Posts Tagged ‘food storage’

While May is considered National Strawberry Month, late May and early June are the perfect time to pick your own or purchase locally grown berries in the Mid-West. To select the very best berries – choose those with full red color, as they will not continue to ripen like some other fruits. The caps should be attached, bright green, and fresh looking. Check berries before refrigerating to ensure there is no mold or damaged areas, these areas can spread to other berries. Refrigerate berries quickly, wash and remove caps only when ready to use. Do not float berries in water when washing, as they will lose color and flavor. Use fresh within 3 days.

If you want to save strawberries that may be low cost now for future use, consider tray freezing. After a quick rinse and pat dry, place berries on a cookie sheet covered with wax or parchment paper and freeze for 1 – 2 hours. Your choice if you remove the stem before or after freezing – it depends on what you want to do with them in the future. Once frozen, roll paper to slide fruit into freezer safe storage container. Remove any air from bag or fill other containers almost full to prevent damage from freezer burn.

The wonderful thing about strawberries is that you get a large serving – 1 cup of fruit = approximately 50 calories. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C, and contain fiber, folate, and potassium. Their low glycemic index makes them a great choice for diabetics looking for low carbohydrate, healthy foods. Be creative with your use of strawberries in meals or snacks.


  • On salads
  • On pancakes with no syrup
  • On cereal or oatmeal
  • In your smoothie or yogurt parfait
  • Infused strawberry and basil water
  • Chopped into muffin or quick breads in place of blueberries
  • Sliced on angel food cake – no icing
  • Making a breakfast pocket with a whole wheat tortilla – spread a little light cream cheese with cinnamon on the tortilla, cover with sliced berries, and toast both sides on a lightly sprayed griddle or pan
  • Or made into a quick, less sugar strawberry freezer jam. This recipe is easy for even young children to make.


1 quart of strawberries (about 1 2/3 cups)

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons instant pectin

Yields 4 jars of jam – freeze for storage

Directions: Wash hands and preparation area before beginning. Remove leaves/stems and any bad spots from washed strawberries. Add sugar, pectin, and strawberries to bowl and begin crushing strawberries. Stir for 3 minutes. Fill jars/containers with jam and freeze or refrigerate to store. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 1 year.


Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Strawberries, https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5531.

Source: “Put It Up”, National Center for Home Food Preservation, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, and Clemson Extension.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Kate Shumaker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Holmes County.

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Many people think that the best part of Thanksgiving is not the big turkey dinner but the leftovers! After enjoying your Thanksgiving dinner, there are usually plenty of leftovers to save for another day or to share with friends and family!

You want to ensure that they are handled and stored properly to avoid food borne illness. The USDA estimates that more than a half million cases of foodborne illness are caused each year just from improperly handled turkey leftovers.

Here are some food safety rules that you should remember when handling your leftovers.

  • Remember to always wash your hands and keep your work areas clean.
  • Bacteria grow rapidly between 40° and 140°. After food is safely cooked, leftovers must be refrigerated within two hours. Throw out any leftovers that have been left out for more than two hours at room temperature.
  • It is important to cool hot foods quickly to the safe refrigerator temperature of 40°. To do this, divide large amounts of food into small, shallow containers. Cut large items into smaller portions to cool quickly.
  • Use refrigerated turkey, stuffing, etc. within 3 to 4 days. Gravy should be kept for just 1 to 2 days.
  • If you are freezing your leftovers, use them within 2 – 6 months for best quality.
  • When you are reheating your leftovers, use a food thermometer to check that the food reaches an internal temperature of 165°.

By following these basic food safety rules you should be able to enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers.

Here is a great recipe to use some of your leftover turkey: 


Turkey Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

1⁄4 cup orange   juice
2   tablespoons vinegar,   white wine
2   tablespoons onion   (finely chopped)
1⁄4   teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper   (of)
1   tablespoon oil
2   teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 cups salad   greens (torn)
2 cups cooked   turkey breast (cut into julienne strips)
1 can mandarin   orange segments (11 ounce, drained)
1⁄2 cup celery   (sliced)


1. In a jar with tight-fitting lid, combine all vinaigrette ingredients; shake well. If you don’t have a container with a tight-fitting lid, place ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mix together with a whisk.

2. In large bowl, combine all salad ingredients; toss gently.

3. Serve with vinaigrette. If desired, garnish with fresh strawberries.

Source:  University of Nebraska, Cooperative Extension, Cook it QUICK!


You can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons dried chopped onion for the chopped fresh onion or a as recommended on the dried onion container. Prepare the dressing at least 10 minutes before you need it to allow the dried onion to rehydrate from the fluids in the dressing.

Use white meat leftovers if you’ve prepared a whole turkey and not just the breast portion.

Another way to add crunch to your salad would be to use 4 tablespoons chopped walnuts instead of the celery.


Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.






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Local Foods – Fresh and Healthy!

Most of us will agree that fresh and unprocessed food is usually a healthier and tastier choice.  Now that we are heading into summer in Ohio, we will have more and more choices when it comes to choosing and using fresh foods that are grown locally. Nothing tastes quite as good as veggies or fruits straight from your own garden or from a local source!

Where are some places that we can find local foods? Here are a few suggestions:  Farmers Markets; on-farm markets and roadside stands; produce auctions; branded sections in grocery store; or, your own garden!

Whether produce is harvested from the garden, or purchased at a grocery or farm market, there are certain things that you can do to maintain both safety and quality.

First, all produce should be thoroughly washed before you eat or preserve it. This includes both produce grown at home or purchased from a grocery store or farmer’s market. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking. Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first. When you are washing your produce, never use soap, bleach or commercial cleaners.  Plain cold running water is the best! You can use a clean produce brush to scrub items with firm skins such as melons, cucumbers and peppers.

Next, proper storage will ensure the safety and quality of your produce. Certain perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) can be best maintained by storing in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40° F or below. Produce such as uncut tomatoes, bananas, potatoes and onions are best stored at cool room temperature. Produce should not be washed before storage as excess water will encourage the growth of spoilage bacteria.

There are many delicious and simple ways to prepare fresh vegetables. This can include simple dips and sauces, salads, casseroles, stews and soups.

A great source of free recipes using fresh fruits and vegetables can be found at choosemyplate.gov   (Simply click on “sample menus and recipes” for easy, low cost, nutritious recipes) and USDA Snap Ed Connection, Recipe Finder.

One quick easy recipe for using your fresh tomatoes, peppers and onions is salsa. If you are preparing salsa to be eaten immediately or refrigerated for a few days, you can experiment with amounts and types of ingredients. If you want to preserve your salsa through canning, it is important to follow a recipe that has been designed with the proper proportions of vegetables and acids.  Always be careful when handling hot peppers. Use rubber gloves when cutting these peppers as they can irritate the skin. Do not touch your face or eyes!

2 chopped tomatoes
1/2 chopped onion
3 finely chopped, seeded if desired, jalapeno chiles
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 juiced lime


1. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients.
2. Serve or store salsa in refrigerator for up to three days in a covered plastic or glass container.

Source: USDA Snap Ed Connection, Recipe          http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/index.php?mode=display&rec_id=51


USDA Snap Ed Connection, Recipe  Finder



From Your Garden to Your Table – Webinar for OSU Your Plan for Health – Mike Hogan and Marilyn Rabe, June, 2012.

Author: Marilyn Rabe, FCS Extension Educator, OSU Extension

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When the weather warms my thoughts turn to fresh fruits and vegetables.  They can be fresh from the garden, farmer’s market or produce department in your local grocery store.  Here are some tips for selecting the best product and keeping it safe.

  • When purchasing fruits and vegetables, select items that are not bruised or damaged.  A damaged spot is a great place for microorganisms to hide and grow.  Your item will spoil quickly if it is damaged.  If you notice a spot once you have the product at home, cut away the damaged area and use right away.
  • If you are choosing fruits and vegetables which are already cut-up for you make sure they are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.  Cut produce should never be left out of refrigeration.  Items such as a half of cantaloupe or bagged lettuce should be refrigerated when you purchase them.  Grocery stores will sell items already cut-up.  Farmer’s markets and roadside stands should never sell their fruits and vegetables already cut unless they have facilities to keep them refrigerated.
  • For the longest storage, keep perishable item like strawberries, lettuce, and herbs in your refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees F or lower.
  • Items such as potatoes and onions can be kept in a cool, dry area.
  • Always wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before you start preparing your fresh produce.
  • And, wash fruits and vegetables under running water before eating, cutting or cooking. It is not necessary to use commercial produce washes.

The first farmer’s market of the season will be here soon!

Source:  http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/types/fruits/tipsfreshprodsafety.html

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Ohio State University Extension.

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