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Ask Jackie Online
By Jackie Clay

January 3, 2007
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.

Salad okra

I love the okra that you get with a salad, that are little and cold. How do you make okra like that?

Crystal C. Cash
ccdoll25 at sbcglobal.net

One way to fix okra for a salad is to pick small, tender pods and slice them up about a quarter inch thick. Then marinate them in a mixture of 1 cup of white vinegar, a pinch of crushed basil leaves and a tablespoonful of sugar. Cover all the okra, placed in a covered bowl, and let stand overnight in the refrigerator. When you are ready to use it, drain the okra and add to your salads. You can also use tiny, whole okra pods whole or cut in half, lengthwise, in the same way or use different spices in the vinegar, from mixed pickling spices to hot peppers, depending on your taste.

—Jackie

Canning cream cheese-based soups

I was reading through the current column and came across the question in regards to canning cream cheese-based soups. How about canning just the base of the soup then adding the dairy product when re-heating?

Terri Anderson
Sedro-Woolley, Washington

Yes, you can home can the soup base for any “cream of” soup and add the dairy product when reheating the soup to use. This prevents the curdled appearance of the soups canned with flour and milk/cream/cream cheese. This is what I do at home, instead of canning these soups with the dairy product in them. It gives a much better product and only takes a few minutes to fix up.

—Jackie

Freezing food in jars

I usually freeze stuff in freezer bags or plastic containers but want to know if I can use jars instead. I just don’t want to run the risk of the glass containers exploding in the freezer. The chili I am making is going to be taken on an approximately 5 hour trip. Is there a way I can keep the contents from thawing so they can be re-frozen when they reach their destination?

Jackie Shields
Granmcarlton at yahoo.com

Yes, you can use canning/freezing jars instead of freezer bags or plastic containers. They won’t “explode” in the freezer. Just make sure that you leave enough room at the top of the food in the jar to allow for expansion during freezing. And use wide mouthed jars if possible.

To pack your jars of chili for a five-hour trip, wrap each frozen jar of chili in several layers of towel or wadded up paper to prevent breakage. Then pack the jars tightly in an insulated cooler. They will easily stay frozen for your trip. Lacking a cooler, use a heavy cardboard box. Lay a couple of folded towels on the bottom, pack your jars in the middle and top the layer of jars with more towels or other insulating material. Close off the box and keep it away from heat as much as possible. Haul in the back seat, the trunk, or away from the sunny window or vehicle’s heater. Even if a little thawing has occurred, the chili can be refrozen on arrival or used when thawed. DO NOT thaw by running under HOT water. The jars could break.

—Jackie

Wild boar sausage

My wife and I really enjoy your articles. We are also very sorry for your loss. I was wondering if you have a recipe for making homemade pork sausage. I have a grinder and about 40 lbs. of wild boar meat that I need to make into sausage. The kits offered commercially are a little expensive for my tastes. I have been looking in a lot of old time cookbooks but can not find a recipe. Thanks for your time and all your great info.

Chad Belford
Cebelford at msn.com

There are many different recipes for making pork sausage, depending on your personal tastes. A basic breakfast sausage recipe that I use is:

10 pounds raw pork, lean and some fat
1 1/2 tsp each of ground black pepper and rubbed sage
4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry hot pepper (to taste…if you like a hotter sausage, use more; this is spicy, but not hot)

Grind the meat coarsely. Then add seasonings and mix well. Grind again with a medium-grinding knife. Cover and let stand in refrigerator for two days to let flavors blend well. Form into patties or rolls and freeze or make patties and lightly brown and can in pint wide mouth jars.

A good recipe for Italian sausage has these ingredients; make as above.

10 pounds medium ground raw pork
10 medium onions, chopped fine
10 small garlic cloves, mashed
5 Tbsp salt
5 tsp each ground black pepper and fennel seeds
4 tsp paprika
2 tsp each of ground thyme and cayenne pepper

Good eating!

—Jackie

Canning venison

My husband and son brought home 2 deer that I really do not have room for in the freezer. How can I can the meat without it getting too dry, being that venison is already dry on its own?

Brenda Cranford
j11b6c11 at localnet.com

I can guarantee that when you can your venison it won’t be at all dry. I’ve done two deer so far this fall and have another to do next week. My sons, Bill and David both got deer, so we are fortunate this year.

First of all, I cut up my meat, removing any fat, bloody meat or gristle. Then I lightly fry or roast it. The stewing meat, I fry one large frying pan at a time, using very little grease. When the meat shrinks down and lightly browns, I add water and a teaspoon of powdered beef soup stock. Then I pour it into a large roasting pan. The roasts, I braise in the roaster and then add a little water and cover until the meat shrinks down and is a bit browned. Don’t completely cook the meat. Canning does that.

Pack the hot meat into jars, then add broth to within an inch of the top of the jar. Make sure you wipe the jar rims well because any grease or meat pieces on the rim will result in seals that fail.

Process pints and half pints for 75 minutes at 10 pounds pressure and quarts for 90 minutes, unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet and must adjust your pressure to suit your altitude; see your canning manual for directions.

I used to pack all my meat raw and process it with no added liquid. But I’ve switched to the above method because the meat is more tender and looks nicer in the jars. I think you’ll like the results too.

—Jackie

Pressure cooking on a wood range

How does one control the pressure in the pressure cooker when using a wood stove?

Karen McElhaney
Littleton, Colorado

I’ve canned on a wood range for years. And it is a bit challenging until you get the hang of it. You adjust the pressure by standing nearby and keeping your fire as even as you can. Then you slide your canner gently to the side until you find a spot that keeps the pressure even. You may have to adjust this several times (often only by inches) as your food processes. As you can, you’ll quickly learn your stove and what kind of wood, what sizes of wood, and where the canner goes, works for you. It’s easiest to start out with a food that only requires a short processing time, then progressing to meat (which requires a longer time), as your skill builds. Just be careful sliding your canner so as not to hit the jars together. They can crack this way, pretty easily.

—Jackie

Canning soymilk

Can soymilk be canned? If so, how?

Linda Willis
Svynhall at earthlink.net

I don’t know if you can home can soymilk. I’ve never made it, nor have I ever tried to can it. Any readers out there who have had success canning soy milk? Let Linda and me know. Thanks.

—Jackie



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