Halfway round the design cycle – A design for the Preserve-a-thon

My vision (Survey…)

My vision is to be as self-sufficient in dairy and vegetables as possible within three years (i.e. by the end of the diploma).  I have chosen dairy and vegetables because they are the easiest to produce at home.  They don’t require the space that growing bulk carbohydrates like wheat do and they don’t require outside interventions like keeping and killing animals for meat does.  I envisage a productive garden plus chickens and dwarf dairy goats for the raw materials.  Some of this produce will need to be preserved, which will require learning new skills and doing them regularly.  I also see developing a pantry with a good stock of preserved food in it as part of this plan.  Clearly my ‘vision’ will also mean living in a house with a garden, but let’s overlook that for now…

Where am I now? (Survey…)


I understand the basics of making wine, beer and cider (as well, obviously, as sloe gin).  I have most of the equipment needed for this, but need to refine my technique.


I have made mozzarella once.  I have been reading about the process and asking my friends who make cheese lots of questions about how they do it.  I understand the basics of the process, but again, I am still very much in the beginning stages.  I have about 50% of the equipment required.

Jam and chutney making

I have made jam a couple of times and I have attended a jam-making course.  My jam has problems with setting usually…  I have the equipment to make jam and chutney but I don’t have the jam jars etc and there isn’t really anywhere to store them in my house.  This might be an issue.


I have made sauerkraut once and it was too salty. I have bought the book ‘Wild Fermentation’ by Sandor Katz.

What do I need to do to get from where I am now to my vision? (Analyse…)

I need to:

  • Acquire skills
  • Build up the necessary equipment
  • Build up the necessary resource chains (where to get milk from, where to get jam jars from)
  • Work out how best to use space
  • Form a fermentation group

The Details (Design…)

Year One: Basic Skill Building

It makes sense to concentrate on the skills that I have already started developing, so my focus for this year will be booze, cheese and yoghurt, jamming and lactofermentation.  I would like to learn to make one new thing a month.  I’m treating beer and wine making separately and aiming to do this once every two months.  It’s important to me that no process is too complicated because I want to embed these skills in my life, as I have done with bread-making.

I’ll need to do micro designs for each of the things that I plan to make, so I’ll fill in the rest of the table below as I go along.  This will mean that I build up a bank of information that will be useful to me (and maybe others in the future).


When What Equipment Ingredients/other resources Storage Repeated how often
January Yoghurt Pan, bowl, wooden spoon, hob (to heat it up), somewhere warm (for it to turn into yoghurt) Milk, yoghurt starter Fridge – wonder how long it could survive outside of fridge Repeated easily and quickly whenever needed
February Mozzerella & ricotta Large pan, ceramic bowl, slotted spoon, thermometer,knife. Milk, rennet, citric acid, salt. In brine in the fridge When I get it right it could be repeated regularly
February Mead Bucket, sterilisation chemicals, big spoon Honey, water, yeast, raisins, lemon juice, black tea In demi-john on top of wardrobe Easy-peasy.  Hardly took any time at all.  Repeat whenever
March Cheese – I didn’t make cheese, but I did make ginger wine… Same Ginger, banana (?!?), yeast, raisins, In demi-john on wardrobe Easy peasy – but I have created the strongest ever ginger wine…
April Cheese – Missed this one… ?? ?? ?? ??
April Booze – Missed this one too.  I will do better in May. ?? ?? ?? ??
May Beer ?? ?? ?? ??
June Jam ?? ?? ?? ??
June Booze ?? ?? ?? ??
July Jam ?? ?? ?? ??
August Chutney ?? ?? ?? ??
August Booze ?? ?? ?? ??
September Chutney ?? ?? ?? ??
October Lacto ?? ?? ?? ??
October Booze ?? ?? ?? ??
November Lacto ?? ?? ?? ??
December Booze ?? ?? ?? ??
December Booze ?? ?? ?? ??

Year Two: Going deeper

  • Develop further preserving skills: canning, solar dehydration, smoking, brining etc
  • Learn about keeping dwarf goats
  • Plan growing around preserving schedule

Year Three: The Raw Materials

  • Acquire large garden
  • Acquire goats
  • Sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labour

I think that this design – for this year at least – is achievable.  I am very wary of biting off more than I can chew…

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6 thoughts on “Halfway round the design cycle – A design for the Preserve-a-thon

  1. […] my design for the ‘Preserve-a-thon’ project, I have set myself the challenge of making one new […]

  2. […] mess – and I made cheese the other day.  February was a cheese-making month according to my Preserve-a-thon design, so make cheese we did.  Hedvig was quicker off the mark about blogging it than I was and […]

  3. […] been nearly four months since I posted about one of my first designs for my permaculture diploma – the ‘the […]

  4. […]  Other slow-burners will include lactofermentation and brewing.  I’ll probably stick to the timetable that I made for myself in the original design.  Brighton Brewing Circle has kicked off (email me […]

  5. […] project has changed a lot since its inception.  My original design was bitty, with no clear objective.  Now my objective/vision is very clear – to create a […]

  6. […] absolutely love this design.  It progresses slowly but surely.  I started with grand designs and then realised that my goals were both ill defined and very difficult to achieve, so I […]

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