Tag Archives: Food Preservation

Self Sufficiency – Not for the Faint of Heart

I apologize to those of you looking for the gluten free beer recipe. You’ll have to wait, because I haven’t been able to get to the brewing process for pictures, yet.

Skinning the steer – yes, that’s war paint on his face

The last two weeks have been full of twelve hour days processing food in one way or another. For decades I have been obsessed with self-sufficiency, at least when it comes to food. And living in Alaska makes doing so difficult in some ways. Our autumn is short. Blink, and the carrots have frozen into the ground. Plus our daylight is disappearing at a rate of over five minutes a day – we are down to about ten hours of daylight if we need to work outside.

But the cool weather is perfect for butchering. We slaughtered my son’s 4-H hog and steer, which surprisingly took only one twelve hour day. Then we cut up and froze the pork while the beef “aged” in the back yard for a week. The quarters hung from a beam set across two industrial strength ladders. Game bags kept the marauding magpies at bay (mostly – the cheap game bag made of a stretchy material had several suspicious holes in it along the suet line, so I think little beaks may have nibbled a few bits. We cut those portions away.)

From quarter to burger

Sausage patties

Once we began butchering, it took us five full days of work to reduce all four quarters to neat little packages for the freezer.

Stew meat

Breakfast patties

Freezer packages

I’m no professional butcher, but my cookbook has pictures of cuts of meat with a labeled picture of what part of the animal they come from, so I am pretty pleased with our results. Last night we ate bacon wrapped Filet Mignon and maybe it was all the hard work, but I’ve never had better.

This isn’t mine – we ate too fast to get a photo

There is something intensely satisfying with setting a table prepared with food all raised by my own hand. I know if the world falls apart (like in Botanicaust) I’ll be able to at least feed my family.

And while I may not have been writing while bringing in all this food, I have been gathering ideas for future books along the way. Maybe I’ll figure out how to make leather 🙂

Salting the hide

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© Tam Linsey, 2011. All rights reserved.

How to Malt Buckwheat for Beer

I think a lot about food. I raise as much of my own as I can, and I love cooking. As a primary need, food drives almost every aspect of life. The thought of food shortages inspired my writing for Botanicaust. In a world where food is scarce, people need to preserve any excess for the lean times. Hence the invention of salting, pickling, smoking, fermenting, and brewing. I imagine most of these methods came about by accident.

In the case of beer making, ancient people would store barley, only to find it had sprouted in storage, most likely too early to plant. In an attempt to salvage the food stores, they dried the grain, and somewhere along the way, it got wet, fermented, and someone said, “Hey, this is pretty good shtuff!”

Beer-makers today have it easy. Malt comes in extract form, ready to add hops and start brewing. But for those of us who are gluten intolerant, beer making is more complicated. Sure, we can use just sorghum or rice syrup, but for a truly full beer flavor, we need to combine several different grains.

Here I’m going to describe how to make malted buckwheat to add to gluten-free beer wort. Why bother to malt it? The process of sprouting a grain causes enzymes in the grain to convert starches to sugars, thereby making it easier for the yeast to turn it into alcohol. The malted grain also changes the flavor of the beer. You can use this process to malt almost any grain.

To begin, buy about a pound of raw buckwheat groats at your local health food store. Rinse and soak the buckwheat in clean water for about six hours, like beans. They will swell to twice their size. Rinse them well (they will be starchy) and drain them. Then put them in a loosely covered bowl (I used a sprouting jar – the same kind used for alfalfa sprouts) and let them sit at room temperature for two days, rinsing every eight hours or so. They will begin to grow a root, called a radicle.

Once the radicle is twice as long as the seed, spread the seed in a thin layer on paper towels to dry. After they are dry, pour them off the paper towels onto cookie sheets and place them in a 170˚F oven. Stir frequently until they are lightly toasted (10 minutes or so, depending on how dark you want them.) Go ahead and taste a couple if you want to.

Cool, and finish drying them in a paper bag for another week. Now they are malted and ready for beer! .

Coming soon How to Make Gluten Free Beer.

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© Tam Linsey, 2011. All rights reserved.