Top Navigation  
U.S. Flag waving
Office Hours Momday - Friday  8 am - 5 pm Pacific 1-800-835-2418
Facebook   YouTube   Twitter
 Home Page
 Current Issue
 Article Index
 Author Index
 Previous Issues

 Kindle Subscriptions
 Kindle Publications
 Back Issues
 Discount Books
 All Specials
 Classified Ad

 Web Site Ads
 Magazine Ads

 BHM Forum
 Contact Us/
 Change of Address

Forum / Chat
 Forum/Chat Info
 Lost Password
 Write For BHM

Link to BHM

Ask Jackie headline

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

Order from Amazon. Order from the publisher, save 10%, and get FREE shipping.

Archive for August, 2011

Jackie Clay

Q and A: Soaking deer meat, Storing water, and Eggplant

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Soaking deer meat

 I was reading in your first gardening and canning book last night and saw something I have to ask you about. When we are preparing to freeze our deer meat, we always soak it for a couple of days, changing out the water and ice often. Without doing that the meat tastes somewhat “gamey” to me and I really don’t like eating it. But when we soak it, it tastes great to me. In the book you said not to soak the meat before canning it. Can you please explain a little more about that? Does it have anything to do with canning it?

 Shirley Owens

Milton, Florida

 If you prefer to soak it, just be sure that it remains below 40 degrees. Sometimes meat that is soaked in warmer water can have bacteria begin to grow in it, which can affect the taste and safety of the meat. I’ve never soaked my venison, and never found it “gamey” tasting; as I don’t like that taste either! We just skin it while it is still warm, then cool it very quickly, quarter, and store in a refrigerator until I can it. No, soaking won’t affect canning it. — Jackie

Storing water

 I have been working for a few years now trying to get a good supply of food storage and have done quite well. Though all experts say you should do water first, I only recently purchased some 55 gallon barrels. We were wanting to hook them up to our gutters. The only problem is all recommendations said that you needed to drain over the winter. Any suggestions on how you could keep water in them all winter. I do live in North Alabama, but we still have some freezing weather.

 Cindy Adams

Florence, Alabama

 If you don’t have ice on ponds and other still water over much of the winter, you can just leave the water in the barrels. The problem with leaving water in barrels in climates that have freezing weather is that they will expand and burst, leaving cracks in them. Then in the spring, they won’t hold water. — Jackie


 … From your new cookbook I made the recipe for baked eggplant and it was very good but was wondering if the dark skin is edible. I have never eaten it because I didn’t know whether to or not. Also how do I preserve eggplant?

 Joan Toothman

New Carlisle, Indiana

 The skin is edible, but some folks choose not to eat it because of appearance or possible toughness if the eggplant was a little mature. You can home can eggplant. Here are the directions from my book, Growing and Canning Your Own Food: choose young, tender, non-bitter eggplant fruits. Rinse and peel, then slice, or cube, as you wish. You may salt slightly bitter eggplant by layering it in a colander and sprinkling on salt, more eggplant, more salt, etc. Let it stand for an hour, then press the eggplant to squeeze out the juice the salt has drawn, then rinse and drain well. Boil in fresh water for 5 minutes to heat thoroughly. Drain, reserving the liquid. Pack hot into hot jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Ladle hot liquid over eggplant, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles. Process pints for 30 minutes and quarts for 40 minutes at 10 pounds pressure, in a pressure canner. (If you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, consult your canning book for directions on increasing your pressure to suit your altitude, if necessary.) Tip: You can use tomato juice instead of water to boil your eggplant in, then pour it over the eggplant in the jars. This makes a very good recipe base and masks any bitterness of the eggplant. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We’ve been a little busy

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

First off, last Thursday, we had the Cook Area Garden Club out for a look-see at our homestead. Of course, I was a little nervous…most of these people had beautiful flower beds and weed-free smaller gardens. And, of course, we don’t! Food comes first around here, even though I love my flowers. And even in the garden and berry patch, we have plenty of weeds, but plenty of food, too!

 I waited to pick the ripe crops in the garden so the Club could see and taste different ones. The only problem with that is that when they had come out (all 50+ visitors!), I had to get busy and can.

Wow, did I…DO I! I first put up way-mature green beans — the pigs got quite a few real seedy ones. Then there were pepper rings, pickled peppers, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, and spaghetti sauce. This afternoon I’ve got to pick more tomatoes for chile. (I think there are bushels of very ripe ones out there laughing at me!)

 Our Garden Club visit was great, though. Folks asked hundreds of very good questions and took notes. Some even took tomatoes and Hansen’s bush cherries home for seed. I introduced a lot of people to Backwoods Home Magazine who had never even heard of it before. All in all, it was fun and I hope to see some of these folks back out for a visit when I can spend more time with individuals. It did give Will and me a little glimpse of what our three-day seminars next year might be like…and it quickly made it evident that we must limit our seminars to 25-30 people…50 was too many to answer all the questions and spend individual time with everyone.

 Well, I’ve got to go for now; the canner is ready to empty so I can fill it up again! Whew. But it’s so satisfying to fill up the pantry with all that good food. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: Gardening and farm questions

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Breeding chickens

 I have been wanting to start raising my own Cornish-rock Cross chickens, but was not sure where to begin, which breed for the hen and rooster? Also you mentioned breeding back; can you explain that to me? I already hatch my own chicks for egg laying.


Peebles, Ohio

 We’re not sure, either; we’re just experimenting now. We’re going to cross the crossbred chicks back to a White Rock rooster, then those chicks back to a Cornish rooster and see what happens. We’re not going commercial here, just trying to find the best cross for our homestead. The “mistakes” are all good meat birds and we’ll have plenty for the pantry as we go along! — Jackie

Sweet potatoes and poison ivy

 This is the first year that we have planted sweet potatoes….is there anything special to do after digging them up? I thought I read somewhere that they had to get a “second skin”, so how long do we have to wait for that to happen? Also, how long can I expect to store them?

 Also, for the first time, we have poison ivy (the five leave type) coming up everywhere. What can I use to stop this plant other than using “ROUND UP”?

 Meredith Wendt

Rockford, Illinois

 There was a recent article in BHM (May/June 2011, Issue #129) on sweet potatoes, which was very good. You should allow your sweet potatoes to cure for a week or so in a dry place, out of the sun before storage. Then store them in a cool, dry place where they’ll develop their sweet taste. They should store for at least 4 months, and often longer under good conditions.

 I don’t think you have poison ivy. Poison ivy has leaves in a grouping of three, thus, the old saying: “leaves three, let it be!”. There are several good photos online of poison ivy in all seasons for you to check out. You probably have Virginia creeper, and most folks think of it as a bonus in the yard. You’ll often find it climbing on folks’ chimneys and on brick house walls. — Jackie

Meyer Lemon tree

 This summer our relative from Jacksonville, Florida brought us a Meyer Lemon tree. We planted it in a large (18-inch diameter) pot. We live in zone 5 and plan to bring it inside when the temps drop. It will be in a southwest facing window. Will we have to give it supplemental light? We keep the house at 68 degrees during the day and 58 degrees at night during the winter. How much water should we give it and how often? Any hints on the care of the tree would be most welcome.

 Jim Goeschl

Mount Vernon, Ohio

 Lucky you! That Meyer should begin to produce a few lemons within a year’s time! You shouldn’t have to provide more light than it will have in that southwest facing window. They do like quite a bit of moisture, including a good misting a couple of times a week with a spray bottle. But let the soil in the pot dry out on the surface before watering again. Make sure your pot has drainage holes in it. I planted one in a large pot and thought it had holes. No holes. I drowned the tree! Do keep watch for spider mites, which will kill it (webs on leaves and branches) and aphids on the undersides of the leaves. — Jackie


 Help! There seems to be something wrong with one of my chickens. Tonight after filling their feed trays, I noticed this chicken was lying flat on the ground and was letting the other chickens stand on her. Earlier, I noticed her kinda holding her wings out.

 Last week, a different chicken, with similar markings, was also acting ‘weak’ compared to flock. I decided to separate her, she seemed to be all feathers and no meat on her. She had food, water and I thought shade. I found her dead later that day. Either I was right that something was wrong with her or really mistaken about the amount of shade and the heat got her.

 Does this sound familiar to you, at all? The birds are only 13 weeks old.

 Erica Kardelis

Helper, Utah

 Are these birds Cornish Rock meat chickens? I’ve had them do this, as they’re very susceptible to the heat and also have a lot of heart problems due to their weight and the fat around their hearts. The heat can also get other breeds, as well. Be sure they have plenty of shade and fresh cool water at all times. — Jackie

Peaches and apples

 How do you start a peach tree from seed? So far I have had no luck freezing it a little to splitting the seed open. Any suggestions?

 Is there any way that I can find out what kind of apple tree we have? The apples get a little bigger than a golf ball, but not by much. They have light red stripes on, they tend to also have knobs on them. Are usually hard to cut, BUT oh so sweet, I can make apple pies or apple sauce with them and either not need sugar or very little. I asked our Ag Ext agent and got the answer that the apple type was “ugly but sweet” apples.

 Ralph C. Lincoln

Berlin, Pennsylvania

 The easiest way to start a peach tree from seed is to plant several pits out in the yard in a corner of your garden or in an enclosed bed, such as a tire full of soil, right after harvesting the peaches dead ripe. Let them winter over and chill naturally. In the spring, the little peach seedlings should emerge. If you have squirrels, you might want to lay a wire over the area until next spring; they will sometimes dig them up and eat them. Understand that peaches from seed may or may not produce a tree that will have good peaches. Some do and some don’t. That’s why most modern fruit trees are grafted onto hardy rootstock. That way, the new tree will be exactly like its parent tree.

 Unfortunately, that’s probably what happened to get your bumpy sweet apple! It’s probably a chance seedling that turned out very well. You might get a FEDCO tree catalog; they have great descriptions of a wide variety of apples — many old, heritage varieties. You just might find your apple tree listed there. Good luck. — Jackie

Apple trees

 You mentioned putting wire around your apple trees this fall. Can you tell me why?

 Do you have a solution for tree robbers? We have never been able to harvest our apples in the three years they’ve been producing, and now this year the peaches all went too — before we could harvest them ourselves. We think it may be raccoons, but it is possible it is possums. I just don’t know for sure. Any advice?

 C. Hickman

Brush Creek, Tennessee

 We wrap the trunks of our fruit trees with metal window screen or small-mesh hardware cloth, up to at least 3 feet or farther if the trunk is tall enough. This protects the trees from having their tender bark eaten by voles and rabbits during the winter.

 As for critters robbing your trees, about the best solution is to keep the trees out in the open; no long grass/weeds around them or other places for these animals to hide in. The don’t like to cross big expanses of open ground. Then use electric fence around each tree or orchard, after mowing the grass where the fence will be. Have the bottom wire about six inches off the ground, with four more strands about six inches apart, above that. There is also an electric netting that works well for this application. If the trees are where there is no electricity, use a solar fence charger and be sure to install either the electric or solar charger properly. This will keep all but birds away from your trees during ripening time. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: Canning questions

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Pear preserves

 I am new to canning. I am presently doing pear preserves. After I have added the pears and sugar it says to boil until the pears are translucent. Evidently I boiled them on a outdoor propane stove too long as the sugar became quite thick. The same thing has happened to the watermelon rind pickles that says to boil until translucent. Can I salvage these pears or must I throw them out and start all over?

 Joe Tubb

Wartburg, Tennessee

 I think that if you just heat the pears and watermelon rind in the syrup, then pack it in your hot jars and water bath as usual, you’ll have a decent preserve. Yeah, I think you did boil them too long. This is how we learn. — Jackie

Canning bacon

 We have been pressure canning bacon using the recipe given in a recent article in BHM — tastes good to me. Recently on a discussion group I read this was posted” I have read that home canning bacon is absolutely not safe. Does anyone have any scientific (ie; non-anecdotal) evidence to the contrary? …What’s your take on the lack of an “approved” recipe for canning bacon?

 Bob Taylor

Poulsbo, Washington

 This is another case of “approved” vs “experimental” canning recipes. Many years ago, there was a recipe for home canning bacon found in one of my old Kerr canning books! It was then “approved.” Now it’s not. The USDA’s book, Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving lists canning smoked fish, canned without brine, which is what the bacon would be. That’s safe; bacon is not? Sorry, I don’t buy it. I don’t “advise” canning bacon w/paper, but sure wouldn’t be against doing it myself. Years ago, the Government encouraged people to home can and spent time and money developing safe recipes which could be canned at home. Now this is not done, and I don’t know why. Very, very few (if any) people become sick from eating home canned foods in this country. But how many hundreds get sick from eating commercial foods and cellophane-wrapped produce from “safe” sources? It’s okay to spray with dozens of chemicals, then sell the food, but home canning is oh-so-dangerous? I’m stumped! — Jackie

 Freezing tomato puree

 I have an abundance of tomatoes this year and not a lot of time! Is it possible to run them through my Victorio strainer and then freeze that puree to can later? Also, I have a ton of frozen blueberries, can I use them to can blueberry sauce with?

 CJ Lehman

East Palestine, Ohio

 Yes, you may. To both questions. Just thaw out and proceed as if it were fresh. — Jackie

Canning frozen corn

 Can you can frozen corn? We want to can some Mexi Corn, I do not see a recipe for that to get the processing time. I am short on time so I do not want to use the fresh corn on the cob. I plan on using the processing time in the KERR canning book for corn.


Federal Way, Washington

 Yes, you can use frozen corn to can. It won’t be as tender as fresh corn, but it will still be good. Just thaw it out and go ahead, as though it were fresh corn. — Jackie

Canning shell beans

 I am looking for a canning recipe for green beans called shelie beans. I have seen them in cans in the stores but I can’t find a receipt for canning them at home, do you know of one? I am 68, but you are my idol with all you know and have done. Wish I could have had your articles when I was younger.

 Marjorie Fox

Glouster, Ohio

 Thank you, Marjorie. I’m glad to help all I can. To can up shell beans, just shell them, then rinse and drain them. Pack loosely into hot jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Do not pack. Add ½ tsp. salt to pints or 1 tsp. to quarts, if desired. Pour boiling water over them, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Process pints for 40 minutes and quarts for 50 minutes at 10 pounds pressure, in a pressure canner. If you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, consult your canning book for directions on increasing your pressure to suit your altitude, if necessary. You can also hot pack these beans by boiling them for 3 minutes in a large pot. Pack the hot beans into hot jars, then ladle hot cooking liquid over beans, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Add salt, if desired. Process the same as for raw packed beans. — Jackie

Canning red beans and rice

 Do you have a length of time to can red beans and rice? Or maybe a recipe? I love your books and wish you would write another book on canning. Maybe some more meals in a jar or some more meat recipes and some more tidbits on recanning large cans into smaller portions.

 Joyce Pierce

Greenville, Alabama

 I’ve added a little (notice, A LITTLE) uncooked rice in a variety of canned recipes, using the length of time required for the ingredient needing the longest processing time. If you add too much rice, it’ll swell up so that it becomes too thick a product for safe canning. I may inspire a lot of people, and that’s a great thing. But I do tick off a lot of home economists who can by the book (the USDA and Ball Blue book). Of course that hurts a lot, but I do feel that a person needs to use some plain old common sense, as well as the Government’s and private corporation’s recommendations. It does seem that these entities are discouraging home canning, except for the jams, jellies, simple foods, and fancy dishes. My question is why don’t they spend the time and money researching all the foods we could be canning with their esteemed sanction? — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: Food and recipe questions

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Storing beans

 From a survival standpoint, what do you recommend – dry beans or home canned beans?

 Karen Mallinger

Negaunee, Michigan

 Both. I store lots of both. The home canned beans are great for quick meals, emergency or not. The dry beans are sure to feed you for years, but will require some soaking and extensive cooking. I can up my older beans to rotate my storage. — Jackie

Christmas pickles

 I am trying to find a recipe for “Christmas Pickles”… I believe they are made with cucumbers and the juice from maraschino cherries. Do you have a recipe like this that you have made and are willing to share?

 Robert Bader

Rockwood, Maine

 Sorry, but I’ve never heard of pickles like that. Do any of you out there have a recipe for Robert? — Jackie

Taste of store-bought tomatoes

 Just read post about tomatoes in olive oil. I really love homegrown dried tomatoes. However I don’t have access to garden tomatoes any more. How can you really improve the taste of commercially bought tomatoes? They just don’t seem to have any flavor, even with extra herbs. Maybe you know something that would help their flavor?

 Linda Leach

Billings, Montana

 I wish I could; growing your own or buying them at a local grower’s place or farmers’ market is the only option. — Jackie

Dehydrating vegetables and using sour cream powder

 1) Have you ever dried Roma tomatoes? When you rehydrated them, how did you use them?

2) Have you dried zucchini? Did you seed them before slicing?

3) How often do you use your sour cream powder? How long is its shelf life? A #10 can is a lot.

 J from Missouri

 Yes, I have dehydrated Roma and other paste tomatoes. We love them on pizzas, but often soak them in olive oil, then drain them and add them to many recipes, in place of fresh or canned. I also often top thick slices of homemade bread with butter, garlic paste, rehydrated tomatoes, green peppers, basil, and thyme, then broil it.

 Yes, I’ve dehydrated zucchini. I use the very young squash that hardly have any seeds. I do remove the seeds from larger squash and dehydrate the meaty outside rings.

 I don’t use dehydrated sour cream real often. I use it to make dips, mixing it with mayonnaise, in such recipes as beef stroganoff, and mixed with cheese (powdered or grated) in casseroles. Rehydrated, it doesn’t really make a good, smooth sour cream, like you’d use on baked potatoes, but you can mix it with yogurt or fresh cream to make it more usable that way. It has a long shelf life, provided you keep it from getting moisture from the air. Save the little pack that comes in the can. — Jackie


 Not really a question but after reading about your frustration with the price of pectin I wanted to ask you if you have looked into Pamona’s Pectin. If not, check it out, it’s amazing stuff. You can make jelly with any sweetener or none at all.


Diamond, Ohio

 Yes, I used to use it to make jelly for my late husband, Bob, who was a diabetic. But it cost quite a bit, per batch, even more than pectin, so I quit using it after he passed away. It is great for folks who need or want a low or no-sugar jelly or want to use sugar or some other sweetener. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: Gardening and homesteading questions

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Bell peppers

 I am so jealous of your beautiful green bell peppers! What kind are they? And where did you get the seed?

 Audrey Dee Bennett

Belvidere, Tennessee

 They are King of the North, and I saved seed from way back in New Mexico — the last place I was able to get mature peppers! They are an open pollinated variety, available from many seed houses. — Jackie

Building a log home

 You are truly a life changing event for me! I have been increasing my farming experience, working at self reliant gardening,milk goats, poultry, pigs, beekeeping and have become seriously more self-reliant through years of practice, on my 1 acre homestead, where I also supported myself and 3 children with a Christian daycare. I’ve been a single mom to 3 children for most of these years…Now I am trying to buy forest land and build my own dream home. You also did so much alone while parenting! Do you have any advice on how to build, as a single person, a log home — or is it simply too much? I honestly think I am tough enough, smart enough, and self reliant enough. Can one person actually build a little log home, alone? Not to mention…all the other farming, too? Please answer! All advice is appreciated, and I will keep you completely informed how we’re all doing.


Stanwood, Washington

 Yes, you can. But it would be a great idea if you picked up a good, inexpensive tractor with a loader. This is what my son, Bill, used when he built his big log home. He used it to lift the heavy logs up into place safely. When he had his house up, he sold the tractor for what he’d paid for it. Or if you are going to do farming, keep the tractor to use around the homestead. It saves your back a whole lot! Do be aware that building with logs is hard, heavy work. Read Dorothy Ainsworth’s articles on how she built not only a large log home (twice!), but other buildings out of log on her homestead, as a single, working woman. You might want to consider what kind of living arrangements you need while you are building. My son built a two car, stick-built garage. He lived in one side, in an apartment, while building his house; it took nearly 5 years before he and his wife moved into the new house. We hauled in an old mobile home to live in while we built. The trick is to know you will be building for awhile, and to pace yourself, living reasonably comfortably while you build. The rest of the homestead stuff is a piece of cake for a single mom!

 Remember to check building codes where you plan on building; it greatly impacts your choices. In some areas, you must have a building inspector for each step. Some areas do not let you live in a garage while building, some require you finish within a certain length of time, etc. Check before you begin to build. Please let us know how you are coming! — Jackie

Growing potatoes with tomatoes

 This is my first year for growing potatoes. I put them in a tub with holes in the bottom. Then I planted tomatoes on the sides and let them hang over the edge. I had run out of room to plant the tomatoes. All of a sudden the potatoes plants died. I know I have potatoes in there but should I leave them until the tomatoes are done or work them out gentle so they don’t rot?

 Jana Bisgaard

Thornton, Colorado

 I think I’d try to work the potatoes out, as by watering the tomatoes you might rot the potatoes, underneath. Let us know how they did. — Jackie

Growing onions

 I have been trying to grow onions for a while now and they never seem to grow or get bigger than a bulb in size. I have been told that even though they are supposed to be the big white and yellow and purple ones that they don’t get big? That one stumps me. What do you think I am doing wrong? Is it the seed I am trying to use or? Shallots grow fine.

 Robert Duke

Poplarville, Mississippi

 If your shallots are doing fine, it shows that you don’t lack for water, soil fertility, or weeding. It may be the variety of seed you are using. Be sure to use short-day varieties. If you are using long-day requirement varieties, such as Walla Walla, they won’t do much in Mississippi. You might also have better luck growing onions from sets if plants aren’t working for you. If the plants are set out when quite little, sometimes they just seem to sit there when hot weather comes. — Jackie

Water hydrant

 Thank you for taking time out of your hectic life to answer questions, I know from reading your blog you are one busy person. Well here goes, we have an outdoor one armed water hydrant like the one that you have posted on your blog and we have a dilly of a time getting it started when the hydrant has not been in use. It is connected to a buried water line that was t’d off of the main line that is going into our basement and is fed from spring on the back of our property. Inside works great but outside is not working. Any suggestions? Our hydrant is a frost free also I believe.


Fresno, Ohio

 If the handle raises the rod, I’d guess that maybe you have got sediment built up in the valve that drains/opens the water line. You could probably back-flush the hydrant by attaching a hose with an added female end onto the hydrant faucet, raising the handle, then running water from the house to the hydrant. Or maybe attaching a hose to pipe fitting, then building a fitting to receive an air valve and flushing it with an air compressor. To keep it running, try opening it a couple times a month, whether or not you need it. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: Canning questions

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Canning peaches

 Is there a way to can Brandied Peaches without boiling the peaches in the syrup first? Can I just can them as usual and cut the light syrup 50/50 with brandy?

Second: In canning regular peaches will they taste more like fresh peaches and store as long without sugar?

Dan Norgard

Prescott Valley, Arizona

If you don’t boil the peaches, they’ll darken on you. I don’t think I’d cut the light syrup with brandy. I’d use a tested brandied peach recipe.

 No, I’ve tried canning them without sugar for my late husband, Bob, who had diabetes. They really taste better with the sugar (at least some sugar). The sugar has nothing to do with the storage ability. — Jackie

 Processing half-pints and canning cheese

 How long do you process half-pints?

 I really want to make cheese but the differing temperatures and humidities needed for ripening have me stumped. What do you use to control these two factors?

 Lori Westergaard

Brookings, South Dakota

 You process half pints for the same length of time as you do pints.

 I use a cooler in our unheated basement. Luckily, the humidity is just about right, as is the temperature. I don’t make “fussy” cheeses, only the quick and easy varieties. Too much else going on! — Jackie

 Canning pickles

 My wife made a batch of bread’n’butter pickles. The jars sat on the counter for a couple of days, and all the lids appeared to be sealed tightly, but when she picked one of the quart jars, the lid came off. She immediately put the jar in the fridge. Is this jar of pickles ok to use, or should we discard them?

 Robert Bader

Rockwood, Maine

 I would probably discard the pickles, as it’s uncertain if the lid was ever truly sealed. — Jackie

Canning pickled vegetables

 I have a recipe for what we call “Hot Stuff” that has been in my family for a number of years. Each quart jar includes 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp turmeric, 2 cloves of garlic (halved), and 1 hot pepper (with slices throughout), and raw vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, pearl onions; however, I only make it with the cabbage. I fill a quart jar 1/2 way with cabbage, add the hot pepper and fill the jar with 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water solution. After letting stand for 15 minutes, I fill again with vinegar/water solution. Then put the lid and ring on and tighten the jar and let it sit for 6 weeks. The recipe that we’ve used in the past does not call for canning it; however, I am just not comfortable with that, and would like to know if I should water bath or pressure can this and for how long/at what pressure.

 Lori Siburt

Cambridge, Ohio

 I’m not sure, Lori. I’d suggest using the same ingredients, using the End of the Garden pickle recipe in either my canning book or the Ball Blue book. It is similar, but safe to can using a boiling water bath. I’d be happier eating that, rather than Hot Stuff that sat for six weeks without processing. (I hope it was in the refrigerator!) — Jackie


Jackie Clay

Ladybugs are saving our peppers

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Earlier this summer, we discovered we had a major problem with aphids on the undersides of the pepper leaves in the hoop house. To spray or not to spray? We debated this, but decided to wait and see if natural predators would come help us out. If we sprayed, we’d not only kill the bad guys, but the good guys, too. Even pyrethrins kill everything. So we crossed our fingers and waited. Then I noticed the first ladybug larvae on the pepper leaves. But there sure didn’t seem to be many of them. And there were thousands of aphids.


But slowly, there were more ladybug larvae and fewer aphids. Now there are quite a few good guys and hardly any aphids. Yeah, It worked! The peppers continue to look better and better. Next week, I’m canning red, ripe sweet peppers and this week I’m dehydrating tons of green sweet peppers. I’ve already loaded my pantry shelves with all sorts of pickled hot peppers. How nice!


Yesterday, we hayed again, putting up about 75 square bales, stuffing the storage barn plumb full. (All totalled, there are more than 700 bales in there now!) And we also got 14 big round bales of hay from the same field yesterday. Now part of our animal storage pantry is bulging and we are so thankful. Hopefully, we can plow one of those hay fields and plant it next summer with oats and a new seeding of clover, trefoil, and orchard grass. Then, God willing, we will have many bushels of our own oats to increase our self-sufficiency in the livestock department.

 Two days ago, we finished fencing the big woods on our side of the creek, beyond the horse pasture, and we turned our horses out into about 10 acres of 4-foot tall grass. You bet they liked that! I mowed their pasture, trimming down weeds and “poop grass” (grass fertilized by horse piles…which they won’t eat), so that pasture should grow up nice and tender with good-tasting grass, as well. Our horses are all set until snow flies.

 The steers are also in good shape, as they are on knee-deep clover/orchard grass pasture, surrounded by woods for shade. We like our animals happy! — Jackie


Copyright © 1998 - Present by Backwoods Home Magazine. All Rights Reserved.