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Ask Jackie Online
By Jackie Clay

November 29, 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.

Cold Cabinet, deer remnants as fertilizer

I was wondering if you or your readers know anything about a cabinet that keeps your butter, veggies and fruit cool in the summer. I donít know where I heard about it but it had an open bottom in which cool air from under the house would be naturally drawn upward into the cabinet. The shelving inside the cabinet was wire mesh to allow the air to rise and then there was a vent out the top of the cabinet. The principle was that as the air warmed it would rise and draw the cooler air from under the house. The cabinet would have to be tight so that it did not draw in the warmer air from the room. It was a way to keep butter, eggs, fruits and veggies cooler in the summer. I would like to add one of these wonderful cabinets to my kitchen and have been unable to find any plans or more detailed information on them.

Also it is hunting season here in Michigan. I am an avid organic gardener and have wondered how I can turn deer skin, innards and bones into fertilizer?

Dawn Washburn
Michigan

I know this cabinet sounds good, but I think youíll find that it doesnít provide enough cooling during the summer months and that your butter, fruits and vegetables may take on a musty smell/taste from the stale air under the house. Remember, too, that rodents love crawl spaces under the house to live and ďgo potty,Ē and you donít want your food to smell like that. I think I would pass on this one.

You can bury the deer remnants deeply under fruit or nut trees to be utilized as fertilizer eventually as they decompose. I would not use these products in either my compost pile or vegetable garden. These should only receive organic vegetative matter. I say bury deeply because your local dogs, coyotes, foxes and bears would quickly dig them up if they arenít.

ó Jackie

Sealing pickled beets

Shalom. My name is Pam and I helped my friend Julie can 10 pints of pickled beets today, but instead of putting them through a boiling water bath after we had them sealed and everything in them she instead just turned them upside down for them to seal on the counter top. Is this safe? I thought that you HAD to give them a boiling water bath to kill the bacteria.

She will not listen to me though and I thought maybe she might listen to someone who has done it for a long time. I am not new to canning though and have done my fair share when we had a garden and I always gave them a boiling water bath. Maybe you can help me out on this. This is the very method that her mother-in-law uses too (just turning them upside down on the countertop to seal). I have never heard of this method before and it doesnít sound safe to me at all. Hope that you can help us. Thanks. Shalom.

Pam Kirstine
Sapphira-dot-com at yahoo.com

Your friend is using the old method of ensuring sealing of jams, jellies and pickles. But it is not as sure as processing them for even 5 to 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. You donít water bath these foods to kill bacteria, but to ensure sealing of the lids. You probably wonít be able to convince your friend and her mother in law to use the water bath; folks get set in their ways and neither me or God will change them. But you wonít get sick from eating the pickled beets. If anything, they could become soft and spoil or get moldy. But generally, pickles, jams and jellies sealed in this method will either be firmly sealed or not. If they are not, itís best not to eat them. If they are firmly sealed, they are probably all right.

ó Jackie

Sour goats milk

Iíve got some ďrawĒ goat milk that has been in the fridge for two weeks. I didnít drink it before it started to get a sharp flavor, so I was setting it aside for yogurt or ice cream or something, and then never got to it. It smells like sour cream and isnít too offensiveóno pink or green slimy stuff in there. Iíd love to use it for sour cream, and think that is what it is naturally up to anyway. Any tips? How do I know when to toss raw milk out?

Jeanne
Luckychrm at olynet.com

If I were you, I would dump your sour milk. You could probably use it in baking, such as in sour cream cookies, biscuits, cakes, etc, IF it doesnít have a ďgoatyĒ taste. Unfortunately, much goat milk that has been kept so long in the fridge develops this taste and anything you use it in will taste ďoffĒ too. I donít keep goat milk over two days in the fridge before I use it up and replace it with fresh. Even when I make yogurt and ice cream I use this fresh milk so that the end product has the best possible taste. I have never had people make faces or comment on my dairy products tasting ďgoatyĒ because of this. I feed my ďoldĒ milk to the chickens for added protein and figure they pay me back with all those tasty fresh eggs in return.

ó Jackie

Canning cream cheese based soups

Can cream cheese be canned and if so how? My family has a great potatoe soup recipe that calls for cream cheese and was wondering if it can be made up and then canned? I had read somewhere not to can recipes that contain milk or cream, is that so? I am very new to canning and really enjoy your articles. They have been so helpful.

Thanks for your time.

Karnetta Myatt (city girl living the country life)
Nashville, Tennessee

I have not had great luck canning soups with a milk base; they seem to separate on processing and become almost curdled. You can sure give your recipe a try (process in a pressure canner for the times recommended for potatoes) and see how it works. There is absolutely no problem in canning milk; Iíve done it a lot, both with a water bath canner and pressure canners. Give it a try and let me know your results so I can pass more information on to other readers. Good luck!

ó Jackie

Canning your own recipes

Hi Jackie, long-time fan here. I have a canning question. Having grown up in a rural area, Iíve seen lots of canning during my lifetime, with both safe and unsafe methods being employed. Iíve recently taken an interest beyond the usual jams and jellies. Iíd like to can my own recipes, whether it is a stew, chili, bbq sauce, or taco sauce. As long as I employ safe methods (sterilizing jars, observing cleanliness) and use a pressure canner and process for the time recommended for the lowest acid component, do you see anything wrong with canning my own recipes? Iíve read the Ball Blue of Preserving and also Putting Foods By. Iíve also called the local county extension agent regarding this and didnít get a satisfactory answer. Please help.

Crystal Fouch
Clearfield, Kentucky

I can a whole lot of my own recipes, using the method you outline. Iím always sure to process the product for the longest time and in the appropriate method recommended for the ingredient with the longest required processing time; usually meat.

The reason you read all the warnings about NOT doing this in canning manuals is that a lot of folks DONíT understand or read their canning manuals. So they donít know which foods require the longest processing time or the appropriate canning method and can get into trouble.

ó Jackie

Mushy boiled potatoes

Can you tell me why potatoes go mushy when they are boiled and how to cook them so they donít go mushy.

Leah
dboreen at telusplanet.net

Potatoes go mushy when they are boiled too long because they begin to fall apart as the starch cooks down in them. Donít cook them so long; just boil them until a fork slides into them easily. Then remove from the water and serve them.

Also some varieties of potatoes get soft more easily. If you are using one variety, switch to another and see if youíre happier with the results. Red potatoes generally boil up nicer, but all of them will if you just donít overcook them.

ó Jackie

Pickling lime

I have a sweet zuccini recipe that calls for lime but I canít find any. My husband stopped at a place and they said to call an 800 number for Jorden Home Brand but that number needs a contact name to get through. What can I use instead of lime to make crisp pickles or do you have a different recipe to share with me?

Karen Apeland
sdmasters at interbel.net

Lime is used in pickles to ensure that they donít become soft. An easier way to do this is simply not to boil them so long. I use absolutely fresh zucchini and cukes and boil the syrup or pickling brine, then add the vegetables and ONLY bring them back to a boil, not boiling them for 15 minutes or whatever the recipe calls for sometimes. If they are not boiled for long, they wonít become soft.

You can find pickling lime at most grocery stores during the harvest season, but I just donít use it. The less additives, the better, I figure.

ó Jackie

Canning herbs

Next summer I plan on putting in an herb garden with a few select herbs that I have learned recently to use, and will be dehydrating them. My question is this: Can I put the dried herbs and onions in jars and either hot water bath or pressure can them? And if so, how would I do it?

Sally D. Tipton
Sallydi95 at yahoo.com

You donít have to process your jars of dried herbs and onions in order for them to keep. Simply dry them well, then pack loosely into airtight jars. Make sure there is no condensation during the first days. If there is, they arenít dry enough and will mold, so turn them out of the jars right away and continue drying them. If there is no condensation, they are dry enough and will keep for years without any more work. Thereís no sense in working when you donít have to.

ó Jackie




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