Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Pickled Toilets / Homemade Vinegar

A bottle of "Toilet Duck" stands on the top shelf in the toilet. Looking at it each time gives me such a sense of satisfaction. It was the first and last bottle of commercial toilet cleaner I bought in Taiwan. When it was running low, sometime around April / May, I decided to go green with toilet cleaning. I switched to vinegar.

At first I bought the cheapest bottle of vinegar from the supermarket for cleaning the toilets. It was the store brand and cost around TWD 22 for 600ml. Unlike commercial cleaners which are thick and gooey. Vinegar is thin and watery. It simply flows out of the old washing liquid bottle which I re-bottled it in. I know our Ah Yee uses copious amounts each time. I am refilling the bottle quite regularly. My green cleaning was not quite as cost effective as the commercial stuff.

I decided to make vinegar myself. I had made garbage enzyme when I was in Malaysia. I think the 'garbage' eventually became enzyme. My only regret was I did not use it. I poured the whole lot over the garden while packing to move to Taiwan. I remember the alcoholic smell that lingered in the air after that! I didn't want to make garbage enzyme - the recipe calls for sugar. Sugar is expensive in Taiwan.

Garbage Enzyme:
Molasses/Black Sugar : Vegetable/Fruit Dreg : Water = 1:3:10

I goggled homemade vinegar. There are many recipes on the web. Most are recipes for fancy fruit vinegars and gourmet vinegar. I did not care for those. No, I didn't care to eat the vinegar that I was going to make. I wanted to make an ecological cleaner from waste. I wanted to make vinegar from vegetable / fruit dregs and water.
It was on naturemom.com I found a recipe which I could use. I have not been able to get back to the site. She provides recipes for different fruit vinegars like apple cider vinegar. The ingredients are simple - fruit and water left to ferment for 3 month. I can't remember if she mentioned special equipment to prevent air from getting to the vinegar. Again, I wasn't planning to eat my vinegar so I was not fussed.

I made my first bottle at the end of June. The main ingredient was an overripe papaya. I placed the papaya into a bottleful of water. It was an giant size dishwashing liquid bottle. I shook bottle every few days whenever I remembered and let the gas out. A week later, I covered it with a brown bag.

The papaya vinegar should have been ready for use at the end of September. When I opened the bottle, it smelled really alcoholic - papaya booze. I decided to let it ferment another month, since I still had the commercial vinegar. My other vinegar ingredients are leftover rice, organic grape skins (rejected by the kids), overripe banana, vegetables.

I now have a row of fresh milk bottles (I am reusing the bottles in which the fresh milk we buy come in) standing below the air con compressor at the back balcony. I cover them with paper bags to shield from the sun.
Last week, I harvested my papaya vinegar. I poured the liquid into a clean milk bottle. It will be diluted by half or more before use. To simple me, toilet cleaning is not rocket science, it does matter how concentrated the vinegar is as long as it is not corroding the porcelain. There were still papaya pieces in the vinegar which I am saving to make more vinegar.

The verdict: The toilets look clean to me. I did not receive any complaints. Success !

Now that's 2 steps towards more natural living and this could be a fun activity to do with the kiddies.