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Ask Jackie headline

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Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
on any aspect of low-tech, self-reliant living.

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Jackie Clay

Q and A: vacuum sealing brown rice, dehydrating squash, and bergamot seeds

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Vacuum sealing brown rice

When using a vacuum sealer with jar attachment, must brown rice be preheated? When using a vacuum sealer with jar attachment, what are the directions for storing fresh pecans?

Dawn Guido
Marshfield, Missouri

When you use a vacuum sealer for your brown rice or pecans, you don’t need to heat the food. But the rice/pecans won’t last as long as they will if canned traditionally, i.e. heating the food then canning in a pressure canner at 5 pounds for 10 minutes. The vacuum sealer will help the foods stay fresh-tasting longer than if just left in the bag or put into an unsealed jar. But it will not prevent them from eventually becoming rancid. — Jackie

Dehydrating squash

I read the post about your Hopi Pale Grey Squash. How exactly do you dry it and how do you grind it up? I have a couple of dozen pumpkins in my basement that were intended to feed the chickens over winter. Lost the entire flock last month to a fox and need to find a use for these pumpkins. Already have a freezer full of puree.

Erica Kardelis
Helper, Utah

Both squash and pumpkins dehydrate well. Dehydrated pumpkin (unless it’s pie pumpkin) doesn’t taste as good in breads as do my favorite Hopi Pale Grey squash though, but they can be used in soups, casseroles, stews, etc. I cut the squash open, remove the seeds and strings. Then I slice rind and all into 1-inch slices and cut off the rind with a sturdy sharp knife. I cut pieces off the slices about 1/2 inch thick and lay them out on my dehydrator trays in a single layer so they don’t touch. Dehydrate until crisp. To grind, simply use your blender and toss a handful in at a time and whiz until as fine as you wish. — Jackie

Bergamot seeds

Can you tell me to where I can obtain Bergamot seeds, so that I can make my own Earl Grey Tea?

LaCrosse, Washington

Both Johnny’s Seeds and Prairie Moon Nursery carry wild bergamot seeds. — Jackie

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