Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Something smells fishy around here

Principle 6: Produce no waste
Principle 11: Use edges and value the marginal

Snapper fish stock in the making
A phone call from my mate Brian produced an unexpected frenzy of activity at our house recently. In preparation for a wedding reception at my old home of Commonground, three and a half large (20 litre) buckets of filleted Snapper fish frames (and one whole one) were made available to us. There were probably 30 - 40 of them, all caught in Port Phillip bay the day before. Rather than just compost these we decided to value add them, as Kunie was very excited by the idea of producing fish stock.
We weren't really set up for dealing with such an abundant harvest, but got to task as soon as I came home with them. I chopped up the frames into more manageable pieces using a tomahawk and we filled up a large pot which was topped up with water and put on the gas - about five times. Once brought to the boil the frames were removed and fish meat carefully separated.
Meanwhile... I raced off and went shopping for a freezer, as we had no way storing that quantity of  meat, along with one whole fish. Being 4:35 on a Friday afternoon I didn't have much time. Fortunately I'd done a fair bit of research on freezers in the past, and had a good idea of what I was after and what was a good price. I wanted a small chest freezer, these easily be converted to a super efficient fridge with the addition of a control box that uses a temperature sensor to turn off power.
I managed to buy one and find a mate to pick it up for me within the hour.
We were up till 1:30am separating the meat and packing it in the freezer, collecting about 7kg in all. The next day we used the stock from the initial cooking to boil up the bones again, to extract even more flavour. We decided to light a fire in the backyard to do the job, cleaning up scrappy bits of wood to do the job. We ended up having three pots on the boil for most of the day, making about 10 litres or so of very strong stock and quite a smell too boot. We bought 10 ice cube trays and froze some in this way, with the rest in small zip-lock bags.
While I was keen for the chickens to pick over the scraps, they weren't interested. The bones ended up in the compost bin covered with a layer of soil. The smell has lingered longer than expected, but the little insects are having a ball and should get through it in no time, producing fantastic compost for our vegies.
I couldn't bring myself to eat fish soup for a few days after, but yesterday we had a noodle soup with some fish stock, and a risotto that used the stock and fish. Both were delicious!
The new freezer has got us thinking about a mission for next year, a year without a fridge... more on that later.

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