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Ask Jackie headline


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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Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
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Archive for the ‘Self-sufficiency’ Category

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning dense foods and black cherries

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Canning dense foods

I put up many different things for our family. My rule of thumb is always process for the ingredient which has the longest time associated with it, such meat in pasta sauce 90 minutes vs 30 for plain based on the recipe. With that in mind, I have looked endlessly for many types of recipes to make store bought items at home. For instance, chocolate fudge sauce. All the references I could find said no-go for the home canner because commercial items are often done at higher pressures and that is why you can buy certain things, like pumpkin puree or refried beans, in the store but cannot do them at home. I have tried to find some reference for the “higher pressure” in commercially processed foods… haven’t found anything. Can you explain why we can find dense products to buy, but “experts” say they cannot be safely canned at home?

Angie Riggsby
Buckley, Washington

I don’t believe store foods are canned at a higher pressure but are pre-heated to certain temps before being packed. And in a factory, they are packed by machine, instantly, then move on down to the canner. At home we can’t work so precisely and some folks are pretty slow. So they make the recommendations for them, including us, too. I’ve never heard of a person getting botulism from home canned pureed pumpkin or refried beans. BUT I suppose it is possible, especially if they really cooled down prior or during packing then someone closed up their canner to build pressure BEFORE it had exhausted steam sufficiently, building up heat BEFORE pressuring up. Experts are trying to keep us safe from ourselves in every way possible, including home canning. — Jackie

Black cherries

I ordered some shrubs from my Conservation District since you are out of stock. They are called Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) are they the same thing? Boy I hope so I got 10 of them. Just wonder if it’s the same.

Brandy Gunderson

Sorry, but no. Black Cherry are not Hansens Bush Cherries but a tree that can eventually grow to 100 feet. Hansens Bush Cherries are a shrub topping out at about 6′ and about 8′ wide and bushy. It is known as the Western Sand Cherry or Prunus besseyi. We don’t sell any trees, shrubs or plants but we may be selling Hansens Bush Cherry pits next year, depending on the harvest as we’ve grown many from seed. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

The pumpkin and squash harvest is finished

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Will-Hopi

Saturday was sunny and nice, above normal temps right into the high seventies. Wow, was it a perfect Indian summer day! Robert, a young man Will had met while getting a piece of sheet metal bent to form at a local metal fabrication shop, said he’d love to pick up some extra work at our place as he loves everything “farm.” So he came out and helped Will lug a very bountiful crop of pumpkins and squash in out of the garden and old pig pasture. And when I say “bountiful” I mean it in every sense of the word. There were several tractor bucket-loads of squash and pumpkins. We brought some into the house to store and the rest went to the new barn. We’ll bring a few at a time up to harvest seed and bury the rest in a cave of square bales to protect them from freezing.

Tractor-load-of-squash

We had one Howden pumpkin that weighed in at 58 pounds! Wow, were they ever productive. We’ll harvest seeds from them and then feed them to our goats and cattle. Of course, I’m going to make pumpkin pies from a couple of the Winter Luxury pumpkins — that’s what they’re famous for.

Big-Howden

I’m really tickled at our Canada Crookneck squash as I’ve never grown them before. They are an ancestor of modern butternuts but have a very long neck, which is all meat and no seeds. They were very productive and made an excellent crop, direct seeded, here in Northern Minnesota. They also store very well, so I’m already planning on baking a few.

I got the onions pulled but I’ve got to finish digging potatoes. I’m doing a little bit at a time to keep my post-surgery belly happy. But daily, it is getting less sore and I’m feeling better and better.

The goats are happily munching the squash and pumpkins that were too immature to store and the few that I’ve already seeded. I’m still picking tomatoes, which are continuing to ripen despite the frost. Luckily, many were not damaged by the frost which was a surprise as it was a pretty cold one. Our back porch is full of ice cream pail lids of drying tomato seeds and cookie sheets full of Hopi Pale Grey squash and Winter Luxury seeds and I’m still canning madly before it starts to turn winter. I feel like a chipmunk! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning juice and grain mill

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

Canning juice

I got an off brand steam juicer this year, and it is working fabulously. My question is about canning the resultant juice. I am not interested in making jelly, as we don’t use much jelly throughout the year, nor adding sugar to it, as I find the combination of apples I use, or the plums I use, are sweet enough to drink with nothing added. Is it necessary to can it in some way, or can I just put a lid on it and let it seal? I assume I need to can it.

I have a pressure canner that can WBC pints, but is not large enough to WBC can quarts, which is what I want to put the juice in. I have seen on the Presto website that you can pressure can quart jars of apple sauce at 6 lbs of pressure for 8 minutes. Is this what you would do for the juice? I am at 1500 ft elevation. Would these numbers change if I was doing apples vs plums vs pears?

Chrissy Mullender
Luray, Kansas

No, you must water bath your juice; you can’t just put a lid on the hot juice and seal it. Personally, I’d buy a water bath canner or at least a large stock pot that will hold quarts. (I’m a bit confused. You say your pressure canner will can quarts of juice but not water bath them?) Usually if they will do one, they will do the other. Just don’t latch down the lid. I often just put a cookie sheet over mine without the regular lid.

It is recommended that thicker juices such as pear and plum be processed in a boiling water bath for a longer time (30 minutes) than apple juice which is thinner. At your altitude, you’d increase your time by 5 minutes. If you pressure can your juice, you’d increase your pressure by one pound. — Jackie

Grain mill

Our family planted some non gmo corn for making cornmeal. Could you tell me what kind of corn grinding machine you think is the best to use? I also need to know where to order it.

Carolyn Adcock
Wake Forest, North Carolina

Good for you, Carolyn! While I have a hand turned grain mill that certainly does corn, friends from one of our seminars gifted me with a wonderful Nutrimill electric grain mill. I’ve used it for both wheat and corn and I simply LOVE it. It, and the same hand turned mill I also have are both available from Emergency Essentials. www.beprepared.com. Have fun grinding cornmeal. Do remember that whole grains will become quickly rancid so I’d advise only grinding a few cups of cornmeal at a time or else keeping your cornmeal in the freezer. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: using canned cabbage and canning apple juice

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Using canned cabbage

I have read how you can cabbage. What did you use it for after? We like fried cabbage and cabbage and potatoes done in the crock pot.

Joline Fleming
Rossiter, Pennsylvania

Sure you can home can cabbage. Some “experts” tell you that it’s too “strong” to can. Phooey! I can it every year. When I go to use it, I simply drain off the liquid and gently rinse the cabbage in cold water. Drain and use. If you want to fry potatoes and cabbage in your crockpot, do the potatoes first (unless they are canned), then add the cabbage as it’s already cooked. I often just fry it, then add a bit of milk. Or I use it in boiled dinners (toward the end). We love our canned cabbage. — Jackie

Canning apple juice

I’ve made some sort of juice by boiling apples in water and canning the resulting juice. It’s the best I can do without a regular juicer. What do you think of that? Also I didn’t know about making apple sauce with the pulp.

Louise Sandy

Before I had a steam juicer, I used to cut up my unpeeled apples, remove the stem, then add a little water and cook them gently, covered, until the apples were soft. Then I strained off the juice with a jelly bag. Once done, you can then either put your apples through a Victorio tomato strainer or use a sieve or Foley mill to separate the pulp from the skins, seeds, etc. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning in an autoclave and canning lard

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Canning in an autoclave

My SIL found me a nice All American canner at a yard sale, or so we thought. It seems it may be a sterilizer. It does not have a weight, it has an autoclave. Can I still pressure can in it?

Dawn Norcross
St. Charles, Michigan

If this is the old large All American autoclave that sits on a burner, it’s probably just like mine which I canned with for more than 30 years and still works fine. It has a gauge and two petcocks on top. You can call the company at 920-682-8627 for verification. Some folks claim you shouldn’t can in an autoclave but I’m sure it depends on the autoclave; I wouldn’t can in an electric autoclave. You should have the gauge checked to be sure it’s accurate. Many County Extension offices will do this for little or no charge. Remember to use a rack on the bottom. My autoclave/canner has a separate solid aluminum kettle that drops down into the canner body, holding the jars off of the bottom of the canner. Without the rack, you will break the bottoms out of jars due to the intense heat on the bottom of the jars. — Jackie

Canning lard

In the process of moving my canned goods from my old root cellar to my new one I discovered that a number of my jars of lard, which I had canned this year, had not stayed sealed. I usually wait about 24 hours to remove the rings after canning. The lard appears to be fine. Is it likely to have gone bad? Can I remelt it and can it again? It was really nice lard and I hate to lose it.

I know it is hard but it won’t be long before the doctor lifts your restrictions and you can go “full tilt” again.

Carol
Hightown, Virginia

Your lard is probably fine but I would re-can it. Open the jars and sniff it. If it’s gone rancid I wouldn’t re-can it. But if it smells fine, just scoop it out into a kettle, melt it until quite hot (about 275 degrees), then pour out into hot, clean jars. Wipe the rims well with hot water and a clean dish cloth, put a hot, previously simmered lid in place and screw down the rings. You’ll be good to go.
Isn’t it exciting moving to a new pantry?

I’m glad to get rid of the gallbladder but it IS hard after most of the pain’s gone NOT to lift! Soon though… — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Food time at Jackie and Will’s homestead

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Mexican-corn

It just dawned on me this morning — our entire homestead is about food right now! Will is hauling in the last of our round bales of hay for the animals. We are madly harvesting the last of our corn before it becomes too starchy to eat and can (right now I’m canning some of Will’s wonderful Seneca Sunrise open pollinated sweet corn). Every day I’m canning something or somethings. Yesterday it was Mexican corn, which is a mixture of sweet corn, onions, and red and green sweet peppers and more enchilada sauce. I’m bringing in baskets of different varieties of tomatoes to harvest the seeds from each day.

Seneca-sunrise

The dried seeds are accumulating slowly, drying on ice cream bucket lids marked with each variety. On the front porch, I have set up a bench and chairs so I can work outside on nice days. It’s a lot easier to wash away the tomato juice and dropped seeds from the porch deck than from my living room floor!

I have two dehydrators set up in the dining room and they are full of broccoli. Yesterday I harvested the first Winter Luxury pumpkin for seed saving. Boy, is it wonderful. It has glowing yellow flesh two inches thick. Today I’m baking it whole, after taking a bounty of seeds. Then I’ll make it into a pumpkin pie. They have the reputation for being the very best pie pumpkin in the world. We’ll see; Will and I really like our pumpkin pie made from Hopi Pale Grey squash.

When I get off the computer, I’m pulling all of our onions so they can dry before being brought in to store. And there’s three big rows of nice fat carrots plus potatoes to harvest. Mmmmm. Food. Food. Food!

NOTICE: ALL OF THE WILD PLUM PITS HAVE BEEN SOLD. We had no idea that so many folks would want them! Next crop we’ll harvest many more. I’m so sorry for those who got disappointed and I’ll substitute with another pack of one of our favorite crops.

Fall-maples

Our fall colors are simply gorgeous right now. I never realized how many maples have come up on our land until this fall as they’re turning color! In a few years our driveway will be flaming reds and oranges, come fall. But we cringe as we know full well that it’s only a few weeks until the pretty leaves have fallen and that white stuff starts. Stack that wood, Will! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning enchilada sauce, tornado clucker plucker, using a steam juicer, bringing plants inside for the winter

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Canning enchilada sauce

You mentioned canning enchilada sauce in your blog today. I searched the archives and found a recipe you posted in 2009. Could you post it again with any updates? I’ll be processing 60 one-gallon bags of frozen tomatoes and would love to make enchilada sauce (and the pizza sauce that you’ve already told us how to make).

Carol Elkins
Pueblo, Colorado

I think the recipe you refer to is this:

18 dried red chilies
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. boiling water
10½ cups chopped tomatoes
6 cups chopped onion
12 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tbsp. oil
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar

It’s processed at 10 pounds pressure for 20 minutes for pints or 25 minutes for quarts.

I make mine by mixing tomato puree (turkey roasting pan full) with ½ cup brown sugar, 1 cup chopped onions, 1 cup chopped sweet peppers, 2 Tbsp. oregano, 2 Tbsp. cilantro, 2 Tbsp. cumin, about 5 cloves mashed garlic, 1 Tbsp. salt, and 4 Tbsp. chile powder (hot or not, depending on your taste). This is pressure canned the same as above.

Most “traditional” enchilada sauce is made without tomatoes, using chiles, onions, chicken broth, and tomatillos so there’s a wide variety of enchilada sauces! — Jackie

Tornado clucker plucker

Will you be sharing instructions on how to make the ” tornado clucker plucker”? Sure would like to make one.

Dawn Fowler
Rosebud, Missouri

Sure, Dawn. I’m working on an article about this right now. — Jackie

Using a steam juicer

I recently purchased a strainer/juicer at a yard sale — it has three parts: one for water, one to hold the juice and the top one in which to put the grapes. I used it the other day to make grape juice. It seemed to take an inordinately long time before the grapes looked dry and I thought all the juice was extracted. It took approximately 8 hours to do a bushel of grapes. It seemed as though there was a burst of juice and then it just dripped before finally quitting. Is this normal? Or am I letting them cook too long? Also, can I make apple juice using this strainer/juicer?
 
Alice Clapper
New Castle, Pennsylvania

It does take a long time to extract most of the juice from fruit. But the good news is that you get a LOT of juice from the same amount of fruit that you used to get a modest amount from. Be sure to keep the bottom full of water. It will boil dry after several hours and that can ruin your juicer. I would be happy to do a bushel of grapes in 8 hours. You don’t mention a lid, which I’m thinking it has…and needs.

After your juicer pretty much quits, grab the handles with pot holders and gently tip the unit toward you. You’ll be amazed at how much extra juice will flow out. Do be careful of the steam, however.

You can make apple juice or just about any type of juice with it. Tomatoes will produce a “broth” or watery yellowish juice, not “normal” tomato juice which has much more puree. But after taking off two quarts of broth from a batch of whole tomatoes, you can run the shriveled tomatoes through a Victorio tomato strainer and harvest thicker tomato puree that requires very little cooking down. Same thing with apples. You can harvest apple juice then run the apples through a tomato strainer and harvest applesauce that is nice and thick. — Jackie

Bringing plants inside for the winter

I want to bring several garden plants inside for the winter but every time I have done that I end up with bugs, namely aphids that cover the plants. How can I eliminate the problem before bringing them inside?

Gail Erman
Palisade, Colorado

What I’d advise is to spray the plants well with a garden hose. Let them dry. Then spray thoroughly with a natural bug spray such as spinosad. Let dry and bring inside a couple of days later. Spray again and then watch plants very closely for a week or so. It’s very easy to bring in pesty bugs as there aren’t any natural predators in your home to keep them in check. I, too, have had trouble doing this. You’re not alone! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: boiled cider, Hopi Pale Grey squash not producing, and larger hoop house

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Boiled cider

Apple harvest time is here and I’ve recently discovered some great sounding doughnut recipes that call for “boiled cider” as one of the ingredients. Boiled apple cider is quite expensive to buy so I thought I’d make my own. I know it takes a lot of apple cider to produce just a small amount of the boiled stuff (sort of like making maple syrup) and that’s okay. My question is this: After I’ve boiled it down and I’ve put it into sterilized jars, do I have to keep it refrigerated, or can I can it so it has a longer shelf-life? I’m thinking the acidity and sweetness should help to preserve it after canning, or am I incorrect about this?

Julie Covieo
Bay City, Michigan

Yes, you can can it if you have enough. You will process it the same as if it were apple juice. I’d probably can it in half-pints for convenience as it IS time consuming to make and you wouldn’t want to lose some sitting in the fridge after opening. — Jackie

Hopi Pale Grey squash not producing

We have missed your daily emails! Hope you are recovering well from your gall bladder surgery. We were disappointed that our Hopi squash did not do well at all this year! Last year they were huge and delicious. I don’t know what we did different but the vines just seemed to dry up before the squash had any size at all and had no vine to grow from. Please make sure I am still on your daily email list as I haven’t seen any for over a month or so.

Beverly Scherer
Anna, Illinois

I’ve been blogging right along Beverly. You should contact our webmaster@backwoodshome.com regarding the email situation. It’s too bad your squash didn’t do well this year. Our solution to most any problem around here is “Mo’ poo poo!” (More manure!). Squash is a very heavy feeder and benefits from lots of rotted manure around and under the plants. Not only does this feed the plants, making them tremendously strong, but it keeps the roots from drying out in hot, dry weather. Try again next year as Hopi Pale Greys are VERY hardy and are usually VERY rampant! — Jackie

Larger hoop house

I thought about you a lot this past weekend as I knew you were getting freezing temps and probably would lose much of your garden. I remember you mentioned you were building a large hoop house. Did that ever get off the ground? If so, what is inside and did it survive? Any pictures of the project? May you heal quickly and have a great fall.

Deb Motylinski
Cadiz, Ohio

Will got the first larger hoop house framed but we had 17 inches of rain, plus more on and off all spring so he never got the “skin” on. I don’t think it would have helped unless we heated it as we had temps down to 27 degrees all night. Stuff froze under plastic. BUT we still have tomatoes that were protected by their plants that didn’t get frozen so we’re still harvesting. I’m slow as I can’t (not supposed to) lift anything heavier than a gallon jug of milk for a month. (8 pounds!) We’re pecking away at what’s left and there’s still a lot: carrots, potatoes, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, some corn and a lot of tomatoes, plus squash and pumpkins. So we’re fine. I will shoot you a photo of the hoop house frame. We decided to wait to cover it till next spring to “save” the plastic. It’s guaranteed for 4 years. And as we went from rain, rain, rain to dry and hot this spring, the covering just didn’t happen.

I’m healing quickly and feel better every day. — Jackie

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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