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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: homesteading skills and heating canned bacon

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Homesteading skills

I was wondering if you and Will could pass on which “trade” skill you would think is the one most important to have when homesteading — mechanical (engine repair), welding, construction, electrical…? Or maybe to rephrase the question — having which of these skills would you say saved you the most money by not having to get a tradesman to come in?

M. Blaney

It’s sort of like asking how long is a string… All homesteads are different; some have existing buildings, some are started from bare ground. Some are small and require little in the way of skills, such as welding or electrical. Some are large, and DO require a lot of engine/equipment maintenance. So it depends. With me starting out on a bare-land homestead, I’d say carpentry skills as we had to build a house and additions, a goat barn, sheds, and a storage barn, not to mention our current building project, the BIG barn.

But if you had buildings in place that didn’t require a whole lot of remodeling, perhaps welding (if a larger homestead) or small engine repair would be a money saver so you didn’t have to take the chainsaw, lawnmower, tiller, snowblower, and generator in to have fixed.

Electrical is a lesser required skill as in many places there are building codes that won’t let a homeowner do the work and it is done usually only once or twice where carpentry, small engine repair, and welding skills are used regularly. — Jackie

Heating canned bacon

There have been many inquiries about canned meat and the need to heat it after opening. Does this apply to bacon as well? It seems that semi-cooked and then canned bacon would be hard to heat for too long before it became “burned.” Does canned bacon grease need to be heated the same way?

Judith Almand
Brandon, Florida

You can heat canned bacon by simply opening the jar, washing off the lid, placing the jar on top of the lid, in a pan of water deep enough to come up over where the bacon is in the jar then bringing the water to a boil for 10-15 minutes. You can also lay your bacon in a pan and place in the oven, covered by a lid or foil, and bake for 10 minutes at 250 degrees, checking to make sure it isn’t burning. As it is usually smoked before canning, bacon is usually pretty safe, but pre-heating is a good idea — just to be sure. No, bacon grease, without meat, does not need to be heated before using; we usually use it in frying or baking where it is then heated before eating. — Jackie

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