Friday, November 6, 2009

Time off - wrapping soap

I'm taking this afternoon and evening off.  I spent the afternoon going through collard recipes, and I'm taking a big pot of collards and kale with bechamel sauce, bacon, heavy cream and garlic to a women's potluck this evening.  Who said collards can't be gourmet food?

Clay is coming down to button up the chickens.  He promised to get here a little earlier than he did the other night.  It was so dark that he couldn't count the chickens and was sure there were at least six of them missing.  I was pretty sure they weren't, although I hadn't counted when I let them out in the morning.  He was so worried about it that we stood in the drive and counted them as they picked through the weeds in a little stand of trees.  Have you ever tried to count chickens while they are busy foraging?  It took awhile, but finally we agreed that there were in fact still 15.

This morning I wrapped soap.  It takes about five weeks for the pH level of cold process soap to get down to the proper level.  You see, I want my soap to remove dirt, not the top layer of skin!  I have the neatest curing rack.  Previous to my trip to the bread store, I was curing them on any kind of rack I could find, putting papers down in the spare bedroom so I could put the racks on the floor.

I read in one of my books that lining rectangular molds with silicon paper assures that the soap will release, and the book suggested going to a bread store where more than likely the owner would let me buy a few sheets.  I hardly needed a full order of them, as most of my molds are decorative, not flat.  Two or three would do.  While I was waiting for the manager to come out to talk to me, I noticed these big racks for the packaged bread, you know, the kind that are used as end caps in the grocery store.  Wouldn't that work as a curing rack?  I asked about a lot more than some sheets of paper when he finally arrived at the counter.  "Would you by any chance have a bread rack for sale?" I asked.  He said not at that store, but at the store at the south end of town there was one.  It just so happened that I lived about three blocks from that store.  How perfect could it be?  For the paltry sum of $50, I got a bread rack with 20 trays, in pretty decent shape.

To add to my joy, I found that each tray was just big enough to hold one batch of soap, 32 to 38 bars, depending on how big they are.  Here is a pic of my find.  In the full pic, you will see that most of the slots are full.  (The trays on the bottom left hold molds.)  I need to make seven batches of soap, and there are only three empty slots.  I wrapped soap this morning just to empty a couple of them, and four more trays are cured and waiting to be wrapped.  So that is what I will be doing during the Bears game on Sunday, to make room for the holiday soaps that really MUST get made this week if they are to be cured in time for gift giving.

And by the way, what better gift than soap?  It's unique, it's useful, and it gets consumed.  My mother used to say, once she had reached about 80 years old, "Please do not give me something that I can't use up.  No live plants - fresh flowers that I can enjoy until they wilt, and then throw onto the compost heap.  No knicknacks - I will just have to dust them and I have no more room on shelves.  No pictures - I'm out of wall space.  How about toilet paper?  I always need that, and it gets used up."  That was my mother, infinitely practical.

Well, no chicken count now.  That is Clay's job.  I'll let you know tomorrow.


  1. Susan, I am grateful for the timeline for the 'curing' of the soap. Am I getting this right-5 weeks?
    And the lye to rendered lard is 5 to 3, correct? Ok. If I don't hear from you, then it is as you had sstated earlier in our conversation.
    Thanks again, for the important info!

  2. Hey, Judy - Lye is not 5 to 3, not sure what you mean. It is 5 OUNCES of lye to 3 POUNDS of tallow. I'll talk to you at market.