up and running.  That will enable me giving you the best possible content.  If you have an ad blocker, I'd ask that you turn it off for this site. The ads aren't obnoxious (no sound, no popups, and no moving gifs) like some ads, so if you do turn off the ad blocker, you might just see something you might like on a rather static link.  If you don't purchase, that's okay, too.

Watch for My Newsletter!

In the upcoming weeks, I'll be setting up Mailchimp to send out a nice newsletter.  The newsletter will deliver content right to your mailbox, so you don't have to check out Eating Wild Montana every day for new content.  Of course, your information will be private and won't ever be sold, and I'll never spam you.  Because I use Mailchimp, it's a snap to subscribe and unsubscribe. 

So, watch this blog for some really exciting changes.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Preserving the Harvest and Canning Tomatillo Salsa

1:39 PM
This year, I've had the luck of happening into cucumbers and tomatillos for free.  (These kinds of things sometimes happen when you live in a rural area.)  So, I immediately set about preserving them for use.  I love green salsa, so getting a bunch of tomatillos was a huge windfall.

My own tomatillos are still blossoming, which makes these excellent enough to create a salsa I can enjoy now.  When my four tomatillos produce fruits, I'll be able to make some more.  Or maybe I'll just use them in one of my Mexican-type dishes.

Waterbath Canning

Of all the canning, waterbath canning is probably the easiest and cheapest to accomplish. Basically you need a waterbath canning pot and canning jars, lids, and rings. The important thing is to have a canner that works.  The cheapest is the stovetop variety.  It sits on the stove filled with water and you put your filled jars covered with the lids and rings and boil the water for the prescribed amount of time plus any time extra for higher altitudes.

I live at about 4000 ft, which requires me to process roughly an extra 10 minutes.  This is because at higher altitudes, water boils at lower temperatures. The lower temperatures cause cooking to take longer, and since you're pasteurizing when your waterbath can, you're trying to hit the magic time of 161 F throughout everything to ensure there are no nasty microbes in your food as well as heat the jars and lids enough to make a firm seal. This article gives you the times you need to use as well as an explanation as to why you must increase the time.

As I said, most waterbath canners are the stovetop variety, but Ball has created a nifty electric type that will plug in like a crockpot. I kind of like that, since it doesn't take up a burner.

The Recipe and Notes

In the past, I've used a recipe a farmer gave me.  I still defer to parts of it, but I mostly use Ball's Tomatillo Salsa recipe.  The recipe that the farmer gave me was basically tomatillos, lemon juice, salt, garlic, and cilantro.  With the Ball recipe, I will substitute lemon juice for the lime juice and sometimes the vinegar.  I eliminated the onions. If I don't have hot peppers, I'll add Tabasco's jalapeno sauce. If I'm out of garlic, I'll use granulated garlic powder.  In the past, I did not use cumin.  This year, I tried some cumin, but I'm not sure if I will continue using it in later recipes.

Be sure to use fresh lids (you can reuse the rings and jars) and wash them thoroughly.  Lots of recipes say to sterilize the jars, but in most cases that's not needed because you'll be getting rid of the bad bugs when you process the food in the canner.  Plus, you'll never get the food sterilized.  If you're really concerned, boil the jars in the canner.  I usually keep the jars warming in the canner anyway to avoid breakage, which when they're exposed to that much heat pretty much kills off any pathogens on the jars.  I pour hot water on the lids to keep them warm so they don't have issues when I get the canner fired up.

I had so many tomatillos, that I doubled the recipe and still ended up with six and a half pints.  Sometimes you just get that. So, I have a bunch of green salsa which is awesome.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How to Make Tallow Candles from Deer Fat

10:13 PM
You got a deer this season! Congratulations! At this point, you've noticed that the deer had a bunch of fat on it and instead of tossing it in the trash, you were wondering if there was something easy you could do with it. It's no good for eating, being extremely gamey, but it does make excellent candles from the tallow... READ MORE


About This Article  -- I will occasionally be posting some of the articles I've written on other websites. I encourage to you explore my other articles because this helps support me as an author. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Keyhole Garden - How to make an African style raised bed

2:28 PM
I ran across this video people have been talking about on the permaculture site. While Montana isn't Africa (thankfully -- I don't need all the heat, bugs, and wildlife that they have in Africa. We have enough dangerous predators, thank you), we do have some problems with dry conditions. It will pretty much stop raining around July 1st and we won't see much in precipitation until September or October. The problem around here is that it's hard to create a decent garden with this soil. A raised, keyhole garden sounds perfect.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Is Your Olive Oil Extra Virgin or a Tawdry Imposter?

10:00 AM
Is that olive oil you're using really extra virgin? Or is it some tawdry strumpet made up to look like extra virgin olive oil? Sure, it says it is extra virgin olive oil on the label, but how would you know if it weren't? ... READ MORE

About This Article  -- I will occasionally be posting some of the articles I've written on other websites. I encourage to you explore my other articles because this helps support me as an author.