Even though our killing frost happened a couple of weeks ago, I’m still busy canning.  Some days, it’s a bit too busy.  For instance, two days ago I canned up spaghetti sauce, chili with dry kidney beans, carrots and left over canned from dry kidney beans.  Whew!  By the time I’d gotten Mom to bed, waited for the last batch of jars to cool down to zero in the canner, it was late late.

I’m not a night person, but sometimes, in the heat of canning season, they get that way.  And I’m kind of under pressure right now because I have all these baskets of tomatoes sitting on the floor of the new greenhouse ripening away pretty fast.  Every two days I’m doing a big batch of some tomato product, along with whatever else I need to get canned as well.

You remember the deer eaten rutabagas?  I canned those the same day I made another batch of spaghetti sauce.  Then my friends often call or drop by with their extras from the garden and I’m certainly not going to let their gifts go to waste.

And today, my sister Deb came to visit from Michigan bringing four big sacks of apples!  As our orchard is not yet bearing, I don’t have home raised apples, so I’ll be canning up these as well….besides what we eat fresh, of course!

But sometimes at late night, I’ll finally finish my last jars, throw a stick of wood into the kitchen stove and just stand there looking around the kitchen.  It’s usually messy, not finished (lacking cupboards yet), but cozy.  Restful.  A very satisfying feeling to carry off to bed.

The kitchen at night.

Readers’ questions:

Re-canning canned goods

We were recently given several # 10 cans of fruit and vegetables. Being a small family we would like to can the remainder after opening a can. Please tell us how to do this. Do we use the full time required to can the vegetables in the pressure canner, as if they were fresh? Thank you.

Pam Foster
Richfield, Minnesota

You can certainly re-can most #10 cans into smaller jars; I do it all the time when I can get them on a big sale.  For instance, I’ve bought  several for less than $1 each at surplus and fire damaged sales and re-canned them into more convenient sizes.  You can also dehydrate these cans, too.  This leaves the food less over-processed as a few foods tend to get when we re-can them.

Yes.  You do need to use the original time and directions for each food, as if you were canning fresh food.  Most often, you only need to reheat the food and pack it into hot jars, then seal and process.  You can also make convenience foods out of #`10 can contents, such as spahgetti sauce from tomato sauce/paste/puree, stew from mixed vegetables (along with meat or other fresh vegetables, as desired), and so on. Good eating! — Jackie

Curing bacon 

In a previous issue you answered a question from someone whose “bacon” tasted like fried pork. If curing the bacon is what gives it its distinctive taste, does that mean that other cuts of pork could
be cured to taste like bacon?
(I love lean bacon, but I’m not too fond of ham or pork. And there’s a feral pig I’d like to try my rifle on, but I don’t want to shoot it if I’m not going to eat it.)Thank you so much for your advice over the years! Thanks in part to your inspiration, this spring I finally took the plunge and bought 5 acres, complete with wild black raspberries, and my own trout stream!

Melanie Rehbein
Madison, WI

Congratulations on your new place!  That’s SO exciting!!!

Trust me: your own pork, even from a feral pig, smoked either at home or by a local small processor will taste SO MUCH better than store bought smoked pork that you won’t believe it.  When my oldest
stepdaughter got married, we butchered and smoked a whole hog and served that at the wedding reception.  The meat was awesome.

With home smoked (or meat smoked by a small processor) pork, it all tastes like lean bacon; hams, shoulders, the works.  Its drier than store ham, sweeter and a little more salty than the runny squishy
things they sell in most markets.

Go for it!  Just shoot the hog on a cool day and take care of the meat right away.  (But for heaven’s sake, make sure that pig IS feral and doesn’t belong to some neighbor.  Feuds have started with less than shooting someone else’s “wild” animal!) — Jackie