Two days ago, we finished our new pasture fence and moved our very large steers from the goat pasture over to their new summer home. I was a little nervous, as cattle sometimes get overjoyed with freedom and will buck and run. I hoped Will, David, and I could herd them. Will walked ahead of “his” boys with a bucket of grain, which they totally ignored, in favor of the wonderful green grass all around, but luckily, they herded slowly and very well down the lane, across the new seeding, and through the gate to their pasture. They love it and there’s sure plenty for them to eat. Whew! Another job well done!

Readers’ Questions:


Do you have a recipe for scrapple and can it be canned?

Mildred I. King
Bandera, Texas

Prepare a hog’s head, as if you were making headcheese, cleaning it well, scald it, skin it if necessary, split it in half. Remove the eyes, nasal passages, bones, etc. Discard the fatty jowl. Slice the thicker meat so it will cook quicker. Put the meat in your large kettle and add water, covering the meat. Simmer until the meat is falling from the bones. Let the kettle cool and skim all the fat from the liquid. Remove meat from the broth and let cool enough to handle. Pick the meat from the bones. Put the meat through a meat grinder. Depending on your preference, add either oatmeal or cornmeal (or a combination of both) to the broth to make a thick mush. Add the meat and mix well. (You want about 1 pound dry cornmeal/oatmeal to 3 pints broth and 4 quarts of chopped meat.) Season to taste. You may like black pepper, sage, onions, and mace. Mix very well and put into a covered roasting pan and put into the oven to cook for 1/2 hour at 250 degrees. Pour into chilled cake pans and let cool. You can cut it into meal-sized pieces when cool and freeze it for later use. No, it cannot be canned as it is too dense a product and the scrapple may not heat thoroughly to the center during processing for safe canning. — Jackie

Canning pasta

I just want to know if it is possible to home can cooked pasta, with or without sauce. I can my own sauce but want to know if pasta can be canned. If so, it would sure save water in a water shortage situation. I can’t find any recipe except for sauce. If a food processing company can make canned pasta, can it be done at home?

Sharon Kiesel
Adrian, Missouri

I’m sure it can, Sharon. In fact, I can chicken and noodles all the time. Macaroni and spaghetti also can up fine in sauce. Just don’t add too much pasta or you’ll get too dense a product that may possibly not heat thoroughly during processing. Just “cook” your pasta enough to get it mixed into the sauce and “limp”; macaroni doesn’t need cooking, as it will cook during canning. — Jackie

Canning pepperoni

I found some pepperoni that is 3″ across and I can put it in wide mouth 1/2 pint jars for canning. There is NO room left in the jar, except for the 1/2″ at the top. Will that be a problem?

Also, how do I keep these jars from “floating” in the pressure canner? They won’t be heavy enough to stay put. I have thought of using my jar racks (I have 2) from my boiling water bath canner to help corral them in the pressure canner. Could I “stack” them in the canner?  I have a round cookie rack I can separate the canning racks with. HELP here, any thoughts?

I have one canning lid that was left in water too long….it got a rusted place on the inside (white part) of the lid…can I re-heat it and use it? Or will the rust affect what I have canned in the jar?

J from Missouri

No, I don’t think so; as the pepperoni heats, the fat in it melts and the meat shrinks, so all of a sudden you have plenty of room for heat to penetrate. After all, half-pint jars are NOT very large!
I’ve never had pepperoni float, but if your canner needs more water than mine, or the rack lets the water float the jars, simply put a rack of some kind over the rack (muffin tin, cake pan, anything to raise the jars a bit). I do think your pepperoni will weigh enough to keep the jars down. Remember to leave 1″ of headspace at the top of the jars.

For your rusted lid, I think I’d wash it, scrub the rust off, then use it to seal a jar of dry or dehydrated food; moisture in canned food might cause the rust to get bad inside your jar. — Jackie

Dry beans

How “old” do you consider dry beans as being too old? I have some that have been vacuum packed for a couple of years.

Betty Anderson
Berryville, Arkansas

Well, I am canning dry pintos and kidney beans that are 15 years old, and they are turning out very well. And they were just stored in tins and gallon glass jars. Beans are really great! In fact, I’ve eaten some beans that were carbon dated back 1,500 years that were from an old Indian ruin, in New Mexico, sealed in a pottery jar with a wooden lid and pine pitch. They tasted fine, although we didn’t eat many of them, in order to save seed! — Jackie

Prefab fiberglass root cellar

Read an old article on line…regarding a prefab fiberglass root cellar made by the Homestead Company in Missouri. It seems you dig a small hole put the unit in and cover with dirt. Our land is mostly ledge and we thought we could dig down a little and the cover the unit with dirt. The problem is have been unable to locate the company or find a comparable item. Any suggestions.

Brad Barrie
Strong, Maine

Some folks have used large plastic septic tanks, with a little “retrofitting” for an entrance door. You can also use a large concrete septic tank, partially above ground, as you talk about. Another option, although more expensive, is a prefab emergency shelter. Of course, do it yourselfers can use block and cement and make their own root cellar, insulated with above-ground dirt. — Jackie


Two questions about rhubarb:
1. Can rhubarb that has “gone to seed” be eaten, or is it too late in the season?
2. This past spring the rhubarb in my garden came up and was doing well. The weather turned cold and the rhubarb froze. I was told that I can’t use the rhubarb because the oxalic acid in the leaves has gone into the stalk so now the stalks are now poisonous. Do you know anything about this?

Lone Rock, Wisconsin

If the stalks are firm and healthy looking, they didn’t freeze enough to do them damage. No, they aren’t poisonous. And you can use rhubarb after it has sent up seed stalks. First, pull the seed stalks. Then use the stalks that are smaller, as the large ones could be getting tougher, but usually aren’t so tough that you can’t can them. — Jackie


  1. Well, our fairs start next week so I will get way behind on reading “Ask Jackie” No internet and just plain to tired after a 14 to 16 hour day. But we sell lots of almonds.

  2. When I read you say discard jowls I thought I would comment about that. We work in the pork industry and see people use different parts of the hog for various things. The jowls some make into bacon. We also ground it up into 50% for sausage. The old timers I read with the bones used to mix it with ashes and water and soak… Then they would crush the bones and ash and said it was one of the best fertilizers.

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