During the past 2 weeks, we’ve had three sets of twins, including 3 bucklings and 3 doelings to go along with our new baby donkey. Everybody is healthy and growing like weeds. It’s so much fun to just stand and watch them all bounce around and play king of the hill on the milking stand.

Will is enlarging our spring catchment basin so we will have a huge storage of water to irrigate our new, larger garden, orchard, and berry patch. Today, he plowed the new 100’x50′ berry patch, which last week was wooded and covered with old logging debris. It was a brutal job, as there were plenty of stumps, big rocks, and tree roots. I was glad I was discing our garden, which also was plowed for the first time. But it had been rototilled, so it wasn’t nearly as bad as the berry patch!


We planted several new apple, pear, and cherry trees this spring, in the orchard, and today I spread old horse manure around each one. They look so nice. I can hardly wait for them to bloom and leaf out! I remember when my “orchard” was so rocky, full of brush and old logs! And that was only last spring! Wow, look what a bunch of work will do!

Readers’ Questions:

Freezing corn on the cob

I want to start freezing corn on the cob this summer and looking for a way to freeze it that will let it stay nice and crisp like it does when fresh picked. I’ve tried some corn on the cob frozen and after heating it ,it gets mushy with the crispy gone. Is there any freezing method that will leave the kernel crisp like fresh corn?

Fred Hutson
Lakeland, Florida

Sorry, but frozen corn on the cob just isn’t like fresh corn. I much prefer my corn cut off the cob and canned, but you can freeze it that way, too and you’ll like it better. I know my canned corn tastes just like it was picked this morning! — Jackie

Canning dairy-based sauces

What is the best way to can dairy-based sauces?

Sam Makram
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

I’m not sure what sauces you mean. I haven’t had any luck canning a basic white sauce such as you would use for cream of mushroom soup, etc.. But I routinely can processed cheese sauce I buy in #10 cans. This I heat up and pack in half pint and pint jars, leaving 1/2″ of headspace, then water bath process it for 60 minutes. This is “experimental” canning, as the experts have no information on it, they advise against it. — Jackie

Growing all of your own food

Considering you grow/raise just about all your own food, can you provide a list of grocery items you still purchase from the store?

Liberty Lake, Washington

It kind of depends on the time of year and situation; for instance, right now we have 3 doe goats fresh, but are feeding the kids on the milk, as there are 3 sets of twins, so I’m buying butter, cottage cheese, and yogurt. Soon I won’t, when they are sold or weaned.

I buy some pasta, a little fresh meat (we sometimes get tired of canned everything and fresh is nice from time to time). I buy a little fresh fruit if it’s from the U.S., a few “goodies,” especially for Mom, to spark her appetite, fruit juice, a little pop, sugar, some unbleached flour, yeast, pet food, toilet paper, dish detergent, and bleach. I’m sure there are a few more things, but our grocery list is pretty short and I don’t spend long in the store for sure! — Jackie

Freezing dried beef

I know I can freeze dried beef and I swear I saw somewhere that it can be canned — but my question is — can you can it without any liquid in it? I buy mine by the pound at the Amish Market here and would really like to stock up on it for that good ole SOS.

Wanda Towles
Laurel, Maryland

I have canned both dried beef and my jerky, without liquid, of course. It is not an “approved” canning method, but it works for me. I simply fill the jars…not packing it too densely, then put on a hot, previously simmered lid and process at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes for pints unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet and must adjust your pressure to suit your altitude; consult your canning manual for directions. — Jackie

Keeping lard

Can lard (hog fat) be kept on a shelf for long periods of time? Will it work in place of shortening?

Jenny Tooman
Hiram, Missouri

Lard will go rancid, kept on a shelf, uncanned, for a long period of time. Yes, it will certainly work in place of shortening; that’s what people used before shortening was invented. That and butter. Lard is best frozen or canned and stored in a cool dark place until used. — Jackie

Storing yeast

You mentioned in the recent issue of BHM that it was possible to store flour. What about yeast? Does anything happen to the taste? What kind of container should be used? What temperatures are acceptable? Summers are incredibly hot down here, and the temperature skyrockets in my pantry off the garage.

Gloria Garretson
Sumrall, Mississippi

You can store yeast, but for a lesser time than many other foods. I’ve had frozen, vacuum-packed bags of yeast last for more than 3 years in the freezer, two years, unopened on the shelf, and opened for a year, in a canning jar (uncanned) on the kitchen shelf. Of course, the cooler the better. Perhaps you might keep your unfrozen yeast in the fridge to help it last longer. — Jackie

Storing rice

I have two questions. First, when storing parboiled white rice like what can be bought from Sam’s Club, do you have to store it in an oxygen-free environment to keep larva from hatching or can it be stored in regular Rubbermaid containers for long periods of time? Secondly, will your new canning guide have cheese, butter, and the other experimental canning you do in it?

Challis Moffitt
Ramseur, North Carolina

Yes, you can keep pre-cooked white rice in a regular food grade plastic (or glass) container, as long as it is airtight and insect proof. Being pre-boiled, any insect eggs have been killed. You just need to prevent any future infestations by keeping insects out.

Yes, the new canning book will have “experimental” canning, including milk, cheese, butter, etc. in it. I debated on it, as it is a red flag to many experts out there, but Dave decided heartily to have it included. So it is. — Jackie


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