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Letters and email from readers about Backwoods Home Magazine and the BHM website


Archive for the ‘Food/Canning/Preserving’ Category


Storing apples

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012


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.




Canned Bacon

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

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.

Lynne Packer


Apple Pie Crust

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011


My grandmother had a friend back in a small town in Iowa.  She used to bake me a pie every time I would go visit my grandmother and spend the summer.

My grandmother told me that her friend’s secret was to use 7-up in the crust. She won many prizes for her pies and the locals loved them at their diner.

Just a thought for a different angle on crust.

I look forward to trying your recipes.


Ron Moffet



Monday, November 7th, 2011

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.



Slaughtering and Butchering article

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

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.

Roelle family


Jackie Clay’s canning article

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

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.

Thanks again.

Jerry Lynch


Canning 101

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

Dear Editor,

Truly appreciated Jackie Clay’s article on canning.

The article was informative, personable, approachable and inspiring.

All in all  fun to read.

Thanks to both you and Jackie


Koa Lavery


Buckboard Bacon

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

This is a great article. She laid it out clearly and completely.

Wish I knew this years ago. Why not? If you want bacon….

Kathryn Elich


Liquid apple pie

Monday, August 15th, 2011

[In response to letters in Issue #96]

If I recall I did see and article back in 94-95.
1 gallon cider
1 liter Everclear
9 cloves
3 cinnamon sticks.
Mix cider and Everclear, place cloves and cinnamon sticks in mixture, and place in a dark cabinet for approximately 3-6 months.
Pat Cox

Wheat article

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

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.

Cheryl Driggs
Spring TX


More on sweet potatoes…

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

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!)

Sherry Gordon


Dandelion greens

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

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.

Ellen O’Neill


Praise for Jackie Clay’s books

Thursday, January 13th, 2011


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.

Thank you to Backwoods Home and to Jackie Clay,

Mary Hartsock


Off grid refrigerators

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Dear sirs,

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.

PS. we love your Magazine !!!!!

John & Susan Farris


Grain insects

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Dear Backwoods Home,

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!!!


Juli Gould

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.



Canned bacon

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Great article on canned bacon.  Very informative and worthwhile to us avid canners.

Would appreciate follow-up articles on canned cheese and butter.


Jerry Mangen


I just discovered your magazine & articles

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

I just found the Forget 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.

Carol Oertle


Jackie Clay – food storage

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

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.



Last issue’s bacon recipe

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

[This letter relates to Butchering a hog by Tanya Kelly in Issue 125, Sept.Oct, 2010. Issue is available here.]

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!



Article appreciation

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

My thanks to you for this excellent piece on finding, harvesting and using rose hips (an under-known source of nutrition).

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.

Thank you again,

C Anne



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