Cleaning a well used travel mug

A Clean Travel Mug is a Beautiful Thing

I enjoy drinking a cup of tea almost every day. In fact, I have a Contigo travel mug that I use to brew my tea in the morning and take to work. I prefer making my own tea at home where I have many choices instead of at work where there is only the cheap work supplied tea. I also feel that the temperature of the water when brewing the tea is important, and it can be difficult to get boiling water at work.

There is a downside though to using the same travel mug over and over again. Even though I wash the mug out every day, scrub it with a brush and use soap on it, I still get a dark, brown buildup in the mug.

 

Travel Mug Ready to be Cleaned

Travel Mug Ready to be Cleaned

 

While researching different ways to clean this residue off the mug I found the following method.

  1. Place the travel mug in a sink.
  2. Add a tablespoon of baking soda.
  3. Add a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide.
  4. Add boiling water to the mug until it reaches the top.

This could not be any easier! I was amazed at how clean my mug turned out. After adding the boiling water the liquid will fizz up and may run over the edges, however, that is normal. In fact, you’ll be able to hear the sound of the peroxide and baking soda interacting together and forming thousands of little bubbles.

I could actually see the liquid and bubbles go from clear looking to a dark brown in less than a minute.

Fizzing Travel Mug

Fizzing Travel Mug

After about 5 – 10 minutes add cold water to the mixture in the mug. Then, carefully, pour out the liquid into the sink and down the drain. After my first attempt on my mug, which I have been using almost every day for a year, almost all of the residue had come off. I took a bottle brush and scrubbed on what was left and almost all the rest came off. I’ll admit my first try I was a bit impatient, and probably should have left it soaking for a few more minutes. I redid the process and the remaining residue also came off. The result? A travel mug interior that looked brand new. The inside of my travel mug is stainless steel and I could not see the steel before starting this cleaning process.

Clean Travel Mug

Sparkling Clean Travel Mug

Since this process was so effective and easy I then proceeded to clean the other travel mugs in our house. They all came out sparkling clean and looking like new. I don’t know about you, but if I can get something super clean without having to scrub on it for hours at a time, I’m all for it.

On a side note, this work for coffee stained travel mugs as well. So whether you enjoy tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, give this a try.

Enjoy a clean mug!

– Jason Snell

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

My wife and I tried something new the other day. We made homemade mozzarella cheese. My wife had received a cheese making kit as a gift and we thought it would fun to try our hand at one of the easiest cheeses to make. If you want to try your own hand at making mozzarella you’ll need the following items:

  • 1 Gallon of milk (make sure the milk is not ultra pasteurized)
  • Large stainless steel pot
  • Rennet tablet
  • Citric Acid
  • Strainer
  • Stainless steel bowl
  • Cheese salt
  • Thermometer
  • Ice water
  • Long knife
  • Slotted spoon

Note: Aluminum will react in the cheese making process. Do not use any pots or pans made of aluminum or any aluminum utensils.

One of the things about making cheese is that the base ingredient, the milk, must not be ultra pasteurized. Doing so destroys the ability of the milk to make a curd. Even organic milk may be ultra pasteurized so be sure check the container.

Another important aspect of cheese making is temperature control. Overheating the milk will again make it impossible for the curd to form.

To start off get everything ready. Once the cheese making is at certain steps you won’t have time to get the next step ready. Add 1 1/2 tsp of citric acid to 1 1/4 cup of chlorine-free water, (the chlorine can cause issues with the rennet).

Citric acid and 1 1/4 cup of water

Citric acid and 1 1/4 cup of water

Add 1/4 or 1/2 rennet tablet to 1/4 cup of chlorine free water.

While the rennet tablet is dissolving add the gallon of milk to the stainless steel pot. This part takes some patience, but the milk needs to be heated to 90°F while being stirred.

Heating milk to 90°F

Heating milk to 90°F

After 90°F is reached remove the pot from the burner and add the rennet solution, carefully stirring it in for about 30 seconds. Cover the pot and walk away for five minutes. You may be tempted to peak but this is the part that requires patience.

 

Five minutes have now gone by and it’s time to take a look at what has happened. At this point the curd should have started to form. The liquid at the bottom is the whey with the curd floating on top. Here is where the long knife comes into play.

Curd floating on top of whey

Curd floating on top of whey

The curd needs to be cut into pieces. Starting with one side cut the curd in a straight light and continue parallel to that line. Now cut in the other direction. The result should make the curd look like small squares or diamonds about 1 or 2  inches in size.

Curd that has been cut

Curd that has been cut

Now that the curd has been cut more of the whey can separate out. Place the pot back on to the burner and slowly bring the heat up to 110°F. Again, take it slow and careful. Adding too much heat can quickly ruin your cheese. Slowly stir the curds with your slotted spoon.

The curd will start to melt as it approaches 110°F and start to form a goopy mass.

Melting curd

Melting curd

Melting curd

Melting curd

At the 110°F mark again remove the pot from heat and stir 2 to 6 minutes. The longer stirring time will result in a more firm cheese. When you feel you’ve stirred the curd and whey long enough drain the mixture in a colander set over a bowl, (you weren’t just going to pour that whey down the sink where you?).

 

Draining curds from whey

Draining curds from whey

Whey left over from making cheese

Whey left over from making cheese

Drained curds

Drained curds

The curd is getting closer to the actual cheese stage. We now have to heat the curd up to 135°F. This allows the proteins in the curd to stretch and form the cheese we recognize as mozzarella. You can either heat a bot of water up to about 185°F or add the whey back to the pot and heat that up.

Draining more whey from the curds

Draining more whey from the curds

Add the curd back liquid and take a spoon and fold the curd together. There should be a large clump of the cheese at this point. Move the curd back and forth and attempt to stretch them. The curd will start becoming elastic as it heats to 135°F. At this point remove it from the hot liquid and add in the salt, or any other herbs or flavorings you want in your mozzarella.

Almost mozzarella!

Almost mozzarella!

The fun parts starts now. Stretch the cheese like it was taffy. This will make it nice and shiny and smooth.

Stretching the cheese out

Stretching the cheese out

Stretching the cheese out

Stretching the cheese out

The stretching only takes a minute or two and its ready to be cooled. Before you cool it down though have fun and design the final shape of your cheese. Braid it, make it into a ball, slice it into cheese sticks for snacking later on, or even make a long cheese rope.

Finally mozzarella cheese!

Finally mozzarella cheese!

Immerse the cheese in cool water for about 5 minutes and then in ice water for 15 minutes. This will cool the cheese and let it keep the shape you

Cooling the cheese

Cooling the cheese

Ice water ready for the final step

Ice water ready for the final step

Now that the cheese is ready to eat the only thing left is to make a caprese salad.

Caprese salad with homemade mozzarella cheese

Caprese salad with homemade mozzarella cheese

There you have it. Easy to make homemade mozzarella cheese. Simple, easy, and delicious!

– Jason Snell

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Thanksgiving is the time of the year for turkey. One of the best toppings for a freshly roasted turkey is homemade cranberry sauce. While opening a can is easy, it just doesn’t taste as good as a cranberry sauce freshly made.

Things you’ll need to make your own cranberry sauce:

  • 4c sugar
  • 4c water
  • 8c fresh cranberries
  • optional: zest from one orange

The process for making cranberry sauce is actually pretty easy and the result can even be canned for later use.

First up add the sugar to the water in a large pot on the stove. Apply heat and bring to a boil. The goal here is to dissolve the sugar into the water.

Boiling sugar water

Boiling sugar water

After about five minutes of boiling the sugar should be dissolved and the cranberries can now be added.

Fresh whole cranberries

Fresh whole cranberries

Before adding the cranberries make sure to give them a quick rinse in the sink to remove any dirt or debris. Now the cranberries and be dumped in and the pot brought back to a boil.

Cranberries in the pot

Cranberries in the pot

After a few minutes you’ll start to see, and hear, the cranberries bursting open. The mixture will form some foam on top which is normal. At this point the cranberry sauce will need to boil for about 15 minutes until all the berries have burst open and the liquid begins to form a sheet on a metal spoon.

Heating cranberries

Heating cranberries

I like the flavor the orange zest adds to the cranberry sauce so at this point I add in my zest.

Fresh orange zest

Fresh orange zest

At this point the cranberry sauce is basically done.

Bursting cranberries

Bursting cranberries

Since I like to enjoy seasonal foods all year long I ended up canning this batch of cranberry sauce, but you can easily freeze the cranberry sauce, or place it into the fridge for use later that day or the next day.

Freshly made cranberry sauce

Freshly made cranberry sauce

Have a happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the homemade cranberry sauce!

– Jason Snell