Click here to ask Jackie a question!
Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
on any aspect of low-tech, self-reliant living.
Read the old Ask Jackie Online columns
Read Ask Jackie print columns
Archive for the ‘Meat’ Category
Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
I started growing horseradish a few years ago, but had a hard time getting it to take off. Similar to the problem with my asparagus, but that’s another issue. I have found that turning this southern Ohio clay soil around has been a longer than expected process. The chicken manure and bedding each fall and kitchen compost have helped. My soil is starting to have some ‘color’ to it!
This year, wow, the horseradish is crazy-big and has spread. My question is: Other than grating it to use table side, or canning small jars (even for gifts), what way can I make this root an asset to our table? Suggestions or recipes?
Thanks for your dedicated blogging and wonderful articles in the magazine. I started as a magazine subscriber, and now a kindle subscriber and feel like I know you from your articles. For me as a part time homesteader/hobby farmer you are the inspiration I need to keep working for the lifestyle balance of work, home, and family that I need to be happy and healthy! It is worth it.
Thank you Jennifer. I really do enjoy helping people be more successful at homesteading.
Horseradish is useful in so many different ways. I use it as an ingredient in many dishes, adding it to sauce over baked fish and chicken, using it in sandwich spreads, making a cheese, mayo, sour cream, bacon, and horseradish chip and veggie dip, casseroles, and of course cocktail sauce (ketchup and horseradish mixed). You can also mix it with sour cream and top baked potatoes. There are dozens of recipes available online, too. — Jackie
My daughter opened a jar of ham she canned this past winter, she dumped it along with the broth in the jar into her skillet and boiled it for 30 minutes, cooked off the broth and let it fry a little. Her family ate half of it, promptly put the remainder in the refrigerator and two days later when her husband went to warm it up, he noticed tiny little worms on it. He opened the ham strips and they were inside it too. When initially canned, the ham was pressure canned for 90 minutes. On top of that it was a precooked ham to begin with! How is it possible for anything to survive being browned, processed for 90 minutes, sealed, boiled for 30 minutes and fried again? Have you ever heard of this? I sure haven’t and I have been canning for 35 years. She didn’t add anything other ingredients to her ham when she cooked it for supper, so just the ham and broth. It was delicious though, but, ech, stomach turning upon the gruesome discovery.
Vienna, West Virginia
Nothing will live through pressure canning then boiling/frying. The worms were probably fruit fly or housefly maggots. Evidently flies laid eggs on some of the meat and the refrigerator wasn’t cold enough to prevent the eggs from hatching. The tiny worms would be just-hatched larvae. Tell your daughter that they didn’t eat wormy canned food. At least that’s something. This is very rare but I’ll bet they really check their food in the future! Ech! — Jackie
Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
After weeks of waiting, we were finally rewarded by seeing a Baltimore Oriole in a birch tree off of our deck. He tried to drink from our hummingbird feeder with no results. He flew off a ways and I quickly took grape jelly out and spooned out some on the railing of our porch and moved one of the nectar feeders for orioles onto a shepherd’s hook near the hummingbird feeder.
It was only a few minutes later when he came back and immediately hopped to the jelly and started eating. Then, later, he was at the oriole feeder in the back yard and ate grape jelly from that one, too. We’re hoping that he’ll bring a lady friend back to nest nearby.
One thing that was interesting is that chickadees were drinking/eating the grape jelly and rose breasted grosbeaks were eating the oranges we put out for the orioles! Strange, but what the heck.
It’s been real busy around here now that the “rainy season” seems to have let off some. Will finally got Old Yeller back together. It seemed like for the last week or so it was, “oops, one more part to order. Oops, another one!” Then, yesterday, Bill and our grandson, Mason, brought his tractor and 3-point rototiller up and tilled not only our garden but a few isolated spots for squash and corn AND most of the pig pasture. The tiller digs quite a bit deeper than does our Troy-Bilt Horse tiller. We’re butchering our two pigs soon so Will plans on planting the sweet corn he’s breeding back from hybrid to open pollinated in the old pig pasture. This is the third generation and last year’s corn was very nice and we’re hoping to be able to save some seed to sell this fall.
As Bill was coming with the tiller, I had to move one of our big rhubarb plants. After digging it up, I ended up with a dozen big roots. I gave two to my friend, Carolyn and two to Bill, then transplanted the rest into various new spots around the homestead. Some of those roots were huge. In fact, Bill saw the remaining old roots and thought it was a tree stump!
Because the goats had eaten bark from the small popple trees in their pasture and the trees died, Will pushed them over a week ago and has been working at tossing them over the fence in a pile. We’ll saw them up for kitchen wood with the table saw he calls his “mini-cordwood” saw with its Briggs engine. With the dead trees gone it looks much nicer and the grass and clover will grow a lot better.
Will staked out the spots for our two larger, better hoop houses and this afternoon I’ll be out planting onion sets past the east hoop house spot. This time of the year, it’s run, run, run! So much to do. And our June seminar is only three weeks away! (If anyone is interested, we still do have some spots for you, if you’d like to come.) — Jackie
Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
Canning bone broth
I have a question about canning bone broth. After making a pot of it I have 6 qts. and was wondering if I have to pressure can it or can I water bath it? And if so for how long for either?
You MUST pressure can any meat or poultry product and all vegetables that are not pickled to be safe from deadly bacteria. To can it, you’ll be processing your quarts for 25 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. If you live at an altitude of 1,000 feet or more, consult your canning book for directions on increasing your pressure to suit your altitude.– Jackie
Goats treated with penicillin
How long milk withdrawal do you recommend for goats treated with penicillin every other day for one week? By the way, the seeds we got from you all sprouted wonderfully. Looking forward to some new type tomatoes and finally to be able to taste your Hopi squash.
It’s great to hear your seeds are off to a good start. I hope you have good gardening weather this year!
The usual recommended withholding time for milk from goats injected with penicillin is five days. — Jackie
I want to try canning fish but it appears (but I could be wrong) that only freshly caught fish can be canned? My question is can fish purchased at a supermarket or fish market be pressure canned if USDA recommended times and pressures are followed?
Buffalo, New York
Of course freshly-caught fish will be best but if you can eat store-bought fish, you can certainly can it. As you indicated, you’ll be using approved methods and times so you’ll be fine. — Jackie
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
I would like to store peanuts for long term use. Should I open the jars and oven can them? If so, using what procedure?
I also had vacuum sealed raisins and prunes that I got on “buy 1, get 1″ sale last year. Would it be better to leave them in the store containers? Someone mentioned that these do NOT store for very long.
If the peanuts are already in vacuum-packed jars just store them as they are. Otherwise can the peanuts just as you do all nuts. Shell them and lay out on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Toast in the oven until hot, stirring so they don’t scorch a couple of times on your lowest oven setting. Pack into hot, dry jars, place hot, previously simmered lids on jars. I wipe mine off with a clean dish towel to eliminate any moisture, then turn the rings firmly tight. Process at 5 pounds pressure for 10 minutes. I gave up water bathing my nuts because they float and you have to weight down the jars which is a big pain in the you-know-what.
I have stored both raisins and prunes for several years leaving them in the store bags and packing them in an airtight container in my pantry. — Jackie
I got a couple of Easter hams on sale and canned them. In the past when I canned ham it turned out looking just like pinkish ham. This time they look a dark brown with a brownish liquid. I canned them the same way as in the past. Could you tell me why they are looking so dark and not like ham at all?
I think it’s the brine the hams were soaked in before smoking. Some have more brown sugar/maple or smoked flavoring, both of which kind of dye the meat. I’ve had this happen too and the meat’s just fine. — Jackie
Jars still bubbling after canning
I just finished washing the jars after canning ham. All 12 pints initially sealed and they were fairly cool to touch. After removing the lids and washing them, I noticed that 4 jars looked like they were boiling/ had air bubbles coming up to the top of the jar. Are they coming unsealed? I had at least 1 inch or more headspace in all the jars and the hams were very lean.
I now have the bones broken in half in quart jars, plus 3 more smaller jars for beans started in the canner. Not too bad after feeding 4 people plus leftovers for the week for both households on $24. I am fairly certain my husband will be making a pot of beans either this week or next too.
I don’t wash my jars until they are cool to the touch. But the boiling is very normal for broth and meat canned in broth. It doesn’t mean the jars are coming unsealed, just that the liquid is still plenty hot.
I’m canning ham, too. I got two hams for .88 a pound and another that we had for Easter dinner. So I’m canning ham dices and chunks then tomorrow I’ll be canning bean soup and baked beans with ham flavoring. Even though we raise pigs to butcher, I’m a sucker for those on-sale hams and we sure get a lot of meals out of one ham, just like you do. — Jackie
Saturday, April 12th, 2014
Upon moving to the country and starting up our farmstead, I went ahead and purchased some cheese making equipment and a book. Problem is, the book is a big manual, and it gets very technical. I finally have goat milk, but I am too intimidated by the manual, and many of the recipes call for many gallons of milk. Can you recommend a good book for me that has simple recipes to follow for making cheeses with goats’ milk (small quantities – 1-2 gallons at most, easy to follow, not too many fancy utensils)?
Scott Township, Pennsylvania
Cheese making is very easy and fun to learn. Two very beginner-friendly books I’ve used for years are Ricki Carroll’s book, Home Cheesemaking, which is available through Backwoods Home Magazine and Goats Produce Too by Mary Jane Toth which is also available through Backwoods Home Magazine). I have both and use them often. — Jackie
Introducing new chicken to the flock
I sprayed my fruit trees with Surround today and hope it helps. Thank you for your advice. I intend to spray again after flowering.
I have another question regarding my chickens. I have 4 one-year-old hens and 26 two-week-old chicks. How and when do I introduce the 26 chicks to the hens? Right now the four hens are in the 10 x 14 coop and the chicks are in the basement. There is a 16 x16 fenced-in area adjacent to the coop that the four hens use during the day.
I’d shut the hens in their run during the day and pen the chicks in a smaller portable run next to them all day so they get used to each other. Then in the evening, bring the hens in and then introduce the chicks in the coop with them. There should be a little squawking and pecking but nothing serious. Monitor them for awhile, just to be sure. Usually, come morning, everything is fine. — Jackie
Would I be able to can the small pre-cooked breakfast sausages from the store? They are my husband’s favorites.
Yes, you can. But I’d advise doing a small batch then trying them to see if you and your husband like the result. That’s a good idea with any new recipe you try to can. Some folks love them; others not so much. — Jackie
Friday, April 11th, 2014
Canning apple cider syrup
You provided information about canning apple molasses today. Does the apple cider need to be fresh, or can I use apple juice from the store? I have never heard of apple cider syrup — sounds awfully good!
You should really use fresh apple cider (never brought to a boil which would make it juice, not cider). Apple cider syrup is not new but it is a newly-discovered treat for many folks. You don’t harvest a lot of syrup from a gallon of cider, less than 1/7th of a gallon, which is why many modern folks don’t do it. But when you have lots of fresh apple cider, boy, is it good! — Jackie
Starlings and blackbirds
Job losses now totaling two, involving wife and me (52nd year anniversary on June 15th) and one of our sons. Anticipating hard, hard time just ahead, and in spite of limited gardening again this year being done in restricted space (front yard here in town) and as health problems intermittently allow … and the resulting ability to provide food, we are seeking any suggestions as to palatable recipes for wild bird. We have an abundance at the moment of Starlings and Black Birds and pellet rifles to harvest them when that becomes nearly our only meat source. Your advice will therefore be very much appreciated. (Wife is a stroke victim with brain/memory damage — but I have always cooked.) When “push comes to shove,” we have a small wood stove/heater and firewood, having anticipated the loss of being able to afford the luxury of natural gas and electricity.
James & Frances Wyatt,
Barring the legality of shooting “song” birds (starlings and blackbirds are not usually protected but I’d check first), I do know that blackbirds are very tasty. I’m not so sure about starlings as I’ve never eaten them. A long time ago, on my first homestead, an elderly Russian couple had a weekend cabin across the road from me. They had a beautiful garden. In the fall, I’d hunt pheasants nearly every day after work as I wasn’t making big wages as a vet tech back then. The woman stopped me at my mailbox one afternoon and asked me to please come shoot those birds as they were eating her garden up. I grabbed a handful of shells and my shotgun and walked across the road. There were hundreds of blackbirds in the trees all around her garden. I used up my shells with blackbirds raining out of the trees. The rest left. She hurried around, gathering up blackbirds in her apron front. “You come for dinner, ya?” she asked. And I did. Proudly, she brought out a roasting pan full of little, golden brown birds, looking like mini-chickens. Yep, the blackbirds! Well, I was too polite to refuse and ate two of them and went back for seconds. They were really pretty good!
So I’d say that any way you’d cook chicken would sure work for their little cousins.
Don’t forget about harvesting wild greens too. Lamb’s quarter, red-rooted pig weed and young nettles are all very good substitutes for spinach and young, tender cattail stalks, pulled from the plant (eat the white bottom), tastes just like cucumbers.
And go fishing real often! I used to every evening and it sure helped feed me.
All the best of luck. If you have anything I can help you out with, please ask (questions, garden seeds). — Jackie
Sunday, April 6th, 2014
Raising meat rabbits
Do you have recommendation(s) for meat rabbit raising books/resources?
My favorite rabbit book is Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits, available through Backwoods Home Magazine. And Bass Equipment has lots of good rabbitry supplies/equipment. Their website is: www.bassequipment.com. — Jackie
I canned chicken according to your instructions last week (2 and 4 days ago) but just realized today that I used instructions for bone-in chicken (65 minutes) instead of boneless (75 minutes). I usually go a minute or 2 longer than specified. Do you think my chicken is ok? Is it too late to re-can? I hate to throw out 16 pints of chicken.
Bessemer City, North Carolina
I would open each jar, and if it looks and smells fine then I’d dump the jars into a large pot and bring to a boil. Then pack back into washed jars and re-can the chicken for the correct time. Your chicken will then be fine. I, too, would sure hate to throw away 16 pints of chicken but I’d rather re-can it instead of just hoping it’ll be okay. — Jackie
Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
Canning sweet potatoes
I have question concerning sweet potatoes. Last year I canned about 2 bushels part in water and part in a light syrup, for the first time I added a tsp of of citric acid to each quart just to help with darkening of the potatoes. They look good in the jars and don’t have any “off” odors but have an unpleasant green almost bitter taste, was it the citric acid? The potatoes were fresh and I let them cure 2 weeks or so before canning. I hate to pitch the whole batch any ideas?
My guess is that it is the citric acid. To can sweet potatoes, boil a minute or so to slip off the skins. Then cut into pieces and cover with water in a large pot. Boil 10 minutes. Drain and pack hot sweet potatoes into hot jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. You may either ladle hot cooking water or a medium syrup, brought to boiling over the sweet potatoes, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Process pints for 65 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.
You might drain your canning liquid from the jars then add fresh water to a pan and dump in a jar of sweet potatoes to heat. Or else make up a heavy syrup and heat your sweet potatoes in that, perhaps making them taste much better. Other than that, about all you could try is to use them as a casserole, topped with seasoned sausage or other seasoned ingredients to cover up the unpleasant bitterness. Hopefully, just simmering them in fresh water will help. You also might try adding 1 tsp baking soda to the fresh water and see if that does it. — Jackie
Dehydrating hamburger meat
What are your thoughts on dehydrating cooked, low-fat hamburger meat for long-term storage in jars? If one can do this, do you have any pointers on the safest way to do this?
Not a real good idea for long-term storage. Often home-dehydrated hamburger is not low fat enough and the dehydrated burger gets rancid or moldy. It’s a much better idea to can it up. That way it’ll be good for decades with no flavor change. Even jerky that has been dehydrated way harder than most modern folks like it (or will even eat it) sometimes will go moldy after time in an airtight jar; it just isn’t dry enough to store in an airtight container. — Jackie
Saving tomato seeds
In growing so many varieties of tomatoes, how do you keep seed pure to save?
Luckily, tomatoes are self-pollinating for the most part. We keep the plants separate so the vines don’t mingle and they do well. Other garden plants such as beans require a much greater separation. Corn requires a mile or more and peppers need 1/2 mile. They need to either grow alone, be greatly separated or hand-pollinated in insect-proof cages. — Jackie