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Makers Make Stuff - Make it Yourself at Home

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  • Brian Welch
  • January 06, 2020 02:59:00 PM

A Little About Us

Makers Make Stuff endeavors to teach people how fun, easy and healthy it is to make stuff yourself. Don't be a slave to pre-packaged and chemically ridden products from the grocery store. It's a lot easier than you might think to make these things yourself and we guarantee you will have fun doing it.

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  • Make Your Own Food
  • Stop buying all of your stuff pre-made and packaged in a box. It's easier than you might think to make some of your favorite foods. This blog is more than just a recipe site, we look at things you can make on your own that you would normally buy in a store already made for you.
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    How to Make Homemade Ginger Beer

    This refreshing, aromatic, soft drink was first invented in England in the 1700s by fermenting alcohol that was made from sugar, water, and ginger. Today, however, most ginger beers do not contain any alcohol at all. Some companies do make alcoholic ginger beer, but your average supermarket ginger beer is most likely okay for under-21... Read More The post How to Make Homemade Ginger Beer appeared first on Makers Make Stuff - The DIY...

    This refreshing, aromatic, soft drink was first invented in England in the 1700s by fermenting alcohol that was made from sugar, water, and ginger. Today, however, most ginger beers do not contain any alcohol at all. Some companies do make alcoholic ginger beer, but your average supermarket ginger beer is most likely okay for under-21 consumption. 

    One of the main uses for ginger beer is cocktail mixing. Just google ‘ginger beer cocktails’ and you’ll be impressed with the dozens, if not hundreds of cocktails that people have come up with using ginger beer. 

    If you want to learn how to make your own ginger beer at home, then keep reading. There are two main ways of making homemade ginger beer, and I’m going to walk you through each of them. 

    The Seltzer Method

    Don’t let its name fool you! — ginger beer is basically just ginger soda. The easiest way to make soda is through something that I call the Seltzer Method. All you have to do is create a syrup that has the flavor you want — in this case, ginger — and combine it with plain seltzer. It’s that easy. Of course, this doesn’t give you a real, genuine ginger beer, but if you want a ginger beer-esque drink (or something closer to ginger ale), then this is the method for you.

    For this method, you will need…

    Step 1 – Make your seltzer if you are making it yourself. 

    Step 2 – Make your ginger syrup. If you bought ginger syrup, then this step is easy. Taste it to see how sweet it is already, then pour it into your seltzer. Then, add in sugar if you think it’s necessary. Remember to keep tasting to make sure you don’t oversweeten it. You can add in your essential oil now if you want to. 

    (Scroll down to learn how to make homemade ginger syrup!)

    Step 3 – Let the syrup, sugar, and seltzer combine. 

    That’s about it for the seltzer method. This method is great if you want to add in your own flavors and experiment without having to worry about yeast or fermentation. You can add in mint, peppermint, honey, (or their essential oil counterparts) or any other flavor you can think of that would go with ginger. 

    To make your own seltzer at home, think about investing in a seltzer maker. There are countless flavors of soda to try, and once you can make seltzers at home, you won’t ever have to think about lugging those giant seltzer bottles from the store anymore. Check out our article on the Best Soda Makers.

    How to Make Homemade Ginger Syrup

    Trust me, it’s easier to make than it may sound. While ginger syrup might not seem like it has a lot of purposes except for making ginger beer, pay attention when I tell you that you can use this syrup in all sorts of drinks, such as cocktails, sodas, and teas. Plus, ginger is a great health food that helps digestion and builds up your immune system. And most importantly, it tastes great. 

    You Will Need…

    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup fresh sliced ginger
    • Lemon juice to taste

    Step 1 – Combine the sugar and water. Mix them in a saucepan over medium heat and let the sugar dissolve completely. Stir every few seconds. 

    Step 2 – Add in the ginger. Pour the sliced ginger into the pan and let the mixture come to a boil and simmer for about 10-20 minutes. The longer you let it simmer, the stronger the syrup’s flavor will be. 

    Step 3 – Let it sit and cool. Again, the longer you let this sit, the stronger the flavor will be. 

    Step 4 – Strain and store. Strain out the ginger chunks and bottle your syrup. 

    If you want to spice things up a bit, when adding in the ginger chunks to the pan, why not add in some other spices too, like a cinnamon stick or nutmeg? You can also replace the sugar with honey if you want a warmer flavor. 

    The Yeast Method

    This method of making homemade ginger beer sounds complicated since it uses yeast, but really, it is super simple! Yes, using yeast to carbonate your drink does take patience and a few days, but the results will be amazing; you’ll be happy you put in the effort. While the seltzer method does make a pretty refreshing soda-like drink, the yeast method is the real deal. 

    You Will Need…

    Step 1 – Make your ginger syrup. If you bought premade ginger syrup, then skip this step.

    Step 2 – Combine all ingredients. In a mixing cup or bowl, combine your syrup, yeast, and cream of tartar. Then, pour in enough water so that you will have enough to fill your plastic bottle. Mix well. 

    Step 3 – Pour into the bottle. Pour the mixture into your plastic bottle and close the cap tightly. Over time, the drink will build up pressure as it gets carbonated by the yeast. This will expand your bottle. That’s why glass bottles are definitely not recommended for this process.

    Step 4 – Store your bottle in the dark. Find a dark place in your house to hide your bottle from the sun for at least 24 hours. Make sure that you check on the bottle every few hours to make sure that it is not about to (or has not already) burst. I recommend wrapping towels around it, or keeping it in a closed container so that if the bottle does break, your soda doesn’t spill everywhere. 

    When you check on the bottle, if it feels extremely firm when you squeeze it, twist the cap only slightly to let out a bit of the built-up pressure. Don’t open the top completely, or you’ll let out too much of the pressure. 

    Step 5 – Put your bottle in the fridge. The longer you let your drink ferment in the dark, the more dry the flavor will be. So, if you want your soda to be on the sweeter side, only let it ferment for about 24-30 hours. If you want something drier, keep it in the dark for 48-60 hours. 

    After it has fermented to your liking, twist the cap again to take out some of the pressure, then put it in your fridge to stop the fermentation process from going any further. As the soda is cooling, the pressure will continue building, so make sure to continue checking on it and loosening the bottle cap every once in a while.

    Once your drink is cool, it’s ready to drink!

    Cream of Tartar – an Overlooked Ingredient

    One of the ingredients from the recipe above might have caught your attention — cream of tartar. It’s a very overlooked ingredient, hence the title of this section, and most people these days have never even heard of it. Yet, cream of tartar is a staple when making ginger beer. All traditional ginger beer recipes call for it, but what is it exactly? 

    Cream of tartar is a powder, similar to baking powder or baking soda, that makes things like angel food cake and meringues light and fluffy. When added to whipped cream, it helps keep its whipped texture for longer. 

    It doesn’t have a real flavor, but when added to things like cookies, it gives off a bit of a tangy flavor, which is great for making snickerdoodles. Another cool thing about cream of tartar is that, when boiling vegetables in water, you can sprinkle in a little of this powder to keep the vegetables bright and colorful. 

    In the case of ginger beer, adding in a bit of cream of tartar will help the yeast and fermentation process thrive, while also giving it a bit of a tangy, lemony undertone. If you don’t want to use cream of tartar, or don’t feel like purchasing any, you can use a few tablespoons of lemon juice instead. Cream of tartar never goes bad, however, so purchasing a small container of it wouldn’t hurt. 

    Fun Fact…

    Like many ingredients that we have in our baking cabinets, such as baking soda and flour especially, cream of tartar can be used for cleaning things around the house. It can be used to polish things like stainless steel, aluminum, and copper, and can also be used to clean tiles and porcelain in your kitchen and bathroom. 

    The post How to Make Homemade Ginger Beer appeared first on Makers Make Stuff - The DIY Blog.

    Beer: Getting Started with Homebrewing

    No matter your beverage of choice, there is nothing better than cracking open a cold drink on a hot summer day or after a long day at work. For many, that beverage of choice is beer. Beer is one of the oldest beverages in the world. Today, beer is the third most widely consumed drink... Read More The post Beer: Getting Started with Homebrewing appeared first on Makers Make Stuff - The DIY...

    No matter your beverage of choice, there is nothing better than cracking open a cold drink on a hot summer day or after a long day at work.

    For many, that beverage of choice is beer.

    Beer is one of the oldest beverages in the world. Today, beer is the third most widely consumed drink in the world behind water and then tea. Did you know that Archeologists have evidence of beer consumption dating further back than ancient Egypt when beer was first written about on ancient tablets?

    Beer being such an old and revered beverage, it’s no wonder that home-brewing is a widely popular hobby. From touring craft breweries to build-your-own six-packs at grocery stores, beer tasting, and beer drinking has rapidly grown in popularity over the last 20 years. It started with microbreweries, craft breweries, and local brews. Now brewing beer at home is the current trend in beer drinking.

    Of course, we are going to jump on that train here at Makers Make Stuff!

    What Is Beer?

    Beer is a fermented beverage made up of a few simple ingredients, barley, water, hops, and yeast.

    The problematic part of beer making, like other ferments, is the fermentation process. Things can go sour (literally) during the fermentation stage. Like other hobbies, home-brewing is not something you perfect at once. Brewing beer at home takes practice and patience. For the beginning homebrewer, we recommend starting with a home-brew kit. A beer brewing kit is going to include all of the ingredients necessary to make the perfect first batch of beer. Building your confidence with a home-brew kit is the ideal first stepping stone before diving deeper into the hobby with different recipes, types of beer, and higher alcohol content.

    Before long, you’ll find yourself more comfortable with the beer brewing process and find yourself ready to try more complex flavor profiles in your home brews.

    Steps to Brewing Beer: 

    The process of brewing beer is a bit complicated, but try not to be intimidated, a lot of beautiful things are complicated and worth the effort! When you graduate from beer brewing kits to more complicated recipes, you gain more control over the process and thus more control over your beer types and alcohol levels, etc.

      Getting From Grains to Beer

    1. The combination of yeast, barley, hops, and water begins the process. The yeast enzymes convert the sugars in the barley into alcohol. Lactic acids are what gives sauerkraut its tangy flavor. Ethanol or Alcohol fermentation is what gives beer its fizz and alcohol content. 
    2. Malting: This is the process where the grains are heated, dried, and cracked. The malting process is done for you already when you buy beer brewing kits or buy grains made explicitly for brewing beer. Malting makes the sugars in the grains ready and available for the yeast. 
    3. Make your Wort: The Grains are steeped in hot (not boiling) water for a certain amount of time, usually an hour. Steeping the grains in hot water releases all the flavors and sugars from the grains into the water. This beer tea is called a “wort.” 
    4. Boil and add your Flavors: The next step in the beer-making process is boiling your wort and adding your hops and other flavor characteristics such as spices, or citrus. If you’ve ever had an IPA or India Pale Ale, extra hops are what give that beer its bitter floral taste. Most beers are flavored with some hops to balance out the sweetness of the sugars in the wort. 
    5. Fermentation: The wort is then cooled and filtered and placed inside a fermentation container. The brewing process is finished, and the fermentation stage begins. Fermentation takes several weeks for the yeast to consume all of the sugars in the wort, giving off CO2 and alcohol in the process. The beer must sit for several weeks to months for enough Co2 to build up to carbonate your beer. 

    The Importance of Sanitation

    All along throughout the process of brewing beer at home, you must keep all of your equipment clean and sanitized. The introduction of bacteria to your beer-making equipment ruins your beer.

    Starting with A Home Brew Kit

    Now that you understand the basics of home-brewing beer, we’ve curated a few starter kits for beginning your home-brew hobby.

    If you live in an area with a lot of local breweries, check locally. Many breweries sell home-brew kits in their gift shops!

    Mr. Beer: American Lager Complete Beer Making Kit: 

    We love this beginner kit because it comes with everything ( and we mean everything) needed to brew two gallons of American Lager right at home. Many great beer-making kits don’t include the fermentation vessels or bottles, and you have to buy those separately. Mr. Beer kits come with their signature little brown keg for fermenting your home brewed beer and 11 bottles with caps. This kit even comes with a disinfectant to keep your bottles and fermenting keg sanitized. Follow the step-by-step instruction booklet to be on your way to drinking homemade American style Lager.

    Northern Brewer Deluxe Homebrew Starter Kit:

    If you love beer and anticipate that you’re going love home brewing, this deluxe kit is perfect for you. The Northern Brewer kit comes with everything you need to make 5-gallons of a citrus IPA. This kit requires a second fermentation period to create carbonation in your beer. This kit does require that you have a 5-gallon pot to boil your wort. You will also need to purchase bottles and caps separately. The northern Brewer Deluxe kit can brew up to 50 12-oz bottles. We also recommend that you buy extra sanitizer so you can clean your equipment over and over again.

     Craft A Brew: A Brew Home Brewing Kit for Beer

    We love this kit because it comes with choices, and who doesn’t like having options. You can choose from 12 kinds of beer including, American Pale Ale, Bone Dry Irish Stout, Brown Ale, Chocolate Milk Stout, Gluten-Free Ale, Hard Cider Kit, Hefeweizen, O.G. Orange Golden, Oak Aged IPA, Oktoberfest Ale, Single Hop IPA, or White House Honey Ale. Once you choose your brew, this kit comes with everything to make your wort and ferment your beer. With this kit, you will need to purchase your bottling supplies separately. The Craft A Brew kit only makes 1 gallon of beer, so if you’re reluctant to start out making 5 gallons of home-brewed beer, this kit is perfect for you.

    Making Beer At Home

    If you love craft brews and you’re looking for a new hobby to start at home, start exploring the art of home-brewing. Try out a beginner’s kit, and once you get the basics of home-brewing, you can play around with different grains and recipes and dive into the complexities of this ancient beverage.

    What’s your favorite type of beer to drink? 

    The post Beer: Getting Started with Homebrewing appeared first on Makers Make Stuff - The DIY Blog.

    How to Build a Drone

    If you are the type of person who wants to get right to flying a drone, building your own drone might not be the best option for you. There are plenty of affordable ready-made drones already on the market. If you’ve learned to fly drones, and love to tinker, building a drone might be the... Read More The post How to Build a Drone appeared first on Makers Make Stuff - The DIY...

    If you are the type of person who wants to get right to flying a drone, building your own drone might not be the best option for you. There are plenty of affordable ready-made drones already on the market.

    If you’ve learned to fly drones, and love to tinker, building a drone might be the next best evolution in your drone hobby. Building a drone allows you to explore the parts of the drone. You can learn the science and engineering involved in building an operational mini unmanned aircraft. Building drones is something you can get your entire family involved in!

    Of course here at Makers Make Stuff, we love the sense of achievement that comes from building and doing things yourself.

    Upgrade your skills and enrich your learning by joining us as we explore what it takes to build a drone.

    What are Drones?

    Drones are unmanned aircraft. Initially used by the military, drones provide intelligence-gathering capabilities, anti-aircraft capabilities, and much more. For civilians, drones can aid in search and rescue missions and provide traffic information among other uses. Some companies want to explore the idea of using drones for same-day delivery services.

    Just this week, I was researching an upcoming family vacation, and the footage on the vacation website was all aerial photography and videography captured by a drone. Drones hover above holiday parades and other events to capture footage from the air. Videographers and photographers take advantage of the views drones are capable of achieving.

    Drones for commercial use are expensive. If you’re not an expert at flying drones, you’re almost guaranteed to crash it or lose it in the woods. You wouldn’t want to crash or lose an expensive drone. I advise practicing your piloting skills on cheaper toy drones.

    My mother gave my kids a small RC drone for Christmas, and my husband lost the mini drone in our woods within 30 seconds of its maiden voyage. They are difficult to operate at first.

    Since the commercial use of drone technology has taken off, we have seen an increase in the availability of personal drones.

    Drones Are Expensive

    Personal drones can range in price from as little as $34 to as high as $15,500 for a ready-made GPS enabled videography/photography drone.

    Toy drones are a great way to get yourself started with the drone hobby. Toy drones are inexpensive, and you won’t be out thousands of dollars while you’re learning to fly a drone. You will inevitably lose or damage your first few drones. After you become a capable drone pilot, you can move up in the drone world to more functional drones.

    Why Build a Drone?

    Much like DIY RC Cars and DIY Model Rocket Kits, building a toy drone can be a fun hobby for yourself as well as an educational STEM opportunity for your children. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Introducing your kids to STEM materials at a younger age increases their engagement with STEM and raises the possibility of your kids entering the STEM fields.

    So join me while we explore the drone hobby and what it takes to build a DIY drone.

    First, let us discuss the rules of flying a drone. 

    Drones are unmanned flying vehicles (UVAs). Some drones are capable of entering air space and even impeding the flight path of human-crewed aircraft. If your drone weighs more than 0.55lbs and less than 55lbs, then you have to register your drone with the FAA. The cost to register your drone with the Federal Aviation Administration is as little as $5.00. This step can help keep you safe from any liability should your drone get you into any trouble, such as entering controlled airspace or landing on someone else’s property.

    If you plan to fly your drone commercially, such as selling the footage, you have to register your drone and obtain a license for yourself as the operator.

    The next thing you want to do is check what kind of airspace you’ll be flying in. The FAA classifies airspace. As a recreational drone operator, if your drone can reach heights above 400 feet, you’re liable for making sure you’re flying in airspace that allows recreational or commercial drones.

    There are websites you can use to determine the classification of the airspace, and you can even register your daily flights in real-time using some of these websites.

    Registering your drone and knowing where you plan on flying your drone will keep you and your drone safe. It’s especially important to be registered and licensed if you live within proximity to any airport.

    We live near one of the largest commercial cargo airports in the country, with flights going over our property several times a day. Even if we planned to fly only above our 5-acre parcel, we would need to register our drone and ensure it does not impede the flight path or view of any cargo flights going overhead.

    Building a Drone: 

    Ok, now that the scary fine print is past us, let’s get to the fun part of building a drone!

    Parts Needed to Make a Drone:

    • Drone Frame: You can make your frame out of wood and other sturdy materials. You will want to use a material that you can make holes in for attaching the propellers and other flight gear. You can also buy a ready-made fiberglass frame that is sturdy but flexible enough to survive crashes. 
    • Motor: Most motors come with mounts so you can attach the motor to the frame. If not, you may also need to purchase mounting supplies. Drone motors come Brushed or Brushless. Brushless motors are slightly more expensive, but they last longer. 
    • Flight Controller: A flight controller keeps your drone stable while in the air. 
    • Speed Controller: This allows you to throttle your drone’s speed. With a speed controller, you can change direction and move your drone up and down in the air. The speed controller connects to the motor. 
    • Propellers: If you’re building a quadrocopter (the most popular drone type), your propellers will go on each corner of your “X” shaped frame. 
    • Batteries: This is where your drone gets its power. Most drone hobbyists choose a Lithium Polymer Battery (LIPO).
    • RC Receiver: The receiver plugs into the flight controller on your drone. You hold the transmitter, which you use to fly your drone. 
    • Landing Gear: Landing gear helps protect your drone during crashes and falls. You want a material that can absorb the shock of a crash but won’t easily break. 
    • *Camera* ( optional): Cameras are popular for capturing footage of your drone’s flight. A camera is an optional item, and you may want to hold off on a camera until your perfect your piloting capabilities. You can purchase an RC receiver with a monitor to watch your drone’s camera footage in flight.

    Other Suggested Materials:

    If you plan on building your drone from scratch without the help of a DIY kit, here are a few supplies you will want to have on hand:

    DIY Drone Kits: 

    If all these materials and supplies are intimidating to you as a novice drone DIY-er, DIY drone kits are available to build a drone. These kits range from toy leggo drone kits (that fly) to fiberglass framed drone kits. Most of these kits come with all the components needed for the build.

    Quadricopter Paper Drone Kit From Kitables:

    This drone kit uses paper origami as the frame for the drone’s flying components. If you and your kids are into flying paper airplanes, this kit allows you to take paper airplane building to the next level. Learn the basics of drone flying and drone building using this kit to build a functional RC drone. This kit requires some soldering. This kit comes with all the components needed including a LIPO battery and RC receiver. Follow the easy instructions to create a flying paper drone.

    Top Race Building Blocks DIY Flying Drone:

    Using standard building blocks, you can create a functional quadrocopter flying drone. This kit helps introduce kids to the STEM field and the basics of drone building and operation. This kit includes the battery, motors with propellers, building blocks, and RC controller. One thing to note with building block drone kits is that building blocks are not the most aerodynamic. This drone will fly, but the most value comes from the learning process during construction.


    This DIY mini racing drone can be operated indoors and outdoors. The kit comes with the materials pictured above to build and operate a mini racing drone. This drone can fly in all directions and you can upgrade to a version with a camera. Starting at $28 this DIY drone is an affordable drone kit for the novice drone builder.

    LHI Carbon Frame Quadrocopter Racing Drone Kit

    This racing quadrocopter drone kit includes everything you need to build your own high-quality racing drone. This kit even includes a camera! To make this kit operational you will need to purchase a battery and RC receiver separately. The RC Reciever you purchase will plug directly into the flight controller included with this kit. You can purchase an RC receiver with a monitor to view the camera footage in flight. This drone kit includes a carbon frame that is durable and flexible enough to withstand accidental crashes.

    DIY Drone Kits

    If building and constructing is your hobby, building a DIY drone will provide you with hours of fun. Teach your kids the basics of science and engineering by building a drone together. We recommend starting with one of the above-mentioned kits and working your way toward customizing your own drone by purchasing the components separately. You can purchase a ready-made drone but if you like building things as we do, then give a DIY drone kit a try! Just remember to look into the FAA regulations for registering and flying a drone in your area!

    The post How to Build a Drone appeared first on Makers Make Stuff - The DIY Blog.

    How to Make Homemade Sausage

    When you think about sausage, the first thing that comes to your mind probably isn’t ‘how can I make that on my own?’ Sausage seems like it would be such a complicated thing to make, let alone a gross thing to make. After all, sausage is made up of all the undesirable parts of animals,... Read More The post How to Make Homemade Sausage appeared first on Makers Make Stuff - The DIY...

    When you think about sausage, the first thing that comes to your mind probably isn’t ‘how can I make that on my own?’ Sausage seems like it would be such a complicated thing to make, let alone a gross thing to make. After all, sausage is made up of all the undesirable parts of animals, right? Well, that’s simply not true. Perhaps that’s how some sausages are made, but in reality, sausages can be made at home, easily, and with top-grade, high-quality meat.  

    If you don’t like touching raw meat with your hands, then making sausage yourself probably isn’t a good way to spend your free time. Really, touching raw meat isn’t as bad as it sounds, and if you want to be a home cook, you’ll have to get used to it. 

    In basic terms, to make your own sausage, all you have to do is mix some spices, grind your meat, and fill the sausage casings. It’s really that easy. Well, there are a few more details you’ll have to know before you get started, but those are the general steps to follow. Keep reading for an in-depth step by step guide to making your own homemade sausage. 

    The Fat to Meat Ratio

    One important detail to keep in mind when making your own homemade sausage is the meat to fat ratio. Don’t panic when you see the word ratio, because figuring out how much meat and how much fat to use is actually pretty simple. 

    In general, you want about 20%-40% fat in your sausages. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re using 6-7 pounds of meat, use about 3-4 pounds of fat as well. Fat will give your sausage a great flavor, so even though it may not have the greatest health benefits, don’t try to use any less than 20%. Anyways, if you’re trying to eat healthy, sausage probably isn’t the best meal option for you. 

    What Spices to Use

    The spices you use will affect whether your sausage tastes more like a breakfast sausage, or more like a main course dinner sausage. If your goal is to make a flavorful and sweet breakfast sausage, you’ll want to use a mixture of a few or all of the following spices: sage, marjoram, brown sugar, rosemary, thyme, nutmeg, cayenne, plus salt and pepper. 

    For a dinner sausage, you want to use a mixture of a few or all of the following savory spices: parsley, garlic, paprika, fennel seed, thyme, Italian seasoning plus salt and ground black pepper. 

    The amount of salt you include is directly based on how much meat you use. For every pound of meat, you should use half a teaspoon of kosher salt. 

    When making sausage, coming up with your spice mixture is the main way that you can get creative during this cooking process. Come up with your own spice combinations to make your sausage recipe your own. It really isn’t very hard to do. And the more you practice and make sausage, the better your spice combinations will turn out.  

    For 6 pounds of meat, you will most likely want to use a little less than 1 cup of your spice mixture. Or, for every pound of meat, use about 7 teaspoons of spices. 

    Homemade Sausage Making – Step by Step

    Before you start making sausage, you’ll need to gather your supplies. Whether you are going to be making sausage every once in a while, or every day, having good equipment is necessary if you want to make good sausage.

    The Altra meat grinder is a great, beginner-friendly tool that also includes a sausage stuffer tube attachment. For a home cook, this easy-to-use machinery will be a great addition to your kitchen arsenal.

    Step 1 – Buy your meat. Make sure you buy meat that has fat on it. Like I wrote above, you’re going to want to have about 20%-40% fat content in your sausage. You can talk to your butcher about this and ask him for a cut of meat that would work. 

    If you’re making pork sausage, pork shoulder is the best cut of meat for sausage making. If you’re making beef sausage, you should use beef chuck.

    Step 2 – Chill the meat. Keep your meat in the fridge for a few hours before you start turning it into sausage. You want to make sure that the fat on the meat is solid and can be broken into pieces. 

    Step 3 – Soak your sausage casings. You will have to buy a pack of sausage casings from a supermarket. Open the casings under the water faucet and gently fill them with water. Let them soak in slightly warm water for about 30 minutes. You can let them soak while you grind and mix the meat. 

    Step 4 – Cut and grind the meat. Cut your meat into small chunks, and put the chunks through the meat grinder. Make sure the meat is still chilled from its time in the refrigerator before you grind them. Put the meat into a large bowl. With your hands, knead the meat as if it were bread dough, until the fat is completely combined into the rest of the meat. You don’t want to see any large chunks of fat.  

    Step 5 – Mix in your spices. Using your hands, mix your spices into the meat until everything is evenly combined. 

    Step 6 – Fill the sausage casings. With your casing filler tool, slowly fill your sausage casings with your meat and spice mixture. Twist the end off so that the meat doesn’t spill out. After about five inches, twist the sausage to create separate sausage links. Continue this until you are either out of sausage casings or meat. 

    If your sausage casing breaks, don’t worry. Just twist the sausage to end the sausage link, and continue filling the next link. 

    Step 7 – Chill the sausage. Put your sausage into the fridge for at least 5 hours (or overnight if you can). This will make the casings more sturdy and will help the sausages keep their shape. 

    Step 8 – Cook. Cut your sausage links apart. Now, they’re ready to cook. You can cook them however you want — you can boil them then cook them in a pan until they’re golden brown. You can cut them up and cook them into pasta. You can do so many things with sausage.

    Great Sausage Meal Ideas

    • Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches – Fry your sausage with some oil on a pan until it’s brown and crispy. Fry up some onions and green or red peppers too, and put it all into a bun. This is a great lunch or dinner sausage idea, and it’s family-friendly too.
    • Sausage and Mozzarella Pasta – Make a delicious mozzarella, tomato, and sausage sauce in a pan. Let the mozzarella cheese melt, then pour your sauce over cooked pasta. This is a family favorite in my house. 

    • Sausage Pizza – Pizza is super easy to make. Besides waiting for your dough to rise, making pizza is quick and easy. Cut up your sausage and put it on your pizza with broccoli or onions, or whatever your favorite pizza toppings are.

    • Bangers and Mash – This traditional meal from Great Britain is super simple and delicious, and perfect for a first-time sausage maker. Eat a sausage link with onion and cabbage mashed potatoes with onion gravy and peas. How could reading that not make your mouth water? 
    • New Orleans Gumbo – You’ll probably want to make your sausage a bit more spicy if you want to make it into gumbo. Mix in shrimp, celery, peppers, onions, and meat stock to make a delicious Louisiana gumbo. 

    The post How to Make Homemade Sausage appeared first on Makers Make Stuff - The DIY Blog.

    How to Roast Chestnuts

    Roasted chestnuts are a staple food during the holiday season. They give whatever dish they’re in a beautiful earthy flavor that makes us think of home and family. Chestnuts are actually a very well-rounded nut, however, so thinking of them as only a holiday food is definitely holding them back from their potential. They go... Read More The post How to Roast Chestnuts appeared first on Makers Make Stuff - The DIY...

    Roasted chestnuts are a staple food during the holiday season. They give whatever dish they’re in a beautiful earthy flavor that makes us think of home and family. Chestnuts are actually a very well-rounded nut, however, so thinking of them as only a holiday food is definitely holding them back from their potential. They go perfectly in soups, stews, roasts, and desserts as well, and should really be considered a year-round food. Unfortunately, a lot of supermarkets don’t sell them year-round because of their ‘holiday-season stigma’. Also, they’re not in season all-year-round… 

    Chestnuts are a winter food and will taste the best during the colder seasons, so there definitely is some truth to them being a holiday food, but you can find preserved chestnuts in water or syrup throughout the year. Just ask your grocer where you can find them, or do a simple online search for what stores have them in stock. 

    Harvesting and/or Choosing the Best Chestnuts

    Chestnuts grow from trees. They start out as something called catkins, then mature into what we recognize as round, brown chestnuts. Chestnuts are not easy to harvest though — they are surrounded by a painfully sharp, spiny husk. Harvesting them with your bare hands is a sure way to get cut up and never want to look at another chestnut again, so if you plan on harvesting them yourself, wear thick gardener’s gloves!

    When you choose which chestnuts to cook with, you should be looking for chestnuts that are very rounded and smooth. If they are still in their spiny hull, shake the hull. If the nut inside rattles, don’t take it! You want to find firm, healthy chestnuts. 

    Roasting Your Chestnuts

    Roasting chestnuts is probably the most familiar chestnut-preparing method out there. The most traditional way of roasting your chestnuts is over an open fire. If you have a fireplace or fire pit, and plenty of spare time on your hands, roasting them in this way can be a fun way to utilize fire and to feel like you’ve been teleported back in time. How often do you get to cook over an open flame? Probably not that often. 

    Roasting Chestnuts Over a Flame

    For this method of making roasted chestnuts, you will need:

    Step 1 – Get your fire going. Just like when you grill, you want your flames to be low, and your coals or embers to be glowing. This can take a while, so make sure you start working on the fire early on so it’ll be ready when you want to start roasting. If you have an electric fireplace or fire pit, you can skip this step.

    Step 2 – Prepare your chestnuts. While the fire is heating up, take this time to cut slits in the rounded side of your chestnuts. Traditionally, an X is cut into them, but you can put a single line, two parallel lines, a hashtag, or whatever else you can think of. An X is probably the best though. 

    When you cut into the chestnuts, be very careful! The smooth surface of the nuts make it easy for your knife to slip, so watch out for your fingers. That’s why using a serrated knife is best. Make sure that you cut deep enough that the knife goes completely through the outer and inner skin of the nut and reaches the meat inside. If you don’t cut deep enough, the chestnut is liable to explode while being heated up, and you don’t want that. 

    Step 3 – Roast away! Place your chestnuts into your cast iron skillet with the X side facing up. Don’t stack them on top of each other. The sides of them can touch though, so don’t get caught up with keeping them perfectly spaced and organized. 

    You can cover the pan with tin foil that you poked a few holes into. Keep the chestnuts over the fire for about 25 minutes, or until the shells have turned a very dark brown or black. Holding the pan over the fire for that long is definitely going to be a pain, so make sure you have a rack you can put it on that will keep the skillet close enough to the flames. 

    Step 4 – Cool and peel. Once you take the pan off the fire, let it sit for a minute. Then, spill the chestnuts into a kitchen towel and let them sit for another few minutes until they are cool enough for you to start peeling them. Don’t let them cool for too long, though. The longer you wait to peel them, the harder it will be to take the shells off. 

    Roasting Chestnuts On the Stove

    If you don’t have an open fire pit or fireplace that you can roast your chestnuts on, roast them on the stove instead. The steps are basically the same, except this time, before putting the chestnuts into the skillet, and after cutting an X into them, soak the chestnuts in hot water. The water should have been boiling, then taken off the heat just before you pour in the chestnuts. 

    After about a minute, take the chestnuts out and put them in the skillet for roasting. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes on high. 

    Roasting Chestnuts in the Oven

    The last way to roast chestnuts is in the oven. Set your oven to 400 °F. Cut and soak your chestnuts before putting them on a baking sheet and putting them into the oven for 15 minutes, or until the shells look dark brown. 

    What to Do With Roasted Chestnuts

    So, you have a bowl of peeled, roasted chestnuts, and you may be wondering, ‘now what?’ As I mentioned before, chestnuts have huge potential. They can be utilized in meat dishes, sides, and desserts, too. Keep reading for a list of great chestnut recipe ideas that will hopefully inspire you to get cooking, and/or baking. 

    Chopped Chestnut Stuffing – You can add your roasted and chopped chestnuts to whatever stuffing you’re making, whether it be a bread-based stuffing or a meat-based one. Just put your chopped chestnuts in before cooking in the oven to let the chestnut flavor distribute evenly. 

    Fried Chestnut and Sausage Pasta – Cook the sausage and chopped chestnuts in a pan with butter and onion until everything is cooked thoroughly. Pour in some tomato sauce, heat some more, then put over pasta. 

    Chestnut Stew – Put your chestnuts in the liquid your stew will be cooked in. Make sure the chestnuts have enough time to completely soften. When you add in your other ingredients, the chestnut flavor will be mixed with everything and add a light, earthy flavor. 

    Chestnut Roast – This traditional chestnut recipe is super easy and definitely worth a taste. All you have to do is boil your chestnuts in a pot until they are soft and mashable. In another pot, boil some vegetables, such as carrots, celery, garlic, onion, etc. until they are soft. Then, pour in your chestnuts and mash, adding in butter and heavy cream, as well as salt and pepper. Put this in the oven until golden brown on top. 

    If you don’t feel like adding in vegetables, plain mashed chestnuts is a very popular side dish. Do everything exactly the same as you would with a chestnut roast, just leave the vegetables out. 

    Chestnut Vanilla Cake – Puree your roasted chestnuts in a blender or food processor and add them to your cake batter. Chestnuts go great with plain vanilla cake, but they’ll go well with chocolate cake, another nut-flavored cake, or even some fruit-flavored cakes. 

    Chestnut Pudding – Make a custard, then add a puree made from your roasted chestnuts, along with other blended or candied fruits and spices. This makes a very beautiful, delicate, and tasty dessert. You can put your pudding in a mold and freeze it into a fancy shape if you want to go that extra mile. Just make sure that if you want to do that, you add some gelatin into the mix.

    Those are just a few of the amazing recipes you can make with chestnuts. If none of those sound good to you, hopefully, you now have some idea of a chestnut recipe you would like to try. Chestnuts are pretty easy to work with, so don’t wait until the holiday season to start experimenting with chestnuts. You can start now! 

    The post How to Roast Chestnuts appeared first on Makers Make Stuff - The DIY Blog.

    How to Roast Coffee At Home

    My daughter, who is in first grade, recently came home from school with a sign that she had made for me saying, “coffee makes my life better.” She hung the sign on my coffee station in my dining room when she got home. It was a wonderful gift because coffee does make my life better.... Read More The post How to Roast Coffee At Home appeared first on Makers Make Stuff - The DIY...

    My daughter, who is in first grade, recently came home from school with a sign that she had made for me saying, “coffee makes my life better.” She hung the sign on my coffee station in my dining room when she got home. It was a wonderful gift because coffee does make my life better.

    For many of us, coffee is more than a drink…its an experience. Why else would they make so many memes about coffee? Coffee isn’t uniquely American, either. Coffee is enjoyed and experienced all around the world by many people in many cultures.

    For many people, me included, cultivating the perfect cup of coffee at home brings a sense of accomplishment and joy. Here at Makers Make Stuff, we’ve talked about how to grind coffee beans and how to make French press and cold brew coffee. Today, we round out our coffee series as we learn about why you can and should roast your coffee beans fresh at home!

    Why Roast Your Coffee Beans at Home? 

    I know what you’re thinking, why go through the trouble of roasting my coffee beans at home when I can buy whole coffee beans at the store. I hear you but stick with me.

    First, we are just that extra here at Makers Make Stuff. We like to go through the trouble of trying and doing everything from scratch. I imagine you do too. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here with us.

    Second, roasting your coffee beans at home all but guarantees the freshest cup of coffee possible. When you buy whole roasted coffee beans at the store, while better than buying ground coffee, you have no idea how fresh those coffee beans are. Roasting beans at home ensures fresh and delicious coffee every time.

    Lastly, it’s cheaper to buy raw coffee beans and roast them at home than it is to buy whole beans for grinding. Even after setup costs and buying a home coffee bean roaster, you will save money in the long term. Assuming you drink coffee daily.

    How to Roast Coffee Beans at Home:

    The first thing you will need when preparing to roast coffee at home is to find somewhere to buy raw coffee beans. They can be difficult to buy locally, but they are widely available online. After you’ve chosen your raw coffee beans, you need to decide on a roasting method.

    There are two types of Coffee Bean Roasters.

    Air Roasters:

    Today, air roasting is the most common type of roaster used to roast coffee beans. Even commercial facilities prefer the air roasted method. With an air roaster, the coffee beans are heated to a specific temperature, usually 450 degrees. The raw coffee beans sit on a pillow of hot air while they roast to their desired darkness. If you’ve ever used an air popper for popcorn, that is essentially what an air roaster does.

    Fun fact, you can use an air popper to roast coffee beans at home!

    Trying your air popper first is helpful if you’re not ready to invest in your first countertop coffee roaster.

    Benefits of the Air Roasters

    As coffee beans roast, their skins crack and come off of the beans. In an air roaster, the skin is pushed up and away from the coffee beans by the circulating hot air. This makes it easier to remove the skins from the finished product. Usually, the skins can be bitter or even burn, so it’s nice to be able to remove them easily with an air roaster. 

    Air roasting coffee gives you the most consistent heat and roasting times while avoiding any burnt flavors from the skins as the beans roast.

    Cons of Air Roasters

      Countertop air roasters can be expensive. For someone looking to try out roasting raw coffee beans, the upfront investment of an air roaster might be offputting. If you can get your hands on a cheap or used popcorn air popper, try that first. You can roast small amounts of coffee beans using an air popper. Instead of collecting popcorn in the bowl, your bowl collects coffee bean skins as they rise up and out of the air popper.

    Drum Roaster:  

    The drum roaster uses a metal basket or drum, which rotates to stir the coffee beans as they heat over a heating element. If you have a home rotisserie attachment for your backyard grill or your toaster oven, a drum roaster would be an easy and inexpensive way to try roasting coffee beans at home. 

    Benefits of Drum Roasters

    Drum roasting is the traditional method for roasting coffee beans. Many people love the flavors added to the coffee beans by using alternative heat sources such as a fire or a grilling element. If you own a smoker, you could even try roasting your coffee beans over your smoker grill and see what flavors you get. Drum roasting is also considerably more affordable if you only need to purchase the drum and the raw beans. 

    Cons of Drum Roasters

    Drum roasters often lead to inconsistent roasting times, with some of your beans roasting darker than others. Often with drum roasting, the skins don’t shed away from the beans as well, and they can burn and alter the flavor of your coffee. It’s much easier to control the roasting level (dark roast vs. light roast) when using an air roaster. 

    Recommended Coffee Roasters

    We’ve reviewed what’s available out there, and here are our recommendations for both air and drum roasters.

    Air Roaster

    Fresh Roast SR540

    For the home coffee roaster looking for a step up from an air popper, the newest model from Fresh Roast will suit your coffee roasting purposes beautifully. The container can roast up to 4oz of raw coffee at a time with 9 different temperature settings. The consistent airflow from the fan sends the coffee bean skins up and out of the roasting compartment into a separate collection chamber. At $189.00 this coffee roaster would pay for itself after 8lbs of freshly roasted coffee beans which average $23.00 per pound.

    ETE Etmate Coffee Roaster Machine

    With this air coffee roaster, you can roast not only larger quantities of raw coffee beans, but you can also pop popcorn, roast peanuts, dry fruit, and more! Multiple air vents and the air fan help moisture to evaporate during the roasting process. This roaster includes a digital display with a timer so you can set the timer to get your desired coffee roast.

    Drum Roasters

    Mochiglory Rotisserie Coffee Bean Basket

    If you already have a rotisserie on your grill or your toaster oven, this coffee bean drum roaster would be an affordable addition to your set up. In addition to coffee, you can drum roast peanuts, dry teas, and more! Priced at $24.99 this is an affordable roaster for you to try your hand at roasting coffee beans at home. If you don’t have a rotisserie set up, you may want to consider an alternative drum roaster. This drum roaster allows you to have more flexibility over the type of heating element you use.

    Dyvee Gas Burner Coffee Roaster

    If you have a gas burner on your stove, a travel gas burner, or a gas burner on your outdoor grill, this quartz glass drum roaster would help you to create beautifully roasted fresh coffee at home. This coffee roaster is easy to use and easy to clean and is one of the most traditional methods of using a drum roaster to roast coffee. The clear glass roaster allows you to see and monitor the color of your coffee beans as they roast.

    How to Roast Coffee at Home

    Whether you choose to purchase a coffee roaster, try using an air popcorn popper, or dry roast coffee beans in a pan on your stove, its a simple process. Add your raw coffee beans to your roaster of choice. The ideal temperature is somewhere around 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch your coffee beans as they start to change from green to tan to light brown to dark brown. As coffee beans roast and become darker, you will need to watch closely for burning as there is a fine line between dark roasted coffee and burnt coffee.

    Once roasting is finished, you will need to let your coffee beans cool completely. Once cooled, store them uncovered or loosely covered for 24 hours and then store in an airtight container. Freshly roasted coffee beans are best when used within 5 days after the initial 24 hour resting period.

    Enjoying Your Coffee at Home

    Whether you plan to share your coffee skills with friends and family, or keep it to yourself as a regular self-care routine, learning how to buy, roast, and brew your own delicious cup of coffee can save you money and satisfy that DIY urge that many of us have.

    The post How to Roast Coffee At Home appeared first on Makers Make Stuff - The DIY Blog.

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