Plastic Free Berries

Now is the time to take advantage of the low prices on abundant fruit to stock up for winter!

It’s honestly so easy to have berries ready for smoothies for basically the whole winter and into spring. I still have raspberries from last summer because I stretched out their use.  The summer previous was the first time I had frozen my own berries in glass jars so I was being extra cautious to not use them all up before more were available this season.

I’ll show how I do this and how I avoid making any trash in the process.

Start with fresh berries. My first choices are raspberries and blueberries. My mom and I picked the raspberries from her bushes, and I purchased the flat of blueberries for $24. They are local and delicious. I love blueberries fresh, so I’ve been eating more of them than freezing for right now. I’ll probably freeze more later.

I used a large and a small baking tray for the raspberries first. Simply place them in the freezer for a few hours and they should all be frozen. The reason you need to spread them out is so they don’t all just freeze together into one clump and become impossible to separate for smoothies / baking / snacking. I didn’t bother washing these as they would have taken forever to dry and would have become stuck to the tray. I trust the source of these and was not worried but had picked through them a bit before placing them onto the tray.

Blueberries are even easier than raspberries due to their spherical shape without so many crannies.

My freezer is regular size and the large tray fit fine in here. I know it’s very disorganized and needs a cleaning at the moment.

Once frozen, I used a metal spatula to just lift the raspberries from their frozen spots.

It’s easier to use a wide funnel for the regular mouth mason jars, but it’s not necessary.

So I have about 4 1/2 quarts of raspberries here which will last a long time! This took very little effort on my part and was also essentially free. The blueberries are a different story, of course, but will end up being much less expensive than frozen berries in the store, especially local berries.

I have 2 quarts of blueberries frozen from just the large tray and I’m sure I’ll freeze more soon.

I don’t have to use glass jars, but I trust that the lids will keep my berries sealed. I’m careful to not slam the jar down on the counter top and make sure these are placed safely in the freezer.

Peace and love,

Kristan

DIY Plastic Free Aloe Vera

An essential part of my skin care routine involves aloe vera. I have come to rely on the cooling, healing elements of this amazing plant. The reason I feel so strongly about it is partly because I found a microbiologist’s blog about skin care and her views aligned with everything I already felt and was basically the routine I had intuitively been following for a while. I’ll be honest though, I’m not always the best practitioner of skin care on a regular basis. I love masks, and oil cleansing, even rose water and making facial sprays, yet I still am just not as disciplined with doing these steps every single day.

The easier thing would be to just own an aloe vera plant, and I do. However, it isn’t large and I think I would end up using it up super fast. I don’t live in the climate the plant needs and therefore the growth is stunted and is really only for decoration. There are places where I have sliced off the ends, and it heals well, so this is an option.

When I spotted very large aloe leaves at my local co-op, I snatched one up and decided to get started on making my own liquid.

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First, I sliced it into manageable pieces. Working with one piece at a time, I took a serrated knife around the perimeter, in between the pulp and the skin and was able to squeeze out a large chunk, then used the knife to scrape out any pulp still attached to the skin.

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The leftover pieces go into compost, and the pulp now will get blended up.

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An immersion blender will work, as will a stand up blender.

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When done, it is frothy and smooth. Now is the time to strain it using a mesh strainer or even a nut milk bag, or some tripled cheesecloth. There wasn’t much pulp left over, so not much is going to waste or the compost gods.

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Pour the strained liquid into a container of your choice. It is best to keep it in the refrigerator, which has been heavenly since it reaches 100° every day in the summer. You will notice it is less viscous than anything bought in the store, but it still works really well and has no additives.

I have read that this lasts a month, but I’m going to see how long it stays fresh and update. I don’t know if it could go in a freezer, but I know I won’t be able to use this much in one month, and I don’t have a way of getting more aloe during winter months.

Peace and love,

Kristan

Garden Pasta

This is an on-the-fly post and a quick snapshot before devoured as I was at my sister’s house visiting her and her newborn and had brought lunch ingredients.

The night before I quickly made a garlic scape pesto which was highly improvised with just garlic scapes, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, olive oil, and some salt. I had it with some sourdough bread and it was super spicy!

This dish has:

Spaghetti noodles: found in bulk at WinCo

Peas: picked from my garden

Garlic scape pesto: from the garden + bulk ingredients

Mint: garden

To make pasta:

Boil water and salt and cook spaghetti, adding in peas (shelled peas or snap peas with shell) in the last minute.

Reserve a couple cups of pasta water.

Drain.

Add in 3/4 cup of pesto into pasta water and stir to combine.

Put pasta back into pot, pan, or bowl then top with the pesto sauce.

Top this off with about 1/4 cup or fresh mint leaves.

Enjoy!

Peace and love,

Kristan