Archive for the "repair this" category

How can I “repair” too runny/too solid homemade jam/jelly?

It’s very definitely jam season at the moment (in the UK at least) and I thought it might be fun to hear people’s favourite fixes for sticky situations (ho ho!) when the preserves don’t come out quite as you’d hoped.

How do you test for the set point? The most common method seems to be the “when it wrinkles on a cold plate” test but anyone use any other methods?

What do you do if it’s too runny once in jars? Or too solid?

And, not quite in the question but related, do you use/reuse anything interesting instead of commercial-bought pectin?

And any tips for reusing old jars? Reusable alternatives for waxed discs?

Finally, what do you do with jam that can’t be saved – stuff that burnt in the pan for example?

(“Why is this on Recycle This?” I hear you ask because it is a little tenuous as a “repair”. Well, one, because with the giant piles of fruit in our kitchen at the moment, I’ve got jam on my mind. And two, because jam failures may lead to food waste – and if we can save some rescueable jam from going in the bin, that’s a good thing.)

How can I find the perfect – green – kettle?

(First, sorry for the lack of posts for the last two days – it was my birthday on Tuesday and so I’ve had two days off. Back to the grindstone now though ;) )

We’ve had an email from Su:

Sorry about this, as it’s not about recycling or repairing, but I thought some like-minded soul may be able to help!

My query relates to electric kettles. In my house they last, on average about 15 months. I have tried expensive, cheap, stainless steel, plastic, cordless… I’m not sure why they don’t last since I only use them for their intended purpose ie: boiling water, but modern kettles don’t seem to be made to be repaired.

I have been using a stove top kettle on my electric cooker for about a year now, BUT in a morning it’s almost half an hour before I get my pot of tea (and I NEED my tea in a morning!). Plus, I believe that although electric kettles use a lot of power, they use less than the cooker. So my point is this, I want to buy a new kettle, but it needs to be a) energy efficient, b) repairable & c) preferably, as ethical as possible. All ideas gratefully received!

We go through cycles of this – our electric kettle develops some annoying fault which John tries but fails to fix and we decide that electric kettles are a wasteful scam. Then we drag our stove top kettle out of storage and clean it off, only to get incredibly frustrated at how long it takes to boil on the stove and eventually snapping and buying another electric kettle. I think our kettles last about 2 years – so slightly longer than Su’s – but still, a brief enough lifespan to be very wasteful.

So any ideas for Su? There are a number of electric kettles that bill themselves as being eco-friendly – has anyone had any experience of those? Are there any other options?

(Photo by chris2k)

How can I repair a rusted up barbeque?

After reading last week’s barbecue themed posts, Ali got in touch to ask about repairing a rusted up bbq:

The grill is rusty pretty much all over and there is a rust hole in the base too. My husband wants to throw it out and get another but I’d like to try fixing it first. Please give me some hope that the effort with a wire scrubber will be worth it!

A lot of barbecues at the cheaper end of the market have chrome-plated steel grills and once the chrome gets scratched or otherwise damaged, the exposed steel rusts really quickly. You might get all the rust off now but I’m not sure you’ll be able to keep it off in the future – anyone know any heat/food friendly way to protect it again? If it’s a cast iron grill – most expensive but not uncommon – then you should be able to de-rust it and protect it again like any cast iron pan/appliance.

As for the base, it depends on the size/location of the hole – a small one low down could be turned into a fat trap. Assuming it’s a kettle/barrel type bbq, you could strip it right back to metal (possibly worth doing all over in one go) and repaint it with a heat-proof metal paint (like stove paint) to reduce further rusting. However as someone who has spent far too long stripping metal recently, let me warn you, it’s not exactly a fun pastime.

If you don’t think it’s worth the effort to save this one, learn from this one’s untimely demise when you buy/care for your next one — look for one with a better grill or if it’s already a good one, protect it better in the first place, and don’t leave bbqs outside and uncovered in wet/moist weather.

Any further advice/suggestions?

Repair This: at what point is it better to buy something new?

Here’s a question that’s been I’ve been wondering about for a while: at what point is it better to buy something new than keep repairing something old?

On this site, we’re all about reducing & repairing – not buying things new for the sake of it or because they’re a bit scuffed & dirty – but with many things, you reach a point of diminishing returns and it feels like you’re throwing good money/time/resources after bad: at some point you have to make a decision to replace it. I suspect the precise point where that occurs depends very much on the item but I wondered what you think about when you’re deciding whether to repair or replace.

Is it a question of your skills? the item’s repairability? availability/affordability of new parts? its not-just-financial value? Other factors?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

How can I stain my wedding dress?

I got an email with the above subject line and assuming it was spam, braced myself for a rude message – but in fact it was a genuine reusing/upcycling question from Valerie:

i am getting married again, but because it is my second marriage, i don’t want to spend a lot of money all over again.

i still have the gown i wore for my first wedding, a couple of years back (not outdated yet!), which i love, but i wouldn’t wear it white again…can i stain it? to make it cream or just not white?

i read something about tea staining, but i would need to use a tub to evenly stain it, which i don’t have…suggestions?

My first thought whenever anyone asks about staining/dyeing old clothes is always: what fabric is it? Natural fabrics dye a lot better and lot more evenly than synthetic ones. If you’re not sure what fabric it is – well, even if you are sure, it would be worth doing a swatch test on a hidden layer to check out how well the stain will take and what it’ll look like.

(For those interested in natural dyes, I’d recommend the Pioneer Thinking guide to plant dyes – what to use to get different colours and what to use as fixes.)

Any other advice? and what about tub suggestions/advice? I’m not an expert dyer but I believe you have to be careful using some metal pots (especially aluminium) – is plastic to be avoided too? Valerie seems happy with the design but any other upcycling advice?

(Photo by trudyloos)