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Ask Jackie headline


Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post. Please note that Jackie does not respond to questions posted as Comments. Click Below to ask Jackie a question.

Click here to ask Jackie a question!
Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
on any aspect of low-tech, self-reliant living.

Read the old Ask Jackie Online columns
Read Ask Jackie print columns



Heirloom Seeds now available

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 by Jackie Clay | 9 Comments »
JACKIE AND WILL’S 2014 SEEDS
The list of seeds we have for sale this year is ready.We only listed seeds that we grow and love. Some of them are very rare and thus in short supply. When we’re out, we’re out; we can either refund your money or put you on the list for your seeds to come late this fall after harvest to plant next year. All are naturally grown with NO GMOs! They are also all heirloom, open pollinated seeds so you can save your own seeds.

Click Here to download the list of available seeds and ordering instructions. (PDF) ~Jackie

It’s rainy, cloudy, and nasty

Friday, October 31st, 2014 by Jackie Clay | 2 Comments »

We had snow last night but it didn’t stick. Thank goodness! We still have a lot to get done before serious snow hits. We have gotten more firewood in and stacked and Will got the big pile of small popple from the goat pasture all cut up and that’s ready to come in when it dries out. (We don’t like to stack wet wood because it doesn’t ever seem to dry out well.)

But the drive bearing went out on Old Yeller, our 1010 John Deere dozer, and we spent a good part of yesterday driving to get parts and seals. So much for canning carrots! Then today after I’d gone to town to mail seeds to folks who had ordered them, Will called. Oh oh. Another trip 23 miles to the town of Virginia for another seal. As I was already “out,” I drove on to Motion Industries and got his seal. I’ll pull those carrots today anyway. I remember this time of year about two years ago when I went out to pull late carrots and found that the deer had gotten in and eaten them all. (I forgot and left a gate open…) Don’t want a repeat of that!

Turkeys

Our big turkeys, Christmas and Thanksgiving, are strutting like mad. I guess they don’t realize their time is coming. I sure hate to butcher, but I DO like to eat good food that came from animals who lived a happy life without chemicals and hormones added.

Hopi-seeds

I’m still busy pulling seeds out of squash and pumpkins to dry. We had a slight setback: two of our cows got out and helped themselves to our pumpkin pile! But there’s still a lot left so get busy Jackie. — Jackie

Q and A: canning times, removing pulp from persimmons, and straightening canners

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 by Jackie Clay | 3 Comments »

Canning times

I know a person that got an All American canner (I am wanting to get one). She said that the instruction book listed times that were about TWICE (or more!) of the Ball Blue Book (or you!) recommend. She said that she had talked with the folks at AA (All American) and that they said that the times were correct for the canner. Have you ever heard of such? I know you have an AA canner and that you use it regularly.

Tami
Texas

The instruction book that came with my canner has the same times as the Blue Book and I’ve used that for years so I’m not sure what your friend found. Get one! You’ll not be sorry! — Jackie

Removing pulp from persimmons

How do you remove pulp from wild persimmon seeds? Mine are falling now and I need to start using them.

Marcelle Bethany
Tupelo, Mississippi

What I’ve done is to cut them in half and rub the insides against the screen of a sieve. The seeds and skin stay inside and the pulp ends up in a bowl. — Jackie

Straightening canners

My son has straightened the bottoms of the Mirro canners over the years. By using a chunk of 2×4 and a heavy hammer they flatten right back to original. I am surprised you haven’t thought of this. They keep right on working and I wouldn’t trade my Mirro canners for the world.

Kay

Duh! Why didn’t I think of that? Of course that would work. Thanks for the tip, Kay. — Jackie

Q and A: Leaving Montana and garlic and onions

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 by Jackie Clay | 3 Comments »

Leaving Montana

I’m responding to your last entry in your blog regarding your trip to Montana. Sounded like you really loved Montana. Just curious why you left? I would have to agree with you it is a beautiful state.

Melody
Olympia, Washington

I really, really LOVE Montana. But we left because land prices have gotten so high that we couldn’t afford to homestead on the scale we wanted to. Land is so much more affordable here in Minnesota and you can buy 40, 100, 120 acres of wild land here where the only wild land in such acreages are in remote “subdivisions” where you will have neighbors … and not always the best of neighbors. Here, we have 120 acres that we could afford and winged and four-footed neighbors. — Jackie

Garlic and onions

We are interested in onions and garlic and would like to see an article of in-depth information for dummies. Last year we planted garlic toes in late October. They sent leaves up and when the freeze came they died.

Jim G.
Mount Vernon, Ohio

I’ll be happy to do an article on onions and garlic. They’re really easy if you do it right. Therein lies the key, as with many “difficult” garden crops such as carrots and parsnips. Planting in the fall is necessary for good garlic but, as you found out, planting too late doesn’t let the cloves send out strong roots and get established before freezing weather. — Jackie

We actually got some Glass Gem corn

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 by Jackie Clay | 11 Comments »

Glass-gem-corn

After a long summer of touch and go, I discovered yesterday that we actually had some mature Glass Gem popcorn! Some friends stopped by and we were giving the “tour” of our gardens and while in the berry patch, I browsed through some brown stalks of Glass Gem corn with the ears still on. Surprise! I got color. Wow! We didn’t think it had made it but obviously it went on and ripened after the first frosts nipped the plants. Tomorrow I’ll go out and pick all that I can find. But the ears I did find in just a few minutes were simply gorgeous with brilliant, unusual colors on four- to six-inch cobs. We may not have enough to sell next year but at least we can replant with the seed we save and know it’ll make a crop here even though it’s a long-season corn (about 110 days).

Patty-pans

Will laid the last of the rock on the new barn foundation yesterday and today he spent hours pulling the tomato cages and stakes in the garden while I spent hours on the phone at the nursing home where Javid is, talking and waiting to talk to a Social Security representative as he is on SSI and needs to get his information changed over from Montana to Minnesota. Why is it that all government agencies make everything so complicated and HARD? Wow, a study in frustration, for sure.

Hopefully, tomorrow I can start canning carrots. They’re so big and juicy they just beg to go in jars! In fact, if you just toss them in a bucket, they split down the side they’re so crisp. Mmmmm. — Jackie

Q and A: Re-canning hominy and turnip greens

Friday, October 24th, 2014 by Jackie Clay | No Comments »

Re-canning hominy

I have 1-gallon cans of white hominy, can I re can them in jars?

Fred Spires
Moody, Missouri

Yes, you can. I’ve often done just that as #10 cans of hominy are very cheap. Just can it as if it were fresh, using the same times. That would be 60 minutes for pints and 70 minutes for quarts. It re-cans up just fine. — Jackie

Turnip greens

What is the processing time for canning turnip greens in a water bath? I know it’s not recommended but my grandmother did it without losing a jar. But my mother has passed and I can’t ask her.

Anonymous

Many grandmothers canned low-acid foods — even meat, in a boiling water bath canner. But that just isn’t safe. It isn’t even a thing I’d consider as it’s VERY dangerous. Please invest in a pressure canner or borrow one from a friend. It is extremely easy to pressure can and your greens will be safe to eat. — Jackie

Getting back to “normal” after my trip

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 by Jackie Clay | 11 Comments »

My head’s kind of spinning after our road trip to Montana. But I have to laugh. Most people pick up souvenirs like mugs or plates from their trips. I brought home a flat rock for Will and two 50-pound sacks of wheat from Wheat Montana, my favorite company that grows and sells wheat. Their deli/store is at the Three Forks, Montana exit off of the freeway and what a huge, awesome place it is! Not only do they sell wheat and other grains, flours, and cereal, but they also have a wonderful deli where they sell sandwiches, sweet rolls (the size of Texas!), and cookies as well as a huge variety of on-site-baked breads featuring their grain. Wow, I’m impressed!

Wheat

Meanwhile, it’s back to seed saving. I checked out the Hopi Pale Grey squash seeds I harvested the day before I left. They’re drying very nicely but those huge, fat seeds need quite a long drying time, indeed.

Racing-winter

Will’s still working hard on getting the concrete/rock work done on the new barn. We know cold weather’s fast approaching and soon it will be too cold to do this work. Today it’s cloudy, windy, and pretty darned nippy out. Brrrr… Welcome home? — Jackie

Q and A: canned applesauce turned brown and canning greens

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 by Jackie Clay | No Comments »

Canned applesauce turned brown

I am stumped! Canned Applesauce, like I have done for years, on Sunday, October 12, 124 quarts! Had to be out of state till October 19, one week. Today I am taking off the rings and washing the jars to put in the cellar. About half of the jars have darkened about a quarter of the way down from the top. The jars are sealed! The taste is the same. We used the same kind of apples from the same orchard. What could be causing this darkness to grow down the sauce? I pressured all jars the same as always, 5 lbs for 10 minutes. What could be wrong?

Debbie Kinzer
Salem, South Carolina

Often darkening is caused from air bubbles being trapped in the applesauce. This would be my best guess. Often when we get in a hurry, we skip the “remove air bubbles” step, figuring we don’t see any so what the heck. I wouldn’t worry about this but next time, remove air bubbles with a chopstick or wooden spoon handle. It happens more often in quarts than pints. — Jackie

Canning greens

This is a two part question. You have touched on the first part on answers to others but I am going to re-phrase it again as it might be part of the second question. We grew a great crop of greens this year (no aphids) so I thought I would can about a dozen quarts. It had been quite a few years since I had canned greens so I was very careful with my process (as usual). I waited till the steam cleared (about 5+ min) before placing the weight on the pot (10lb.) I waited till the weight started jiggling, then slowly turned down the heat till it was jiggling every 5 sec or so. Then removed the top after the pressure had neutralized. The greens were wet but there was very little water in the jars. I processed the jars for 1 hour and 30 minutes. I don’t remember that much water being blown out of the jars. Second question. We use an old Mirro canner. 30 years I guess. So old the bottom is no longer flat. It has never let us down. Don’t love the idea of spending the money but I will buy the All American you suggest if you think the old Mirro has just worn out. It has a new gasket.

Duncan Murrow
Valdese, North Carolina

Two common reasons you lose liquid out of jars are: the pressure varied during the processing and there were air bubbles in the liquid, trapped before putting the lids on the jars. Do be sure that steam vents strongly (a steady stream of steam) for 5-10 minutes before putting the weight on. It will vent faster when very hot food has been packed rather than say raw corn with boiling water poured in the jars, which results in a lukewarm batch of jars to heat up.

If the bottom of your canner is pitted, it is usually fine. But if it’s gotten warped (usually from insufficient water having boiled dry during canning), it’s time to replace it. — Jackie

We’re back from our whirlwind trip to Montana

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 by Jackie Clay | 9 Comments »

My oldest son, Bill, and his family drove with me out to Montana to pick up my adopted son, Javid. We took their motor home and it was sure convenient to be able to sleep and eat in our motel on wheels! My grandkids, Mason and Ava, rode in their car seats, seatbelted on seats facing the table so they could snack and watch movies on a dvd player while bored. They were VERY good on the trip!

We drove all night to get to Montana and the trip took 24 hours. Whew. Luckily the seats were comfortable — no petrified butts! We stopped at the nursing home and arranged things and signed a bunch of papers then went out to eat. We camped at Canyon Ferry Lake Campground overnight which was a whole lot nicer than camping in the Walmart parking lot. Because I have a senior passport to National and State forest campgrounds, it only cost $5 and was well worth it. We had a great sleep then explored the beach in the morning and skipped rocks.

Ava

The next morning, we picked up our reserved U-Haul trailer in Helena then went to the building where Javid’s things were stored. Luckily we had lots of help loading and were done in less than half an hour. Again, we visited with Javid and loaded a few of his boxes from the nursing home. Then, to make the trip more fun for the kids and Kelly, we drove over Rattlesnake Pass to the frontage road along Prickly Pear Creek towards where we used to live, north of Wolf Creek. We stopped at a fishing access where I used to fish and Mason loved the old train trestle over the creek. Then we stopped at Wolf Creek for a little gas and on to another fishing access on the Missouri River where we watched fishing boats go down the river. (The upper Missouri is one of the premier trout destinations in the whole country and fisherfolk from all over come there to fish.) We ended up going up the very steep and long McDonald Pass out of Helena to a campground Bill had located. (I’d told him it was NOT my favorite pass and he agreed later after climbing it at 30 mph toward the top!) Beautiful campground though and we were the only ones up there.

Javid-Mason

The next morning, we got Javid carried into the camper on a blanket and made comfortable on the back bed and took off for Minnesota. By then Bill and I were really tired but we changed off driving and, with a two-hour nap at a truck stop, we made it back in 22 hours. No touristing on that end of the trip!

Montana

Javid is now temporarily installed in the Fitzgerald Nursing Home and Rehab, in Eveleth and we are moving forward. I have a ton of paperwork to fill out to start his medical assistance. But once approved, he will be able to move to an assisted living apartment and be another step closer to living on his own again. It’s been a long haul but we’re glad we’re making progress! And I’m SO glad to be back home again even though I sure do miss Montana! — Jackie

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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