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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 ‘Meat’ Category

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?

Phil
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

Mikey
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

Boy, do we go through the firewood when there’s a -50 windchill

Monday, January 5th, 2015

The last two days, we’ve stuffed firewood in both the kitchen range and living room stoves all day and several times during the night.

Our HIGH yesterday was -13 and this morning there was a wind with -21, giving us a -50 windchill. Brrrrr. We haul our dry firewood into the house with a wheelbarrow. It takes two wheelbarrows full to last 24 hours when it’s so cold. But Mittens LOVES to ride outside in the empty wheelbarrow. As soon as Will heads for the door, she hops in and rides all the way out to the wood shed. We sure have strange animals!

Mittens-wheelbarrow
We made sure all the animals and poultry were warm. The goats and chickens weren’t let outside at all, being fed and watered inside the building. I added a doubled up old quilt on the goats’ door to the outside so there wouldn’t be any drafts and gave them an extra bale of bedding. Will brought all the cattle into the training ring where we had been keeping our beef steers so they could get extra grain prior to butchering. But the other cattle only had a small walk-out shelter and the steers have a barn to go in. So he let all of them come to the training ring and barn for wind protection.

We found plenty to do inside. I packed and filled seed orders all afternoon. It was fun to see our seeds go to so many different states. (Don’t forget we have a new seed listing; check the box at the top of the blog.)

On Friday, we bought a new tractor. We had been making payments on our Oliver and were able to pay it off early by saving some of our meat sales money. Unfortunately, the Oliver was just a little too small to run our big round baler without overworking it. Will was afraid he’d “kill” the tractor by baling. So he started looking for a larger tractor. Luckily, we found a Farmall just several miles from our homestead — at a reasonable price. The guy even offered to deliver it to the end of our driveway! Done deal! The day we went to look at it, it was cold and the tractor started right up. Great! And it has a loader and bale spear so that’ll sure help. We feel like farmers with three tractors! But we haven’t had to buy any hay yet and still have quite a few big round bales rowed up. That’s a great feeling.

Farmall
I’ve heard that this cold is going all over the country, so stay warm and make your animals cozy. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning green beans with bacon and pig eating dirt, etc.

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Canning green beans with bacon

I have 2 questions concerning canning green beans. I just finished putting up 2 qts. and 4 pint and half jars. I processed them per Blue Book instructions for qts. of green beans. BUT I also had added 1/2 slice of pre-cooked, crumbled bacon for flavor to each. Should I have timed this according to the bit of meat — which would have been 90 min.?

Secondly, if I add beef, chicken broth to veggies for flavor do I then have to process at the “meat” timetable? My goodness, the devil is in the little details.
 
Judith Almand
Brandon, Florida

It’s really not a good idea to put bacon bits in jars of canned green beans. I know it’s been done for generations but there’s a possibility that botulism could be introduced and not killed by sufficient processing. I wouldn’t worry about it at this point but I would be sure to boil those beans for 10-15 minutes before serving them — just to be safe. In the future, I’d suggest leaving out the bacon and substituting a few bacon-flavored TVPs instead. They’ll give the flavor but not the possible danger.

If you add beef or chicken broth (broth only!) to veggies, you will need to process for the broth time, which is 20 minutes for pints of either beef or chicken broth so you won’t have to process for the “meat” time of 75 minutes for pints or 90 minutes for quarts.

You’re right! It’s all in the details! And you’re not afraid to ask questions. Good for you! — Jackie

Pig eating dirt, etc.

Does it mean anything that my pig is eating dirt, sticks, pine cones, and eating bark off the trees. He is two and a half months old. If so, does he need a salt or mineral block?

Zac Mitchell
Grand Island, Florida

Pigs eat just about everything, including dirt, sticks, tree bark, worms, roots, grass, snakes, and much more. Pigs do need salt, but if you’re feeding a mixed pig feed, it contains salt. My guess is that he is just being a normal pig, experimenting by tasting everything around him. If he is growing well and fat, I wouldn’t worry a bit. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We’re taking applications for a summer apprentice

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Since our seed business has grown by leaps and bounds … as has our homestead, we’ve decided we could use some help this spring, summer, and fall and am offering an apprenticeship to a person (or couple).

You would be working hard, planting, tilling, helping fence, take care of animals, haying, and general homestead chores. In exchange, you’ll get a whole summer’s worth of homesteading seminar. Free. We’ll teach you all we know or you want to learn. We’ll also provide a private bedroom in our home, meals and some time off each week to enjoy the Minnesota Northwoods.

Do remember that we are off grid, don’t watch a lot of TV, or play video games, etc. We would like to find a person who does enjoy working and will do so happily. We are not slave drivers, but do have plenty to do most days. If you are interested, contact us at jackieclay2007[at]yahoo.com and we’ll talk.

Freezer

Soup-bones
We’re really happy that now we have a freezer plumb full of wonderful, naturally-raised pork, chicken and beef. Right after the holidays, I’ll be canning up a storm, for sure. What a blessing that is! Besides the “regular” beef, I have a whole box full of meaty soup bones. Some are from our quarter, some from other folks’ meat that didn’t want their soup bones. So I get to make quarts and quarts of wonderful beef broth. Wow! And I also brought home about 30 pounds of ground pork fat from my son Bill’s freezer so he had room for his 1/2 a beef. So I’ll also be rendering lots more lard. I never buy shortening. A bit of sunflower and olive oil, but no shortening for us made from GMO soybeans and corn. It feels so good. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We count our blessings as Christmas nears

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

We’re really grateful for so many different things. We are grateful for each other and for this wonderful homestead that just keeps getting better every day.

When I think of moving here in 2003, in February, when there was nothing but small trees, old logs and stumps with big woods all around and all we’ve accomplished it doesn’t seem possible: the log house, huge storage building, big gardens, berry patch, orchard, tons of fencing, fenced pig pastures or extra garden (whichever is needed), a training ring and adjacent barn, clearing two pastures, then the third huge one on the new forty acres we bought three years ago, plowing and planting many acres, buying haying equipment, and building the new barn.

Stocking up the pantry after nearly depleting it after our move here is beyond belief. We’re eating our own home-raised pork, chicken, eggs, milk, and beef along with some canned venison from last year as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables from our homestead.

Bread
The bread we bake is from flour we grind and after that bout with diverticulitis, I’m SO happy to be able to eat whole wheat bread again! It’s like a celebration, pulling a loaf out of the oven. We never take things for granted but appreciate every single day. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We’ll have a white Christmas

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Goats

After a day without snow and rain, which is unheard of here in northern Minnesota this time of the year, we got a two-inch snowfall. Luckily, today the sun’s out and it’s pretty and not too cold. Our critters are happy and fat and seem to enjoy the fresh snow. The horses are running around bucking and playing and even the cows are joining them. (It’s pretty funny to see a big cow with her bag swinging back and forth, bucking and jumping with her tail kinked up in the air!)

Pogo
We knew the snow was coming so we carried in extra wood and while I ran to town for feed, Will brought in the Christmas tree and got it set up. It seems like every year we have a prettier tree! This year, it’s a locally grown pine. Our own Christmas tree selection is dim; some nice trees are too big and others, too small. Maybe next year we can go out and cut our own again. But we’re happy to have a neighbor to the North that has a small Christmas tree farm. We get a nice fresh tree and keep the bucks local!

Tree
I’m excited; we’ll be picking up our beef from the processing plant on Friday! We’ve sold seven quarters of our natural beef, saving a quarter for ourselves. So I’ll be delivering beef Friday and Saturday as well as bringing ours home. Yum, I can’t wait! (We’ve also started selling quarters and halves from the next two butcher steers. Many are repeat customers, so that makes us feel good.)

Keep watching the box at the top of the blog as our new seed business, which we’ve named SEED TREASURES (we believe seeds are more valuable than gold), is up and running with many more selections this year! Click on the link. But if you can’t open it, just e-mail us at seedtreasures@yahoo.com and I’ll see you get a listing. — Jackie

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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