We have more blooms on all of our wild fruits this spring than we ever had before. The pin cherries, wild plums, strawberries, chokecherries, Juneberries, and, of course, the star of the north woods, the blueberries are just covered with blossoms! Our whole ridge looks snow-covered some days. Now if we don’t get a late freeze to kill the blossoms, or a drought to dry up the fruit before we can harvest it, we should have a great abundance of wild fruits to can and make jams, jellies, and preserves out of.

Years like this make us stand back and sigh with amazement. Just look at these blueberries!


Readers’ Questions:

Canning Jalapenos

How do you can jalapenos?

Donna Guthrie
Phenix City, Alabama

You can can jalapenos just like you would any other pepper, pressure canning them. But most folks prefer them pickled to retain the crunch. I do for sure. To do them canned, you first remove the stem, core, and seeds, wearing rubber gloves to keep from getting your fingers burned. Remove the skins by dropping them in boiling water for a few minutes, then dipping them out and plunging them into cold. Or you can roast them on the grill until the skins are blackened in spots, then place in a bag to steam for a few minutes. Again, plunge them into cold water to loosen the skins. Peel. Then pack into hot jars. Add 1 tsp. salt to each pint or 1/2 tsp. to each half pint. Also add 1 Tbsp. vinegar to each pint. Ladle boiling water over peppers, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles. Process half pints and pints for 35 minutes at 10 pounds pressure (unless you live at an altitude over 1,000 feet and must adjust your pressure to suit your altitude; consult your canning book for directions.)

As I’ve said, most folks pickle them instead, as it retains the crunch; pressure canned jalapenos get kind of soft. To pickle them, you will need a gallon of peppers, 1 1/2 cups pickling salt, 1 gallon water, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 cup water, and 5 cups vinegar.

Wash and drain peppers. Cut 2 small slits in each pepper. Dissolve salt in 1 gallon cold water. Pour over peppers. Let stand overnight in cool place. Rinse and drain. Add sugar and 1 cup vinegar. Simmer 15 minutes. Pack peppers into hot, sterilized jars. Pour boiling pickling liquid over peppers, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes. If you live at an altitude over 1,000 feet, consult your canning book for directions on increasing your processing time to suit your altitude, if necessary.

Enjoy your peppers! We do! — Jackie

Sloppy Joe recipe for canning

Do you have a recipe for manwich or sloppy joe sauce? We seem to use a lot of that stuff and thought we might could can it ourselves and save money if we had a recipe. We have learned so much from you already, and we appreciate all your advice. We would love to meet you someday.

Wayne Leamon
Old Fort, Tennessee

When I make sloppy joes, I use half a pint of regular home canned barbecue sauce and half a pint of seasoned regular tomato sauce. If you want it to “stick” more and be sweeter, like the store sauce, add corn syrup to taste. It’s the corn syrup that gives it the stick and smooth, shiny consistency.

The barbecue sauce recipe I use is:

4 qts. peeled, cored tomatoes
2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups chopped, seeded sweet peppers
1 cup brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp. chili paste
1 cup vinegar

Combine vegetables in large saucepan and simmer until soft. Puree. Simmer puree until reduced by half, being careful to stir and keep from scorching. Add spices and remaining ingredients. Simmer, stirring frequently to prevent scorching until thickened. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Process pints for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. — Jackie

Canned deviled ham

Is there a recipe to make your own home canned devil ham, like the little tins ones in store that you pay an arm and a leg for? I just bought two large hams for next to nothing and am not sure what to do with them.

Lisa Avila
Gifford, Washington

I don’t have a recipe for deviled ham, but I have canned up a whole lot of ham and it is excellent. I can up the larger chunks in broth and then dice up the smaller pieces and can them in half pints and pints to use in recipes. You could easily drain a half pint of ham dices and mash it up with mayonnaise and spices to suit your taste for your own deviled ham spread. It will be a whole lot tastier than store canned ham spread, for sure! — Jackie

Canning bear meat stew

A neighbor gave us a small bear. Husband Bill is in the kitchen cutting as I write. He thinks he saw a recipe in one of the magazines for canned bear meat stew. Canning bear meat would be ok too. We are getting tired of losing alot of food to freezer outages.

Mary Clementz
Carmen, Idaho

You make bear stew just like beef stew, so use your own favorite recipe and can it up, processing the stew at 10 pounds pressure (if you live over 1,000 feet, consult your canning book for directions in increasing your pressure to suit your altitude, if necessary), doing pints for 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes.

Likewise, you can process the bear meat just like you would beef, pork, or venison. It all makes excellent eating. Lucky you! — Jackie

Peeling fresh hard boiled eggs

I know I can get an answer from you. We are remodeling and can’t locate our back issues at this time. We have fresh eggs now and when I cook them for egg salad etc. they fall apart and are hard to peel. What am I doing wrong and how do I fix it.

Sheryl Welz
Monroe, Wisconsin

Fresh eggs ARE harder to peel; no doubt. I wish I had a quick, easy, sure fix for you. There are a lot of “cures”, but I’ve tried ’em all and this is what I do: I put the eggs in cold water and bring them to a boil. Then turn off the heat and let stand 15 minutes. Drain off the water, then bounce them up and down in the pan, like they were popcorn. This cracks the shells. Then rinse well in a couple of rinses of cold water to cool the eggs and finally let them set in the cold water for about 3 hours in the fridge. This lets the water seep into the cracks and around under the shell. Then peel as usual, trying to slip your fingernail under the membrane between the shell and egg white. They may be harder to peel, but just think of how much better FRESH eggs taste and are good for you than old store eggs! — Jackie

Canning with old zinc rings and railroad ties for raised beds

We have been canning our own food for a few years now. To save some money we hit the auctions looking for canning jars and other goodies. On one of our trips we landed 5 big boxes of mixed jars, and 2 milk crates with the old glass and zinc rings. Have you ever used the zinc rings? Do you think it would be safe to use them? Do you know how to use them? (If you were wondering we paid $17.50 for all of it.)

In Issue #117 May/June 2009 you talked about raised bed gardens. You used old railroad ties for them. We heard you shouldn’t use them for eatibles because of the stuff, (poisons) that leach out of them. Are they safe to use? We got phone poles for beds then we heard that it was not safe to use them.

Shawn and Karen Moore
Ada, Ohio

It’s best not to use the old zinc lids for canning. I use mine to store jars full of dehydrated foods, spices, and herbs. The reason for this is that you can’t tell when the jars are truly sealed or not. With the “modern” two piece lids and rings, the lid indents and stays that way when the jar seals. One look and touch and you know for sure that your jar is sealed. If you do use them for canning, you need to buy new rubber rings to use under them each canning season. I would recommend that you only use them to can fruits, jams, jellies, pickles, and other high acid foods. If unsealed, they might mold or ferment but won’t develop bacteria that will make you sick.

There is a lot of debate about this issue. I, personally, don’t feel that enough “toxins” leach out of used railroad ties to keep from using them in garden beds. A lot of folks have, for a lot of years, that I know and they remain very healthy in old age. But there are others who are horrified to see them used in garden beds. You’ll have to research this and make your own decision. To be absolutely safe, use untreated logs (which will rot after several years) or concrete blocks or large rocks. — Jackie


  1. Jackie, Here is the recipe that I use for Sloppy Joes that everyone raves about. I have not tried to can it, but I’m sure you could if you leave out the meat. 2 lbs ground meat. I use home dehydrated bell peppers and run them through my grinder. I use a small coffee grinder only for spices and herbs. This works great to hide things in food from my kids.

    Dried onion and bell peppers (ground)
    Garlic powder
    1 – 6oz can tomato paste
    ¼ cup cider vinegar
    ¼ cup brown sugar
    Salt and pepper
    1 tsp chili powder
    1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
    ½ – 1 cup water

  2. I can’t believe you’all don’t know the the needle trick. Puncture the round end of the egg (that’s where the air bubble is) to let the air escape from the egg ( I use a sort of ‘drilling’ action with the needle to make a hole without cracking around the edges)before putting it in cold water. Bring to a boil. turn off heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Perfect eggs. I always peel from the the round top down. I roll the eggs with a little pressure to break the egg shell into small pieces all over. Once you get under the membrane, it all peels off like a banan skin (almost). The reason old eggs peel easier than fresh eggs is the air inside the shell slowly leaks out over time, releasing the prssure that holds the contents tight against the shell.

  3. I tend to agree with Linda and I am getting bumper crops of everything but the elderberries that were severly pruned last year. Especially plums and pears.

  4. Yep steaming the eggs works! I friend told me about this neat hint and I tried it before posting on a message board. Try it Jackie!!

  5. I have been told, when there are many more blossoms than usual. It is Mother Natures way of beparing us and her many friends for a rough winter.

  6. I recently learned a new trick to peeling my fresh eggs. I’ve tried about everything in the past to no avail. Anyway, I was reading on a message board that someone steams them for 20 minutes. I thought yeah, yeah another trick but I had to try it just in case. I was so surprised when it WORKED!!! The shells slipped right off just like those old storebought ones! It was easy and my steamer basket holds a dozen eggs perfectly.

  7. I don’t know if this will work with very fresh eggs but it does with storebought. Lower room temp eggs into already boiling water and boil about 10 minutes. Than drain, shake to crack and peel under cold water. Start in the middle, if possible.

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