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Archive for the ‘Self-sufficiency’ Category
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.
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?
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
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.
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
Monday, January 26th, 2015
I flew down to Aberdeen, South Dakota, on Wednesday afternoon as my first workshop was on Thursday. It was an all-afternoon session on gardening and canning. I’m always amazed at how many folks have similar interests! There were hundreds of people attending the conference, many more than in years past. And my workshops were very lively and pretty full. People asked dozens of good questions and we had intense sessions.
My second workshop was on canning mixed foods and the third was on canning meat, poultry, and fish. The final workshop was on Saturday morning — growing fruit for cold climates. That one was filled to overflowing and folks were standing in the hallway, listening.
Now I’m playing catch-up! Will and I went to town Sunday and bought the last four kitchen cabinets for our house. Wow! Now all that’s left is the center island where all the food preparation takes place and we’ll be done. That’s D-O-N-E!
We spent until 11 p.m. last night filling the seed orders that arrived on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, while I was gone and I took a big bag to the post office this morning.
I’m feeling relatively caught up now. So it’s back to “normal” (if I know what that is …) Whew. I’m so glad to be home. — Jackie
Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
Nothing like you’d imagine! Hopi Pale Grey is football shaped with a “belly button” on the blossom end. Marina Di Chioggia is pumpkin shaped, dark green and warted. My friend grew the two C. maximas, which crossed and resulted in a plant that produced nine unusual orange w/green squash with a big “belly button.” We both kept a squash, then this week, we tried baking them. They were quite good. So we saved our seeds and will play around with them this spring and see if we can stabilize the characteristics such as taste and color, creating a “new” squash of our own. What fun!
Monday, a UPS truck came rolling into the yard and the driver handed me a flat box. I had not ordered anything so was puzzled. On opening it, I was surprised to see two copies of my Western, Summer of the Eagles. They were proof copies for Will and me to check over for mistakes before the real deal hits the presses. We were pretty excited to see what the (nearly) finished package would look like. So we’ve been busy editing for mistakes (typos, etc.) and finding just a few. Soon it’ll be ready for the presses to run! How cool is that?
I’m getting ready to fly to Aberdeen, South Dakota, early Thursday morning. Whew! Canning when I get back will seem like a vacation! Hope to see some of you there. Come up and say hi! — Jackie
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!)
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…
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?
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
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
Monday, January 19th, 2015
After many months of cabinets being on the back burner, we saved up and bought three more kitchen cabinets. (They’re cheaper because they’re not as deep as the base cabinets, so that helped.) This weekend, Will and I put them up. They proved a bit difficult as they didn’t want to fit square in the corner or go up tight to the log wall. And the corner cabinet was HEAVY. But with some props made out of 2x4s and a few one-inch wood blocks, Will finally got them to hang well. We’ve got one more to the right of the right hand upper cabinet, one 18-inch cabinet in the corner by the sink, and two narrow ones above the propane stove. Then, other than the island, the cabinet work will be done! Wow. I think they’re turning out beautiful and will sure de-clutter my kitchen a whole lot.
I have to laugh at Mittens. She goes with us everywhere. She even goes with Will out to the woods to cut firewood. But she was pretty miffed when Will went into the bathroom to shave and shower. AND shut the bathroom door! She sat right by the door all the while until he came back out. Then she wanted to go to bed and announced it by saying “NOW!” I swear it’s true.
I’m packing for my trip to Aberdeen, South Dakota, as I have to leave home at 5:00 Wednesday (that’s a.m.!) to catch a flight to Minneapolis where I have a 5-hour layover. Now why couldn’t I have that 5 hours at home? (I’m doing several workshops at the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Conference on canning and growing fruit in cold zones.) If any of you can come, I’d love to visit with you there! — Jackie
Saturday, January 17th, 2015
Adding eggshells to your compost
Do I need to pre-treat eggshells before adding them to my garden as compost? I feel like I’m wasting something when I just burn them or throw them out. We have our own chickens, which are pasture raised — and the eggs are wonderful.
No, you don’t need to do a thing. You can just set them out in an old carton until they are nice and dry then crush them and put them in a bucket until you can sprinkle them on your garden or dig them into your compost pile. Crushed egg shells add calcium to the soil and help prevent such problems as blossom end rot in tomatoes and squash. Good for you for thinking of it! Waste not; want not is our motto. — Jackie
Canning chili peppers
I want to know if I can water bath Anaheim chili peppers and be safe? I would use half-pint jars.
Gold Hill, Oregon
No, all vegetables and meats MUST be pressure canned. You can pickle peppers such as Anaheims or dry them safely too. When pickling peppers, you will be using a water bath canner. They are awesome, canned, so if you don’t already have a pressure canner, maybe this would be the time to invest. You’ll be so glad you did! — Jackie
Thursday, January 15th, 2015
My oldest son, Bill, and his family were going to take a mini-vacation at a Wisconsin Dells Waterpark so they needed someone to dog-sit. As Buddy, an 8 month old chocolate Lab, had been up to visit us ever since he was a puppy, we volunteered. He and Hondo are buddies and play with each other to exhaustion.
We brought Buddy home with us after attending our granddaughter, Ava’s, third birthday party. Hondo thought it was GREAT! It took them 36 hours before they would just sit down quietly! Now they’ve settled into a routine: go outside to play and chew bones, then come in to rest. At night, Buddy goes into Hondo’s “house” (dog crate) and sleeps all night like a champ. Spencer just rolls his eyes at him.
Our big Bourbon Red tom turkey does NOT like Hondo. Hondo tries to play with him and he runs right after him, all around the yard. Buddy had never seen a turkey and when he went over to sniff him, Big Red pecked him hard on the nose. Buddy does NOT sniff turkeys anymore! I had to laugh; I came home from town and two dogs and the turkey came running up to the car. Will says the turkey wasn’t greeting me but chasing Hondo. He’s real serious about running Hondo around!
We’ve been busy packing seeds. Will is doing the stamping of the envelopes (we’re not a BIG enough company to be able to afford “real” printing), while I fill the orders and package them to mail. Our “office” is two tables. Mine is, by far, the messiest! But we’re having a ball. A lot of folks write a short letter and even send photos. That’s wonderful! — Jackie