Ask Jackie by Jackie Clay Issue 62

Ask Jackie
By Jackie Clay

Issue 62
Jackie Clay

To Ask Jackie a question, please Click Here to visit her blog.

1. How do you can baked beans and chili? Any particular recipe?
2. How do you can smoked salmon?

James Coffey
Elkton, MD

1. Baked beans and chili are among our family’s favorites, especially in the winter when the jars are handy to open and heat, giving a quick (15 minute) homemade-tasting meal for hungry sledders or wood choppers.

You may use any recipe you like, but you must process the jars according to the ingredient which requires the longest processing time in the pressure canner. (You also must use the pressure canner for these low-acid foods or risk food poisoning.)

In both recipes that follow, the ingredient which will require the longest time is beans, requiring 1 hour and 20 minutes for pints and 1 hour and 35 minutes for quarts at 10 pounds of pressure (or higher, depending on your altitude; check your canning book, as you must use the correct pressure for sure seals and food safety).

A basic recipe for baked beans is:

Rinse and pick over the beans, then soak them in 3 quarts of water overnight. Add 2 tsps. salt to beans in soaking water and bring to boil. Cover and simmer ‘til skins begin to crack. Drain, saving liquid. Pour beans into a baking dish or bean pot. Add pork and onions. If for religious or other reasons you do not choose to use pork, you can substitute smoked venison or turkey pieces. Combine remaining ingredients. Add 4 cups bean liquid, adding more water if necessary to make the 4 cups. Stir, cover, and bake at 350° for 3½ hours. Add water towards last to keep beans a bit “soupy.” Pack into hot jars, leaving 1-inch head room. Keep the beans hot while putting into jars, and work quickly to get them into canner. Wipe the jar rims. Put boiled lids on and tighten rings firmly, but without force. Process pints 1 hour and 20 minutes, quarts 1 hour and 35 minutes, at 10 pounds (adjust for higher altitudes).

2. Smoked salmon is easy to can. We also smoke and can a number of other fish which also taste great, including trout, whitefish, panfish, and even the lowly sucker which is really good smoked.

Smoke the fish, using your favorite recipe, then cut into jar-sized pieces. Place dry into pint jars; we use wide mouth jars for ease of packing and getting the delicate smoked fish out of the jars. If the fish seems a bit bland, I sometimes sprinkle a bit of brown sugar or salt on it, but this is seldom necessary if your smoking was done correctly. Leave 1 inch of head room.

Wipe the jar rims. Place a boiled lid on and tighten the ring firmly. Process in a pressure canner for 1 hour and 40 minutes at 10 pounds pressure (adjust for higher altitudes, if necessary).

To be absolutely safe, heat in oven at 250° for half an hour in a covered casserole dish, then cool before eating; we just give it the sniff & appearance test, never having had bad results.

Good Canning!

…please ask Jackie if you can use Sweet’n Low or any artificial sweetener for canning instead of regular sugar. Both my husband and I are hypoglycemics and cannot have sugar. I know commercial canners do. What about home canning (jellies, jams, tomatoes etc.?

Ron & Bernice Knapp
Clearwater, KS

Canning without sugar is no problem. My husband, Bob, is diabetic so we have to watch sugar pretty closely. With all fruit, simply can without it. Then, as it is opened, sprinkle your sugar substitute over the fruit. It’s much better this way than when canned with the sugar substitute. Sugar does nothing but flavor the fruit.

When putting up jams and jellies, I use sugar free Sure-Jell. You can use artificial sweeteners in your jams and jellies, as well, but you must use a recipe that does not call for sugar, as some recipes need the sugar to make the jelly jell. One note: If you use aspartame, add it toward the end of your jam or jelly’s boiling, as boiling drastically reduces the sweetness of this artificial sweetener.

Another option is to use very ripe fruits (but not to the spoiling point) and not use any sweetener, but simply boil gently to concentrate the juice, canning as “fruit.” Then, on opening, either use as a spread, sprinkled with artificial sweetener if desired, or mix the canned fruit spread with enough sugar-free Jello to jell. You’ll have to experiment a bit, as this depends on your fruit and how thick you’ll want it. This product may be placed back into the canning jar, but must be refrigerated or it will spoil.

For other canning recipes calling for sugar, you can often substitute such things as very sweet, ripe tomatoes, reconstituted dried tomatoes (which are much sweeter), using more herbs and/or adding artificial sweeteners.

Most newer canning books include a section on sugar-free canning. You can also check with your county extension office for free or low-cost leaflets on sugar-free canning.

It’s best to use one of these guides, at least until you get the hang of it. One thing you’ll quickly discover is that home-canned sugar-free foods are worlds above the store-bought foods, and a whole lot cheaper to boot.

There are so many choices in grain grinders on the market and every manufacturer claims their design is best. Can you give some pointers on what to look for in an all-purpose grain grinder? What about burrs vs. stones?

Craig Davalos
Boone Grove, IN

You bet there’s a lot of choices today in grain mills. Sure, every manufacturer claims theirs is the best, just as many owners swear by their mill. The truth is simple: everyone has their preference, just as there are Ford owners and Chevy owners.

Like in all things, the more you pay for something, the better (i.e. longer lasting, better made, more it will
do, etc.) it will probably be. Unfortunately, we have never been financially well off. Thus, we have never been able to buy a $300
grain mill.

You can grind grains using ancient methods, such as a mano and metate"a stone grinding grain on a flat stone with a depression to hold the flour. I’ve done it and it really does a nice job quite quickly. But, in real life, I’ve switched to a hand-operated grain mill which cost about $50. It grinds all the grain we use, as we use it, which keeps the flour very fresh. (If you grind whole grains and store the flour for any length of time, the flour can get rancid.)

I’ve used several of the more expensive electric mills, with stones instead of steel burrs, to mill large quantities of rye and wheat. These mills worked well but were rather noisy. I can’t see much difference in the flour, but folks will argue that steel burrs heat the flour, making it less nutritious.

One note: a lot of folks have told me they were disappointed in the inexpensive Corona Mill; the flour was too coarse. Again, you get what you pay for. The Corona is a simple, low-priced mill. It does a great job grinding grain, but to get relatively fine flour you must regrind it at least once, and the finished product will never look like store-bought flour. But before crying too much, read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Ma had to grind their meager wheat supply with a small coffee grinder. I’ve tried it, and found a mano and metate made much finer flour.

All mills will grind flour, but stone burrs will often plug up when grinding oily things like nuts. But how often does a family grind nuts? Nearly all will grind oats for oatmeal (but you really will have to grow hull-less oats for home grinding), coarse grind wheat for cereal, and corn for corn meal. And they will also grind common grains like rye. I also use our mill to grind dry hominy for masa harina de maize, which I use for homemade tortillas and tamales.

I require a mill to have hand-driven capabilities, as one never knows when the power will be out just when you need to grind grain. I also believe that slower hand grinding results in better flour with less dust.

No matter which mill you choose, I think you’ll be very happy with it and the wonderful grains you can grind as you need. Then the whole family, and even the neighbors, can enjoy participating in milling grains. Not only do you provide nutritious, fresh flours for your home, but it’s terrific entertainment.

Read More Ask Jackie

Read Articles by Jackie Clay

Read Ask Jackie Online

Comments regarding this article may be addressed to Comments may appear online in “Feedback” or in the “Letters” section of Backwoods Home Magazine. Although every email is read, busy schedules generally do not permit a personal response to each one.

Comments are closed.