You Asked It!

Category: July 2017

Salmonella Linked to Backyard Poultry Flocks

In 2016, a record number of illnesses were linked to flocks of backyard poultry.

As of May 25, 2017, 372 people have been infected with strains of Salmonella traced to backyard poultry flocks. Of these people, 71 have been hospitalized and 36 percent are children under the age of five years old.

Raising poultry at home has been common in rural locations for years. Small numbers of poultry are allowed within urban city limits. But care must be taken when caring for the flock and handling the birds.

  • Always wash your hands after handling the birds or any equipment where they live.
  • Do not let birds inside the home or around areas of food preparation or serving.
  • While baby chicks are cute, do not snuggle or kiss them.
  • Clean poultry related equipment outdoors.
  • Collect eggs often. Wash your hands after handling eggs. Refrigerate them after collection.

For more information on this outbreak, see


Food Judge’s Training Tools

Fair judging
Kansas State Fair, judging 4-H pies

Two videos have been created to help train foods and food preservation judges. Please send these to all foods and food preservation judges you hire for your fair.

The videos, plus extra resources mentioned in the videos, are available at:

The videos run approximately one hour each.

Also, please provide the judging scorecards for food preservation at your fair! These will help guide judges through the different kinds of exhibits.


Most Efficient Appliances for 2017

Everyone looks for ways to save money. Shopping for appliances can be daunting and confusing. To help you choose the best appliance for your home, the ENERGY STAR program helps sort out the details.

The Environmental Protection Agency now has the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2017 list of products that list energy efficiency and technological innovation information. Products rated include clothes washers and dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers, ventilation fans, heating & cooling units, ceiling fans, computer monitors, and a variety of windows.

Besides annual energy use figures, the information includes cost of the item from low to high and online stores options for shopping. Appliances that use water show annual water usage.

For the complete list of products, go to


Food Safety Kansas

Have you had a foodborne illness and don’t know where to report the problem?

The Kansas Department of Agriculture and Kansas Department of Health & Environment just launched “Food Safety Kansas” at Here you can report an illness caused by a restaurant, food item, or from an event. You can also report a problem with a restaurant that did NOT cause an illness.

The goal is to improve accessibility and reduce anonymous complaints. Those anonymous complaints slow down investigations to find solutions.

The public can also phone in complaints:

  • Foodborne illnesses — 877-427-7317
  • Restaurant practices — 785-564-6767


New Recipe Cards from Ball®

In an ongoing effort to make home food preservation easy and to appeal to those who can foods in small quantities, Ball® now has six new mixes for pickles and tomato products.

They are a recipe card with six seasonings attached to the card. On the back are instructions with additional ingredients to add and processing instructions. Each recipe card makes two quarts or four pints.

The recipe cards include three types of pickles, two types of salsa, and a pasta sauce.

Learn more at


Fire Up the Grill for Vegetables!

A rainbow of veggies

While you have the grill hot for the main dish, throw on some vegetables to compliment the meal. Here are some tips:

  • Grill larger pieces and chop them up when ready to serve.
  • For most vegetables, toss them with a light coating of vegetable oil before grilling. An exception is husked ears of corn.
  • Use skewers to hold small vegetables like mushrooms, chunks of summer squash or peppers, and small tomatoes.
  • Place skinny, long vegetables perpendicular to the grate so they don’t fall through.
  • Use a vegetable basket to toss together a mix of vegetables and for easy transfer from grill to table.

Chop up grilled vegetables and add to pasta!

Source: Fine Cooking, June/July 2017


Making Pickled Eggs at Home

Recent low prices for eggs have enticed shoppers to stock up on eggs. One method to preserve them is by pickling.

There are no home canning directions for pickled eggs.  Pickled egg recipes are for storage in the refrigerator.  Pickled eggs should never be at room temperature except for serving time, when they should be limited to no more than 2 hours in the temperature danger zone of 40 to 140 degrees F.

For tips on pickling eggs, see

Home pickled eggs stored at room temperature have caused botulism. See for details.


The Story Behind the Fruit Cobbler

Stone fruits, such as peaches, are popular in fruit cobblers.

As summer marches on, fresh fruit becomes more abundant and inviting. One popular dish to prepare with fresh fruit is a cobbler. So where did this dish originate?

There are a couple stories about the cobbler. The fruit layer is usually topped with biscuits. Some say this was “cobbled together.” When baked, the biscuits puff up and the finished product looks like cobblestones on a street.

Another story from New England says is it was called a “bird’s nest pudding” or “crow’s-nest pudding.” It is served with custard, but no topping in Connecticut, with maple sugar in Massachusetts, and a sour cream sauce in Vermont.

However you make and eat your summer fruit cobbler, enjoy!

Sources: Fine Cooking, June/July 2017; The Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink


Making Jam & Jelly with Frozen Fruit

The following tips will help create successful jams and jellies from frozen fruit or juice:

  • The best frozen fruits for jams or jellies are blueberries, red and black currants, gooseberries and rhubarb.
  • Before freezing fruit, measure the fruit and label the container. Many fruits collapse as they thaw and may create an inaccurate measure.
  • Jams and jellies from frozen fruit and juice are better if no sugar is added before freezing.
  • When freezing fruit for jelly or jams, use 1/4 under-ripe and 3/4 ripe fruit.
  • Thaw frozen fruit in the refrigerator until only a few ice crystals remain. Follow directions for the type of jam you are making and follow the recommended proportions of fruit (measured before freezing), pectin and sugar.

When making jelly from frozen juice, thaw frozen juice in the refrigerator overnight. Measure juice and use it immediately in recommended proportions with sugar and pectin.



How Old are Your Spices?

Store spices and herbs in a cool, dry, dark cabinet for best storage conditions.

Do you ever buy a can of herbs and only use it once? It happens to all of us. Then we have a cabinet full of herbs and spices that get old go out of date.

Here’s a general guide for how long to store herbs and spices:

  • Dry herbs—1-3 years
  • Ground spices—2-3 years
  • Whole spices—3-4 years
  • Seasoning/Herb blends—1-2 years
  • Extracts (except vanilla extract) – 4 years

Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter Special Supplement, June 2017