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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.

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Archive for the ‘Food Preservation’ Category

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?

Judi

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 userealbutter.com

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.

WORLD’S BEST FRUITCAKE

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.

Natalie

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

Jackie Clay

Q and A: shelf life of apple juice and Canada Crookneck seeds

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Shelf life of apple juice

If using a Mehu-Liisa to extract apple juice, is draining the hot liquid into a properly cleaned and heated jar with a two piece canning lid all that is needed? What is the shelf life?

Ron in Missouri

It is still recommended that you process the juice in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes to ensure a safe, long-lasting seal. Once canned, the juice will stay good indefinitely. — Jackie

Canada Crookneck seeds

I was wondering where you got your Canada crookneck squash seeds, and if you will be having these seeds available in your seed catalog?

Margaret Ringham
Westbrook, Minnesota

I got my Canada Crookneck seeds from a friend in northern Minnesota. Yes, we’ll be offering these seeds in our seed listing which we’re putting together as soon as we have harvested and dried enough seeds to begin selling. Keep an eye on the blog. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: water loss in jars and off-grid dehydrating

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Water loss in jars

This is my first year of pressure canning, ever, and I have a question regarding water loss from the canning jars. When I pressure canned green beans the water loss was minimal. When pressure canning beets the jars lost quite a bit of water during the canning process. There is at least 1/2 a jar of water or more left but I wanted to make sure they were still safe to eat with water not covering all the food. I followed the process exactly per your canning book and the pressure canner instruction manual and the jars have all sealed perfectly. I also used Tattler canning lids if that makes a difference, following their newest instructions exactly. Is it possible that the beets absorbed that much more water than the green beans did? Would it be better to fill the jars of starchy foods only 3/4 full and add more water to allow for more water absorption by the food? I would appreciate any tips you could give me.

Teresa Liechti
Milbank, South Dakota

First of all, the loss of liquid from your jars does not mean the food is no longer safe to eat. It will be fine. Here are a few causes of liquid loss during processing: Food packed too tightly or jars packed too full, pressure fluctuated during processing, jars not taken out of the canner until canner is cool (not pressure returned to zero) or “hurrying’ the return to zero at the end of processing by bumping the weight or petcock. It does not matter that you used Tattler lids. It is possible that the beets absorbed more water but that isn’t common. Always follow the processing directions, including adding water or liquid to cover the food where needed. Just keep at it. You’ll work out your problems and so far they’re minor. Congratulations on beginning to pressure can! Like everything, the more you do it the better you’ll become. — Jackie

Off-grid dehydrating

You mentioned the other day that you had two dehydrators going. How do you run them when off grid?

Bonnie
Natchitoches, Louisiana

I start them when we’re planning on having the generator on for awhile, usually when I’m washing clothes or Will is using power tools. It’s amazing that in just a couple of hours, the food dries down a whole lot. Then I set the dehydrators on a table on our enclosed back porch, where it’s real warm (South side of house) and continue to dry down. The next time we have the generator on, I plug them back in. Usually a couple of times like that and the food is crispy dry. I can run one dehydrator from our battery bank, full time. But when I use two I have to switch them around or it sucks our batteries out of power. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: Painted Mountain corn and canning grape juice

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Painted Mountain corn

We can grow Painted Mountain corn in our short growing season here, too. It’s one of the only breeds of corn I can dependably grow here every summer. The animals like it but I have a hard time selling the taste to my family as corn bread. How do you and Will use your Painted Mountain?
 
Elizabeth
Whitefish, Montana

We use our Painted Mountain as cornmeal. As it is a low-sugar variety, you may want to add a little more honey or sugar to your cornbread as we modern people have become more used to a lot more sweetening than older corns provide. We love its nutty, rich flavor just as it is but we realize that tastes differ a lot. — Jackie

Canning grape juice

I have been making muscadine grape jelly and will have some juice left over. I want to water bath it and save it for next year. Do I need to do anything special to it?
 
Thanks and sure hope you are feeling better!

Sheryl
Newport News, Virginia

Thanks Sheryl. I AM feeling a lot better and am really glad to have gotten rid of that crummy gallbladder!

No, you don’t have to do anything special to your grape juice. Just water bath it as usual. I’ve done a ton of juices this year so I can make more jelly in the future. As I’m now using my Mehu Liisa (Thank you, thank you!) I have so much MORE juice than I did before so I can make jelly at my leisure or on years when we don’t have a fruit crop. Just bring the juice up to a very warm temperature (not boiling) and ladle into hot jars. Then process as usual. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning dense foods and black cherries

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Canning dense foods

I put up many different things for our family. My rule of thumb is always process for the ingredient which has the longest time associated with it, such meat in pasta sauce 90 minutes vs 30 for plain based on the recipe. With that in mind, I have looked endlessly for many types of recipes to make store bought items at home. For instance, chocolate fudge sauce. All the references I could find said no-go for the home canner because commercial items are often done at higher pressures and that is why you can buy certain things, like pumpkin puree or refried beans, in the store but cannot do them at home. I have tried to find some reference for the “higher pressure” in commercially processed foods… haven’t found anything. Can you explain why we can find dense products to buy, but “experts” say they cannot be safely canned at home?

Angie Riggsby
Buckley, Washington

I don’t believe store foods are canned at a higher pressure but are pre-heated to certain temps before being packed. And in a factory, they are packed by machine, instantly, then move on down to the canner. At home we can’t work so precisely and some folks are pretty slow. So they make the recommendations for them, including us, too. I’ve never heard of a person getting botulism from home canned pureed pumpkin or refried beans. BUT I suppose it is possible, especially if they really cooled down prior or during packing then someone closed up their canner to build pressure BEFORE it had exhausted steam sufficiently, building up heat BEFORE pressuring up. Experts are trying to keep us safe from ourselves in every way possible, including home canning. — Jackie

Black cherries

I ordered some shrubs from my Conservation District since you are out of stock. They are called Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) are they the same thing? Boy I hope so I got 10 of them. Just wonder if it’s the same.

Brandy Gunderson

Sorry, but no. Black Cherry are not Hansens Bush Cherries but a tree that can eventually grow to 100 feet. Hansens Bush Cherries are a shrub topping out at about 6′ and about 8′ wide and bushy. It is known as the Western Sand Cherry or Prunus besseyi. We don’t sell any trees, shrubs or plants but we may be selling Hansens Bush Cherry pits next year, depending on the harvest as we’ve grown many from seed. — Jackie

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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