Top Navigation  
U.S. Flag waving
Office Hours Momday - Friday  8 am - 5 pm Pacific 1-800-835-2418
Facebook   YouTube   Twitter
Backwoods Home Magazine, self-reliance, homesteading, off-grid

 Home Page
 Current Issue
 Article Index
 Author Index
 Previous Issues
 Print Display Ads
 Print Classifieds
 Free Stuff
 Home Energy

General Store
 Ordering Info
 Kindle Subscriptions
 Back Issues
 Help Yourself
 All Specials
 Classified Ad

 Web Site Ads
 Magazine Ads

BHM Blogs
 Ask Jackie Clay
 Massad Ayoob
 Claire Wolfe
 James Kash
 Where We Live
 Behind The Scenes
 Dave on Twitter
Retired Blogs
 Oliver Del Signore
 David Lee
 Energy Questions

Quick Links
 Home Energy Info
 Jackie Clay
 Ask Jackie Online
 Dave Duffy
 Massad Ayoob
 John Silveira
 Claire Wolfe

Forum / Chat
 Forum/Chat Info
 Enter Forum
 Lost Password

More Features
 Contact Us/
 Change of Address
 Write For BHM
 Meet The Staff
 Meet The Authors
 Disclaimer and
 Privacy Policy

Retired Features
 Country Moments
 Radio Show

Link to BHM

Ask Jackie headline

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post. Please note that Jackie does not respond to questions posted as Comments. Click Below to ask Jackie a question.

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

Read the old Ask Jackie Online columns
Read Ask Jackie print columns

Archive for the ‘Food Preservation’ Category

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning times, removing pulp from persimmons, and straightening canners

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Canning times

I know a person that got an All American canner (I am wanting to get one). She said that the instruction book listed times that were about TWICE (or more!) of the Ball Blue Book (or you!) recommend. She said that she had talked with the folks at AA (All American) and that they said that the times were correct for the canner. Have you ever heard of such? I know you have an AA canner and that you use it regularly.


The instruction book that came with my canner has the same times as the Blue Book and I’ve used that for years so I’m not sure what your friend found. Get one! You’ll not be sorry! — Jackie

Removing pulp from persimmons

How do you remove pulp from wild persimmon seeds? Mine are falling now and I need to start using them.

Marcelle Bethany
Tupelo, Mississippi

What I’ve done is to cut them in half and rub the insides against the screen of a sieve. The seeds and skin stay inside and the pulp ends up in a bowl. — Jackie

Straightening canners

My son has straightened the bottoms of the Mirro canners over the years. By using a chunk of 2×4 and a heavy hammer they flatten right back to original. I am surprised you haven’t thought of this. They keep right on working and I wouldn’t trade my Mirro canners for the world.


Duh! Why didn’t I think of that? Of course that would work. Thanks for the tip, Kay. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We actually got some Glass Gem corn

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014


After a long summer of touch and go, I discovered yesterday that we actually had some mature Glass Gem popcorn! Some friends stopped by and we were giving the “tour” of our gardens and while in the berry patch, I browsed through some brown stalks of Glass Gem corn with the ears still on. Surprise! I got color. Wow! We didn’t think it had made it but obviously it went on and ripened after the first frosts nipped the plants. Tomorrow I’ll go out and pick all that I can find. But the ears I did find in just a few minutes were simply gorgeous with brilliant, unusual colors on four- to six-inch cobs. We may not have enough to sell next year but at least we can replant with the seed we save and know it’ll make a crop here even though it’s a long-season corn (about 110 days).


Will laid the last of the rock on the new barn foundation yesterday and today he spent hours pulling the tomato cages and stakes in the garden while I spent hours on the phone at the nursing home where Javid is, talking and waiting to talk to a Social Security representative as he is on SSI and needs to get his information changed over from Montana to Minnesota. Why is it that all government agencies make everything so complicated and HARD? Wow, a study in frustration, for sure.

Hopefully, tomorrow I can start canning carrots. They’re so big and juicy they just beg to go in jars! In fact, if you just toss them in a bucket, they split down the side they’re so crisp. Mmmmm. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: Re-canning hominy and turnip greens

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Re-canning hominy

I have 1-gallon cans of white hominy, can I re can them in jars?

Fred Spires
Moody, Missouri

Yes, you can. I’ve often done just that as #10 cans of hominy are very cheap. Just can it as if it were fresh, using the same times. That would be 60 minutes for pints and 70 minutes for quarts. It re-cans up just fine. — Jackie

Turnip greens

What is the processing time for canning turnip greens in a water bath? I know it’s not recommended but my grandmother did it without losing a jar. But my mother has passed and I can’t ask her.


Many grandmothers canned low-acid foods — even meat, in a boiling water bath canner. But that just isn’t safe. It isn’t even a thing I’d consider as it’s VERY dangerous. Please invest in a pressure canner or borrow one from a friend. It is extremely easy to pressure can and your greens will be safe to eat. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canned applesauce turned brown and canning greens

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Canned applesauce turned brown

I am stumped! Canned Applesauce, like I have done for years, on Sunday, October 12, 124 quarts! Had to be out of state till October 19, one week. Today I am taking off the rings and washing the jars to put in the cellar. About half of the jars have darkened about a quarter of the way down from the top. The jars are sealed! The taste is the same. We used the same kind of apples from the same orchard. What could be causing this darkness to grow down the sauce? I pressured all jars the same as always, 5 lbs for 10 minutes. What could be wrong?

Debbie Kinzer
Salem, South Carolina

Often darkening is caused from air bubbles being trapped in the applesauce. This would be my best guess. Often when we get in a hurry, we skip the “remove air bubbles” step, figuring we don’t see any so what the heck. I wouldn’t worry about this but next time, remove air bubbles with a chopstick or wooden spoon handle. It happens more often in quarts than pints. — Jackie

Canning greens

This is a two part question. You have touched on the first part on answers to others but I am going to re-phrase it again as it might be part of the second question. We grew a great crop of greens this year (no aphids) so I thought I would can about a dozen quarts. It had been quite a few years since I had canned greens so I was very careful with my process (as usual). I waited till the steam cleared (about 5+ min) before placing the weight on the pot (10lb.) I waited till the weight started jiggling, then slowly turned down the heat till it was jiggling every 5 sec or so. Then removed the top after the pressure had neutralized. The greens were wet but there was very little water in the jars. I processed the jars for 1 hour and 30 minutes. I don’t remember that much water being blown out of the jars. Second question. We use an old Mirro canner. 30 years I guess. So old the bottom is no longer flat. It has never let us down. Don’t love the idea of spending the money but I will buy the All American you suggest if you think the old Mirro has just worn out. It has a new gasket.

Duncan Murrow
Valdese, North Carolina

Two common reasons you lose liquid out of jars are: the pressure varied during the processing and there were air bubbles in the liquid, trapped before putting the lids on the jars. Do be sure that steam vents strongly (a steady stream of steam) for 5-10 minutes before putting the weight on. It will vent faster when very hot food has been packed rather than say raw corn with boiling water poured in the jars, which results in a lukewarm batch of jars to heat up.

If the bottom of your canner is pitted, it is usually fine. But if it’s gotten warped (usually from insufficient water having boiled dry during canning), it’s time to replace it. — 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: uses for citrus peels, meals in a jar, and immature Hopi Pale Grey squash

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Uses for citrus peels

Is there any use for citrus peels such as oranges, grapefruit, or lemons? That is other than zest. I have a large family so often have large amounts at a given time. Any animals like them or plants?

Gail Erman
Palisade, Colorado

Sure. I don’t like to waste either. I often cut ½-inch strips of cleaned peel and dehydrate it. Then I whiz it in the blender, reducing the dried peel to a powder. This is great in many recipes. I add a pinch of it to stir frys, to my pies and cakes as a flavor booster, or sprinkle over meat as it cooks. Or you can make you own candied fruit peel for holiday baking. Here’s how:

• Cut off the ends of the fruit with a paring knife. Remove the peel from the fruit, avoiding as much of the flesh as possible.
• Slice the peel into ½-inch-wide strips and place them in a saucepan. Cover the peel with several inches of cold water. Heat the water to a boil and let it cook for 15 minutes.
• Drain the water and rinse the peel in the colander. Return the peel to the saucepan and cover it with water. Boil again for 15 minutes. Repeat the process of rinsing and cooking one more time.
• Drain the water and let the peel cool. Remove any remaining citrus flesh with a spoon.
• Combine 1 cup of water with 2 cups sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the peel slices to the boiling mixture. Reduce the heat to low.
• Stir the peel occasionally. Cook until the liquid absorbs into the peel, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
• Place waxed paper under the wire racks and place them on a countertop. Cool the candied fruit peel on the wire racks. Store the peel in an airtight container in a cool location.

This will last for years! — Jackie

Meals in a jar

Since all the kids are grown I find I have a lot of leftovers since I had four sons, I have trouble cooking for two. I often can leftovers such as beans, soups, stews etc. I was wondering if you have canned other complete meals such as maybe chicken spaghetti, etc. If so can you tell me how to safely do so. I just hate waste! I have canned for years such things as vegetables, fruits, jams, butter, meat, just about everything but complete meals, other than soups, stews etc. And I hate to depend on the freezer.

Shelia Magness
Star City, Arkansas

Sure, I can up lots of “whole” meals. I call them my meals-in-a-jar. You can get a lot of ideas in my book, Growing and Canning Your Own Food. Some things that don’t can up well are pasta and rice dishes as they are generally too thick for safe canning. I often can up cabbage rolls, tamales, stuffed green peppers, and a whole lot more, just to have the convenience of having a whole lot of different meals-in-jars ready for when I need a quick, tasty, nutritious meal ready on little notice. — Jackie

Immature Hopi Pale Grey squash

Your Hopi Pale Grey Squash seeds grew well and I am harvesting now. I picked the two large mature ones before our first frost, but (surprisingly) ended up with 6 more that are smallish and still tinged w/green. Will they continue to ripen off the vine? Are the seeds of these greenish ones viable? We don’t have any animals to feed them to. Is there anything else the small green ones are good for? I’m thinking I’ll just let the grand kids carve them like pumpkins. Thanks for all your sage advise,

J. in Nevada

I’m glad your Hopi Pale Greys did so well. The smaller ones are a bit immature but will still store and eat well. The seeds may or may not be viable. If they are fat, they probably are fine. Usually the immature ones will be flat and softer. We’ve stored the immature ones for over a year and they still tasted great. Even the real little ones can be used as you’d use any summer squash. You can even slice them and make fake apple pie from them using any apple pie recipe! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: new lids and making jelly

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

New lids

I would like your opinion on the new lids. On the back of the new lids both Ball and Kerr on the box of lids and the new cases of jars with lids state that the lids are now only good for one year. I know as a canner of many years the old lids lasted years. The new type lids are thinner and have less gasket and I have had them buckle when using. I am not a new canner but have been canning over thirty years and have never had that happen before I water bath and pressure can. I will now be only using Tattler lids as I feel that they are the only lids I can trust for long term. I know that there are a lot of new canners just starting out and they are not aware of the change.

Sherry Obermann
Waukesha, Wisconsin

Yep, I’ve noticed that too. Bad move for the company, in my opinion. I’m sure it was to save money on their part. Have you noticed that on the boxes of new jars that it says food is “best” used within a year? I’m not going to toss my year-old food to be “safe!” I do feel that the new lids will hold a seal MUCH longer than a year but if the company can get you to toss your year-old food and buy new lids when you can another year’s worth of food, they’re selling more lids and that’s where they make a bigger profit. Sort of like the freshness dates on canned store foods; it’s simply a marketing ploy. One caution, though: On the company’s website, it advised again against boiling the new lids as this thins down the sealing compound and may cause seal failures. So if you do heat your lids like I still do, DON’T boil them. — Jackie

Making jelly

I have questions about making jelly. I’ve always made jam, except a batch of crabapple jelly 30 years ago or so. I looked at all the pulp it took out, and the little bit of juice, and being really cheap, I just stuck with jam after that. Does your juicer give you a lot more jelly? What do you do with the pulp? I know it would be a great treat for the animals. But I have recently heard of remainder jam, where the pulp is used to make a small batch of jam. Have you ever made it? I have grandkids who have fallen in love with my blueberry jam, and I made quite a bit this year. Next year I was thinking of jelly and jam, jelly just because it’s so pretty, lol. Gotta admit, those blueberries are awfully good – they make a slice of toast into dessert!

Barb Mundorff
Youngstown, Ohio

YES! My Mehu Liisa gives me about five times more juice from the same amount of fruit that I used to get using the cooking down/jelly bag method. That’s HUGE as I’m cheap too. With crab apple and apples, I often extract two quarts of juice from each batch, then run the remainder of the pulp through my Victorio tomato strainer and harvest great, thick applesauce from the apples. You can do the same with plums or other fruit, but of course with plums you have to remove the pits first or use a sieve to smush the meat through. With blueberries, I only make jam as it’s such a waste to extract the juice and toss the remainder! Same with most other small fruits like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. — 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



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