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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



Jackie Clay

Another video and lots of questions

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Jackie, It is so good to see you on youtube. I have been a subscriber to BHM for a year or so, but have been buying them off of the shelf for several years. I love it so much I bought the Whole Sheebang. I just want you to know how much I enjoy reading your articles. I often sit in my deerstand and log onto the internet via my cell phone and read your articles on the BHM website. It truly amazes me how you guys have so much in common with me and my family. I also thought that you would like to know that I use some of your ideas on being prepared for an emergency. I am the Emergency Management Director for Greene County Mississippi, and I often implement some of your preparedness recommendations in my hurricane preparedness articles. My wife and I have discovered the world of canning meat, and we are loving it, thanks to you. I feel that my family as well as my friends and fellow county residents will be better prepared for the next disaster thanks to great people like you and the rest of the gang at BHM.God Bless.

Trent Robertson
Leakesville, Mississippi

It’s always great to hear from readers who read and use my tips. Disasters are not SO horrible when you are prepared and have “creature comforts” to sustain you during the duration. And when one person helps another and on down the line, we’ll all be better off. — Jackie

Readers’ Questions:

Light for brooding chickens

I have seen instructions for brooding chickens with a 250 watt red bulb for heat. Then they said to only have 15 watt light at night or reduce lighting period each week. How can I reduce light while maintaining heat with 250 watt bulb? When heating with a light, then heat equals light. What am I missing?

BTW, I saw a post to you from a person in Texas asking about Aquaponics. I have an aquaponics system at my homestead and have written three articles on this subject for Aquaponics Journal. I am also a member of www.backyardaqauponics.com forum. Any interest in my doing articles on Aqauponics for BHM? You can give my e-mail address to the person in Texas, if you wish. Aquaponics has a lot to offer homesteaders. Fresh fish and vegetables with low water use and lots of environmental control. I am an electrical engineer specializing in automation and control, so I have setup my system to run for a week while I am away.

Douglas Basberg
Clarkston, Michigan

First of all, Doug, let me apologize for taking so long to answer your e-mail. When new e-mails come in, once in awhile, they pop up in previous spots that are long gone. I just happened to be deleting some old blog questions and found yours! Eeeek. Sorry. No, you didn’t miss something. Of course when you brood with a 250 watt light bulb, there will be light as long as the bulb is lit. The only time I used additional light was when I used my old homemade kerosene brooder. It provided no light so I had to keep another lamp or a candle lit on the nearby table to keep the chicks from piling and smothering each other at night.

Thanks for offering your e-mail address to the reader who was interested in aquaponics. I think it IS very interesting and I’m sure Dave would be interested in seeing an article on it for BHM. — Jackie

Canning pumpkin

I was given 20 big pumpkins and I wanted to make pumpkin butter and can it. Also wanted to can pumpkin after I cooked it in the oven and scooped it out. Now I’m reading its not safe to can. Can I pressure can it and how long at what pressure? Your a great inspiration and I admire you.

Sharon Beck
Sikeston, Missouri

The experts now tell us that it’s not safe to can pumpkin and squash puree because it’s a dense product and some folks were pureeing it, then letting it cool down before packing it. Because it was dense, it sometimes did not heat to an adequate temperature for long enough. I have canned pumpkin and squash puree for years, but I am very, very careful to have it simmering when I pack it into hot jars, then quickly get it into a hot canner so it never cools down. It is processed at 10 pounds pressure (unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet and must adjust your pressure to suit your altitude; consult your canning manual for directions) for 90 minutes for quarts and 65 minutes for pints. Instead, you might consider cubing the pumpkin and canning it that way, mashing it when you want to make a pie, etc. Cube it in 1″ cubes, then heat till boiling in water to cover. Pack the cubes to within 1/2″ of the top of the jars, then pour the boiling liquid that they were heated in to within 1/2″ of the top of the jar and process as above. You might also try drying pumpkin slices. I do this a lot and the slices are easy to rehydrate and they can even be ground as flour to add to soups, stews and even multi-grain breads. — Jackie

Canning blueberries

I became the proud owner of 10 lbs. of blueberries, I want to can some of these for use as pie filling. The recipe I have for doing this calls for Clear-jel. I cannot find this in any of the stores in my area. Can I use corn starch instead of this? Also do I use the same amount?

Pete Ricupero
Shelocta, Pennsylvania

ClearJel is a cornstarch based product that has been formulated so that it doesn’t thicken so as to inhibit the heat from penetrating the thicker product you are canning. Therefore it is not recommended that you substitute regular cornstarch. I found several sources of ClearJel. If you can’t get it to you before your berries need to be canned up, you could either freeze them or can them in a medium syrup and then make your pies using cornstarch to thicken them, as you wish. — Jackie

Garlic juice

Do you have a recipe for making garlic juice? We use a lot of garlic, but would like to know about garlic juice. We understand that it’s the only way to make a really tasty garlic bread.

Paul Harris
Chalfant Valley, California

To tell the truth, I’ve never made garlic juice. I crush the cloves of garlic, which really brings out the flavor. Not chop, not slice, mash. This is then mixed with butter well, and spread over the bread. Everyone who tries it thinks it is the best. I hope you like it too. — Jackie

Canned bread

A whole lott’a years ago, I remember eating my grandmothers’ canned breads, biscuits and cakes. They were great treats. I think they were “hold-overs” from the Great Depression. Anyhow, “Grandmothers” are now gone, along with their recipes. Would you know of any recipes, OR better yet, anyone out there whom might know of or have some of these recipes?

Paul Harris
Chalfant Valley, California

I was one of those grandmothers and made canned cakes and sweet breads for years. Now the experts tell us that it is possible for botulism to develop in those jars of cake/bread. So I can’t recommend it anymore. Sorry. — Jackie

Persimmon trees

I found 3 persimmon trees on the property and just made my wife some cookies. Since I am sharing the persimmons with the wildlife, can I use the seeds to grow starters during the winter? What is the best way to expand my persimmon tree population?

Ron Rogers
Centerview, Missouri

Take the seeds out of your persimmon, then dry them. Place them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag and keep over winter. In the spring, plant them where you want them to grow or else in pots in a protected location. Once they have grown nicely, you can transplant them to their permanent place. Plant at least two in an area, as they will pollinate each other, making a larger yearly crop. — Jackie

Canning meat and beans

I was wondering about canning a recipe I have. It calls for 2 lbs cooked ground beef and 1/2 lb cooked bacon, then butter beans, light red kidney beans, and pork n beans, combined with ketchup and spices. I will be using beans from the grocery so they will be processed already. I was wondering about canning length. Should I go with the time for the hamburger or beans?

Jamie Mastey
Bonduel, Wisconsin

ALWAYS process a recipe for the food requiring the longest processing time, in this case, the meat. Pints are processed at 10 pounds pressure (unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet and must adjust your pressure to suit your altitude; consult your canning manual for directions, if necessary) for 75 minutes for pints or 90 minutes for quarts. Likewise, if you are canning a tomato based recipe, including meat, you would also pressure can it for the same length of time, even though that tomatoes alone can be water bath canned. — Jackie

Canning sausages

Thanks for you help in the past, I have another canning question for you. I have a local butcher shop that makes excellent pork sausages, in a bunch of different flavors, the sausages are quite large about one and one half inches in diameter and about 7 inches long. To cook them I poach them in water and then finish them off in a frying pan. I would like to be able to can them if possible, two to a jar to prevent leftovers. What do you think? Can I just poach them and then process them or are sausages more complicated than that? I read your piece in issue 90 about canning sausages patties but I am concerned about the size of these sausages. By the way I just finished up my second batches of canned butter and canned cheddar cheese, I know it is experimental but it worked like a charm. I would not have gotten into canning if it were not for your articles.

Kevin Dixon
Toronto, Canada

I really think I’d skip these, Kevin. They are kind of large; i.e. dense and you might have a problem getting them to heat thoroughly enough to the center of the meat. Spiced sausages and other meat can also be a problem, as some spices can intensify or change taste in the canning. One common case in point is sage. When canned, it sometimes gets bitter. I can up sausage patties that are pretty much basic-seasoned; salt and pepper, with a little red pepper. Then when I heat them to use, I lightly dust them with whatever other seasonings I want, including sage. This works very well.
No yucky sausages for me! — Jackie

Cranberry relish

I make a cranberry relish where I chop 2# whole cranberries, add 3-4 ground up oranges and sugar to taste. I canned my 1st batch last year using a hot water bath in jelly jars for 20 minutes. They have been stored correctly, the seals are beautiful but they look awful! (kind of a very faded dull reddish) Since it is such an acidic food to begin with, I can’t see a problem eating it. What are your thoughts? Is it normal for cranberry relish to change color? What did I do wrong? I want to try again this year, but hate to waste anything. I make it in small jars as there are only 2 of us.

Mary Byrne
Gassaway, West Virginia

I’ve never canned cranberry relish; I usually make it and serve it refrigerated. But from my experience with other types of fruit relishes/conserves, I’ve found that they often are a darker color, too. For instance, rhubarb conserve is that dark reddish brown you describe. If the seals are okay, the food smells fine and tastes good, don’t worry about it. — Jackie

Chicken sausage

I have a bunch of chicken and I’d like to make some sausage with it. I can find plenty of recipes calling for chicken sausage, but no luck finding any recipes on making the sausage itself. Then I thought, “Jackie will know!” Would you mind sharing your favorite recipe for making chicken sausage?

Bob Bader
Rockwood, Maine

Boy did you stump ME! I had to type “making chicken sausage” into my browser. And I was surprised at all the information. Why don’t you try it and choose one you’d like to try. If I get the time, I might just pick out a couple too. — Jackie

Saving root vegetable seeds

My mother and I just purchased a large variety of heirloom seeds. We already save seeds from the easy stuff, but we’d like to save seeds for everything we grow. How do you save seeds from root veggies like carrots?

Sara Maria
Freeburg, Illinois

A lot of root crops can be encouraged to set seed by leaving them in the ground over winter, depending on the climate. Here in northern Minnesota, I can toss a good layer of straw over my seed carrots and they’ll live over winter and go on to make seeds the next season. If that won’t work, you can pack your seed roots in a 5 gallon bucket of damp sand and keep that in the colder corner of your basement or root cellar if you have one. Then in the spring plant them as you would any other plant and wait till fall to harvest the seed. Be advised that carrots grow all gangly and huge their second year, looking like Queen Ann’s lace and the “carrot” also gets un-carrot like, getting hairy, sprawling and ugly. But it does make seed that is good to plant. Likewise for parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, etc. Good seed saving! — Jackie

Calculating liquid for canning

This weekend I canned 14 quarts of potatoes and 7 quarts of meatballs. How do you calculate how much liquid you will need if you are using something other than water? For the meatballs, I used 1 jar spaghetti sauce with 2 1/2 jars water which came out close enough. Used the rest for meatballs for dinner.

Julia Crow
Gardnerville, Nevada

I confess; I pretty much guess. But you’ll find that after years of canning, your guesses will come closer and closer to being right. I usually have a standby quart or two of, say, tomato sauce, ready, just in case I’m coming up short. I can heat it quickly and use that to finish up the last jars, if necessary. All the flavors of meatballs don’t have to be the same in one canner batch. I’ve canned “cream of mushroom” meatballs along with jars of tomato sauce meatballs. They are all processed for the same time. — Jackie

Salt brining eggs

My father used to tell me how gramma saved eggs during the depression. He said gram just kept them in a salt water brine. The brine had to be thick enough to ‘float’ the egg, where ever you placed it. He said that the eggs would keep for up to a year, only the yolks would break. I have searched every where and haven’t found anything regarding this method of egg storage. Have you heard or do you know of a way to store eggs without canning or refrigeration?

Brenda Lee Shelt
Kalispell, Montana

I think your father’s gram probably kept her eggs in a waterglass solution. My grandmother did; it was a popular way of preserving eggs then. Yes, it will keep eggs quite well. But I really hate it; reaching in that snotty, cold solution, in a crock in the basement is not conducive to visions of great meals! I’ve found that good, fresh unwashed eggs will keep quite well with no treatment, when placed in a cold (not freezing) place for the winter, when the hens may not be laying. I’ve kept eggs from December to March or April this way. The whites get a little watery and the yolks will break more easily, but if you break all eggs in a cup before you use them, you’ll be sure to spot any that have gone bad. Another way that some folks have preserved eggs for over winter is to carefully coat them with Vaseline and store in a dark, cool place. — Jackie

Starting over

We have been trying to find a property we can afford to buy with little or no financing. Currently we’re looking at a partly finished house on land that the builder is selling as is. We think we’d need to get it to the point where it is legal to live in it and then finish it “pay as you go.”

If you were starting up again in a situation like that, what is the one thing you’d do different? Or is there something you would want to have that you maybe didn’t think of last time?

Mary Thompson
Charlotte, North Carolina

Regarding our move and building the homestead, really I would have done nothing different. Other than losing my husband, Bob, the bout with cancer, etc. I totally loved the adventure of building the way we did. Of course, there WERE down days! Hey, I’m human! Like the day it rained cats and dogs before we had shingles on our roof; only a worn tarp. We had 2″ of water on our kitchen floor! But you get bad days no matter where you’re living or what you’re doing. Now I can look back and see just how far we’ve come. And boy do I appreciate every single day! Go for it! — Jackie

Canning pumpkin and squash

My question Jackie, is on purees of pumpkin and butternut. I usually stem up my pumpkin and then puree it and freeze it to make my pumpkin pies and use in bread etc. Is it possible to can this instead of freeze? I make a butternut squash soup that uses cooked butternut,1 to 2 potatoes, chicken broth, butter, onions and cream (all is pureed smooth and served). I would like to can this soup as well if possible. I do know that I would have to leave out the cream, I guess I would add it before serving. I also would love a canning recipe for tomato soup if you have one.

Jennifer Joyner
St. Mary’s, Georgia

You would need to process your soup for 90 minutes (quarts) at 10 pounds pressure (unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet and must adjust your pressure to suit your altitude, if necessary. Consult your canning manual.) You’re right, you probably should leave out the cream, as it kind of curdles on canning. I haven’t found a good tomato soup recipe for canning, for the same reason. I just can the tomato puree, then make a white sauce and stir in the tomato puree when I want cream of tomato soup. It works just fine and only takes a very few minutes. — Jackie

3 Responses to “Another video and lots of questions”

  1. Nancy Says:

    I froze some pumpkin with the spices in for pumpkin pie several years ago and while it was very good it was stringy. How do I get it smooth like comes out of the can and still taste homemade? And because I do not like to use the freezer for much, if I can it in chunks, again, how do you get the strings out of it and smooth with out the bubbles left by a blender? I tried that also. Lots of bubbles…

  2. jackie clay Says:

    Nancy,

    When you can pumpkin or squash in chunks, just drain it and press it through a sieve or a food mill. The puree is nice and smooth with no strings or bubbles. I use my Victorio tomato strainer that I use to make tomato puree. Works great.

    Jackie

  3. Miss Iris Says:

    Loved this video. Jackie, you really live in THE WOODS! Beautiful. Lady Hawk looks like a princess trotting around. Stay warm!

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