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Ask Jackie Online
By Jackie Clay

June 3, 2006
Jackie Clay
Jackie Clay answers questions on any aspect of low-tech, self-reliant living.
Click Here to learn how to Ask Jackie a question.

Cilantro cubes?

My wife and I make pesto cubes by chopping fresh basil, garlic, olive oil and cheese We then place it into ice cube trays. We freeze them and put them into freezer bags for later use. Do you think we could do the same with cilantro? Perhaps even use water or lemon juice instead of oil. We have dried cilantro before but it seems to lose its lemon flavor. Thanks,

Steve Schall
Petersburg, Michigan

Sure, you can freeze cilantro or any other herb that I know of in ice cubes. The lemon juice is a great idea, but water would also work. You will have to use it right away as it’ll get “mushy” otherwise. The taste should be great.

—Jackie

Which pressure canner?

I have the greatest respect for you and wish that you had more “exposure” – you are a role model to all!

Question: if you had the money and were going to buy a new pressure canner (money not being an object) what make/model of canner would you purchase?

I am trying to save my money to purchase a decent pressure canner and would prefer not to purchase a dud. I have NOT had positive experiences in buying used/reconditioned appliances (been cheated) and am afraid to either purchase something off of Ebay or to buy something used without fully inspecting it.

This will be my first pressure canner. I have canned jams, pickles and salsas using a water bath canner, but have no formal experience in using a pressure canner. Any extra tips would be VERY much appreciated!

Thanks, and many blessings to you and yours!

Adecia Adams
Fort Myers, Florida

Today’s pressure canners are all quite dependable. Two good name brands are Miro and Presto. I, personally, like a gasket-less, steel-on-steel fit because you never have a worn or hard gasket to replace. I also like a dial gauge, which most modern canners are today. The old “jiggle” weights are a little harder to read accurately. I like the gauge so I can see exactly what’s happening with my pressure. Most larger hardware stores carry good canners of smaller sizes. But if you want a large canner, check out Lehman’s, Box 41, Kidron, Ohio 44635.

Buy a good basic canning manual, such as the Ball Blue Book, which will probably be sold where you buy your canner. I never can without it; one can always forget something, no matter how much you have canned.

After you get your canner, begin with something super easy, like green beans, so you have instant success. Then you’ll see how easy and FUN home canning actually is. The best of luck.

—Jackie

Canning fish

Many of the canning guides have information about canning fish, but they are typically things like salmon. Do you have any advice for canning catfish, bluegill, walleye, crappie, pike, bass, etc? Any guidance would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Mitch Aylor
Batesville, Indiana

All of these fish are easy to can. But to be safe, only can them in pint jars. Fillet the fish and soak an hour in a brine made of a gallon of ice water and a cup of salt. Drain the fillets. Pack them into a hot jar, the skin side toward the side of the jar. Leave 1 inch of headroom in the jar. Wipe rim of jar clean and place hot, previously simmered lid on jar and screw down the ring firmly tight. Process in a pressure canner only at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes. That’s it; it’s so easy. But remember your local game laws as they often now count all fish in your “possession,” which includes those in your canning pantry or freezer, not a daily limit like they used to. Makes things hard to live with.

—Jackie

Ideas for milk products

I am looking [for ideas on] what to do with milk, besides feeding to animals, making cheese.

What other products can I make with the milk; ie., lotions, face cream

BJ Corn-Carlton
saturnsvue at man.com

I have never made face cream or lotions; never enough time for beauty, I guess. I use my milk for milk shakes, smoothies, ice cream, yogurt in many flavors, cream cheese, soft cheese, cheddar cheese, mozzarella, cottage cheese, sour cream, egg nog, feeding chickens and calves, making soap (there’s an inexpensive Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin on making milk-based soaps), and, of course in cooking: Cream sauces, baking, custards, pies and much, much more; you can never have too much milk.

—Jackie

Hopi Grey Squash seed source

Could I please have a start of your Hopi Grey Squash seed. I am willing to pay for them. Thanks

Elcie Keithley
Walnut Shade, Missouri

Sorry Elcie, I’m about out of Hopi Pale Grey squash seed. But the good news is that my friend Shane Murphy, who has a small seed business, Seed Dreams, has a good supply. You can contact Seed Dreams’ curator, Tessa Gowans at gowantoseed@yahoo.com or write for a seed list at P.O. Box 106, Port Townsend, WA 98368. (They raise lots of Native and heirloom varieties of vegetables and grain, as well.)

—Jackie

Persian Lime problem

I have a potted Persian Lime that keeps dropping the fruit. The plant looks good and was loaded with many limes with only a few limes that are increasing in size and a couple are about ½ inch around. What is causing this and what can I do?

Maryann
maryannm at ptd.net

When your lime is setting fruit, be sure it receives adequate water, air movement, and fertilizer. The lack of any of these things will cause fruit to be dropped, as stress triggers this. Also be sure the plant doesn’t get chilled. While fruiting, it likes to be kept above 60 degrees. If none of these seem to be the problem, try repotting the plant; it may be getting root bound.

—Jackie




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