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Archive for the ‘Food Preservation’ Category

Jackie Clay

We count our blessings as Christmas nears

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

We’re really grateful for so many different things. We are grateful for each other and for this wonderful homestead that just keeps getting better every day.

When I think of moving here in 2003, in February, when there was nothing but small trees, old logs and stumps with big woods all around and all we’ve accomplished it doesn’t seem possible: the log house, huge storage building, big gardens, berry patch, orchard, tons of fencing, fenced pig pastures or extra garden (whichever is needed), a training ring and adjacent barn, clearing two pastures, then the third huge one on the new forty acres we bought three years ago, plowing and planting many acres, buying haying equipment, and building the new barn.

Stocking up the pantry after nearly depleting it after our move here is beyond belief. We’re eating our own home-raised pork, chicken, eggs, milk, and beef along with some canned venison from last year as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables from our homestead.

The bread we bake is from flour we grind and after that bout with diverticulitis, I’m SO happy to be able to eat whole wheat bread again! It’s like a celebration, pulling a loaf out of the oven. We never take things for granted but appreciate every single day. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We had an unexpected visitor

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Will went out our driveway to take some work to our local machine shop. When he returned, he told me there were the tracks of a big bull moose on our driveway! Wow! I went out with the camera, hoping to see the big guy, but no dice. He did leave huge tracks for a mile down our driveway to where he turned off to the north through the woods. That’s only the second time I’ve seen moose tracks here. David saw a cow and twin calves twice a year ago and my late husband, Bob, saw two moose nearby, at night several years ago. They’re around, but not common here.

Our snow is nearly all gone. Our low last night was 37 degrees, above! But we’ve sure made good use of our warm spell as it’s not “normal.” Will cut barn siding all day yesterday and now has enough lumber to frame the upper wall on the whole barn plus enough siding to do at least the whole west side and more. I’m getting real excited! The siding is wide; both 8″ and 12,” with beautiful grain.


I got another chicken canned up and had plans to do another but our carpenter friend, Tom, stopped by for a visit. We hadn’t seen him for awhile as he has been busy totally remodeling an old farm house for our veterinarian friends, Robin and John. We had a great visit and got caught up on what all we’ve both been doing. Tom had also built a huge storage barn on his homestead this summer, so we know he’s been as busy as we have been. Progress is such a nice thing.

My diverticulitis is just about gone and I’m just starting to eat “normal” food again. I’ll admit I was getting sick of broth, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc. Roasted chicken tasted real good! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Nothing like home-raised chicken

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

I roasted two chickens yesterday. We ate part of one for supper last night with rice and carrots. Wow, was that good! Today I’ll be picking chicken off the bone and canning both of them up in the wonderful broth made from the pan drippings. I have four more in the freezer but as it’s supposed to hit the forties I think we’ll butcher a couple more and then can them up right after they’ve cooled down.

I also got whole boneless pork loins on sale from our local store for $1.99 a pound and I’ll be canning them up too.

We’ll be getting our beef back in about a week and we can hardly wait as we’ve been out of beef for quite awhile, except for canned beef. Canned beef is great but sometimes you just want some fresh meat too. Right now we’re starting to take orders for our last two butcher steers and hopefully we’ll get the meat sold before our butchering date in January. Craigslist has been good that way. It seems that lots of folks are concerned about where their meat comes from these days and that’s a good thing.

Will and I have been talking more about the varieties we plan to grow next spring and about fencing the 1½ acres that was our new corn/pumpkin patch. Unfenced, the deer left us the corn but ate all the pumpkins and squash. We can’t have that happen again so we’re trying to save up enough to buy fencing for it. We do have the fence posts already so I’m crossing my fingers! A local greenhouse has contacted us about supplying them with Halloween pumpkins and fall decorative squash next year so we’ll try to do that too out of our “test plots” on the new ground where we won’t be saving seed. (It’ll cross as we’re going to grow several different varieties.)

I’m feeling better but will sure be glad when I’m done with drugs! My stomach does NOT like them!

Well, back to canning. By the way, a big “thank you” to all of you who are continuing to order seeds from the click box at the top of the blog. We DO still have seeds but watch as we’ll soon be posting our 2014-2015 seed listing that will have many more varieties available. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

So far we’ve had an on-and-off-again winter

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Our temps started out real cold; down to -25 and windy. Brrr. But lately we’ve been having much more moderate temps and we’re maybe going to hit 40 above this weekend. Translated, that means we’re getting more done around here because we can stand to work outside.

Will’s been cutting more lumber on the sawmill. He has almost enough to frame the top walls on the whole barn. (He has two sections finished now.) We’ve been using some of the slab wood every day for firewood as the temperatures have been so warm we don’t need the wood to last a long time in the stove. Waste not, want not! As Will cuts it so carefully, we don’t have building-quality slabs but they’re thick on the butt end and run out to thin on the top. But it does make nice (free) firewood.


Meanwhile, because I sure don’t feel up to helping him yet (I’m still kind of weak from the diverticulitis, which seems to have left), I boned our Thanksgiving turkey, cut it up, and boiled the carcass. Then I canned it up. It ended up to be nine pints and a quart of broth. One jar didn’t seal so I made turkey and potato chowder from it — a pint of turkey with broth, diced potatoes, carrots, and onions. Boy, was that good!

Well, we’ve got to go set out round bales so I’ll see you soon! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: lids blowing off jars in the canner and GMO corn and alfalfa

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Lids blowing off jars in the canner

I have been canning for over 30 years and had an incident last week that I have never encountered. I made a big batch of turkey soup and was canning quart jars in my pressure canner and heard a funny sound about mid-way through the process. When we opened the canner, one of the lids had blown off, ring and all, coating everything inside with soup. I used the new lids and prepared them the way the box instructs, not boiling but simmering. The jar seems undamaged; it was one that I have canned in multiple times before. I am mystified. Have you ever heard of this happening, and what do you think caused it? The other 6 jars were fine.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

This has happened a couple of times to me too. One of two things has happened. Either you didn’t tighten the ring firmly tight enough (the ring vibrated during processing, loosening it so it came off) or you have a bad ring. I always toss a ring if this happens, just because. I have tons of rings! This is just another of these things that can happen during canning. I’ve found it’s usually been a highly liquid food such as broth or soup that blew the lid. It’s annoying but nothing to worry about. — Jackie

GMO corn and alfalfa

Do you feed Non-GMO corn and alfalfa? Around here (Modesto, CA), the farmers are growing GMO corn and GMO alfalfa.

Brenda Scobey-Mizar
Modesto, California

Well, no and yes. Unfortunately, little non-GMO field corn is out there. And even some that isn’t GMO on purpose is contaminated by GMO pollen blowing in the wind for up to two miles, from neighboring GMO fields. That’s depressing. We do grow some of our own corn for our livestock, but not nearly enough as we don’t have enough open fields to do so. We’re definitely NOT happy about the GMO corn! No, we don’t feed GMO alfalfa. Our hay is mostly clover, birdsfoot trefoil, and grass mixed — which is non-GMO. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning split pea soup and canner went dry

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Canning split pea soup

I have lots of ham left over from thanksgiving and want to make split pea soup. It is about half cooked and I am going to put it into the jars now. Tell me if I am making a mistake. The soup is thin so I don’t think it will become too thick in the jars. I just finished 7 quarts of turkey and have more to do.

Nancy Foster
Dallas City, Illinois

Your soup will be fine. I nearly always make bean and split pea soup from ham bones with a little meat on them. You can safely can it as long as it doesn’t go into the jars with a thick consistency. As it cools it will thicken, but don’t let that worry you. — Jackie

Canner went dry

I was canning up extra turkey (90 minutes…pressure for altitude…etc.). During the last 30 minutes the jiggler didn’t jiggle. I did not turn the heat up or down but let the timer run out to the full 90 minutes. When I later opened the canner there was no water left in it. The jars sealed just fine but I wonder if losing all the water means the turkey isn’t safe to eat because the pressure might have gone down.

Deborah McEnulty
Priest River, Idaho

Oh shucks! I hope the dry canner didn’t get a warped bottom out of the deal. If it were me, I would re-can the turkey even though it’s more work for you. (Better safe than sorry.) Your are right, the pressure may not have been high enough without the steam for safe canning. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning mole sauce and is wheat genetically modified?

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Canning mole sauce

I am trying to find out how to can a Mexican Mole Sauce and cannot find the directions on how to do so. You can find lots of recipes but nothing on how to can it up for later use. I hope you have an answer for me.

Corbett, Oregon

Sorry Lois, but I can’t help you. Although mole sauce can certainly be canned, because you can buy it in the stores, canned commercially, I can’t find a single approved recipe for you to can. Do any readers have any help for Lois? — Jackie

Is wheat GMO?

Is wheat now gmo or non-gmo? I thought it also is but the feed store man says it is not. What’s your info say?

Gail Erman
Palisade, Colorado

Thank God wheat is not now GMO, but of course Monsanto is working on it. The most commonly sold GMO crops are soybeans, corn, canola, some squash, tomatoes, potatoes, and rice. What a shame! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: Scarlet Runner beans and canning cranberries

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Scarlet Runner beans

Two years ago I ordered some beans (edible), red flowers, climbers, only got 5 beans in packet. Saved all the beans for this year. Planted them, had lots, ate some (delicious) kind of sweet. Saved lots for next year. Ended up in hospital, they froze. Brought them in opened them up and let them dry, can I plant them next year? Or are they too far gone? if you think they’re OK, would you like a few to start your patch? Don’t remember where I got them. Are you in need of more hostas?

Marlene Kevelin
Circle Pines, Minnesota

Your beans sound like Scarlet Runner beans. If your beans were mature when they froze they’ll be okay. Check for mold. They should be hard, shiny, and full. I do have Scarlet Runners, thanks. Pass them on to other friends. I’ve run out of room for hostas right now. Maybe in the future? Will is going to convert our spring basin pond into a garden spot sometime in the future, making the pond look natural and pretty instead of a hole in the ground. Thanks for the offer! — Jackie

Canning cranberries

I have some nice bags of frozen cranberries that I want to pressure can. I know this has come up in the past but the answers were not very clear. If left to my own devises, I would use little or no sugar since my hubby is diabetic. I would process with 10 lbs. for as long as it took to bring up to pressure after a 7 minute vent time of the pot. Do you think this is too much or too far from safe procedures? I would love trying to cold pack them raw. I would appreciate knowing what variables you have tried. They were bought fresh and I froze them.

Jeannie Livezey
Richardson, Texas

It’s really easy to can cranberries. Just thaw, rinse, and sort. Then pack cranberries into jars, leaving ½ inch of headspace. Gently shake the jar to settle the berries. Pour either boiling syrup (light for your husband) or plain boiling water over them leaving ½ inch of headspace. Wipe rim of jar, place hot, previously-simmered lid on jar, and screw down ring firmly tight. Process pints and half-pints for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Cranberries can up very nicely and are great for baking. Since they are a high-acid fruit, they do not require pressure canning. Enjoy! — Jackie



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