Ask Jackie by Jackie Clay Issue 76

Ask Jackie
By Jackie Clay

Issue 76
Jackie Clay

To Ask Jackie a question, please Click Here to visit her blog.



I would like to know which dry beans cook up fastest.

Jim and Cindy Dodds
dodds98@gte.net

I’ve never actually done a test on my beans to see which are actually the fastest cooking. With beans, it depends on how fresh they are, as well as the variety. Old beans “stay good” for centuries. But they do take longer to become tender. Generally, the smaller beans cook up quicker. The fastest cooking of the beans we raise are Native American varieties, the tiny, nearly wild tepary beans (about the size of a lentil), Zuni shalakos, and Hopi white beans. Seed for these varieties is available from Native Seeds/SEARCH, 526 N. 4th Ave., Tucson, AZ 85705-8450 or www.nativeseeds.org. Generally, store-bought pinto beans also cook up pretty quickly.

Jackie

I have been seeing a lot about baking bread in a jar. The jar manufacturers do not recommend this. It appears a lot of people freeze them after baking, which seems a waste of a jar to me. Have you any experience with this?

Sher
sherrylynn@hotmail.com

I’m assuming you mean quick breads, such as banana bread, not yeast breads, such as white bread or whole wheat bread. Yes, I can quick breads in canning jars. You can use about any recipe. I cut circles of waxed paper to just fit snugly inside, on the bottom of wide mouth pint jars. Use jars which are hot from sterilizing in boiling water, but dry from the heat. Quickly place a waxed paper circle in the jar, wax toward the jar. Then fill the jar a little over half full with your batter. Bake open, filled jars, placed on a cookie sheet in a 325-degree oven. When done, take one jar at a time out of the oven. (Should the bread have risen past the rim of the jar, slice it off flush with the top with a knife.) Clean the rim of the jar and place hot, dry, previously boiled lid on jar and screw down ring firmly tight. Repeat with all jars, moving as quickly as you can to preserve the heat in the jars. The jars will seal on cooling.

Should a jar not seal, use it soonest or refrigerate or freeze.

When I use a new recipe, I experiment with how full the jar should be with one jar first. It’s best to leave half an inch of head room at the top of the jar for a better seal. Once you have the correct filling mark, do the rest of the jars.

These canned breads make great gifts.

The reason the canning manuals do not recommend this method of preserving quick breads is that one must be very careful with cleanliness of jar, lid and handling, so as not to introduce molds, and that one must work very quickly or the jars will not seal and the breads will not keep long on the shelf.

Jackie

I would like to know how to plant wild rice and when you plant it. I want to start some in a pond on my property and have no idea how to plant it. Can you just plant the stuff you buy in the store? Does it come up year after year and does it spread?

Mary M
roadrunner@onlink.net

Wild rice (which is not a rice, but something much better) grows in the Eastern U.S. and up through Canada. But the larger-seeded varieties are pretty much limited to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and adjacent areas of Canada, Ontario, and Manitoba. So if you live in another area, you could try planting a small plot and see if you might be able to grow it. I’ve grown a lot of things that “experts” said would never grow in my location.

Much of the wild, wild rice, growing in lakes and streams of the northland was once planted by the Ojibway Indians. It is of such value, it’s a shame that more people today don’t follow this practice.

Wild rice is particular about its growing location. It won’t grow in contaminated or stagnated water. It must have clean, moving water without heavy competition from other water plants and reeds. The water must be at least two to four inches deep, but not deeper during the spring or the plant will die as it germinates and the plant begins to grow. Strong, older plants can live in water up to three feet deep. You’ll have better luck growing wild rice if your pond has an inlet and outlet, allowing for gently flowing water, than if the pond has no movement.

Plant your seed either during the fall or spring. The fall is best if you aren’t bothered by many feeding ducks, as they will dig down and eat the seed. Otherwise the spring will do. The seed is scattered in a band about six feet wide, along the necessary depths. The traditional way is to wade in the muck and smush seed in by hand every few feet, as you wade. Do not plant it too deeply, however.

The first sign you’ll see of your wild rice planting is two floating leaves on the water in April or May. From there, it quickly becomes more “grassy” in appearance, rising from the water with a flower head.

No, you can’t plant the wild rice from the supermarket. It has been processed by drying and toasting, which kills the viability of the seed. You must buy wild rice seed or, better yet, harvest some of your own seed from a body of water nearby.

In August and September, the wild rice is ripe and will shatter quite easily. When we lived in Minnesota, we took a canoe down the rivers and along secret lake shores to harvest wild rice. One person sat in the stern and poled slowly through a stand of manomin (wild rice). The other knelt in the center, on a clean tarp covering the bottom of the canoe. By gently bending the armfuls of wild rice over the gunnel, you could flail the grain onto the tarp with a smooth stick.

You might like to give it a try. It is a traditional, very fulfilling way to spend a weekend"and bring home many pounds of wonderful grain to use. It only needs to be dried, toasted gently, and the grain threshed from the chaff.

Yes, wild rice will come up, year after year and it will spread from its own seed. But I’ve never known a patch to become invasive. Good luck with your own patch.

Jackie

I would like to know how to lye corn to make hominy and also how to can it. Pressure or water bath?

Glenie Peebles
gleniep@erec.net

Here’s my grandma’s recipe for hominy, made using lye:

Put 2 quarts of dry field corn in a large enameled pan with no chips. Add 8 quarts of water and 2 ounces of lye. Boil vigorously for half an hour. Then steep for 20 minutes with no heat. Rinse off the lye with several hot water rinses, then several cold water rinses. Work hominy well with hands until dark tips of kernels are removed. Separate the tips by floating them off the kernels. Add water to cover hominy by an inch or more. Boil 5 minutes; change water. Repeat 4 times. Then cook until kernels are soft. Drain.

Pack hominy into jars to within 1 inch of the top. Add 1 tsp. salt to each quart jar, ½ tsp. to each pint jar. Fill to within ½ inch of top of jars with water in which corn was cooked or boiling water. Wipe the rims clean, place hot, previously boiled lids on each jar and screw down the rings until they are firmly tight. Process pint jars for 60 minutes and quarts 70 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. (Adjust the pressure to your altitude if necessary; see your canning manual.)

The canning information is current. Never use a water bath canner for any low acid vegetable or meat product. These are low acid foods and are dangerous to can without pressure.

Jackie

Would you please tell me how to make fruit leathers?

Cindy Winton-Bunting
mountainwoman@snet.net

I’d be glad to; they’re our son, David’s favorite snack. And they’re so easy to make. First peel and gently simmer your fruit until it is tender. Then press it though a sieve or puree in a blender. For small fruits, such as cherries or strawberries, simply whiz in the blender. Pour out the pureed fruit onto clean cookie sheets or flexible plastic dehydrator trays. Dusting them lightly with corn starch helps keep them from sticking, but I don’t always do this. Dehydrate gently until the leather can be peeled easily and gently up from the tray. I cut the sheets into serving-size lengths at this time. Sometimes it is necessary to turn it over and finish dehydrating it, depending on tray and humidity.

I sometimes add cinnamon to apple or pear leather to “spice” it up, or chopped nuts for an interesting texture. Once you start, you’ll quickly begin experimenting for personal favorites.

Jackie

I’m writing to see if you have a horseradish recipe. I have a 40’ x 40’ patch of horseradish and have some large roots in it. I would like to know how and when to dig the roots and how to prepare them.

Robert Kager
Mount Vernon, WA

I’m jealous. What a patch of horseradish. I like it on all meat and use it in a lot of recipes, as well. In issue #73, Jan/Feb. 2002 of BHM, I enclosed a recipe for canning horseradish. Besides this, we most frequently just peel fresh roots, grate them quite finely and add vinegar and salt or vinegar, salt, and mayonnaise, sealing the jar, which is refrigerated between uses. Like anything else, fresh is best.

Dig your big roots in the fall. You can usually store them in the fridge or root cellar for up to two months. If you pack them in sand and hold them in a dark, cold, but not freezing place, they will last longer. The hottest roots will be those you dig during the driest part of the summer, the more mild"if there is such a thing as mild horseradish"are grown in cooler weather, with more watering.

You can get more large roots, and straighter roots by thinning out the bed. Some folks even dig the small roots, saving the straightest, pencil-size roots and replant them in rows on the edges of their patch. In this way, you’ll get larger, straighter roots with fewer branches which are easier to process.

And if you thin your bed, how about sending me a dozen small roots, Robert? Good luck.

Jackie

I live in S. Central Alaska, where we eat a lot of salmon. I can raw salmon by exhausting jars in boiling water for 10 minutes before placing on lids and pressure canning. My husband says this step is unnecessary, disregarding what all my canning books say. His grandma, a wonderful woman, who has been canning for 60 years, does not take this extra step. She also reuses lids…something I refuse to do. Please help settle this disagreement. “Grandma never had any problems,” my husband says. I say Grandma was damn lucky!

Kate McLaughlin
Chenega Bay, AK

This is a case where you both are right. Really. While you can safely can salmon without exhausting (heating the meat) before canning it, you must make sure you thoroughly exhaust steam from your canner, meaning that that canner full of cold meat has had enough time to heat, through and through. This is especially important when you are canning thick salmon steaks in quart jars. The contents of pint jars take much less time to heat, through and through, than do quart jars. If the petcocks or vent is closed too soon (before forceful streams of steam exit them for 10 minutes), the processing time will be inadequate. Thus your salmon could be in danger of spoiling.

I can salmon without liquid, just the brine-rinsed steaks, packed into hot jars, with a teaspoon of salt.

When canning salmon, it is safest to use pint jars, but I’ve used quarts for years, just being sure that my canner took enough time to thoroughly heat its contents before I began processing. I usually add just a little extra water to the canner to allow for this extra heating up time; you don’t want your canner to steam dry.

As for reusing lids…mmmm…well, in an emergency, it can be done"kind of. By gently pulling the lids off some jars, with the fingers, instead of a can opener, you can usually re-use them for jams, jellies or pickles; high-acid foods only. I sure wouldn’t reuse them for vegetables, meat, or fish. That’s a wee bit terrifying.

Jackie

My question is about canning vegetable soup. I made vegetable soup and used tomatoes that were already canned. I would like to can the soup. Can the tomatoes be recanned if I can the soup?

Dede Haiar
dhaiar33@aol.com

Sure, go ahead and can that soup. I’ve used pre-canned ingredients a lot. In fact, I can a lot of mixtures during the winter, using tomato products, vegetables and meats that I quickly canned during the busy harvest season. I’m sure that there is some loss of nutrients, but I’ll bet we more than make up for it by canning fresh fruits and vegetables. When I can vegetable soup, I just heat it to boiling, but do not boil. That way, the vegetables do not turn to mush during processing. Good luck and good eating.

Jackie

My husband and I have started raising hair goats and rabbits. I have some concerns as to winter hardiness of these animals, as we live in Montana. I have read that Angora goats need extra protection in the winter, as they are desert animals. What about Angora rabbits? Do Angora goats really need more protection than do my dairy goats? Do Angora rabbits need more protection than normal furred rabbits?

Jacquie Andrews
Cascade, MT

I have not found that Angora rabbits or goats need any more winter protection than do other breeds. I had both, while living years back in Minnesota. They were kept in the same conditions as were my other dairy goats and rabbits with good results. With any goat, just be sure they have a well-bedded shelter, providing protection from driving rain or snow. In extreme weather, allow several animals to run in the same shelter so they can bunch together for warmth.

Angora rabbits require no different winter housing as do other breeds of rabbits. Just shelter them from wind, drafts, and extreme cold.

Jackie







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