Friday, May 25, 2018

Summer Canning Safety

If your summer includes plans to can your home grown vegetables, I hope you also find time to test your pressure canner dial gauge.
The pressure canner is used to process foods under pressure at temperatures higher than boiling. A pressure canner is the only safe method for processing low acid foods such as vegetables, meat, poultry and fish. The pressure canner can supply enough heat to destroy spores of bacteria that causes botulism as well as other types of spoilage.
To have your pressure canner tested, bring the canner lid to the Extension office located at 206 S. State Street in Decatur.  The test will help you determine the accuracy of your pressure canner and therefore be confident in your ability to properly can food. 
Pressure canners with a dial gauge, should be checked once a year before the canning season. Also check it during the season if you use the canner frequently. If you do not have an instruction book for your canner, write for one.
The weighted pressure control on canners does not need to be checked. Keep it clean and rust free. In most canners there is a gasket. These gaskets are made of rubber or rubber-like compounds to keep steam from leaking out around the cover. You can remove and replace most gaskets as needed. Some only need to be turned to ensure a tight seal. Replace a worn, stretched or hardened gasket with a new one. Refer to the canner instructions for directions.
For more information on testing your pressure canner or for tips on canning your summer produce, call the Extension office at 940/627-3341.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Grilling Outdoors Safely

With Graduation, Father’s Day, and many other summer activities approaching many of you are sure to fire up the outdoor grill to help with food preparation for the celebrations.
            Outdoor grilling is a popular way to prepare food during warmer weather while enjoying the company of family and friends.  However, grilling does “open the door” to food borne illness if proper cleanliness and preparation measures are not followed. 
            To make your cookout a fond memory rather than a regretful experience, follow these simple steps:
Food Preparation:
           Select fresh meat, poultry, or seafood that is high quality for best cooking results.
           Keep these perishable products at 40° F or colder, until immediately before grilling.
           Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator and discard leftover marinade.
           Wash your hands before and after working with raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
           Wash your work surfaces and cutting boards with hot, soapy water before and after preparing food.  To sanitize, use 1 tsp. bleach per quart of warm water.  If possible, use a separate cutting board for fresh produce and raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
          When away from home, keep your meat and poultry away from other food in a separate cooler with ice.  This prevents cross contamination.
         After placing raw meat on the grill, wash utensils and platters with hot, soapy water before using them to serve cooked food.
           Cook foods to an internal temperature that destroys harmful bacteria.  Check the temperature by placing a thermometer in the center-most part of the meat, not touching the bone.

 Internal temperature for thorough cooking to prevent food borne illness are:
           Whole poultry - 165° F
           Poultry breasts - 165° F
           Ground beef patties - 160° F
           Ground poultry - 165° F
           Beef, veal, lamb steaks, roasts, or chops - 145° F (yields medium rare doneness)
           All cuts of pork - 160° F (yields medium doneness)

Safe handling of cooked food:
           Serve food immediately after grilling, or keep at 135° F or above until served.
           Place on a clean platter.
           Refrigerate on a clean platter.
           Refrigerate all leftovers immediately at 40° F or below.

Discard any food left out longer than 2 hours, or 1 hour if temperature is above 90° F.  Note: These temperatures are recommended for consumer cooking. They are not intended for processing, institutional, or food service preparation. Food Service Workers should consult their state or local food code, or health department.
And finally, if you are looking for a recipe to make your own rub to use on meats throughout this grilling season, you might want to try the following courtesy of the Texas Beef Council. 

Ranch Rub

2 teaspoons sweet paprika, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper. Combine all ingredients. Store in airtight container. Shake before using.

             For more information about safe outdoor grilling or food safety call Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Wise County office at 940.627.3341.

Indoor Hay Storage: Dry Matter Loss and Quality Changes

                 Because of the harsh winter and drought conditions we are low on hay inventories.  You never know how you will benefit from storing hay until you test it. There is no doubt if you store hay out of the weather you will dramatically decrease yield losses.  Quality; however will change, but not as much as you think. The following information was developed by Dennis R. Buckmaster, Assistant Professor of Agriculture Engineering.
                Mechanically-induced losses during forage harvest are visible and are commonly recognized as a source quantity and quality loss. Although invisible, similar losses occur during hay storage because of microbial respiration on the hay. This respiration results in dry matter loss as well as quality reduction.              
                The dry matter lost during storage consists of the most nutritious parts of the hay (nonstructural carbohydrates). As a result, hay quality is affected in a manner which decreases its potential intake and digestibility. Heat generation, also associated with the respiration, reduces protein availability.
                Moisture content also decreases during storage. Given enough time in storage (usually two months or more), most hay will reach approximately 12 percent moisture if baled at less than 25 percent moisture. If not treated with an effective preservative, hay baled above 25 percent moisture poses the threat of severe heat production and a barn fire.
                Forages are made up of dry matter (DM) and water. While the water has no nutritional value, it can have economic value because hay is often sold by weight on an “as is” basis rather than on a dry matter basis. Hay buyers and sellers should have hay sampled for dry matter content because this, in combination with the weight and quality, determines the amount of nutrients being transferred.
                Chemical preservatives change the storage process. Although the changes in treated hay would be similar to those discussed here, this fact sheet applies specifically to untreated alfalfa hay.
Dry Matter Loss in Baled Hay
                 Dry matter loss is a direct result of microbial activity. During this microbial activity the soluble carbohydrates in the hay are consumed. The amount of dry matter loss is directly related to heat generation, which in turn is related to moisture content.  For hay baled near 12 percent moisture, very little loss occurs. As baling moisture rises, the amount of storage dry matter loss increases. This dry matter loss results in less feed and lower quality feed. Trade-offs occur between storage losses and harvest losses; but, in general, hay baled at 15 to 18 percent moisture will maximize the overall nutrient yield.
                Consider one ton of alfalfa hay baled at 18 percent moisture (82 percent DM) is placed into storage. The amount of dry matter going into storage is 1,640 lbs. (2,000 x 82 percent DM). With a dry matter loss of 2.5 percent, only 1,600 will be available after storage. At 12 percent moisture (88 percent DM), the total weight as removed from storage would be 1,820 lbs. while the initial weight was 2,000 lbs. From a hay sellers perspective (in this example), the price needs to be at least 10 percent higher after storage than at baling because of the weight change.
Quality Effects
                The dry matter consumed during hay storage is primarily nonstructural carbohydrate which is readily used by ruminant animals. The fibrous plant components are retained and, as other dry matter is lost, their concentration increases. A slight amount of crude protein is lost during storage, but protein is lost at a slower rate than carbohydrates; thus, crude protein concentration increases slightly during storage.
                The NDF concentration will also increase, which in return will decrease quality because intake of the alfalfa by ruminant animals will now be lower. Acid detergent fiber (ADF) also increases; this indicates that digestibility of the hay after storage will be slight lower than that of the freshly baled hay. Although the increase in CP content appears to be a good consequence, the total amount of protein removed from storage is less than the amount put into storage.
                 Another quality change occurring during storage of alfalfa hay, or any hay for that matter, concerns the acid detergent insoluble protein (ADIP) (this is sometimes called ADIN or ADF-N if expressed on a nitrogen rather than a protein basis). This protein is unavailable to ruminant animals. Formation of ADIP is directly related to heat development.
                Hay producers and feeders need to be aware of changes occurring to hay during storage. In a feeding program, it would be best to take forage samples near the time of feeding rather than at the time of baling so as to more accurately reflect what the animal would be getting. Similarly, purchased hay should be sampled at the time of the purchase for a better indication of the quantity of dry matter being purchased as well as the quality of the purchase.
                For more information please contact Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Wise County at 940-627-3341.

Walk Across Texas Results

The 21st  Annual Walk Across Texas top awards are presented to the following three teams: 1st place with 3670 miles was The Decatur Eighters-Wise Health System, Jordan Holzbog- team captain; Amy Hermes, Becky Samstag, Jason Wren, Debbie Runnels, Matt Runnels, Tom Cocke,  and Paul Aslin. 2nd place was Team 360-Wise Health System with 3490 miles. Members are Leah Throckmorton- Team Captain; Nicole Ferrell, Shawna Merchangt, Sara Ratliff, Johnathan Swofford, Lisa Cruz, Jill Hughes, and Kelly Swofford. In 3rd place was the Boonsville Bandits. Team captain was Robert Grantham with members Cindy Highfill, Jessica Davis, Maynard Reeves, Ginger Jimenez, and Ryli Richardson logged 3296 miles.
Additional teams that achieved the milestone of  Walking Across Texas were: 4th place, Greenwood Walkers- 3140 miles; 5th place was Not Fast Just Furious1 with 3034 miles; 6th place was Boonsville Slackers with 2277 miles; 7th place was Fit Bits and Pieces with 1895 miles; followed by The Street Walkers in 8th place with 1889 miles; the Blister Sisters placed 9th with 1767 miles; in 10th place was Rhonda’s Best Body Bunch with 1620 miles; 11th place was The Step Sisters with 1567 miles and in 12th place was the Alvord FUMC Soleful Strutters with 1482  miles. Also in 13th- Bust a Move with 1439 miles; 14the-Shoe Ins with 1403 miles; 15th – Scrambled Leg with 1352 miles; 16th-Takin a Hike with 1272 miles; 17th- Not Fast Just Furious2 with 1230 miles; 18th-  Successful Survivors with 1206 miles; and finally in 19th was Women in Action with 972 miles.
Team captains and individual team members alike did a super job as over 39,809 total miles was logged over the eight week period. The top individual walker was Lynn Foster of Not Fast Just Furious1 with 1542+ miles; 2nd place walker was Amy Hermes of The Decatur Eighters with 950 miles; and 3rd place walker was Bobbie Ashley of the Greenwood Walkers with 641  miles. Rounding out the top five were Geraldine Shadburn of the Greenwood Walkers with 640 miles and Leah Throckmorton with 600 miles.
Congratulations to the 152 Walk Across Texas participants who completed all 8 weeks.  If they continue walking at the same level as during Walk Across Texas, they have the potential to save over $2,723,613 collectively in future health care costs by avoiding type 2 diabetes and reducing work absences.
Following is a sample of benefits that individuals indicated were a result of their participation:    
·          Walk Across Texas kept me moving more because I knew ai was on a team and wanted to do my part.
·          By setting a goal and having to log in and report progress, I actually exceeded my expectations.
·          I have done 20 of the last 21 years and have been a team captain. I am 86 years old.
Thank you to Fuzzy’s Tacos in Decatur and Catfish O’Harlies for serving as our weekly door prize sponsors. If you and/or your team have not received your certificates, you can let Karen Brown at the Extension office know that you will drop by to pick them up. The office is located at 206 S. State, Decatur. Call 940/627-3341 to let us know you are coming by.  This activity was hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Wise County, Family and Consumer Sciences Committee. It is never too late for you and a team of eight to begin the Walk Across Texas program. Contact us to find out how.