Tuesday, December 12, 2017

How to Ferment Vegetables

We like fermentation. The cooler temperatures have us thinking about apple cider, cozy blankets — and fermentation. Staying warm inside on a winter day is just right for making crocks of healthy lacto-fermented pickles like kimchi and sauerkraut, or brewing your own beer, kombucha, or even vinegar.

Fermented vegetables begin with lacto-fermentation, a method of food preservation that also enhance the vegetable's nutrition. The living bacteria or probiotics make the minerals in cultured foods more readily available to the body. These bacteria also create enzymes and vitamins that aid in digestion.

Almost any vegetable can be fermented, and fermenting farm-fresh produce is a great way to provide good nutrition year-round! Ferment one vegetable alone or create a mix of many different kinds, along with herbs and spices, for a great variety of cultured foods. Below is what you'll need to get started...

Choose your equipment

While fermenting vegetables does not require a lot of specialized equipment, using the right equipment can make all the difference when getting started. From a good chopping knife to the right fermentation vessel, you'll want to pick equipment to fit your needs. 

One of our favorite fermentation vessels is a regular glass mason jar paired with a fermentation bung and airlock. The one-way airlock vent ensures quality fermentation and prevents spoilage. These are cost effective and a great way to start fermenting in your own kitchen. Airlocks and bungs for regular mouth mason jars can be purchased here for less than $3.

If you don't have your own mason jar to retrofit or if you want some recipes and everything you need in one box - buy the mason jar fermentation kit with everything you need. The kit below is $29.99 and includes an airtight lid, rubber bug, airlock, recipes, and ceramic weights. 

I've made plenty of ferments with and without the airlock lid. When I do not use an airlock lid the likelihood of edge mold and contamination increase. With no airlock, there is much more babysitting the ferment to ensure it stays submerged and contaminate free on the day-to-day. I confess I've ruined plenty of ferments without using an airlock lid and it is always sad. With an airlock lid, you can place your ferment inside the jar and forget about it for a week or two until your ready to serve and eat the bubbly nutritious creation. When you use an airlock lid your hard work is gratifying. 

For large fermentation batches, you'll want a crock. The German fermentation crock below is available in four sizes (5, 10, 15 and 20 liters) and includes ceramic weights and a water-sealed airlock lid. 

This five-gallon fermenting bucket is food grade and comes with a 1/4" airlock grommet. The gamma-seal lid features an airtight rubber gasket. The airlock grommet is ready to accept an s-shaped bubble airlock or a three-piece airlock. These white 5-gallon fermenting buckets are easy to clean, durable and versatile. Great for making wine, mead or beer.

You may want to make your own fermentation setup with rubber bungs to fit any fermentation vessel (we carry eight sizes). Consider secondary beer fermentation or make kombucha in a glass growler. Don't forget swing-top bottles for storage!

Prepare vegetables and brine

There are many several ways to prepare the vegetables for fermenting: grating, shredding, chopping, slicing, or leaving whole. This is a personal choice and it's always great to follow a recipe! Here are three of our very easy favorite recipes:

Weigh vegetables down

After veggies have been chopped and put into the fermentation vessel they must be kept under the brine with weights. This creates an anaerobic environment during the fermentation period. After a week or two, your ferment will be ready to eat.

Cold storage

When your ferment has done its thing, it is time to move it to cold storage. Moving your ferment to the fridge drastically slows the active fermentation and digestion process so you can enjoy your creation for the next month or so. Remove the airlock lid and bung and seal with a regular airtight lid. 

All of our fermentation airlock supplies are available online or in our Hillsville, Virginia store. Happy DIY probiotic fermenting! What are your fermenting tips? Do you use an airlock lid? What is your favorite thing to ferment? Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Bucket Decorating Ideas

Decorating with buckets is fun. It is a way to be creative while contributing to a more organized space. There are no real rules when it comes to decorating with buckets. For a simple look, use a few of the same bucket to hold small items. Try incorporating different sizes of buckets for a complementary contrast.

We worked with local lifestyle photographer Kristen Horton to capture some of our customer's favorite buckets in use. She does an incredible job bringing everyday metal buckets to life in photographs. Happy decoration!

French Bucket With Flowers

We have five styles of french buckets: galvanized, chalkboard, vintage, white and copper. These buckets make beautiful decorations for homes, events, and weddings. Here are more 

Creative Towel Storage

This three-gallon silver tub is timeless and seriously handy. It's used for space saving towel storage, for beverages and even makes great displays.

Wedding Shower Centerpiece 

Small buckets can be used for accents and small item storage and display. A small white bucket with straws at a wedding shower really brings the party table together. These small party favor pails are available in five colors. Check them out here.

Small Kitchen Tub

We love mintubs! This is a classic tin tub is used to display handsoap and a plant over the kitchen sink. Your guests will enjoy this classic small metal tub inspired by infant baths of yesteryear.

Decorative Metal Buckets

Got eggs? We have the buckets to put them in. Whether it is eggs, flowers, gifts, seeds, stones or just plain junk - this metal wine tub or these white tubs make it all look great. If it is junk you're organizing the white buckets add some bright cheerfulness. Use a metal finish for a rustic look.

Small Metal Bucket Organizing

You can't go wrong with small metal buckets! Use them for your coloring and craft supplies. Make them into herb planters. Find your size here.

For more bucket decorating ideas checkout this awesome post! Much gratitude to Kristen for sharing her creative photo skills with us to make this possible.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Fun Easter Egg Hunt Idea!

Wishing a very happy Easter to our customers who make our business possible!

Easter 2017 is less than a week away and many of us are planning our annual traditions. There are hundreds of Easter traditions. Humans have been celebrating Easter as it's known today for more than 20 generations. The yearly game of receiving hidden eggs or "gifts" corresponds with the coming of spring; for Christians it is the resurrection anniversary of Jesus. Easter marks the time for counting our many blessings and receiving the gifts and blessings to come as Spring begins. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a 40-day period in which many Christians give up certain vices or habits they find pleasurable. 

Without contest, an Easter egg hunt is the most popular tradition with millions of children across the globe searching for eggs on this day. The unclear origins of the egg hunt came from spoken stories. Historians speculate the hunting of eggs on Easter began with the Pennsylvania Dutch around 1700. They believed in an egg-laying hare called Oschter Haws (or Osterhase). Hares are larger rabbits that live in open areas, such as deserts or prairies, and have their young in simple nests on the ground. Since hares "lay eggs" in the grass, children were told to build nests for them and search for the eggs it left behind. The Easter bunny isn't known for laying eggs anymore, but the game of searching for his presents definitely is. 

The Easter Bunny will either put the baskets and eggs in a designated place or hide them among the house or garden for the children to find when they wake up Easter morning. Sometimes children participate in community and school Easter egg hunt competitions. 

A fun and creative Easter egg hunt idea -

Making sure young children have a chance to find and collect as many eggs as the older children may be the biggest Easter egg hunt challenge! How do you stop older children who are faster egg finders from getting all the spoils? To allow every child to find the same amount of eggs use color coordinated Easter egg buckets. These unique Easter baskets are perfect for making cute Easter baskets and tough enough for any Easter egg hunt.

We used 5-quart buckets which are available on our website. Each bucket in the picture is holding about 60 plastic eggs. You can personalize and decorate these metal buckets using vinyl stickers or hot glue as adhesive for foam, glitter, felt, fabric, glossy paper and more!  

Our color metal buckets are available in 15 colors and four sizes (2-quart, 5-quart, 10-quart, 16-quart)! They're made of durable powder coated steel. An electrostatically charged powder color is applied and baked for 10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit to thermally bond the color to the substrate bucket steel. Needless to say, this is a quality bucket that will last. 

When you've nailed the creative Easter basket ideas using these metal buckets, they double as cute storage containers with lids for small toys, socks, and snacks - order the optional storage lid. Plus the blue, green, and orange are the best Easter basket ideas for boys. Are we right?

Happy Hunting Everyone!

What Easter egg hunt ideas do you have?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

DIY Olive Oil Lamp

Olive oil lamps burn very small quantities of oil. They are the essence of economical lighting and more affordable than most candles. I love to add a few drops of essential oils like tea tree or lavender to the oil; it smells divine.

I made this DIY olive oil lamp with a half pint mason jar. Be creative with lamp vessels - fabricating an olive oil lamp using a sea shell can be fun! There are many appropriate glass, metal or stone containers for creating olive oil candles. Plastic and wood are not recommended for use as lamp vessels. If you burn your lamp in an open bowl, dip your fingers into the warm oil to use as massage oil.

You will need:
  1. Cotton oil candle wicks (or some 100% cotton something)
  2. A vessel for oil (like a half pint glass jar)
  3. Wire
  4. Pliers
  5. Olive oil (not pictured)


Step one create the wick holder. To assemble your own olive oil lamp create an apparatus out of the wire for holding the wick. I made a freestanding spiral that holds the wick lightly-pinched though the hole at the top. Careful not to squeeze the wick too tightly because it must stay saturated with oil for efficient burning. You can design a metal hook that hangs from the side of your jar into the olive oil. The side hook method makes the wick easy to lift out and light.


Or if you’re talented with wire art here’s a lasting design perfect for a small jar:

homemade olive oil lamp burner

Step two: adjust wick to burner.
Adjust the wick so about 1/4” sticks above the wire burner.

Step three: add olive oil
Place your wire wick assembly into your container. Add olive oil just above the top of the wire. Squeeze the tip of the wick slightly to remove extra oil and light it with a match or lighter. It is often easiest to light when the coil is lifted and tilted slightly. The key to burning olive oil is to keep the wick saturated with oil at all times.


About Oil Candle Wicks: I bought a roll of inexpensive industrial cotton string to make my thin small oil candle wick; which produced a small amount of light suitable for reading. I’m new at making my own oil lamps, but with 300 feet of cotton wick I can experiment worry free. No worries if a wick gets ruined in bad oil. If you want more light use a bigger wick. This rope oil candle wick is twice as big and super sturdy.

Read more about burning olive oil in a lamp here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Spice things up with herbs and spices from Red Hill General Store!

Smart cooks know that adding a dash of herbs and spices to your food helps to take the flavor of your dish to another level. Did you also know that there are a multitude of health benefits that go along with that added deliciousness?

We stock a wide variety of herbs and spices at Red Hill General Store that will add just the right touch to your meal.

Dill seed, for example, not only tastes amazing sprinkled over grilled salmon or mixed into potato salad, but it also contains iron and calcium and the natural oils block certain carcinogens. Rosemary contains fiber, iron and calcium and improves circulation and digestion and the woodsy flavor is great for roasted meats. Crushed red pepper adds a kick of  heat to your dish and is a natural pain reliever and reduces inflammation in the body. Ground jalapeno is a great source of vitamin C and capsaisin, which promotes healthy blood flow in the body.

Stock up on your favorite herbs and spices at Red Hill General Store and get creative and healthy in your kitchen!


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