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Thursday, 26 July 2012

Lavender Vinegar and keeping your home clean for pence

Being frugal, I'm always trying to find ways to reduce bills and keep costs down. I do pretty well at it too. All our meals are prepared from scratch at a fraction of the price of processed foods and we eat damn well. Over the years, I've noticed that if there's one thing that takes a large chunk of money up, it's laundry and cleaning essentials. There's washing powder which is getting more expensive by the month, there's fabric softener, oven cleaner, Anti bacterial sprays (which kill 99.9% of germs but just one germ in your kitchen can multiply by the gazillions in a matter of hours suggesting the product isn't very good). Also worth noting that all these products contain so many harmful chemicals that they are likely to be the cause in the sudden rise in allergies!

 I've been desperately trying to find an alternative that's cheap and chemical free and I do believe I have found an alternative in the form of soda crystals and vinegar. Now, research suggests that Soda Crystals are not as hazardous as I'd like, but they do not cause cancer and allergies like daily washing powder. Win! So you're wondering where does the vinegar come in? Well! Turns out vinegar is not only an effective facial toner, condiment, kitchen and bathroom cleaner, hair rinse and appetite suppressant but it's also a great fabric softener and used with soda crystals I have the most amazingly clean clothes and nought a smell of a chip anywhere. However it does mean giving up on nice laundered smells, so I thought I'd try an experiment and see if I could create scented vinegars. From research, most infused vinegars are made with Apple Cider Vinegar, Red Wine vinegar etc but as we're frugalists, we used Distilled White vinegar. I don't have access to fresh lavender as I don't have any outside area to call my own but if you grow lavender you can so easily use fresh and drive cost down even further!

 Here is my recipe for Lavender vinegar:

  Ingredients and utensils:
500ml White (distilled) vinegar (Note you can use any type of vinegar except malt)
Lavender buds dried or fresh, quantity does not matter but I used about 30g
Non metallic pan
Funnel
Jug (any will do just nothing metallic)
Glass container with non metallic lid sterilised and bone dry.(I used the bottle I bought the vinegar in)

Method

Step 1: Heat the vinegar in the pan but do not let it boil otherwise you could crack your container
Step 2 put your dried lavender/sprigs into the container while the vinegar is heating up a funnel helps when using dried
Step 3: When vinegar gets to bath water temperature pour it into the jug
Step 4: pour the jug of vinegar down the funnel into your container
Step 5: Put the lid on, put it in a cool dark place and shake once a day for four weeks (two if using fresh)
Step 6: Strain plant matter out using a cheesecloth

That's it! You can do a cold steep omitting steps 1 and 3 and leave it on your windowsill but it bleaches the colour :-(

If you want to use this as a dressing, make sure you buy culinary grade dried lavender! You can buy this ready made 210mls for £5! I made 500mls for about £1.80 Also, it makes a superb altar cleanser, your altar will practically swoon!

I also made three batches of Strawberry Vinegar today. 430gs of in season Strawberry's from the local farmers market which made a litre of vinegar. One batch for culinary made in the same way as Lavender vinegar plus two tablespoons of sugar and two batches without sugar for cleaning. Because there is quite a large amount of water content, strawberry's should be steeped for a maximum of a week, I'll be steeping mine for 3 days and it should keep for a year.

This is what they should look like after a day

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