Tag Archives: Processing

Adventures in Beekeeping, Part 3: Processing Beeswax At Home

I came out of our Beekeeping Adventure, Part 1 with a good bit of honey comb.  I just had to decide what to do with it all!  I decided I would melt it down and get it to brick form (like I’d seen for sale at The Bee House where I bought my supplies).  I figured after that point, I could take a breather and figure out what to do next.

The first step of all this was melting down the honey comb and squished wax.  We did manage to squeeze a tiny bit of honey out of some of it, but nothing worth sharing, literally or metaphorically on the blog. :/  Basically we just squeezed it through a flour sack towel and were left with this:

Fresh Beeswax | Oysters & Pearls

The melting process was a pretty messy process.  After doing some research on the world wide webs, I filled a pot halfway up with water and the honey comb and put it over medium heat.

Melting Honey Comb for Wax in Hot Water | Oysters & Pearls

As the water warmed, little yellow blobs of beeswax started appearing, as you can tell by the spots that look like corn kernels.

After everything had melted down, I strained it once through a fine mesh strainer.

Slag from Melting Down Beeswax | Oysters & Pearls

Apparently, this is called Slag.  Or something of the sort.  I read that it makes for an excellent fire starter, and works really well in a smoker.  So I saved it.  Naturally.  Because I’m an equal opportunity hoarder of all the things.

After straining, you’re left with this pot of brown liquid, and you can sort of tell where the water stops and the wax layer, albeit melted wax, is floating on top.

Melted Beeswax in Water | Oysters & Pearls

Then, I let it cool.  All night.  The next morning, I woke up to this!

Natural Beeswax | Oysters & Pearls

That is a solid disc of wax floating on top of what I read is called “honey water.”  I popped the disc of wax off and transferred it to another pot to melt it down.  I read that you can drink the honey water, and although it smelled Heavenly, it looked… Well, let’s just say it looked a far cry from Heavenly.  So for once in my life, I threw something out.

Solid Natural Beeswax | Oysters & Pearls

I melted down the solid disc of wax until it was completely liquid.

Melted Beeswax | Oysters & Pearls

Then I strained it through a fine mesh strainer (again), lined with 4 layers of cheese cloth this time.  I strained it directly into an old aluminum cake pan, which served as my “mold.”  I guess the pros have real molds that make cute little beeswax cakes.  Maybe when Oysters & Pearls Apiary really gets going…

Strained Beeswax in an Aluminum Cake Pan Mold | Oysters & Pearls

I let that cool all day while I was at work.  Then when I got home, I popped it right out – the edges will pull away from the pan a little bit as it cools.

Natural Beeswax from a Wild Honey Bee Hive | Oysters & Pearls

It’s crazy to me that it’s so bright and clean after such a simple processing.  It also seems to form pretty neat patterns as it cools, which you can sort of see.

Beeswax from a Wild Honey Bee Hive | Oysters & Pearls

Anyway, now your beeswax is ready to be used for whatever your heart desires.  In case you’re not sure what exactly your heart desires, I’ll be back with “What To Do With Beeswax, Part 1”, before ya know it.

Until Next Time

Canning Tomatoes

Can you believe it is already AUGUST???  I most certainly cannot.

It feels like it ought to just be May or June, since we are just now FINALLY starting to reap the rewards of planting our raised bed vegetable garden!  We didn’t have much luck with much else in the garden thanks to the weather, but our tomatoes have survived the monsoons and we are loving it!

Homegrown Tomatoes | Oysters & Pearls

Romas, Cherokee Purples, Cherries, and a Beefsteak here and there, too.  We actually had so many that we couldn’t eat them all at once, despite my best efforts to eat tomato sandwiches at every meal.

And so, it was time to do a little canning.

Canning Tomatoes- A Step-by-Step Tutorial | Oysters & Pearls

And I really mean just a little bit.  I only had enough for two jars.  But those two jars (and hopefully more to come) will be special treats during the winter months!

Besides, most canning recipes you find insist that you have 45,000 pounds of tomatoes/okra/berries/whatever to can them.  Sometimes you just have a little more than you can eat, but still want to be selfish and not give them away.  Just being real.

Canning Tomatoes (Makes two pint jars)

ingredients

– about 20 roma tomatoes
– 4 tablespoons lemon juice
– 2 tablespoons kosher salt

instructions

Bring two pots of water to a boil, as well as a tea kettle full of water (or microwave a couple cups of water to boiling).  Boil your jars in one pot of water to sanitize (making sure they are completely covered).  Pour the boiling water from the tea kettle or microwave over the jar lids and bands in a heat proof bowl.  Put your tomatoes in the other pot once it comes to a boil.  Leave the tomatoes in the boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, or until the skins burst.  As they do, fish them out with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl to cool off some.

Once you have all the tomatoes split and fished out, carefully tug on the blistered skin, and the skins should slip right off.  Once all your ‘maters are nekkid, mash them up a little, but not a lot, with the back of your spoon.  You shouldn’t have to add any water, as they will release a good bit of liquid themselves.  Add the lemon juice and salt and stir.

Using a ladle and a canning funnel, transfer the tomatoes to your jars, leaving about a 1/4″ of headspace.  Wipe down the rims of the jars well and put on and tighten the lids.  Then put the full jars in your canning pot and process for 35 to 40 minutes.

Tomato Canning Setup | Oysters & Pearls

My set up: I thought it might be helpful to show you some behind the scenes stuff to make canning easier.  Pot on the bottom right is the pot the tomatoes will go in.  Pot on bottom left is the canning pot, and has enough boiling water to completely cover the jars by about an inch.  Top left: another pan for jar lids and bands, and top right is the tea kettle full of boiling water.  Everything close together and ready to go at once, which makes things so much easier.  A dish towel awaiting the hot jars is spread out to the left of the canning pot.  This is essentially my setup every time I can/preserve something – the pot on the bottom right just changes depending on what I’m making.

Boiling Tomatoes for Canning | Oysters & Pearls

Just dump the tomatoes all into the pot.  The water will probably quit boiling, so just bring it back to and boil and worry less about how long the tomatoes are in there and more about just watching them to see when they split.

Burst Tomatoes for Canning | Oysters & Pearls

This is what they’ll look like when they split.  Sort of prune-ish and wrinkly, and they will split wide open.

Tomato Skins | Oysters & Pearls

Leftover tomato skins.  I almost put these into some pasta, because even the skins were SO good.  But once they got cold they were less appetizing.

Tomatoes Ready To Be Canned | Oysters & Pearls

Tomatoes post boiling, post skinning, but pre-smashing.  So tempting to just eat them as is!

Now mix in the lemon juice and salt and dump it all into jars.  Wipe the rims, close them up, and process those suckers.

While they are processing, clean up your kitchen and enjoy a Cherokee Purple ‘mater sammich.  Or at least, that’s what I did.  The smell of tomatoes was too much for this girl to handle without eating some.

Cherokee Purple Tomato Sandwich | Oysters & Pearls

Then laugh at your cat, who thinks a paper bag is the coolest thing since catnip.

Cat in a Bag | Oysters & Pearls

Your jars should be done processing by  now.  Take them out and let them cool, and after a bit, they should pop and seal right up.

Canned Tomatoes | Oysters & Pearls

That’s a beautiful thing, my friends.

Hopefully I’ll be stashing a few more of these away in my cabinets before the summer is over!  That is, if I can resist eating them long enough.

Cheers to the summer’s (belated) bounty!

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