We’re finishing up the harvest and getting the fields ready for winter. I also spotted a rainbow out by our apple orchard that I wanted to share with you. Here’s a video of it all.

Readers’ Questions:

Making baby formula

I would like to know how to make baby formula from evaporated milk?

Leona Martel
Wausau, Wisconsin

This is one “old time” recipe I wouldn’t advise you to use. While generations of babies, including ME, have been raised on it, which consisted of evaporated milk, Karo syrup and water, it is now not advised as it is not nutritionally complete and can damage the kidneys and cause dehydration, should the baby become ill and not be able to take adequate formula to keep the electrolytes balanced. Better yet, and older still, is good old Mom’s milk! — Jackie

Heating with kerosene

I live in the Cleveland, Ohio area where winters get COLD. I am from Memphis, originally. In one of the articles in the Survival issue you guys mentioned having kerosene stoves available and a 55-gallon drum of kerosene for about 2 months use. Are there any that are safe for indoor use, and can one hook up a vent to the outside? Do you have any suggestions as to brands or types. Besides worrying about the economy, I am really concerned about heating this winter up here.

John Harper
Peninsula, Ohio

I’ll trade you “cold”! Ha ha ha. We get -55 here! But I do understand you concern. Unfortunately, kerosene has taken a huge leap in price. Sound familiar? Now a better alternative for you would be a direct vent propane wall heater. We have one in Mom’s room for when nights get too cold for the wood stove to keep her toasty. She likes it 85 degrees. You can get them that do not run on electricity, nor require electricity to operate safely. They are great for emergencies and will keep you warm. So far, propane is the “cheapest” heating fuel, although not really “cheap” anymore, for sure! — Jackie

High altitude canning

I live at about 7,000 ft altitude and have canned successfully for many years – but never meat. I tried some sloppy joes yesterday – processed at 15 lbs pressure for 75 minutes/pints. The mixture has a definite burnt taste after processing. I wanted to try to can quite a few meat mixtures because I would like to not have so much meat in my freezers but am not happy with the burnt/overcooked taste. Is this something you just have to put up with at altitude or am I doing something wrong?

Cathy Edens
La Veta, Colorado

I had that trouble sometimes, too, when we lived at 7,400 feet in Montana. I found that when you use tomato products, especially those containing sugar, it could have that “scorched” taste. For this reason, I pretty much canned my meat with broth instead of tomato sauce containing sugar. It didn’t seem as the tomato sauce without it scorched during processing like the stuff with sugar. You may have to just can your meat and tomato sauce separately, then just dump the jars together into a pan at serving. — Jackie

Protecting grain from weevils

You advocate storing bulk grain for survival use throughout the year. How can the contents of a tight container be protected from grain weevils? Insecticides are out. Any type of gas such as chlorine or ammonia that would kill any bugs trapped within and leave the grain still fit for human consumption? I have wheat and corn to protect.

Howard Wright
Tullahoma , Tennessee

Generally if you will place your airtight storage buckets in the freezer for a few days, you will kill any grain weevil eggs or possible insects. If these are a problem in your kitchen or pantry, pick up a few pantry moth traps, available through many garden supply catalogs, such as GardensAlive!. They really work and the fewer moths, the fewer weevils in your food. — Jackie

Making potato flour and canning cheese

I would like to learn how to make potato flour from my own home grown potatoes. Do you know how to do this or where I could fine this information?

Also I am very interested in learning how you can cheese? We have a milk cow who gives 7 1/2 gallons a day. Do you use a water bath or pressure canner?

Connie Russell
Dixonville, Alberta

To make potato flour, simply dehydrate potato slices by slicing peeled potatoes, steam blanching them for 3 minutes, then dehydrate until brittle. Once this has been done, whiz them in your blender until the desired consistency has been reached. Then again dry the flour, using a fruit leather tray liner, to ensure complete dryness before storage. Any moisture will cause the flour to mold.

While home canning cheese is considered by some to be “experimental” canning, many books have been written with cheese canning recipes, and a whole lot of people have been canning this high acid (lactic acid) food with good results. I dice up hard cheese and pack it into wide mouth pint and half pint jars, placed in water half way up the open jar, in a roasting pan on the stove. The water gets hot, like a double boiler, and the cheese melts. As it melts, I add more until the jar is full, leaving half an inch headroom. The jars are then wiped clean, a hot, previously simmered lid is placed on them, the ring tightened firmly tight and the jars are then processed in a water bath canner for 40 minutes. I have pressure canned cheese, but the cheese gets a too-done flavor; not burned, but like the browned cheese on top of a pizza. — Jackie

Canning Pumpkin and sweet potatoes

I can’t find any information on pureed pumpkin or sweet potatoes to can. I know I have to pressure can them but I’m not sure how long to process them.

Nicole Bramm
Narvon, Pennsylvania

The FDA does not recommend canning pureed pumpkin or sweet potatoes any longer. It seems that some people did not heat the thicker puree enough before canning them and a bad product resulted. Instead, you can dice your pumpkin into 1″ peeled pieces, bring them to a boil in water, then pack into hot jars to within a 1/2″ of the top, pouring boiling cooking liquid to cover to within 1/2″ of the top of the jars. Process for 90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure in a pressure canner (unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet and must adjust your pressure to suit you altitude; consult your canning manual for directions, if necessary). When you want to use the pumpkin, simply drain and puree before use and use as you wish. — Jackie

Canning Achiote seasoning paste

Is it possible to can Achiote seasoning paste? The recipe is a combination of ground spices, garlic, salt, vinegar and flour. It’s so thick I’m not sure if it is safe to can, which process to use and for how long to process. I would like to use 4 oz. jars.

Stacie Lancaster
Manhattan, Kansas

You’re right; because it is thick and thickened with flour, it isn’t a good candidate for canning. — Jackie


  1. “I have pressure canned cheese, but the cheese gets a too-done flavor; not burned, but like the browned cheese on top of a pizza. ”

    I LOVE that browned cheese from the top of a pizza! How long and at what pressure?

  2. Becky,

    It depends on the situation. I was lucky; I watered that corn early the morning of the hard freeze and it kind of saved the corn, even though the plants sure took a hit. To check, open an ear and pop a kernel with your thumbnail. If it is tender and the juice is clear, it’s fine to eat or can. However, if the juice is thick or there isn’t any juice, or the kernels are denting, it’s too late for sweet corn to eat or can. If it is mature, you can dry it, either for cornmeal or seed. (Remember that hybrid corn won’t come true to it’s parent corn, but it will be edible and probably good, too.)


  3. Jackie,
    Is corn still good to eat and can after a hard frost? I see in your video harvesting and I know you have had cold nights. I still have some corn in the garden but thought I would just leave it and let it dry for seed.
    Let me know.

  4. Hi Jackie,

    I have been dehydrating potatoes and some of them turned purple. I may need to blanch longer. However, I read in a dehydrating ‘canning’ book to also dip the potato slices after blanching in lemon juice or Fruit Fresh solution to keep them from turning. I haven’t tried it yet, but will with the next batch of potatoes and let you know if it worked.


  5. Hi Jackie!

    I love seeing your video blogs and I just wanted to say your orchard looks wonderful! It’s October and your grass is GREEN! Ours is brown in SW MO so I’m green with envy. Your homestead looks great and I can’t wait to see more.

    P.S. I really enjoyed reading your Starting Over book. Since I’m a new subscriber I wasn’t up to date on your adventure. I can’t wait for your new garden/canning book! Denise

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