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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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Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
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Archive for the ‘Food Preservation’ Category

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning on a ceramic top stove and testing a used canner

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

Canning on a ceramic top stove

I have been canning for a couple years now and I keep coming up with a few questions that I can’t find answers to. First, I can on a ceramic, flat top stove. One of the burners is supposedly designed to be extra large for canning. I have used it without much problem for canning, although I know that it is not the ideal stove. Because of the cycling on and off of the stove, I am constantly adjusting the temperature. I have a difficult time keeping my pressure at 11 pounds (dial gauge canner and less than 1000 feet above sea level). My canner always wants to easily go up to 15 pounds pressure and seems to be able to maintain 15 pounds pressure without any problem. I have seen an old recipe for canning green beans that gives a time for canning at 15 pounds pressure. That time is less than the recommended time for canning green beans at 10 lbs pressure. Can I pressure can at 15lbs pressure for less time? If so, do you have a resource to recommend for times for various items? If I can’t reduce the time, is there anything wrong with canning items at 15 pounds pressure when the recommendation is 10?

Secondly, after I finished canning chicken broth this morning, I realized that one of the jars didn’t seal (I do seem to have a difficult time with that). So, I wanted to reprocess it. I know I can’t use the same lid again, but is it necessary to heat the broth up again or can I just leave the broth in the same jar, wipe rim off, replace the lid, stick the cool jar in a cool canner and process?

Rebecca Whisonant
Chester, South Carolina

Have you tried other burners to see if one of them might give you the 11 pounds you need? If so and that didn’t help, I think I’d just go ahead and can at 15 pounds pressure but for the entire required time, as there really isn’t much reliable information on canning at higher than required pressure for shorter times. But I really would try to find a sweet burner so you can process at 11 pounds as 15 pounds may tend to overcook some foods such as carrots or potatoes.

Sorry, but you should bring your broth up to boiling, then pack the chicken and broth back in the jar and process as if it were the first trip through the canner. — Jackie

Testing a used canner

I recently purchased a beautiful vintage Windsor A Montgomery Ward Canner #8. The problem is it only fits 3½ quarts instead of the recommended 4. I did a trial run and it works great! It took about 23 minutes on high to start to vent (I usually don’t vent on high but I wanted see how long it would take at that temp). I tested it for 15 minutes and the pressure maintained with the gauge and the weight I had put on (I added an all American vent and weight like I’ve done to my 2 larger gasketless canners). The weight jiggled like normal 3-4x/min at 10lbs. Once I turned off the heat it took about 23 minutes to reach zero. Apparently the recommendations are because a smaller canner would come up to pressure too fast for heat to penetrate, but this canner appears to come up and cool down like a larger canner. I only tested canning water for 15 minutes and it didn’t seem fast. Would like to use this one when I just want to can small amounts. Let me know what you think.

Michelle Neal
Buffalo, New York

Although I can not, obviously, say for sure, but I think you’ve got the canner all set to go. My All American takes about 25 minutes to exhaust and about that long to cool down, depending on how full it is and if it’s a cooler raw-packed load instead of a hot-packed load of jars.

You do know, don’t you, that you can process as little as one half-pint in a larger canner? It isn’t as economical, but it sure can be done. I often do not fill my canner but just process what is ready to go at the time. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: wide mouth jars and buckboard bacon

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Wide-mouth jars

I have been using wide mouth jars almost exclusively because they are easy to fill/wash. It occurred to me today as I started a batch of strawberry star fruit jam that there may be a reason for the 2 sizes. Am I to use them as I wish for anything I am canning? I know wide mouth jars are a little more expensive for some mysterious reason … is that the only difference?

Judith Almand
Brandon, Florida

Yes, you can use either wide mouth jars or regular jars, as you choose for any canning. The wide mouth jars are easier to fill with certain foods like larger pieces of meat and they are also easier to get some foods out of after processing and storing them. Of course the lids of the regular jars are a lot cheaper so this is why I use more of them than the wide mouth lids. But as the Tattler lids are becoming easy to find, that’s not such an issue anymore. — Jackie

Buckboard bacon

I want to can buckboard bacon, made from the BHM article in an older issue. I assume I pressure can it at 10 PDS for 75 minutes for a pint and 90 minutes for a quart. Also no liquid. My question,do I need to cook it first? If I don’t cook it, is it edible from the jar when done canning or does it need to be cooked after?

Karen Armstrong
Watkins Glen, New York
No, you don’t need to cook it first as canning at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes (pints) will cook it in the canner. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning Mostarda di frutta, canning pickled eggs and canning beans, and new All American canner

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Canning Mostarda di frutta

I have recently discovered mostardas, and I think the pear variety I have been experimenting with is great. I used a pint of home canned pears in water (no added syrup/sugar when I canned them), and added 1 tsp ground yellow mustard, 1 tsp brown mustard seed, 2 T apple cider vinegar, ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Heated to boil, let simmer 20 minutes.

Most people add sugar, but I love it like this. Would it be safe to can it with the added spices and apple cider vinegar in a water bath canner?

Chrissy Mullender
Luray, Kansas

Yes, this would fine to can in a water bath canner. The pears are high acid and you are also adding apple cider vinegar. Enjoy your pears! — Jackie

Canning pickled eggs and canning beans

I would like to start off by saying how much I enjoy your books along with Backwoods Home Magazine. After the Bible they are the next most must read in our home. I have even purchased your canning and pantry cookbook for 2 of my 3 daughters and a friend. Our third daughter, who just got married will be getting them this year for Christmas.

I have 2 questions for you. In the Sept/Oct 2014 issue of Backwoods Home there was a article on things not to can and I noticed that pickled eggs were mentioned. Last year I canned pickled eggs using your recipe, so I am wondering if this is still okay? I didn’t have a problem with them and was thinking that maybe the shelf life isn’t as long. My second question is when canning beans is it okay to use Jacob’s Cattle in the recipe for the beans? I figure that it probably is and am embarrassed that I am even asking. I hope you don’t think I am a dipsy doodle, but I want to just make sure what I am doing is okay. There is a lot of work in canning and I just want to make sure it’s a good outcome. You are my canning guru, so thanks for taking the time I know you are very busy. I love canning and have been teaching my daughters. There is a gentleman at Church that told me if he stood still I would probably can him. Only if it’s in Jackie Clay’s Growing and Canning Your Own Food.

Robin Cousens
Sterling, Connecticut

Yes, I read that too. What Patrice meant is that there is no “tested” recipe for canning pickled eggs. Unfortunately the experts don’t bother testing a lot of tried and true recipes we’ve used for years. But folks have been pickling eggs for generations and I don’t know of a single illness resulting from them. Mine last for years just fine.

Yes, you can use any beans in bean recipes. No, of course I don’t think you’re a “dipsy doodle!” Sensible questions are always good questions that lots of other people probably wonder about too.

Hey, it’s said here that I’ll can anything that holds still long enough. And if it doesn’t, I’ll shoot it first, then can it up! That guy better watch out! — Jackie

New All American canner

I am so excited because I just got an All American canner. The first time I used it, it made a vacuum inside the canner. Getting the lid off was terrible. Could you, possibly, do a video or post good quality photos showing where the Vaseline goes? The instruction book that comes with the canner only uses words to describe where to put it — and they aren’t completely helpful!

Deborah McEnulty
Priest River, Idaho

All you do is take your index finger and lightly rub Vaseline all around the inside top of the canner body, where the top lid fits against the beveled part. Done deal. If you’re still not sure, I will gladly post a photo for you. I’m so happy you got an All American canner! You’ll love it! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: leaving rings on jars in storage, canning pinto beans, and growing tomatoes in low light

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Leaving rings on jars in storage

Our family butchered a 500+ pound hog this past weekend, and we were able to render 30+ quarts of lard. We poured the hot lard directly from the press into the jars, and they all sealed. Now I am wondering if I need to leave the rings on in storage. I normally don’t keep my rings on my jars in storage, but I don’t want to do anything to ruin this wonderful lard.

Lisa Smith
Sunbury, Pennsylvania

I take my rings off then wash the sealed, cool jars in hot, soapy water to remove any grease. Then I dry my rings and air dry the jars. When dry, I do put the rings back on but don’t tighten them much at all. This is just to keep lids in place, should one get bumped as they really aren’t “canned” even though they are sealed. Isn’t that lard great? I NEVER use shortening anymore after learning more about it. — Jackie

Canning pinto beans

I saw this information posted on another blog and wondered what your thoughts might be on it. The discussion was about canning dried beans.

“I LOVE home canned pinto beans! … I sort & wash them. 1/2 c. beans per pint or 1 c. beans per quart. Put them in hot jars, top off with boiling water to 1″ head space. I add 1/4 t. salt per pint, 1/2 t. per quart. Get the air bubbles out, wipe the rim of the jar, lid & ring on and in the pressure canner. 11# pressure for 75 minutes for pints, and 90 mins for quarts. I don’t soak them, I don’t cook them. Don’t need to, the pressure canner does that. You should save yourself some electricity and give it a try.”

It WOULD save time and effort, and maybe prevent mushiness. Thanks for any input.

Donna Herlihy
Wentworth, New Hampshire

I have friends who use this method but it isn’t a “recommended” canning method, although I don’t know why it wouldn’t work. The method I use is to pour rinsed, picked through beans into a big kettle. Cover with plenty of water and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes. Cover and let sit covered for 2 hours. Heat back up to boiling. Then ladle beans out into hot jars, just more than half full. Cover with hot cooking liquid and leave 1″ of headspace. If you don’t have enough cooking liquid, use boiling water. Process for 65 minutes for pints and 75 minutes for quarts. I find this works well and doesn’t take much effort at all. — Jackie.

Growing tomatoes in low light

My garden-loving parents have moved into a senior-living apartment complex and have a north-facing balcony on the 11th floor. Dad desperately wants to grow tomatoes. Do you know of any varieties that might do well under low-light conditions? Will he need to hand-pollinate them?

Carol Elkins
Pueblo, Colorado

Tell your dad not to despair. I’ve grown several tomatoes on north-facing sides of the buildings and had them do okay. They do tend to lean out, looking for the sun. But they will grow and give him tomatoes. Usually, the shorter season tomatoes will do best on the north side, where it tends to be cooler. No, he won’t have to hand-pollinate them. Tomatoes are chiefly self-pollinating, having both male and female parts in each flower, so they don’t need help to set fruit. — Jackie

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



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