Ask Jackie by Jackie Clay Issue 98

Ask Jackie
By Jackie Clay

Issue 98
Jackie Clay

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

Processing cabbage

I was reading your recipe for canning cabbage, and I am wondering, you say to process the jars for 60 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. Now my question is are you using a pressure canner or hot water bath? And do you really mean to process for 60 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure? I’m questioning the 60 minutes.

Rozie Smith
Clarkfield, Minnesota

Yes, you must pressure can cabbage, as it is a low acid food, as are all vegetables (except tomatoes which really aren’t a vegetable but a fruit…). I have two quite recent canning books which discuss canning cabbage, which isn’t USDA recommended because it gets stronger when you can it. One says to process quarts for thirty minutes, and the other 60 minutes. I try to err on the side of safety and I DO process my cabbage for 60 minutes.
" Jackie

Bubbles in tomatoes

I recently canned my garden tomatoes for the first time and for the most part it went smoothly. My only problem is that after processing (in a hot water bath), there are small air bubbles throughout some of the jars. I used a rubber spatula to get the bubbles out prior to processing, and they looked bubble-free then. My main concern is health; do I need to worry about bacteria?

Kristen Lindberg
Mamaroneck, New York

No, Kristen, you don’t have to worry about small bubbles in your jars, as long as the jar is sealed properly. Press your finger on the center of each lid. (Don’t do this until the jar is cooled.) When the jar is sealed, there is no give; it doesn’t go down, then pop back up. If it’s tight, your tomatoes are perfectly fine. The more you can, the more relaxed you’ll be with it.
" Jackie

Black bean soup

I have searched the web for recipes for black bean soup and how to can it. While finding delicious recipes was easy, I have yet to find any ideas on how to can this tasty soup. Could you please give me some guidance on this?

Patricia Pittner

Stir up the ingredients of your soup. Boil for 30 minutes. Ladle hot soup into hot jars to within an inch of the top of the jar. Remove any air bubbles. Process quarts for 90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, then consult your canning manual for instructions on increasing your pressure to match your altitude.
" Jackie

Canning chili with beans

I was wondering if I am able to pressure cook can chili with beans. I am only able to find recipes without beans.

Stephanie Faulks
Hilton, New York

Yes, you may home can chili with beans. I do it nearly every year, which gives us convenient, instant meals without the chemicals included in store-bought chili. Besides, mine tastes like chili, not some flavorless goopy paste.

Make up a big batch of your favorite chili, then ladle the hot chili into quart jars to within an inch of the top of the jar. Remove any air bubbles with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Process the chili in a pressure canner only, at 10 pounds pressure for 90 minutes. If you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, consult your canning manual for instructions on increasing the pressure to correspond with your altitude.
" Jackie

Store-canned goods are good indefinitely

We have several cases of different vegetables that are getting close to their expiration date. Is it possible to cook these up as soups and then home can them? If so, do I hot bath can or pressure can? Would I have to cook the soup or could I just warm them and then process them? What would the expected shelf life be if stored properly? Once again thanks for everything, keep up the good work and may God continue to bless you and your family.

Steve Dunn
Batesville, Mississippi

I often cook up recipes from canned vegetables and tomato products that I get at outlet stores in number 10 cans on a great sale. This way I have quarts and pints to deal with at meal time, not gallon cans of hominy, tomato sauce, or whatever.

Don’t can up recipes just because the cans have an expiration date on them. This is bogus and causes some people to actually throw away good food! Store-canned foods are like home-canned foods in this respect; once canned and properly stored, they are good almost indefinitely. True, they may lose a bit of their nutrition as this or that vitamin grows weak. But we make it up by eating plenty of home raised and wild foraged fresh food. And in a survival situation, having one can of food short of a vitamin sure beats the heck out of starving!

Yes, you can cook up soups and stews from any canned food, to re-can. You must use a pressure canner for every vegetable (except tomatoes which are a fruit….really). You must bring the food (soup or stew) up to boiling, then ladle out into hot jars. Cold or luke warm foods are not good enough. The more foods are cooked, though, the lower the nutrition.
" Jackie

Skim off the mold

I have filled a crock with cucumbers and the necessary vinegar and water and spices to make dill pickles. No mold has formed yet but my question is…. how necessary is it to skim the mold from the top? After I got them made, it occurred to me that we might be gone on a 10 day trip before they are ready to can and the mold will form on top.

Laurel Roberts
Portland, Oregon

It is quite important to skim the mold from the top of the crock as the cucumbers pickle. If you don’t, you risk the pickles picking up a moldy taste and possibly spoiling. Perhaps a friend or relative would be willing to come over to your house and skim your crock periodically if you must be gone. (I’d offer them a few jars of finished pickles as a bribe!)
" Jackie

Roasting hazelnuts

Jackie, help please. A friend has these hazelnuts and we do not know if we should roast them and if so, how. Are they roasted in the shell or what?

Wilma Boulter
Vernon, B.C., Canada

To roast hazelnuts, crack the nuts and spread the meats out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Using your lowest oven setting (usually 250 degrees), toast the nuts, stirring them a couple of times to avoid scorching. When they taste great (half the fun of roasting them), they are done. From here you can either freeze them, use them soon, or can them in half pint or pint jars. Use no liquid in the jars. Pack the hot nut meats in hot, sterile jars and place hot, previously simmered lids, which are dry, on the jars and screw down the rings firmly tight. Process in a pressure canner at 5 pounds pressure for 10 minutes. They will stay nice, without becoming rancid, for a long time.

You can also water bath can them by processing the nut meats for 30 minutes.
" Jackie

Slip from flowering crab tree will seldom root

How do I take a slip of a flowering crab tree and what time of the year do I do it and does a flowering crab tree have long thorns on it, or I may be getting it mixed up with a hawthorn.

Donna Macpherson
Cape Breton, Novia Scotia

A slip from a flowering crab tree will seldom root. You may, however, graft the scion onto the rootstock of another crab apple tree, flowering or not. I would go to the library and get a book that demonstrates grafting techniques, as it does take a bit of skill and knowledge for success. But it certainly can be easily learned by nearly anyone with the desire.

Once you get started, you’ll want to graft a variety of trees, from nut to fruit trees. It’s fun and gives you new trees at very little cost as you can often graft expensive stock onto common wild rootstock.
" Jackie

Vacuum packing peppers

I was wondering if you could tell me what is the best was to vacuum pack peppers from our garden and then freeze them. We’d like to use them later on in the winter to make homemade salsa. We have hot peppers, bell peppers, and sweet peppers that we are going to pick from our garden.

Karen Pyykola
Iron River, Wisconsin

With your chiles, roast them, seed them, and pack tightly to freeze. Other hot peppers, such as jalapenos and cherry peppers, simply slice, dice, and seed (or not if you like really hot peppers) and freeze. Your bell and other sweet peppers may be seeded, the stem removed and halved or diced, as you prefer before freezing. You do not have to blanch peppers before freezing. To keep them nicely separate in the bags, you can first freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the freezer, then pour into bags to vacuum pack and freeze.
" Jackie

Canning dry beans

Although I keep dry beans in my pantry, I would like to know how to can beans for those times when I am in a rush and don’t have the time to spend hours cooking the dry beans so they are ready to add to chili or soup. I figure that since I can buy beans in a “tin” can at the store it should be possible using my pressure canner. Can you point me in the right direction? Also, do I need to worry about the beans becoming mushy by canning them in the pressure canner?

Lyn Ankelman
Thorsby, Alabama

You are absolutely right about the convenience of having canned beans in the pantry! And there are several ways to go here. Nearly all bean recipes may be home canned. For instance, I have in my own pantry canned baked beans, refried beans, bean soup and chili (three recipes), along with “plain” canned, previously dry beans of four varieties to be quickly used should the need or whim strike me.

And beans are really easy to put up too. Besides, it leaves them tender but not mushy. Like you said, too, it frees you from the soaking and long cooking when you are in a hurry or company drops by. Here’s how to do simple canned dry beans.

Cover dry beans (or peas) with cold water and let stand over night in a cool place. Drain. Cover beans or peas with cold water two inches over the beans in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil half an hour. Stir as needed. Dip out beans with slotted spoon and pack into hot canning jar to within an inch of the top. Add 1 tsp. salt to quart jars, ½ tsp. to pints, if desired. Ladle hot cooking liquid into jar to within an inch of the top. Remove any air bubbles with a small spatula or wooden stick. Wipe rim of jar clean. Place hot, previously simmered lid on jar and screw down ring firmly tight. Process pints 75 minutes, quarts 90 minutes in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure. If you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, adjust the pressure to your altitude as recommended in your canning manual.

That’s it. See how easy it was!

Most of your homemade bean recipes can likewise be home canned. Just keep the time the same, as beans (like meat) require a longer processing time to render safe to eat.
" Jackie

Drying garlic for long-term storage

How do you store garlic … long-term storage.

Barbara Roer
Oak Park, Michigan

For really long term storage of garlic (and onions), the best is to dehydrate it. To do this, peel the cloves and slice them into pieces approximately ¼” thick. This may be simply slicing them in half or with larger cloves, you may end up with two or three slices. Spread them out onto your dehydrator tray or even a cookie sheet. If you have a dehydrator, dry them until they are hard and very dry. You may put your cookie sheet in the oven with only the pilot on, on a shelf over a wood stove, or even in the back of your car on a warm, sunny day until the slices are dry. Just protect from insects and dust and stir a bit to prevent sticking.

When they are dry, you can either store like that or do what I do. I have an old (salvaged from the dump) blender that I use for food processing alone. I pour in half a cup of dry slices, put a top on the blender and give it a whir. Repeat until you either have powder or coarser chunks, depending on your preference. This I dry a bit again, then store in sealed pint jars. This will keep for years provided you get the slices dry. If you don’t, it will mold.
" Jackie

Home canning apple pie filling

I was wondering if it is possible to home can apple pie filling, and not just plain apples.

I have instructions for freezing it, but not for canning, and I have four canning books.

Also in the latest issue of Backwoods Home you said that you would be willing to send a few of your Hopi Pale Grey seeds to readers. Would you please send me a few, if you have any left, as I’m sure you’ve been flooded with requests.

Lee Robertson,
Webberville, Michigan

Yes, you may home can apple pie filling. Here’s one recipe; you can adjust the spices to suit your taste.

12 pounds firm apples
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup flour
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
4 Tbsp. lemon juice

Peel and slice the apples. Stir in sugar, flour, and spices. When juice is making the mixture wet, stir in lemon juice and cook over a medium heat until it thickens, stirring frequently. Ladle pie filling into hot quart jars to within half an inch of the top. Wipe the rim clean. Place hot, previously simmered lid on jar and screw down ring firmly tight. Process in water bath canner for 30 minutes.

Experts today do not recommend canning this as it does contain some flour, making it remotely possible to support Botulinum bacteria which causes toxins. I have used this recipe in the past and it turned out fine. But I must add this caution or have the experts eat me alive.
" Jackie

A problem using gasketless canner

For years I wanted a pressure canner. I researched on the web and felt that I wanted the top of the line All American gasketless canner. My husband bought one for my birthday in March. I had never pressure canned; however, I had watched a friend do it. My first and only attempt was with spinach from my garden. I had water bath canned for years so filling the jars was no problem. When I tried to bring the canner up to pressure there seemed to be a lot of steam escaping from the “seal.” There are both a dial gauge and weight. I was never sure when the steam had “exhausted” enough. It seemed to take forever and I was afraid the canner would boil dry. As we are at 3000 feet, I used the weight on 15 lbs. The dial never read higher than 12 pounds and I was never sure how much the weight should rock back and forth. I was really disappointed and seven months later I am afraid to eat the spinach or do any more canning. I really want to be successful but no one I know has a gasketless canner. I’m beginning to wish I had bought a cheaper one with a gasket. Can you help me?

Theresa Bailey
Boise, Idaho

This is not normal. Either there is a defect in the canner (unlikely) or you didn’t have the lid down tight enough to the body of the canner. With your canner, you received a warrantee card and instruction booklet with a consumer helpline number. Don’t be shy about calling the company. They want you to be happy with your new canner and can help you solve your problem. If your canner didn’t have a number or at least an address to contact, go back to your store and ask for one. There IS help.

I have used a gasketless canner for over 30 years now and have had absolutely no problem with it. Any new endeavor is a bit frightening, but keep at it and you’ll succeed.

You can also take your canner to your home extension office (usually located in the courthouse) and have them help you get started. I would call ahead to make sure someone knowledgeable is there when you arrive. This service is also free.
" Jackie

Making attar from rose hips is no easy task

I recently moved into a country house that has a dozen old and very large rosebushes. Can you tell me how (or if) I can make attar from rose hips?

Stephen Botts
Burlington, North Carolina

You make attar from fragrant rose petals. And it’s a long process for a very little attar. (This is the oily substance from which rose fragrance is obtained for the finest perfumes.) It takes 4-5 pounds of rose petals for an ounce of attar! And do you know how many petals there are in even one pound? You can’t just dump in the whole rose flower, either; it must be petals only.

To make the attar, place your rose petals in a large glass bowl and add enough fresh water to barely cover them. Place in a sunny spot for a week until a yellowish scum floats on the surface. This is attar. Carefully skim it up with a small spoon and deposit in a small jar. It won’t be much, but it will be precious.
" Jackie

Using powdered buttermilk

I was wondering about powdered buttermilk that I recently saw in the grocery store. I don’t drink milk so I never have it around, but I do like to bake, though not enough to use even a half gallon of milk or buttermilk up before it goes bad (I live alone too). I’ve never been happy with baking results from powdered milk; would the powdered buttermilk be better? Any tips for using it? Any suggestions for a good source? What I noticed at the store seemed to have a half inch of dust on top.

Carmen Hildebrand,
Fort Collins, Colorado

I’ve never had much of a problem using powdered milk, Carmen. Of course, fresh from the cow or goat is always best. I use buttermilk in a lot of recipes, although, like milk, I prefer fresh. Powdered buttermilk is nice and adds a nice rich taste to pancakes, biscuits, and many other things. You can get fresh powdered buttermilk in any large chain store, then if you wish you can freeze half of it to keep it the very freshest. But it does keep very well on your shelf for a long time.
" Jackie

Canning V-8 style juice

After Hurricane Katrina and losing the contents of our freezer and refrigerator, I am purchasing a pressure canner for future preserving. I’ve only done water bath preserving in the past, and I know that tomatoes have a high enough acidity to be able to water bath can tomato juice, but what about homemade V8 style with other vegetable juices in them? Also, I cannot find any reference for pressure and time for stuffed cabbage rolls. Should I just go with the pressure and time for the ground turkey I use?

Therese Hirko
Brandon, Mississippi

Glad you weathered the storm. And I’m happy to hear you’re getting a pressure canner to put up food for future emergencies and happier times, too.

Luckily, you can safely process V-8 style juice in a water bath canner. Here’s a recipe that is safe, and good too.

25 pounds tomatoes
3/4 cup diced carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. salt (optional)

Remove core of tomatoes and cut into large chunks. Combine with other ingredients in large pot and simmer, stirring often. Simmer 20 minutes. Run through a food mill or sieve to remove skins and seeds of tomatoes and mash other vegetables. Add salt. Reheat juice to 190 degrees. Pour into hot pint or quart jars. To each quart, add 2 Tbsp. lemon juice; to each pint, 1 Tbsp. Leave ¼ inch of head space. Process pints for 35 minutes and quarts for 40 minutes in a hot water bath.

I, too, began canning nearly all my food when a week-long storm took out the power and I lost a lot of the food in my freezer; not a nice thing to have happen to you. You’ll like many things home canned better than frozen. And once you put food in those jars, it’s good. No power outages, freezer burn, or other loss will steal your hard earned food.
" Jackie

Creamed horseradish

I am looking for a recipe for creamed horseradish you can can. We buy creamed horseradish all the time but I cannot seem to find a recipe to do it ourselves, just canned but not creamed.

Chris Mountain

I have never found a recipe for creamed horseradish either. But all I do is to grate fresh horseradish, then pack it in vinegar in the fridge. When I want creamed style horseradish, which we use a lot, I simply mix a teaspoon or so of the vinegared horseradish, with the vinegar drained off, into mayonnaise. Stir it well and you are in business.
" Jackie

Vacuum sealing seeds?

Can you vacuum seal vegetable seeds so they can be stored for a longer period of time and remain viable?

Kandis Armstrong
Colorado Springs, Colorado

I’ve done a little experimenting on this and I don’t find that the seeds stay viable any longer than seeds that are simply put into dry, airtight jars. Most seeds, such as corn, peas, beans, squash, pumpkins, broccoli, cabbage, radish, etc. remain healthy for years under optimum storage. I once planted six beans that had come from a clay pot in an Indian ruin. The pot of beans had been carbon dated back 1,500 years! Five of the six beans germinated and grew well. Seeds store much longer than most folks give them credit for lasting.

Small seeds with thin coats, such as celery, onion, and carrot tend to last shorter storage times, but I still had carrot seeds last year that were 10 years old. I planted them in a row thickly because I thought they might not germinate well because of their age. But then they came up like the hair on a dog and I had the miserable task of thinning carrots. And that’s a job I hate. I can’t stand to throw away plants.
" Jackie

Steer fat, used tea, skin cracks, and oatmeal bath

Couple of questions because you seem to know twice as much as the average anybody. I guess you have tried just about everything!

1. What use can I make of the fat trimmed off a home grown steer? I don’t make soap.

2. We drink a lot of tea (in tea bags). Other than tearing all the little bags apart to get the used leaves out, what can I use them for? I hate to throw anything away.

3. I constantly have skin cracks on my finger tips. I am afraid of getting infections when I do chores etc. What practical home remedy is there for getting these to heal up?

4. Someplace I read about using oatmeal (alveeno) for bathing soap. Any idea on how to do this?

Gail Erman
Palisade, Colorado

Ha! ME know anything? (Just ask my teenage son, David!)

Seriously, though, you can make lots of uses from the fat from your steer. First of all, we use beef fat to mix with our venison for hamburger. Some people use pork, but to us beef fat makes the meat taste better than pork and back when we used a freezer, the pork made the venison freezer burn quicker than the beef fat did.

If you don’t make soap, why not give it a crack. It’s so easy and fun to do too, especially when they have all the neat soapmaking supplies at every store on the block: scents, molds, colors. How about tallow candles? They’re also fun and burn well.

No go? Well you can tie a pound or two up in an onion bag for your feathered friends this winter and spring. The birds are your gardening helpers, eating so many bugs that eat your plants. These good bug eaters need meat during the winter too, and suet is much appreciated and needed. They’ll reward you by reducing bugs and caterpillars in your vegetable patch. We really enjoyed watching birds chase down cabbage moths on our broccoli rows.

Tea bags of used tea? They have plenty of uses. The tannic acid in them makes them healing. (You might try those on your cracked finger tips.) I used to run a team of huskies and when they ran long distances on crusty snow, sometimes they would wear the pads on their feet painfully. I put tea bags in their boots and let them lay around camp in them when I could. It really helped. I doubt if you have a dog team, but this works well on blisters, cuts, and bruises. It soothes and toughens skin. You can even put cool tea bags over your closed eyes after a hard day. It takes the puffiness and ache away. (It helps to listen to soothing music and soak your feet at the same time.)

More tips for the cracked fingers: mine used to do that every single winter. I did a lot with my gloves off because there are just so many chores that you do where gloves are in the way. (Did any of you ever try to milk with gloves on? Do barn hooks and latches?) I cured my problem by simply switching to Palmolive regular dish soap. Now don’t laugh. Weird, but it worked for me and later, my friends. Won’t hurt, might help. Nothing else would do it. Let me know.

I’ve heard of making soap with oatmeal in it, but never using straight oatmeal for bath soap; seems like you’d have a tub of cereal and you’d be the peach! The oatmeal in the soap soothes and scrubs at the same time, making a great addition of a bar of soap. You might try some with all that beef fat. Almond is a nice scent with oatmeal soap…. Good luck.
" Jackie

Canning moose and deer

I would like any info on canning moose & deer meat. I am fortunate enough to have a good friend that lives a subsistence life in Alaska. I did can salmon last year and I would like to can a lot of moose meat next year in order to ship it back to Georgia. I really am hesitant to experiment, since my time there will be limited. I need to know how to can the moose properly. I thought I might experiment on deer meat once I have the recipes.

Jimmy Crawford
Monticello, Georgia

I’ve canned a whole lot of wild meat: elk, deer, and moose. Basically, you can it up just like you do beef. The times and pressures are the same, which is 75 minutes for pints at 10 pounds pressure and 90 minutes for quarts. I have canned lots of meat raw, but have found that you get more meat in a jar and it ends up more tender if you pre-cook it first. I can up much of my meat as “stew meat,” as you can use it in so many different recipes. It can also easily be shredded for such recipes as barbecue beef and fajita meat. To do this, I use my huge cast iron frying pan on the wood range, and with minimal shortening I begin frying up the first batch of stew meat. While this cooks, I am also slicing slabs of meat and dicing it up in small pieces. Stirring the cooking meat once in awhile, until it begins browning, I continue to make piles of stew meat. Once the first pan of meat has cooked, I add water to cover and perhaps some powdered beef soup stock powder.

When the meat has simmered a few minutes, I dump the works in a big pot, add a little fresh grease to the frying pan and start frying down the next batch. This goes on until the pot holds about all my canner will process in one batch. (My huge old canner will do 9 quarts and 22 pints at one load.)

I reheat the pot of meat til it is all hot, then dip out the meat and pack it into my jars to within an inch of the top, ladling out enough of the broth to just cover it. The jars are then sealed and processed.

While this is going on, I prepare the next batch. Steaks and roasts are done by cutting the meat into pieces half an inch or one inch thick, that will slide into wide mouth jars. These are browned lightly and water and/or broth made with beef stock added as with the stewing meat.

You can raw pack your meat, as well, but as I’ve said, it really isn’t faster as you must heat the jars of meat after they are packed, before you process it. And it seems a little more tough than the meat you pre-cook and pack in liquid. But, here’s how you do it.

Pack the cold (not frozen) raw meat loosely in wide mouth jars for roasts and steaks; regular jars for stewing meat. Leave the jars open and place in a pot of hot water so that the boiling water cannot boil up into the jars of meat. Boil this pot until the meat reaches 170 degrees in the center of the most densely packed jar. Then add a tsp. salt to the quarts and a ½ tsp. to the pints and seal the jars. Do NOT add liquid. Process quarts for 90 minutes and pints for 75 minutes. This method is not now advised by experts because folks have “cheated” and not used a thermometer and processed raw meat that was not hot enough, ending up in bad food.

I DO question you saying you will ship this meat to yourself in Georgia. I have shipped home canned food several times, only to have rough handling of the boxes open the seals on jars of pickles and chili (some jars even broke.). Would it be safer for you to sharp freeze large chunks of boneless meat and pack them in a large cooler with dry ice, all in a heavy plastic bag, tape the cooler shut with duct tape and mail that home, instead? Many sportsmen do this, with excellent results. And it’s a whole lot harder to break a cooler than it is jars.

I also hope you’ve checked on game rules, as you don’t want to break laws regarding game meat shipping.
" Jackie

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