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Ask Jackie Online
By Jackie Clay

April 26, 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.

Canning frozen venison

We were wondering can frozen venison be taken from the freezer and canned? And how long would this canned meat be good.

Susa
Toflake at tds.net

Good news, Susa. You can certainly can venison from the freezer. I’d just defrost it, partially precook it and can it up. Unlike the freezer, where you will experience freezer burn in about 8-12 months with venison, it will remain perfectly good nearly indefinitely once you have canned it up. This is, of course, when it is properly canned and stored in a dry, relatively cool and dark location. This also applies to venison that has been used in recipes such as spaghetti sauce, meatballs, stews or soups. Guess why I can nearly all my meat now?

—Jackie

Minimal planting descriptions

I would like to start by saying that I love your articles. They are full of informative and insightful and thought provoking ideas. Keep up the good work. Now on to my question. I have gotten the Seed Dreams catalog and now that I have to make my selections I am finding it difficult because the descriptions are minimal. What would you get for a good bush bean? I usually plant blue lake bush beans and last year I planted a stringless bush bean and had a horrible yield. So I would really like to know what you would plant? I am getting the Hopi grey and the Mayo blusher and how do I plant them so that they do not cross-pollinate with each other or my zucchini? Thanks for your help!

Oh yes, what else would you get as a must have?

Michelle Chapin
Fresno, Ohio

P.S. I got your back issues on CD. A must buy! It ranks up there as one of my best buys of all time.

SEED DREAMS is one of my very favorite catalogs for heirloom vegetable varieties. Unfortunately it is more of a list of varieties and could use more description, as you’ve found. Don’t necessarily blame the variety of bean for a bad yield; that just happens sometimes. I always give them a second chance, although often not in such a big row until I’m more certain of the new variety. I usually plant a dozen or so different kinds of beans each year. My biggest rows are the old faithfuls for me: Provider, Drangon’s Tongue & Hopi Black.

Because Mayo Blusher and Hopi Pale Grey are both Cucurbita maximas, they will cross with each other unless planted hundreds of feet apart. They will not cross with zucchini, as it is a Cucurbita pepo. What I do is to plant one type of squash of each species, which will give you four different types of squash. Or if I have plenty of seed of all of them, I’ll plant, say Hopi Pale Grey (C. maxima) and several different pepos, mixtas and moschatas AND NOT save seed from the ones that I grew that could have crossed to produce hybrid seed. The crossing does not affect the squash this year, but will produce unusual fruits next year!

Once I planted Hopi Pale Grey in our front garden and David’s Atlantic Giant Pumpkin (both C. maximas) a thousand feet away in the back of our north garden. I saved Hopi Pale Grey seeds, as it is very rare. The next year, my rank squash vines had little surprises; every once in awhile, there hung a little round pink pumpkin-in-the-making, among the baby squashes! I saved the seeds anyway, because of the rarity, after cutting the pumpkins off the vine. There were no other C. maximas in my garden that year. But every once in awhile, a little baby pumpkin still pops up on my vines. I think it’s kind of cute, but know my old seed is not “pure”.

You don’t even want me to start on “must haves”! Every year I grow some new things that I just must have. And get embarrassed at how many seeds I have stored! Some things I really like are Hopi yellow watermelon, Moon & Stars watermelon, Noir des Carmes muskmelon, Cherokee white flour corn (roasting, sweet corn, and cornmeal), Cherokee Trail of Tears pole bean and Amish or Quaker pie pumpkin.

Every year, my gardens get bigger and more intensely worked as I try to cram all those neat vegetables and fruits into an area I can handle. But boy is it FUN!

—Jackie

Chokecherry jam

I tried making chokecherry jam from chokecherries we picked at Taos, New Mexico. The jam came out like Jell-O. When we tried to spread it, it just rolled around.

It tasted ok, at least I thought it did, then I had some from a lady from a lady from Taos Pueblo and it was WAY better than mine. Mine was bitter tasting.

I used the low/light Sure Jell package. What am I doing wrong?

Someone told me that I might be boiling it too long but I followed the recipe from the Sure Jell box.

I know how to can and have been canning and making jams for years so canning is not new to me. But, I have never attempted to make chokecherry jam. We also picked some greenish/reddish plums and I made jam out of this. It too came out ok. I make jam every year and it is mouth watering delicious so I don’t know what happened to the chokecherry jam!

Michelle Mirabal
Santa Fe, New Mexico

I don’t think you did anything wrong. Try the jam again with regular Sure Jell. Sometimes chokecherry jelly and jam made with the Light Sure Jell just doesn’t turn out quite as good as it does when you use the regular. We want our food “light” with the same taste as when we use all that sugar, which, of course, is not good for us. Unfortunately, it does not turn out the same. And chokecherries are the “difficult” child of fruits. Sometimes they balk at jelling in good circumstances. So I call that jelly “syrup” and we have it on pancakes! You do learn to be flexible when home canning jams and jellies!

—Jackie

Separating water from concentrate

I read your tip on freezing the elderberry juice to separate out the water from the concentrate. Will this work with other juices? What about tomatoes? I am willing to experiment but wondered if maybe you already had.

Kim Johnson

Morristown, Tennessee

Yes, this will work on most juices. It will also work on tomatoes, but an easier way, if you don’t want to cook down the puree is to simply pour it through a jelly bag. The juice flows out into a pan and the thicker puree stays in the bag. Too stiff? Just add a little more of the juice. One warning, however, this method of extracting the puree without cooking it down does not result in as good tasting tomato sauce/paste, as when it is cooked down. The cooking down also concentrates acids and sugars, giving it a richer taste. Some people can’t tell any difference, but I prefer to use the old “cook-it-down” method, just being sure to keep it stirred as it thickens. If it scorches even a little, the batch is pretty bad.

—Jackie

Lime stains on canning jars

How can I clean lime stains from canning jars? I reuse jars for selling honey and I need clear jars.

Ray Diedel
Lawrence, Kansas

Most of the time you can get lime stains out of your canning jars by soaking them in vinegar. If that doesn’t get it all, put a little salt on a green scrubbie and scrub the vinegar/salt onto the stains. This should result in sparkling clean jars.

If this doesn’t do the job, and I’ll about guarantee it will, soak them in Lime Away till they are clear then rinse well and wash well in hot soapy water to remove all traces of the Lime Away.

—Jackie

Tomato soup recipe

I need a recipe for canned tomato soup that I can heat with milk. So it needs to be a little thicker. The last batch I canned was horrible and the chickens and pigs will love it. I know I can’t can milk but like cream of tomato soup.

Nancy Foster
Dallas City, Illinois

All I do when I make cream of tomato soup is to take 2 Tbsp. flour and mix well with two Tbsp. margarine or butter in a pan, heating it well. Then add a cup of milk and stir well until thickened. Add a half-pint of unseasoned tomato sauce and stir well. If it is too thick, add more milk until it’s the thickness you want. Taste. If it is too “sour,” add corn syrup or sugar to taste. To make more, double or triple the amounts listed.

I can make homemade cream of tomato soup in about 5 minutes, once I have the ingredients handy. This is only 3 minutes more than opening a can of store soup. And mine is free of mystery ingredients, some of which aren’t even listed on the can; i.e. herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizer, etc.

—Jackie

Canning beef tallow

Do you know if beef tallow will go rancid if it is not pressure canned to the degree one cans meat?

What is the length of time to pressure can it if it will go rancid?

Kristina Floyd,
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Yes, beef tallow will eventually go rancid if it is not frozen (and it will freezer burn after about 12 months) or canned. But any fatty meat will be more of a challenge to can because if any fat escapes the jar during processing, it can get between the lid and the rim of the jar causing the lid to not seal. If this happens to a few jars, simply take the lid off, wash off the rim of the jar with a hot, damp cloth, dry it and re-process it with a new lid.

—Jackie

Hot BBQ sauce

I recently purchased some BBQ sauce from a person whose grandfather and father had a retail BBQ business for several years, selling not only the sauce, but also meat, sandwiches, etc. I love the sauce, but do not remember it being so hot.

My question is this. Is there any way to remove some of the “heat” from the sauce without ruining the flavor?

Lonnie Griffin
Paducah, Kentucky

Unfortunately, there’s no magic way to remove the heat from a recipe that is too hot for one’s taste. With salt, you can place a big chunk of raw potato in the cooking soup or stew that is too salty and reduce it. But with hot peppers, you have what you have. Sometimes the “heat” in peppers varies with the year they are grown. In very hot and dry summers, hot peppers tend to become very hot, too. In more moderate temperatures with plenty of water, the same peppers will often be more mild. Perhaps that is what has happened to this recipe.

I have had luck by mixing too hot barbecue sauce with the same kind that is milder, effectively reducing the heat, while keeping the taste. Maybe this will work for you.

—Jackie

Non electric milker

Good morning Jackie from the dairy state of Wisconsin where it is -18° this morning with a wind chill factor of -37°. It is cold. Jackie, in a magazine somewhere I saw a non-electric milker for goats and other animals that was like a squeeze bottle with a funnel that attached to the animals teats. I can’t remember which magazine and have tried on the net to find it. Can you or anyone you know help me find and purchase one? Thank you.

Marilyn Anderson
Medford, Wisconsin

Sure, Marilyn, I can tell you where you can get more information on the milker you saw. It is sold by EZ Animal Products, LLC, 33032 795th Ave, Ellendale, MN 56026 for $183.95. Their web site is www.udderlyezllc.com

It was featured in the January/February 2007 issue of Countryside Magazine, if you can’t remember where you read about it, and would like to read the article again for more information.

—Jackie

Canning homemade stew

I would like info on how to can in jars my homemade stews. I have a friend who goes away on his RV and the stew would be great for him to carry on his trip. I am a novice but would like to learn about canning cooked foods. I need to know how to do everything with the process of canning.

Barbara Hanna
Kbros at atlantic.net

Stew is real easy to can up, but DOES require a pressure canner to process the jars of food. Simply make up your favorite recipe for stew (meat, potatoes, carrots, etc.), using meat that you have precooked. Do NOT cook the vegetables; simply bring them to a boil in the tomato sauce or beef sauce, whichever you prefer. If you fully cook the stew, the vegetables will often overcook and become soft. Bring the stew to a boil with all ingredients added. Then ladle the stew out into hot pint or quart canning jars to within no more than an inch of the top of the jar. Wipe the rim of the jars clean with a damp cloth. Place a hot, previously simmered new lid on each jar and tighten the rings down firmly tight. Process pints at 10 pounds pressure (unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet and must adjust your pressure to suit your altitude) for 75 minutes. Quarts are processed at the same pressure for 90 minutes. That’s it. Super easy.

But do buy a canning manual or at least borrow a current one from a friend or family member. I never can anything without having a manual open to the food I am processing. The canning manual will also have directions for adjusting the pressure to suit your altitude, if necessary, as well as many helpful recipes and hints.

Good canning!

—Jackie

Old canned venison

I need to know how long canned deer meat is good. My mother-in-law has some quarts of canned deer meat she canned approximately 10 years ago. The seals are all still good. She says they are still good to eat. Please advise me before we try and eat some and possibly kill ourselves.

Julie Lamb
Dawsonville, Georgia

Canned venison is good indefinitely. Only when the lid rusts through or the seals should come undone would the meat be bad because of age related problems. This is one reason I can a whole lot; my food is there for us when we need it, right in those neat jars on the pantry shelves.

If the seals are good, the venison looks okay, and smells okay, it is okay. Bring the meat to boiling temperature for 15 minutes, as you would any other home canned low acid food, just to be safe as we always do. You can do this by boiling in a stew, making barbecued meat or roasting it.

You’re probably in more danger from eating from a fast food restaurant. I’ve had food poisoning three times and all three were after eating at various restaurants, over the years! What’s THAT tell you about our food?

Enjoy the venison!

—Jackie




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