How to Juice Prickly Pear Fruit

Joseph working the thrift-store mill I always know it’s prickly pear fruit season when questions start coming in on a recipe I did for a prickly pear fruit jelly. Unfortunately, the mucilaginous and seedy texture of the fruit makes it difficult to work with. The only tested recipe I could find, for a prickly pear marmalade in the Ball Blue Book, says nothing about how to seed or juice the fruit. With the assistance of two fellow...

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All Haste Is of the Devil: Carl Jung as Homesteader

Carl Jung pumping water in the Tower at Bollingen. From the Library of Congress. It’s a holiday here in the US, so we’ve turned things over to a special guest blogger, Dr. Carl Jung, who comes to us via the special astral internet plan we get from AT&T. As it turns out, Jung was quite the off-grid homesteader when it came to building and living in his special retreat tower in Bollingen, on the shore of Lake Zürich. I...

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A Favorite Tool: Canning Funnel

I heart my funnel Mrs. Homegrown here: If you are a home canner, you probably already have one of these and know how useful they are. If you don’t can, you might never have seen one before. I hadn’t before we started canning–and I don’t know how I lived so long without one. See, a canning funnel is just a wide mouthed funnel made to fit the mouths of canning jars. It allows you to quickly and efficiently ladle up ho...

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Volvo Camper by John Ross

Volvo Camper (in front of a vintage Spartan trailer) Spotted in the Museum of Jurassic Technology’s parking lot–a Volvo-based camper created by über tinkerer/genius John Ross. Ross started with a 1,200 gallon underground water cistern like the ones below: He insulated the tank with polyisocyanurate foam-board and covered the whole thing with a $70 tent to block out light. You access the tank through a hole in the roof of...

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Revised and Expanded

A revised and expanded version of our book, The Urban Homestead is now available everywhere books are sold and via this website. And we have a new cover thanks to our fantastic publisher Process Media. No longer does the woman stand behind the man! As for the “expanded” part, new projects include:• How to sterilize jars and bottles• How to make infused oil• Six ways to preserve a tomato• How to make soda bread• How to store grain w...

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Ordo Ab Chao

There’s a lot of conflicting advice in the vegetable gardening world. You’ve got your square footers, biointensivists, permaculturalists and survival gardeners, just to name a few. The truth is these often conflicting techniques probably all work for someone. I’ve been thinking lately that the next book we write should be a version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Dis...

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Sundiner

Beekeeper Dennis made one of those once in a lifetime garage sale finds earlier this year: a solar oven from the 1960s called the “Sundiner.” I couldn’t find much on the interwebs about it except for a brief mention in the  April 1963 issue of Desert Magazine, “Here’s a new product that suits desert living as few others can—it collects and concentrates the heat of the sun and allows outdoor cooking without fuel...

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Trapping bees out of a kitchen vent

With a growing awareness of the plight of honeybees more people are calling on the services of beekeepers rather than exterminators. And, thanks to a crash course in bee removal and relocation from Backwards Beekeeping guru Kirk Anderson, I’ve managed to help relocate about ten or so hives, giving them new homes with Los Angeles’ hobby beekeepers. Each removal has been different and I’ve made plenty of mistakes. But with each...

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Another way to deal with prickly pear stickers

One of those “farm uses” could be burning off prickly pear spines . . Image via BoingBoing I’m drowning in prickly pear fruit which means a lot of nasty thorns in the kitchen and an angry Mrs. Homegrown. Previously I burned them off over our stove, but inevitably a few stickers would find their way to the kitchen sponge. Now I’ve got a new technique for removing stickers thanks to Norman of Silver City New Mexic...

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Low Sugar Prickly Pear Jelly Recipe

Few plants have as many uses as the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica). In our climate it grows like a weed, with no supplemental irrigation, and produces a voluminous amount of edible pads and fruit. In addition to food, Opuntia provides medicinal compounds, a hair conditioner, building materials and habitat for the red dye producing cochineal scale insect. As for the fruit, you can consume it raw, dry it or make jelly. Several years...

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