ROMMELSBACHER OP 700 electric oil press – Review

ROMMELSBACHER OP 700 electric oil press – Review

Oil Extractor

The oil extractor

We are always trying to find new ways of using our almonds. The price we get from selling them to a cooperative is very low so it is best to use them ourselves if possible. We brought this machine to make oil from almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds.

Results so far:

1 kg of almonds resulted in 230 grams of oil. The oil is fairly cloudy at first but after a couple of days most of the solids fall to the bottom and the oil becomes clear.

We warmed up the almonds slightly. Most of the time the machine works very well. Towards the end of the kilo batch of almonds the screw got blocked and the machine started to produce almond butter in the oil tray. We could have stopped the machine and cleaned the spindle but the almond butter was a good surprise product.

If the nuts are the right size, have the right temperature and the correct oil ratio the machine works very well.

I think this machine is good for small quantities of nuts. It requires a fair amount of vigilance to make sure all is working correctly. It is best to be in the same room so that you can make sure all is OK.

The almond flour which is the powder left behind after the milling process can be used for many purposes. So far we have added it to flour to make bread with good results.

AMAZON SPAIN:

Wine Pressing and facts about Wine.

Wine press
Sam And Heather pressing wine

The earliest known traces of wine are from China (c. 7000 BC). Mead, also called honey wine, is created by fermenting honey with water. The French are the biggest wine drinkers in the world. They drink 53 litres per person per year. (this fact is disputed because it is said that the Vatican drinks 73 litres per capita) People who are scared of wine have “oenophobia”.

Alcoholic beverages, including wine, are forbidden under most interpretations of Islamic law. Within ten years of the death of Mohammed in A.D. 632, wine was largely banned from muslim countries. Top sommeliers think that smell is by far the most important sense when it comes to drinking wine.

The custom of raising a glass to one another and saying “cheers” before drinking originated with the Romans and the Greeks, who used to offer wine to their gods before celebrations. The world’s oldest bottle of wine is over 1600 years old and can be found at a museum in Germany. It was buried nearby in 350 CE and was found again in 1867.

There is scientific evidence that moderate, regular wine drinking can reduce the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and gum disease. Heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, drives an Aston Martin DB5 that’s powered almost entirely by wine derived bioethanol. It is a convertible and the wine powered car averages 300 miles per year.

It takes about 4 or 5 years for a newly planted grape vine to get to full production. A single celled organism called yeast converts the sugar in grapes into alcohol and carbon dioxide, and also release heat in the process. 70% of the alcohol is produced in the first 7 days of fermentation. This is called primary fermentation. At the start the wine can ferment so fast that it appears to be boiling. If the yeast converts all the sugar into alcohol it is a dry wine. Wine ferments fastest at 21C. Yeast will die at 37C.

Pomace
The pomace left over after pressing wine.

Pomace is the solid remains of grapes, olives, or other fruit after pressing for juice or oil. It contains the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of the fruit. Wine fermenting at high temperatures creates more acetaldehyde which is a chemical which can produce hangovers so it is best if the wine does not ferment too fast. The largest wine producers in the world are France, Italy, and Spain. Michael Jackson used to order his wine served in diet coke cans during flights, due to being a ‘private drinker’ and not wanting his kids to see him drinking alcohol.

In a blind tasting it is very difficult for most people to differentiate between red wine and white wine (try this at home if you don’t believe it) . The Romans added lead to wine in order to give it a sweet taste and pleasant texture. Some people believe that the decline of the Roman empire was due to lead poisoning. For purists wine glasses should always be held by the stem and not the bowl because the heat of the hand will raise the temperature of the wine.

Enologists are wine chemists who analyse samples of wine and advise winemakers. In the late 19th century most of the vineyards in Europe were destroyed by the phylloxera epidemic because some infected vine cuttings were introduced from America. Phylloxera is a type of aphid which sucks the sap of the vine. American vines have adapted a defence mechanism against phylloxera. Nowadays, most vines in Europe have American roots and the top of the vines are grafted onto the rootstock.

Vineyards buy ready grafted dormant plants and plant them in the ground in winter. It takes at least 4 years before many grapes can be picked. The colour for red wine comes from the skins. Hardly any varieties of grapes have red flesh. Grapes contain all the necessary ingredients to make wine, the yeast is found on the skin and all the sugar and nutrients are found in the grape. A high concentration of alcohol will kill the yeast so the maximum strength of normal wine is generally around 15% alcohol by volume, but the exact amount will depend on the type of yeast.

Here are 3 videos of very small scale wine production in Spain showing the process of pressing the wine.

 

 

Baking Sourdough Bread in a Bread Machine

sourdough bread in a bread machine

MY SOURDOUGH LEARNING CURVE – UPDATED 25/9/2021

I’ve been making sourdough bread now for about a year now and today I think I’ve made my best loaf yet. Although I had originally been using 350ml water to 500g of flour, I’ve recently decreased the amount of water to 320ml and this seems to work better and the texture of the bread is not so gummy. The original proportions might work better in a conventional oven where there might be more evaporation, but I tend to bake the bread in a bread machine and these proportions seem to work better.

 

PREPARATION

The day before I am going to bake the bread, I take the sourdough starter out of the fridge at about 17:00 and leave it for a couple of hours to warm up.
I don’t want to have to throw any of the starter away and so I save the smallest amount possible to bake the next loaf. At the moment, I am saving back 60g.

I use rye flour (centeno) to feed the starter and add 60g flour and 60g of water to the starter. I transfer 60g to a new jar and put this back in the fridge. I then add another 15g flour and 15g water to the remaining starter and mix well. This is the starter for the next loaf and it should weigh approximately 150g. I leave this out on the worktop, wrapping it in a towel in the winter.

 

AUTOLYSING THE DOUGH

I have recently been experimenting with autolysing the flour overnight before mixing with the starter and this seems to work really well. Autolysing is basically mixing the flour and water together and leaving it for a number of hours for the gluten bonds to form. You generally leave white flour for around an hour and brown flour for about 4 hours.

At about 21:00, I weigh out 250g strong white flour, 250g brown flour, stir in 320ml water and gently knead the mix to bring in all the ingredients. I then cover the bowl with a plate and leave overnight.

 

ADDING THE STARTER

The next morning, I test the dough to see if it can make a window pane. I then sprinkle in 12g salt and 320ml water, mix well and leave for 60 minutes.
After 60 minutes, I stretch and fold the dough gently about 8 times and coil fold the dough about 4 times.
I do another 4 series of stretch and folds and coil folds every 30 minutes.
I then shape the dough into a ball, creating surface tension by pulling over and towards me a couple of times, turning the bowl as I go.

 

BAKING THE BREAD

I transfer the ball of dough into the breadmaker. I select the yoghurt cycle on the menu and time the breadmaker for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, I stop the machine and choose the bake cycle. On my machine, this takes 60 minutes.

Most efficient fridge in solar powered house.

How to use a fridge in solar house without using extra batteries

Warning:  This post contains ideas and instructions about electrical devices and wiring. I am not an electrician. You should be extremely careful when wiring electrical devices and if you are not sure, please use a qualified electrician. 

 

Introduction: We have been living off grid for many years and I think we have worked out the best way to have fridges and freezers. Before having electric fridges, we used to have a Butsir gas fridge. Gas fridges work OK for most of the time but they can suddenly develop soot problems, they turn off for no reason or they can become hard to light plus they tend to use a bottle of gas each month which is not ecological. At the moment, a bottle of gas is 15 euros so that is 180 euros per year. In this post, I am going to explain how to have an electric fridge in the cheapest way possible without having to buy extra batteries.

We have 2 fridges and a freezer.  We don’t have a massive solar array but we have enough solar power to run a 600 watt swimming pool pump for 3 hours a day between 11 am and 2 pm.  The maximum power generation we have is only about 1300 watts.  The swimming pool is only in use from June to mid September so that means that without the pool pump we have loads of power during the rest of the year.

If you don’t have a lot of solar panels, by far the best system is to use a chest freezer as a fridge, put it on maximum full power and control it using an external thermostat. The freezer tries to bring the temperature down to minus 20C but as soon as it reaches 1C, it is switched off by our external thermostat and when it reaches 2C, the thermostat switches it on again.

Additional paragraph – digression – skip if you want.
By the way, the difference between the 1C and 2C stated above is called the slewing range.  The default is normally 1C or 2C. The smaller the slewing range, the more times the fridge is switched on and off.  Some people the other day suggested that a fridge could be damaged by switching it on and off. This is just utter nonsense!!!

Why use a chest freezer? The big problem with using a normal, upright fridge is that as soon as you open the door, all the cold air falls out onto the floor. This is especially bad if you have a lot of guests. Rather than quickly opening and closing the fridge door, they will be casually telling you their life story while absent-mindedly looking for the beer and then afterwards not even shut the door properly. (The same sort of person who will  use their 2000 watt electric curling tongs and shut the house electricity down just when there is a penalty shoot out in an international football match) .

Chest freezers are spacious  and they can be filled with lots of liquid such as milk, beer, water, etc. The reason it is a good idea to have lots of liquid in the fridge-freezer is that they can be used to store the cold in thermal mass.  Thermal mass acts as a thermal battery. All the watts of power that you use to cool the liquids down when the sun is shining will be stored and will prevent the fridge or freezer heating up during the night. So you don’t have to spend lots of money on expensive batteries – you just store the energy literally in beer. This has the added advantage that you can have a cool beer any time you like. What is not to like? 

I normally start my fridge at 10am and switch it off at around 5pm.  At 5pm, the temperature is just above freezing and by10am the next day, the fridge has got up to maybe 10C which is an OK fridge temperature.  Most fridges and freezers use about 90 watts.

This is not just some untested bright idea I have thought up: I have been doing this for years and it works perfectly.

Instructions:  This is a very cheap and easy system to set up so even if you are a money-strapped absolute nincompoop you should have no difficulty in doing this.  Having said that, if you have never done any electrical wiring before, make sure that everything is switched off when you actually touch any wires and study the instructions that come with the thermostat.

The first thing to do is put your chest freezer in a suitable place. It could be in your kitchen. In the winter, it will work even more efficiently if you keep it covered outside in the cold.

Near the fridge, you need to have somewhere to put the digital thermostat. I have mine of a shelf above the freezer and I keep it in place with a G clamp I bought from a thrift shop for a couple of euros. You could use gaffer tape.

The only slightly difficult thing is wiring the thermostat. You need to go to a shop and buy some wire and an electrical plug to power the thermostat and also an electrical socket so that you can plug the fridge into it.

This is a plug socket. You can open it up and connect the wires to it.  The wires don’t need to be especially thick because a fridge or a freezer only uses a small number of watts.

 
This image below is the wiring diagram from the thermostat. The NTC are the wires that go to the sensor. The sensor should be put inside the freezer. This is how the above diagram translates into the actual connection.  The black cable goes to the plug socket (two images above) and the white cables go to the wall plug.
Everything should be covered in insulation tape to increase the safety so that nobody could touch any live wires.  We do not use an earth so there must be no exposed metal which could be touched and make sure that you have a good differential switch in your fusebox.  If you don’t know what you are doing, get an electrician. Don’t take any risks!!!!!!!

This is what a chest freezer converted to a fridge looks like.  The only problem with this idea is that people tend to prefer using a fridge with a forward opening door. The things that you use often are kept in the basket at the top and you would have to have good organisation of where things are kept to make it convenient.   In our case we also have a normal fridge but if you want a fridge without also getting bigger batteries then this works very well.

SHOPPING LIST
This is the type of automatic thermostat I use. They are very cheap and normally continue to work for at least a couple of years. I also use these as normal thermometers because I like to see the red numbers in my kitchen.

This is a typical chest freezer. As you can see the price is about the same as 1 year of gas for a gas fridge. I bought mine in 1996 and it is still going strong.

This is how I switch the entire system on and off at 10am and 5pm. It is a Teckin smart plug which works with WiFi. They use an app so I can switch everything on and off as long as I have my smartphone with me. They also have an inbuilt electric meter which tells you how much power they have used.  They would be worth buying just for the electric meter. If it goes cloudy, I can switch everything off from anywhere.

Of course, you also have to have a solar electric system with inverter and solar panels to supply the power which is outside the remit of this post.

Note: In this post, I have talked about converting a freezer into a fridge. You can use a similar idea with a freezer as a freezer.  Just put the freezer on maximum. It should get to -20C during the day and come up to  -5C by the following morning. If you have meat in it, you should be especially careful that is never goes higher than 0.  You could use a min max thermometer just to be sure. Using this technique your batteries never have to power the freezer.

One last tip:
If you grow your own walnuts or almonds, put them in the freezer for a week to kill any moth eggs or larva and then put them in a well-sealed container. If you have ever had your almonds contaminated by moths, you will know what I am talking about.

Using Solar hot water for a Washing Machine

Using solar hot water with a washing machine

If you are living off grid or you have solar powered hot water then you may want to take advantage of the hot water that you have in the tank.

Washing machines and dishwashers can heat up their own water but the heating element tends to be between 2000 and 3000 watts.  You would have to have a very big off grid solar system with a large  inverter to use the actual dishwasher or washing machine heating element.

The simple answer is to plumb these appliances into your hot water system and always wash your clothes on the cold setting so that it never attempts to heat the water up.

If you are in an off grid situation it is probably  best to wash your dishes by hand.  Most dishwashers have a heating element and unless you have a big lithium ion system the solar inverter will shut the system down after a short time of having a draw of 2000 watts unless the sun is actually shining at the time. If you are connected to the grid then connecting your dishwasher directly to the hot system would be a good idea. Note: The time of writing this is 2021. In a few years it will be much more common to have large capacity batteries which will be OK with a dishwasher.

On the other hand clothes washing machines are perfect for solar power. As long as you have an inverter of over 700 watts they will work fine.   Most detergents nowadays are designed for cold washes. However from time to time it is nice to be able to do a hot wash. The most important thing with clothes washing is that the water that enters the washing machine should not be too hot for the type of clothes that you are washing. For this reason you need to install a mixer tap or mixer valve.

The photo at the top of this page is the mixer tap on our washing machine. Mixer taps have 2 inlets. Hot and cold. They have 1 outlet. The water in the outlet should be limited to the maximum temperature set on the control dial. I personally would not trust the mixer tap to have an accurate temperature setting and I would use an external thermometer to make sure the temperature is correct.

Note that using this method you will end up rinsing your clothes with warm water. If this is a problem you could switch the hot inlet off after a certain amount of time.

Warning: I still don’t know how it happened but my mixer tap has  some sort of back flow issue and it resulted in cold water being mixed with my general  hot water system. I solved this by putting a tap to stop the hot water inflow but beware if this happens to you, it took me a month to work it out.

Remember that even if you run hot water into the inlet of the washing machine you should choose a cold wash setting on the machine. (you don’t want the internal water heater to start) 

One last idea: Why not use the used water from the washing machine for irrigation.  Pipe the water onto some trees or into a container to be used for watering.

This is a link to a mixing tap on Amazon.
If you go to a plumbing shop in Spain ask for “Válvula Mezclador termostático or “Válvula de mezcla caliente y fría de 3 vía”.