You Asked It!

Category: October 2017

Campylobacter Linked to Puppies

The bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners.

I confess. I love puppies! How can you resist those cute fuzzy faces! Unfortunately, puppies are currently linked to an outbreak of Campylobacter in seven states affecting 39 people, including Kansas. This is not puppy love.

It is a fact, animals carry germs. This outbreak is traced back to puppies sold at Petland stores. The suspected source of the bacteria is dog feces. Symptoms of Campylobacter include diarrhea (bloody), fever, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms develop in two to fives days after exposure and last about a week.

When puppy shopping, look for shiny, soft, clean fur. The puppy should be bright, alert, and playful. Always take the puppy to your veterinarian for a check-up as soon as possible. If the puppy is sluggish, not eating, or has abnormal breathing, see your veterinarian.

Always wash your hands after handling any animal, their food, or cleaning up after them. This important step will help stop the transfer of disease to you.

Learn more at


The Future of Coffee Creamers

Move over single-serve plastic coffee creamers! Introducing the dissolvable milk pod!

A German researcher has developed a pod with a single serving of milk, encapsulated in a sugar crust. The coffee will dissolve the sugar, and the sugar and milk are released into the coffee.

The current plastic containers of coffee creamers are not usually recyclable. So these new dissolvable pods could reduce waste.

The new milk pods are not currently on the market.



From Dime-store Lunch Counter to Grocerant

For decades, eating lunch at the grocery store counter was the norm for a quick meal. Today, grocery stores are offering the “grocerant” concept to offer grocery shoppers a restaurant dining experience.

Dining options include fresh-made pizza, tacos, salads, Asian, Mexican, sushi, breakfast, and more. The grocerant concept appeals to high-income, young shoppers who are short on time. But seniors also take advantage of buying smaller portions for one or two people. Millennials mix and match items to make a complete meal.

Chef driven menus offer restaurant-quality food at lower prices than traditional stand alone restaurants. Many grocerants provide casual seating up to a full service experience. The grocerant growth has gained at least 30% growth since 2008.



“Our Hands, Our Future!”

October 15 is designated as Global Handwashing Day. The theme, Our Hands, Our Future, is a reminder that handwashing protects your health and other life aspects.

This simple practice should be a habit as it is the most effective and inexpensive way to protect your health.

To help promote handwashing, there are many resources from the American Cleaning Institute at and

“Even in the United States, where soap is plentiful, handwashing doesn’t happen as often as it should.”


Using Well Water in Canning

If you use well water, annual testing for water safety is important. If your report shows high levels of nitrate and/or nitrite, steps must be made to make the water safe.

In home canning or in cooking, boiling the water will not remove nitrate or nitrite. In fact, heat will concentrate and increase the content. The Environmental Protection Agency states the maximum total nitrate and nitrite level is 10 parts per million.

Treat well water with anion exchange, distillation, electrodialysis or reverse osmosis processes. Contact a water treatment professional to select the right treatment for your well water.

Source: and

For more information and resources about well water in Kansas, see


After the Hunt: Preserving Wild Game

Hunting season has begun! Wild game provides wholesome, nourishing food, but food safety is key for preserving the meat.

To retain the quality of the meat, it is important to handle and preserve the meat safely and efficiently. The most popular methods to preserve the meat are freezing, dehydrating, or canning.

Pressure canning is the only method to can meat. Be sure you canner is in good working order and remember to adjust the processing pressure for you altitude of residence.

Dehydrating meat into jerky makes a quick snack that is easy to store and is portable. The ideal dehydrating temperature is 140°F. But the meat must be heated, either before or after dehydrating, to 160°F.

Learn more at

Baking Perfect Sweet Potatoes

Have you ever baked a sweet potato and it remains hard? Time and temperature are important. So try this method.

Wash and scrub the potato. Poke it with a fork or knife several times. Jump-start the baking in the microwave until the internal temperature reaches 200°F, about 6 to 9 minutes, flipping every 3 minutes. Then, place on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet to allow air circulation. Bake at 425°F for one hour to finish cooking.

The finished potato should be creamy and flavorful. Enjoy!

Source: Cook’s Illustrated, September 2017

For more recipe ideas, see:


Using Raw Sugar in Baking

Raw sugar is a trendy sweetener found in many specialty food stores. Examples include Demerara and turbinado sugar. They have a light molasses flavor and a larger crystal size. Can they be used in place of traditional granulated sugar in baked goods?

For wetter batters, such as cake batter, the moisture in the recipe can help dissolve the raw sugar to produce a good cake texture. For a dryer batter or dough, such as muffins, cookies and shortbread, the finished texture is poor. The low amount of moisture will not completely dissolve the large sugar crystals.

To use raw sugar in baked goods, grind the sugar until fine and powdery before adding to batters. This will help the sugar dissolve and improve results.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated, September 2017


Avoid Making Sun Pickles

The internet abounds with untested, and potentially unsafe canning recipes. With sun pickles, you fill a jar with cucumbers, add salt, and then fill with cold water. Apply the lid and ring. Then the jar is allowed to sit in the sun each day until the water turns from clear (at the start) to cloudy (in the middle of the process) and then clear again (at the end). According to the recipe, when the water becomes clear again, the pickles are ready to use.

This type of recipe is not safe. This recipe presents a risk of  illness linked to three major foodborne pathogens: E. coli O157:H7, Clostridium botulinum, and Listeria monocytogenes.

Why is this recipe so unsafe?

  • The ratio of salt/water/cucumber is not defined. The precise ratio of these ingredients found in tested recipes allows good bacteria on cucumbers to grow and produce acid (and a safe product), and prevents pathogens (the harmful bacteria) from growing.
  • The temperature inside a jar sitting in the sun could rise above 72°F, too high for proper fermentation. High fermentation temperatures lead to spoilage or allow pathogen growth.



Say No to Open Kettle or Oven Canning

Open kettle canning has not been recommended for 30+ years. Open kettle canning involves heating the food to boiling, pouring it into the jars, applying lids, and allowing the heat of the jar to cause the lid to seal. The food is not heated adequately to destroy the spoilage organisms, molds and yeasts that can enter the jar while you are filling the jar, and it does not produce a strong seal on the jar. This method is not safe! Just because the lid seals, doesn’t meat it’s safe. The time saved with open kettle canning is not worth the risk of food spoilage or illness.

Oven canning may sound simple, but oven heat is not the same as heat from a boiling water bath or from steam in a pressure canner. Placing jars in the dry heat of the oven may cause the glass to crack and shatter causing injury to you. Dry heat is not comparable to the moist heat of a boiling water bath. Processing in an oven will not heat the contents in the coldest part of the jar in the same way as boiling water. Oven heat will not increase the temperature inside the jar above boiling to be adequate to destroy botulism spores in low acid foods. Oven canning is not safe!