The Ultimate DIY Glass Cleaner

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Don’t get me wrong.  I love my Method glass cleaner.  The mild minty scent, the streak-free shine … It’s all good.  But I was almost out, and I’m kind of on a make-your-own-cleaner kick at the moment, because I have no money (what else is new?).  So I decided to make my own.

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Fortunately the internet already did all the research for me, and Crunchy Betty in particular did all the heavy lifting in determining what the best homemade glass cleaner should be made of.

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Her “Alvin Corn” cleaner combines the best of everything: alcohol, vinegar, and cornstarch.  Cornstarch.  Though if you read the ingredients for the Method stuff you’ll also see that it has corn based ingredients.  Seems legit.

Basically, all you gotta do is chuck it all together in a spray bottle and away you go.  Grab a funnel if you find that easier and dump 1 tablespoon cornstarch into it.  Wash it down into the bottle with 2 cups warm water, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol, and 1/4 cup white vinegar.

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Make sure you shake it extremely well before using, as the cornstarch may settle, and you don’t want that clumping up your spray nozzle.  I decorated the old Method bottle a bit to pretty it up.

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I think the best test of a new glass cleaner is on my ultimate cleaning nightmare: DOG NOSE GOO.

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dun-dun-DUUUHHHHHN!

If you have a dog, you know what I mean.  It’s that crap they leave behind when they’re looking out the window, because for some reason they can’t do that without actually applying their noses directly to the window itself.

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One of the few things that cleans dog nose goo really well, I find, is straight rubbing alcohol, but using it straight tends to take the paint off the window, as well.

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So having rubbing alcohol IN the cleaner itself is a plus for me.

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And once I pried the dog away from the window, it easy peasy.  All that dirt you see that is left is on the OUTSIDE.  And it’s too cold for me to attempt that today.  The spray does smell strongly of alcohol (I contemplated adding a few drops of lavender essential oil but wasn’t sure if it would leave streaks), but that quickly dissipates as the alcohol evaporates, and overall I’m really pleased with this stuff.

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Bread and Butter Pickles

One summer when I was young, our kitchen was filled with cucumbers.  We made them into dill pickles and bread and butter pickles and there wasn’t a single counter that wasn’t packed with shiny, hot jars of the stuff.  The whole house smelled of vinegar.  It was great.

We made two batches of bread and butter pickles on this particular day and it took a long time, what with the sterilization and the soaking and the canning, so make sure you have a free day and plenty of space when you’re going to do this.

One batch of bread and butter pickles yields about six 1-pint jars and uses 3L (about 4lb) of pickling cucumbers.

Wash your cucumbers.  Scrub them and all their knobby bits well.

Cut the tops and bottoms of the cucumbers off (the bloom and stem ends).Using a mandolin or a food processor, slice the cucumbers into 1/4″ thick rounds.

Please do not cut off any of your fingers.  Mandolins are vicious.

This will take a while, especially if you are doing two batches.

Now you have a helluva lotta cucumber slices.  Put some on your eyes and take a rest for a while.

Just kidding.  There’s work to be done.

Now you have to slice some onions.  Use about three medium onions per batch of pickles.  Peel the onion and slice it in half lengthwise, then use a mandolin or food processor to slice them the same thickness as your cucumbers.

I like to use the Onion Goggles here to avoid bloodshed.  Or tearshed.  Or both.  If I’m weeping uncontrollably I may slice off an appendage on the mandolin.

Put all your cucumber and onion slices in an enormous bowl and sprinkle them with kosher or coarse pickling salt.  Cover with ice water (or water with ice cubes in it) and leave to soak for three hours.

Now you can take a break.  Or make something else while you wait.

You know what, why don’t you cut up two sweet red peppers, sliced thin on the mandolin again, and add them to the pile?  They make for a nice colour contrast in the jar.

Drain the vegetables after their three-hour soak, rinse them thoroughly in cold water, and then drain them again really well.

At this point you should probably start preparing your jars and lids.

Put your lids and rings in a pot of water and set that to boil. 

Plop your jars in your canner and set that to boil as well.  This will take a while.Now you can prepare your pickling brine.

The key spices here are celery seed, turmeric, and yellow mustard seeds.

In a small bowl, put 2 tablespoons mustard seed, 2 1/2 teaspoons celery seed, and 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric (the turmeric is what turns everything yellow).  Set it aside for now.

In an enormous pot (we used the large maslin pan from Lee Valley), put 5 cups granulated sugar (I know, it seems like an awful lot).

Add to this 4 cups pickling vinegar.  My grandmother insists that all pickling (unless otherwise stated) must use pickling vinegar.  It’s about twice as strong as regular distilled white vinegar.

Add in your pickling spices and give it a stir.

Bring it to a boil and dissolve the sugar.

Now plop in your vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until they are tender and yellow and the liquid is once more boiling, about fifteen minutes. 

Once your jars have been boiling for ten minutes, you can haul them out of the canner.  Turn off the heat for now to allow the water to cool slightly.

Drain the jars carefully using a jar gripper and put them near your pickle pot.

Using a canning funnel, carefully ladle pickle mixture into your six jars to within a half or quarter inch of the top of the jar. It’s pretty much a guarantee that you, your counter tops, and everything around you will become extremely sticky at this point.Make sure there is plenty of liquid in the jar as well, but be careful to leave some space at the top.

Use a wooden skewer (don’t use metal) to poke around and remove the air bubbles from amongst the pickles.

Remove your lids and rings from the heat and carefully place the lids on the jars. 

Twist the rings on to fingertip tightness and return the jars to your canner. 

Dunk them under and bring the water to a boil for fifteen minutes.

Remove the jars from the canner and allow to cool.  As they cool they will seal with a lovely POP sound.

You can eat these pickles right away, but store opened jars in the refrigerator.  Serve as a side to your dishes, put in sandwiches, or just eat straight from the jar.  Your choice.Our two batches left us with some extra pickles, which we put in a jar in the fridge. 

The rest we saved for you!You know you want one …

Vinegar is Awesome

I will say it again: vinegar is awesome.

Aside from making good pickles, pure white vinegar is cheap and cleans pretty much everything.

It’s eco-friendly, has no long-lasting odour, and cuts through grease like you wouldn’t believe.

Spray some on baking soda in your oven and cut through baked-on grease like you’re a superhero without having to fumigate your kitchen.

Dilute it with water to clean  your counters and floors.  No more fancy sprays containing bleach or wax or other harmful chemicals.

Mix it with baking soda to bring back the bling in your jewelry.

Boil it for super disinfecting power or to deodorize a room.

Add it to your laundry for extra freshness.

Wash windows in an ammonia-free environment.  It works better than Windex.

I have a 4L jug of it that I keep under my sink, and which replaces most other harsh chemical cleaning products.  I think the huge jug cost me about two dollars.

I keep smaller vinegar containers around for ease of use.  I just funnel in some more vinegar when they run empty.

VINEGAR.  IS.  AWESOME.

You should get some.

Really.