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Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
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Jackie Clay

Q and A: canned tomato juice and single homesteader

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Canned tomato juice

We always can tons of tomatoes in the summer (well it feels like it anyway). My question is I canned some tomato juice that was left over for the same amount of time the Ball Book recommended for the raw pack tomato time. So now it looks like water and tomatoes separated in the jar. I am worried that this did not process long enough and it is not good! I don’t want to use it obviously if its not…so I will await your answer. I am a self taught canner who became a homestead blogger but I am a huge fan of yours and you need to know that while I love to help people live more self sufficiently I am a life long learner and I have learned so much from you over the years! Thanks Jackie…if its no good I’ll dump them but if I can use them I hate to waste anything.

Karen Lynn @ Lil’ Suburban Homestead

Not to worry Karen. The reason tomato juice separates is that it was not heated before ladling into the jars. When it separates like that, just shake up the jar prior to using. To prevent it from doing this, just heat the juice to 190 degrees for 5 minutes before putting into jars and processing. Process your quarts of juice for 40 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Don’t forget to add 2 Tbsp of lemon juice to each quart if you are juicing low acid tomatoes. If you don’t know if your tomatoes are acidic or not, add the juice to be sure. It doesn’t affect the taste of the juice.

I, too, am a lifelong learner. I figure if I don’t learn a couple of things each day, something’s wrong! Glad to hear you’re enjoying the blog. It keeps me doing this. — Jackie

Single homesteader

I was widowed in August at the age of 60 so I know you know how I’m feeling. My husband was not into the homesteader lifestyle as much as me so I want to take this as an opportunity to really make my little farm a safe haven. I have no children left at home (I know you still have David) but my adult son and his wife live nearby on the farm on 2 acres. My question is, IF you and Will had not found each other, what would have been the number one problem you would have faced as a homesteader “without a man” on the place? I’m doing a master plan in a “used” notebook and my little farm store is going well so even though I’m older now I feel like I can still make it, tending my animals, gardening, etc. Are there one or two main things though that I need to be watchful of? Or specific things I should consider now that it’s just me? I heat solely with wood so am getting my “utilities” way down but am having to buy firewood when son and his wife aren’t able (because of their jobs) to cut it from here on the farm. Texas Annie has been an inspiration to me on the forum and OF COURSE I’ve read and re-read practically everything you’ve ever written!

Suzy Lowry Geno
Oneonta, Alabama

I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s death. The sadness and empty spot will lessen with time and I know homesteading helps a whole lot. Don’t let worries overwhelm you. We’re all there for you.

If Will and I hadn’t got together, I think my biggest problem would have been doing things so much slower than we are now. Obviously, having an enthusiastic, knowledgeable partner makes things go much faster so you progress at super speed. And at our age (I’m 66 now), getting things, especially bigger projects done sooner is a definite plus. But I’ve also learned to be happy with small steps. After I was widowed, I did have David at home and he was a tremendous help. But I was also doing chemo, surgery, and radiation that year and taking care of my elderly parents with very limited mobility. Those factors kind of adjusted how much we got done and how much help David was to me. We just had so much going on at once! But the important thing is that we made progress. We got the house built, got the garden up and running, and managed to stay sane.

I’ve learned that some good equipment helps a great deal. For instance, a good chainsaw, a wood splitter, and riding lawnmower (doubling as a garden tractor) or four wheeler to use to haul things around with a trailer, helps a whole lot with our aging backs and joints. I still cut wood, but I sure do love the wood splitter instead of using a splitting maul. After having two separate back injuries (fractures and compressed vertebrae), swinging the maul doesn’t go so well.

Breaking up all chores into smaller bites helps a whole lot as does making sure to take all appropriate short cuts such as having a barrel of water and self waterer for the chickens, a large tank for the goats, good gates and latches so the animals can’t get out, having feed located in a central location, and having a light in each building so you can see to do chores after dark.

You definitely CAN make it work. I promise! A neighbor lady was still living at home, heating with wood, with no one living with her, at age 92. If she hadn’t fallen, she’d still be there at age 97. She canned, gardened, and raised chickens. We aren’t old. We’re simply matured and hopefully smarter than we were at 30! Go girl! — Jackie

9 Responses to “Q and A: canned tomato juice and single homesteader”

  1. Skye Says:

    I love your reply to the single homesteader. I’m about to venture into a homestead myself as well in the next year. I’m in my mid-forties, single gal, but I have that enthusiasm, though already some shoulder injuries I have to look out for. It’s nice to read the tips on how to make life easier in the long run.

  2. Judy Says:

    I am so inspired about the post from the lady alone and then your reply. Jackie, I am your age and alone with no kids to help. Work gets done, but I get frustrated as I am so much slower I am than years back, not to mention the strength that has waned. I tell myself that my pioneer great grandmother worked hard way into her years, so I can too. We have it in us ladies! Slowly, but surely.

  3. penny Says:

    I was widowed at 56. I’m now 62 and still single. Just purchased 60 acres in the forest. Am I crazy? who knows, but I do know I am going to enjoy doing what I always wanted to do. I have a bad back so things may go slow but I have all the time in the world to enjoy myself. I can over 1400 jars of food per year. Very self-sufficient. Thinking of raising some steers on pasture land. So If I can do it so can you. Girl power!!

  4. anointedma Says:

    Hi everyone,I don’t mind doing the work so much as that I truly miss having a like minded companion..It has been so long since I’ve had anyone to share my life with,that I don’t know what I’d do if I found someone to help me..Jackie,How did you find Will?I find that it’s almost impossible to find someone in my region of the country who actually still works hard..Has ” Backwoods Home” ever considered starting a “dating ” column?

  5. Maida Says:

    I would like to thank Suzy for her encouraging letter and you, for your response. Even though I am not widowed, my husband is disabled and can do very little. So I am doing most of the labor around our place, which we just moved into 3 1/2 months ago. We both love it here in the mountains. I am sometimes overwhelmed with all that needs to be done. However, my mantra has been, “little by little, day by day, we are getting things done our way!” It helps. Then I look at what needs to be done in one area and keep plugging away on it until it gets done.

  6. jackie clay Says:


    I found Will through Backwoods Home! Actually, there IS a personals column and the advertising cost is even halved for those advertising. You might want to try an ad and see what happens. You never know if you don’t try. And what better readership to target than Backwoods Home??? I’m sure there are plenty of single, mature males out there who are lonely too.


  7. Kentucky Kid Says:

    For whatever it’s worth, our tomato juice separates, too. Not always, but most of the time. We even see separation in some of the jars in a canner-load while the others stay “mixed”. Some separate during long-term storage, while others don’t. We always “simmer” our juice for a while just before canning, so it goes into the jars hot.

    As Jackie says, a little shakin’ fixes it right up. We’re still using juice from the 2009 season, and it’s just fine.


  8. Suzy Says:

    Thank you Jackie and thank you all for these kind words!!!! I always think about that old saying “you can eat an elephant if you do it one bite at a time” and I guess that’s the way I’m having to approach most of my homesteading tasks….Jackie, thank you for sharing your life so that so many of us see that it CAN be done!

  9. Suzy Says:

    And this morning I worked all morning with an electric chain saw borrowed from a neighbor, cutting up firewood that was too big to go in my wood-burning heater! Wow! I want one of these things! I couldn’t handle a gas-powered one but this is perfect! We may have to adapt but we CAN do it! Thank you again for all your encouragement, help and for sharing your life with us all!!!

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