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Category: July 2016

New Food Preservation Videos!

Food Preservation videosThanks to the KSRE Video Production team, new food preservation videos are now available to help learn how to preserve foods safely. These videos were a part of the 2015 Kansas Health Foundation grant for food preservation education.

The videos cover the following topics:

  • Recommended recipes and choosing the right recipe
  • Canning salsa
  • Water bath canning
  • Science behind home canning
  • Canning meat
  • Pressure canning
  • Maintenance of canners

Look for these videos on the KSRE YouTube channel at:

Are Pesticide Residues a Risk?

Each year, the Environmental Working Group publishes the “Dirty Dozen” report of foods that test positive for pesticide residues.

While these foods may show pesticide residue is present, the risk is negligible. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tolerance levels for pesticide residues is protective of human health. Test results are at levels well below tolerances set by the EPA.

Drs. Carl Winter and Josh Katz of the Department of Food Science and Technology a the University of California-Davis are leading experts in the issue of pesticide residues.

In a peer-reviewed, scientific article in the prestigious Journal of Toxicology (2011) they state the following conclusions:

  1. “Exposures to the most commonly detected pesticides on the twelve commodities pose negligible risks to consumers.”
  2. “Substitution of organic forms of the twelve commodities for conventional forms does not result in any appreciable reduction of consumer risks.”
  3. “The methods used by the environmental advocacy group to rank commodities with respect to (potential) pesticide risks lacks scientific credibility.“

Other resources:


The choices for vegetables just added a new member! Your local grocer may be offering Kalettes. What is this new vegetable?

It is a cross between kale and brussels sprouts. It looks like a little cabbage with heads that are loose and frilly, green-purple leaves. Kale and brussels sprouts are in the same family, Brassica Oleracea, along with cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. The goal was to create a versatile vegetable that is easy to prepare and attractive. Their flavor is said to be sweet and nutty.

Kalettes can be eaten raw or sautéed, roasted, or grilled.

Kalettes were created in Britain after a decade of research by Tozer Seeds using traditional hybridization techniques.

Learn more about Kalettes at


Mason Jar Lid Pies

One of the latest creations on Pinterest or other social media sites is baking mini pies in Mason jar lids and rings. Is it safe to bake in these lids?

According to Jarden Home Brands, makers of Ball® and Kerr home canning products:

“Our lids and bands are only approved for water contact, since they are heated in water or exposed to water during the canning process. Baked goods usually require oil or fats, which the lids are not designed for. The lids and bands are also tin-plated. Temperatures around 450F can cause tin reflow or hotspots.”

Canning jars should not be used to bake foods in the oven. The glass is not tempered for dry heat and can possibly break.


New Ball® Blue Book

Ball Blue Book
Ball Blue Book

From Jarden Home Brands, makers of Ball® and Kerr canning products, the newest Ball® Blue Book is now available. It contains 200 new recipes from jams, jellies, pickles, salsas and more to total around 350 recipes.

The book is organized by technique such as water bath canning, pressure canning, freezing and more. Recipes are tested for quality and safety. Recipes are included for the beginner or advanced home canner.

The retail cost of this new on the website is $22.95.

A smaller version of selected recipes from this new book is in the new bookazine, The Best Ball® Home Canning & Preserving Recipes: Fresh Flavors All Year Long for $11.99.


Flavored Vinegar

Fresh herbs
fresh herbs — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Flavored vinegars are easy to make and a great gift idea for friends and family. They can be used in marinades, cooked dishes, salad dressings, and even beverages. The flavors are varied from using herbs, edible flowers, garlic, peppers, and onions, as well as fresh or frozen fruit.

Oregon State University can help you create a flavorful vinegar. Try different vinegars such as distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, wine vinegar, or rice vinegar. They recommend using only commercially made vinegar for best safety.

It takes about 10 days to taste any developed flavors. Optimum flavor is best in about 3-4 weeks. To test the flavor, place a few drops on plain white bread and taste. Strong flavors can be diluted with more of the “base” vinegar. Weak flavors need more time to steep and develop. Refrigerate to retain flavor and freshness.

Learn more about making flavored vinegar at:

For more information, see


Floating Fruit in Jam

After the work of preserving a favorite fruit jam, a common problem is fruit separating from the gel and floating to the top of the jar. There are several reasons this can happen:

  1. Using under ripe fruit allows excess air to remain trapped in the fruit.
  2. Fruit not crushed enough. Big pieces of fruit still contain excess air and float.
  3. Undercooking the jam. Follow good recipes for best results.

For tips on making jams and jellies, see:

For more causes and possible solutions to problems with jams and jellies, see:



Can Epsom Salt be Added to Jelly or Jam?

Orange jellySeveral old jam or jelly recipes called for Epsom Salt to help the product gel, but this is NOT a recommended practice.

Epsom Salt is a bitter, colorless or white crystalline salt which is a hydrated magnesium sulfate. Magnesium has the ability to form weak links with pectin in the presence of sugar and acid. Epsom Salt was thus used in an old method for testing for natural pectin content in fruit juice before making jelly, as it does cause pectin to gel when magnesium ions are released in solution.

Epsom salt is a laxative, regulated by FDA as a medication or drug, not as a food ingredient. Possible side effects or hazards include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Whereas there are some food grade forms of liquid magnesium sulfate used in approved food manufacturing situations, the dry (anhydrous) Epsom Salt found in drugstores is usually labeled: may be harmful if swallowed and not intended for ingestion.



What is Mechanically Tenderized Beef?

Mechanically Tenderized BeefTo help improve tenderness of some cuts of beef, the cuts of meat are mechanically tenderized. This means needles or sharp blades are inserted to break up the meat muscle fibers.

This type of tenderizing can increase the risks of bacteria on the surface of the meat to be pushed inside the meat. If not cooked properly, the bacteria could lead to foodborne illness.
The USDA now requires new labels for these products to give safe cooking instructions to consumers. For more information, see