All Posts by Nick Meissner

How To Make 2 Years Of Applesauce In A Few Days

Last month we were pretty hard-up and did the unthinkable...

We had to buy "applesauce" from the store.  And what is worse...we were actually eating it!

Yes, we don't put much stock in the nondescript, store-bought, beige colored substances that loosely resemble applesauce :-).  But this family REALLY likes applesauce and our homemade supply from 2 years ago was exhausted.

Needless to say, we were REALLY looking forward to apple season this year!

Awesome Apples--For Peanuts

Our all-time favorite apples for eating or applesauce is the Honeycrisp variety.  The name is a perfect description.

Once again, this year we were able to purchase an entire orchard bin (600-800 pounds) of blemished Honeycrisps for a ridiculous price ($150 this year).  So we were golden--or actually our applesauce was!

We're in business!  Now it's time to churn out some of the most delicious lip-smackin' applesauce you ever did put your teeth into!

The Not-So-Secret To Applesauce Success

Good Apples - When you start with good apples, it doesn't take much to turn out delicious applesauce.  But if your apples are bland or of poor quality, it's going to take more work and additional ingredients to get it tasty.

Victorio Strainer* - This marvelous non-electric appliance is a life-saver!  You can turn out a serious amount of applesauce in no time when using it.  The Victorio Strainer makes peeling and coring unnecessary, since the strainer removes all the undesirables.  Just chop your apples into 1/4's or 1/8's and cook them.  Then dump them in the Victorio and turn the crank.  Voila--you have applesauce.  And get this...they even have kits with an electric motor* so you don't have to use the hand crank.

What happens if you don't use Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice & Sweetener - If your apples are good, it is possible to make applesauce without any added ingredients, especially if you are freezing it.  But if you are canning it like we do, it's likely going to turn a rather dark color.  So we add 2 T. of Lemon Juice to each quart of applesauce.  This keeps it looking nice and fresh and also adds a little additional acidity for safety.  In order to offset the tanginess of the Lemon Juice, we also add around 1 T. of organic Raw Cane Sugar.  If desired, you could probably use your favorite sweetener of choice, but be sure to experiment with a small quantity first.

Reusable Canning Lids - If you do a lot of canning, buying a bunch of lids each year gets old.  So we purchased a bunch of reusable canning lids and have been very happy with them.  The company that made ours is out of business, but the old standby is still going strong--Tattler Canning Lids.  You can get them by the dozen*, or you can save a bunch of money and get 12 dozen of them* for a great price.

Don't Forget To Freeze - While we don't think it's a good idea to use freezing as a primary food storage method, it sure is nice to have some things frozen!  So before we are done, we'll probably freeze some applesauce, since there's sometimes I really get a hankering for frozen applesauce.  And the added perk is that freezing applesauce requires less work than canning.

How Long Does It Take?

This depends on how many people are helping and how diligently you work.  Even if working by herself, Lisa can usually handle over 100 pounds of apples in a day--with 2 kids in tow.

So we figure on a few days of work in order to get a goodly supply of applesauce put up--for the next year or two.  Not bad!

And oh, how delicious!

*This page may contain affiliate links that help support this blog without costing you a penny.

How To Keep Your Fuel Fresh & Your Lights On

One night it happens…the storm of the decade hits and your power is out.

Your water is gone within a couple flushes, your freezer is going to start thawing out, and the food in your fridge will start spoiling shortly.

But no worries…remember that generator you bought a few years ago?  That’ll light your house up again, right?

Maybe.  Or maybe not.  There’s a good likelihood that your fuel has gone bad (if you even have any stored).

So here are some key tips to make sure your fuel is in top notch condition when you need it. Continue reading

Lemon Oil - Swiss Army Knife Of Oils

When space is at a premium and you need an all-purpose tool, it's hard to beat a Swiss Army Knife (or in my case, I use a Leatherman).

These multi-purpose tools hold an assortment of tools and fold up into a compact package.  The Swiss Army Knife was popularized in the MacGyver TV series from 1980's, where MacGyver is constantly using his Swiss Army Knife to solve all sorts of problems.

When I think of essential oils, Lemon is the one that comes to my mind as the all-purpose "Swiss Army Knife" of oils.

Here are just some of the many things you can do with Lemon Essential Oil... Continue reading

Firewood - When You're Short On Time & Money

Here in the Northwest, fall is in full swing—and the wood stove is seeing action again.

Right about now, lots of wood burners are taking stock of their firewood supply to make sure they have enough for winter.  If it’s been a busy summer, you might be running late and only now starting to acquire your winter’s supply of firewood.

I have a quick tip that might save you a bunch of time and money this year, if you find yourself running out of both. Continue reading

How To Choose The Best Off Grid Freezer

Last year we decided to add a freezer on our homestead.  Up until then, we had been doing fine with just a fridge, but there are some things that are just better when frozen, and it was a convenience thing for us.  Also, having a freezer enables us to stock up on certain items when they are on sale, thus saving us money in the long run.

And anytime you buy a new appliance, it's an excellent opportunity to become more efficient--whether you are currently off the grid or not.  It will save you money now (on your power bill) and will save you a LOT of money when you do go off the grid in the future.

Be aware that many freezers can add a lot of extra power usage and run up the cost of your off grid power system.  But if you are careful, shop wisely, and use a little strategy, you can end up with an excellent freezer that is super efficient.

Here's how I chose mine.  Don't feel like you need to choose the same one (models are constantly changing), but I think the process and info I used will help you in making an informed decision. Continue reading

Smoked Out? Here's My #1 Favorite Off Grid Air Purifier

Much of the West is covered in smoke at the moment. It has been a rugged fire season.

As terrible as the fires are, their effects filter throughout huge areas of the nation, leaving polluted air for millions of people to breathe.  And unlike city pollution, heading out of town won't save you from this stuff.

We live in a remote area, and at one time the smoke was so bad that it would burn your nose within less than a minute of being outside! And for weeks we have hardly been able to let the kids play outside. Every now and then the air quality improves for a day or two and then it gets bad again.

Time To Take Action

Our oldest child was sneezing and coughing more and more, alerting us that this air quality issue is not a figment of our imaginations. And with the specter of more fires in the future, we finally decided to clean up the air in our home.

After much research, I zeroed in on an air purifier that does a good job, is reasonably priced, and is SUPER efficient for running off the grid. Continue reading

How To Move An Off Grid Forklift Battery

Recently, Lisa and I moved an 1,800 pound forklift battery system all by ourselves—and without any heavy equipment!  In this post and video, I’ll show you how we did it and give you some tips and pointers from the numerous times I’ve had to move big batteries.

1,800 Pounds???

Forklift batteries (aka industrial batteries) are hands-down the most cost effective options for an off grid solar system.  But the biggest question I get from clients is “How can you possibly unload and move a huge battery like that?”

You see, forklift batteries can range from several hundred pounds to several thousand pounds.  I’d say that 750-1,500 pounds is the most common weight range for any individual forklift battery in an off grid solar system.  Smaller systems might only have one battery, while larger ones could have several.

Moving that much weight at one time can be intimidating, to say the least.  So in this post I’ll be sharing a bunch of tips I’ve picked up after moving and installing a number of forklift style batteries. Continue reading

Stomach Bug & The Most Embarrassing Day Of My Life

It was the most embarrassing day of my life!  A stomach bug caused me to throw up for the first time ever...while presenting a seminar to a large audience!

And I'll share the most amazing option for dealing with stomach bugs when they strike.

I was a twenty-something bachelor at the time.  Having presented dozens of seminars at small to medium sized venues, this was my first time to speak at a large location with potentially thousands of attendees.

I was excited and intimidated at the same time.  It was exciting to help folks learn about things that I am super passionate about.  You know, things like off grid power, country living, and independent living.

In the middle of sharing the most valuable tips that I could pack into one-hour slots, it happened.  If memory serves me right, it was the third day out of 5. Continue reading

Battery Desulfator for Battery Reconditioning or Maintenance

There are so many gimmicks and gadgets out there that I pretty much tune them out. And when they make big claims, it’s especially obvious!

When it comes to extending the life of batteries, there is no exception to this rule. Lots and lots of gadgets out there! Some good, and some a waste of money (or worse).

In this post you'll see one of the very few “gadgets” I use with my off grid solar batteries.  It’s called the Battery Life Saver, but generically most folks refer to these devices as a battery desulfator. Continue reading

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