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Ask Jackie Online
By Jackie Clay

August 15, 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.

Canning hummus

I was looking around to find out if it is possible to can hummus. I really did not find anything of use. There are not too many ingredients: Chickpeas, lemon juice, salt and tahini. Sometimes you can put olive oil in it. I was reading somewhere that you cannot can anything with added fat in it; i.e., butter, oil, etc. Is this true? If so, why?

Jen Clack
Osrati at comcast.net

I see no reason you cannot can your hummus. I would heat it well, stirring to prevent scorching. Then quickly pack it into half-pint or pint jars to within an inch of the top. Remove any air bubbles. Process in a pressure canner for 35 minutes at 10 pounds pressure unless you live at an altitude over 1,000 feet. Then check your canning manual for instructions on increasing your pressure, if necessary, to match your altitude.

Yes, you can home can foods with added oil/fat. The reason you should do so cautiously is that during the processing, sometimes some of the fat or oil gets between the lid and jar rim, interfering with the sealing as the jar cools. Keep the jar rim very clean on capping the jar and check each jar’s seal very well after the jar cools. Any that don’t seal, refrigerate and use soon.

— Jackie

Okra cultivation

I came across your website while looking for tips on okra cultivation. I am interested in gardening and started okra cultivation this year. I planted the okra seeds about 6 weeks back. The seeds have germinated and the seedling is about 1 foot tall. There are lots of very small okras that have grown on the seedling. All the website says is that there will be flowers and then the pod will appear. I did not see any flower in the okra plant. I just saw some small okras growing directly on the plant without any flowers. Should I remove these small okras and wait for the flowers to come or are these okras edible?

Vidya
Vidyamurali at gmail.com

These small okras are the buds of the flowers the okra plant has. Don’t pick them off or you won’t get any okra. First come the flowers, which are really pretty and large. Then, soon after they wilt away, you will see the okra pods forming. The “okra” is the seed pod of the plant. The seeds follow flowering. You will also notice that your plants will grow quickly now. Many varieties of okra will reach 3 to 4 feet tall; some taller.

— Jackie

Pickle problem

I am making Virginia Chunk Sweet Pickles from the old Kerr book I’ve had for years. Unfortunately, I began without first reading the entire recipe. I have made them before and thought I remembered how to make them. I cut the cucumbers first, then poured the boiling salt water brine over them. Then, I read that I should have waited until they had soaked a week, then cut them into chunks. So, my question is, have I ruined my pickles? Or will they come out all right anyway?

Sue Little
Jslittle at cableone.net

No, I don’t think you’ve hurt your pickles. Many old pickle recipes have you cut the cucumbers before you pour the boiling brine over them. Just make sure you follow the rest of the directions correctly: Skim off the scum, draining, pouring a boiling solution of a gallon of water and a Tbsp of powered alum, pouring over the drained pickles, making a fresh hot bath of three mornings, etc.

With pickles, as with everything else, there is more than one way to do something and still have it turn out fine. Good pickling.

— Jackie

A bad egg?

Could you tell us how to tell if an egg is bad? Is it true about floating in water?

Dianne Sesma
Disesma at cdsnet.net

You can usually tell if an egg is bad by floating it in a bowl of water. If the egg is fresh and good, it will sink and lie on its side on the bottom of the bowl. If it is old, it will stand on its end. But if it’s rotten, it will float buoyantly. Usually. Therefore, it’s best to gently crack any egg into a cup before adding to your recipe bowl….just to make sure. A bad egg will have a runny, off colored (usually) yolk and watery white. The smell will not be as good as a fresh egg. The more rotten it becomes, of course, the worse the smell.

— Jackie

Canning "greens"

I can’t seem to find a recipe for canning any kinds of greens: Swiss chard, beet tops, mustard, not even spinach. Can you help?

Lillian Barnett
LrugratTaxi at aol.com

That’s funny, for “greens” is listed in my Ball Blue Book Canning Guide. And they’re very easy to put up. I’ve done all of the above and also lamb’s quarter, red root pig weed, and other wild greens. They’re all done the same.

Wash the greens well. Discard any brown, large, or tough stems. Wilt greens in just enough water to steam them and not let them scorch. Cut if necessary. Then pack into hot jars, leaving 1'' of headroom. Add 1/2 tsp salt to each quart if desired. Cover greens with boiling water, leaving 1'' of headroom. Remove any bubbles. Process pints 70 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure (unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet; consult your canning manual for directions for adjusting your pressure to suit your altitude if necessary).

— Jackie

Frozen tomatoes

Can I safely use tomatoes out of the freezer that I processed last year in chili recipes that I am fixing to can? They are still very good in ready-to-eat meals that we use them in. I have not been able to find this question answered anywhere.

Michael George
Michael29720 at yahoo.com

Yes, you can use those frozen tomatoes in chili or any other mixed recipe you might want to can. No problem there. Just thaw and cut if you want, and make a big batch of your favorite chili. Enjoy.

— Jackie

Keeping whey fresh

Do you have a special way to keep whey from going bad? It doesn’t want to keep refrigerated for long; could it be canned or processed? We use whey in baked beans; seems to reduce the gas problem.

Wendell Jones
New Brunswick, Canada

You can home can whey the same way you do milk. Just pour the fresh whey off into canning jars to within 1/2" of the top of the jars. Wipe the jar rim clean and place a hot, previously simmered jar lid on it and screw down the ring firmly tight. Process the jars for 10 minutes in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure (unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet; then consult your canning manual for directions for adjusting the pressure, if necessary) or for 60 minutes in a boiling water bath canner (same altitude cautions, only you may have to adjust the processing time, if necessary).

— Jackie




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Comments regarding this article may be addressed to editor@backwoodshome.com. Comments may appear online in "Feedback" or in the "Letters" section of Backwoods Home Magazine. Although every email is read, busy schedules generally do not permit a personal response to each one.







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