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Ask Jackie headline

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Archive for the ‘Self-sufficiency’ Category

Jackie Clay

Q and A: meat bones, weed killer with soap, worming goats, and re-canning corn

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Meat bones and weed killer with soap

First. If you take deer bones after cutting deer up, cut up bones and boil you will be surprised how much more meat from the bones that can be used and such good broth to can.

Second. I have honey bees and all I read says soap of any kind will kill bees. The weed killer with soap may not be a good thing.
Macon, Georgia.

Thanks for the tips, PC. Some folks don’t like the broth made from deer bones but those who do can sure pack away a lot of tasty broth and use a lot more of the deer that way to stock their pantries! — Jackie

Worming goats

How do you give the Hoegger’s herbal worm remedy to your goats? Have read several comments that the goats don’t like it!

Mary Morgan
Semmes, Alabama

We feed a sweet feed with molasses. By mixing the worm remedy with it, the goats don’t even know they got it! If you only have a couple of goats, a dab of Vicks on their noses before feeding will quickly mask any taste but most goats don’t mind at all. — Jackie

Re-canning corn

Glad to hear you’re on the mend. Busy time to be having surgery. My question: I have several cases of corn bought from store. I noticed tops of a few cans pop when touched. Threw these out. Can I re-can other cans? Dates I know doesn’t mean a lot but these are only 2010-2011.

Robin Putman
Coolville, Ohio

Yes, you can re-can canned foods. But do remember to treat them as if they were fresh using the same times and pressure required for foods you just prepared from your garden.

It IS a busy time for having a surgery but I figured it’s preparedness as you never know when a gallbladder will blow up in the middle of a nasty storm, on Sunday night in the middle of nowhere. Better to do it when it’s calm and the weather’s fine. Done is done and I still will get a whole lot of garden canned up. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: using extra pickling brine, root cellars, and canning diet soup

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Using extra pickling brine

I had extra pickling brine (for bread & butter pickles) from a batch I made 2 days ago. I got called away and had to stop before I did the second batch of cucumbers. Can I reheat it and use it for another batch of pickles today?

Carol Wise
Bourbon, Missouri

You can if you didn’t have cucumbers in it. If you did, make fresh brine. Why? Because cucumbers “weep” juice out into the brine while they’re in it, watering it down some. As we never know how much the brine has been affected, it’s best to make fresh if they’ve been in it, even for a relatively short time. — Jackie

Root cellars

We’ve been receiving the Backwoods Magazine since 2011 and have enjoyed your knowledge and experience on so many topics. Do you have any answers for a quick, easy, and inexpensive root cellar? Carrots and potatoes are needing to be harvested and stored. We live in a pole barn home in the country. There is no convenient hillside or bank high enough for a dug out. Our work/storage pole barn has cement flooring, but mice could be an issue.

Patti Hanson
Gold Beach, Oregon

You don’t have to have a buried root cellar. Although it’s traditional, most folks don’t have one available. Ours is our unheated basement that stays 40-55 degrees all year. You can simply wall off a corner (northeast is best but it depends on your situation) of your home or your storage barn by screwing rigid insulation board to plywood and framing in a “room.” You must have it where it will not freeze even if you need to install a minimal heater or even light bulb. Just frame in a large enough “room,” including an insulated ceiling and door, then add shelves with room enough underneath for bins for your produce. I use plastic totes with lids for our potatoes, apples, and carrots. If the lid gets condensation on the bottom, I just prop the lid open an inch or so for a day or two until the condensation goes away. Simple. And I’ve never had a problem with mice. It’s best to store your carrots in sand so they don’t get soft and wrinkled. A layer of sand, a layer of carrots, etc. It helps hold in the moisture. I hope this gives you some ideas. Good harvesting! — Jackie

Canning diet soup

I wrote to you about canning a recipe for a diet soup, but forgot to send the recipe! Sorry about that! It’s a basic soup, with several variations from goulash to Greek fish soup to red beans and rice soup. I don’t know if anyone would want the recipe, but here’s the link:

I plan to make several large batches of it, to customize as desired. Soup/stew is one of my favorite meals! Thank you for your advice on the zucchini and spinach not getting mushy! The more veggies it has, the better.

Barb Mundorff
Youngstown, Ohio

Thanks for the link. I’m sure a lot of readers will head for it real soon. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Even though it was small, our seminar was a great success

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014


This fall we only had one person attend our canning/homesteading seminar. But I’m sure Erin had fun and learned a lot. And being the only person, she got our undivided personal attention. We canned chicken stew, harvested tomatoes, extracted seeds from tomatoes to save, rinsed fermented tomato seeds and set them to dry, ground tomatoes through the Victorio tomato squeezer, talked extensively about heirloom vegetables and how to save their seeds, toured the orchard and the rest of the homestead, butchered chickens (included the maiden voyage of Will’s tornado clucker plucker, which worked VERY well!), and we answered a ton of questions. It was fun for us too, even though I was only a week past gallbladder surgery.


As usual, we parted on Sunday afternoon feeling a bit lost like we do when a member of our family goes home.


Now it’s back to homesteading, harvesting tomatoes that weren’t frozen by our cold snap, canning, canning, and canning.

Will’s busy installing insulated plywood panels underneath the walls of our addition. In the spring he’ll be starting to build the rock walls on top of the concrete footings using the plywood with wire attached as a backing for the rockwork. We know it’ll look great and keep the wind from whistling under our floor. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning meatloaf and pressure canning tomato paste

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Canning meatloaf

We have a question about canning meatloaf. Or, fancier, canning terrines. We bought a slicer recently, and my wife said, “Why couldn’t we can the terrine fancy meatloaf) in a wide mouth jar and slice it when we pop it open?” I think this is a great idea.
So, we need food safety input of course. Canned hamburger is obviously OK. Adding spices would be the next hurdle. We don’t like high fat stuff, so our terrines are as low fat as they come. Second, do you have any recipes or experience canning meatloaf in a jar? All input welcomed!
Hope your recovery is going well, Jackie.

Tim Inman
Randolph, Iowa

Thank you. I’m slowly gaining on it.

We used to can meatloaf in wide mouth jars. But then the experts decided that it was not really safe as it’s a very dense product and it’s possible that the food in the center of the jars might not be heated high enough, long enough, for safe processing. So now we don’t can dense foods like meatloaf, refried beans, pureed pumpkin, etc. But you CAN make your meatloaf recipe into meatballs and can those with either a tomato sauce or mushroom sauce (not thick!). The steam and boiling liquid in the jars is able to freely circulate around the meatballs, rendering it safe to process. On opening, you can place your meatballs in a casserole dish and bake as you would a meatloaf. The taste is the same. You can find recipes for canning meatballs in my book Growing and Canning Your Own Food. — Jackie

Pressure canning tomato paste

I am curious why I can’t find any recipes for pressure canning tomato paste? I see recipes for pressure canning every other form of tomato, but nothing for paste. I would like to pressure can paste if possible because (I am assuming) it would can up a lot faster than in a bath canner. What are your thoughts?

Cathy Holcombe
Ault, Colorado

While we used to can tomato paste, it is no longer considered safe. Tomato paste falls into the “foods too thick and dense to safely process” category, along with meatloaf, pureed pumpkin, and refried beans. Experts feel that it is possible that the paste in the center of the jars might not get hot enough for long enough for safe processing as it is so thick. So now we can tomato puree and sauces but skip the paste. To get paste, just cook down a relatively thick tomato sauce before using as paste. — Jackie

Jackie Clay


Monday, September 15th, 2014

Well, it finally happened — Thursday night it froze. David came over in the afternoon after his college course was finished and helped Will cover what we could, hoping to save at least a portion of our tomatoes and peppers. At six p.m. it was 42 degrees. By nine, it had dropped to 38 and the clouds had moved out, leaving it as clear as a bell. Not good!


We woke early to 28 degrees and heavy frost. Too cold to even run the sprinklers to offset frost. Bummer. And even covering the crops did not completely save them, as many plants were limp and dark.

The squash and pumpkin vines were limp and dead and even the sweet corn stalks were toast.

I feel especially bad because I’m recovering from my gallbladder surgery a week ago, and couldn’t even get out to pick what I could to ripen later in the house, as I always do. (One more reason to have at least two years’ worth of food canned in your pantry.)

Friday I pecked away at it a bit at a time (can’t lift much and sure get tired quickly).

Will pitted our last 19 pounds of wild plums as several people have asked if they could buy pits. Then he put the flesh in the Mehu Liisa and juiced it. We ended up with a gallon and half of plum juice which I’ll can up to make jelly later on, when I get time. While he was doing that, I made a big batch of enchilada sauce with the tomato puree Will cranked out with our Victorio tomato strainer. We were almost out of enchilada sauce so now we’re stocked up much better with 15 pints.

Even though a lot of our tomatoes were killed, the heavy leaves on many of the plants did protect some tomatoes so we’ll be able to harvest quite a few to finish saucing and saving seeds. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning soup, pecans, and potatoes

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Canning soup

I have a recipe for a “diet soup” that comes with instructions for varying it up with Asian, Mexican flavors, etc. It occurred to me that I see no reason it can’t be pressure canned. Is it safe for canning? Do you think the zucchini and spinach would get mushy during the canning process? Is this one of those things I could just divide the ingredients up between jars, and let the canning process cook it?

Barb Mundorff
Youngstown, Ohio

I’m sure your soup can be safely pressure canned. As I don’t have the ingredients, I can’t give specifics, but in general you must can at 10 pounds pressure using the time required for the ingredient requiring the longest time of all ingredients. No, the zucchini and spinach won’t get overly mushy but DO steam the spinach a bit to wilt it down in bulk before canning and heat the ingredients thoroughly before putting in the jar. — Jackie

Canning pecans

Have you ever tried to can pecans with Tattler lids? I have tried numerous times but I cannot get them to seal even though I am doing everything by the book. Do you have any suggestions? I still have some of last years pecans in the shell that have not turned. I know that they will soon and due to a terrible spring I am not getting any off of my tree this year, so I need to save all that I can.

Staci Henderson
Murfreesboro, Arkansas

Yes, I have. I’ve done both walnuts and pecans and haven’t had trouble with them sealing. Are you following Tattler instructions? They are different than Kerr or Ball instructions in that you will be barely “fingertip” tightening the rings when you put them into the canner and then immediately tightening the rings after taking them out. Remember, it’s 10 minutes at 5 pounds pressure. If you can’t get jars to seal, I’d call Tattler. They’re great at helping folks walk through using their lids. (If you just can’t get them to work, use regular lids for your pecans.) — Jackie

Canning potatoes

I canned some potatoes and then gave them a hot water bath. I then realized that I was supposed to pressure can them. Two weeks has passed. Can I still pressure can them?

Amy Mergen
Sartell, Minnesota

I’m real sorry but those potatoes are toast. There’s no way they’d be safe to re-can after two weeks. Remember to always pressure can ALL vegetables and meats. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: source for jars and how to store Hopi Pale Grey squash

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Source for jars

My husband has been subscribing to your magazine for several years now, but I have only recently begun reading all of your wonderful articles. Now we fight over it when the mail arrives! I have just recently ordered your new canning book and recipe book and can hardly wait for it to arrive. Thanks so much for sharing all the fantastic things you do.

Now to my question…I am starting to can again after nearly 30 years of not doing it, so I am starting all over again to buy jars and lids. It’s astonishing to me, after all this time, at how expensive the jars and lids have become. I was wondering if you had a good online source for buying them at good or wholesale prices, even if it is in a large quantity. We live 25 miles from the nearest good sized town, and when I do occasionally get by a yard sale or thrift shop, I never seem to see anything like this.

James & Catharine Lawhon
Polk City, Florida

I’m glad to have you aboard and tickled that you’re again back to canning. No, I don’t have a source online for cheaper canning jars. The shipping really bites you there! Things that have worked for me in the past are putting a small ad in various places: your grocery, laundromat, feed store, local free shopper, etc. Telling everyone you’re looking for jars and shopping for sales on jars locally. We’re 30 miles from a larger town and I know what you mean. But I often find jars and canning supplies on sale there if I needed to stock up. And NO shipping cost! — Jackie

How to store Hopi Pale Grey squash

How do you store Hopi Pale Grey squash? What are the normal environmental variables for where/how you store them? Normal temps, amount of light, humidity etc.

J. Fowler
Austin, Texas

I’ve found that Hopi Pale Greys store best out of direct sunlight, with lower humidity and temps between 55 degrees and 70 degrees, or “normal” household conditions. Do NOT store them in a cool, damp basement or they’ll rot quicker. I’ve stored them on the floor of our living room, under our bed, and in the closet; they aren’t a bit fussy! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Yep, I’m still alive and kickin’

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

I am back at home after my gallbladder surgery last Thursday. Luckily it was the minimally invasive type and I only had three “holes” in my tummy. The pain wasn’t too bad but I couldn’t hack the pain meds as they made me sick to my stomach. No good! So I quit them after two doses. My only restrictions are to not lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk for a month and “take it easy.” Hey, I’m trying!

But the garden is out there laughing at me. Everything is coming in heavily. Luckily, Will is helping me pick tomatoes and turn the Victorio tomato strainer. Boy, do we ever have a wonderful variety in the garden this year. Besides our favorites, like the Bill Bean tomatoes, we have some new “favorites” like Indigo Blue Beauty, which is kind of dark blue/purple on top and a brilliant orange below. Besides being gorgeous, it’s open pollinated so we can save seeds and is HUGELY productive with medium large tomatoes with wonderful flavor. And then there’s Indigo Kumquat, unfortunately a hybrid, but it is also gorgeous in salads and has great tomato flavor.

We have a few truly free-range chickens (escapees). Will’s favorite breed, Black Sex Links lay abundantly but are also escape artists. One hen (we call her Peg) got a feed sack string wrapped tightly around her leg and by the time we noticed, it had cut the circulation off in her lower leg. We caught her and cut the string off but she lost the lower portion of her leg. Being soft hearted, we did not butcher her. Fortunately, she healed up fine and is so handy on that leg that you hardly notice that she’s missing her foot. After she had healed, I put her into the chicken coop where I thought she’d have an easier time. Wrong! The other chickens nearly pecked her to death in one morning! So out of the coop she went. Well, she healed from that and is now a permanent free-range girl. And she free ranges right into the garden if we leave the gate open, helping herself to our tomatoes. Oh well, we sure have plenty!

We checked our Howden pumpkins in the pig pasture and I’ll bet we have a truckload! And they are HUGE. I couldn’t reach around some and they aren’t even orange yet. They sure like the manure!

The weather radio is calling for low temperatures Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights with a possibility of frost/freezing. Eeek! I hope not. Pray for a bit of warmth for us, okay? — Jackie



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