As I mentioned in previous posts it was a stellar year for growing cucumbers. I lost track of how many jars of various of pickles I canned. The cucumber plants did stop producing and the vines dried up, so my husband has pulled them out and added them to the compost pile.
We gave cucumbers to family, friends and neighbors – pretty much anyone who we came in contact with was a least offered some cucumbers. I guess by early this week we had also had our fill of fresh cucumbers since there were four cucumbers that had been sitting in the refrigerator for several days and neither my husband nor I had offered up any suggestions on what we should do with them.
On Wednesday it occurred to me, I hadn’t saved any cucumber for one of my favorite soap recipes. That’s right – soap. I created this recipe several years ago. It contains cucumber and yogurt and has rosemary infused into the olive oil. Since many of the ingredients might be found in a salad, I named it Salad Bar (as in bar of soap). Don’t Eat It!
I pureed those last four cucumbers and put the puree in the freezer until I have time to turn it into soap.
If anyone is interested in this soap recipe leave me a comment and I will post it for you.
Back in November I wrote about the new soap recipe that I made, and I mentioned in that post that I would let you know how it turned out. I used an oil combination of 40% coconut oil, 40% tallow and 20% olive oil. I also added aloe to it. The types and amounts of oils used in a soap will determine things like how hard the soap is, how cleansing, or conditioning it is and if the lather is creamy or bubbly.
My husband and I have been using this soap for several weeks now so I will share his thoughts as well as mine.
First my husband’s comments, “I love it!” (Short and to the point.)
Now my critique: I find it to be a nice balanced soap. It is a hard bar of soap but not so much that I couldn’t cut it. (In the past I have made some soaps that crack when I attempt to cut them.) It can be worked into a nice creamy lather and it it does not dry out my skin. (Normally this time of year the skin on my calves gets really dry but that hasn’t happened yet.) My favorite part about this soap is the addition of aloe. Aloe gives kind of a silkiness to the lather that makes it a great soap for shaving.
When I posted about making this recipe one of my readers asked me for a soapmaking tutorial. I have decided to break the tutorial up into 3 posts that will be done over the next two or three weeks. If you are interested in learning to make you own soap, you can follow my blog by email or for those with a WordPress account you can follow along in your WordPress reader.
While I was making a batch of aloe soap this week I remembered this article I had written in 2017. I didn’t have many readers at that time so I thought it might be a good idea to repost it. Incidently my aloe soap recipe has changed since I wrote this and now includes yogurt. To learn more about my handcrafted soaps or for information on purchasing them see my Products Page.
If you’re going to have any house plant, and you should, (check out this link to learn why) you should at least have aloe.
Aloe is easy to grow. While some articles that I have read say that it should be placed by a sunny window, I find that it does quite well in the corner of my dining room where it does not get direct sunlight. It does not require a lot of attention. I usually give it drink of water every 10 – 14 days and this is quite sufficient. I have discovered that it also enjoys coffee, so every 3rd or 4th watering I dilute some of the coffee that is leftover from that morning and use it to water the aloe. The plants really seem to brighten up after having their morning coffee. I do have to be careful, when using coffee to water the plants, not to get any on the aloe leaves because the coffee will damage the leaves. I only pour the coffee on the soil.
I think everyone should have at least one aloe plant in their home, not only are they helpful for the indoor environment, but they act as first aid in the case of burns. Whether it be a sunburn or accidently touching something hot, simply snip an aloe leaf, peel back the outer part and apply the sticky, oozing gel directly to the burn for quick relief. I also gifted an aloe plant to a neighbor who was having radiation treatments as the Doctor had advised that she use an aloe cream on the radiation burns. We do not deal with other skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis but if we did I would certainly try aloe before seeking help from pharmaceuticals.
The most common way I use aloe nowadays is as an ingredient in my soap. My aloe soap is probably my favorite of all the different soaps I make. I don’t know that any of the healing properties of aloe remain after it is processed into soap, but it has a luxurious lather and just feels so good on the skin.
If you have been following my blog for a while and are wondering why there haven’t been any posts about soap on a blog that is called “Don’t Eat It! Soap”, I guess the answer is that it wasn’t soap making season. As farmers our lives revolve around the seasons; our daily activities depend largely on the time of year, the number of daylight hours and the weather. While soap making is not an activity that is necessarily dependent on any of those things it seems for me that soap making, too, has become a seasonal activity.
If you were to go back through my blog you, as I just did, you would find the last mention of soap making in this post from June and that soap was actually made in May. I have discovered that the months of June, July and August are not soap making season for me. I get a good supply of soap made up over winter and spring. Then when we get busy with summer activities I don’t have to take time away to make soap.
I started making soap again a couple weeks ago when I got orders for two batches – one batch of “Chamomile/Lavender” and one batch of “Just Soap”. The customers that order these are basically buying in bulk, since a batch is 16 bars and they do not come individually wrapped or labeled. They also know that they need to place their order well in advance of when they will need it, since the soap takes approximately 6 weeks to cure.
The next soap that I needed to make was “Turmeric – Yogurt . My trial run of this soap yielded positive feedback with people telling me they would want more. When I cut up this batch I decided to try out the soap stamp my daughters bought me for Mother’s Day. I only stamped a couple of bars, but I like the way it turned out. I am just not certain yet if I want to commit to stamping every bar because it could be quite time consuming.
The soap I made this week is called “Salad Bar” Soap. I understand if you are thinking “that’s weird”, but I do prefer the term “quirky” – LOL! The ingredients include cucumber puree, yogurt and rosemary. These are all potential salad ingredients – hence the name.
Soap making season will continue throughout the month of October (probably one or two batches per week) so that I can have a good supply ready for the holiday shopping season when I tend to have a higher volume of sales. (Handcrafted soaps make nice gifts.) During this time you can expect to see some more posts about the weird quirky soaps I make. Who knows I might even add something new.
In November and December I usually don’t make new batches of soap, but I spend a lot of time packaging, labeling and even gift packaging the soaps as they become ready to sell/use. In January, after the holidays, I will again begin making soaps to replenish my supply before the nice weather returns and the farm calls.
If you would like to know more about the varieties of soaps I make or how/where to purchase Don’t Eat It! products you can view them all on my Products page.
I am sure anyone who makes cold processed soap will agree that the hardest part about it is waiting for the soap to cure.
Maybe I should backup a step for anyone not familiar with soap making. There are basically three methods that can be used for making handcrafted soaps. There is the melt and pour method which involves buying a premade base soap and melting it to add ingredients such as fragrances and colorants then remolding it perhaps into pretty or cute shapes. The other two methods are hot process and cold process. Both of these methods involve mixing lye with liquid and oils. With hot process, once the ingredients are combined the soap is heated in order to speed up the chemical reaction, known as soaponification, which must occur in order for the soap to be safe to use. This soap can be ready to use in a matter of hours. Cold process soap, on the other hand, is poured into the mold after the lye/liquid is mixed with the oils. While it can usually be taken out of the mold in 24 to 48 hours it needs to cure for several weeks while the soaponification takes place. Many factors can effect the speed which soaponification takes place including the soap recipe, the size of the soap bars and the temperatures in which the soap is curing. I allow my soaps to cure for a least six weeks and have almost always found this period to be sufficient.
I have several batches of soap in various stages of curing right now including the soap I made a few days ago by request https://donteatitsoap.com/category/lard-soap/ I honestly found it difficult to make that batch of soap because it was such a simple recipe. It lacks the creativity and experimentation aspects that I find so challenging and fun. While it was very tempting to add extra ingredients I restrained myself because this, three-ingredient, soap was what the person who requested needs.
Some of the other soaps that I have curing have allowed me to be more creative so I will tell you about those. Both the Sweet Dandelion and Coffee soap that I made a while back are cured and ready to use. I have made both of these recipes in the past and they are both favorites.
This time when I made the coffee soap I decided to experiment with it. I have been having some success at getting light fragrances and or colors in my soaps by infusing herbs into the oils. I wondered if this would work for coffee as well. In the past when I have made coffee soap I used brewed coffee for the liquid, I also added coffee grounds. This time in addition to using brewed coffee I added the coffee grounds to my oils. I knew that in order to release the oils from the coffee grounds the coffee would need to be heated much higher than I normally heat my soap oils. I put the coffee grounds into my oils and heated them about 190 degrees Fahrenheit. I then let the coffee infused oils cool. As usual I mixed my oils with my lye/liquid (brewed coffee) when both were cooled to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The coffee infused oils gave the soap a dark, rich coffee color but the fragrance that I had hoped for is still largely absent. I have since read that the optimal temperature for brewing coffee is between 195 and 205 Fahrenheit so next time I will heat it just a little bit more.
I have had positive feedback from a few people who have used this soap. Comments were things like “it’s a really nice soap” and “I really like it” and my sister who called me yesterday said “I love the coffee soap” and she found it to be “refreshing”.
Among the other soaps that are curing is a completely new recipe. I decided to try this back in the summer when we were harvesting our beautiful cucumber crop. I know that cucumber is often used in skin care products so I wanted to give it a try. I don’t usually make a lot of soap during the summer so I pureed a couple of cucumbers and put them in the freezer until I was ready to make the soap.
About 5 weeks ago I was ready to use the cucumber puree in my soap but I wondered what ingredients would pair well with the cucumber. The most common way we eat cucumbers is as pickles but for more than one reason that doesn’t work for soap. It took me a while to figure it out but I eventually decided to try yogurt. Since milk based soaps are known to be gentle and creamy I though yogurt could add this as well. I also wanted to add an herb to this soap so I decided to infuse my oils with rosemary that I had harvested from our garden. I didn’t want to leave the rosemary leaves in the soap so I put them in a teabag then placed the teabag in the oils as I heated them. I again brought the temperature up higher than I would normally heat them for making soap in order to draw out some of the rosemary properties. When adding the cucumber puree and yogurt I knew that they should be counted as liquid. Since I didn’t know how they would react to being mixed directly with lye I decided to add them later in the process. In order to do this I discounted the amount of water I was mixing with the lye. I decided that the combination of cucumber puree and yogurt should equal 1/3 of my total liquid, I divided the amount of water my recipe called for by 3. I then measured my cucumber puree and added enough yogurt to bring this mixture to 1/3 of my total liquid. I set that mixture aside then measured the other 2/3 water and added my lye to it.
Once the lye/liquid and the oils cooled to around 100 Fahrenheit I removed the rosemary from the oil then I mixed the lye/water with the oils. I blended this mixture until it came to a light trace (started to thicken) then I mixed in the cucumber/yogurt mixture. I continued to mix until the mixture had come to a full trace ( the consistency of a thick gravy) then I poured the mixture into the molds. I am excited that this soap will be ready for testing this week.
I don’t have a formal testing process. It basically goes like this – I use the soap first. I pay attention to it’s properties – hardness, creaminess, lather, does it rinse off well, does it leave my skin feeling soft or dry, is there any scent. I then give my husband a bar to use and get his opinion. With new recipes I generally like feedback from a couple more people, so a friend or family member who stops by when I have a new soap ready will likely be given a bar to try with the condition that they provide me with honest feedback about the soap. I’ll be sure to let you know how this soap turns out.
I do have one major concern about this new recipe with cucumber, yogurt and rosemary.Maybe you can help. The problem is what the heck do I call it? You can leave your suggestions and any other questions or comments about this post in the comments section below.