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Archive for the ‘Meat’ Category

Jackie Clay

Take a look at Becky’s tomato!

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016


Becky B. sent us this photo of her Bill Bean tomato she raised last year from our seeds. Isn’t it pretty? And BIG too! — Good job, Becky!

I baked up half a ham and got 16 jars full of ham dices and pieces. Today I’m boiling the bone and will be canning up pints of bean and ham soup. As spring is coming, I need to empty our freezer, which we can’t keep running during the summer. That means eating/canning everything that is in it. I’ve made a good start on it and next will be mixing up some Italian sausage from our ground pork to can as crumbles. I use this on pizzas and in spaghetti sauce, among other things.


I had to laugh at Hondo last night. I had been looking at several seed catalogs and he fell asleep upside down on the couch, right by the Fedco catalog. I think he was reading it then drifted off!


We’ve got four more inches of new snow today so Will and Hondo are out plowing the driveway. We’ve got a butcher steer scheduled to butcher tomorrow so we’ll need to get him loaded this afternoon. We helped a neighbor yesterday do that same thing. But all did not go well. The animal jumped out over the fence, knocking my friend Jeri down. Luckily she wasn’t hurt bad but we ended up taking four hours to get the bugger in the trailer! Will was about pooped out, trying to head the cow off on foot through deep snow in the pasture. Our friend Sam was trying to help, too and we were worried about him because he has already had a couple of heart attacks, a knee replacement, and another bad knee to boot. We were sure glad when we were done and the cow was in the trailer … and no one was hurt. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning broth, cloudy broth, canning potatoes, and canning nopales

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Canning broth

When canning with chicken or beef stock would I consider this meat and use the higher canning time required?

Judith Almand
Lithia, Florida

No. If you are canning just broth with no meat, you would only process pints for 20 minutes and quarts for 25 minutes for both chicken and beef broths. Of course, if you add pieces of meat, you’d then process for the higher “meat” required time of 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts, all at 10 pounds pressure unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet. — Jackie

Cloudy broth

I’ve also been doing some catch up canning. Mostly broth. My beef broth and ham broth both turned out cloudy. I’ve never had that happen before. They smell and taste great, and canned up fine. I’ll do the sniff test, but am wondering what may have caused this. I used the same pot, and added carrots, onions, and celery. Cooked on the woodstove overnight. 3 batches of each, and 2 of the beef and 2 of the ham look more like gravy, though not thick like gravy. The other batches turned out nice and clear. Do you have any ideas?

Liz Wheeler
Miles City, Montana

It may just be that because you cooked the broths on the wood stove overnight, there may have been more tiny pieces of meat/veggies broken down by long cooking. If the broths were processed correctly and are sealed, along with smelling fine on opening, I wouldn’t worry a bit. — Jackie

Canning potatoes

I’m new to canning and canned some Yukon Potatoes a few months ago. I used a small amount of ascorbic acid with some of the batches but not all. Now I notice that some of the jars have a grayish color to the water. It looks like it might be a sediment, maybe starch? I used Tattler lids and had good results. The seals are intact. Any thoughts on this?

Walter Brown
Crescent City, California

I’d guess that your off color is, as you suspected, just potato starch which has settled out after canning. As always, if you followed correct canning directions and the jars are sealed, I wouldn’t worry at all. As with everything we can, on opening, check the appearance of the food in the jar, open it, noting that it is indeed sealed well, then sniff the contents. If everything is well, as it usually is, go ahead and heat and eat! Glad to hear you’ve started canning. You’ll quickly find how much fun it is! — Jackie

Canning nopales

There was a post where people wanted to know how to can nopales (cactus). I would love to know how to. Do you have a recipe? Preferably not pickled; I love the plain wonderful taste. Please direct me where I can find a recipe.

Amelia Dials
San Diego, California

Unfortunately, there is no approved method for home canning nopales. Some folks can them as you would green beans but this is, again, NOT an approved method. Instead, you might like them frozen. It is easy and the taste is great when thawed. Simply clean the fresh, young cactus pads of their spines, rinse, then cut into strips. Boil for one minute to blanch, then drain and pack into freezer containers.

Pickling nopales is pretty easy. Here’s one recipe:

12 oz. cactus pad
4 oz. onion
1 jalapeño
1 cup water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. peppercorn

Remove the spines from young, tender nopales (cactus leaves), then rinse well. Slice onion into thin strips. Trim the stem end off the jalapeño, halve, and cut into thin strips. Remove the seeds and membranes to reduce the heat if desired.

In a stainless steel pot, combine the vinegar, salt, and peppercorn. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Pack the cactus strips, onion, and jalapeño into clean jars. Pour the vinegar brine into the jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Apply lids and rings, and process in the water bath canner for 10 minutes.

I hope you enjoy your nopales. Not only are they good, but they’re good for you too! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Winter “catch-up” canning

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Although we use winter as our resting season, a lot still gets done. This is the time I do my catch-up canning. As we usually have butchered chickens, turkeys, pigs, and beef, I have a lot of meat in the freezer, which we can only run during the colder months. Our wind and solar don’t produce enough electricity to run our greedy freezer, and running the generator is expensive. Then there are always on-sale foods that I buy extra, usually at holiday season. For instance, during Thanksgiving/Christmas, both ham and turkey were on sale, so I bought a few of each and when Easter approaches, the ham will again be on sale.

So with all this cheap meat, I am slowly beginning to can it up. I just finished a turkey and am thawing out a ham. I can the meat and also, in the case of turkeys and chickens, the broth. And with ham, I use the ham bone and bits of meat to can up baked beans and bean and split pea soup.


And every day I’m taking seed out of our stored squash to dry for our seed business, Seed Treasures. I’m able to not only feed the goats and chickens the “guts” but also am canning up lots of squash for future pumpkin baking.

Also, during the rush tomato season, I can up quarts of plain tomato puree. Then, when I have more time, I open jars, cook it down, add peppers, mushrooms, spices, and meat and make lots of spaghetti sauce. I do this to make enchilada sauce and barbecue sauces, too.

It makes winter go by much more pleasantly, with a warm kitchen and no rush at all. You ought to give it a try! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: dehydrating fruits and veggies, canning pepper rings, canning ground beef

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

Dehydrating fruits and veggies

I will be retiring soon from the Navy and my family and I have just started our homesteading journey with five acres, a cabin, and lots of work ahead of us. We are very excited and every job is an accomplishment that one cannot receive with a “normal” job. Anyway, thank you for all your wisdom. We bought all the anthologies, as well as a subscription to Backwoods Home, and read them all the time. REAL and usable advice! My question: We live off grid, as you do, and wonder how you dehydrate your fruits and veggies? I have plans for wood stove dehydrating, but what do you do during the warmer weather?

Judy Silva
Boulder Creek, California

I dehydrate in several ways. First off, I have a table under the six foot long window in our south-facing greenhouse/sunroom. I put cookie sheets of sliced food on it, in single layers, covered with old, clean window screens to keep off bugs and flies. The food usually dries in a day or two in warm weather. I also use my oven, with only the pilot light on, with food on cookie sheets and the door cracked open to allow moisture to leave. When we’re planning on using the generator for awhile, I’ll slice up veggies and use my electric dehydrator to start the food drying. Then, as our house is dry and our climate not humid, the food will usually finish by itself or with another spell of using the generator. This way, as you can see, requires a bit of planning. But it does work for me.

Congratulations on your new homesteading journey! What fun you’ll have! — Jackie

Canning pepper rings

I got a great deal on a gallon of mild banana pepper rings. Can I re-can these?

Robin Putman
Coolville, Ohio

Yes you can. To re-can your pepper rings, drain off the pickling liquid and bring it to a boil. While heating it, pack the pepper rings into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Ladle boiling liquid over peppers, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove any bubbles. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. — Jackie

Canning ground beef

I bought a large amount of ground beef and instead of freezing it, I decided to can it. Didn’t go as well as I would have liked. I did 3 batches, first vented in the extreme. Put less in the second batch and had a bit less venting. Finally got the amount to put in right for the last batch, no venting. On the first batch, I waited for the pressure to go to zero and for no more venting from the rocker. But when I opened it, the venting was going on and on two of the jars the plastic Tattler lid was domed up. Is that doming normal? I waited even longer for the second batch to cool and still had venting and doming. I let the last batch cool completely and had no venting. Was it the filling or the opening too soon causing the venting?

In all the jars that didn’t vent, I was shocked at the amount of fat inside. I had drained the meat and used beef broth with little or no fat in it. Is the amount of fat part of my venting problem? I also failed to add any salt to any bottle. I assume that salt or no salt would not influence this.

Erica Kardelis
Helper, Utah

You’re right; adding salt has nothing to do with anything but flavor in canning meats and vegetables.
When you can ground meat with broth, blowing out steam from the jars after canning can be normal, provided the lids then go on to seal. Same with jars which seem to boil forever after taking them out of the canner. If you do like I do and brown the ground meat lightly, then pack it loosely without adding broth, it will not do this and the jars will seal just fine, also giving you a better looking/tasting end product. It isn’t the “recommended” method by experts but sure does the job for me just fine. Unless you grind your own meat, you probably will end up with quite a bit of fat from boughten hamburger; that’s no worry other than sometimes fat will get under the lid of the jar and keep it from sealing normally. It usually doesn’t but it can happen. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We finally got our Christmas tree up

Monday, December 21st, 2015

We finally got our tree up. David came Sunday and gave us a hand and now it’s feeling Christmas-y. Outside, there’s plenty of snow and its been cold enough.


I’ve got a turkey thawing out and plan on roasting it this afternoon so I can get it canned up. We got our fresh pork back and took the hams, bacons, and a boneless pork loin to Al, our butcher-friend, to smoke. We can’t wait for that to come back.

The new fridge is still working like a champ so I’m real happy about that!

Our wild turkey neighbor seems to be moving in up here on the ridge. She’s here every day now and is even flying into the orchard to mingle with our turkeys. She likes the corn Will and I are putting out for her too.

I’m feeling better after the latest spell of diverticulitis but, boy, does it ever tire me out! You can bet no more popcorn for me. Ever. I sure want to avoid surgery.

Although “canning season” is generally thought to be in the fall, I find myself canning quite a bit during the winter, too. We have canned chicken, turkey, and ham and will be doing more pork soon as well as making bean and split pea soup. I find that if I do a little, often, it’s easy and quick. Painless. And it sure fills up the pantry quickly. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We have a regular visitor

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Over the summer and some of the fall, we’ve had occasional visits by a wild turkey hen. She walked in last summer, interested in a couple of our domestic toms that wander around the yard. Then she got spooked and took off. Will saw her in the oat field this fall. We were real excited as wild turkeys are plentiful further south but not up here. They’re very rare. So when this lady showed up recently, we were tremendously excited. Will quickly went and turned a couple of our turkey hens out and spread some corn around in the edge of the driveway. She keeps coming back for more. I think she’s lonely as well as hungry with the snow getting deeper. We’ll keep feed out all winter for her. She’s getting less spooky around us and the dogs. Hopefully, she’ll hatch out some eggs, come spring, and populate our area with more wild turkeys.


I’ve been under the weather again with a bout of diverticulitis. My fault — I ate popcorn. I sure won’t do that again as it’s been quite a while since my last attack. The doctor’s talking surgery and I sure want to avoid that if possible.

Will and I went to get our pork yesterday and take frozen pork down to Bill in Sturgeon Lake. We met him at his lunch break. Luckily, he only lives a very few miles from home so he goes home for lunch. So we had a nice visit and headed home.

Great news! The new refrigerator is working perfectly. Merry Christmas to me — I’m SO excited! What a lot of room. That’s real nice, especially with the holidays coming up. I just love it.

Although I don’t usually browse the internet, a friend, Pam, sent me a real nice Awwww moment link. It sure made my day and I still think of it often and go back to see it again. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: insects eating ground cherry leaves, Stanley plums, and butchering chickens

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

Insects eating ground cherry leaves

What is eating my Ground Cherry leaves? I planted a few ground cherries this year after reading some of your posts about them. I had never tried them before, but they are wonderful and we intend to grow more next year. However, this year although we got fruit, something was eating away at the leaves. I do not know what this may have been, they seemed to be some sort of tiny worms that ate the leaves starting at the edges and kept going. Can you tell me what these might be, and what I can do to prevent this next year?

Sandie Knight
South Berwick, Maine

There are a lot of “tiny worms” that will eat ground cherry leaves but the cure is the same. Get some Thuricide, a brand name for Bt, which is a type of bacteria that ONLY affects leaf-eating insects and caterpillars. You mix it with water and spray on the plants, taking care to get underneath the leaves as well. You will have to spray after heavy rains or overhead watering but it is very effective. This is also good for cabbage worms and we use it on years when they are a pests, like this year! It will not hurt beneficial insects, butterflies, pets, birds, earthworms, or you. — Jackie

Stanley plums

I planted 2 Stanley plum trees 11 years ago. They have had little plums for the last few years that would fall offf when they were tiny. This year they are getting the right size but still falling off before ripening. If I pick from the tree and lay out in the garage, on window sills, or in the greenhouse will they ripen? Any suggestions to get fruit?

My Rosa plums are coming on now–VERY GOOD!!

Joline Fleming
Rossiter, Pennsylvania

I’d check the plums that have fallen for any damage such as the tiny, dark, crescent-shaped scars made by the plum curculio, a common pest of both plums and apricots. If so, I’d suggest using Surround at blossom time, then several times after, especially after rains. Surround is a kaolin based natural clay that mixes with water and is applied with a garden sprayer to the entire tree. It creates a whitish film that usually prevents damage. If the fruit looks perfect, the tree may be stressed. Shedding fruit is a natural way of helping the tree deal with this stress. This is often hot, dry weather or lack of nutrition. Be sure to soak the ground around the trees with a hose at least once a week, more often if it’s hot and dry and your soil is porous. The trees may also need fertilizer. We apply about a foot of rotted manure around each of our trees out to the drip line, each spring. This compost also acts as a mulch, helping our gravelly soil retain moisture from both rain and watering.
Lastly, thinning your plums when they are quite small will also help relieve over-bearing stress on your trees. Just pluck off extra plums, leaving about one every hand-width to go on and mature.

You might get by, thinning your plums now. I doubt that they will ripen off the tree but I would sure try it! I’m happy to hear your other plums are doing well. They’re so good! — Jackie

Butchering chickens

I butchered an old laying hen who no longer lays eggs. Even after simmering the meat for broth the meat was tough. How can I tenderize an old hen?

Karen Baldi
Montezuma, New Mexico

Did you cool the carcass after you butchered your hen? You need to cool a butchered bird for at least 24 hours after butchering to get the most tender meat. Then just simmer the meat for several hours at low temperature. I do mine in a stockpot or Dutch oven on my wood cook stove. You can also use a covered crockpot — this usually does the job. Canning will also tenderize a tougher bird, but you still should cool the carcass. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning bacon, pepper rings, and rusty canning jars

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Canning bacon

I have canned bacon by chopping slices into chunks, lightly frying then pressure canning. I want to try canning strips next, but would like to put up half strips in smaller jars than whole strips require. Would I still process the full amount of time?

Judith Almand
Brandon, Florida

You process pints and half-pints of bacon for 75 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. (If you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, consult your canning book for instructions on increasing your pressure to suit your altitude, of course.) — Jackie

Pepper rings

The pepper rings look beautiful. Could you please print the recipe on your blog?

Draza Knezevich

Sure thing:


5 quarts whole Hungarian Wax or other hot peppers
5 quarts white vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. mixed pickling spices

Cut top off peppers and cut out seeds/membranes with paring knife. Use gloves as hot peppers have oil that will burn your skin/eyes/mucous membranes. Slice peppers into ¼-inch rings. Soak in ice water for 2 hours. Drain well.

Put pickling spices into spice bag and add to vinegar/sugar mix. Bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute and make sure sugar has dissolved. Pack pepper rings into jars and ladle boiling pickling solution over peppers, leaving ½ inch of headspace. Wipe rim of jar clean and place hot, previously simmered lid on jar and screw down ring firmly tight. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Hope you like them as well as we do! — Jackie

Rusty canning jars

I have been canning for years and have yet to see this. I was given some wide mouth pint jars and there is an iron-rust residue in them. The providers of the same stored nails in them and they got wet and left a rusty ring around the bottom. How can I get rid of this? They are good jars I hate to throw them away.

David Williams

This is a common problem and there are a few things you can do. First, you can try steel wool soap pads. Thin rust comes off pretty easy with these. I shove ’em down in the jar with a wooden spoon handle and scrub them around with a bit of hot water. If that doesn’t work, you can try either CLR or Goo Gone. Both work pretty well and can be used for a lot of other things. If THAT doesn’t do the job, get some resin bed cleaner at a big box store like Lowes or Menards. It’s used for water softeners and is pretty darned quick to remove stubborn rust. I’ve also used SnoBol toilet bowl cleaner. It all depends on how thick/old the rust is. Take care not to scratch or scrape the jars as this can cause glass to break at the scratch mark. Good luck. — Jackie



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