I grow vegetables to feed us, make natural ingredient creams, lotion and shampoo, cook all meals from scratch and detest E numbers. I live in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand

Archive for the ‘Homemade cleaners and recipes’ Category

Homemade Gel Toilet cleaner.

I just had to share this. I made it last week and have no photos to share of this as yet.

I finally used the last of my toilet duck type gel toilet cleaner and had been thinking what I could use in its place. Having just trained the male of the species to actually use this product, I knew it had to be simple but effective and be in the original under the rim type squirt bottle. So, I cleaned out the container and rummaged for ingredients. I know people use vinegar and baking soda for cleaning (I do) but knew I could not get them to remain in a suspension as the baking soda would be hard to dissolve. So here is what I did.

Homemade Toilet cleaning gel.

You will need –

1 litre (quart) jug

Balloon whisk or stick mixer

teaspoon and tablespoon measure

small funnel

clean under the rim type goose neck squirt bottle


500 mls very hot tap water+|*

3 tbsp washing soda

3 tbsp borax

1 tsp xanthan , guar gum or agar gel powder

15 drops of antibacterial essential oil of your choice. I used lavender, partly due to its antibacterial properties and also the fact it was the same fragrance as the last of the purchased stuff. You could also use – tea tree oil, thyme, rosemary or any others with antibacterial properties.

*Do not use boiling water as it can be flung out of the jug while beating and burn you. Hot tap water does the trick and is safer.


Put very hot water into the jug, add borax and stir rapidly until it is all dissolved. Do this quickly as it can set like stone if not completely agitated.

Once the borax is dissolved, add washing soda and stir in, followed by gum powder. Mix this thoroughly as any lumps will block the squirt nozzle.

Add in the essential oil and mix further, then add cold water to make up the volume of your recycled bottle. Mine was 650 mls. Mix again.

This did not appear very gel like at this stage but I poured it in the bottle and hoped, knowing xanthan thickens as it cools. It did gel more as it cooled and I just shake the bottle each time before using and so far, no one is the wiser.

I am very pleased with this and would not alter the recipe next time. The porcelain receptacle is brilliant white and shiny. The only thing I would do different is  make it in the kitchen and use my stick mixer next time as the balloon whisk made it harder to get the borax dissolved when I made it over the bathroom basin. It works just like the bought stuff but is a fraction of the cost. The washing soda and borax I always have on hand for making my laundry wash and I have xanthan gum for my cooking and some of my other potions, so this is a very easy and cheap mix to make up. My guess would be about 20 cents to make?  That is better than the $4 or more for the retail stuff and healthier and kinder on the environment. It took me about 5 minutes to make up. The hardest thing was figuring out how to fill the swan neck bottle.

Let me know what you think!!


How do you whiten yellowed wool? HELP PLEASE!!

I am to be a grandma in September – my first grandchild and I am so excited.

I found the beautiful, white 4 ply wool baby shawl my mother had knitted for me when I had babies and want to pass it on to my children. It is still in excellent condition, but it has gone yellow with age.  I know there are ways to get rid of this yellowing, but I don’t know where to start. The yellowing is uniformly all over.

Can anyone please help me with a safe, as natural as possible solution? I would love to hear from you.

Homemade Mustard Pickles

I am having a really good harvest of zucchini this year and have been looking for ways to use them all up.

I have just learnt from Joan, my very good friend in Canada, that she grates it and freezes it for use in her chocolate zucchini loaf and soups and stews. I have never tried freezing it as I heard it collapsed, as it would so if frozen whole. But I am poised with grater in hand, watching for the next flush of zucchini.

Last week, I made up a huge batch of mustard pickle. Alas I didn’t take enough photos, but once I remembered, I did get a few. I use what ever veges I have on hand and too excess. It’s pretty simple to do. I used zucchini, cauliflower, peppers, onion and beans.

Homemade Mustard Pickle

Day 1)

Make up a brine as follows.

Dissolve 1 cup of salt in 2.2l (4 pts) hot water.

Cut a total of 12 cups of vegetables. we like ours cut fairly fine, but some people like it chunky.


I used 4 cups sliced zucchini, 3 cups cauliflower, 2 cup pepper, 1 cup beans, 1 cup onion. Put veges into a large bowl or pot and add the brine and leave to soak for 12-24 hours.


Day 2)

Drain the brine mixture out and rinse the vegetables well and put into a large pot. P1010545


Measure out 2.2l (2 quarts) vinegar. (i used malt)

Reserve 1 1/2 cups for flour mix below and put remainder into the vege mix and bring to a slow boil.


1 cup flour

4 Tbsp mustard powder or powder seed mix

1 1/2 Tbsp tumeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

with the reserved vinegar and mix together to a smooth paste.

Once the veges are boiling, carefully stir in the flour mix and stir until it begins to boil again.

Remove from the heat and carefully fill clean, hot, sterile jars to 6mm from the top. Wipe around the rim with a clean damp cloth and seal with lids. Set aside to cool and they will pop to show they have sealed. This filled 16 recycled jars ranging from 250 to 680 ml jars, and all sealed.


Once cooled, wash the jars, dry and label including date.

Because the jars are hot and vinegar is used in the cooking,and the veges are cooked slightly, there is no need to do any further canning process. I try to keep the pickle a year before it is used, but a minimum of 23 months is recommended. It really does get better with age. I never made any last year due to moving house and I have hated buying preservative filled pickles.

The trick now will be to let them mature before sampling. 









Pickled Cucumbers Recipe

It’s Autumn here in New Zealand and I am harvesting my garden produce for storage. The last week has been mostly sunless and I am worried that my late veges may not ripen.

My tomatoes had to be grown outside after a very, very strong nor’wester tore my greenhouse off its frame and did irreparable damage. I manage to save most of my plants but many were too young to survive without cover. The ones planted outside are finally starting to ripen, although I might need to make a lot of green tomato preserves if we get an early frost.

My Cucumber/gherkins have been slow maturing, but when I get a half-dozen or so, I am bottling them. Instead of doing this lot whole, I decided to slice them and add peppers and onions and pickle them.

Here is how I did them. 050


Homemade Cucumber Pickles 

6 small pickling cucumbers or gherkins ( 500 gms)

1 1/2 Tbsp kosher or un-iodised salt

1 onion

1 large pepper

1 cup white sugar

1 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar – well packed

1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds*

1/2 tsp celery seeds*

1/8 tsp turmeric powder*

3 clean sterilized hot jars and lids (I keep mine in a warm oven or hot water in the sink).

* Best place to buy these is Bin Inn.



Thinly slice the lengthwise (I did lengthwise)  using a sharp knife or mandolin. Transfer into a largish bowl and layer with salt and mix by hand. Put a cover over the bowl and refrigerate for 1-2 hrs.

Slice onion and pepper thinly, cover and put aside.

Rinse the cucumbers well, under running water and drain well. Tip onto a clean cloth or layers of paper towels and pat to dry. Add onion and pepper


Mix the sugars, vinegar’s, seeds and turmeric in a pot and bring to the boil.


Carefully spoon the vegetables into the boiling vinegar mix and bring back to the boil and cook for 2 mins.

Using a slotted spoon, lift the veges out of the vinegar into a bowl and leave vinegar’s to simmer.

Using tongs, carefully fill the jars with veges. I tried to get a good mix of each in each jar.

Carefully pour the hot vinegar mix into a jug and pour into the jars. Using a knife or spoon handle release any trapped air then fill jar until it is overflowing the top. Screw on the hot lid and tighten. Repeat for other jars. Wipe down jars and leave to cool.


This method does not need to go thru a canning process, because of the vinegar and the cooking I give the veges in the vinegar mix means they are boiling  hot when put into the jars. They retain their crispness and crunch this way, but are safe to keep. I wash the jars when they have cooled and popped and label them and pop them in a cupboard and try to resist the temptation to open a jar too soon. These are best left a few month to mature – if you can, but they can be used immediately if you can not wait.

It is a simple process and easy to do in small amounts. The next batch I make might have some dwarf beans or runner beans in it too. I just use what veges I have on hand but make sure the cucumbers are the predominant ingredient. It’s a shame my yellow beetroot won’t be ready for a few months because I reckon it would be good cooked and sliced thinly and added to this as well.

I serve the pickle with cold meats, or in sandwiches with cheese.  Yum, no Mari, you must not open a jar yet. Sigh.

Homemade spreadable whipped butter.

I mentioned in the post on Butter versus Margarine that I make my own whipped butter. This week has been a busy one but I finally got time to make up 2 x 500 gm pure butter into my whipped butter. It is simple to do but an electric mixer makes it much easier. If you have a food processor with a strong beating blade – not chopping  blade, it might work too. I use my trusty old Kenwood with the balloon whisk beater as seen below.

The butter needs to be soft at room temperature. Don’t put it in the microwave to soften as this will cause it to separate if it actually melts,

Make sure the butter you buy is REAL butter i.e. just cream and salt listed on the ingredients. Butter with water in it is often made from reconstituted milk powder, hence the presence of water. Here in NZ, Tararua and Alpine are both full cream butter available in local shops. I think there is another one too but am not sure of the brand name off hand.



500 gm (1 lb) butter (softened naturally at room temperature)

150 gms cold water

Put the softened butter into the mixer bowl and set machine going on a high speed. Stop after a few minutes to push the butter down from the sides. Continue beating until the butter is creamy and pale and keep the sides pushed down

Gradually dribble the water in while the beater is mixing. Doing this fast will cause the mix to split so please take your time. A drop or two at a time is the best rate. Stop occasionally to push it down again.

Once the water is all in, continue beating for a few minutes more then stop. Put it in a sealed container and keep it in a cool cupboard. I filled the one kg  table spread from just one 500gm butter pat.

This is what it should look like when its done.


I keep mine in a cupboard and it keeps fine. During mid summer I put it in smaller containers, keep one out in a cupboard and keep the rest in the fridge.


I actually do 2 x 500 gm at a time and its about 4-6 weeks worth of whipped butter. As well as filling the old table spread 1 kg container I filled the clip lid container too. I did not weigh the butter but I reckon I have close to 2 litres volume of butter.

How does the price compare to other table spreads or margarine. 

Firstly I would like to add that it takes less whipped butter to cover a slice of toast than it does using an oil based margarine/table spread.

I buy butter when it is on special and keep it till it is needed. I was lucky last week and brought the Tararua butter for $3.29 a 500 gm block, which I have to admit was an amazing price. (I brought 4 then went back for more a few days later). So this meant 500 gm of  whipped butter cost $1.65 NZ. Works for me.

Table spreads – margarine’s sell from $1.99 for 500 gm of the cheapest mix, to about $7 NZ for the supposedly ‘healthy’ ones.

Now my Whipped Butter has 3 ingredients – Cream, salt and the water I added to whip it.

Table spread has the following ingredients – Vegetable oils (contains a minimum or 42% canola oil), water, salt, emulsifiers (471, 322 {from soy}, preservative (202), flavour (?????), colour (160a), acidity regulator (270) . This also has the warning in big bold letters Contains: Soy. 

Oh and it has to be kept refrigerated.

So — Which would you prefer?

3 healthy natural ingredients and about 10 mins work to make easy spread butter, or 9 ingredients including oils, emulsifiers, E numbers, flavour (no idea what this is) and preservatives?? You choose. I have!!

My homemade toothpaste recipe

I have been using my home made tooth paste for more than a year now and have found it to be extremely good. Its simple to make and another nasty free product to my arsenal of homemade natural products.

Over the last few years I have dropped off the chemical users list. I now make all my cleaners, hair and skin products for as close to natural ingredients I can. Because I have Fibromyalgia and because it now understood to be a chemical disruption to our nervous system, I figure the less chemical I put in my body, the better chance I have coping with this condition.

Lately I have been running out of several of my ‘potions’ so have been making up new batches. Today it was tooth paste and deodorant. I have been out of toothpaste for over a week and grabbed the ‘reserved for guests’ tube of commercial toothpaste from the cupboard and used it. Oh my stars – my lips felt burnt and my mouth became so dry after using it, I could not produce saliva. It was dreadful. So for the next few days I just used dry baking soda, which was excellent but I felt it dried my lips badly. I missed my homemade toothpaste badly.

There are a lot of different recipes available and all will work fine, it really comes down to personal choice. It is simple and took less than 8 mins to make.  This is how I do it.


You will need a sieve, teaspoon measure, small glass bowl, spatula and small glass or plastic pot that will hold 50mls of paste.


3 tsp coconut oil

3 tsp baking soda or salt or mix of both

**1 tsp maize corn flour (see confession at bottom of my post)

1 tsp glycerin

1/2 tsp hydrogen peroxide 3%

7 drops sage oil

3 drops peppermint oil.

Put baking soda in the sieve and press it through.


Put coconut oil in the sieve next and using the spatula, rub it thru the sieve. If it is too solid to do this, just put it in the bowl and mash it into the baking soda using the back of a spoon or the spatula. Measure the glycerin, peroxide and oils into the bowl and using a spoon or spatula mix or mash to get a paste consistency.


Once happy with the smoothness, put into a container and seal. Do not completely fill the container, leave some head space (see ** below)


This is enough to do me about 6 mths as I use an electric toothbrush. I find this so much easier as brushing my teeth with a conventional brush was painful on my arms. If you are needing more for a family, then change the teaspoon measure for a tablespoon. You could give each person there own pottle or supply a little plastic spoon for extracting the paste from the pottle.

As I said, there are a lot of recipes available and some people say don’t use glycerin. I chose to use this as the option of using xylitol sweetener, to me is horrendous. The instructions say ‘lethal to dogs or cats “. Yet people put this in their mouth??? Others say no to hydrogen peroxide, I am trying it this time to see if it will help two teeth that are root filled and getting discoloured.

It is each to its own, but when I consider the quantities that are being used times the number of cleans I get from the batch, it is minimal. I guess people who use xylitol have the same way of looking at it.



In the photo of ingredients, you may notice there is a container of maize flour. Why u might ask…. welll…. The maize flour and baking soda are in similar containers and I accidentally put one teaspoon full of maize flour into the coconut oil before I realised my mistake. It was too late to remove it as it was a hot day and the coconut oil had melted in the heat and the cornflour soaked in. Instead of discarding the oil and flour, I left it there and put in the 3 tsp’s of  baking soda as the recipe. Did it spoil the product?

Heck no… it improved it.

I was astonished when I went to use it later to find it had fizzed up a bit and completely filled the wee pottle, and the texture was much smoother than previous batches. In future, I WILL be adding the maizeflour – has to be better than the chalk and clay some recipes add. I have also noticed it has taken the sharp aftertaste of f the baking soda. 

So in conclusion, my error was very beneficial. Isn’t there a saying about that somewhere??

My homemade laundry soap recipe and instructions.

Today was the day I needed to make more of my homemade laundry detergent. It has been many years since I have used shop brought detergents and there is no way I would go back. In fact I do not buy ANY cleaners or toiletries (except loo paper) as I make all my own.

I used to be a big advocate for fabric softeners, until I started getting a skin rash that would not budge. It was worse over winter and mix that with hot flushes and it was not fun. I looked up fabric softeners and every which way I looked I found articles about the toxicity of fabric softeners. I decided then and there I would go cold turkey on both shop brought laundry powder and fabric softener…. and I have not had the skin irritation since.

Recently a friend brought me a top she wanted alter. As my sewing machine is in my bedroom, I put the top in there. That night I could not understand why my eyes and sinuses were sore and my breathing was laboured. I was aware of the strange perfume in my room which even had the dog sneezing. Realising it the top, I put it out side for the night and had to wash it twice before I could handle it safely. Knowing the owner has bad sinus issues, I mentioned it to her and was slightly shocked when she said she didn’t care because it’s all about the smell, lets me know things are clean. Oh well, each to their own.

I searched the web and found numerous recipes so I set about trying them all. As I wash in cold water I found the powdered form did not dissolve very will so I adapted it to a liquid. Sometimes I add essential oils, but don’t usually when I make it, preferring to add it to just one bottle depending on my whim.

My recipe is as follows –

Materials needed for making my laundry soap, missing from picture is my stick mixer and funnel

Materials needed for making my laundry soap, missing from picture is my stick mixer and funnel

Liquid Laundry Soap

1 cup grated soap + 1l (litre) hot water

1 cup borax + 1l hot water

1 cup washing soda +1l cold water

7l cold water

***(see below)

Put 1l boiling water in a pot/bucket and add soap flakes. Stir  until the soap has melted or heat on the stove. Take care not to cause too much foam. I use a metal whisk for this.

Put 1 litre of hot water in a large pot or bucket that will hold 12 litres, and using stick mixer beat/whizz while slowly adding the borax. Keep whizzing until the borax is dissolved. Add hot soap to this and stir to combine.

Add washing soda slowly and stir rapidly by hand or use stick mixer. As  this is added you will notice the mixture gels rapidly and goes all gloopy. Add 1l of cold water and stir to combine.

***(see below)

This is the 3l concentrate from which I take out a cup full or so for stain removal.

This is the 3l concentrate from which I take out a cup full or so for stain removal.

At this stage I take out some of the mix and put it into an old sponge top stain remover bottle or a squeeze top bottle and use it as you would a stain remover.


Start adding  the remaining 7l of cold water and stir or whizz to mix into the gloop. At this stage it will thin down and is ready for storage.

Some people leave it in a large bucket with a lid in their laundry,and stir it before use and scoop out enough for the wash. But as my washer is in my small kitchen, I bottle it into clean used 2l milk bottles.

Stand the bottles in the sink on a wet cloth, this stops them falling over as you fill them.  I only used 5 not the 6 in picture because I took out the stain remover


I put the funnel into the first bottle and add one litre of soap, then move to the next and do the same. I then go back and fill the bottle to about 25mm (1 inch) from the top then cap tightly.

All ready for storage and use.

All ready for storage and use.

You will notice the liquid separates. It is more noticeable in summer than winter, but its normal. As it cools down, give it a shake and it mixes again. It is now ready to use.

How much do you use per wash… I have an old soap powder scoop, which is a half cup(125mls) capacity, that I measure the soap into and pour it into the machine. Shake the bottle each time you use it to mix the two layers together.

I add some white vinegar to the fabric softener cup and start the machine. Simple and cheap too.

I buy borax and washing soda in 1kg lots from Bin Inn and I grate soap or use soap flakes for this. Any hand soap will do, but try to avoid one that does not have added perfume.

I get 80 washes from the 10l , plus 2 bottles of stain remover.

It costs me roughly $17 for enough ingredients to make 5 batches of 5 x 2l. This is roughly a years worth of ingredients. This equates to under .05c a wash. So it’s not just safe, it’s very thrifty too.

Laundry Soap Powder

1 cup borax

1 cup washing soda

1 cup grated or flaked soap

Now- if you prefer a powder or use a warm/hot wash which will dissolve both the soap flakes and borax, then you can use the dry ingredients above and mix them together and keep in a sealed container. The washing soda causes it to clump a little so make sure you use a container that with withstand being shaken before each wash.

Use 1 x level  tablespoon full per wash.


*** I did some experimenting and added 1 cup of epsom salts dissolved in 1l warm water to the mix to see how it would combat static in polar fleece clothing in the dryer. It’s a winner I added another 1 l of cold water to the mix making added water 8l instead of 7.