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March 27th, 2014

I love making the most of everything.  There’s nothing better than eking something else out of something others might throw away or think was past it’s usefulness. Cheese is something I make occasionally, when I do, we end up with loads of whey.
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I use some of it for soaking grains and other things, but there’s simply no way we can use all the whey. On occasion it’s fed to the dogs or the chickens, but it’s much better for pigs. So I put it into gallon milk jugs and put it in the freezer in anticipation for our pigs. Another benefit is that is takes up space in the freezer as I take out meat and makes my freezer work more efficiently (I use jugs of water when I have no whey).
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I love finding ways to make the most of what we have. Making my own cheese saves me money not just in the price of cheese but also because I end up with some pig food as a result. I’m certain my grandmothers would be proud!

What are some ways you maximize things you buy or make the most of what you have?

11 Comments to “Maximizing”
  1. Ilene on March 27, 2014 at 6:03 am

    I like that word, “maximizing”.

    I guess my thing would be in managing left-overs. I’ve read that we Americans throw out enough food to feed another country, but not at my house. It’s just the two of us so it isn’t often we’re able to finish off something I’ve made. Sometimes I’ll just keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of days and we’ll have it again. Hubs doesn’t like leftovers very well, but if it isn’t served consecutively he’s more receptive to it. Sometimes I will portion it out into some sectioned microwave plates that have lids and freeze those for a quick meal when we’ve come in from working in the garden. Soups and such are intentionally made in batches big enough so that I will have some to freeze, and those go into quart-sized freezer containers.

    I freeze meat fats to make soap with. Mashed potatoes and potato water to make bread with. I keep an open container in the freezer for the liquid that’s left in the pan after vegetables have been cooked, which makes better vegetable broth than anything in the store.

    When we had too many eggs from our chickens, I whirred them around in the food processor, poured them into half-pint tapered canning jars and froze them. Then when the chickens were in moulting and didn’t lay, I used those eggs in my baking.

    Every summer that one of our friends gets apples on his tree, he gives them to us. He hates to see them go to waste but mostly they fall on the ground first and are still fairly green. He doesn’t spray his tree, so they are almost always blemished in some way. I cut away the bad parts and the cores, shred what’s left and pack them away in the freezer in gallon ice-cream containers. When I have 8 or 10 collected, I thaw them out and run them through my fruit press, and make juice. (freezing makes the cells collapse and release the juice) Last summer I canned enough apple juice to keep us in juice for the whole year.

    A couple of years ago we picked pears off a neighbor’s tree that were just being hauled off to a different part of his property and buried. Canned pears are something we get kind of tired of after awhile, but our new peach tree produced a few quarts last summer and so to stretch them, I mix up batches of fruit cocktail, using two quarts of pears, one of peaches, and a purchased can of crushed pineapple. For awhile we had a few seedless grapes and Nanking cherries and those went into the mix as well, till they ran out.

    Blinky milk can be used to bake with, with a little extra baking soda added in to sweeten it. If I’ve made a flavor of jam that isn’t popular with Hubs, who is my big jam eater, it gets used up in muffins in place of the sugar called for in the recipe. Jam that didn’t set up makes wonderful pancake syrup or ice-cream topping.

    And so it goes. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

    Reply to Ilene's comment

    • Nebraska Dave on March 27, 2014 at 8:37 am

      Wow, way to go Ilene.

      Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

    • PennyAshevilleNC on March 27, 2014 at 8:51 am

      You have given me new ideas! Thanks Ilene

      Reply to PennyAshevilleNC's comment

    • DebbieB on March 27, 2014 at 11:30 am

      “Blinky milk” – I had to look that up! It’s a great term. Thanks for the good ideas.

      Reply to DebbieB's comment

  2. Songbirdtiff on March 27, 2014 at 8:24 am

    I would like to do more cheese making, but raw milk is in such demand here it can be hard to get enough to drink, much less enough to make cheese. We need more farmers! Or to buy our own farm in a few years.

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

  3. Nebraska Dave on March 27, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Susy, I have a jar in the fridge that’s an old pickle jar. During the course of the week any leftovers from the meals that don’t warrant their own containers ends up in this jar. By week’s end there always is enough for a few tasty bowls of soup. Once the soup is made empty canning jars are used for storage. The soup is put in the jars very hot and regular canning lids are put on the jar. The jars are put in the refrigerator. They will seal and will last two to three weeks before I don’t trust their safety any more. Having them sealed and in the refrigerator keeps the leftover soup much longer than just a unsealed storage container.

    Have a great maximizing day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  4. PennyAshevilleNC on March 27, 2014 at 8:52 am

    A friend shared her compost process with me…we use a large plastic bucket and dump scraps into it while cooking, then place in our freezer. Once it is full, I take it out and mix it into the pile. That has been the best maximizing for me!

    Reply to PennyAshevilleNC's comment

  5. DebbieB on March 27, 2014 at 11:51 am

    I make bone broth out of every roast chicken carcass – I save them in the freezer until I have 3, then I simmer them all day on the stove with lots of water, a little vinegar and the trimmings from our carrots and onions for the week, which I save in a jar in the fridge (I learned that from you, Susy!) Then I freeze what we won’t use right away, in pint mason jars.

    We never throw out food anymore – I make a daily food inventory of the fridge, and any leftovers big enough are included in that night’s dinner, any too small are eaten for lunch. When I make something larger, intended for several meals, I serve the first meal and package up the other meals for the freezer immediately before cleaning up the kitchen. That way they don’t sit in the fridge with uncertain fates.

    Fruit that’s past its prime is chopped and tossed into my morning oatmeal while it’s cooking.

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

  6. Chris on March 27, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Some really great ideas here! It’s always nice to make the most of what you have or make to be less wasteful, etc. I have animals too so no food gets thrown out and if they don’t eat it, it is composted or used for another meal…We even save shower water in the dry summer months to water plants with…
    I have a friend that gives her extra whey to her elderly dogs…she says it’s great for their arthritis and tummy issues! Probably would be good for younger dogs too! :)

    Reply to Chris's comment

  7. elizabeth on March 30, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    I don’t have pigs, but I usually give my dogs the whey after I make chevre, is whey too acidic for dogs?

    Reply to elizabeth's comment

    • Susy on March 31, 2014 at 9:26 am

      Nope, it’s very healthy for dogs.

      Reply to Susy's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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