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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Q and A: using tins to store food, seed starting mix, and canning horseradish

Original Article

by Jackie Clay
Fresh Horseradish - Colonial Fresh Markets - C...Using tins to store food
I have been buying all the popcorn tins and smaller tins that I can find at the thrift store as I recall they are great for storing stuff to keep it away from mice. Now that I have them can you give me some advice as to what is good to store in them and more of what NOT to store in them? How do you label your tins so you know what is in them, since most are bumpy with pictures.

Lisa C.
I store a huge variety of foods in my tins: popcorn (unpopped), white rice, noodles, spaghetti, rolled oats, wheat berries, sugar, “store” cornmeal, masa harina, pearled barley, dry beans of all kinds, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, bags of chocolate (and other flavors) chips, and a whole lot more. I DON’T store opened bags of brown and powdered sugar as they get hard or clumpy. Left in the bag, they’re fine. Once opened, I store them in glass jars that have screw-down lids. I also don’t store our own fresh ground wheat flour, cornmeal, or brown rice. Whole grain products will get rancid pretty fast.
I use a peel-and-stick label and write on that. Big box stores are now carrying computer-friendly labels that are pretty and some canning product areas also carry pretty peel-and-stick labels. Everyone loves the look of my tins and I sure love the ease of having lots of food right at hand. — Jackie
Seed starting mix and canning horseradish
Do you make your own seed starting mix? The purchased ones are always so hard to get moist and I’m wondering if you have a recipe for a better mix.

We are in a cold climate, although not as cold as yours! Cracking on our fingers can be a problem and I’m wondering what you do for this.

A while back someone asked about canning horseradish. Here’s the recipe I use:

Horseradish for canning

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt or pickling salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ascorbic acid crystals (Fruit Fresh)
3 cups lightly packed, peeled and finely grated horseradish (2 to 3 pounds horseradish root) * Take your food processor outside to grate the horseradish.

In medium glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, sugar, and ascorbic acid crystals. Stir until everything is dissolved. Stir in horseradish. Ladle the horseradish into hot jars, leaving a inch headspace. Using a plastic knife, remove any trapped air bubbles. If necessary, add more horseradish to maintain a inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and rings. Process half-pint jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Makes about 4 half-pints.
Cynthia Popeck
Hudson Falls, New York
While I have made my own seed-starting mix, using 1/2 good, sifted well-rotted compost-laden garden soil, 1/4 Perlite and 1/4 vermiculite, I’m now buying Pro-Mix seed starting mix (you can get it from local nurseries and greenhouses, sometimes Menards, too). When you use your own homemade mix, you must sterilize the soil by putting it in the oven in a large pan. This kills any pathogens that may cause disease in your tender seedlings. You need to heat it at 250 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, then let it cool before mixing it with the Perlite and vermiculite. The Pro-Mix is very good and DOES accept the water easily, where Jiffy Mix seed starter doesn’t.
For cracked hands, I use bag balm for cows. I put it on my hands before I go out in the morning, then a heavier coat in the evening. It keeps them as good as my hands ever get. Pinetree Garden Seeds (www.superseed.com) carries a great selection of natural ingredients if you wish to make your own hand cream as well as books of recipes. — Jackie
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