Tag: Food Safety

Free Online Food Preservation Series

University of Nebraska Extension is hosting a FREE Food Preservation Virtual Learning Series. Each session will include a short presentation and time for discussion and question/answer on any food preservation related topic. All sessions will be taught online through zoom and pre-registration is required. The session details are below:

  • August 5, 6:30 p.m: Food Preservation 101
  • August 19, 6:30 p.m: Boiling Water Canning/Steam Canning/Pressure Canning
  • September 2, 6:30 p.m: Freezing/Dehydrating

Each Zoom session will be recorded and a link to the recording will be sent to all participants who register. Sessions will be led by Nebraska Extension’s Food Preservation Team.

For more information and to register, please follow this link: https://food.unl.edu/article/home-food-preservation-series

By: Ashley Svaty

Electric Multi-Cookers Are Not Canners

Ashley Svaty
Nutrition, Food Safety and Health Agent

Canning season is in full swing and we must remember to only use SAFE and trusted preservation techniques and recipes. It is critical to use scientifically tested recipes when canning and while some electric multi-cookers have a “canning” button, no research is available to back up this function. Use these appliances for cooking only! Find safe and trusted recipes here: https://www.rrc.k-state.edu/preservation/index.html or call any Post Rock District office and we would be happy to help!

By: Ashley Svaty

Preserving Tomatoes

Tomatoes may have that tasty zing that makes them tart and tasty. But in reality, they are not as acidic as they seem, especially when canning tomatoes.

Tomatoes have a pH value around 4.6 which makes them unsafe to can by themselves, with many varieties above 4.6. All tomatoes must be acidified with either citric acid, bottled lemon juice, or vinegar with 5% acidity in both water bath and pressure canning processing.

Without this added acid, tomatoes will likely ferment and spoil. Learn more in Preserve it Fresh, Preserve it Safe: Tomatoes.

By: Ashley Svaty

Health and Food Behaviors During COVID-19

As the saying goes, timing is everything. The 2020 International Food Information Council Food & Health Survey was conducted in April 2020, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, that backdrop must be considered when looking at the results. Yes, consumer beliefs and actions have made a major shift. The question is, will those changes remain?

It’s not surprising that cooking at home is the biggest change for 8 in 10 Americans. Along with that, they are snacking more, washing fruits and vegetables more, and just giving more thought to food choices.

Going to the grocery store has decreased since consumers make fewer trips to the store each week.  Online grocery shopping has gone up.

Food safety concerns about food have increased and more than a third of consumers avoid some foods and beverages. Keep in mind, COVID-19 has not been found to spread through food or food packaging. Consumers are more concerned about food safety when grocery shopping online.

In spite of all the challenges with COVID-19, 67% of respondents are at least somewhat confident in the overall safety of the food supply.

Download the entire report at https://foodinsight.org/2020-food-and-health-survey/.

By: Ashley Svaty

Let’s Preserve Cherries!

Whether you like them sweet, sour, golden or red, cherries are in season! Their short season means you must enjoy them as much as you can now. But wait! They can also be preserved to save them for a later date.

Cherries can be preserved by canning, freezing, dehydrating, or made into canned pie filling, jam, jelly. The uses of fresh cherries are endless in many meals or just a simple snack.

Freezing is easy. Simply wash, remove stems and pits. Dry and spread on a tray in a single layer to freeze. Then place them in freezer containers. Cherries can also be frozen in a syrup or sugar pack.

If making canned pie filling, use sour cherries for that classic pie flavor. Use Clear Jel® starch (cook type) for best results.

Learn more about preserving cherries at https://bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF1180.pdf. To dehydrate cherries, see https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/dry/csu_dry_fruits.pdf.

Please call any of our offices with food preservation questions or visit: https://www.rrc.k-state.edu/preservation/

By: Ashley Svaty

Selling Food Directly to the Consumer

Farmers markets are one avenue of selling food and other products to consumers. But there are other paths that go directly to the consumer.

However that happens, we can help! Our publication, Food Safety for Kansas Farmers Market Vendors: Regulations and Best Practices, is a comprehensive guide for many types of foods. This publication is updated at least yearly to stay on top of the latest guidance.

Get started on the right foot! This will help assure your consumers you care about safety and the best product quality.

To help you start a food business, the Kansas Value Added Foods Lab at K-State Research and Extension can help!

By: Ashley Svaty

Fire Up the Grill!

A food thermometer should be your best friend, never determine meat doneness based on color. Use a food thermometer and make sure meat is cooked to the recommended minimum internal temperature to reduce the risk of food borne illness. For the three most common types of grilled meats, those recommendations include:

  • Steaks, chops and roasts – 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Ground meat – 160 F.
  • All poultry – 165 F.

A food thermometer should be inserted into the center of the thickest part of the meat, away from bone, fat and gristle. For ground meat – such as hamburger patties – insert into the side so that the thermometer is positioned through the center of the food.

  • Use separate plates and utensils for raw meats and cooked meats.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods should be maintained at a temperature above 140 F, while cold foods should be kept below 40 F.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after handling raw foods, before and during meal preparation, and before eating.
  • Prepare several ice chests to keep food cold and to separate items. Keep beverages in one chest, ready-to-eat foods in another, and raw meats in a third.
  • Do not wash meat or poultry before cooking.

Some non-food safety tips include positioning the grill away from flammable areas, checking the charcoal or gas supply so you don’t run out while preparing meals, and keeping children and pets away from a hot grill.  Have fun and stay safe this grilling season!

By: Ashley Svaty