Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pressure canning in multi-cookers

One common food preservation topic this year has been the new multi-cooker/canners advertised on television and online. Here is more information from the May/June issue of the Preserve It Fresh, Preserve It Safe newsletter.

The University of Georgia’s National Center for Food Preservation does not support the use electric, multi-cooker appliances to make USDA-approved pressure canning recipes, even if the device features canning or steam-canning buttons or manufacturers’ directions for pressure canning. The USDA cannot recommend pressure canning with electric multi-cookers because not enough research has been done on key parts of the food preservation process in those appliances to prove their ability to safely preserve food:

• The USDA has not yet conducted research on jars inside an electric pressure cooker to track the actual temperatures inside the jars throughout the process.

• USDA recommendations were determined for stovetop pressure canners which hold four or more quart-size jars standing upright. However, only up to four upright pints fit in most electric multi-cookers currently on the market.

• In order to ensure the safety of the final product, the temperature in the canner must stay above a minimum temperature throughout the entire processing time. Do power surges or drops with an electric canner cause the temperature to drop too low? How will you, the user know if that happens with your cooker?

• Bacteria are killed while the canner comes up to pressure and during the cool-down time, as well as during the processing time. For example, after the heat is turned off, the food remains hot enough to kill bacteria for a time while the canner cools down to zero pounds of pressure. If anything shortens the cooling period, including using a very small cooker, then the food could cool down too quickly and still harbor dangerous bacteria and other microorganisms.

Please note: This statement about electric cookers does NOT include the Ball® Automatic Home Canner for acid foods only, which is electric, but (1) is not a “multi-cooker”, but a dedicated canner, (2) comes with its own instructions and preset canning options for specific food preparations, and (3) has had proper thermal process development done to support the recommendations with it.

Source: National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia. (2015, February 13). Burning Issue: Canning in Electric Multi-Cookers. Retrieved from:

May/June 2015 Preserve It Fresh, Preserve It Safe newsletter

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Looking for new exercises or a quick workout?

Are you looking for a change to your workout or hoping to start a new workout plan?

ACE Fitness has some great ready-to-go workouts available for free on their website. Each one includes a sample warm-up, workout, and cool down.

The two that would be great for anyone are the:
Check out some of the other workouts available  on the website - you might find some extra motivation or something new to try!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter food safety

Easter is right around the corner. While Easter celebrations may vary, many of us will enjoy the day with food and possibly Easter egg hunts. Here are some things to remember about food safety for Easter.
  • Always wash your hands before handling eggs, serving food, or eating food.

  • Do not let food sit out for more than two hours at room temperature. Bacteria love growing rapidly at room temperature and can make food unsafe to eat after the two hour mark. Use smaller serving dishes and refill as needed or surround dishes with ice to keep below 40 degrees.

  • Be careful not to crack eggs when dying, hiding, or retrieving them. It is also best to keep them refrigerated until they are to be hidden. If the shells are cracked during hiding or retrieving, it is best to throw those eggs away because bacteria can contaminate through the cracks.

  • If you are planning to eat the eggs after the hunt, the total hiding and hunting time should not exceed 2 hours (or 1 hour if the outside temperature is above 90 degrees). The eggs should be washed, refrigerated, and eaten within 7 days of when they were cooked.

  • If the eggs or any food has been left out for more than 2 hours, it must be thrown away to prevent foodborne illness. If eggs were used as decoration and left at room temperature for 2 hours or more, they also need to be thrown out.

  • If you purchase a ham, pay attention to the label for storage information. It should have a best if used by date for best quality. Leftover cooked ham should be used within 3-4 days or frozen.

  • The American Egg board has easy instructions for hard-boiling eggs.  
Enjoy the Easter holiday with friends and family!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April Cook It Quick newsletter

The April edition of the Cook It Quick newsletter from the University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension is now online. There are some GREAT recipes in this issues, so make sure you check it out.

You will find:
  • Jiffy oatmeal crunch (quick, delicious, easy ingredients)
  • Quick black bean soup (only 20 minutes to make)
  • BBQ chicken pizza (BBQ + pizza = tasty!)
  • Apple coffee cake (looks great for breakfast)
  • Stuffed bell pepper (veggies, protein, and grain all in one dish)
  • Bachelor food (good for those hungry men - and women!)
  • Baked lentils casserole (protein-rich and colorful)
  • 20 minute chicken creole (who doesn't love quick meals)
As well as other information on:
  • Measurement equivalents
  • How does your club stack up?
  • How to chill foods properly
  • Safe grocery shopping
This edition is not to be missed - it has something for everybody! Read the April Cook It Quick newsletter from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April 2 is National Walking Day

April 2, 2014 is National Walking Day.  The American Heart Association has designated this day to remind adults to take at least 30 minutes a day to get up and walk.

It is easier to be inactive than it is to be active. Regular activity helps keep bones strong, hearts healthy, muscles strong, improves balance and coordination, keeps cholesterol levels normal, prevents falls, increases energy, prevents weight gain, and makes it easier to do our normal activities of daily living (carrying groceries, going up and down stairs).

Physical activity is vital in enhancing quality of life and maintaining independence. Regular physical activity also helps reduce risk for many diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, some types of cancer, depression, and anxiety. If the benefits of physical activity could be bottled into a medication, adults would be jumping at the chance to take this “miracle” pill!

Add walking to your daily routine to increase your physical activity and enjoy the many benefits of being active.Walking is free, easy to do, and fun! All you need is a safe place to walk, comfortable shoes, and the motivation to get it done.

Warm up by walking slowly for five minutes at the beginning and cool down similarly. Add in some stretches at the end to help improve flexibility. Make sure to walk in safe places (parks, trails, sidewalks) and be careful if you walk near busy areas.

Walking can be done anytime of the day and can be a great way to catch up with a friend or family member. Walking with a partner can not only improve your health, but the health of your partner too. You can help keep each other motivated and accountable. Pets benefit from walking too!

The 2008 Physical Activity guidelines recommend 150 minutes of cardiovascular (aerobic) activity per week. Walking for 30 minutes, five days a week will meet this goal. If you are currently inactive or if that sounds like too much, you can just add in a few minutes of walking here and there. Even an extra trip to the mailbox or an extra trip around the grocery store will add up. Start with a few minutes and increase that amount toward the goal, as you feel comfortable.  

The American Heart Association website has resources available for National Walking Day on their website.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spinach Day

Today (March 26) is Spinach Day. Popeye loved his spinach for a reason. This versatile green can be eaten raw or cooked and used in many different recipes. Here is more about this powerhouse vegetable.

Spinach is much more than just the boring side dish that some of us may think of when we hear this vegetable. Spinach tastes different depending on if it is raw or cooked and how it is seasoned.

Spinach is in season in the spring and fall, from March to June and September to December.

Spinach is packed full of nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and folate. Vitamin K helps with blood clotting. Vitamin A and C are antioxidants, which reduce risk for certain diseases and cancer. Vitamin A also helps with healthy vision and vitamin C helps protect skin from bruises, helps heal cuts, and helps with healthy gums. Calcium and magnesium are needed for healthy bones. Potassium helps lower blood pressure and fiber controls cholesterol and keeps you regular. Folate reduces risk for heart disease and helps prevent birth defects during pregnancy.

Try using raw spinach instead of lettuce in salads or on sandwiches, or add spinach to pasta sauces, soups, stews, or casserole. You can also add spinach to quiche, omelets, or frittatas. If raw spinach is too bitter for your salad, try mixing it with romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce.

Instead of your normal lasagna recipe, try spinach lasagna for dinner. Add spinach to your homemade pizzas. Try sautéing spinach in a skillet with some olive oil and garlic for a side dish.

Monday, March 10, 2014

March Cook It Quick newsletter

The March issue of the Cook It Quick newsletter from the University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension is now available!

In this month's issue, you will find:
  • Ideas to go for the green for St. Patrick's Day
  • Roasted sweet potatoes with onions
  • Chocolate chip yogurt cookies
  • Salmon with mustard sauce
  • Making a meal with what's on hand
  • Selecting and serving seafood safely
  • Old fashion bread pudding
  • Prolonging the life of bananas
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • And other helpful tips!
You don't want to miss this month's issue of the Cook It Quick newsletter from the University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension!