Will and I are still much feeling the effects of our fall off the roof, but we’re keeping on plugging along. Today, I’m washing clothes. As it’s raining, I’m cheating and using our propane dryer; don’t think I could handle hanging clothes yet — too much bending and straightening up. But soon, I hope. The clothes just smell so much better when I hang them on our lines outdoors.

The tomatoes are ripening very quickly, so tomorrow we plan on making a big batch of spaghetti sauce. I can’t wait. Luckily, Will is going to turn the tomato strainer crank for me. We can well together!

Readers’ Questions:

Canning peaches

I am canning peaches. When I put them in the canner the quart jars looked full. When I took them out they were 2/3 to 3/4 full. Apparently the juice inside leaked out during the water bath canning. Am I filling my jars too full or is it something else? How do I correct this? I don’t know about the area you live in but in Southern Michigan peaches are very expensive this year due to the spring freeze. I told my husband good reason to plant some trees. Would you recommend the semi dwarf trees or the standard?

Ruth Ann Martin
Kalamazoo, Michigan

I’d guess you are filling your jars too full. I’m guilty of that one, especially when I have a lot to do in a hurry. Your peaches will be fine, as long as the jars are sealed because peaches have plenty of syrup in the jars, even when some has blown out.

As peaches are normally semi-dwarf in size, I’d go ahead and plant standard varieties, as the rootstock is often quite a bit hardier and less prone to wind-blown damage. — Jackie

Blood in goat milk

My problem is a goat who first time kidded 3 months ago, she had twins 7 hours apart, second kid was dead. She refused to nurse the kid which was okay since we would milk her and bottle feed the kid. There is blood in the milk on one side. Vet says she does not have mastitis. The milk does not taste bad. She gets milked twice daily. Is this something I should give up on? We have 4 other hand milked goats that give great milk.

Sandie aka exasperated
Cocoa, Florida

Did your vet check the milk with a mastitis test kit? Some vets don’t consider an animal having “mastitis” unless the milk is chunky like pieces of cottage cheese, or stringy. And if he didn’t test it, there’s no real way, other than guessing, to tell. Pick up a California Mastitis Test kit at your local farm store and test her milk. If it’s okay, she might just have a tiny broken blood vessel, like when you have blood in your mucus when you blow your nose. Then the milk is okay, although I milk into two containers, saving the non-bloody milk to use. A lot of people just use it, but I’m fussy, I guess! Some mastitis cases don’t develop the chunky/stringy milk, but respond well to a course of antibiotics. — Jackie

Canning horseradish

Yesterday I canned 4 lbs. of horseradish. I washed it, I ground it and then canned it in vinegar and a bit of salt. It was soooo potent my eyeballs were on fire. Today we opened a jar and it is absolutely tasteless. The only taste is vinegar! No bite at all, not even a little. What happened?

Karen Chakerian
Breckenridge, Texas

I don’t have a clue! I’ve never had that happen before. I’d wait awhile and taste it again; perhaps it will develop more fire as it mellows in the jars. — Jackie

Canning meat recipes

I just started canning meat and was wondering if I could make up my own recipes or do I need to follow the Ball canning book? I know the times are important but I would like to do my own recipes.

Stephanie Sheriff
Eastanollee, Georgia

If you process your recipes in the method and for the length of time required for any one ingredient (usually meat), it will be fine. Almost all recipes containing meat need to be processed at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes (pts) or 90 minutes (quarts). If you live at an altitude above 1,000, consult your canning book for directions on increasing your pressure to suit your altitude if necessary.

You also might take a look at my new canning book for a whole lot more usable recipes than found in many other books, including the Ball Blue Book. — Jackie

Canning peppers

Jackie, It’s funny, I never thought I’d ever really need to ask you a question! Not pride, but I’ve been doing this for a while and never had this happen. I pickled pepperoncinis today and some chili peppers separately. I slit the pepperoncinis a few times and packed them tightly in the jars. Filled with the vinegar mixture and topped them off with some EVOO. After processing the liquid went down at least a cup! First what happened? Secondly, are they ok or do I need to refrigerate and do them over? It’s only 2 qts and they can easily be stored in the frig…but what went wrong? Did the peppers soak up the vinegar mixture? Thanks. I’ve also been enjoying your new book!

Diane Coe
Glenwood, Maryland

Probably, the closely packed peppers filled some spaces that the vinegar needed to boil in, and thus, the vinegar solution boiled out of the jars near the end of the processing. I would probably open the jars, add more vinegar, then refrigerate them. Sometimes, dry peppers, such as these, can turn an ugly color, when left out of the vinegar. — Jackie

Pomegranate hot pepper jelly

I have been trying to find a pomegranate hot pepper jelly recipe, to no avail. So I thought I could just make a pomegranate jelly and put one or two hot peppers in. The recipe I would use is 4 cups of pomegranate juice, 7 1/2 c. of sugar, juice of 2 lemons and 1 box of pectin. Then I would add 1 or 2 chopped hot peppers to this recipe. Would this work? I am only in my 2nd year of doing this and I feel I don’t know a thing!

Bea Ward
St. Paris, Ohio

Yes, you can. I added chopped jalapeno peppers to my pin cherry jelly, boiling the peppers in the juice, then straining them out when tender. It added a great, spicy, sweet taste to a couple of batches of my cherry jelly that we love! — Jackie

Canning Hungarian goulash

I just read your recipe for Hungarian goulash. It sounds good but do you have to remove the vegetables? I can understand the bay leaf but why the vegetables?

Nancy Foster
Dallas City, Illinois

You remove the bay leaf and discard it. Then you dip out the vegetables to pack into your jars. Ladle the “juice”/sauce over the vegetables to cover them. It’s easier this way than trying to dip out vegetables with the sauce, in order to get a more uniform end product. Sorry if this was confusing to you. — Jackie


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