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Archive for the ‘Cooking/Recipes’ Category

Jackie Clay

Q and A: rendering bear fat and canning pepper sauce

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Rendering bear fat

I have been looking for bear fat for three years and have finally acquired 20# this last week. Early 1900’s recipes indicate that it makes the lightest and fluffiest pastries. I intend to render it like hog lard, cooking low and slow for about 4-5 hours using 1/8 cup water to initially keep it from sticking to the stainless cooker, after cooking and pouring thru a double layer of #9 cheesecloth. I want to water bath or pressure can 1/2 pint jars to eliminate keeping it in the freezer. Can you offer any suggestions of which process should be utilized and for how long?

Joe Tubb
Wartburg, Tennessee
I’ve never rendered bear fat but I’ve put a lot of beef and pork lard in our pantry and can’t say that bear fat would be handled differently. What I do successfully is once it’s rendered and strained off, I immediately put it into hot, sterilized wide mouth pints or quarts (you could use half-pints but I use enough to like pints better). Wipe the rim of the jar off very well with a hot, damp cloth and immediately put a hot lid on the jar and screw down the ring firmly tight. I do not processing of these jars and they will keep, sealed for a long time in a cool, dark location. Some folks do process their lard in a pressure canner. You would use 75 minutes at 10 pounds pressure to do this. (If you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, consult your canning book for directions on increasing your pressure to suit your elevation.) — Jackie

Canning pepper sauce

I’ve looked through numerous pepper recipes and they all call for pickling, roasting, leaving whole or in pieces and then canned with water or vinegar. We have an abundance of peppers and one of our favorite (and quick and easy) ways to use them is to cut up and cook slightly in a small amount of water. Then put in blender with a bit of salt. Good on meats, eggs, and as a dip. For really hot peppers, I cut in half and remove seeds first. Red peppers are the best — sweet with a bit of heat. I was wondering if I could pressure can this. It’s about the consistency of ketchup (it will coat a spoon). I was thinking 35 min. for pints would work but I would hate to find a few months down the road all the bounty and work was for naught.

LaNell Storbeck
Victoria, Texas

You could pressure can pureed peppers at 10 pounds pressure for 35 minutes if you don’t make a too-thick sauce, which would make it unsafe for canning. Remember to adjust your pressure to suit your altitude if you live above 1,000 feet. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: dehydrated oatmeal, canning sweet chili sauce, canning spaghetti sauce, and Sweet Dumpling squash

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Dehydrated oatmeal

I recently saw an ad for dehydrated oatmeal. Is oatmeal that I purchase from the grocery requiring a dehydration process to long-term store them? I had vacuum sealed some but left others in the store package. Any advice?


OMG, another marketing ploy! Plain old oatmeal is fine for long term storage. Oatmeal is dry or “dehydrated” already, needing no more treatment to store. And it stores for years and years! — Jackie

Canning sweet chili sauce

Here I am asking for help once again. I found this Chili recipe for sweet Thai chili sauce and it is so easy to make and good I would like to can it.

2 fresno chilis
2 Thai chilis
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup water
1/4 rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar (I used splenda)

After cooking this to thickening use 1 Tbsp. cornstarch 2 tbsp water mix then add to sauce. I got this from

Sherry Englehart
Lancaster, California

Boy, that sounds good! But search as I might, I can’t find anything similar in the “recommended” for canning archives. It’s so different. I would think that it would water bath for 15 minutes okay, but I sure can’t recommend doing so (and in this case I would use sugar, not Splenda for its preserving qualities) since you add 3/4 cup of water to the vinegar and you do have cornstarch, although not enough to make such a thick sauce as would be unsafe for canning. Sorry. — Jackie

Canning spaghetti sauce

Your spaghetti sauce with meat recipe calls for 30 lbs of tomatoes. I know it is sacrilege to ask, but since we do not have the space to grow enough tomatoes and store bought are running $1 a pound, can a quality precanned sauce be substituted? I can get #10 cans for approx $2.50 each and would substitute at one quart sauce for every 5 lbs of tomatoes. Would it also be possible to substitute Italian sausage for the ground beef? We are trying as many different recipes to cut cost in preparation for retirement.

Ken W.
Killeen, Texas

You’d be better using sauce in #10 cans rather than store tomatoes as store tomatoes taste awful and it doesn’t improve in sauce. Not to mention the COST! Use the sauce as if it were freshly made when canning, using the correct time and pressure. Yes, you can substitute Italian sausage for the ground beef but you might use a little less due to the seasoning. You are very wise to prepare so well for retirement. And you’ll eat pretty darned good too! — Jackie

Sweet Dumpling squash

Do you think I could store not-quite-ripe Sweet Dumpling squash? I cooked a couple the other night and they aren’t quite ready but I’m nervous about leaving them too much longer in the garden.

Virginia Gardner
Earlysville, Virginia
Yes, you can store them, but Sweet Dumplings really aren’t a long-term storage squash. They will store best at room temperature, not in a root cellar or basement where it’s cooler. Leave them out until temps fall into the 30 degree range at night as they’ll continue to ripen even when the leaves have been frosted. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: fruitcake, Ezekiel bread, and dehydrating tomatoes

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Fruitcake and Ezekiel bread

We are seeking “the best” MOST NUTRITIOUS FRUIT CAKE RECIPES for fruit cake that can be stored along with other “prepper” food supplies that have the greatest food value. We are non-drinkers but have no concerns about using rum or wine or other beverages in the cakes or in other baking goods. Finally, we seek your thoughts regarding Ezekiel Bread, especially in regard to food preppering.

James & Frances Wyatt
Cleveland, Tennessee

Although I don’t regard fruitcake as a “most nutritious” prepper food, here’s my favorite recipe that will store long term without soaking in rum periodically.


4 cups walnuts
2 bags mixed candied fruit
1 lb. pitted, chopped dates
1 cup raisins
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
6 eggs
½ cup orange juice
1½ Tbsp vanilla

Combine nuts and fruits. Sift dry ingredients. Add to fruit mixture and mix well. Beat eggs, orange juice and vanilla. Add to mixture. Turn into waxed paper and greased 9″x13″ pan. Bake on low center rack of oven at 275 degrees for 2 hours or until done. Cool 30 minutes. Remove from pan onto cake rack. Cool. Cut into equal sized bars, about 3 inches wide by the width of the pan. Wrap with plastic wrap then aluminum foil. Store in a cool, dark place. This stores for months for us (it doesn’t last longer as we really love it!) and I’m sure it’d store for years.

As for the Ezekiel bread, it is very nutritious and would be easily baked from ingredients in your long-term storage pantry. It does not store well, unfrozen, though. Have you tried it? We like it but have talked to a lot of folks who find it way too dense for their liking. So if you haven’t baked any, why not try a few loaves to see if it appeals to your taste. — Jackie

Dehydrating tomatoes

We are getting tons of tomatoes and I am dehydrating them … but something is going wrong. I sliced them about 1/2 thick per the directions, loaded up the trays (6) and have been running the dehydrator but some have white fuzz on them. Of course I am tossing them, but do you have any ideas on what could be going wrong before I do another set? I have a round bottom-fan dehydrator. Maybe I should ask for an Excalibur for Christmas.


I think you’re slicing the tomatoes too thick. I slice mine about 1/4 inch thick and have much better luck. That white fuzz is mold. And maybe if you only load four trays, you will dry them faster as some dehydrators don’t like to be loaded so heavily with such wet produce as tomatoes. Good luck with getting the Excalibur … I haven’t gotten mine yet! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: using canned cabbage and canning apple juice

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Using canned cabbage

I have read how you can cabbage. What did you use it for after? We like fried cabbage and cabbage and potatoes done in the crock pot.

Joline Fleming
Rossiter, Pennsylvania

Sure you can home can cabbage. Some “experts” tell you that it’s too “strong” to can. Phooey! I can it every year. When I go to use it, I simply drain off the liquid and gently rinse the cabbage in cold water. Drain and use. If you want to fry potatoes and cabbage in your crockpot, do the potatoes first (unless they are canned), then add the cabbage as it’s already cooked. I often just fry it, then add a bit of milk. Or I use it in boiled dinners (toward the end). We love our canned cabbage. — Jackie

Canning apple juice

I’ve made some sort of juice by boiling apples in water and canning the resulting juice. It’s the best I can do without a regular juicer. What do you think of that? Also I didn’t know about making apple sauce with the pulp.

Louise Sandy

Before I had a steam juicer, I used to cut up my unpeeled apples, remove the stem, then add a little water and cook them gently, covered, until the apples were soft. Then I strained off the juice with a jelly bag. Once done, you can then either put your apples through a Victorio tomato strainer or use a sieve or Foley mill to separate the pulp from the skins, seeds, etc. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning with flour, apple trees with fire blight, and dehydrated zucchini

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Canning with flour and apple trees with fire blight

I made your mustard beans the other day, but am wondering about the flour in it. I am assuming it’s safe to can, but am wondering what makes it safe? Is it the amount of sugar/vinegar?
Also, our 23 year old apple trees have fire blight. It is impossible to get all of it pruned from them as they are so large. Is this a lost cause? We trimmed as much as we could, but I still see some in the upper branches. Should we just cull them?
Liz Wheeler
Miles City, Montana

The thing with recipes with added flour is that most of them make a recipe that is too thick to safely can. The mustard bean pickles have plenty of vinegar and sugar but the small amount of flour doesn’t make the “sauce” too thick, more like honey mustard dipping sauce, not like very thick gravy.

I’d try to give those trees a chance by taking off the top of the tree. You can use a chainsaw and whack off the entire top branches that show fireblight infection. In commercial orchards, many use a tree topping machine mounted on a hydraulic arm of a tractor; sort of like a brush hog to give all of the trees a periodic flat-top, making the trees spread out and be easier to pick. So don’t be afraid to be a bit drastic in your pruning. It just may save those trees. Be sure to burn the affected branches so you don’t spread the disease by leaving them lying around. — Jackie

Dehydrated zucchini

While answering another reader’s question, you mentioned that you use sliced, dehydrated zucchini in many recipes. I’d love to know how you use it. You may have mentioned this in your cookbook, but I’ve loaned it to a friend and can’t check right now.

Lisa Smith
Sunbury, Pennsylvania

I toss a handful or two into my potatoes au gratin and scalloped potatoes. I also use it as an ingredient in mixed casseroles, stews, and soups to name a few. You can also rehydrate it and drain, then toss into a batch of fried potatoes and onions about halfway through cooking. The dehydrated zucchini is VERY versatile! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: splitting tomatoes and sourdough bread

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Splitting tomatoes

Should you pull green tomatoes after a heavy rain to keep them from splitting?

Kelly Craven
Kernersville, North Carolina

I don’t do this but if you’re having trouble with your almost ripe green tomatoes splitting, you could sure do this to avoid it. Don’t pull all your green tomatoes, however. Just the ones that are large and starting to show blushing color. — Jackie

Sourdough bread

I want to start making sourdough bread for my husband that loves it. I have your Pantry cookbook, and have read the whole section. I have a few questions though. The Grandma Eddy’s sourdough starter that is on page 127 does not have any liquid listed. It says 1 pkg. dry yeast, 1/2 tsp. sugar, 2 cups flour. Is there suppose to be a liquid for a binding agent? I have read so many posts in the forums and online about how to make good sourdough that it is overwhelming! It is better to try and get an established starter from someone else to use? Once I have a starter, are all recipes interchangeable when they call for so much of the starter? Is there a good guide anywhere that gives step by step instructions on maintaining the starter and making the bread? It is so hard now a days for younger folks as we no longer have grandparents or great grandparents around to teach us how to do these things or guide us. Thanks for any help on this you can give.

That recipe was an OOPs. There should have been 2 cups lukewarm water added to that recipe. (In the next printing that will be corrected.) Yes, once you have a starter, it is pretty much interchangeable with any recipe. A cup of starter is a cup of starter, no matter what starter or what recipe. Above the recipes, there is a bit about keeping the starter going. It’s really easy and is not rocket science. But you’ll have to monkey around until you get the hang of it. It is a skill, just like baking bread or making pies. But it is easy so don’t be afraid to try. There are recipes in the Pantry Cookbook for sourdough bread, pancakes, biscuits, and English muffins (pgs 128-129) to get you started. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: Southern blight and Elderberry pie

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Southern blight

I just wanted to give you an update on the tomato plants that I grew from your seeds. All of them germinated and grew nicely until our wet summer has given my garden a bad case of the Southern blight. It killed all of my beans and tomatoes but the Mexican tommy toes (Punta Banda) were the last to succumb to the disease. I was able to get one picking off of all of the varieties but many pickings off of the tommy toes. So I believe we can say that the Punta Bandas are resistant to Southern blight. Thankfully my grandparents tomatoes are doing well so I am going to have enough in the pantry for the winter, though just barely. Now for the question, if you could only plant two or three paste tomatoes varieties which ones would you plant. I have only had my farm for one year so my garden area is small but expanding, so I can only plant 30 tomato plants. I have tried many different varieties but was wondering what your favorites were.

Staci Hill
Murfreesboro, Arkansas

Is your soil well drained? Often folks mistake plants dying from wet roots for Southern blight. With Southern blight, you will have plants that suddenly wilt and die. On examination, you’ll find white mats of fungus at soil level and lesions on the plant stems right at soil level. It does affect both tomatoes and beans. (To help prevent it, pull and burn any affected plants then lay a sheet of clear plastic over the area and weight it down with boards or rocks. Leave in place for about 6 weeks. This will “cook” the disease spores and usually does the trick for next year’s crop.) Punta Banda is pretty free of early blight too. And it’s a very productive tomato. In fact, it is one of our very favorite paste tomatoes although it doesn’t look like a paste tomato, being round, not oblong. It is very meaty and its small size makes it perfect to pick and toss into our Victorio tomato strainer, which removes the seeds and skins. The purée requires much less cooking down than many other paste tomato purée. Another of our favorites is San Marzano and also the hybrid Super Marzano, developed from it. — Jackie

Elderberry pie

I’ve made elderberry jam for two days now. Need your recipe for elderberry pie, please. Looked through your books and anthologies, can’t find it. Do you use your canned elderberries for the pie?

Draza Knezevich
Miramonte, California

Here’s one recipe for elderberry pie that’s very easy. Use fresh elderberries.

pastry for a 2-crust pie
1 quart ripe elderberries
1 cup sugar
a little flour

Wash and drain the berries. Stir sugar well into fruit and turn into a pie pan lined with crust. Sprinkle a little flour over the filling to absorb juice, and cover with an upper crust. Bake for 40 minutes (400° F for 15 minutes; 375° F until done). Serve cold with a little sugar sifted over top or with whipped cream..

To make an elderberry pie with canned elderberries, drain and reserve 1 cup juice. Make a paste in a saucepan using 3 Tbsp. cornstarch, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, and reserved juice, a little added at a time until all has been used. Add 1 cup sugar (a little less if you canned the elderberries in a heavy syrup). Stir well and slowly bring to a boil and cook until thick. Remove from heat and add elderberries. Pour into a pie crust and top with the top crust. Bake at 375° F until done.

When baking an elderberry pie, it’s a good idea to put the pie tin on a cookie sheet as it will sometimes bubble over, making a mess of your oven, — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: kohlrabi and bread and butter pickles

Friday, August 8th, 2014


I have kohlrabi coming out of my ears. Can I can them or would they be better frozen. I’m not sure what to do with them.

Polly Miller
Neshkoro, Wisconsin

You can use kohlrabi in a pickle recipe, in place of cucumbers. But they really don’t can up nicely. I’d freeze the rest. One of our favorite kohlrabi recipes is diced in a cheese sauce. Mmmm. Or sliced on a salad. Darn, now I’m hungry! — Jackie

Bread and butter pickles

I made your bread and butter pickle recipe. However, I did not rinse the cucumbers/onion mixture after soaking them with the salt and ice. The taste seems salty to me. Should you rinse the cukes/onions as the recipe only says to drain well? What about other recipes that use salt to remove excess water in pickles or summer squash?

Jacqueline Scott
Nampa, Idaho

I don’t rinse my pickles, but I do kind of swish them around to make sure the salt is well mixed with the water. If you wish to rinse them, you certainly may. I don’t find my bread and butter pickles salty and as we don’t use much salt, I am quite sensitive to it. — Jackie



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