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Food Safety

Pour jam into jar

Why is open kettle canning unsafe?

Canning food at home has been around since the early 1800s, with the first mason jar designed for canning distributed in 1884. Canning, freezing, and drying is a science and has evolved over the last 100 years.  The only safe way to can food at home and store at room temperature is by using either...
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Cleaning kitchen, pumpkin season

Add food safety to your fall recipes!

The celebration of Labor Day quickly moves us into the fall season. It's a welcome transition to cooler weather - some even say "sweater weather." Another transition is the expectation of seasonal fall foods. They bring back memories of delicious warm cider, lattes, apples, and meals in the slow...
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Four images. Image one - three varieties of asparagus: white, purple, and green. Image two a basket of green asparagus, image three washing green asparagus under running water, and image four, a plate with asparagus, salmon, and cherry tomatoes.

Asparagus: A tasty spring favorite

One vegetable that is notably present in grocery stores across the nation each spring is asparagus. Although asparagus can be found year-round, the peak availability of this perennial vegetable is in the spring. This vegetable has long slender, brightly colored spears with pointy crowns. The color...
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Bag of Flour with Question Mark

Is canning flour safe?

During gardening season, Americans home can fruit and vegetables to store them at room temperature and enjoy them throughout the year. Fruits and vegetables go bad much quicker than dry ingredients such as flour, but how long can flour be stored, and is it safe for home canning like fresh produce?...
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Wood baskets filled with delicate, acorn, and butternut squashes

8 winter squash recipes to make this autumn

After a multiday team meeting, our group went out to dinner. A special at a local restaurant was a whole pumpkin, scooped out and filled with mashed pumpkin, seafood, veggies, and sauce. It was a hit! While they're tasty and make for festive decorating, I find winter squash intimidating to cut up...
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Flat metal pot with 3 eggplant on wood background

Eggplant is a recipe centerpiece and a team player

When writing about specific fruits and veggies, I like to look at recipes with that food. I know how I'd use eggplant, but how do others use it? It seems like eggplant pairs endlessly with so many flavors across so many cultures. While eggplant can be the center of the dish, it can also compliment...
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Tan wood background with whole and halved peaches with a few peach leaves

Summertime is the best time to enjoy peaches

Peaches are one of a handful of foods I don't buy fresh unless it's summertime and I can get them locally. The quality and flavor of peaches in summer from a local farm is just. so. good! My favorite way to eat them is on their own. No muss, no fuss. But there are lots of ways to prepare peaches,...
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Potato salad in yellow bowl next to fork on blue wood table

5 summer salads to help you cool down in hot weather

Oh my, is it hot this week in Illinois! So, these five cold summer salad recipes will certainly taste great to help beat the heat.  I like salads (and recipes like salsa with a mix of different fruits and veggies) for a couple reasons. One, there are multiple different nutrients in one bite. Two,...
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Plate of sliced cucumbers with overlaying text of "Cucumbers: From pickles to salads to sandwich toppers to dippers." Photographs show a young Asian holding a cucumber, a pregnant women slicing cucumbers, and an African American father and child holding cucumbers on a cutting board

Cucumbers make tasty salsas, salads, and pickles

Is it a zucchini or a cucumber? I get this question almost every time I talk with kids about that long, green vegetable. (They do have some similarities. It would be easy to confuse.) If you garden, cucumbers seem to keep coming and growing and expanding across the soil! So, when you are ready to...
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Baby with bottle

Finding infant formula in midst of recalls and shortages

As a parent, providing safe, nutritious food for your little one is a necessity, but what do you do when the options run low? Many parents of infants are stressed and frustrated as the nation is currently facing infant formula recalls and shortages. On February 17, 2022, the Food and Drug...
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A Look Inside the Can: The Role of Canned Food Liners

Let's look inside the can

A community member called my office  several years ago with a really interesting question: why does the liner of my can of pineapple look different from my canned beans? Until that question, I hadn't paid much attention to the inside of my cans, except to look at the food. I think about that...
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How Do I Eat Kiwi Fruit? With Tips on Recipes, Shopping, and Storage. Left photo is a gold kiwi fruit cut in half sitting on a blue napkin. Right photo is a wood cutting board with a knife and green kiwi fruit cut in half.

How do I eat kiwi fruit?

What is a food you never grew up eating, but now enjoy as an adult? There are several for me, including pears, asparagus, cauliflower, and kiwi fruit. I've had strawberry-kiwi flavored drinks, but never a fresh kiwi fruit until several years ago. I'm so glad I tried them, with their soft, sweet,...
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Acorn Squash Are Not for Squirrels: With Tips on Eating, Shopping, and Storage

Acorn (squash) are not for squirrels

The main winter squashes I see sold in grocery stores - and interestingly from a pumpkin patch near me selling both edible and ornamental varieties - are butternut, spaghetti, and acorn squashes. Acorn squash are typically small, and if winter squash is new to you, they are a great one to try...
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Older women sitting outside eating blueberries

Rounding up some fresh blueberry recipes

I got to spend some time a few weeks ago picking blueberries! Put on my hat and UV shirt, brought a bottle of water, and got to pickin'. Thanks goodness for taller blueberry bushes so I could take a break from crouching down. Now the question is: what to do with all the fresh blueberries?...
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Summer Food Safety image of chicken, corn, grilled veggies, watermelon

Grilling and summer food safety

Summer is officially here! If you haven’t already gotten your grill out, you should consider doing so. Grilling is a great way to keep the kitchen cool and enjoy many of your favorite summer foods. Whether you are grilling meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetables, it is important to food safety at...
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Make Meals and Messes with Kids in the Kitchen this Summer

Make meals and messes with kids in the kitchen this summer

School is out for the year and kids everywhere are excited to start their summers! Whatever the kids are doing, let them practice making meals and snacks for themselves this summer. This gives them autonomy with their food choices, lets them develop self-sufficiency, and may encourage them to...
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Apple Pie Filling in Mason Jars

Canning Pie Filling? Do you have Clear Jel®?

It’s apple season! The leaves are changing colors, and your local orchards are filled with apples. Drying apples for chips, freezing apples, and canning apple pie filling are all great ways to enjoy fall flavors all year round! Extension offices have received numerous calls asking for safe canning...
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photo of tomatoes

Enjoy your tomatoes all year

It’s almost tomato time! As I look at my raised garden bed, I am patiently waiting on my cherry, Rutgers, and Early Girl tomato plants to ripen. I plan to can pint jars of tomatoes that are perfect for making spaghetti sauce and chili, dehydrate tomatoes when I don’t have enough ready to can, roast...
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Blanching broccoli for freezing

Freezing your summer harvest

Freezing has many benefits. It maintains the fresh flavor, natural color, and nutritional value better than canning or dehydrating. Plus, it is easy, convenient and requires less time compared to other food preservation methods. Making it an excellent way to preserve the summer harvest. To...
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Variety of Apples

Which apple works best for preserving

There are over 7,500 different varieties of apples worldwide. In the United States, 2,500 different types of apples are available. Apples are grown in all 50 states. For the first time in 50 years, the Gala apple beat out Red Delicious as America’s favorite apple. Did you know the Illinois state...
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slicing apples

How do I stop my apples from turning brown?

Apples are a fruit available all year, but taste the best when freshly picked from a local orchard or picked up at a farmers markets in the fall. Whether making apple butter, sauce, pie, salad, drying, freezing, canning, or cutting them up to snack on later, one universal struggle is slicing them...
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Apples on a cutting board

Fill your pantry with apples!

Are you patiently waiting for the apple season? The abundance of apples may come from an apple tree, a visit to the orchard or a local farmers market, or your local market. Right now in Illinois, the hot summer sun is preparing this delicious fruit for the harvest season. Many apple varieties are...
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photo of canning jars

Safely canning at home

Canning season is upon us! While many are busy planting their summer gardens, others are already preparing to harvest spring vegetables, herbs, and berries. Canning is a great way to use the foods you have grown in your garden or have purchased from your local farmer’s market. Moreover, canning...
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food on grill

July is the Peak Month for Grill Fires

According the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2009 and 2013, local fire departments responded to an average of 8,900 home fires a year, involving grills, hibachis or barbecues. In addition to property damage, these fires also contributed to hundreds of injuries and an average...
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