You Asked It!

Category: December 2017

Kansas Healthy Food Initiative

In Kansas, did you know?

  • More than 800,000 Kansans do not have access to healthy, affordable food a reasonable distance from their home.
  • More than 30% of Kansas counties are considered food deserts.
  • Kansas is in the bottom five of states working to reduce food deserts.

The Kansas Healthy Food Initiative (KHFI) wants to improve access of food to Kansans. The KHFI is a public-private partnership with the goal of improve access to food and improve underserved Kansas communities.

The KHFI will provide technical assistance and financing to those wanting to start a food retail operation or improve existing operations. Besides grocery stores, other projects that can apply include farmers markets, co-ops, production and distribution operations. All applicants are encouraged to accept SNAP and WIC benefits. Financing will be given through loans, forgivable loans, grants, or a combination of the three.

To learn more about this program and how food operations can apply, go to or contact the Center for Engagement and Community Development at 785-532-6868 or



Service Your Pressure Gauge Tester

As canning season winds down, now is a good time for Extension offices to get their Presto Pressure Gauge tester serviced.

This service is done at no cost to you by National Presto Industries as the purchase cost of the tester includes maintenance. They will examine the master gauge and the entire unit for updates of other parts. For questions, contact:

Nancy Becker
Corporate Home Economist
National Presto Industries


Durum Wheat Going Soft

Artisan bread made with soft durum wheat

Durum wheat has long been used for making pasta because of its yellow color and high protein content for a firm ‘bite.’ It is also used to make couscous and a few Mediterranean breads. But research, conducted by the USDA Agricultural Research Service, now offers a new soft durum wheat called “Soft Svevo.”

Soft Svevo was created with classical breeding methods by introducing two genes from soft bread wheat into Italian durum Svevo wheat. This new variety has flour quality similar to soft bread wheat. It is appealing for making pizza crust, baguettes, pan breads, and other breads.

Traditional durum wheat is very hard and difficult to mill into flour. This new variety can save 75 percent energy and 15 percent water during milling.

Learn more about this new wheat at


New-Media Marketing Boot Camp

The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE) is hosting the second annual New-Media Marketing Boot Camp on February 27 and 28, 2018 at the Bluemont Hotel in Manhattan. CREE focuses on helping small businesses in Kansas succeed in a fast-paced environment.

The Boot Camp is designed to provide agricultural and rural business owners and other service oriented individuals, such as extension agents, with the tactics necessary to combat the ever-changing, new-media technology world.

For more information and registration, go to


Be a Gracious Guest at Holiday Meals

Hosts for holiday meals spend a lot of time planning and carrying out a festive meal. If you require special dietary needs, offer to help the host and reduce their stress. Here are some tips:

  • Let the host know of your diet restrictions ahead of time to lessen last minute changes.
  • Bring your favorite dish that you can eat, such as a hearty salad or casserole.
  • Thank your host for their efforts, but also be honest with them and other guests as to why you cannot eat a meal item.

Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter Special Supplement, November 2017


Baking with Sprouted Wheat Flour

Sprouted Wheat Bread, Whole Grains Council

If you like to expand your baking by using new ingredients, have you tried sprouted wheat flour? Here are some tips from Pastry Chef Stephanie Petersen, from Panhandle Milling Company, to improve your baking success.

  • Add more gluten or knead the dough more. Sprouted wheat flour has a little less available gluten, so it may take more kneading to develop a good dough. Another option is to add 1-2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten per cup of flour.
  • Shorter fermentation time will give depth of flavor. For traditional long fermented dough, time is needed to develop flavor. Sprouted flour will reduce this time to achieve good volume.
  • Measure sprouted flour cup for cup.
  • Store sprouted flour in a cool, dry, dark, airtight container and use within 12 months. Freeze it to add another six months of storage.


The Overuse of the Word “Toxin”

You’ve heard the phrase “too much of a good thing” can be harmful. Today, this is evident with the overuse of the word “toxin” in many media outlets and so-called experts.

Toxicologists, who study toxins, will tell you “the dose makes the poison.” And this can apply to literally anything, including water.

Many people offer their tips to flush toxins from your body through juice cleansing or other methods. Does this work? Essentially no. Your gastrointestinal tract, kidneys and liver already naturally cleanse for you.

Better advice is to eat a healthful diet, exercise, and get some good rest.


Give Dough a Break with Autolyse

What is Autolyse (AUTO-lees)? When making homemade bread, a simple pause in preparing the dough can transform the final product. Autolyse is simply mixing some of the flour, liquid, and usually the yeast. Mix until combined, then let the wet sticky dough rest at least 20-60 minutes.

This rest, or autolyze, allows the weak, disorganized gluten matrix to break down and straighten. Once the remaining ingredients are added  and kneading resumes, the gluten matrix will organize and strengthen in a shorter amount of time. This can be very beneficial when mixing dough in a mixer as the strong mechanical action can quickly overmix the dough. This technique is also beneficial for rustic breads that have more water and allows the dough to rise vertically, rather than spread horizontally.

Source: and The Science of Good Cooking, Cook’s Illustrated


Canning Previously Frozen Tomatoes

So you saved your tomato crop in the freezer. Can those frozen tomatoes be canned?

It is not recommended to can tomatoes that froze on the vine. This is because the acid content changes too much making them unsafe for canning. But tomatoes harvested prior to a fall freeze, then frozen, do not change in acidity. What does change is their texture and how they measure.

The best choice for canning previously frozen tomatoes is to make a well cooked product such as a stewed or crushed tomato product, or made into tomato juice or sauce.

It is not recommended to can them whole or quartered. They will pack into the jars differently, absorb moisture differently, and the heat transfers through the jars differently. This could lead to underprocessing and spoilage. Tomato canning recipes are based on fresh tomatoes.

Source: University of Georgia


The Quest for Perfect Mashed Potatoes

The classic holiday meal side dish is mashed potatoes. But, what can make or break this dish is the type of potato used.

There are more than 200 species of potatoes, but they all contain two primary components, starch and moisture. Low starch potatoes give a firm, waxy texture and maintain shape after boiling. High starch potatoes give a crumbly, mealy texture, and become soft after boiling.

Low starch potatoes include small round red or white potatoes with a thin skin, such as Red Bliss potatoes. They are good for boiling, stewing, or chunkier mashed potatoes. Low starch potatoes absorb less liquid, thus yielding a firmer texture.

High starch potatoes include oblong Russets with thick skins. They are easy to mash and make great baked potatoes. High starch potatoes absorb more liquid, which easily breaks for a fluffy texture.

Yukon Gold potatoes fall in between these two and can be used either way.

Source: The Science of Good Cooking, Cook’s Illustrated