When it comes to canning, foods are divided into two categories. Low acid foods have a pH 4.6 or above and high acid foods have a pH of 4.6 or below. In general, fruits fall into the high acid category. But, there are some exceptions.
Melons, including watermelon, honey dew and cantaloupe, are examples of low acid fruits. They have an average pH of 6.2. So, to can them, significant amounts of acid and sugar must be included to safely can them in a boiling water bath canner. In March of 2011, there was an outbreak of botulism linked to watermelon jelly sold in Canada.
So, it is important to choose recipes from trusted resources in all canning, and especially with low acid foods. A good recipe for Watermelon Jelly can be found in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving or at www.bernardin.ca/recipes/zesty-watermelon-jelly.htm?Lang=EN-US. Bernardin is the Canadian brand of Ball canning products.
Remember, while tomatoes are classified as a vegetable, they are botanically a fruit. Acid, either lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid, must be added to tomatoes for safe canning. Details can be found at www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF1185.PDF.
Is rhubarb and asparagus that has been frosted safe to eat?
A light frost will not harm rhubarb. However, if temperatures were cold enough to cause the rhubarb leaves to wilt or become limp then damage has been done. The leaves should be removed and discarded. Any new leaves that appear and are normal can be eaten.
The leaf blade of rhubarb is poisonous regardless of whether it suffered cold damage as it naturally contains oxalic acid. The leaf stalk is the edible portion of this plant. However, when leaves become frozen, the oxalic content of the stalks increases, making them dangerous to consume. Learn more at www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/ep99.pdf
Asparagus does not contain poisonous substances but frost will cause the spear tips to wilt and give them an off flavor. Remove and discard any spears that show such damage. Learn more at www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/mf319.pdf
Source: Ward Upham
The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture has signed a proclamation to restore local control in school lunch programs in the whole grains, sodium, and milk guidelines.
Schools are finding that many kids throw these foods away. While the schools may be compliant with the menu, the reality is the food is wasted. There has also been a decrease in student participation in school lunches. This reduces revenue and increased costs.
Giving back local control allows states and schools flexibility and more appealing meals for students.
Kitchen sponges are notorious for trapping food particles which can lead to bacterial growth. This can lead to cross contamination and foodborne illness.
In a recent study, researchers evaluated polyurethane foam sponges and cellulous sponges and different treatments to help clean and sanitize them. The polyurethane foam sponges disinfected with chlorine reduced pathogenic E. coli up to almost 90%. Cellulose sponges reduced chlorine levels by 24% after 30 minutes of soaking. This reduces the effectiveness of disinfection. Total numbers of bacteria and E. coli were less in both antimicrobial polyurethane sponges and regular polyurethane sponges.
Bottom line, if using sponges, try polyurethane types, keep them disinfected, and replace them often.
Out of all eggs sold in the U.S., only three percent are pasteurized. By pasteurizing eggs, this could reduce illnesses from Salmonella. Currently, egg pasteurization is done by immersing them in hot water and the process adds about $1.50 per dozen eggs. This method can lead to egg whites denaturing and coagulating.
Researchers at the USDA Agricultural Research Service have developed a new way to pasteurize eggs using radio frequency (RF) technology. This gets more heat into the yolk instead of the white. It is faster which can reduce costs. This technology is already being used to reduce pathogens in almonds, spices, wheat flour, and other foods.
Results from this research showed a reduced pathogen level by 99.999 percent. This is comparable to the current hot water treatment. The entire process takes 23 minutes, which is three times faster than the hot water treatment.
A nationwide recall of flour in Canada has led to a class-action lawsuit. The recall is due to 26 cases of E. coli including six hospitalizations, but no deaths.
This large recall is another reminder that flour is a raw food product. After handling flour, always wash your hands and clean surfaces and equipment thoroughly. Baking and cooking flour will also kill E. coli. Do not consume raw dough products such as cookie dough and cake batter.
Are you a klutz in the kitchen? There is a special day just for you! June 13 is designated as “Kitchen Klutzes of America Day.”
While there is no record of the origin or purpose of this day, it is a fun way to recognize that we all have bad days in the kitchen. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have in the kitchen, problems and accidents happen to all of us.
So celebrate! Give yourself a break and laugh at yourself. Don’t be afraid to share your funny stories. Those struggles can help someone else be a better cook in the kitchen. Just remember to keep a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher handy in case of an emergency!
It’s likely you’ve seen it. You take a steak out of the package and you see brown or discolored spots. It is still safe to eat?
As long as the meat was kept cold and is not past its best-by date, most likely, it is safe to eat. If it smells, that indicates temperature abuse and some kind of bacterial growth. If it smells like good meat, it is safe. Cook it using a meat thermometer for best safety.
The color change is due to oxidation. This turns the red meat color to brown. Meat color is controlled by the protein myoglobin. Within myoglobin is iron. When iron loses an electron, the color changes from red to brown. That brown protein is metmyoglobin.
Oxidation occurs in several situations. Those situations include lack of oxygen, storage time, the presence of salts and marinades, freezing, and yes, bacterial growth.
Grab the tongs, platters, spatulas, and don’t forget a food thermometer! Taking the temperature of food is the safest way to check for doneness.
The best types of thermometers for grilling are digital instant-read thermometers or the thermometer-fork combination. Both read temperature in less than 10 seconds. Insert it into the thickest part of the food, but work well for thin foods too.