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Archive for the ‘Meat’ Category

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

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning meat and canning lard

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Canning meat

How do you can meat? I have never tried to do it, but my mom did it when I was very young.

Bettye Bryan
Water Valley, Mississippi

Meat is very easy to can and it’s so useful, once in the pantry. I’d strongly suggest getting a copy of my book, Growing and Canning Your Own Food, for detailed instructions on canning all kinds of meat and meat based recipes.

To can meat, first gently brown it; it doesn’t need to be completely cooked as it will cook during processing. Cut the meat into convenient chunks or slices to fit easily into jars. Use the pan drippings to make a broth, mixing them with water. Pour this boiling broth over the meat, ending up with an inch of headspace (or room) at the top of the jar. Wipe the rim of the jar off to remove any particles or grease. Place a previously simmered, hot new lid on the jar and tighten the ring down firmly tight. In your pressure canner, pour two inches of water. Insert the rack to keep jars off the bottom of the canner. Fill canner with jars and clamp the lid on and turn on the heat. Leave the weight off or the petcock open so air and steam can exhaust. When the steam shoots out in a steady stream for 5 minutes or the time recommended by your canner’s manual, place weight on or shut petcock to build up pressure. Process pints at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes and quarts at 10 pounds pressure for 90 minutes in a pressure canner. When the time is up, turn off the heat and let the canner sit until the pressure has returned to zero and remained for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and, using a jar lifter, lift out each jar and place on a folded towel in a draft-free spot to cool. When cool, check to make sure the centers of the lids are indented, which indicates that they are sealed. Remove the ring and wash the jar in warm, soapy water to remove any grease or minerals on the jar. Dry and store in your pantry. Do not put the rings back on, as they do nothing to ensure the seal and only trap moisture, resulting in rusty lids.

Again, I’d strongly recommend getting Growing and Canning for a whole lot more information. — Jackie

Canning lard

What process is best for canning lard? Some say to pressure can it; some say to heat it and pour into hot jars then add the lid and ring and let the cooling lard create a seal; some say to water bath it. I’m looking for a safe way to store it unrefrigerated.

Michelle Schwarzin
Crane, Oregon

I’ve always canned my lard by ladling the hot lard into hot jars, wiping the rim to remove any grease then adding a hot lid and screwing down the ring firmly tight.

I don’t feel it necessary to pressure can it (pressure canning can actually blow some liquid lard out under the lids, resulting in a bad seal). Water bathing would do nothing but ensure a seal. Any type of canning is unnecessary. The enemy of lard is air and once sealed, air cannot get to the lard to turn it rancid. The hot lard, hot jar method has worked for me for more than 50 years. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: rendering pig fat, canning mulberries, and source for weed-free hay

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Rendering pig fat

Could you give me a rough idea of how many pounds of pig fat I will need to render down in order to end up with a dozen pint jars of lard? I check your blog each morning to see what’s going on in your part of the country; and to see what advice to others I may be able to use.

Vala Johnson
Harlem, Montana

You’re going to need roughly 14 pounds of fat to render down to a dozen pints of lard. I’m glad to hear you visit the blog often and I hope you’ve gleaned a lot of information from others. — Jackie

Canning mulberries

This coming year I am wanting to can mulberries for making pies at a later date but I have not been able to find any info on doing this, if it can be canned, what pressure and for how long?

William Fisher
Grinnell, Iowa

You don’t need to pressure can any berries, including mulberries since they are acidic enough to process in a water bath canner. You can just water bath them under the directions used for blackberries and raspberries, which is 10 minutes for pints or 15 minutes for quarts. I’d suggest using a medium syrup, poured over the raw berries in the jar, near boiling. Be sure to count your water bath time from the time the kettle comes back to a full boil after putting your filled jars in. — Jackie

Source for weed-free hay

Do you have any advice about finding a local source for weed-free hay?

Jonathan F.
Somerville, Tennessee

If you don’t know any local farmers, why not put an ad in your nearest Craigslist like “wanted to buy, weed-free, chemical-free hay for my garden.” Or put up some cards at feed mills or livestock yards. I’m sure you can find some pretty easily that way.

If you are using it for mulch in your garden, also be sure it is immature hay with no hay seeds present. I once “planted” a great crop of timothy in my garden by using hay for mulch that had already gone to seed. — 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

We delivered four quarters of beef

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Our beef is starting to sell well and we’ve been delivering, all the way down to Duluth with some 90 miles away! And in the morning we do it again with the second four quarters. Yep, back to Duluth, but also two deliveries closer to home.

People are really happy to get naturally-raised beef with no hormones or antibiotics and from animals that have lived on pasture and good care.

We got home to find our cat, Mittens, stretched out on the sofa, having a siesta in the sunshine. (It was 7 degrees out, so the sun felt good!) Mittens DOES live a rough life, doesn’t she?

I’m having fun signing copies of my newest book, Summer of the Eagles. Requests are coming in from all over the country and it’s neat that so many different people are reading it. Not just “Western” fans. But, hey, it has something for everyone … even romance. — 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



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