You Asked It!

Category: August 2018

What is A2 Milk?

Have you seen the television commercials about A2 milk? Do you wonder, what is A2 milk? Is it better for me?

All milk contains beta casein protein which has several variants. The two most commonly found are A1 and A2. Certain breeds of dairy cattle only produce A2 beta casein proteins. In general, those breeds include Guernsey, Jersey, and Asian herds. Human milk and other animal milk also mostly A2. Holstein milk has both A1 and A2.

So what’s the big deal about A2 milk? Research is very limited, but some claims say that milk containing A1 leads to Type 1 Diabetes, coronary heart disease, and maybe, schizophrenia and autism if immune deficiencies are present. Some claim that A1 is digested differently than A2 and causes negative health effects.

Scientifically, the evidence is very limited. Only rat studies have shown any benefit of consuming A2 milk. Human clinical studies have not shown evidence to match the rat studies. Therefore, the information to show benefits of A2 milk are anecdotal. Also, those with lactose intolerance or milk allergies will not benefit from A2 milk.

To learn more about A2 milk, see:


Do Not Can White-Fleshed Peaches

There is evidence that some varieties of white-flesh peaches are higher in pH (i.e., lower in acid) than traditional yellow varieties. The natural pH of some white peaches can exceed 4.6, making them a low-acid food for canning purposes. At this time there is no low-acid pressure process available for white-flesh peaches nor a researched acidification procedure for safe boiling water canning. Freezing is the recommended method of preserving white-flesh peaches.

Source: Dr. Elizabeth Andress, University of Georgia Extension


Shopping Tips for Food Dehydrators

A food dehydrator is a small electrical appliance for drying foods indoors. It has an electric element for heat and a fan and vents for air circulation. Dehydrators are efficiently dry foods fast at 140ºF.

Costs vary depending on features. Some models are expandable and additional trays can be purchased later. Twelve square feet of drying space dries about a half-bushel of produce. The major disadvantage of  is its limited capacity.

Features to Look For

  • Double wall construction of metal or high grade plastic. Wood is not recommended, because it is a fire hazard and is difficult to clean.
  • Enclosed heating elements.
  • Counter top design.
  • An enclosed thermostat from 85ºF to 160ºF.
  • Fan or blower.
  • Four to 10 open mesh trays made of sturdy, lightweight plastic for easy washing.
  • UL seal of approval.
  • A one-year guarantee.
  • Convenient service.
  • A dial for regulating temperature.
  • A timer. Often the completed drying time may occur during the night and a timer could turn the dehydrator off and prevent scorching.


What is Blue Baby Syndrome?

Methemoglobinemia (MetHb), or Blue Baby Syndrome, is a blood disorder when an abnormal amount of methemoglobin is produced. Hemoglobin carries oxygen, but doesn’t release it properly to body tissues.

One cause of this issue is when babies, six months or younger, are fed spinach, beets, or carrots that naturally contain nitrates. This can cause their skin to turn blueish, have a headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, and lack energy. This is because their bodies are not developed enough.

Learn more at

MetHb is also genetically passed down through families. It could come from both parents, Type 1, or from one parent, Type 2.


The Food Freshness Card™

Food waste is a grand challenge for all of us. So in an effort to help extend the shelf life of foods such as fruits, vegetables, and breads, one company has created a Food Freshness Card™. The technology uses scalar wave technology, a form of electromagnetic wave technology, which is also used in the fresh floral industry and in other applications.

The laminated hologram card is placed in shipping containers, walk-in refrigerators, produce markets, storage areas and even could be used in home refrigerators. It works inside or outside of cold storage and can protect food in a five-foot radius of the card. It does not use any ethylene gas absorption technology or any other controlled atmosphere technology.

Read more at and

Is it Safe to Re-use Pickling Brine?

Once you heat, or even soak, your vegetables in your pickling solution, pH changes start to happen. (Heating makes the interaction happen faster.) The vegetables become more acidic, which is what we want to happen in pickling. However, the pickling solution then becomes less acidic. So if your recipe is a hot pack for canned pickles, and you have heated your vegetables in the pickling solution (“brine”), then you should not use leftover brine from filling jars for another round of the recipe. The expected ratio of acid to low-acid ingredients and ultimate pH adjustment in the next recipe will not be the same.

In some recipes, sliced raw cucumbers are soaked for hours in the pickling liquid (vinegar, sugar and/or salt, for example). Then the liquid is drained off the cucumber slices into a pan. The soaked raw slices are filled into jars while the liquid is then heated and poured over them. Even though this is a raw pack in terms of filling jars, this vinegar solution had its original pH (acidity) altered from that initial soaking before it was heated and poured into jars. It should not be used again for a canned pickle recipe since it is now of unknown acidity.

Learn more at


Preserving Onions

Preserving onions creates unique, flavorful condiments that can be added to a variety of dishes. Preserving onions can also enable you to have your favorite onion variety available to use throughout the entire year.

Drying onions is easy, but very pungent! No blanching is required before drying. Simply wash, peel and cut onions into 1/8– to 1/4-inch slices and dehydrate.

Freezing is just as easy. Wash, peel, dice, place on a cookie sheet in a single layer, freeze, then pack into freezer containers.

Learn more at


Reducing Salt in Pickles

Recipes for pickles with reduced sodium content are provided in Guide 6 of the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning.

In the making of fresh-pack pickles, cucumbers are acidified quickly with vinegar. Use only tested recipes formulated to produce the proper acidity. While these pickles may be prepared safely with reduced or no salt, their quality may be noticeably lower. Both texture and flavor may be slightly, but noticeably, different than expected. You may wish to make small quantities first to determine if you like them.

However, the salt used in making fermented sauerkraut and brined pickles not only provides characteristic flavor but also is vital to safety and texture. In fermented foods, salt favors the growth of desirable bacteria while inhibiting the growth of others. Caution: Do not attempt to make sauerkraut or fermented pickles by cutting back on the salt required.


Food Recall Trends

Food recalls occur almost daily either voluntarily by a food company or issued by the USDA or FDA. Between 2004-2013, there were 4,900 food recalls. Some of the highly publicized outbreaks were due to spinach (2006), peanut butter (2009), eggs (2010), and cantaloupe (2011).

The top three food product categories for these recalls were meat, poultry, and seafood (16%); prepared foods and meals (14%); and nuts and seeds (11%). Disease-causing pathogens accounted for 41% of all recalls. Undeclared food allergens accounted for 27% of all recalls, nearly double the average number of allergen recalls over the decade.

Learn more at


What’s in a Hot Dog?

It’s summer and a popular picnic food is hot dogs! It is estimated Americans will eat 20 billion hot dogs this year.

Hot dogs are made of meat pieces that don’t make good steaks or roasts, or aren’t a certain tenderness, size, shape or weight. Salt, water and nitrites are also added. Nitrites give the cured meat flavor and pink color. Some companies are using a natural curing agent, celery powder or juice. Every company has their own unique recipe that is their signature. Pork, beef, chicken, and other meats are used, as well as vegetarian options are available.

Hot dogs are cooked when made. While they can be eaten as is, pregnant women should always reheat them to steaming hot for best safety.

Learn more at