While all the major writing has been done on the new Backwoods Home book on growing and canning your own food, I still had two photo shoots to do, showing the steps of both canning using the boiling water bath method and a pressure canner. So yesterday I canned up a batch of Pink Lady apples that Will bought me and today it was a nice big ham. And we got to eat a pie made from those great apples afterward, along with a ham dinner tonight. Gee how we suffer!!
The book was fun to write, but I’m honestly glad I’m done with my part. Sort of like being on deadline! Whew! Now I can get back to doing what I was writing about and helping Will on the addition.
I made soap recently and used Backwoods Home Magazine issue #84 the article by Grace Brockway titled “The joys of making soap” and used her basic lard soap recipe. This was my first time making soap and it didn’t set up. I let it set about 3 days and it was really runny and felt a little oily to the touch. I then went to the first anthology (the first two years) and found an article about soap making. It said to pour the soap back into my bath canner with water and heated it up until it gets real creamy looking. Then to poured it out into the mold again. And that is what I did. That time it did set up. But it is really soft even after two weeks or so. I can still cut it with a knife and on the inside it is real sticky. After it has been exposed to air it will form a soft shell so it is not sticky, but it is still soft. Is there something that I did wrong or could do differently?
Often when we are learning a new skill, we don’t get it right the first time. It takes practice. Soap is no exception. The trick is knowing when to pour the soap out into the mold. If you pour too soon, it will stay soft, like yours did; too long and it gets hard and brittle. You might reclaim the soap by once again heating it with minimal water, even if you have to chop or grate it. Then whip the tar out of it with a wooden spoon, while it heats. Pour it our into fresh molds and put them in a warmish place to set. (Not in a cold basement; cold sometimes prevents soap from setting up.)
I’m sure your next attempt will be less frustrating. — Jackie
Good laying chickens
Could you please tell me what type of chicken is a really good layer and setter I have Dominique and Buff Orpingtons. But they are to fat, sassy and busy to set, they are pets to me I love and enjoy them so much, but would like to have some that are good setters. Any suggestions?
Your chickens should be good setters, as the breeds are known for that. I’ve had Buff Orpington hens that would hatch a golf ball. How old are your hens? Young hens often don’t get the hang of sitting on eggs; it takes a little age. You can also try any of the Cochins; they are really good mamas. Good hatching! — Jackie
Rinsing grain and woodstove baking
You said not to buy wheat (or corn) from the feed store for food purposes because it is not cleaned well. Well, would it work to wash the grain, dry it well, and then use it?
I have a wood stove but not a wood cook stove–so no oven (darn). I am trying to figure out how to bake (like bread or cakes) on it. I have tried heating the pressure canner (dry) on it and putting the bread pans inside but that did not work very well. I have tried putting the bread pans on a rack on the stove covered by an inverted roasting pan but that did not work very well. Got any more ideas I could try?
I’m sure you could rinse your grain to rid it of bug parts, dust, etc. Just be sure it is very dry, inside and out (don’t soak it!) before storage, as it will mold if it is not.
Pick up a camping oven. They are basically a tin or aluminum box that you sit on top of your stove, with a rack in it to elevate your baking off the stove top’s heat. They work pretty well, but don’t bake a large loaf of bread. Usually you do rolls, biscuits, or small loaves in them. — Jackie
We are in the process of adding an addition onto our house for our handicap daughter and our master bedroom. What do you consider to be the best way to insulate the floor for the addition will be on concrete pillars and have a crawl space of about 10 inches. The builder wants to use regular insulation (the pink stuff) but I am concerned about moisture and little critters looking for a place to
What we did when we built our addition with a crawl space was to tack strips of 1″x2″ along the bottom sides of the floor joists and laying OSB down on them, sealing off the access to the fiberglass insulation to the “critters” who love it for nests. Because your crawl space is so low, you might consider using treated plywood in place of OSB because of the possible moisture issue. The fiberglass is added above the panels. — Jackie
I’ve been given a plastic jar of honey — perhaps 3/4 of a gallon — that my father harvested 40 years ago. I know honey lasts forever, but I’ve also heard that botulism grows on honey. I hate to process it by boiling it, but would prefer that to creating a health risk. How can I make sure my family is safe in eating it?
Roman and Kelly Balaban
I have no information regarding ADULTS or older children getting botulism from eating honey. The risk is for infants under the age of 12 months of age. If you have no infants in your family, I, personally, wouldn’t worry. I have some of my own honey that is over 15 years old and I am still using it. It tastes fine and we are all alive. — Jackie
Canning lemon juice
I was hoping you might be able to help me. I just received three big bags of lemons and was hoping you might have some ideas on how to preserve them. I read in your archives how to dry them (which I will try), but would also like to make and can them as lemonade? Is this
Glad to hear you scored on the lemons. You can juice them and can the lemon juice but I’m not so sure about the lemonade as you’re adding a lot of water which dilutes the acid in the lemonade. Why not juice the lemons, then can up the juice; it only takes a minute to make your fresh lemonade by adding the juice to water and then adding sugar to taste. To can the juice, heat the strained juice to 165 degrees; do not boil. Then ladle it into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ of headspace. Process the pints or quarts for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. (If you live at an altitude over 1,000′, consult your canning manual for directions on changing your processing time to suit your altitude, if necessary.) Enjoy your bounty! — Jackie