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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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Q and A: making applesauce and tomato sauce, storing fresh carrots, using crabapples

Monday, November 9th, 2015 by Jackie Clay | No Comments »

Making applesauce and tomato sauce

Have you ever washed, cut, and cooked apples, put through juicer strainer with a large tea strainer on pan to drain juice from pulp? It makes thick applesauce, and apple butter. Season and can. Then I can juice. Not as much cooking time this way. I do the same thing with tomatoes.

Peggy Wilburn
Macon, Georgia

No, I haven’t done that. What I do is use my Mehu Liisa steam juicer to extract about a quart of juice from my washed, cut apples, then use that for jelly or apple juice. Then I just run the remaining pulp through my old Victorio tomato strainer which gives me nice thick pulp in one bowl and peels in the other. The pulp is then either canned as applesauce or mixed with sugar and spices to make my apple butter. With the tomatoes, I use the Mehu Liisa to steam the tomatoes. Like the apples, I extract about a quart of tomato broth (it doesn’t look like tomato juice; it’s yellowish and watery but makes great soup base), then dump the tomatoes into my Victorio and crank out thickened tomato sauce. Both are quick and easy. — Jackie

Storing fresh carrots

I was wondering why you can your carrots instead of just storing them in your basement like the potatoes and onions?

Elizabeth Seymour
Whitefish, Montana

We do store some carrots for using fresh during the winter. But we grow so many that I always can up a lot. First, it is very convenient to have jars of pre-cooked carrots to use as a quick side dish or to dump into a roast. Secondly, they keep, when canned, nearly forever — unlike the fresh stored carrots. Finally, you just never know what next year is going to bring; a bad gardening year, sickness, injury (like when Will and I fell off the barn roof) or whatever “emergency” situation should happen. So I can’t always depend on just growing more next year to store fresh. This is why I also can up some potatoes and dehydrate my extra onions — convenience and preparedness. — Jackie

Using crabapples

In our house, if we can’t find the answers to questions in books or past magazines, someone always says, “Let’s ask Jackie!” So here’s our question: We’ve made all sorts of things from our crabapples: jelly, candied, dried, etc. Does it make good drinking juice? Could we add sugar to taste and can it up that way? It is bitter from the juice steamer. Hate to waste it if it doesn’t taste good when we’re done.

Wendy Hause
Gregory, Michigan

Ask away Wendy! It all depends on the variety of your crabapples. Some are great, juiced, for drinking. And some just aren’t. What I’d do is try a batch and see if by adding sugar and/or a little water, if necessary, you can balance the taste to your likes. If not, you can always can up the juice so you have a safe, secure stock for making apple jelly at a future date. Once you know your tree better, you can choose to juice or not, based on your experience. We have three crabapples in our orchard. Two are wonderful for eating fresh or for making applesauce and butter. One is not so hot so we leave it for the birds with plans for grafting on to it soon. — Jackie

Rain, rain, go away; little Jackie wants to play

Thursday, November 5th, 2015 by Jackie Clay | 15 Comments »

Yep, it’s raining again. (At least our orchard, grapes, and berry patch will go into the winter well-watered!) Luckily, we have our front porch. I’ve started shelling our corn varieties, having gotten the Painted Mountain well started with about five pounds done and today it’ll be the Bear Island Chippewa. The Bear Island Chippewa is a lot like Painted Mountain but has thicker cobs and fatter kernels. As it’s a Northern Minnesota Native corn, it’s also very early for a larger corn. We really love it. It’s basically a flour corn but can be eaten as “green corn” when just in the milk stage. (Not as sweet as sweet corn but has a good, old-timey corn taste.) Then I’ll move on to the Seneca Round Nose. I really like this new-to-us old Native corn! Big, long cobs with nice fat kernels. And the strongest roots of any corn I’ve seen growing.


I just seeded a big Atlantic Giant pumpkin. (Big for us, this year.) No, it didn’t weigh over a ton as the current recordholder did. But, hey, we didn’t baby it or feed it a scientific diet. It did weigh 100 pounds, though and had VERY thick meat! David took it home for a Halloween Jack o’ lantern and I kept the seeds. I really like those giant pumpkins. — they’re so much fun to grow. Maybe some day I’ll get a HUGE one.



I’ve got more carrots to get in. My friend Jeri only took one five-gallon bucket full and there’s still about two more buckets still growing in the garden. Plus the ones we’ll store in the basement in a cooler. Oh well, we’re so grateful for such a good growing year! Did all of you have one too? I’d love to hear what you all got harvested and put up. — Jackie

Harvest is about finished

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 by Jackie Clay | 8 Comments »

Harvest is about finished

When the sun came out this morning after a full week of drizzly, nasty weather, we did a happy dance. I pulled our parsnips (in the rain) and canned them up yesterday. We had a good crop but something strange happened this year. They were not long and skinny; but turnip-shaped and had many roots, looking like aliens from Mars! We figure it was a combination of planting them where the ground was pretty heavily manured and where the run-off from our big hoop house frequently soaked the row. Luckily, despite the weird shapes, they were still tender and tasty. Now we have dozens of pints of parsnips ready to go into the pantry. Yum!


This year, we tried a San Felipe pumpkin that we really liked. Being a C. pepo, we could grow it in our garden along with Hopi Pale Grey, a C. maxima, without having them cross. We loved the shape and color along with the deeper ribbing. Just like the old pumpkins our ancestors grew in the cornfields. When I opened them to extract the seeds, I was happy to notice the fragrant smell and deep orange color. The seeds were nice too and would make wonderful roasted pumpkin seeds. A definite keeper for next year!


Good news!

“Winter of the Wolves,” the third book in the Jess Hazzard series, has been scheduled for release on December 1st. You can order an advance copy for immediate delivery here: . (If you haven’t yet read these fast-moving adventure stories, you don’t know what you’re missing.

If you’re a Kindle reader, you can pre-order it for Dec. 1st delivery here:

And if you can wait until mid-November, you can order the print edition direct from the publisher and save 10% – 20% (with complimentary bookmarks) here: .


Happy reading. I hope you enjoy it! — Jackie

Q and A: parsley stems and Homesteading Simplified book

Saturday, October 31st, 2015 by Jackie Clay | No Comments »

Parsley stems

After being ill for over 2 years I am so glad to be getting back to a little bit of gardening and putting food by, smiles. Question: I find myself disliking the fact that I discard all my parsley stems before freezing. Can they be blanched and frozen (at least the thinner stems?) Thanks so much for your answer and as always. I’m so appreciative of your blog!

Lettie Cain
Inkster, Michigan

I’m glad to hear that you’re feeling better. Being under the weather sure sucks! You don’t have to discard any of your parsley stems unless they are woody. You can either chop and dehydrate them or freeze for later use in a multitude of recipes. “Waste not, want not…” — Jackie

Homesteading Simplified book

I am seeing the BHM blurbs about your newest book. But I have more questions before I order. How many pages are there in your book? Are there photographs, line drawing or illustrations in it? What is the size of your book? Book price? Shipping and handling price for a 49450 zip? Do you talk about the issue of homesteading and aging? I did click, “See More” for the details of what topics are included but I still had questions.

Donna Allgaier-Lamberti
Pullman, Michigan

Let’s see if I can answer your questions. First of all, the book, Homesteading Simplified, is 8½ x 11 inches, having 180 pages. It is $19.95 plus S&H. Although during the holiday season it is on special for just $12 plus S&H. There are color photographs throughout the book. It does not cover aging specifically, but does give plenty of hints and tools for making your everyday chores easier for everyone. (There are a lot of younger folks with bad backs, injuries, etc.!) And it does tell you the easiest ways we’ve found to get things done on a variety of sized homesteads, from urban to larger acreages. I really think you’ll find it very useful, whether you’re a beginning or well-seasoned homesteader. — Jackie

Q and A: Glass Gem corn and recanning bottled fruit juice drinks

Friday, October 30th, 2015 by Jackie Clay | 1 Comment »

Glass Gem corn

Is that Glass Gem corn edible or just beautiful?

Carolyn Simpson

Glass Gem popcorn is definitely edible. Not only can you make popcorn with it but you can also grind it for cornmeal. A totally win-win for this pretty corn. — Jackie

Recanning bottled fruit juice drinks

I would like to add bottled fruit drinks to my storage supplies, but they have short shelf lives. Could I re-can these to extend this time? I would like to have this on hand for my 5 grandchildren if the need occurred. They would be a source of additional vitamins, plus being a “treat” for them to have. I have several expired bottles that seem to have developed some sediment in the bottom. I am unsure if this shows it is no longer safe to use.

Will’s latest project of insulating pipes seems overwhelming to me!! Glad I am in Florida. Best to you both.

Judith Almand
Lithia, Florida

Although canned fruit juices would be a better (healthier) choice for drinks for everyone, canning store-bought juice drinks, which don’t usually contain much juice; thus the name “drink”, wouldn’t really help much. A better choice would be to pick up some packs of Kool Aid or another powdered drink such as Tang, etc. They will stay good indefinitely. Then in emergency situations, you can just mix with water and everyone can enjoy a treat.
I doubt that the sediment in the bottom of your expired bottles of fruit drink means they are no longer good; it’s just probably the solids settling out after a long time on the shelf.

The insulating job is finally DONE and the driveway looks great. Whew! It was a big job…and well done if I do say so myself. — Jackie

We’ve had a real wet spell

Thursday, October 29th, 2015 by Jackie Clay | 9 Comments »

After so many nice sunny fall days, suddenly the rains are upon us. I finally got the last of the carrots canned up and, boy, do they look great in the jars. Yesterday I gathered up all of the onions that have been curing on the enclosed back porch and bucketed them down to the bins in the basement, next to the potato bins. The potatoes are in covered plastic bins as they need humidity to store well. But the onions are in slotted crates so they get lots of air circulation, which prevents rot. Both the onions and potatoes did very well this year.
It was supposed to snow last night so we were real happy that it rained instead but there’s mud everywhere!
We finished the final edits on my third Western novel, Winter of the Wolves, and it should be out about December 1st, a little later than we first anticipated. (For those of you who don’t typically read Westerns, you might want to give the first book in the series, Summer of the Eagles, a try. There are a whole lot of Amazon reviews that say things like “I couldn’t put it down!” and “I don’t read Westerns but this one hooked me from the first page.” No extreme violence, sex, or rotten language. Your pastor or grandkids could read it with no gasps. But it does move right along. The books are available through Amazon and are also available as Kindle reads.
I had a jar crack during processing my carrots. This is the first broken jar for years and years. (I use old mayonnaise jars and antique odd shaped jars…anything a canning lid and ring fit on, as opposed to what “experts” recommend. Hey it seems like they say I’ll go to hell for using mayo jars! But it wasn’t one of those “alternative” jars that broke; it was a relatively new Kerr. The side cracked enough to let the water drain out but didn’t totally break. — Jackie

We are harvesting a bounty of carrots

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 by Jackie Clay | 9 Comments »

As our nighttime temperatures are drifting into the very low twenties, I figured I’d better get at it and pull the remaining carrots and parsnips. Wow! They have gotten huge. Even our Scarlet Nantes are reaching a foot long and weighing in at over a pound. That’s a lot of carrot. And they’re so tender and crisp that when I gently toss them into a five-gallon bucket, some instantly snap in half or crack with a pop. I’ve got one five-gallon bucket all canned up and will get at the next one this morning. Boy, are they ever nice.
While I’ve been canning carrots, Will is busy pulling all of the tomato stakes, cages, and variety name stakes. He piled all the vines in huge piles to burn in the garden if it ever stops raining, then he raked all of the tangled squash and pumpkin vines into a row along the side of the garden, also to burn. By burning them we help prevent disease and keep insects from over wintering in the vines. Also, the ash adds a little fertilizer (potash) to the soil. Will wants to get the whole garden tilled before the soil freezes.
My parsnips grew funny this year. Instead of being long and thin as usual, they’re short and fat, almost like a beet! But they taste great and will be easy to peel and cook without waste. We’ll add them to the bins of potatoes, carrots, and rutabagas in the basement.

Monday we went down to my son, Bill’s, and helped him finish the sheet metal he’s laying on the old garage roof to match the new addition. The weather was supposed to be sunny and nice. Well… we hit rain in Cloquet, twenty some miles from his house and it continued until we got there. Bill was already on the roof, screwing down one-inch boards over the old shingles, on which to screw the sheet metal. Did I mention the temperature was forty degrees?

Luckily, Kelly’s two uncles, Mel and Vern, had already shown up so that made a good crew. They finished up after dark and Bill’s last screw was driven by the tiny light on Will’s Dewalt cordless driver. It was that dark. Luckily, the rain quit just as we got there so the guys weren’t too miserable all day, but the temperature never got over 45 degrees. But the job’s done, including the trim and ridge cap and it looks really nice. Now Bill can go deer hunting without that job hanging over his head. We got home just after eleven after being stopped on the highway by the State Patrol. We couldn’t figure out what he stopped us for as Will wasn’t speeding in our old ’85 Chev truck. It was a headlight that was out. We hadn’t even noticed! Will raised the hood and wiggled the wire. The headlight popped back on. The patrolman was nice and we were back on the road with two headlights! Seeing blue and red flashing lights up behind you sure makes your heart race. — Jackie

The waterline is buried and we are on to other projects

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015 by Jackie Clay | 9 Comments »

Will finished burying the waterline after insulating it well. But even our heavy duty backblade just kicked rocks up when he tried to grade it nicely. However, his friend has a landscape rake that goes on the back of a tractor and Will called him. In an hour’s time, the rake was hooked to our tractor and Will started raking. Wow, what a difference! Not only did the rake gather the big rocks but it also leveled out the driveway like a landing field. Will shoved the rocks over a bank next to the driveway and continued raking. Now it looks ready to blacktop (just kidding).
Meanwhile, I’ve been continuing the big job of taking the seeds out of our last tomatoes, squash, and pumpkins for our seed business, Seed Treasures. Besides canning, that sure makes harvest time L O N G! But I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel as most of the tomatoes are done and so is the tomato product canning. Whew! But the pantry shelves are really full and there are getting to be lots of containers full of different seeds.

Hunting season starts here the first weekend in November so we have moved the horses and cattle out of the north forty pasture as it’s the “wildest” of our land and stray hunters could mistake a calf for a deer. Hey, it happens; I have, in the past, had two horses shot by deer hunters. We want to play it safe.

We’re continuing getting ready for winter. Will is going to pull the irrigation pump, which he’s already drained, so it doesn’t freeze in the spring basin. Once pulled, we’ll then drain the entire line so it’ll be ready to go, come spring. (Boy, that seems like a long way off, doesn’t it?) I’ve got to replace the hinges on two gates and a goat shed door so we can move our goats up from the pasture for breeding season and for winter. It’s nicer to have them closer so when it snows bad we don’t have to wade through deepening snow to feed and water them. Lots of little projects and the days are getting shorter. — Jackie



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