Sorry it’s been so long between posts; I have a lot to catch you up on, so here is a quicky about some new discoveries in my world. The first is a new bottle washer.
March and April have been all about the apples (and other preserving) so I’ve been making apple cider again on a bigger scale than last year (more on that in another post), but while I was checking out various videos on how to up-scale my brewing practices, I saw something that immediately got my attention. It was a way to wash bottles that I hadn’t seen before, which made everything seem so easy.
I’ve previously written about how I use crushed eggshell to wash difficult to clean bottles (other people might use raw rice or sand), and it works really well, but the fact is that it can take a lot of time to get through a number of bottles, and I have had a lot of bottles to clean lately!! I had a craving for ginger beer for a while there and then there are the bottles I store my kombucha in, as well as all the beer bottles I have saved, cleaned and reused for apple cider. Plus some vintage bottles I found in the garden.
So, I Googled like a mad woman and found that the Brass Turbo Bottle Washer is sold in Australian home brewing stores and other online places. The bottle washer attaches to your tap if you have the right sort of tap. I ran to the kitchen sink and did a little jump for joy when I noticed for the first time that the end of the tap unscrews, allowing me to add a screw-on attachment such as the bottle washer.
Back online I checked out the costs and reviews; there wasn’t much in the way of reviews but the prices varied significantly. I went with the mid range option of $22.95 because I didn’t trust the cheap options and I still had to add on postage costs of $12.12 and GST $3.19. Unfortunately when it finally arrived the fittings didn’t match up. I actually thought of this before ordering and looked for measurements on the various online stores but couldn’t find them anywhere. I got around it by buying an additional spout adaptor (the silver bit in the photo) for $6.33 and another fitting for $4. So the end price became much more than I wanted to spend, however I am very happy to have this tool as it does save time and it does clean well.
The bottle washer cleans by creating a high pressure jet stream of water when you put the bottle over it and push the lever down. It works especially well when you use hot water. It also has a hands free auto shut-off so that you don’t shoot water all over the place and is made from solid brass and stainless steel.
My next lot of discoveries relate to vintage bottles I have found at the property we rent.
Firstly, I found some gorgeous Fowlers Vacola Juice bottles tucked away in a cupboard that we weren’t using. They all have FOWLERS ONE PINT FRUIT JUICE BOTTLE inscribed on the shoulder of the bottle and on the base of the bottle F452 / M. One of the bottles has a porcelain-like stopper with Fowlers Vacola printed on it. The stoppers on the other two bottles seem to be made from something like bakelight. These bottles were made between 1915 and 1960. Fowler’s kits became a household essential during the great depression, when it was so important to be frugal with food. I cleaned them up and have replaced the seals so that I can reuse them, along with all my other Fowlers Vacola preserving equipment. The poster image below is from the Australian Food History Timeline website.
Then, one day I went for a wander around our one and a quarter acre garden which is quite mature with a range of species. I was trying to get a look at some climbing roses behind a thicket of holly trees when I discovered a little tank full of bottles and mud.
I pushed my way through to take a closer look. They seemed a bit interesting with embossing that said “Recyclable glass 8367-F”, “not to be refilled 10” and other slight variations of this, so I started digging them out. There were 24 in total, and just as the sun had set and I thought I was done, I found another completely different bottle. It was clear with an octagonal body and embossing that said “The Property of White Crow Limited Melbourne” with 18 on the base and ISM-406. I immediately suspected it was an old tomato sauce bottle, but how old?
I thought finding the answers would simply take a bit of internet surfing but I couldn’t locate anything relevant. I asked for help through my social stories and was put in contact with Chris from The Ultimate Recycler by an Instagram friend. He is a bottle collector and told me that the brown bottles are soft drink bottles from the 1970s or so and the White Crow bottle is a tomato sauce bottle from 1940/50! So they’re pretty old and I adore them. I’ve cleaned them up, and even though they say not to be refilled, I am going to reuse them if the occasion calls for it.
I wonder what I will find next.