Our onions did so much better this year. Last year, most of our onions went double and many had soft neck rot, due to the rain and cold growing conditions. This year, we grew only yellow varieties, as the whites were most affected last year. And we grew in a different spot in the garden, as the soft neck rot could have been caused by disease. We had nearly all single onions, both the Copra and Yellow Stuttgarters. They did wonderfully, and we harvested about 60 pounds. As it has been a very rainy year, getting them cured was a challenge. We poured them on a tarp in the front yard during sunny days and gathered them up in the evenings and during rainy days. After about a week they were about ready. But we didn’t want rot, so we held them in a plastic tub, in the greenhouse, for another week, then cut the dry tops off of them and tossed a couple of soft ones into the compost pile. We put them in bushel baskets, then let them sit another week in the warm greenhouse. Now they’re perfectly dry and down in the pantry where I’ll go to pick onions out for recipes all winter. We DO love our onions. And they’re good for us, too! I’ve already harvested about 25 pounds, during the summer, both to use in the kitchen and to use in various canning recipes. Are we happy? You bet we are!

Readers’ Questions:

Remember readers, that you can search my old blogs to answer some of your questions quicker. Here’s how:
• Go to my blog
• At the top right of the screen you will see the date and time. Below that you will see a google search box. Below that you will see a box entitled “search blogs.”
• Type in key words to search and hit “enter” or “search blogs.”
• You now have a list of blog entries that address your search. Just click on them and start reading!

Stacking jars in the canner

I can butter in 1/2 pint wide mouth jars. Is it possible to put 6 jars in the jar rack, place a round metal cookie drying rack over the top and then place another jar rack with 6 jars on top of that if I make sure the top layer has 1 inch of water over the tops of the jars?

J from Missouri

Yes you can; I do it very often with all of my canning to get more done, quicker.  — Jackie

Pickled carrots and rhubarb pie filling

Do you have a canning recipe for pickled carrots and rhubarb pie filling?

Carole-Anne Hopkins
Riverton, Wyoming

Yes, I do. Here they are for you to try:

10 pounds small carrots
1 quart vinegar
1 quart sugar
Spice bag:
1 Tbsp stick cinnamon
1 Tbsp whole cloves
1 Tbsp whole allspice
Boil young carrots until skins slip. Slip skins, slice, or leave whole. Make spiced syrup of remaining ingredients and pour boiling hot over the carrots. Let stand overnight, then bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes. Remove spice bag. Pack carrots into a hot jar and cover with boiling syrup, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. If you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, consult your canning book for instructions on increasing your processing time to suit your altitude, if necessary.

9½ cups cut up rhubarb stalks
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
5/8 cup ClearJel
1 cup water
4Tbsp lemon juice

Wash rhubarb then cut into ¾ inch pieces. Place in stock pot. Pour 2 cups of water over the rhubarb. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Drain the rhubarb reserving the liquid. Set hot rhubarb aside. Combine sugar, Clear Jel, 1 cup water, and reserve liquid in sauce pan. Heat on medium high while stirring until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice. Stir the thickened mixture into the hot rhubarb pieces. Ladle into hot jars leaving 1-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims. Adjust two piece lids. Process in boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes. Enjoy your new recipes! — Jackie

Reheating home canned foods

In regards to the rule that home canned food be heated for 10 minutes before serving…..does that apply to applesauce? My family likes it COLD so do I cook it and then chill it? What about applebutter? Haven’t we cooked those poor apples enough? And can you tell me how long to water bath butter? Hope you are making headway with all your canning.

J from Missouri

Because apples and applesauce are high acid foods, they do not need to be heated before eating. This just applies to low acid foods, such as vegetables and meat, that must be pressure canned for safety. I water bath process my butter for 60 minutes.

Yes, I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with my must-do canning. Our garden was tremendously productive this year, and my pantry is getting nicely fat! Now I’m thinking about canning up more dry beans and making more meals-in-a-jar. — Jackie

Canning lard

What are the proper times and methods for canning lard, tallow, and bear grease?

Farmington, Missouri

I’ve never canned tallow or bear grease, but with lard, if you ladle off your hot lard, following rendering, pouring it into hot canning jars, then wipe the rim of the jars clean and put on a hot, previously simmered lid and screw down the ring firmly tight, the jars will seal and the lard will remain fresh for a long time in a cool, dark place. I’m sure both tallow and bear grease, rendered, would be the same. — Jackie

Failed seals on jars

I had canned hot peppers and hotdogs with a ketchup sauce, the jars came unsealed after a week or two. Is there any I can do? Should I dump them all out? I did not use a hot water bath, just made sure the jars were hot and the sauce I put on.

Michele Shay
Rowlesburg, West Virginia

Sorry, but you should dump the jars after they came unsealed. You really need a good canning book (you can click on mine in this blog). The hot peppers and hotdogs both need to be canned in a pressure canner, in order to seal and be safe to eat. Just heating the food and putting them into hot jars is NOT enough. — Jackie

Canning pumpkin for pies

I really would like to can some of our pumpkins this year to use in homemade pumpkin pie. I have heard that you can only use pie pumpkins for baking, canning, etc. Is this true? If not, are there any varieties of pumpkin that are not good to eat and/or can?

Shanna Craft
Pleasant Lake, Michigan

Not true! You can use about any pumpkin or most squash (which is commercial, store-bought pumpkin pie filling is made from!) to make pumpkin pie. The only one that is a little “not good for pies” is Atlantic Giant or the other giant pumpkins. This cans up fine and tastes fine, but it has a high water content so you’ll need two quarts of pumpkin chunks to make a pie, where most squash and pumpkin varieties have less water in the flesh, so you only need about a quart. Remember to drain the liquid off of your squash/pumpkin before you mash it for pies. — Jackie

Training puppy not to kill chickens

How do I get my German Short Hair puppy to stop killing my chickens without totally ruining him on birds. I can’t have him killing chickens, but I want him to hunt quail and pheasant when the time comes.

Joy Goepfert
Alba, Missouri

First things first. First get him to stop killing chickens. To do that, what I do is go out with Pup. When he starts eyeballing chickens or running toward them, yell real mean. If he doesn’t stop, grab him by the scruff of the neck and shove his head to the ground. (That’s what Mom dogs do to reprimand their pups.) Scold him while holding his head down. Do this each and every time you take him out by the chickens. Our Lab, Spencer, didn’t actually kill chickens; I did the training before he got that far. But it stopped him from running after them, but good. Just be sure you are religious with the training; go out EVERY time with him, when he can be in the chicken area, to make sure he gets the message loud and clear. It worked for eating eggs too.

Your pup will stop killing chickens. How to get him to hunt after this? Same way, in reverse. Take him hunting without your gun a few times. He’ll be confused when he smells birds or flushes them. Constantly “help” him flush and encourage him to hunt/flush. Spencer first turned his head away when he saw birds, “ignoring” them to be “good.” It took awhile, but with us praising him when he accidently flushed birds and walking through the woods, telling him to “hunt ’em up,” he got the message. Now he hunts and doesn’t kill chickens, either. Good luck. — Jackie

Runny salsa

I just finished reading the posts on your page and I have a question of my own. How do I thicken cooked salsa? I made 3 batches this year and my last batch was really runny. Can I open the jars, reheat, add tomato paste, and re seal? I’ve only been canning for a couple years and have never had this happen before.

Lori Hagert
Satint Ansgar, Iowa

I wouldn’t add the tomato paste to salsa you already canned. Just drain off some of the juice when you open a jar. You can add the juice to meatloaf, taco meat, or any soup or stew you wish. Next time, just add the tomato sauce or paste to the heating salsa before you put it into the jars. — Jackie

Canning salsa

The tomatoes we grew are Golden Girl, Superbeefsteak, delicious and large Mennonite which I want to make salsa with. I just lost my wife and I can’t let our hard work go for not, so my question is can I use the golden girls with the others in the salsa without any problem, this is the first year I’ll be doing this alone so I want to be sure. We always froze them and waited till January when things settled down to do the salsa. Just don’t want to get anyone sick.

Richard Kuntz
Carson, North Dakota

Rich, I truly know how you feel right now as I lost my husband, Bob, suddenly, five years ago. You hurt like hell, but by keeping on doing things like your salsa, you are not only connecting with your late wife, but helping yourself heal. YES, you can use all of your tomatoes for salsa. If you are unsure about their acid content, just be sure to add vinegar or lemon juice, as in the canning recipes, to cover your bases. If the salsa is too “watery” you can thicken it with tomato sauce or paste. — Jackie


  1. Why do my jars come unsealed after a week or two of canning, it is only my green beans red beets that it happens too.

  2. Training pup: Check out “Cesar’s Way,” by Cesar Millan. You can find it cheap secondhand on Amazon Marketplace. He has excellent and effective techniques for getting your dog to do anything you want. He’s the guy who stars in “The Dog Whisperer” on the National Geographic Channel. If you don’t have cable, watch some free episodes on hulu.com. Just search for “dog whisperer” and you’ll find him. Good luck – this guy is amazing!

  3. I’ll have to show this to my hubby. He thought I was crazy when I laid the onions out to dry. Just was so sure, they would rot. (dry weather).

  4. Hi Jackie! Love your blog and your column in BHM. We always braid our onions and hang them from the rafters in our garage for several weeks before storing them. We grow all of our own onions (about 50 pounds) and so far this method has worked well for us.

  5. Wow, Jackie, your pantry looks fantastic! All those jars of good food and the plump, gorgeous onions, too. What an inspiration!

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