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Jackie Clay

Q and A: potatoes with strange texture and canning catsup

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Potatoes with strange texture

For the last two seasons, my purchased winter potatoes have had a strange texture and a pale brown mottled appearance in the flesh. The flesh which is brown and mottled will not break down via boiling and mashing and retains a characteristic raw, starchy texture. What on earth is causing this?

These potatoes were purchased from two separate farms in two separate years, one farm organic, one not, and were of two different varieties, Yukon Gold and a generic unnamed white-flesh variety.

K. D.
Wellesley Hills

Although I’ve never experienced this I have two possibilities for you. First, are you storing your potatoes where it gets below 35 degrees? Chilled potatoes will get brownish or greyish netting and spots in the flesh and that may also cause them to not cook down well. Another possibility is a potato virus such as potato leaf roll or potato virus Y. You can search Potato Virus diseases online; Cornell has a great site with photos so you can compare your potatoes with the pictures. I’m sure this is a frustrating problem for you. Let us know what you discover. — Jackie

Canning catsup

I read the back of the Heinz catsup bottle the other day at a grocery store and saw that it had high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup as two of the ingredients. There was an original recipe Heinz that was also being sold but it was significantly pricier. I decided to research recipes online and found this one and made it (with a few modifications). The kids and I both loved it. My question is how I would go about canning it, if I were to triple up a batch? Here is the recipe (the modifications that I made are in parenthesis).

1 can (6-ounce) tomato paste
1/2 cup light corn syrup (I used honey instead)
1/2 cup white vinegar (I will probably cut it to 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar (I used Sucanat)
1 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon onion powder (I used my own)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (I used my own)

Mix all together over medium heat. Whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Makes about 1-1/2 pints.

Can I do this in the water bath canner? If I have to pressure can it because of the changes, would I just mix it and pour into jars, and consider the canning time as the cooking time?

I recently divorced (about 4 years now since he left) and am now a single mother raising 3 children. We started gardening to save on our food bill and have been do more and more urban homesteading as we go. We raise poultry, rabbits, and sheep and goats (those are off site). We have been saving so that we can find a small rural place of our own someday. We can and dry everything we possible can. I even made off with the fruit from my mom’s Thanksgiving centerpiece after we left this year and dried it. We are having a blast, and I would like to thank you for all the knowledge and wisdom that you have shared. You have truly been my inspiration and encouragement in this journey.

Orcutt, California

Yes, you can water bath this recipe — doubling, tripling, or even more. Bring it to a boil, stirring to keep from scorching, then ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Process for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. (Make sure to time from the time your boiling water in the canner returns to a full rolling boil after adding the jars. And if you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, consult your canning book for directions on increasing your processing time, if necessary.)

I’m so happy that you and your kids are doing so well and having fun doing it. Divorce or becoming a widow, which I’ve had experience with both, unfortunately, is never easy on anyone but overcoming the pain is a huge step. Especially when you’re doing something positive to do it. Here’s hoping you and your family will find that little bit of heaven on earth real soon. Meanwhile, enjoy each day. Know I’m pulling and praying for you! — Jackie

5 Responses to “Q and A: potatoes with strange texture and canning catsup”

  1. Mose Says:

    I agree with this poster: You have made this lifestyle easier and much more enjoyable. Your knowledge, writing style and humor are remarkable. A cross between Luther Burbank and Mark Twain. We thank God for your decisions in life that brought you to BHM and us.

  2. jackie clay atkinson Says:


    Awww, thanks. So nice of you. Now I’m blushing…..

  3. Barb Says:

    To Cat: you are giving your children a priceless gift! They will never forget all the fun they are having with Mom, and the lessons they learn while doing it. Bless you!

  4. Wendy Hause, Gregory MI Says:

    Agree with Mose, Jackie. You truly are an inspiration to SO MANY of us!! To Cat, you will do great and you’re providing such a great life lessons to your children.

  5. Sheryl Napier Says:

    Ditto to Wendy and Mose! Hi Wendy

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