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Ask Jackie headline

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Archive for the ‘Food Preservation’ Category

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning beans with beef bones and dry canning ground beef

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Canning beans with beef bones

I have some great northern beans and I want to make some to can but only have beef bones. Will they work or do I need to get some ham bones? I need to use these beef bones up. I have a bunch from the three steers we butchered.

Nancy Foster
Dallas City, Illinois

Sure you can use beef soup bones. While ham or bacon is more commonly used, beef broth flavors beans very nicely. I usually also add some chopped onions and a few simple spices too. You’ll love them that way! — Jackie

Dry canning ground beef

I am not sure I understand the term “dry canning.” The person that was dry canning ground beef used this method. Does this mean not adding anything but the browned meat to the jars? No liquid?

Judith Almand
Brandon, Florida

Dry canning IS kind of misleading. I’ve canned my ground meat for years by simply lightly browning it while crumbling it, then draining off the grease and packing it very lightly into pint jars with no liquid added. (There’s still plenty of moisture left over in the meat and remaining grease to create lots of steam for safe canning.) When you add liquid to ground meat, it often ends up looking like canned dog food — real unappetizing although still okay and yes, it is safe. I much prefer to not add liquid. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: making and preserving cracklin’s

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Making and preserving cracklin’s

How do you preserve cracklings after rendering the lard, besides freezing?

Live Oak, Florida

I render the lard and separate out the cracklings before they get too brown. Then I spoon them into pint or half-pint jars and fill the jars with lard, covering the cracklings. (The cracklings and lard are VERY hot!) You can process these jars, after being sure to wipe the rim of the jar very well and adding a hot, previously simmered lid, for 75 minutes in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure. To use, simply spoon out, heat, drain off the lard (keep it for cooking, of course) and use your cracklings. Grandma and Mom just covered their cracklin’s with hot lard, put on a hot lid after wiping the rim of the jar, and screwed down the ring. The jars sealed and the cracklings stayed good. But I don’t think this method would be accepted by experts today! — Jackie

Since we are in the time of only having certain cuts of meat, you cannot find a cracklin’ in any store. If I were to make my own, without growing my own pig, how would I go about doing so? I have been wanting cracklin’ cornbread like the old days.

Paula Setzer
Huntersville, North Carolina

You can usually find “discarded” pig fat at local smaller processors. (You can ask folks who sell farm-raised pork in your area.) If you’ll go there and explain that you want to render some lard for the cracklin’s, they will often give you a bunch or sell you the fat real cheap. If you can get them to grind it, so much the better as it reduces the labor of having to either grind it at home or chop the fat into small pieces for rendering.

I render my lard in a turkey roaster in the oven so I don’t have to stand over it all afternoon. Just put it in, leaving plenty of room so it doesn’t melt and run over. Render it at about 250-300° F and keep an eye on it as it gets pretty much done. Then dip off the clear, hot melted lard and strain it through a clean cloth into a bowl. Then you can dip the melted lard right out after straining, while it’s still very hot and put it into hot, clean jars, wipe off the rim very well and put a hot, new lid on it and screw down the ring firmly tight. Now you have nice lard to put in your pantry. The cracklin’s and some lard are still left in the roasting pan and you can dump more out of the straining cloth into the roaster. I usually finish my batch on the stovetop so I can stir it and make sure it doesn’t scorch. When most of the lard has been taken off, you can scoop your cracklin’s out into pint or half-pint jars, cover with hot, melted lard, wipe the rim of the jar very well and add a hot, previously simmered lid. Process for 75 minutes in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure. Done deal! We love cracklin’s in cornbread, hoe cakes, and in corn fritters! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: using dried apricots for jam, canning bacon, and canning ground beef

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Using dried apricots for jam

I have a number of bags of dried apricots that I’d like to turn into jam. Should I rehydrate them, then chop and measure for my recipe? Tried just chopping them in the food processor but that didn’t work very well. Thought I’d ask for your advice (oh wise one!)

Wendy Hause
Gregory, Michigan

Yep, rehydrating works a lot better than trying to make jam from dehydrated apricots. Rehydrate, then drain well, chop, and measure. You’ll be good to go. Wise one? I’d better let you talk to Will…

Canning bacon

I have wanted to can bacon but so far haven’t tried it. I saw instructions that said to cut the bacon into 1-2-inch pieces, fry until almost done and place in canning jars. Pour some of the bacon grease into each jar, filling until about ¼ full. Process for 90 min. at 11 lb pressure. Would you consider this “simple” method safe?

Judith Almand
Brandon, Florida

What I’ve always done is to can pieces of sides of bacon instead of strips. But I’ve done strips too. Thick strips can up better than the thinner ones. Yes, you can certainly do it the way you indicated. If you’re doing pints or half pints, which I’d recommend unless you are cooking for a big family, you’ll only need to process for 75 minutes. I also can up cracklin’s this way. They’re great in cornbread! — Jackie

Dry canning ground beef

I did the dry canning for ground beef. I “lightly” browned it in pint and ½-pint jars and canned for 90 minutes. When I opened one, the meat in the bottom was kind of pinkish like it wasn’t done. I was afraid to eat it so the dogs got it but I hate to throw out the whole batch. Is it OK? The jars sealed and the time was for quarts. Should I have thoroughly cooked the ground beef before canning? The USDA wouldn’t respond because they don’t “recommend” dry canning so I really look forward to your response

Carbondale, Kansas

Lucky dogs! Your meat was perfectly fine. When you’ll be using it, you’ll probably be frying it 10 minutes to melt the grease and heat the meat anyway. The pink meat was not raw! Canning it totally cooks a food. You will only be reheating it to boiling temp for 10-15 minutes, usually by frying or adding to soups, chili, or casserole-type dishes. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: adding eggshells to your compost and canning chili peppers

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

Adding eggshells to your compost

Do I need to pre-treat eggshells before adding them to my garden as compost? I feel like I’m wasting something when I just burn them or throw them out. We have our own chickens, which are pasture raised — and the eggs are wonderful.

Ellie Schubert
Alton, Missouri

No, you don’t need to do a thing. You can just set them out in an old carton until they are nice and dry then crush them and put them in a bucket until you can sprinkle them on your garden or dig them into your compost pile. Crushed egg shells add calcium to the soil and help prevent such problems as blossom end rot in tomatoes and squash. Good for you for thinking of it! Waste not; want not is our motto. — Jackie

Canning chili peppers

I want to know if I can water bath Anaheim chili peppers and be safe? I would use half-pint jars.

Troy Stafford
Gold Hill, Oregon

No, all vegetables and meats MUST be pressure canned. You can pickle peppers such as Anaheims or dry them safely too. When pickling peppers, you will be using a water bath canner. They are awesome, canned, so if you don’t already have a pressure canner, maybe this would be the time to invest. You’ll be so glad you did! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning in half-gallon jars, over-mature green beans, and storing dehydrated foods

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Canning in half-gallon jars

Do you can anything at all in jars larger than quart size? I would like to use ½ gallon jars for soups and some veggies.

Judi Almand
Brandon, Florida

I used to can soups, fruit, juices, and pickles in half gallon jars. But then I used to have 8 kids at home with big farm appetites. Although it is not recommended to can in half gallon jars now, I wouldn’t be afraid to do so IF it was a very liquid food like soup or fruit juice. And I would extend the processing time as the jars are double the size of a quart. But I can’t “recommend” that you do this for obvious reasons. — Jackie

Over-mature green beans

I ended up with over-mature green beans that dried on the vine this year. Can they be shelled and used as a dry bean? If so, any recipe ideas?

Kevin Johnson
Waxhaw, North Carolina

Oh yes! Most green beans work very well as dry beans. In fact, I always grow a few extra rows of Provider green beans so that I can leave them mature and dry on the vine to use as dry beans during the winter. You can use these beans in any recipe you’d use navy, pinto, or Great northern type beans, from chili to baked beans, soups, and bean soups. Enjoy! — Jackie

Storing dehydrated foods

If putting dehydrated fruit, vegetables or meat into jars do they have to be vacuum sealed? Oven sealed? Canned? Pressure or water bath?

Deborah Harvey
Youngstown, Ohio

No, you don’t have to do anything special to store your dehydrated foods. Just keep them safe from moisture, insects, and rodents and they’ll last for years and years. I store ours in glass jars and popcorn tins. Keeping the foods in a dark location prevents discoloration. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning green beans with bacon and pig eating dirt, etc.

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Canning green beans with bacon

I have 2 questions concerning canning green beans. I just finished putting up 2 qts. and 4 pint and half jars. I processed them per Blue Book instructions for qts. of green beans. BUT I also had added 1/2 slice of pre-cooked, crumbled bacon for flavor to each. Should I have timed this according to the bit of meat — which would have been 90 min.?

Secondly, if I add beef, chicken broth to veggies for flavor do I then have to process at the “meat” timetable? My goodness, the devil is in the little details.
Judith Almand
Brandon, Florida

It’s really not a good idea to put bacon bits in jars of canned green beans. I know it’s been done for generations but there’s a possibility that botulism could be introduced and not killed by sufficient processing. I wouldn’t worry about it at this point but I would be sure to boil those beans for 10-15 minutes before serving them — just to be safe. In the future, I’d suggest leaving out the bacon and substituting a few bacon-flavored TVPs instead. They’ll give the flavor but not the possible danger.

If you add beef or chicken broth (broth only!) to veggies, you will need to process for the broth time, which is 20 minutes for pints of either beef or chicken broth so you won’t have to process for the “meat” time of 75 minutes for pints or 90 minutes for quarts.

You’re right! It’s all in the details! And you’re not afraid to ask questions. Good for you! — Jackie

Pig eating dirt, etc.

Does it mean anything that my pig is eating dirt, sticks, pine cones, and eating bark off the trees. He is two and a half months old. If so, does he need a salt or mineral block?

Zac Mitchell
Grand Island, Florida

Pigs eat just about everything, including dirt, sticks, tree bark, worms, roots, grass, snakes, and much more. Pigs do need salt, but if you’re feeding a mixed pig feed, it contains salt. My guess is that he is just being a normal pig, experimenting by tasting everything around him. If he is growing well and fat, I wouldn’t worry a bit. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning cream and wood flooring

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Canning cream

Jackie – can I can fresh cream from my cow? I know that the stuff from the store is super heated and the purchased cow’s milk doesn’t can right – but my own milk does. Can I can cream and have it turn out somewhat ok? I see that people can cream cheese — can I can my own homemade cream cheese?

Verona, Kentucky

I really don’t think that cream would can up well. I have not canned homemade cream cheese yet, so I can’t advise about that. Any readers out there that can help Marilyn? — Jackie

Wood flooring

I love your hardwood floor, but am wondering how it is holding up to the “snow pacs”? (I can see feet in your picture for the current post!) I spent a winter near Isabella Minnesota 32 years ago and my current locale, while usually a little “warmer” (temp wise), has winds that cut through you. Since you heat with wood I am guessing that pacs are your norm in footwear at this time of the year — indoor and out. I am wondering how the floor is taking it? (I am considering the ceramic “wood” tiles for flooring as the boots that come through my house are similar only with less snow we get a lot of rocks, mud/grit clumps, and hay.) Our temp at the moment is -9, but wind chill is -30F. Brrrr!

Mandan, North Dakota

We love our “fake” wood floor. It’s laminate from Menards and has stood up extremely well to farm conditions and two big, active dogs. We wheelbarrow wood into the house, the dogs play on it, and nobody takes off their boots. The only faint scratches have been when someone dragged a chair without protected legs on it across the floor. Definitely minimal.

We’ve got -12 with a windchill of -26 right now. You’re right; brrrrrrr. But definitely not as bad as last winter so far. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We had two great Christmas celebrations

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Since our youngest son, David, had to work on Saturday when oldest son Bill and his family could come, we had Christmas dinner on Christmas for David and his girlfriend Hannah, and another Christmas dinner on Saturday when my sister Sue, Bill and his family, and Javid could all come. It was a bit hectic but we sure had a great extended Christmas.

Of course we had lots of good food. I made a boneless pork loin glazed with pincherry jelly. Wow was that good! And we had Will’s cheesecake, pumpkin pies, garlic mashed potatoes (that have 8 oz. of cream cheese, a cup of sour cream and a 1/4 pound of butter whipped with them, plus 1/2 tsp. of garlic salt, then baked) plus a green bean casserole (our Provider green beans of course!), candied carrots (big Nantes chunks from the pantry) and tons of snack goodies. Whew!

Now I can get started at canning up lots of meats from the leftover pork loin, chicken, and beef. Cool.

And we’re plenty busy too with our little seed business, Seed Treasures (see new box above blog), packing and shipping seeds. It’s really fun to be sharing seeds with so many different people!

We’re looking back on all we’ve accomplished during the past year and we’re so excited about the New Year coming soon and all our plans for spring. May you, too, look with enthusiasm, toward the coming year. HAPPY NEW YEAR! — Jackie



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