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Ask Jackie headline

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Q and A: Hopi Pale Grey squash, canning corn, and canning bones

Friday, August 21st, 2015 by Jackie Clay | 3 Comments »

Hopi Pale Grey squash

Not a question… planted the Hopi squash I bought from you. OMG! The plants are about 20′ wide. In fact, all my squash are huge this year. (With a little help from some fertilizer) they are all loaded with squash. I think it’s going to be a great squash year. Thank you so much… can hardly wait to taste the Hopi.

Joni Warren
Canyon City, Oregon

Thanks for the update! Our Hopi Pale Greys are climbing the back fence, up trees and heading for the woods. In the “squash patch” the plants are over five feet tall, on the flat. Boy, is that something. — Jackie

Canning corn

I had pressure canned corn on Friday. I realized by reading that I did not pressure it long enough. I pressured for 20 minutes. Looked at the wrong vegetable for the process time. What can I do? I have read everything and can’t seem to find out what I should do. Can you please help?

Mary Perkins

Oops, that happens. I’m just glad you caught your mistake right away. What I’d do is dump out your corn into a large kettle, bring it to a boil, then repack it into hot, clean jars and process for the correct time. Open each jar and smell it to make sure it hasn’t started to ferment or spoil before you heat it. Then smell it again as you bring it to a boil. It could have gone bad by now. Don’t cut the time because you already processed it. Just treat it as if it were fresh corn. — Jackie

Canning bones

Can a person can beef bones? I wanted to can the bones left over to have for soup.

Lisa Clark

It’s a whole lot easier and won’t waste so many wide mouth jars if you put your bones in a big kettle with water and boil them to get your broth, then can that. You can just use the basic broth as a soup base. — Jackie

As usual, our beavers were right

Thursday, August 20th, 2015 by Jackie Clay | 2 Comments »

We had a very hot, dry summer. Around here, some swamps are dry and even rivers are showing more rocks than water. Yep, we got rain. But only about 1/10 of an inch or less at a time; not enough to counteract the hot temperatures. Finally it is cooling down and we are getting some real rain. Luckily, we’re about done haying, with a good crop in, too.
This summer our poultry has been running crazy, nesting, hatching eggs, and raising chicks! We just had a White Laced Red Cornish hen come off a nest with a big batch of chicks. Our momma turkey must have been sharing her nest with a chicken because she just hatched nine baby chicks. She has her own turkey eggs in her nest too, so Will grabbed the turkey eggs (at great bodily risk!) and brought them in to put in our little incubator. As turkey eggs take about a week longer to hatch, they would have never hatched left outside in the cold as the mom abandoned the nest after hatching the chicks. So we’ll see if we can finish the job she started.
Our tomatoes are going crazy. Due to our cold, wet spring, all of them are late this year as are most of our neighbors’ tomatoes. But boy, do we have tomatoes! We just discovered the Farthest North plants are totally covered with tomatoes. We’ve never seen that many tomatoes on any plant before. It’s so productive. They are a cherry tomato but I use them in sauce and they do very well. Such a pretty plant, too!
Today it’s cloudy and rainy so we get a break. Our Subaru has been in for wheel bearings and other expensive repairs. And I ran over some broken glass on the road and ruined a tire recently, so this afternoon, I have to pick up a pair of tires for it. Oh well, we can’t complain as it’s been a very dependable vehicle and our rough, bumpy mile-long driveway is hard on vehicles. — Jackie

Q and A: spaghetti squash and canning lamb/beef bones

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 by Jackie Clay | No Comments »

Spaghetti squash

This is my first year of growing spaghetti squash, and I baked my first one today. The inside didn’t come out stringy like spaghetti. It looks more like regular winter squash with a rice like texture. Any ideas what could have caused this? It still tastes great!

Johanna Hill
Arcanum, Ohio

What I do is cut my spaghetti squash in half, pick out any mature seeds, then gently “fluff” up the strings. I pour homemade spaghetti sauce over it all in a baking dish and top with cheese. Bake in the oven until tender. — Jackie

Canning lamb/beef bones

Can a person can beef or lamb bones? I am killing several and want to can the bones so they make a broth while they are canning. Then the bones would also be preserved so we could dump out broth for us and then give bone to our dog.

Lisa Leffert
Bonney Lake, Washington

You can certainly can bones with stock, as you indicate, but giving cooked bones of any kind to dogs is pretty dangerous. Raw bones’ slivers can be digested by dogs but cooked bones often pass into the gut, undigested and can block the intestines and even puncture them. I’d make your broth and freeze some of the uncooked large bones for the dog. He’ll thank you for keeping him safe. — Jackie

We have a new baby

Monday, August 17th, 2015 by Jackie Clay | 10 Comments »

Wednesday, our half Jersey heifer, Surprise, had her baby — a pretty heifer we are calling Fern because she’s just the color of dead fern leaves. And we know because that night both she and her mom got out and Surprise hid her baby and we couldn’t find her for two days! We searched and searched but no calf. But we knew that cows did that and weren’t TOO worried. Then out she came, fine as a fiddle and twice as bouncy. Now they’re both back with the other cows and all is well.
I’ve just had another bad bout with diverticulitis, but thank God I haven’t had to go to the doctor and I’m much better today. Nasty stuff and I really do watch what I eat; no popcorn, nuts, seeds, etc.
I’m just glad to be getting over it. There’s so much to do this time of the year. Our first tomatoes, Moravsky Div, a Russian tomato beat the pack in ripening and there are lots and lots of others coming along real fast. The sweet corn is starting to ripen. We’ve eaten our first potatoes. (Boy, do we love the Dakota Pearls!) and the peppers … All I can say is WOW!

Our garden squash is scary it’s so huge. We especially are waiting for our Apache Giant, a rare variety we are trialing. It has yellow blotched leaves that are gorgeous. (No, it is not diseased!)
The peas are all dried down and I’ll be pulling them tomorrow to save seed. We really enjoyed them while they lasted.

Our weather’s cooled down and we sure are glad. Will and I don’t do 90 degree temperatures; it just flattens us. He’s about done doing hay and is hauling big round bales home on our bus frame-turned-hay-transport. It’s going well and we are real happy to have so much hay this year.
How’s everyone’s garden doing? I’m hoping yours is as wonderful as ours! — Jackie

We’re happy to share our homestead, even with snakes

Thursday, August 13th, 2015 by Jackie Clay | No Comments »

We have a large, fat garter snake hanging around which gives us a startle once in awhile. But we like having him around as he eats plenty of grasshoppers and other pests in the garden and flower beds. After living for years in rattlesnake country, I’ll admit to jumping more than once when he pops out of the grass but seeing his olive and yellow body quickly lets me know he’s totally harmless.

Will’s busy cutting, raking, and baling hay today. Yesterday he got up ten more round bales and today is breezy and hot, so hopefully, more will quickly follow. He is getting tired of making hay, however and we hope it will soon be done for the most part. We do have some second cutting clover to put up at home but it’s not much and will go fast.

I got another 11 pints of green beans canned up yesterday, filling our pantry shelves to bulging. What a good feeling as green beans are one of our favorite side dishes. I’ll be doing Dilly Beans and more Mustard Bean pickles with the next batch. They just keep pumping out the beans!
Our flowers around the house are really pretty now. Even the ones that are crowded with weeds. (Oh well, I can’t get ’em all!) Those flowers sure perk up one’s spirits, don’t they? — Jackie

Q and A: bulging lids and black speck disease on tomatoes

Thursday, August 13th, 2015 by Jackie Clay | 1 Comment »

Bulging lids

I’m noticing that many of my canning lids are bulging this year whether I’m canning in a water bath or pressure cooker. They seal just fine. What is causing them to bulge?

Geryl Gilbert
Graham, North Carolina.

Bulging jar lids are one indication that there is spoilage going on. Jar lids should remain sucked down by the sealing and remain so. I’d re-read your canning book and see if there’s a step you may be doing incorrectly; often wrong processing times or pressures. Especially read the altitude info; if you’re at an altitude above 1,000 feet, you need to adjust your pressure (pressure canning) or time (water bath processing) to suit your altitude. I’ll bet there’s something amiss with your processing. — Jackie

Black speck disease on tomatoes

My four Roma tomatoes appeared to get black speck disease, based on internet photo and the MN Extension Service response. I pulled and tossed the tomato plants (darn — they had a lot of green speckled tomatoes). I used a diluted bleach solution on the cages and sprayed some on the top of the dirt. Do I need to do anything else in order to garden in that spot next year? It was new bagged Miracle grow dirt on a 4 inch high raised bed. I hate to throw it out if I don’t have to.

Katherine Jordahl
Fergus Falls, Minnesota

Here’s what I’d do: If you can, don’t plant tomatoes in that raised bed next year. Rotation of crops may help stop the reoccurrence of this disease. I hope you didn’t put the infected plants on your compost pile. Burn them, instead, to get rid of the bacteria before it can spread more. Don’t throw out your soil. When you plant tomatoes again, water only with a drip hose as overhead watering can easily spread this infection. If it shows up, immediately spray your crop with copper sulfate. That usually will halt it in its tracks. Tomatoes like a deeper soil than 4 inches. I’d advise adding another 4 inches or more to your beds. Stress, such as shallow soil for the roots, can make crops susceptible to diseases. — Jackie

I’m canning nearly every day now

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015 by Jackie Clay | 4 Comments »

Our beans are in! And so are our peppers. This year I’m making batch after batch of Cowboy Candy, a candied jalapeño. Wow, are they ever good and really not all that hot. Especially when I mix Early Jalapeños with Fooled You, which aren’t hot at all. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try them:


3 lbs. jalapeño peppers
6 cups sugar
2 cups white vinegar
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. celery seed
3 tsp. granulated garlic

Slice jalapeños. If you don’t want so much heat, cut off top and cut out seeds and ribs before slicing ¼ inch thick. If you are sensitive or can’t keep from wiping your eyes (burns like crazy if you do!), wear plastic gloves.

Add all ingredients but peppers into a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add peppers. Bring to a boil and simmer 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove peppers and pack into half-pint jars. Bring syrup to a boil and boil hard for 6 minutes. This thickens the syrup somewhat. Ladle over sliced peppers, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Wipe rim of jar, add previously simmered lid, and screw down ring firmly tight. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

These are great on creamed cheese and crackers. Or about anything else! Yum.
Our bean crop is phenomenal this year. I only planted two short rows of Provider bush beans because I still have shelves full of canned beans. But those rows have given me four basketfuls of beans so far, and they’re still producing like mad. I canned plain beans and Mustard Bean pickles. Tomorrow it’s Dilly Beans. Guess why I love Providers? And they get pretty big but are meaty, with small seeds until they are pretty mature, so they last on the vine for quite a while before going seedy.
This year we tried a new pole bean, Neckargold, after our friend Dara raved about them last year. Our vines are covered with flat, long, tender gold beans. We ate one batch to try them, and they are tender with very good flavor. This is another keeper!
We are getting such a kick out of the batch of chicks that were hatched in our front yard. They run here and there, gobbling up bugs, grass, and seeds. We think they’re mobile yard ornaments! They’re so entertaining. Who needs TV? — Jackie

Q and A: canning pickled peppers and garlic and tomatoes not ripening

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015 by Jackie Clay | 3 Comments »

Canning pickled garlic and peppers

I have read many canning recipes for pickled garlic or pickled peppers. We don’t like pickled anything. Can you can these just using water? I used to freeze the peppers but now being off the grid, I don’t have freezer room. If these can be canned with just water, what would I process them at?

Joni Warren
Canyon City, Oregon

Joni, you really need my book, Growing and Canning Your Own Food. Basic canning directions for sweet peppers are: Stem, core, and remove seeds and ribs. If you don’t want to can with skins on, as I do, you can plunge the whole peppers into boiling water for 3 minutes, then into cold water. The skins will slip quite easily. Then stem, core, etc. Pack gently into hot jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Add ½ tsp. salt and ½ tsp. vinegar or lemon juice (improves flavor) to each pint. Fill jars with boiling water, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Process pints and half pints at 10 pounds pressure for 35 minutes in a pressure canner. If you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, consult your canning book for instructions on increasing your pressure to suit your altitude.

Garlic is not recommended for canning, although you can use it in mixed recipes as a spice. It dehydrates beautifully and you can make your own garlic powder with a blender or grinder. Peppers dehydrate very well too. — Jackie

Tomatoes not ripening

This is the first year I have grown Bill Bean tomatoes in my raised garden beds. The plants are huge and healthy and have lots of huge healthy green tomatoes but I have not gotten one ripe tomato as yet. We have had a very mild cool summer, could that be the reason or do you think they may be overcrowded in the raised beds?

Brenda Burns-Boggs
Kettering, Ohio

Cool weather does slow down the tomatoes. Our own are a little late this year as we had a very cool, wet spring. Hang in there and you’ll soon be eating ripe tomatoes! If you prune away some of the lower leaves so the tomatoes get more sun, that’ll hurry them up some. — Jackie



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