Making hominy

What kind of lye or lime to you use to make hominy. I tried the soda method and it didn’t work for me. I used 2 tablespoon soda to a quart of dried corn. It didn’t slip the skin or the tip. I have found some Sodium Hydroxide but while I was researching the page said to use lime.

Sandy Tobler
Spiro, Oklahoma

I have used both sodium hydroxide and pickling lime to make my hominy. Both work well. Check out my corn article in BHM’s Issue #136 (July/August 2012). There are complete instructions in the article so you can make your own great hominy. — Jackie

Hen kicking out bedding

My question is this: How do we get a hen to stop kicking her bedding out of her box. She kicks it all out and lays the egg on the wood bottom and when it hits of course it cracks, not bad, but it does crack. She is 4 months old and she has laid 3 eggs like this. We have tried shredded paper, pine straw and leaves. If you can help it sure would be appreciated.

Iris Jones
Chickamauga, Georgia

You can try screwing a piece of wood across the opening, leaving enough of a “door” that she can get in but will have a very hard time kicking out the nesting material. That’s worked for me. — Jackie

Processing pickles

I made my usual refrigerator pickle recipe last night. It’s 2 cups vinegar, 2 cups water, 2 Tbsp. salt, 1/2 cup sugar, pickling spice, hot pepper flakes, dill weed, coriander seed, and peppercorns. I cut the pickles into 4th’s — spear shaped. I decided to try processing them in a boiling water bath canner, to save room in my small fridge. I also added 1/8 rounded tsp. Pickle Crisp (Calcium Chloride granules) to each pint jar. I only processed them 5 minutes, as the pickle mix I used to use (Mrs. Wages) called for processing the larger Qt jars only 5. Is this OK? Now I see many recipes calling for 10 or 15 minutes processing time. I know that pickles are pretty forgiving, just wanted to see what you thought. The jars were filled piping hot and bands and lids applied immediately and then right into the canner, lid on for a full 5 min at a nice boil.

Cathy Ostrowski
Amherst, New York

Your pickles will be fine. Many of our grandmothers never water bath processed pickles at all. But along the line, experts feared spoilage and introduced processing them in a water bath canner — just to be sure. That works fine but does cause some pickles to get soft. — Jackie