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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: selling meat, stacking canned foods, canning cheese, and storing dehydrated foods

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Selling meat

Just wondering how you are selling meat to the public without getting interference from the gummint?

Dick Rinehart
Walton, Kentucky

Here in Minnesota it’s legal to sell a quarter, half, or whole animal headed for slaughter. Sort of like buying shares of the animal. It is NOT legal to sell individual packages by the pound unless it is USDA inspected. Around here that entails hauling the animals 200 miles to Minneapolis/St.Paul then going back down to pick up the meat later. As the cost must be passed to the consumer, that meat is REALLY expensive to buyers so we don’t go that route. — Jackie

Stacking canned foods and canning cheese

I have 2 questions for you. I have a very small house and storage space is limited. Thus meaning I have every crack, cranney and corner stuffed full. My 1st question is how high can I stack boxes of my canned items? My mother would never stack anything she canned for fear of the seals coming undone. Yesterday I canned cheddar cheese using the recipe from your growing and canning your own food book, My 2nd question is while the cheese was melting it took longer for the newly added cheese to melt and I was afraid the already melted cheese would turn rubbery or scorch. I ended up stirring it in the jars so the new would melt. Is this something you have to do or did I do something wrong? All jars have sealed and look nice.

Judy Hiatt
Marysville, Kansas

You can stack sturdy boxes quite high. It has nothing to do with the jars staying sealed or not. If the boxes are not sturdy, they may crush under the weight, sag, and dump your jars. One way out of this is to lay a piece of OSB or plywood between boxes. Another is to either use jar boxes or pick up liquor boxes from a liquor store or bar. These boxes are very sturdy. A final way (and best by far) is to buy two-piece canning jar plastic boxes from They hold a dozen jars and I think you could drop your jars out of an airplane with no damage using them! A very worthwhile investment if you can afford them.

As for the cheese, if you use a double boiler method, with water in a larger pot and the jars in that pot under low heat, the cheese can’t scorch and won’t turn rubbery. Yes, I do stir my melting cheese a bit to get it to melt down faster. I’m impatient! — Jackie

Storing dehydrated food

We have a lot of stored canned and frozen foods for our food stores and now I am dehydrating vegetables and fruits for my long term food storage. With the abundance from the garden and sales on frozen veggies and fruits I think it is silly to purchase them packaged from a store or a place for preppers that does it for you and charges a lot for it. What I would like to know is the best and easiest way that I can package them so that they will last as long as possible? Also, is it okay to dehydrate most vegetables and fruits and store them in this manner so that they are still tasty when used?

Dan Burns
Killingworth, Connecticut

I agree; I dehydrate as many foods as I can. Yes, you can dehydrate all garden vegetables and fruits that I can think of from kale to strawberries. Properly dehydrated and stored in sealed, air-tight containers, they’ll stay great for years and years. Right now I’m using 12-year-old dehydrated peas and 15-year-old sliced strawberries to rotate my supply. All of them taste like I did it yesterday. You can do as I do and just store them in glass jars with a sealed lid. I use odd-sized larger jars (like old cider jugs) for small veggies like peas and corn and jars that a canning lid won’t fit on for others, using the lid that came with the jar. You can also choose to use a vacuum sealer to remove all oxygen.

I do buy some foods from preparedness companies such as dried eggs, cheese, sour cream, buttermilk powder, and TVPs as it is the best deal out there for these foods. — Jackie

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