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Click here for Summer of the Eagles Click here for Autumn of the Loons

Archive for the ‘Food Preservation’ Category

Jackie Clay

We had frost last night!

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

But, many thanks to God, it only was on the roof, not in the garden! You can bet we ran out to the garden first thing this morning after seeing it on the house roof.

I’ve been canning every day. Today it’s more corn but this time mixed with peas. We didn’t grow many peas this year so I cheated and bought some frozen peas (on sale, of course) to mix with the corn. I love doing the mixed corn because it gives us so much more variety in the pantry. I can Mexican corn, corn with peas, corn with peas and carrots, corn with carrots, and just plain corn.

Then there are the Dragon Tongue beans which are just starting to ripen. I think I’ll use them to make more mustard bean pickles — we sure do love them. They’re more like a side dish than a pickle.
This morning my friend, Dara, called and said they’d be picking crab apples in town. They had found a pair of trees that the homeowner never picked and when Dara asked if they’d trade potatoes for apples, the deal was quickly made. So I met Dara and her stepson, James in Cook and we spent a companionable morning yacking and picking buckets of apples. I’ll be making apple jelly, juice and sauce from my share. It’s amazing how many folks have fruit trees in their yards and don’t pick any. It sure pays to knock on the door and ask! Give it a try and you will be pleasantly surprised. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: Jerusalem artichokes and adding lemon juice to tomatoes

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Jerusalem artichokes

The Jerusalem Artichokes are taller than I am and I’m looking forward to harvesting them. Do I wait until a hard freeze? Do I leave some in the ground so they will come back next year? Do you have any favorite recipe using them? I had a J.A. soup while in Norway that was wonderful.

My husband and I both read Autumn of the Loons and loved it! Can’t wait for the next two books to come out. Don’t know HOW you keep up with everything at home, plus the books, plus the blog but sure am glad you do.

Having been to your seminar last fall, I have seen first-hand all the work you and Will accomplish and am in awe. Thank you for providing the rest of us with such reliable advice.

Des Moines, Iowa

You can harvest them at any time. They don’t keep well, so I’d let them stay in the garden as long as you can. They do freeze pretty well but they do lose their crispness once out of the freezer. Yes, you leave some of the smaller ones in the ground to provide more next year. (It’s about impossible to “get rid” of them, as they usually leave some behind on their own. Love those permanent crops!

I’m glad you liked Autumn of the Loons. (Don’t forget that reviews on Amazon help out the book sales!) Sometimes we do feel under pressure, like now when everything’s coming in from the garden, seemingly at once. But thank God for that! — Jackie

Adding lemon juice to tomatoes

We are water bath canning tomatoes and add 2 Tbsp. lemon juice to make sure the acid level is high enough. Sometimes I stir the lemon juice in and other times I just add it to the jar before putting on the lid. Does it matter? Will the lemon juice work ok even if not stirred in?

Michael Lowery
Dekalb, Illinois

You just have to ladle it into the jar. It gets mixed well during processing as the juice boils hard. No need to stir it in. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

The corn is in!

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

On top of our fabulous bean harvest this summer, our sweet corn is ripe. This year our garden corn is Espresso, a SU hybrid that we grew last year. Boy, is it ever a nice, very sweet, albeit hybrid, corn. The ears are averaging nine inches long with plenty of tender kernels on each cob. So I’m canning like crazy. Yesterday I did Mexican corn (corn with mixed sweet green and red peppers) and today I’m doing plain old sweet corn to get ‘er done!
Unfortunately, the cows got into the old pig pasture and ate nearly all of Will’s highly prized Seneca Horizon sweet corn. Boy, are we ever disappointed! Talk about a crop failure! We have friends that are also raising this variety so we’ll have to see if we can buy seed from them for our seed business. Tough break.

Our tomatoes are beginning to ripen. The Hanky Red, a small to medium-sized very early tomato beat the pack. We thought Moravsky Div was the winner but then found our Hanky Reds were actually ahead of them. We even have a Bill Bean getting ripe that will weigh about 2 pounds. Pretty early for such a big tomato. We can hardly wait.

We’ve had very cold, rainy weather. Yesterday was 55 degrees and today the HIGH is 52, with rain and wind. Brrrr. Will hauled our last hay home from our second farm and the hay storage area is full. One more farm to go but he lost the brake rotor on our pickup near home so will have to do some repair work first. It’s always something but we just keep plodding along. Then some wonderful thing happens to surprise us and we perk right up. That’s homesteading! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: mushy pickles and tomato juice

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

Mushy pickles

With dill pickles, why are cucumbers raw packed into jars and then filled with brine solution while sweet pickles (like B&B’s) are brought to a boil first with the brine and then packed into jars? My dills are always very crisp but my B&B’s aren’t the same way. Can B&B’s be raw packed?

Jill Kelby
Eden Prairie, Minnesota

Because the experts tell us to. I’ve personally gone back to Mom and Grandma’s method of doing all cucumber pickles; I pack the raw cukes, then pour the boiling pickling solution over the pickles and, working quickly, seal the jars. No water bathing. They, too, now stay crisp. But experts want to keep us safe from ourselves and would shoot me on sight for even suggesting such a thing. — Jackie

Tomato juice

Got the latest issue of BHM and saw someone asked about making homemade tomato juice. I have been making it for about 20 years putting up 75 quarts a summer. Husband drinks a glass of it every morning.

Wash tomatoes and take stems off (no need to core or peel). Place in a glass (microwave safe) casserole with a lid and microwave for 3 minutes. Put tomatoes in a cone-shaped colander with a wooden pestle over a bowl. Press the pestle on the tomatoes to mash the juice and some pulp run through the holes. When the tomatoes are down to mostly skin and some flesh, rotate the pestle around the colander to mash out the rest of the juice and pulp. Discard the seeds and skins. Pour juice into jars or a pitcher and repeat the process. Add 1 TBSP lemon juice per quart and 1/2 tsp of salt or whatever to taste.

I can in a 4 quart pressure canner. Process the jars at 5 pounds of pressure for 10 minutes.

Very easy and pretty fast. If a person didn’t have a microwave, the tomatoes could be steamed until they were hot through and then do the colander part.

Love your canning and other recipe ideas. Hope this might add to your advice to tomato juice makers.

Dawn Martin

For 20 years I used the Foley Mill, such as you use, until Mom bought me a Victorio Tomato Strainer more than 30 years ago. Now I get through a bushel of tomatoes with no boiling or heating; just pull the stems, quarter tomatoes and feed ’em into the hopper of the Victorio and turn the crank. Tomato puree comes out the side chute and the seeds and skins out the front, into a bowl. For tomato juice, I just use my juiciest tomatoes, not paste types.

I’ve got to mention that you’re under-processing your tomato juice. The recommended pressure for tomato juice in a canner with a gauge is 6 pounds and the time should be 20 minutes for altitudes below 2,000 feet and that’s for juice that has been heated before pouring into the jars.

Thanks for sharing your method as I’m sure many readers don’t have a tomato strainer…yet. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: Hopi Pale Grey squash, canning corn, and canning bones

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Hopi Pale Grey squash

Not a question… planted the Hopi squash I bought from you. OMG! The plants are about 20′ wide. In fact, all my squash are huge this year. (With a little help from some fertilizer) they are all loaded with squash. I think it’s going to be a great squash year. Thank you so much… can hardly wait to taste the Hopi.

Joni Warren
Canyon City, Oregon

Thanks for the update! Our Hopi Pale Greys are climbing the back fence, up trees and heading for the woods. In the “squash patch” the plants are over five feet tall, on the flat. Boy, is that something. — Jackie

Canning corn

I had pressure canned corn on Friday. I realized by reading that I did not pressure it long enough. I pressured for 20 minutes. Looked at the wrong vegetable for the process time. What can I do? I have read everything and can’t seem to find out what I should do. Can you please help?

Mary Perkins

Oops, that happens. I’m just glad you caught your mistake right away. What I’d do is dump out your corn into a large kettle, bring it to a boil, then repack it into hot, clean jars and process for the correct time. Open each jar and smell it to make sure it hasn’t started to ferment or spoil before you heat it. Then smell it again as you bring it to a boil. It could have gone bad by now. Don’t cut the time because you already processed it. Just treat it as if it were fresh corn. — Jackie

Canning bones

Can a person can beef bones? I wanted to can the bones left over to have for soup.

Lisa Clark

It’s a whole lot easier and won’t waste so many wide mouth jars if you put your bones in a big kettle with water and boil them to get your broth, then can that. You can just use the basic broth as a soup base. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We have a new baby

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Wednesday, our half Jersey heifer, Surprise, had her baby — a pretty heifer we are calling Fern because she’s just the color of dead fern leaves. And we know because that night both she and her mom got out and Surprise hid her baby and we couldn’t find her for two days! We searched and searched but no calf. But we knew that cows did that and weren’t TOO worried. Then out she came, fine as a fiddle and twice as bouncy. Now they’re both back with the other cows and all is well.
I’ve just had another bad bout with diverticulitis, but thank God I haven’t had to go to the doctor and I’m much better today. Nasty stuff and I really do watch what I eat; no popcorn, nuts, seeds, etc.
I’m just glad to be getting over it. There’s so much to do this time of the year. Our first tomatoes, Moravsky Div, a Russian tomato beat the pack in ripening and there are lots and lots of others coming along real fast. The sweet corn is starting to ripen. We’ve eaten our first potatoes. (Boy, do we love the Dakota Pearls!) and the peppers … All I can say is WOW!

Our garden squash is scary it’s so huge. We especially are waiting for our Apache Giant, a rare variety we are trialing. It has yellow blotched leaves that are gorgeous. (No, it is not diseased!)
The peas are all dried down and I’ll be pulling them tomorrow to save seed. We really enjoyed them while they lasted.

Our weather’s cooled down and we sure are glad. Will and I don’t do 90 degree temperatures; it just flattens us. He’s about done doing hay and is hauling big round bales home on our bus frame-turned-hay-transport. It’s going well and we are real happy to have so much hay this year.
How’s everyone’s garden doing? I’m hoping yours is as wonderful as ours! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We’re happy to share our homestead, even with snakes

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

We have a large, fat garter snake hanging around which gives us a startle once in awhile. But we like having him around as he eats plenty of grasshoppers and other pests in the garden and flower beds. After living for years in rattlesnake country, I’ll admit to jumping more than once when he pops out of the grass but seeing his olive and yellow body quickly lets me know he’s totally harmless.

Will’s busy cutting, raking, and baling hay today. Yesterday he got up ten more round bales and today is breezy and hot, so hopefully, more will quickly follow. He is getting tired of making hay, however and we hope it will soon be done for the most part. We do have some second cutting clover to put up at home but it’s not much and will go fast.

I got another 11 pints of green beans canned up yesterday, filling our pantry shelves to bulging. What a good feeling as green beans are one of our favorite side dishes. I’ll be doing Dilly Beans and more Mustard Bean pickles with the next batch. They just keep pumping out the beans!
Our flowers around the house are really pretty now. Even the ones that are crowded with weeds. (Oh well, I can’t get ’em all!) Those flowers sure perk up one’s spirits, don’t they? — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: bulging lids and black speck disease on tomatoes

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Bulging lids

I’m noticing that many of my canning lids are bulging this year whether I’m canning in a water bath or pressure cooker. They seal just fine. What is causing them to bulge?

Geryl Gilbert
Graham, North Carolina.

Bulging jar lids are one indication that there is spoilage going on. Jar lids should remain sucked down by the sealing and remain so. I’d re-read your canning book and see if there’s a step you may be doing incorrectly; often wrong processing times or pressures. Especially read the altitude info; if you’re at an altitude above 1,000 feet, you need to adjust your pressure (pressure canning) or time (water bath processing) to suit your altitude. I’ll bet there’s something amiss with your processing. — Jackie

Black speck disease on tomatoes

My four Roma tomatoes appeared to get black speck disease, based on internet photo and the MN Extension Service response. I pulled and tossed the tomato plants (darn — they had a lot of green speckled tomatoes). I used a diluted bleach solution on the cages and sprayed some on the top of the dirt. Do I need to do anything else in order to garden in that spot next year? It was new bagged Miracle grow dirt on a 4 inch high raised bed. I hate to throw it out if I don’t have to.

Katherine Jordahl
Fergus Falls, Minnesota

Here’s what I’d do: If you can, don’t plant tomatoes in that raised bed next year. Rotation of crops may help stop the reoccurrence of this disease. I hope you didn’t put the infected plants on your compost pile. Burn them, instead, to get rid of the bacteria before it can spread more. Don’t throw out your soil. When you plant tomatoes again, water only with a drip hose as overhead watering can easily spread this infection. If it shows up, immediately spray your crop with copper sulfate. That usually will halt it in its tracks. Tomatoes like a deeper soil than 4 inches. I’d advise adding another 4 inches or more to your beds. Stress, such as shallow soil for the roots, can make crops susceptible to diseases. — Jackie



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