Ask Jackie by Jackie Clay Issue 90

Ask Jackie
By Jackie Clay

Issue 90
Jackie Clay

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


“Grab and git” and other survival packs

My wife and I are putting together packs to keep in our vehicles in case we are caught out when “whatever it is that is coming” happens. I am trying to come up with a good “survival” food that packs light and keeps a long time. Any suggestions?

Mike Ledbetter
Jamestown, TN

Good thinking, Mike. Too many people forgot about preparedness when the Y2K fizzled without a sigh. Bad, bad mistake. Just because a fox didn’t get your hens one summer doesn’t mean you should forget about locking the door this year.

There are two types of survival packs you could be talking about. The first is a one-day pack containing emergency supplies, water, and food for one day’s “emergency.” Of course in a survival situation, this could be stretched.

The other survival pack is a “72-hour” or three-day pack, which allows for a longer period of emergency.

And yet another, the “grab-and-git” pack, is usually a heavy pack or even a packed travel trailer, filled with longer term survival gear and plenty of food for an expected longer duration evacuation.

For the day pack, one does not really “need” food, as nearly all of us, babies excepted, of course, can do without food for at least a week without “starving.”

You can, and probably should, for a feeling of well-being and comfort, add some food to your day pack. This can be types of food you are used to eating already, such as candy bars with nuts, granola bars, packaged jerky sticks, or fruit leather. Remember, though, that sugars and salt, such as found in candy and jerky, will make you thirsty, so pack enough water to satisfy your thirst.

A three-day or “72 hour” pack should have food, both to comfort you and strengthen you for any activity you must engage in. You can choose MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), if you like. But we don’t like the taste. Instead, we prefer to use dehydrated foods that are easily and quickly reconstituted. Today the choice is huge compared to what my canoe packing choises were years ago. And the choice is available on your supermarket shelves. You don’t have to pay three to five dollars a meal to get decent tasting, nutritious food from some outfitter’s catalog. (I never did that, but know many who did and continue to do just that.)

You won’t want anything that requires an oven or lots of fussing. You want to make it in one pan and have the cooking done quickly. You may not have available fuel to waste.

A few suggestions are: the many pastas/rice and sauce mixes, potato soup (my old standby), mac & cheese, dehydrated potato slices in many flavors (you don’t have to bake them), Ramen Oriental noodle mixes, instant oatmeal in flavors, and instant pudding mixes. I also carry hot chocolate and cider as well as instant milk in a zip lock bag. The drinks could also be tea or coffee if you like those instead. The instant milk is to use in other mixes. Remember, this is for a three-day “emergency.”

It is also a very good idea to have a “grab-and-git” stash for longer evacuations. I have one large cooler full of such food items. This would enable three of us to eat well for over a month or much longer when supplemented by foods gathered in the wild. In fact, we plan for such wild harvesting by also including basic fishing gear, fitted into a film canister: hooks, line, sinkers, and small flies for bait.

Included in this box are such things as flour, corn meal, rice, dehydrated corn, broccoli, peas, onions, baking powder, yeast, salt, shortening, dry eggs, dehydrated milk, tins of tuna, Spam, turkey, and chicken. You may ask why do I pack store-bought tins of food when I am so well known for home canning everything under the sun. The answer is that in a hurried evacuation, jars may break. The cans are more reliable. Popcorn and dehydrated butter and cheese powder are also a staple of our kitchen box.

You might be interested in our extension of this grab-and-git: a moderate sized travel trailer, totally equipped with clothes, food, water storage, potty, beds, ammunition, and more. When we lived in Montana, there were many forest fires in the mountains where we lived and it was an excellent idea to keep our trailer ready to go. We could throw in our important papers, family photos, the dogs, and guns, throw the goats and chickens in the back of the truck and leave in 15 minutes. (As you may know, we also have horses and had planned for one person to ride/lead the horses to safety while the other drove the rig out of fire danger. No, we would not leave our buddies.)

Good luck with your emergency preparedness. It is a wise thing to do, especially in today’s uncertain times. (Don’t forget some cash in any pack. Credit cards may not be of much use in many emergency situations.)

" Jackie

Redoing jam

I have made jam for years and this year the one batch of Strawberry jam is runny. Can I put it back in a pan and bring to a boil with added pectin, and boil again then put back into jars and reseal?

Whistleant@aol.com

This is bound to happen some time during a person’s canning experience. I should know; it happens about one batch every year with me. The reason is usually being in too much of a hurry and not following directions to the letter or from doubling a recipe.

I’ve never felt compelled to remake runny jam or jelly. I simply use it in place of syrup. This is great on pancakes, home baked rolls and bread, or in flavored yogurt and ice cream. With the ice cream, you can use it as a topping or whip it into the nearly frozen ice cream, then freeze a bit more. To die for.

If you really must have a thicker jam product, I wouldn’t advise redoing the batch, as you will probably end up with a tough, rubbery jam. Instead, when you open a jar of jam dump it in a sauce pan, bring it to a boil, then quickly stir in the same-flavored Jello. Try using a teaspoonful for a pint, two teaspoonfuls for a quart. If this is not firm enough, redo that batch and add more Jello. After it cools in the fridge, it will be nicely jelled. The only hitch is that you have to keep the jam in the fridge and that you have to do this every time you open a new jar of jam.

" Jackie

Is my steer really a steer?

My son will be taking a steer to our county fair. He was banded soon after we bought him in September 2003. He weighed about 450 to 500 lbs. My daughter’s steer was banded as a calf. They do not look the same when you look from behind and we are afraid that my son’s steer may not actually be a steer. How can we know for sure if he is steered without calling the vet? We have felt both and they feel about the same. Would there be a big difference in the way they look and feel if one was only partially castrated?

Renee Dyer
dyerrabs@msn.com

The most sure way to tell if your “steer” is a steer is to have someone restrain him and feel the scrotum. With a bull, you can easily feel each testicle roll about inside. There is no doubt at his age. If he has testicles, he is an entire male. His body appearance will also be more masculine. His head will look wider and stronger, as will his neck and shoulders. He will also be beginning to act bully, digging dirt with his head, rumbling deep in his throat when he “talks,” and sniffing the behinds of other cattle.

I much prefer using an emasculatome, or Burdizzo on male animals, especially older males, as banding older males can sometimes fail due to the bulk of the part being contained by the band. The emasculatome, or “pincher,” crushes the blood vessels and cords, one at a time, producing a bloodless, quick, and nearly painless castration. There is also very, very little chance of infection, unlike banding. Banding causes the part to drop off, leaving a raw wound which can become infected. I’ve seen many banded animals with tetanus from using rubber bands as a castration method, and none with the Burdizzo.

If you still can’t decide about your “steer,” I’d suggest having the 4-H leader or a neighboring cattleman come have a look. If they can’t give you a thumbs up, it’s time to call your vet.

" Jackie

“Bolos” Texas beef jerky

I’m looking for a recipe called “Bolos” Texas Beef Jerky. It is tube bologna that is pickled with onions, carrots and peppers. You can get it hot or mild.

I have found some recipes for pickling bologna, but I’m concerned because it says boil your first five ingredients then pour over your bologna and onions in a jar and then place in refrigerator.

I want something that can be canned indefinitely and stored in the cabinet. If you could help with this, it would be greatly appreciated.

Cecilia Rowe
clr79083@aol.com

If you are satisfied with the recipe you found, simply use that recipe and then can your bologna in wide mouthed pint jars, taking care to heat the packed open jars in a roaster pan full of water. The water should be to within an inch of the top of the jar. This is called “exhausting,” but is really preheating before you cap the jars and place them in a pressure canner. It is meant to bring the internal temperature of the meat up to 190° F before it goes in to begin processing. You can heat this roaster full of open jars on your stove top or in the oven and test the internal temperature of your meat with a kitchen thermometer.

When the meat is evenly heated, seal the jars and process in a pressure canner for 90 minutes. The USDA now recommends that high density foods, such as bologna, not be home canned. I can only say I’ve done it for years and am still living. I do exhaust my jars of dense meat.

" Jackie

Keeping boiled eggs

I’m curious as to how long boiled eggs (from my own free-ranging chickens) will keep at room temperature. Some folks say 24 hours, and some say longer. I don’t want to pickle them (although I do). I am just wondering if I “needed” to go camping or evacuate and could take along boiled eggs and leave them unrefridgerated, how long will they be okay to eat? I would think boiled eggs would be a good survival food…if they keep OK!

Janene Russell
patjay@usawide.net

Sorry, Janene, but those eggs just aren’t safe at room temperature. (I know we’ve all eaten hardboiled Easter eggs a day or longer after the egg hunt, but we were taking a risk.)

The problem with the eggs is that in hard boiling, many times there are minute cracks in the egg shell, some you cannot even see. These cracks let in bacteria and could make you sick. (We’ve all found old Easter eggs by following our nose, right?)

Better stick to dehydrated egg powder for survival food. The purpose of survival food is to survive, and you might not do that with some of the nasty bacteria that can invade boiled eggs.

" Jackie

Homemade cereal

I was happy to see the recipe for homemade cereal. I had three items to use up in it. My grinder could not get more than large crumbs though. I was expecting raisin size, so it is more like croutons now because I just broke it by hand. It got stuck under the processor blades. Any suggestions? Tastes great. Also, how long can I store it and should it be in a cool place or anywhere?

In some of your recipes for ketchup, beets, etc, it calls for vinegar. Is that always white? Also, do you really need to have quick oats and rolled oats for different things. Will it really affect the recipe that much?

Jane Lippincott
LOGCABIN414@aol.com

You can get smaller pieces from your homemade cereal if you run it through an old-fashioned meat grinder with a coarse blade. This will make Grapenuts-sized pieces and works very well for me. You can store it in an airtight jar on the counter for a month or more. If it smells or tastes a bit rancid or “old,” simply spread it out on a cookie tin and put in the oven on low for a few minutes. Stir a couple of times so it doesn’t scorch. It will soon be like “new” again. If you plan on keeping it longer, you may want to freeze it for freshness sake or vacuum pack it in plastic bags.
The reason it says to use white vinegar is that regular or cider vinegar results in a darker end product, which is unacceptable to some people. I’ve used plain vinegar for years, and I get no complaints. Other than “Isn’t there any more?”
No you don’t have to use quick oats. I use whatever I have, and that’s usually plain old rolled oats that I buy in 50-pound paper sacks. The plain rolled oats do not cook up quite as tender as quick oats do because they’re thicker pieces. We prefer the more chewy texture in everything from breads to cookies. Use what you like best.

" Jackie

Wild grape jelly

I was at a craft show a couple of years ago, and tried some homemade jelly. The seller said it was made from the small wild grapes in her yard. She called them Fox grapes. Could you let me know if anyone has a recipe they would like to share. My wild grape vines are full of grapes this year and I would like to make them into jelly. She said they are also used in wine.

Jo Edwards
edwarjc@shands.ufl.edu

Lucky you! There is no finer jelly than wild grape. You can find a simple recipe for grape jelly inside any powdered pectin product, such as SureJel, at your grocery store. Or you can make your jelly the old fashioned way with just grape juice and sugar. To do this, place grapes in a large kettle and add about ¼ cup of water per pound (or just enough water to get the grapes cooking without scorching them). Simmer them, covered, until they are tender. Then crush them with a potato masher. For large batches, you may want to invest in a juicer, such as a Mehu-Maija, which extracts juice simply from steaming the grapes. I’ve never been able to afford one, so I crush, then pour the grapes/juice through a jelly bag which is simply a square of doubled old white sheet. Tie the bag and its contents up securely over a counter with a large glass or stainless steel bowl underneath to catch the juice.

Don’t try to squeeze the bag to get more juice. This results in a cloudy jelly instead of a jewel-like sparkling jar of purple.

Let the bag hang overnight. The next day, for each cup of juice add a cup of sugar. Place this in a large stainless steel kettle to allow for the rolling boil to rise high in the kettle without boiling over. Heat over high heat, stirring almost constantly until the jelly will slide off a cool teaspoon in a sheet when tilted upright. If it runs off in drips it is not ready.

When the jelly will sheet, immediately ladle into hot, sterilized jars to within half an inch of the top, wipe the rim of the jar clean and quickly place a hot, previously boiled lid on and screw down the ring firmly tight. Place jars in a hot water bath for ten minutes.

" Jackie

Watermelon preserves

I would like to know if you have a recipe for Watermelon preserves.

Aniya
Mcguinne5@aol.com

Here is one recipe for a type of watermelon preserves, called watermelon balls. You could slice the melon, instead, if you want a less chunky preserve.

Watermelon balls:

10 cups watermelon balls, seedless
1/4 cup salt
2 quarts cold water
3 sliced lemons, seeded
4-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. crystallized ginger

Cut balls from firm pink watermelon with a scoop, picking out the seeds. Soak overnight in mixed salt and water. Drain and rinse in cold water. Add the lemon, sugar, and ginger. Add enough water to cover the fruit. Cook slowly until clear, about 20 minutes. Pick out fruit and place in hot, sterilized jars. Boil the remaining syrup until it threads and pour over fruit and seal. Makes about 3 pints.

Another of our favorite watermelon recipes is sweet watermelon pickles and here’s that one, as long as you’re doing watermelon.

Double sweet watermelon rind pickles:

3 quarts trimmed watermelon rind
boiling water
10 cups granulated sugar
2 cups vinegar
1/2 tsp. oil of cloves or 1 tsp. whole cloves
1-1/2 tsp. oil of cinnamon or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 lemon

A thick rind from a garden fresh watermelon is best. Trim off the green skin and any red meat. Cut into one-inch cubes. Place in a large saucepan. Cover with water and simmer about 10 minutes, until tender but not soft. They will appear nearly clear. Drain well. Combine one half of the sugar and all of the vinegar, and seasonings in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over the rinds. Let stand overnight at room temperature. The next day, drain the syrup from the rinds, add the remaining sugar, heat to boiling, and pour over the rinds again. Let stand overnight. On the third and final day, slice the lemon thinly and quarter each slice, then add to the watermelon rind and syrup. Heat to boiling and place in hot, sterilized jars. Wipe the rims of the jars clean, place previously boiled, hot new lids on the jars, and screw down the ring firmly tight. Water bath for 10 minutes. Makes 4-6 pints of “gherkin-sweet” pickle that is pretty and sure to be asked for at holiday meals. (The reason for all the reboiling is that when you make a super sweet pickle, adding too much sugar all at once will shrivel your pickles, making them unappetizing.)

" Jackie

Wannabe gardener

I am an avid reader of BHM and your articles. In particular I enjoy reading about your gardening.

I’m a town house city-dweller and after 9/11 I dedicated myself to learning more “self-reliant living” skills. Thus far I have purchased guns and learned to use them responsibly, learned to knit and weave, took an advanced medical emergency first-aid course with CPR training, and I have prepared my family for “bugging out” during an emergency to our safe place in Josephine County.

My current project is my balcony garden, and I’m sorry to say, growing vegetables is not my forté. In particular, my tomato plants look positively droopy. I have read about how much to water them, but the scorching 90 degree weather we’ve been having lately isn’t helping. I moved them to a slightly more shady area of my balcony, but the heat is causing the soil to dry out faster. I am afraid of over-watering in this kind of weather. Any hints on what to do about this for a wannabe gardener?

Pam Graves
Beaverton, OR

In such extreme heat, it is sometimes necessary to water every day, or even twice a day. Container plants even need more, as the sides of the container absorbs even more heat than if the plants were in the ground. You were right to move them to a somewhat more shaded place. Your best bet is to water the plants very well each evening that they need it. How can you tell if they need it? Dig your finger down into the soil. If it is dry down an inch, the plants can use a drink. You’ll also notice that they’ll wilt when they’re dry. In periods of extreme heat and drought, you may need to water them again in the early morning to keep them happy until the heat breaks.

One tip for you: If you’re gone much of the day; take a two liter soda bottle and bury it in the pot up to the neck, upside down. Cut the top (which used to be the bottom) out. You now have a watering funnel for a large tomato plant. Fill this with water and it will slowly drain out, keeping the plant happy. When the weather cools down, slack off on the watering. You do not want a soggy plant.

" Jackie

Canning fruit juices

We want to can fruit juices. Could you please give us a procedure for this. Is pasteurization or sterilization necessary?

Dr. L.A Ukwuoma
dr_ukwuoma@yahoo.com

Fruit juice is very easy to home can and it is very rewarding, as it tastes so much better than store bought juices, which are usually diluted and made from less than wonderful fresh fruit. And you know there are no chemicals included in your beverage.

As fruit juice is high acid, it is able to be water bath canned. As high temperatures tend to spoil the pure taste of fresh fruit juice, try to keep your juices from a hard boil, using a simmer instead to extract the juice and also to can it. The process varies from fruit to fruit, and you can check a recent canning manual for exact directions. Here are a few common ones.

Apple juice:

To make apple juice, first you must extract the juice from apples. This is easiest done with an apple grinder, which is also used commonly when making cider. The apples are ground to a pulp, then pressed by using weight to press the juice out of a bag of apple pulp. This weight is usually a screw-down type follower that presses down on the pulp held in a slatted wooden cylinder. Most people in apple country are at least familiar with pictures of them.

Once the juice has been pressed, you may want to strain it for clarity. Then pour the juice into sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch of head space. Process in a 185° F hot water bath for 30 minutes.

Berry and currant juice:

Extract juice and add sugar, if desired, to taste. Heat to simmer and pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Process in a 190° F hot water bath for 30 minutes.

Grape juice:

Extract juice. Add sugar if desired and bring to a simmer. Pour hot juice into hot sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch of head space. Process in a 190° F hot water bath for 30 minutes.

Cherry juice:

Sour cherries make the best juice. If using sweet cherries, add some sour cherries for better flavor. Add sugar to taste. Heat juice and pour into sterilized jars and process in a 185° F hot water bath for 30 minutes.

I hope this will cover the juices you plan on canning.

" Jackie

Home canning sausage

I would like to know if I can home can frozen sausage patties bought from the store. If so, how do we do this. I have read that sage may make the homemade sausage patties bitter. The frozen patties I am asking about do have some sage in them. I would like to can them though because of freezer space. I can get a couple hundred frozen uncooked sausage patties really reasonable.

Wanda
Ohio

I doubt that the small amount of sage in frozen sausage patties will make them bitter. I always go light on the seasonings when canning seasoned sauces and meats, as the canning and storage does intensify the spices. Your best bet is to can a pint or two of the brand of sausage patties you like and open them a while later and see how they turned out. When I can my sausage patties, I lightly fry them up. This shrinks them in size and also makes them taste better on opening the jar.

" Jackie

Canning problems

I have canned pickles and during the water bath process the lids pop up ¾ of the way through the boiling process. I gradually bring the water up to temp and let the jars simmer for 10 minutes. The seal usually seals tightly, but on occasion the seal does not happen. What can I do? I am getting ready to can corn. Can you help me with this?

John Small
JohnS@Pacific-Cornetta.com

The best way to insure a good seal while water bath canning is to use hot foods, in hot jars, placed in a very hot water bath canner full of water, then bring the whole shebang up to a rolling boil quickly. Time the processing, then immediately remove the jars to a dry, draft-free place, leaving several inches between the jars so they cool down relatively quickly.

When you can corn, you must use a pressure canner because corn and other vegetables are low acid and must be pressure canned for safety. When you remove your jars from the canner, again be sure they have some room around each jar and I’m quite certain you’ll have good seals. (Be sure to wipe the rims of the jars clean. It only takes a tiny amount of food on the rim to cause a seal to fail.) I’m sure you’re following your canning book’s directions to the T, as well.

" Jackie

Canning with noodles

I have an excess of eggs and chicken right now. I could just can the chicken and dry the noodles, but what is the way to can it together…cook noodles first, or put in jar and let the pressure canning do the cooking?

Caroline Graham
cfgraham@starpower.net

Make your chicken soup, then add one or two handsful of dry noodles to each quart jar. If you cook the noodles first, you’ll end up with mush instead of chicken and noodle soup. Be a little careful when adding your favorite spices to the soup. Salt is fine, but be light in adding the others as canning intensifies the taste of spices. You might want to add more on reheating, before you eat it.

" Jackie

Soupy peach jam

I canned up 12 jars of peach jam last night and they are all soupy. What would cause this?

Victoria
midtngal@yahoo.com

Well, Victoria, it could be the phases of the moon or the will of demons, but probably you simply goofed in your recipe. I do it often enough to be embarrassed. Not too severely, though. I just use it for syrup. Causes? Not measuring correctly, not cooking the jam down enough, not following directions to a T, adding too much water to begin cooking down the jam. Possible faulty pectin, if you used it. But probably not. Take heart. Your very next batch will probably turn out perfectly because you’ll really follow directions this time. It works for me for a few dozen times, then someone calls on the phone or the stock gets out during my jelly and jam making and I screw up again. But one thing’s sure"the syrupy jam and jelly sure does taste great.

" Jackie

Whole wheat bread

I want to cook bread with whole wheat flour. I have the recipe, it should be cooked 1 hour. Can you tell me what kind of tray I have to use.

Gadar Meneshian
gmeneshian@sympatico.ca

You have complete freedom in the type of pan you use when making whole wheat breads. Most people are most familiar with bread baked in rectangular bread pans, which are about four inches by eight inches and four inches deep. But I also bake my breads as braids, round loaves, and other shapes on a lightly greased cookie sheet. You can also use the same recipe to make whole wheat rolls, using either a muffin pan for individual rolls, or make golf ball sized lumps and fit them side by side in a greased 8″x8″ cake pan.

And after baking your creation, you can rub butter on the top, then sprinkle rolled oats, sesame, poppy, or sunflower seeds, or even chopped nuts. We like hazelnuts gathered wild on the edges of our woods.

After sprinkling the tops, slip the bread back into the oven for five minutes more for a wonderful toasted taste with a nice, glossy, soft top.

" Jackie

Walnut thieves

We bought this 30-acre place seven years ago. It was covered with blackberries and brush. We could see the tops of some English walnut trees. We cleared the blackberries and brush and found five walnut trees. We were so excited. We could see the trees were going to bear a lot of nuts. When it came time to harvest, the ground was covered with perfect empty half shells. It has been this way every year. What would be taking our entire crop and what can we do to prevent it? We have not observed birds or squirrels eating them.

Wilma Angellford
Sheridan, OR

Your letter comes at just the right time. We have just lost our wild hazelnut crop too, just as you did, but we didn’t even have shells to harvest. But we did get a glimpse of the bandits. I was answering nature’s call early, early one morning, and heard a loud rustle in a small grove of nuts near our biff (outhouse). The tops were shaking violently, and I thought, “Bear!” Not really. Out jumped a red pine squirrel with two hazelnuts in his mouth. Off he went, and in a few minutes he repeated the procedure.

We’ve been busy, and have not monitored our crop as we usually do. In the past, we’ve had a 300-foot hedge of hazelnuts wiped out in a day’s time, and never seen a squirrel. Gray squirrels and even petite flying squirrels also are expert nut thieves.

What we’ve done is to carefully watch those ripening nuts until just before they’re totally ripe. Then quickly gather them all and spread them out in a warm, dry spot to finish ripening and to dry. They must be in a single layer to avoid molding. This foils the squirrels. In drastic cases, you may have to trim low branches and wrap a sheet of tin around the trunk to keep the buggers from climbing into the tree. Remember they can climb up nearby trees and jump across the top branches too, so you may have to either cut or wrap the trunks of those trees also.

But the first good harvest of nuts is certainly worth the work. By the way, one way we’ve used to save a harvest in a few days is to dump a can of sunflower seeds out every day along the same area to attract the squirrels away from the nuts. One 25-pound bag bought us a great crop of nuts when we didn’t have time to do anything else. Most wildlife is like humankind: opportunistic. It’s quicker and easier to grab the sunflower seeds than climb about for nuts.

" Jackie

Growing grains

I had a realization this morning that precipitated this letter. As far back as I can remember I’ve heard that bread (wheat) is the staff of life. I think we all assume that wheat and/or flour will always be available cheaply. I know that it must not be too difficult to grow and harvest, since man has been doing it for thousands of years. When do you plant it and harvest it? How much land does it take to harvest say 100 lbs? Are there simple ways to do it all by hand? How about other grains, such as barley?

Jerry Odom
Kingston, AR

Grain is as easy as grass to grow. If you’ve ever planted a lawn (without all the chemical fuss), you can plant grain. Wheat is truly the staff of life and we’ll talk about wheat. But other grain is equally easy to do.

Deciding just how much land you will need to cultivate to harvest 100 pounds is a bit tricky. How good is your soil? How much rain or irrigation is available? What variety of wheat are you planting? I would start with roughly a spot 10 feet wide by 50 feet long. This most folks can handle easily. Till the ground up and kill off as many weeds as you can the fall before you will plant it if you can. Then in the spring, till the land again. If it is possible, work in some well rotted manure during the fall tilling.

Early in the spring, rake the tilled patch smooth and hand-broadcast your wheat across the ground lightly. You do not want it too close; the seeds should be about two inches apart each way, but of course this is not possible, but it will give you something to strive for. You can also use whirly hand spreaders to broadcast the wheat. Be sure you are planting a good hard spring wheat.

After the patch has been planted, again till it, only this time only till the ground to a depth of an inch or less. Then water the patch well to set the seed into the soil. Keep the patch watered, but not soggy. The wheat will germinate in about seven to ten days and look like coarse lawn grass.

In a few months the wheat will head out and then begin to turn color as it ripens. When harvesting it by hand, you want it ripe, but not so ripe that it shatters when you cut and handle it. You can pick out a few kernels of wheat and stick your thumbnail into them. If it goes in fairly easily and the kernel weeps “milk” it is too green. When the wheat straw is golden and the kernels are quite hard it is ready to cut. You can cut it by using an old fashioned scythe “grim reaper” style, a large knife or even a string trimmer. Then gather the wheat up gently and make bundles as big around as you can reach with two hands, then tie them around the “waist” with a few other stems of wheat. Stack these, tipi fashioned, with the grain up. Work gently, so as not to shatter the grain out of the husks. Top your sheaves with a little “hat” of another bundle to protect them from rain and dew.

Let them stay in the field until very dry. Then on a warm, dry day, thrash your grain from the straw. With so small a patch, we’ve used a clean children’s blue hard plastic wading pool or even a tarp on the ground to contain our harvested grain.

Simply carry the sheaves gently to the makeshift thrashing floor, a few at a time, and rap the grain heads with a clean baseball bat or even tread on them with clean tennis shoes to loosen the grain. Pick out the straw that is left over and stack it for mulch or animal bedding. You will be amazed at the golden grain left lying at your feet. Repeat the process until all the grain is harvested.

Make sure the grain is very dry. You shouldn’t be able to push your thumbnail into the wheat without extreme force. If it is correctly dry, you can bag it and store it in a dry, rodent and insect-free place. If it seems a little green, let it lay out in the sun, in a shallow layer, until dry. Stir it a little a few times to prevent heating.

There you go. You now have about 50-pounds of perfect wheat. Next year you can double your patch or even triple it when you discover how great your own grain tastes.

" Jackie

Canning coffee drinks

My question is about canning coffee drinks. You know the really expensive ones that you pick up while you’re out and about in town? I’d like to make some up in pint jars so I could pull one out of the refrigerator to take with me. I like my coffee with cream or milk. That’s what leads to the question. Would I can it like I would milk?

Kimberly Marsh
samkim@mfire.com

Boy, Kim, you’ve got me there. Bob and I hate coffee. No, we’re not weirdos or purists; we just don’t like the stuff. How ‘bout it fellow canners? Anyone out there home can coffee drinks? If so, please write so Kimberly can join you in enjoying her favorite beverage.

" Jackie







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