In the quest to develop and expand my self-reliance skills, I’ve turned to the journals of my parents and other ancestors hoping to learn from their experiences. The following is a humorous story from the writings of my father LaVarr B. Webb. The setting was the little town of Virgin, Utah in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s.
As the first apples of summer started to change from green to golden yellow, we “borrowed” our mother’s grinders, a bit of yeast, and a bit more sugar. We ground the apples, put a hand full of grindings into a section of an old flour sack, and twisted, and squeezed until the apple juice was forced out, leaving a ball of dry pulp in the rumpled cloth.
We, then, would put the juice, sugar, and yeast into a bottle, preferably a wine jug, and then hide the bottle. The bottles were hidden from concerned mothers as well as thieving “friends,” and while resting peacefully, the cider “worked.”
There was a great deal of tasting and sampling as the sugars turned to alcohol, and the brew got a “kick.” There was also a certain amount of staggering and slurring of speech as the young bootleggers tried to impress friendly rivals as to the potency of his apple jack.
One year I was able to make a whole gallon. Two big nights were coming up, the third and Forth of July. I thought it had “worked itself out,” so I bottled it, using pocket whisky flasks that I had accumulated for just such a purpose.
The night of the third arrived, actually we considered it more important than the Holiday. The gang gathered, the hard cider flowed, and the fun began. We sat on the Sandhill and talked about all of the earth shaking events that boys talked about: Who’s the purtiest girl in town; Who’s toilet (privy) should we tip over? Who’s got the best melon patch this year; how close are the melons to being ripe, and will it be possible to steal some without being caught?
I put one flask of hard cider in my hip pocket, and hid the others where they would be handy, then we took off to tip over a few toilets.
As I ran down the street, jouncing my flask of “hard cider” up and down, it blew up sending shards of glass into the place where I intended to sit down when I became tired, and the warm, sticky cider flowed down my leg, and again, I went home smelly, and somewhat bloody to a very patient mother.
Making handcrafted soap from scratch has always been of interest to me - but admittedly it seems a bit intimidating. Here is a great article from Mother Earth News on making cold-process lye soap. The article explains in simple terms the science behind the process and gives an overview of the steps. They list the pros and cons of making cold-process lye soap as follows:
Cold-Process Lye Soaps
-More control over your ingredients to create unique recipes
-Soap is made from scratch
-Lye must be stored and handled safely
-Numerous materials and tools are required
-Lye to fat rations must be computed to ensure a mild product using saponification charts and lye calculators
The full article can be accessed via this link.