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Granny Trude
Upcycling – that special rejuvenation therapy

Trude is upcycling
Upcycling - Turn old into better | © Illustration (detail): Celine Buldun

What saves left-over Easter bunnies and the environment? Upcycling! It is a bit like recycling, but – the clue is in the name – it increases the value of the materials used. Granny Trude has tried some ideas for you

My dears,
I hope you’re all well, I hope you’re all healthy! I’m thanking my lucky stars that the weather’s mostly so glorious at the moment, because I’m sure I would find the coronavirus crisis harder to bear otherwise. I’m not terribly keen on constantly having to keep my distance, and wearing a mask to go shopping. And I’m missing my friend Inge. But I mustn’t grumble, other than that I’m doing absolutely fine, and of course I’m keeping to the rules.

Turn chocolate Easter bunnies into coffee-time nibbles

Fortunately I still have plenty of contact with my family – although it’s on the internet rather than in person. And this year no one went Easter egg hunting with me in the garden, so now I’m stockpiling the chocolate bunnies. You see, I didn’t want to go to the Post Office just to be on the safe side – because of the risk of infection.
But I’ve already got one idea for something I could do with all that chocolate – it’s all about upcycling. I conjure up little nibbles to have with coffee using chocolate that I’ve melted in a bain marie. If you’d like to have a go, all you have to do is put cornflakes into the liquid chocolate so that they’re all coated in it. Then take little clusters out of the mixture and put them on a lined baking tray. Chill them for two hours and they’re ready!

Upcycling – increasing value and saving raw materials

But what exactly is “upcycling”? It certainly isn’t something new, quite the opposite, it’s only the term that’s new – and it’s bang on trend, which makes me very happy because of our planet. With upcycling, waste products or things people no longer need are jazzed up to create other useful items. Raw materials can be saved in this way, which I think is great!
In the olden days people used to upcycle for other reasons, but they didn’t call it that. To save money, my mother might for instance have cut up a pair of grownup’s trousers and sewn them into trousers for the children – or a dress for me. Red buttons were bought to jazz them up. Or old adult-sized pullovers were unravelled and the wool was used to knit jumpers for the kids. Only the other day I found an old box containing crinkled wool odds and ends when I was tidying up.

Fabric offcuts instead of cling film

Of course nowadays we also have these gorgeous beeswax cloths in which you can wrap food, or you can use them to cover bowls – much better than cling film. When I told you about my bread, I mentioned the cloths made by my grand-daughter Janina. She makes them herself and I asked her how she does it. It sounds really easy:
To make two small cotton fabric pieces, Janina needs:
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of beeswax pellets, which can be ordered online
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil from the kitchen, to keep it supple
  • Baking paper, baking tray, pastry brush
Use pinking shears to cut the fabric into shape. It looks really pretty.
My grand-daughter preheats the oven to about 80-100 degrees, without the fabric!
The wax pellets and coconut oil are stirred into the bain marie.
Janina pours the liquid wax mixture over the fabric offcuts, having briefly placed them on the hot baking tray beforehand.
She uses the pastry brush to spread it over the material, ensuring that every tiny spot is covered.
You can use a hairdryer or iron to help fix any irregularities (if you iron it, place another sheet of baking paper between iron and fabric).

Orange peel for an aromatic household cleaning product

I already told you about upcycling at Christmas – do you remember my orange peel tree decorations? Since, like you, I’m spending lots of time at home at the moment, I’ve been browsing the internet a bit – and I’ve found an interesting citrus vinegar cleaning product that you can make yourself. It works really well, smells great, and is easy to make. You need:
  • five per cent white household vinegar
  • citrus fruit peel (orange peel or the peel of lemon, grapefruit or mandarin)
  • a jar with a screw-top lid. 
If you don’t eat oranges much, you could for instance ask in your local supermarket, maybe they do their own juicing there.
Try and remove as much of the pith from the peel as possible, otherwise you might have to deal with mould later on.
Cover the tightly layered peel completely with vinegar – you might have to add more vinegar from time to time – and let the whole thing steep for two or three weeks.
Pass it through a sieve, add a squirt of washing-up liquid and pop it into an old spray bottle, and hey presto – a fantastic household cleaning spray to get rid of limescale.
My dears, there’s so much we can do – to cut back on plastic use, or to give items added value. Sometimes it seems like a mere drop in the ocean – but I’m keeping it up anyway. I hope you will too!
Wishing you all the best of health.
Yours, Trude