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Archive for the ‘Food Preservation’ Category

Jackie Clay

Q and A: preserving eggs and canning cherry pie filling

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Preserving eggs

What do you think about scrambling eggs with sausage, mushrooms and green and red peppers and canning them. Trying to get away from freezer and when I get my chickens and quit selling almonds then I will have lots of eggs and don’t like them pickled.

Nancy Foster
Dallas City, Illinois

Sorry, Nancy, but there’s just NO research that’s been done on canning eggs, other than pickling them and that’s minimal! Keep those hens producing. You can add a light during the fall and winter to keep ‘em laying even, during darker days. Having a warmer coop also helps — no drafts and plenty of shavings for bedding. — Jackie

Canning cherry pie filling

I purchased several jars of tart cherries a couple years ago. I didn’t want them to spoil and the jars were still sealed and looked like when I purchased them. So I made cherry pie filling and recanned them in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes. After doing it, I wondered if that was the right thing to do?

Lorraine Sturgis
Standish, Maine

Personally, I would have left them in the original jars. But if you used an approved recipe for your pie filling, you should be just fine. I say “an approved” recipe as some folks try to thicken their pie filling to can with flour or cornstarch, which aren’t approved anymore. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning beans, meat and soup, planting sprouted potatoes, and Nanking cherries

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Canning beans, meat, and soup

I have a question about canning beans. How do you know when the beans are ready for canning and wouldn’t swell in the jar anymore? I canned kidney beans and pork and beans for the 1st time. The beans swelled. Should I soak them overnight? Then when I put them in the jar maybe stop at the shoulder of the jar with the beans then add fluid?

I also like to can meat. What does it mean to lightly brown? Do you not have any pink showing or is there a little pink showing and it will finish cooking while in the canner?

Also when you can soup such as beef vegetable, will it turn to mush while canning for 75 minutes? This is soup we ate a few meals of then want to save the rest. But you time the canner for the food item that has the longest canning time right? Even if it is cooked already?

Cindy Hills
Wild Rose, Wisconsin

Either rinse and hold beans overnight in a large pot of plenty of water or else add beans and water to large pot, bring to a boil, boil for 2 minutes, then let sit, covered, for two hours. This lets the beans swell to nearly full size. I never pack the beans up to 1 inch headspace but add about 2-3 inches of liquid over them to allow for more swelling during canning.

Lightly browning meat means to brown the outside lightly. There is still pink showing in the center and, yes, the meat fully cooks during the processing.

No, your vegetables don’t turn to mush. Campbell’s soup has veggies and beef, right? And it’s also processed. But if you fully cook the soup before canning, the vegetables do tend to get soft. So what I do is mix up the recipe, heat it to boiling, and then pack the jars without fully cooking the soup/stew. You can certainly can up leftover soup or stew but you could end up with softer veggies. They sure taste great though. And, yes, you do process the food for the length of time required for the food needing the longest processing time — usually meat.

Chili is one of our favorite meals in a jar. Like the soup, though, I soak my beans then add the sauce, meat, and spices, tasting as it heats and adding more spices, as needed. (The beans are still pretty firm so don’t eat them!).

Good luck stocking your pantry shelves with easy-to-fix meals! — Jackie

Planting sprouted potatoes

I have potatoes from my last year’s garden that I want to plant. Over the winter these potatoes have grown long sprouts, up to 12-18 inches long. Should I remove these sprouts before cutting the potato and planting?

Kathy Kinn
Findlay, Ohio

While it’s better to have shorter sprouts on your potatoes, you certainly can plant those with long sprouts. Plant the sprouts down as deep as you do the “mother” potato, running lengthwise in the row so you can hill the plants later on. Leave space between the end of one sprout and the start of the next one so your potatoes will be further apart than the “recommended” 12 inches or so. If you remove the long sprouts it takes time and energy for the potato to make new ones which often results in a smaller crop, come fall, unless you have a long growing season. — Jackie

Nanking cherries

At your recommendation, 3 years ago I planted several Nanking Cherry bushes on our new TN farmstead. This year looks like I am going to have a bumper crop! I want to process them but they look like they could be a little tedious. Could I use my Victorio strainer and if so, what size sieve should I use? I was thinking maybe the one designed for grapes. Also any tips for hand pitting them?

Cindy Baugh
Dandridge, Tennessee

I’ve never used my Victorio for this, so if you do, please let us know how that works. I make jam with them by heating the cherries until soft then cooling and hand-pressing them through a sieve, grating off the meat from the cherries. They do not pit well, either by hand or with a pitter as the cherries are fairly small and the pits fairly large. They are advertised as a pie cherry, but I wouldn’t want to be the pitter! I’m glad your Nankings are doing so well. You’ll love them! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Ah, Spring!

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Today it’s 65 degrees and sunny without much wind so it sure feels great. Will’s working on the barn, getting ready to put up our home-cut siding. Yesterday he worked on the sawmill all day, cutting ONE log. But that log was a huge spruce log that had to be cut down with a chainsaw to even fit on the sawmill! He’s putting first a layer of our free plywood up over the 2×6 studs, then adding furring strips on which to nail the vertical board and batten siding. The plywood is to prevent any slight drafts from getting through the barn. Inside, we’re going to add some insulation board that a friend found for us. It was a wonderful “deal.” We’ll be off to pick that up soon — a whole trailer load! Thank you, Mike!

I canned up bean soup last night after putting away 17 pints of baked beans first. Wow, that sure looks great in the pantry!

This morning we went to our friends’ house to disbud our new Nubian/Boer buckling.


He is simply stunning and so gorgeously marked; like a pinto-appaloosa horse. His mother and father were out of a buck and doe we used to have so we know his potential as a producer of great milkers on down the line. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he’s beautifully marked too! (No, he doesn’t have a roached back. Dara is just holding him still on the stump!) — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Spring is busy, busy, busy

Thursday, April 9th, 2015


I’m sure glad that the days are getting longer! I’m like a chicken — when it’s light, I’m active; when it’s dark I get sleepy. And with all we have to do, I’m glad I’m awake more. I’ve been working on the cover for my next Western novel and so far, it’s coming out great.

This morning, I set a pot of beans on to boil and now they’re setting in the pot for a couple more hours then I’m adding ham and bacon and making a huge batch of baked beans to can up. Hopefully, tomorrow I can get the ham bone boiled up and make another big batch of bean soup. I love it when I get lots of meals from one major piece of meat!

The peppers, petunias, and tomatoes are growing nicely and I need to get them transplanted soon. Boy, some days I wish I were twins.

Will’s been working on our old ’85 blue 3/4 ton Chevy pickup, getting it road-ready again after sitting for a few years. We have a long haul with the stock trailer on Monday so we’re crossing our fingers that Old Blue runs well.

Slowly, the birds are returning from the South. I’ve seen five more robins, two kestrels, two red-tailed hawks and a turkey vulture. We’ve also seen a few trumpeter swans, and both Canada geese and snow geese flying north. But today is snowy and raw. It sure doesn’t feel much like spring. It is supposed to warm up toward the weekend, though. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning pumpkin and canning cheese

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Canning pumpkin

My question is about canning pumpkin. I know we are supposed to cube the pumpkin. When filling up the jars with the pumpkin can I add the spices that I would normally use to make pumpkin butter or pumpkin pie? Then when I open the jars I could blend the mixture, and be a little ahead of the game.

Coos Bay, Oregon

I tried that, Joyce, but found sometimes the spices got too strong that way. It takes me 2 minutes to measure and dump spices into pie filling so it really didn’t save me that much fussing around and I always get the spices right by adding them later after opening a jar of pumpkin. — Jackie

Canning cheese

When you can your cheddar cheese, how do you get it out of the jar? Cut in half, spoon it out or what?

Kaye Winn

I put the jar into a saucepan full of boiling water for a few minutes. Then I open the jar and run a thin knife around the outside of the cheese and dump the jar upside down on a plate or cutting board. It usually slides right out, like Jello does. — Jackie

Can the French Chevre cheese you made be preserved somehow?

Wanda Devers

Well, I would think so as cream cheese can be successfully canned. But we all ate it on crackers on Easter. Then my son, Bill, asked for some hot pepper rings and tried them on the cheese on his cracker. Oh YES! So we started eating it that way. I’ve got about a pound of plain cheese left in the fridge and it keeps for at least a week, covered in the fridge. I’m going to use it in a cheesecake and I’m sure we’ll finish up the rest with hot pepper rings on crackers for snacks. What a wonderful find! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We had a busy but blessed Easter

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

I made plans to do all my cleaning/baking/pre-cooking on the Saturday before Easter but you know how plans go… We had company all day Saturday! Company that we really enjoyed. But boy, did that ever set me behind for Easter. But I got up early Sunday and got ‘er kind of done — enough anyway. Our guests were: my sister Sue from near Duluth, Javid from Orr, David, and Bill and his family from Kerrick. We had an all-homegrown feast of baked ham, garlic-whipped mashed potatoes (with sour cream and cream cheese, of course), carrots, green beans, rolls, etc. I even had some sweetened French soft cheese set out that we enjoyed with hot pepper rings and crackers. So nobody left the table hungry.

Easter was complicated as David had to arrive early so he and I could drive to Orr to pick up Javid. Since Javid he is disabled, he needs to be lifted from his wheelchair to the car and back out again at home. (Will’s back is better but not painless yet.) Then David had to work so I had to fix his dinner first so he could eat and run. The rest popped in about noon and I re-heated dinner for them. Hey, it all worked out great. We all took a walk down to the barn to show everyone how nicely the new barn is coming and to visit the cows and horses. Javid enjoyed visiting with Ladyhawk, our Friesian mare. She absolutely loved him and bent over to lip his jacket and face. And of course granddaughter, Ava, had a great visit with the cows, horses, and her favorite, Spencer. Our grandson, Mason, brought the radio-controlled helicopter we’d given him for Christmas and he amazed us all by flying it around inside the house. Wow — Our own drone!

Now it’s back at it again. I’m going to take the meat off the ham bone and add navy beans and can up a big batch of baked beans. Then the bone will be added to more beans for another batch of bean soup. Love those quick, meals in a jar! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: seal on a woodstove, planting peppers, and canning cheese

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Seal on woodstove

We have a woodstove in our small cabin which is 700 sq. ft. Each year the seal on the inside of the door of the wood burner comes off and causes my husband lots of consternation. It was not a cheap woodstove and we were wondering if this is normal or if we are doing something wrong. How do you re-apply the seal to your stove and are there any hints you can provide so that we do not have do this again next year?

Deborah Motylinski
Brecksville, Ohio

This is kind of common. However, there are some things you can do to keep it on for much longer than a year. The most important thing to do is to take a wire brush and hot, soapy water and scrub the tar out of the groove the gasket fits into. Of course, you’ll have to wait until the fire has been out a while so the door will cool enough to handle. Rinse and dry the groove. Cut the sealing gasket to fit. Then with a good stove gasket cement (a liquid), apply a decent amount to the groove.  Firmly press the seal into place. Keep the door open while the cement sets so you don’t end up cementing the door closed. (Been there/done that!) Let it cure for at least 24 hours. Then it’s ready for a fire. When it comes off during the coldest part of the winter, you do have to rush the process but when you do that the gasket does seem more prone to coming loose much faster. — Jackie

Planting peppers

Do you plant your peppers together or separate? I start two also to be sure to get one. Linda ordered the old German, Sweet Aperitif, and Bill Bean tomato. All coming up double. Will separate and plant. Should have enough for our canning.

Ron Stilabower
New Douglas, Illinois

I often plant two seeds together in case one doesn’t germinate or one plant doesn’t look strong. But I’ll confess I try to save the plant I “weed out” if it looks good; I hate to waste! But when I transplant them I only put one plant per container and only one plant in one spot in the garden. I’m tickled that your tomatoes are coming up well! We always love to hear that. — Jackie

Canning cheese

I am interested in preserving store bought cheese. I want to start putting up some can goods and other things too.

Thelma Thompson
Elberta, Mchigan

To can cheese, fill a saucepan about half full of hot water or about ¾ way up the side of a half-pint jar. Turn on the heat to low. Put an old jar lid on the bottom of the pan then set a clean, sterilized jar on it with a few cubes of cheese in it. As the cheese melts, stir it with a chopstick or some such tool and keep adding cubes of cheese. When the jar is full to about ½ inch from the top, remove the jar from the pan and go on to the next until you are finished with all the cheese. Then carefully wipe all the rims of the jars clean and place a hot, previously simmered lid on the jar and turn the ring down firmly tight. Water bath the cheese for 60 minutes. Some people only process for 40 minutes, but as there is no “safe, tested recommendation” by the USDA and other experts, this is just the way I do it and have canned cheese for more than 7 years now. Cheeses that are good canned include mozzarella, Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, and cream cheese. Bear in mind that some cheeses tend to get sharper with long storage so you might not want to can up a lot of extra sharp cheddar if you don’t care for pungent cheese. If you want to start canning in earnest, you might pick up my book Growing and Canning Your own Food right here, through the magazine. You’ll find it a great help and inspiration. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Tomato time!

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

With all of our peppers up, it’s time for tomatoes. This year I planted more than 288 tomatoes. Of that number, there are 50 new varieties and 20 of our old standbys that we are selling seeds from this year at our business — Seed Treasures. Some of the 50 new ones won’t make the cut, of course. If they don’t produce very well, don’t taste great, or don’t seem quite hardy, out they go! (We do give some a second chance if they make two of our goals, just to see if we did something wrong or the weather affected them.)

Meanwhile, I’ve been canning up a storm. I just did 14 quarts of chili, 7 pints of leftover kidney beans, 3 quarts and 3 pints of boneless pork loin, and a little plain crumbled hamburger. Now I’ve got to get out more meat to thaw. Time to get another big batch done ahead of Easter dinner cooking and baking. I’m SO glad to be feeling better!

Will is lots better too. He cut up a big load of small wood, loading it into the pickup. I just looked out and he was unloading it with his radio earphones on and he was dancing to old-time rock’n roll!
Go Will! — Jackie



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