We need to find a more efficient way of heating our home. We have a fire place and use it, but when the electricity goes off, as it does frequently, we need more heat. What is the most efficient wood heater for heating and maybe cooking on top if needed?
There are many good wood stoves out there today. Before buying I would check with your insurance company. We did and found that we had to buy one that was UL listed and the installation had to be approved by the insurance company. We love the old Fisher Grandpa Bear stoves; I had one at our homestead in Sturgeon Lake for years. But, unfortunately, they went out of business when the EPA began regulating wood stoves and they are not UL listed. We bought a Vogelzang Mountaineer several years back for about $500, which is what they are now, from Northern Tool. Our house is now about 3,500 square feet and it heats it well (not hot, mind you, but certainly adequate and our winter temps are a lot lower than yours are). Of course, the more expensive wood stoves will probably last longer but we’re happy with our Vogelzang.
We installed it with a stainless steel Metalbestos stovepipe and our insurance agent came out to inspect the installation. Done deal. But we’ve heard tales of insurance companies getting tougher on wood burning families. However, as you already have a fireplace, I’m hoping that’s not the case for you. — Jackie
I have tried my hand at dehydrating squash, pumpkin, and sweet potato this year. I did all the blanching, cooking, and cut them up as directed. Put them in my Nesco dehydrator and checked on them and rearranged the pieces and the trays a few times. Afterward I went to powder them up in the blender (Hamilton Beach) and they were so hard they wouldn’t grind up. I tried my food processor and they stopped the blade. I’ve rehydrated some pieces and they taste okay. What do I need to change so I can make a powder out of my veggies? Is my dehydrator or blender too cheap? Or is method to blame? I’ve also read some articles about top/bottom motor dehydrators not circulating the air well. Also want to know if there is any hope for the jars of veggies I have that are hard chunks?
All I ever do when dehydrating pumpkin and squash is to slice and peel the pieces, then cut slices about ¼” thick and put them on the dehydrator trays. I have an old Oster blender (from the dump) and it powders them fine. But most of the time, I rehydrate the pieces and use them in stews, casseroles, or other dishes. They rehydrate fine and absorb flavors so if you want, rehydrate them in chicken or beef broth instead of water. As I’m a Northern homesteader, I haven’t dehydrated sweet potatoes so I can’t speak about them. Your dehydrator is fine; I have one just like it. One thing you might try is grinding the pieces with an old-fashioned hand cranked meat grinder before putting them in the blender. Or else just put a couple pieces in at a time while the blender is already turned on. This has worked for me with several things that seemed to stop the blender if I just filled it up and turned it on. My son, Bill, and his wife gave us a Ninja blender for Christmas this year and looking down into its container at all the knives, I can’t imagine anything stopping it! — Jackie
Jars leaking in pressure canner
I pressure canned some tomato sauce with meat today, it appears 2 of the jars leaked in processing, the water was a bit red, and there were dried dribbles on the rims and down the jars, but they sealed, the top is concave and when turned upside down they do not leak. My question is since it is a meat sauce are they still safe?
Yep, they’re safe. This is quite common and usually happens when you either fill the jars too full or there is a fluctuation in the pressure during the processing period. As long as they sealed, you’re fine. Just take the rings off and wash the jars (and the inside of your canner!) with hot, soapy water then rinse and dry. Good to go. Happens to me from time to time so don’t worry. — Jackie