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Archive for the ‘Food Preservation’ Category
Sunday, February 23rd, 2014
I recently got a deal on canned ham; can I re-can this into glass jars? If so, how? Also, have you ever made carrot kraut? How?
Linconton, North Carolina
You bet you can re-can canned hams. You’ll just can the ham up as if it were fresh ham with the processing time (75 minutes for pints or half-pints; 90 minutes for quarts). The broth can be either boiling water or ham-flavored dry soup base in water, according to directions.
No, I haven’t made carrot kraut. But I did find this recipe for you on www.culturesforhealth.com.
4 cups grated carrots
1 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger root
1 Tbsp. sea salt (or 2 if not using whey)
4 Tbsp. whey (optional)
1. Grate carrots using the larger hole setting on either a box grater or your food processor.
2. In a medium-size bowl mix grated carrots, grated ginger, sea salt, and whey (if using). Once all ingredients are evenly distributed move them to a quart-size canning jar or other non-reactive fermenting vessel.
3. Press mixture down tightly into vessel with either a wooden utensil or your fist. Be sure to pack them down tightly enough that the liquid (brine) covers the shredded carrots.
4. Seal with a lid and allow to ferment at a cool room temperature (60° to 75°F degrees being optimal) for 5 to 10 days or until bubbly and tangy to your liking.
5. Move jar to cold storage.
Carrots are often added to regular sauerkraut making a different tasting and appearing kraut, as are caraway seeds and ginger. Variety is so nice! — Jackie
Dehydrated tomatoes for spaghetti sauce
I have seen lately on blogs and facebook that folks are using dehydrated tomato skins to thicken up their spaghetti sauce to cut down on the amount of time it takes to cook down. Have you ever tried this method? How did it taste? If you wanted to use this method and can the sauce, would it be safe to can if you did not thicken it too much? Would you use the same times and methods as canning regular spaghetti sauce?
I’ve added sliced dehydrated whole tomatoes to spaghetti sauce but I really can’t say I like the result as well or better than reducing the puree by either cooking it (I use a turkey roaster in my oven at its lowest setting overnight; some folks use a crock pot on their counter) or by simmering on the stovetop. Last year, I reduced the liquid first by putting my whole and quartered tomatoes in my Mehu Liisa steam juicer first, draining off the tomato broth (it’s watery looking but makes great soup base) then running the tomatoes through my Victorio tomato strainer. The puree was MUCH thicker. And of course, if you use meaty, paste-type tomatoes to start with, there is always much less cooking down time.
If you did want to use the method you discovered, it would be safe. Just don’t thicken it down to tomato paste consistency. If it should get too thick, just add a bit of tomato juice to thin it a bit. Times and methods would be the same as if you were canning “regular” spaghetti sauce. — Jackie
Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
Prickly pear cactus
My prickly pear gets a green bud at the bottom and at the top of the bud it is red, about 1½ inches high then turns into a leaf later. Do you know is this an edible prickly pear? It has prickers and oval shaped about 8″- 10″ pads. It is all about 10 feet tall.
I don’t know of a prickly pear that isn’t edible. You can eat the young, tender pads with the fat, new prickers, or the red fruit that forms after the blossoms fade. — Jackie
For canning hard-boiled eggs, can I use some honey in the vinegar for a sweet and sour taste? If so, may I add honey to taste or is there a specific proportion of honey to vinegar to maintain the proper acidity for the canning?
I wouldn’t add honey to your canned hard-boiled eggs. If you want, once the jar is opened, you could pour out the brine and add honey to taste, then pour the brine back on the eggs and keep the jar in the refrigerator until eaten. — Jackie
Saturday, February 15th, 2014
Is this recipe safe to “oven bake” to seal? Would this be good for storage?
2 cups instant mashed potatoes
1¾ cups powdered milk
2 Tbsp. instant chicken or veg bouillon granules
1½ tsp. seasoning salt
2 tsp. dried onion flakes
1 tsp. dried parsley
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. white pepper
¼ tsp. dried thyme
In a medium bowl mix dry ingredients well and pour into a 1 quart jar. Seal and attach ring. Place ½ cup of soup mix in a bowl. To prepare add 1 cup boiling water and stir to smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Boy, Judith, I’d wonder about the bouillon granules becoming rancid after a time. Otherwise, it should “oven can” pretty well. You might try a couple of pint jars to see how it does. — Jackie
I was gifted 8 pounds of pecans and walnuts and decided to can them per your instructions. For some mindless reason I used quart jars instead of the pint jars recommended. I pressured them for the 10 minutes called for at 5 pounds of pressure. Will they be okay and how long can I expect them to last? And why is it that you want to only use pint or half-pint jars? Also what should the head space be? In your canning book you recommend leaving 1 inch of head space while in some of your back articles I see 1/2 inch head space. Thanks so very much for taking time to answer these questions. I am learning so very much from you and being retired … it is really helping out a lot!
I’m so glad to be of help, Lettie. Your nuts will be fine and can be expected to stay good for years. I’m still using the pecans I canned while living in New Mexico 15 years ago. The reason you use pint and half-pint jars is that once you open a quart, it is then prone to getting rancid, just like fresh nutmeats. With a pint or half-pint, you usually use the nuts up soon enough before they go bad.
The headspace really doesn’t matter although I use 1 inch to make absolutely sure none are touching the underside of the lids which could possibly cause a chemical reaction, darkening the lids. (The nuts would still be okay.) At the price of nuts today, getting 8 pounds gifted to you is really great! Enjoy them. — Jackie
Friday, February 14th, 2014
I have an old bread making bucket that I found at a yard sale. It’s has some rust but is in good shape. Can you share with me how to clean it so it would be safe to use?
Lebanon, New Hampshire
I’d just wash it out well with hot, soapy water and scrub the rust spots with a steel wool pad. Rinse well and you’re all set to go. You got quite a find! — Jackie
Transporting canned goods
I am moving from 2500 ft. in the Sierra Nevada mountains to Idaho via interstate 80 over a pass of 8000 feet. I have many canned jars of food to transport. Will the high elevation blow the lids? Many do not have the rings on them. Would the rings protect the seals more?
I’ve moved several times from low altitude to high and the other way around and have had no problems with my canning jars losing their seals. No, adding rings won’t do anything to prevent jars from coming unsealed but it would keep the mess contained if this would possibly happen. I would make sure to pack the jars well so they don’t jiggle or bounce around as this could cause seals to fail. — Jackie
Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
When dry canning can you do a product that has yeast? Also, this may be crazy but as another emergency water source could you hot water bath water as a way for long term supply?
I wouldn’t dry can a food that contains yeast. Yeast is a living plant and can be killed by heat.
Yes, a lot of folks can emergency water. Some just add a few jars of water to each partial batch of canning they do, while others just can a batch of plain water. Personally, I would rather just store larger containers of water without canning them, which wastes jars and lids, then just renew the water each year to keep it fresh tasting. Five-gallon containers work well but I really prefer a large, vertical water tank in the basement, if you have one. Ours holds 300 gallons and we have two. (As we are off grid, we only run our generator to power such heavy draws as our water pump which pumps water into those tanks in the basement. Then we have a 12-volt water pump in-line to supply water pressure throughout the house without having to turn on the well.) It’s amazing how much water you use in a day and how fast those quarts of canned water will be used up. — Jackie
I got some Hopi Pale Grey seeds from a Seed Savers Exchange member a few years ago. I have grown them a couple of times and they are always in the 3 to 4 pound range. The description from Baker Creek lists them more like 10.
I was wondering if mine are like the ones you have. I actually like the smaller ones as there isn’t so much to use, but the meat isn’t very thick.
I’m saving the seeds; one squash had large seeds and the next one had lots of smaller seeds. I tested germination and they both did well. I’m mostly wondering about the size of the squash–if they are true to type.
It often has a lot to do with the soil type and how much water the squash receive during the growing season. For instance, mine are usually in the 7-12 pound range but we got ours in quite late last spring and it was very hot. We watered the garden, of course, but as we have sandy loam, I’m sure we should have watered more. Last fall, we only had five over 10 pounds and 85 in the 3-5 pound range. The smaller squash had smaller seeds and also thinner meat. This was quite unusual and it was the same seed I’ve saved over the past 18 years. I’m sure it was the growing conditions. Hope this helps. — Jackie
Monday, February 3rd, 2014
Learning to can and soil preparation
I have been reading your blog for some time now, and just getting the nerve to do canning. I put up some peach jam with water bath canning last season, and purchased a pressure canner in anticipation of pressure canning this season. Being a visual learner, have you ever considered doing some DVDs on pressure canning? I know I would feel more comfortable with this method. I do have all your books.
Secondly, I live in the woods of Maine, and the surface soil is sparse and full of pine needles, any suggestions on how to beef up the soil inexpensively? I do have a small series of raised beds. I live on the edge of a pond, so watershed safety is necessary as well.
South Berwick, Maine
Yes, we have thought of doing DVDs, as Dave Duffy my boss at the magazine suggested. We actually have shot some video at our last seminar and will let you know when it gets put together.
As for your garden soil, rotted manure will fix it right up. You probably have acidic soil (you might want to do a simple pH test) and adding lime would probably help, too. Our soil here on our homestead used to be a layer of pine needles, an inch of topsoil, and 18 inches of rocky, sandy gravel. Now we have about a foot of nice, black, sandy loam. But it did take a few years of both adding rotted manure and picking rocks! — Jackie
We have a new homestead and we are currently raising our first 2 pigs (Duroc-Hampshire crosses) that we hope to process in a few months at the 220-240 lb range. We will put some of the meat in the freezer and give some to friends, but what do you recommend for other longer term storage options — curing, canning, smoking, etc.? What and how many materials do we need? How long will it take? What special instructions should I tell the butcher? Are there any lower carb recipes — can we replace brown sugar with splenda for canned pulled pork?
Los Gatos, California
Wow, your first two pigs on your new homestead — how exciting! For a first-time home meat experience, I’d probably have your butcher smoke the bacon and ham; you’ve got enough on your plate to worry about the smoking. Let that go until the next time you butcher. Meanwhile, read up on the process and gather your basic supplies (brining and smoking supplies are available at most farm and ranch stores and even big box stores as this is getting very popular). Maybe you could butcher one hog first then do the second later when you’ve felt more comfortable with the smoking process.
Smoking meat is very easy, requiring brining first then hanging in an enclosed container that will hold smoke. You won’t be “cooking” the meat, just using a cool smoke made up of sweet wood chips such as apple, hickory, or mesquite. My first smoker was an old dryer body. Other “smokers” have included a clean barrel and even a hollow log. You can also buy either a propane or electric smoker which is much easier and less work. You smoke for the length of time required for the thickness of the meat. Sides of bacon only require several hours where full hams, about three times that, or more, depending on how smoky you like your meat. With the hams, you will be injecting brine in, next to the bones, before smoking to ensure complete curing. This is done with a special brining syringe.
Even with smoked meat, I’d recommend freezing or canning as most modern smoking does not cure the meat enough to store at room temperature as did the old ways. Why not smoke your meat that way then? Smoked meat done as they did in the past was dry and very smoky flavored, much more than we modern folks like.
I can up a lot of our pork, including ham, bacon, pork chops, ribs, and sausage patties. I’d have your butcher grind all scraps and include any not-so-good roasts so you can make sausage. You can either make breakfast sausage patties or use this ground pork to mix with beef or venison to make summer sausage or Italian sausage. This can either just be mixed and seasoned (again, there are seasoning packets available locally, I’m sure, in many sporting sections of even big box stores) for patties or if you have a sausage stuffer available, in casings to make links.
I know it all sounds daunting but once you try, you’ll be SO glad you took the trouble. It really is so easy and tasty! Yes, you can replace brown sugar with Splenda but the results are not as good, in my opinion. — Jackie
Saturday, February 1st, 2014
I’m curious about David. I’ve been a reader since 2002 and feel like we readers have watched him grow up. How is he doing nowdays? Is he in college or working somewhere? Like I said, curious. Maybe you could write an article and update us? (please)
Lee (aka Pigzzilla)
Grants Pass, Oregon
David is doing just great. He is in college taking a Millwright course (heavy equipment operation and maintenance, welding, blueprinting, etc.). It is a two-year course and he will finish in 2015. In the summer, he still works on our neighbor’s farm, driving big four-wheel-drive tractors, usually making hay all summer. Thanks for your interest in our family! — Jackie
Recanning tomatoes and tomato sauce
We were given a lot of #10 cans of Hunts tomato sauce and red gold diced tomatoes. There is no way we can use the entire can at one time. I was wondering if I could open the cans and fill my quart size canning jars and possibly pressure can them or water bath can them. Is this possible?
Heck yes! I’ve done it a lot when I’ve been gifted with the same or have bought #10 cans at a real cheap price at a closeout store. Just open the cans and pour them into a large pot. Slowly heat to a simmer then ladle out into either quart or pint canning jars. Process them in a boiling water bath canner just as if you were canning fresh tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. Remember to use the same time; you can’t use less time just because they were previously canned. (And do remember to count your processing time from when the canner’s water returns to a full rolling boil after you load your jars into it.) — Jackie
Friday, January 31st, 2014
Trouble with Ball lids
Regarding ask Jackie letter, Trouble with Ball lids in Jan/Feb magazine. I had the same reliability problems with Ball lids. Ordered bulk lids from Lehman’s. These are made in USA, come in paper sleeves aprox. 288 per sleeve. Have used 600 plus in past three years. Have had less than a dozen failures to seal, most likely my fault. The rubber on the lids is thicker as is the coating. Have used regular and wide mouth with same results. Hope this helps.
Locust Grove, Georgia
Thanks for your input, John. Lehman’s does have many homesteader-friendly products! — Jackie
Purchasing #10 cans
I want to can some dry food in #10 cans. I cannot find a place to buy cans that do not require a purchase of thousands of cans. We need only a hundred or so to start with. We are buying a sealer with some friends to share.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Two sources of #10 cans are: House of Cans (www.houseofcans.com) and Container Supply Company (www.containersupplycompnay.com). I hope one of these companies will work for you. Good luck with your project! — Jackie