Thank you for your very informative information about cold storage of food over the winter.
I was given a tip about apples from an elderly gentleman who had an apple orchard. He said to wet a towel and wring it out well and place it over the apples you are storing. It helps to keep the apples crisp. You need to re-wet the towel weekly but it is worth doing.
I tried this procedure. Only thing to emphasize is that you should use THICK cut bacon. The thin bacon had to be scraped off the paper with a fork. In fact, next time, I will probably buy slab bacon and cut it myself to get even thicker slices.
All in all, the procedure worked just fine.
I bought my masking paper at Ace Hardware. It is about $5.00 a roll.
When I can a lot of meat I have a big pan I put oil in and heat it to 275 and can heat large quantity jars at a time. You do have to wipe the oil off the jars. But it’s not such a big deal. But I can do a lot more jars and it’s good when we do 250 to 300 jars.
We have a lot of fun canning our food. I believe this is one of the reasons people are sick, because the cans and the stuff added to the food. The safest way to eat is do it yourself. They are poisoning us and we keep finding out they have added something like MSG and trans fat and they know they cause us harm.
The article by Dynah Geissal entitled Slaughtering and Butchering is definitely the best overall article available on the web that takes you from live pig to properly ready for consumption. Better than any, I searched hard and wide to find a perfect and easy to follow directive.
Super thanks and you now have a very happy family living in the backwoods of Oregon, slaughtering and butchering our kids’ greased pig caught at country fair. Now a couple of months and 100’s of pounds of food later he is skinned, split and cool from one night, ready to be processed. We are very confident to move forward with Dynah’s instructions.
Hello and thank you for the wonderful article Canning 101. I agree with everything you have written in this article.
My wife and I have been canning for 45 years now and passed this procedure along to both our children (boy & girl). We also can year round, venison or moose (when I’m lucky) chili, and stew. One of my favorites is canning venison with just 1 teaspoon of salt nothing else added. This makes a great meal over rice, noodles or bread as the canned venison turns out like it is in gravy.
I appreciated seeing the article on wheat in the July/August issue. It had some helpful information on preparing fresh wheat for storage.
I am glad the editors made comment on using trash bags in buckets. They are not recommended and are unnecessary when a clean food grade bucket is used, which is the only kind that should be used when storing wheat in buckets.
The “bulgur” described in the article is not actually bulgur. It is steamed or cooked wheat and can be made in several ways in addition to the one described. Bulgur is steamed wheat that has been dried and cracked. It is an “instant” form of cracked wheat. Bulgur is commonly used in Tabbouleh and similar salads as well as in bulgur pilafs. Steamed or cooked wheat is normally used in different ways than bulgur.
There are far more grain mills available than are indicated in the article. One can purchase simple inexpensive hand mills, moderately priced and expensive hand mills that can also be motorized and moderate to expensive electric mills. One can purchase steel burrs, stone burrs or an impact mill which pulverizes the grain. I’m sure readers would have appreciated reference links for more information.
The author also indicated that flour loses most of its food value within a month. Since flour is primarily the macronutrients protein, fat and carbohydrate and flour is not a good source of the most labile vitamins found in grain, that statement cannot be true. Flour is quite stable but it is better to store whole grains and make your own flour especially if you find yourself living entirely on your stored food.
Thank you for providing a variety of articles in your magazine. There is always something I am interested in even though I live in the suburbs.
Thanks to Vernon Lewis for “The Under-Appreciated Sweet Potato” article in the May/June issue – I learned quite a bit from it about one of my favorite foods. I’m delighted and amazed to know that they’re actually low-glycemic, even though sweet! – and to have that much more reason to indulge. (BTW, I tried to grow them – slips of 6 different types – in clayey soil, and they were very unhappy. Maybe I’ll try planting them in compost-and-straw, as one can do with nightshade potatoes… perhaps after growing my own slips.)
I wanted to mention another use for them that I discovered this past year: dried slices make wonderful, healthy, teeth-cleaning dog treats – expensive to buy (if you can find them), easy to make. Precook the tubers (to “al dente” stage, before mushy), slice 1/4 – 1/3″ thick. (And like beets, dehydrated sweet potatoes are gorgeous in color and rehydrate very well – for humans!)
I picked some dandelion greens from my yard a short time ago. I wanted to prepare them but didn’t know the best way. So I searched the Internet and found a website with the name John Kallas mentioned. I knew that the name had to be Greek. Having lived in Greece and visited there many times, this had to be the right source, remembering how the Greeks love dandelion greens. I found Dr. Kallas’s article very interesting, informative, and well written. His explanation of the bitterness of the greens and how to reduce it was most helpful. Thanks for a great article.
I must write to tell you how much I have enjoyed Jackie Clay’s books.
I just finished reading “Starting Over.” It is a wonderful read, very entertaining but also very educational. On every other page or so, I learned something new. She didn’t just write that some project was accomplished, she explained how it was done, in detail! I expected to enjoy reading about her life and how her homestead unfolded. I never expected to learn so much or be so encouraged by her words.
I also just finished reading the Self Reliance book “Recession Proof Your Pantry“. I thought I knew about all there was to know on the subject, and still learned more. The same with “Growing and Canning Your Own Food.” I would recommend all of these books to anyone interested in homesteading and self reliance.
“Starting Over” should be required reading for any woman attempting to homestead (or farm) on her own.
My wife and I have a cabin in northern Ontario and [instead of a refrigerator, we use] a Danby chest freezer with the thermostat turned up in the 38 to 42 degree range.
We only run the unit off of a generator for an hour morning and night. Everything stays cold and once you get used to the idea it is a great way to keep food and cheap .
I think we only paid around $300.00 for it at Home Depot in North Bay last summer. It could just as easily be run off of a solar panel & inverter set up as generator, or small gas engine and alternator & battery set up as well.
We are very satisfied with it and is easy to use once you get everything arranged. Juices on bottom veggies on top, etc. We use several different baskets and plastic containers to separate things out so it is easy to get what is needed to cook/eat.
[It is a] far cheaper method to use then Sun Frost, etc. units and if you wanted, a bigger insulated box could be built around it for better efficiency I suppose.
I’m not writing to be critical, I just want to correct some misinformation provided in Jackie Clay’s “Ask Jackie” section in the Jan/Feb 2011 Backwoods Home magazine.
Jackie refers to grain weevils as “pantry moths” and suggests putting out pantry moth traps as a control method. Weevils are beetles. Moth traps are based on a sex pheromone and no moth pheromone is going to attract a beetle.
There are at least three weevils, five other beetles, and two moth species that infest grain and pheromones are species specific (that’s their purpose — to attract a mate). Putting out a pheromone trap for Indian meal moths is not going to catch any Angoumois grain moths, for instance. Also, pheromone traps only attract and capture male moths (and they are not 100% effective), and one male can mate with more than one female, so trapping males will not stop egg laying but is a useful monitoring tool.
If someone has an insect infestation in their grain, they can take specimens to their local cooperative extension agent who can identify them and give control advice specific for that species. The advice will probably involve sanitation, tight fitting screw top lids, and freezing.
I’m not faulting Jackie; it’s unclear to me how she does all she does and still finds time to contribute so much to Backwoods Home. Maybe she doesn’t need any sleep!!!
Interesting knowledge! There’s always something new to learn, no matter how “much you do know”!!! I’ve always had luck with the pantry moth traps, and of course, cleaning up all infested cereal and flour products. And I’ve been lucky, I guess, not to have had any “bugs” in my stored food, other than weevils or pantry moth larvae. Pre-freezing stored flours and grains is always a good idea and is especially good if you have had a problem.
And, yes, I DO sleep. That’s what I do in my spare time.
I just found theForget the dog, chicken is man’s best friend article. I am so touched by the hominess and the friendliness of this article. I was telling my husband about it and I came to tears as I explained that the author’s grandmother gave her broth to her neighbors and then made a delicious Sunday dinner.
I am so tired of political correctness and all the stress around me. I say thanks for this article and the love that’s in it. I can’t wait to read more.
I enjoyed Jackie Clay’s article about long-term storage of food. One small suggestion I’d like to add: we live in an area with the possibility of earthquake. My husband nailed strips of 1 x 2″ “rails” about 2 or 3″ above the bottom of about half of our shelves (the ones with my bottles of canned fruits/vegetables) to keep them more secure if an earthquake hits. There is still room above the “rail” to access the bottles, but will hopefully keep them from crashing off the shelves. Thanks.
I will never be insecure about making bacon again! IT was a lot easier than the mixes I have bought in the past and it tasted better!
To start with, I do not have any fresh sides of pork but I improvised. There was a sale on pork shoulder roasts and each one had a thick piece of fat on one side. So, I cut that off along with a little underlying meat and I used that.
I sliced it as thinly as I could and I mixed it with 1/2 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of salt. I then set the dish in the fridge for 2 days: in the article the gent marinated it for a week but I sliced mine first and he did not. I figured that slicing the meat would make the brine penetrate more quickly, and make it faster to smoke.
Then I soaked it for a bit, and it was ready to smoke.
I draped the strips inside of my backyard grill, started a fire in a metal bowl, dropped soaked twigs on top of the fire and closed the lid. I did this twice that afternoon and then I simple cooked the bacon in the usual way.
It was EXCELLENT! The fat part tasted like bacon with a touch of ham flavor, and the lean part tasted like ham with a bit of bacon flavor. It made for a very good dinner and my husband was impressed!
My only thought was that next time I would use more salt and less honey, as it was a bit sweeter than I prefer. It was a sweet as the maple sugar bacon found on the grocery store shelf, and that is too sweet for me also!
I harvest them at the seaside this time of year in Maine (they grow prolifically here as elsewhere, and the idea that the ocean has enriched them with its energy is irresistible to me). Curious onlookers always ask what I’m doing and what I plan to do with them.
After this I will refer them to this article if they are serious about learning to use them.