Top Navigation  
U.S. Flag waving
Office Hours Momday - Friday  8 am - 5 pm Pacific 1-800-835-2418
Facebook   YouTube   Twitter
 Home Page
 Current Issue
 Article Index
 Author Index
 Previous Issues

 Kindle Subscriptions
 Kindle Publications
 Back Issues
 Discount Books
 All Specials
 Classified Ad

 Web Site Ads
 Magazine Ads

 BHM Forum
 Contact Us/
 Change of Address

Forum / Chat
 Forum/Chat Info
 Lost Password
 Write For BHM

Link to BHM

Ask Jackie headline

Click here to ask Jackie a question!
Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
on any aspect of low-tech, self-reliant living.

Order from Amazon. Order from the publisher, save 10%, and get FREE shipping.

Archive for May, 2015

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning meat and canning lard

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Canning meat

How do you can meat? I have never tried to do it, but my mom did it when I was very young.

Bettye Bryan
Water Valley, Mississippi

Meat is very easy to can and it’s so useful, once in the pantry. I’d strongly suggest getting a copy of my book, Growing and Canning Your Own Food, for detailed instructions on canning all kinds of meat and meat based recipes.

To can meat, first gently brown it; it doesn’t need to be completely cooked as it will cook during processing. Cut the meat into convenient chunks or slices to fit easily into jars. Use the pan drippings to make a broth, mixing them with water. Pour this boiling broth over the meat, ending up with an inch of headspace (or room) at the top of the jar. Wipe the rim of the jar off to remove any particles or grease. Place a previously simmered, hot new lid on the jar and tighten the ring down firmly tight. In your pressure canner, pour two inches of water. Insert the rack to keep jars off the bottom of the canner. Fill canner with jars and clamp the lid on and turn on the heat. Leave the weight off or the petcock open so air and steam can exhaust. When the steam shoots out in a steady stream for 5 minutes or the time recommended by your canner’s manual, place weight on or shut petcock to build up pressure. Process pints at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes and quarts at 10 pounds pressure for 90 minutes in a pressure canner. When the time is up, turn off the heat and let the canner sit until the pressure has returned to zero and remained for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and, using a jar lifter, lift out each jar and place on a folded towel in a draft-free spot to cool. When cool, check to make sure the centers of the lids are indented, which indicates that they are sealed. Remove the ring and wash the jar in warm, soapy water to remove any grease or minerals on the jar. Dry and store in your pantry. Do not put the rings back on, as they do nothing to ensure the seal and only trap moisture, resulting in rusty lids.

Again, I’d strongly recommend getting Growing and Canning for a whole lot more information. — Jackie

Canning lard

What process is best for canning lard? Some say to pressure can it; some say to heat it and pour into hot jars then add the lid and ring and let the cooling lard create a seal; some say to water bath it. I’m looking for a safe way to store it unrefrigerated.

Michelle Schwarzin
Crane, Oregon

I’ve always canned my lard by ladling the hot lard into hot jars, wiping the rim to remove any grease then adding a hot lid and screwing down the ring firmly tight.

I don’t feel it necessary to pressure can it (pressure canning can actually blow some liquid lard out under the lids, resulting in a bad seal). Water bathing would do nothing but ensure a seal. Any type of canning is unnecessary. The enemy of lard is air and once sealed, air cannot get to the lard to turn it rancid. The hot lard, hot jar method has worked for me for more than 50 years. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Lots has been happening

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

The spring rush is here in full force with sunny, nice weather. Things are really jumping on the homestead. We have two turkeys sitting on eggs and three hens have already hatched baby chicks. One had eight, another only two and one more today had four. All are good moms. The hens are Buff Orpington/Cornish cross and the rooster is a Buff Orpington, so the chicks should be nice.

Will and Krystal have weeded out tons of grass around the blueberries, laid down mulching fabric, and put six inches of sawdust over that for a dense mulch. Blueberries like acid and the sawdust will help, although our soil is a little acidic to start with. The bushes are doing well.

Our berry patch has been neglected after Will and I fell off the barn roof a couple years back, but now we are trying mightily to re-do it. Will and Krystal dug lots of Polana red raspberry canes that had popped up all over the place around the original canes, pulled out the grass roots and replanted them in nice rows that Will had tilled with the tractor tiller. It looks so nice! Now we’ve got to get them mulched heavily with hay, as grass and weeds are a problem in that spot.

Krystal and I mulched the asparagus rows in the berry patch with old reed canary grass hay after I shoveled rotted manure down the rows. The asparagus will soon take a jump as the asparagus in the garden was treated the same and already the spears are as thick as my thumb!

This afternoon, I’m starting to plant onions, lettuce, spinach in the garden. The plastic is up on the small hoop house and Will is about ready to put the greenhouse fabric (plastic) up on the big one. But it’s windy today, so that’ll have to wait. It’s a big chunk of plastic to handle! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: shelf life of canned foods and electronic pressure cooker

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Shelf life of canned foods

I have recently cleaned and rearranged our pantry and found several store bought cans with the expiration date of 2013 and 2014, are they still good and how long can I keep store bought cans?

Claudine Norwood
Wagoner, Oklahoma

Like your home-canned foods, store-bought foods remain good until the can rusts out. I’ve found that the expiration date is a suggestion that makes people throw out “outdated” food. Don’t throw away perfectly good food and go buy more that is “fresh.” Use that food instead! — Jackie

Electronic pressure cooker

You are so on top of things that I have a question for you. You may have already addressed this question and if so, I apologize for asking it again. Have you used the new electronic pressure cooker? It’s called “The original Power Pressure Cooker XL.” Its website is: They advertise that it can be used for pressure canning. Since it is electric and electronic, I am a little bit skeptical.

Pati Sandstrom
Olympia, Washington

A lot of pressure cookers are advertised as being able to be used as a canner, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. Get a canner for canning. I’ve gotten in the habit of either fixing quick meals from my “meals in a jar” in the pantry, which are already cooked and canned or else doing things the old-fashioned way using the oven or stove top. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Spring’s early so we’re planting

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

But we know it might still freeze, so everything is being planted with that in mind. We got the greenhouse plastic up on the big hoop house (12’x32′) and Will and Krystal got the 6-mil plastic up on the small hoop house while I was in Montana. I’ve planted Blacktail watermelon and Sugar Salmon muskmelon in the small house (Will wanted some started inside, also, so that’s done, as well.) I’m hauling peppers out to the big hoop house where one end will be peppers and I’ll be planting some of the 1,500-year-old beans I brought back from New Mexico. I sure hope they’ll germinate; I haven’t grown them for years. They are a long-season pole bean resembling a runner or lima. I have about 100 beans so we’ll see.

I managed to get the broccoli, cauliflower, and some cabbage planted as well as teach Krystal how to cut up potato sets. We let them sit in the air for a few days so they can heal the wet cuts and start to get green sprouts instead of white ones — they make better and more potatoes that way.

I’ve also planted Hopi Pale Grey squash and some new Native squash and pumpkins — direct seeded into the garden. I hope they don’t freeze! They will take about 10-12 days to emerge so we’ll cross our fingers.

Will got about half of the siding on the new barn’s west side. It looks great. He also cleaned out the irrigation system for the garden, yard, berry patch, and orchard. What a job! Lots of fine little gravel in the faucets, plugging them up, even though we have a filter on it on the intake end. This happens about every year when we first start up.

On Sunday, I roasted a big chicken and we had a wonderful dinner. But there was tons of meat left so I picked it off the bones then boiled the carcass. Yesterday I canned up seven pints and three quarts of chicken, chicken and broth, and plain broth. That’s a whole lot of meals from one chicken!

Tomatoes, more squash, and pumpkins are next, so I’d better get to work. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

There’s no place like home

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Well, we’re back from another whirlwind trip to Montana and back! Whew! We drove straight out there in 22 hours (obeying the speed limit). Got a motel and a good night’s sleep. In the morning, we went 20 miles to get Javid’s handicap van. It sat all winter and we were wondering if it had four flat tires and if it would start. Luckily, it had four round tires and with the help of David’s battery jumper pack, it started right up, even with old gas in the tank. It drove right up the ramp and in 15 minutes, David had it strapped down and ready to haul.

David’s girlfriend, Hannah, had never been out west and had never seen a mountain and he wanted to show her Yellowstone Park. Since we were “only” 150 miles away, we set out immediately as the van had loaded so easily. We unhitched the trailer with the van on it to pick up later.

We had been to the park many times and knew the routes we wanted her to see. Boy, in all our trips through the park, I’d never seen so many animals of all different kinds. We saw bighorn sheep close up, elk, buffalo, coyote, and a wolf. And we saw two different grizzly bears! One was far off and with the telephoto, we could just make it out good enough to take some so-so photos. But the second bear was only about 120 yards away, digging roots. We were so excited! Both David and I got some decent photos. Then my batteries died! And I’d left my spares in my duffle in the motel.

Hannah was thrilled to not only go right up in the mountains but to see snow in late May (one road was still closed due to snow) and all those animals.

We headed back to the motel at dark and got in kind of late. In the morning, we hooked up the trailer and headed east. And drove. And drove. And drove. We spent the night in Dickenson, North Dakota, and drove on the next morning. We left Javid’s van off at son, Bill’s (he’ll check it over for mechanical issues) then headed north. After leaving off the trailer at the U-haul dealer, we headed home. It was snowing hard! Then David came around a corner and there, right across the road, were two big trees! Luckily, David is always prepared. He carries his chainsaw and lots of tools at all times. He hopped out and started sawing the trees up. We hauled off branches and in a few minutes we were on the road again.

Boy, our bed felt good! This morning, I took the tour. Will had rain all the time we were gone but he and Krystal managed to get the plastic on the small hoop house and plant black raspberries as well as countless other chores. I’m glad to be home. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: raising beef and orioles

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Raising beef

I’ve been looking for information on raising my own calf or two for beef. Do you have some suggestions on what I need to do? I’ve raised my own chickens and turkeys but want to raise my own beef now. I know you buy calves at auction, what should I look for? So many questions.

Jennifer Grahovac

Several issues past (Issue #120, November/December 2009) I wrote a lengthy article on raising calves on a bottle. I’d suggest you read the article. You can buy calves at the auction barn but it’s much better to buy them from a local farmer. At an auction, calves trade “germs” readily and you often bring home calves already exposed to diseases such as scours (severe diarrhea) or pneumonia. When feeding your calves, always buy the best milk replacer available, which is also the most expensive. Cheaper replacers contain soy instead of milk-based protein and are not as digestible and will often cause calves to scour, which can be deadly. When calves scour, which bottle-raised calves often do, immediately take them off of milk replacer and instead give a bottle of mixed calf electrolytes (I like the one with gel as it soothes the calf’s digestive tract at the same time.) Only give the electrolytes until the calf’s stool is almost normal. At that point you can begin mixing milk with electrolytes and get the calf back onto milk. Again, read the article; it’ll help you out a bunch. — Jackie


Saw my first Orioles today! Do you have your grape jelly out? Seems kind of cool for them to be here.(SE Minnesota, around Rochester)

Carol Applen
Eyota, Minnesota

Yes, I do, plus three feeders with “oriole juice,” too. I love the orioles and they have such a pretty song too! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Rain, rain, rain

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

We’ve had nearly two inches of rain in two days and guess what? It’s raining again today. But at least it isn’t snowing. Monday we had heavy snow and rain — but we did need it. The creeks and beaver ponds were very low — like they are late August. Now they’re getting higher.

The cover of my newest book, Autumn of the Loons, is in the finishing stages; the painting has been sent to the publisher and I’ve got it back. Guess what? You readers can decide on the print of the cover title. The publisher and I can’t make up our minds which color print we like best so he suggested we let readers vote and help us make the decision. If you’d like to help, too, and go to the Jess Hazzard Series Facebook page ( and you can cast your vote so it’ll get done. Then it’s off to the printers and we’ll have it finished. The blog photo is of the cover painting to give you some idea of what we have. Please check out the Facebook page!

Friday, I’m heading for Montana again. Another fast trip to pick up our adopted son Javid’s handicap accessible van which has been in storage over winter. He sure misses having “wheels.” It hasn’t run for a year so we’re hauling it back on a car hauler behind David’s pickup truck. David is now building log homes for Voyageur Log Homes of Orr, Minnesota and can only take two days off work. So it’ll be a hurry out in one 22-hour day and night, get the van on the trailer, and then head home. Whew, I’m getting too old to do that!

Will and our new apprentice, Krystal, will man the homestead while I’m gone. I’m hoping we have a relatively easy trip without any break-downs. I’ll be glad to have it done so I can get back to homesteading and planting! We’ll be taking the van down to my oldest son Bill’s for him to go over and fix any problems before we drive it up for Javid to use. He doesn’t drive but friends often drive for him on shopping or fun trips. He misses that.

If I miss my blog post on Monday, we’re still on the road. I’ll post as soon as we’re home! I promise. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Great weekend — got a lot done

Monday, May 11th, 2015

We had a little rain on Saturday, but not much. So this weekend we got a lot done. Will and Krystal moved the big hoop house off of the garden so he could till the spot well with the tractor mounted-tiller. That was a huge job because it was really heavy and 32 feet long. They slipped 2x4s and 2x6s under it to skid it on and pried it with a long bar. They’d tried to lift and slide it but the center came apart — too much torque.

Once off the garden, Will tilled again, this time getting the entire garden. He removed the short section of the fence from the goat gate to the garden gate, moved a whole bunch of fence posts and other stuff, then Saturday tilled the end, including that spot that hadn’t gotten manured or tilled for a couple of years. Now it looks great and is fluffy, deep soil. The tiller did turn up a ton of rocks, long buried, so Krystal got plenty of experience picking rocks. Poor Krystal!

Mother’s Day, we met Bill and his family and David and his girlfriend at Byrns Greenhouse in Zim for our traditional Mother’s Day flower blow-out. We were so thrilled to be in the warm greenhouse with all those plants! They smelled great! Granddaughter, Ava, especially loved smelling the roses and feeling their fallen petals. Of course, I walked too much on my bad knee (couldn’t help it!) and it’s swollen like a bugger. I guess I struck it on my way off the front porch last week.

Yes, I’m feeling much better, except the knee. (One thing I’ve learned is that if you don’t DO anything, you don’t get hurt! Stuff happens.)

We came home with a carload of flowers and so did Bill and Kelly. After we ate a big meal of roasted chicken breast, potato salad, chips, and pumpkin pie (Yum!) we took a walk around the homestead so everyone could see what we’ve been up to. Even I was so impressed with the soil Will had tilled up in the pumpkin/corn patch on the new 40. It looks like a golf course in progress. (No, Dave, you CAN’T come play on it; no grass!) The pig pasture also had been tilled and looks great too. I can’t wait to get to planting.

While everyone was here yesterday, we all got hold of the bottom frame and end braces across the doors and manually picked the big hoop house up and walked it (took one break halfway!) back to its location in the garden, over nicely-tilled soil.

But it’s raining hard today, so no planting. Well … maybe a few perennials I bought yesterday. — Jackie


Copyright © 1998 - Present by Backwoods Home Magazine. All Rights Reserved.