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Ask Jackie Online
By Jackie Clay

August 30, 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 jars losing water

I am new to canning. I used a pressure canner for the first time on green beans. The problem I had was that some jars lost a good bit of water, some almost as much as half. I followed directions very closely, out of the Ball canning blue book. The canner has been serviced. The seals seem to be very good. My question is will this hurt to leave like this, or should I reprocess the jars?

Chris Rakes
Maberry, North Carolina

No, it will not hurt your beans to have lost a good deal of water. This usually happens when the pressure in the canner fluctuates too much, say going up to 14 pounds, then quickly back to 10 pounds, as you try to adjust your stove heat to regulate the pressure. You really need to stand over the canner until you are sure the pressure is staying exactly where you want it. You canít go out of the room, then come back to check it as it will often cause just what you described.

ó Jackie

Controlling horse flies

My friends and I have tried all types of sprays and lotions to stop those darn flies from biting our horses. Nothing works. I was told to try gasoline/kerosene on them. Is that safe for the horses? If so, how long can a treatment like this be used and how much to use?

Sharon Caruso,
sharonc at merr.com

You can use kerosene on horses, very lightly. But it can cause the hair to come out. Gasoline, NO! I have been using Equi Spot on my horses, which is a drop-on treatment you use along the topline, the poll, and the legs. This keeps the flies down quite well. In addition, I use Absorbineís fly spray that has long-acting use. It really works well, even on horse flies. Iíve found absolutely no ďnaturalĒ product that will keep them down for over a few minutes; not even long enough to take a good ride. The truly natural way to keep biting flies down on horses is to stable them during the daytime when the pests are out. Mine stay under the shade of a run-in shed all day, even with the fly repellent. In the wild, horses seek out mud and deep shade during fly season.

ó Jackie

Which vinegar?

Hi Jackie, I like your website. I got recipies for canning jalapenos in #67 and how to make salsa in #66.

My question is when I buy the vinegar, do I buy cider or the white kind and does it have to have a certain acid percentage?

Vickie Bell
vibell at cableone.net

You can use either vinegar. Many people prefer cider vinegar for its health values. But it has a stronger taste and will discolor light-colored pickles. I use both, depending on what Iím using it for. All commercially available vinegar is the same strength; 5%, sometimes 6%.

ó Jackie

Rotenone

Jackie, help! Is rotenone only obtained online? I have been to several local stores and they all look at me like I have three heads when I tell them I want rotenone for my garden. Where do I get this stuff?

Marti Young
Huntington, Massachussettes

No, rotenone is not so very hard to find. In most areas, rotenone or pyrethrins is available. I found my last at WalMart. Our feed store and garden center also carry it. Sometimes you have to look on the labels of several kinds, as sometimes it is not on the big print on the label name. Donít bother with the Ortho brand, as all Iíve seen was totally chemical insecticide. Not for me. You also might try a health food/gardening store or talk to organic gardeners in your area. Iím sure youíll be able to find it; itís not that hard, as Iíve found it everywhere weíve lived.

ó Jackie

Cooking jowl

Can I cook smoked jowl like I cook bacon?

Alisa Robinson
misserenee at yahoo.com

Yes, you can cook smoked jowl as you would bacon. It will be more fatty, so you will want to drain off the fat if you broil or fry it.

ó Jackie

Canning borscht

I need to know if you can successfully can Russian borscht. If I donít have it spelled right, I mean the russian beet soup with carrots, cabbage and so forth.

Sherrie Ash
slash51 at peoplepc.com

Yes, you can home can borscht. Make your recipe without using the cream. While hot, ladle the soup into hot quart jars. Process in a pressure canner for 45 minutes at 10 pounds pressure (unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet and must adjust your pressure to suit your altitude if necessary; check your canning manual for directions.). When you use your canned borscht base, simply add your milk or cream slowly to the cold borscht and then heat it, stirring so the cream wonít curdle.

If you add the milk to the soup to can, the milk seems to lump or curdle in the recipe, making it look unappetizing.

ó Jackie

Preserving cucumbers

I have a lot of burpless cukes yet to pick. Could I cut them up and put them in a wide-mouth plastic jug with some garlic cloves, cold water, vinegar, and spices for a few days and eat them as time goes by?

Andy C.
AMCIKO at aol.com

Yes, you can use these fresh cucumber pickles in this way, but with just a little bit more work, you can have your nice pickles for years and years to come without taking up valuable space in your fridge. (Fresh cucumber pickles should be refrigerated.)

ó 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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