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Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
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Jackie Clay

Q and A: green detergents, making pickles, and pear jelly

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Green detergents

I am trying to go green and would like to ask for help with effective detergent recipes that can help me accomplish this.

Shonah Melton
South Africa

For detergent to use in a dishwasher, you can mix equal parts of borax and washing soda in the wash compartment. Use about 2 Tbsp. Then fill the rinse compartment with vinegar.

For washing detergent, you can mix one part washing soda, one part borax, and two parts grated dry soap (I use homemade soap or Fels Naptha). You will use about 1/2 cup in each load of laundry. Mix and store this detergent in any sealed container to keep from getting hard. Or you can easily make a liquid (gel) detergent by mixing four cups of boiling water with your soap flakes and stirring until dissolved. Then stir in 2 cups washing soda and 2 cups borax. Add 2 gallons of hot water and mix well. You can pour this into used, clean liquid laundry detergent bottles or any other smaller container for convenience. Shake well and use about 1/4 cup for each load of clothes.

For window washing, you can simply use distilled white vinegar or use dishwashing detergent first in warm water and follow with the vinegar in a rinse — it works well. — Jackie

Making pickles

I was just reading your blog tonight, and you mentioned that you make pickles according to your Grandmother’s recipe. Every time I make pickles, they turn out limp, and my family refuses to eat them. I have an old canning book, but no instructions on how to put up pickles without water bathing them. Could you share the way your Grandmother made pickles? I’d really like to enjoy homemade ones again. I won’t buy store bought, because they all contain food coloring now.

Lisa Graves
Georgetown, Indiana

I’ll probably get hung here by experts, but Grandma made her pickles by packing the fresh, sliced pickles/onions/peppers, etc. in sterilized jars then pouring boiling pickling solution (usually vinegar, sugar, spices) over them and immediately place a previously simmered, hot lid on the jar and tighten the ring firmly tight. I’ve done that for two years now and all my jars seal and the pickles are very crisp. But I don’t dare put that in my books because of the “safety” flack from experts who try to keep us safe from ourselves. — Jackie

Pear jelly

I have been making pear butter using your recipe, but I use my slow cooker to cook the pears down instead of the stove top. I do this with my apple butter also and it works great. My problem is with the pears. They don’t seem to want to break down like the apples do and so I run them through the food mill and add the syrup/juice to make it as thick as it should be. I am having syrup left over though and would like to make jelly with it because it tastes just like the pear butter and I hate to waste it! The juice left over is like syrup, I would like to not add any more sugar if I don’t have to. I have regular pectin I buy in bulk from the Amish store near us. Can this be done? Do I need to get low sugar pectin? If it can be done, can you give a recipe?

Gayle Rush
Eugene, Missouri

I honestly don’t know. All I can say is to give it a try and see what happens. At worst, you’ll have great pear syrup. — Jackie

6 Responses to “Q and A: green detergents, making pickles, and pear jelly”

  1. kathy v Says:

    Thanks for the detergent recipes. Question on the usage. 1/2 CUP of dry mix per load?

  2. momma Says:

    I’ve made pickles the exact way you have described. I “think” the vinegar itself prevents new bacterial growth. All I know is that it works. It’s how my grandma did it, and how my family did it, and how I do it.

  3. jackie clay Says:


    Yes, that should do it. Add a bit more for very dirty loads.


  4. kathy v Says:

    Why do you use less of the wet mix?

  5. jackie clay Says:


    Oops. The 1/4 cup is for light loads, the 1/2 cup (of either!) is for heavier dirt. For real heavy dirt, use a bit more.


  6. Laura @ Laura Williams Musings Says:

    On the pear jelly,

    Use the pear syrup you have and bring to a boil, at this point you will need to add a low sugar pectin and possibly a little bit of sugar depending on how much you have already put into the syrup.

    Bring to boil and boil until it sheets off a cool spoon.

    Remove from heat and ladle into hot sterilized jars, wipe rims, put on lids, and water bath can for 10 minutes.

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