Episode 11 – Growing Mushrooms indoors and outdoors and more!

For today’s podcast I covered a few different topics from vitamin C mega doses to more beekeeping tips and more. I hope you enjoy the podcast.

I switched to the iPhone for recording the podcast, let me know if the audio quality is finally up to par.

Oyster Mushrooms
Mushroom Kit in a bin
Mushroom Kit in a bin

Sponsor of the day

  • Backyard Food Production

Show Outline

A tutorial on Charring

Tuxdad from the TSP forum put together this AWESOME article on “charring”, admittedly something I know nothing at all about (not surprising). Seems like a good bushcraft skill to tackle. Add it to the list. Thanks again Tuxdad!!

Hope it helps in some way with your firecrafting..

First off, I don’t just make charcloth, I make char material, be it just about any plant source, from punkwood, to thistle down, to sphagmum moss in a few cases.. This is just so you all know it’s not all about using cloth as a source for your material, but whatever it is, it MUST be a natural material..


Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get down to charring…

The things needed for this are as follows, and shown in the pic :

Charring Tools

A nice big pair of pliers(large enough to pick up you can with, and hold it if needed as you move it to a spot to cool)..
A good heavy pair of fireplace or welding gloves(you may wanna wear another set of gloves underneath these, its entirely up to you)
A can(either with a friction fitted lid or screw on lid..) for holding your material..
And last but not least, your charring material( you can cut it into squares if you like, for me it seems to work better for the process).. This can be an old cotton t-shirt, or old jeans, or cotton pads, or wood, or whatever other natural material you may have on hand.. In my case it was a couple of old t-shirts..

Also you’ll be needing a fire, in my case it’s our woodstove..

Wood Stove

(Note: If you plan on doing this indoors as I am, and have, BE SURE TO MAKE A CLEAR PATH TO THE OUTSIDE.. For 2 reasons, one my SO, as I’m sure a few of he other ladies may also, hates the smell of the charring material, and 2 it makes things safer if you plan them out ahead, such as you having a vent hole in your can possibly.. You DEFINITELY wanna make your plug for it BEFORE you do ANY charring.. We’ll get to that in a bit..)

Now, you want to fill you can with your charring material.. You want it NOT completely full, as you need room for the charring process, and gases to escape.. You also want to make sure with your friction fits(cans) that it’s on good, but not too tight as it will get pushed off from the gas build up(as mine did in this case), or if you prefer you can poke a vent hole(nothing large, just enough to allow the gases to escape..).. I usually use a brad or some other small tack for this purpose, but an awl(the one on your multitool for example) will be just fine…

Now that you’ve got you can filled(but not too full) with charring material, and the lid one snugly(remember not too tight), or if you’ve chosen to use a vent hole you have a plug made for it ahead of time, you’re ready for charring..

As you can see in the next couple of pics that I’ve got a nice bed of coals(and maybe a log on the fire as well), to get things going for the charring(cooking) process… You may also notice as the gases escape that they are QUITE flammable from the first pic.. In the pic of the second can, you can see the gases heating and escaping through the vent hole.. Now all you do in my case is close the door to your stove, or if you’re outdoors, just let it go until the gases burn off(by way of lighting the gases, or they’ll ignite on their own).. Once the gases have burned off, you need to get your can off the fire (and plugged if you have a vent hole) ASAP.. Over cooking your charr will cause it to be brittle, and not much of any good.. Now you just let it cool, away from the fire.. Depending on the time of you year, this may take 10 mins or up to an hour.. The best advice is when the can is cool to the touch it’s now safe to inspect your “charrings”.. Again you will need to plug the vent hole if you have one in your can.. This will stop the “cooking” process, and starve it of air.. This is VERY important ! If you’re not patient, and you open the can too soon, you may get the “woof” effect, which will be accompanied by a flash of flame in some cases and the result being just a can of ash and some singed or burned body parts.. NOT A GOOD THING ! (No I didn’t experience this first hand but was able to witness this, it was rather interesting to see a man of some 300 pounds move about 45′ in literally about 3 or 4 steps..)

You may wind up with some of your material not completely charred, which is alright.. You can either save it for the next batch of charring or remove the finished pieces, and place the unfinished charr back in the can and back into your fire.. Your charr should be soft and easy to tear apart, and there should be little soot on your fingers from it, but if there is, this is fine as the last char is to try and catch a spark with your flint and steel.. I guess in the colonial times(or to a mountain man, or whom ever) it wouldn’t have mattered much whether the charrings were clean or not as long as the charring were able to catch a spark, and that’s pretty much I see it as well since that’s the most important part of it all..

testing each batch of charrings..

I also charred a bit of punkwood as well for this, just to show it able to be done..

Also in a couple of pics, you may have noticed that I used another can as a cooling spot for my hot can, this can work great as you have an added heatsink(for cooling your can), and a stable platform for carrying your outdoors to cool, with less worry of dropping it…(just thought I’d throw that out there).

Questions? Leave them in the Comments


Episode 10 – New Years Goals and Mycorrhizal Fungi

Yeah it’s a pretty strange title for the Podcast… but that is the topic for today’s show.

Here is your outline:

Sponsor of the day:

Food Security Knowledge Pack

My New Years Resolutions

  1. Stop interrupting people in conversations, be a more mindful and aware of my conversations and surroundings.
  2. Clich̩ Goal Alert!! РLose some weight!!
  3. Stop being such a consumer and embrace a more frugal lifestyle

2011 Project short list.

  1. Design/budget/plan my aquaponics system
  2. Bees!
  3. Baby!
  4. Mushroom Production
  5. Triple the size of the garden
  6. Maximize the assets already on my land (Orchard)
  7. Chicken Tractor

Mycorrhizal Fungi

“experiments conducted on a site owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation in Bellingham. Diesel oil had contaminated the site, which the mycoremediation team inoculated with strains of oyster mycelia that Stamets had collected from old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. Two other bioremediation teams, one using bacteria, the other using engineered bacteria, were also given sections of the contaminated soil to test.
Lo and behold. After four weeks, oyster mushrooms up to 12 inches in diameter had formed on the mycoremediated soil. After eight weeks, 95 percent of the hydrocarbons had broken down, and the soil was deemed nontoxic and suitable for use in WSDOT highway landscaping.

By contrast, neither of the bioremediated sites showed significant changes. “It’s only hearsay,” says Bill Hyde, Stamets’ patent attorney, “but the bacterial remediation folks were crying because the [mycoremediation] worked so fast.

And that, says Stamets, was just the beginning of the end of the story. As the mushrooms rotted away, “fungus gnats” moved in to eat the spores. The gnats attracted other insects, which attracted birds, which brought in seeds.”

Finally, a super moist, perfectly cooked turkey using an old school technique – Brining

I know what you are thinking? A how to cook and awesome turkey post on January 3rd? Well I apologize I have to put these things out as I find them out myself and didn’t want to hold onto this recipe until next thanksgiving.

Along with smoking, I would guess that salt is probably one of the oldest forms of food preservation. In the old days people would keep their meat in large 50 gallon barrels layered between salt, and thus keep their meat stored through the winter.

When you salt meat you draw out the blood from the meat and dehydrates it. This process is more commonly known as curing.

Brining is a method of preserving where you soak your meat in water saturated with salt. This is also called pickling, which almost everyone is familiar with. Brining does not preserve your meat nearly as long as salt curing, however what it does do is make your turkey and chicken taste wonderful and retain much moisture.

Over the years I had pretty much accepted that turkey was dry and in need of copious amounts of gravy to become palatable, however during some research on food preservation I came across the promise of brining to deliver a moist and succulent turkey. Once I discovered it was endorsed by Alton Brown I knew I had a winner.

I differed my brine recipe a from Alton’s just because I would prefer to make my own stock as opposed to using stock from the grocery store.

  • In a large stock pot add two gallons of water
  • Add 3/4 cup of sugar and 3/4 cup of salt
  • Add a mire pouix which is a fancy french word for carrots, celery, and onions. I diced mine and added about a handful of each. Your going to toss stock so feel free to not bother peeling the onions or carrots
  • Then add whatever other herbs you would like. I took a few pieces of garlic and crushed them with my knife and also tossed in a bunch of whole pepper corns
  • Bring the brine to a full boil
  • Reduce to a simmer for about 1 hour to really extract the flavor from the veggies
  • Cool your brine to room temperature. I added a ton of ice to it to speed up this process
  • Take a 5 gallon bucket and put in your thawed, room temperature, turkey
  • Fill the bucket with the brine, making sure it si 100% submerged. Add weights if necessary.
  • Keep the turkey refrigerated, in my case I put it out on my sun porch due to it being winter.
  • I brined my turkey for about 18 hours, however I have read online that you can go up to 3 days for maximum effect.
  • For cooking the turkey I used Alton’s method exactly

My Review?
Awesome! The turkey was ridiculously moist and perfectly cooked. Oh brine! Where have you been all my life. So many thanksgivings gone by without you!

Also Alton’s method cooked my 22lb turkey SUPER fast which is awesome. I was completely convinced that my meat thermometer had to be wrong, however I double checked it against my instant read thermometer and it was on the money.

Here is the link: Alton Brown Good Eats Roast Turkey