Food and Nutrition

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    Q

    My turkey brining recipe calls for 4 juniper berries crushed in the brine. Can I use the berries from my yard shrubs for this purpose?

    A

    Yes.  Juniper berries are edible and safe to use.  Use them sparingly, since they are usually a strong flavor. 

    Posted on 21 Nov 2007

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist

    Q

    Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe?

    A

    Humans have always had a fondness for sweets. During the world wars, saccharose, (common sugar) was obtained from sugar cane or beets. Saccharin, the first artificial sweetener, was synthesized in 1879, and was popular during the world wars due to its low production cost. After World War II, sugar became more affordable, and since the 1950s, the reason for using saccharin shifted to calorie reduction. However, the bitter after-taste of saccharin produced a growing need for improved taste of calorie-reduced substances.

    Artificial sweeteners are classified as first generation (saccharin, cyclamate and aspartame) and new generation (acesulfame-K, sucralose, alitame and neotame).

    Cyclamate was introduced in the 1950s, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned it from all dietary foods in 1970, due to suspicion that it induced cancer in experimental animals. Cyclamate is still used in other countries, especially in combination with other sweeteners.

    Aspartame (NutraSweet) was approved by the FDA in 1981, and for the first time, “diet” or “light” could be used as a prefix on labels. The new generation of sweeteners developed since then includes: Acesulfame-K, with brand names of Sunette, Sweet One and Sweet n’ Safe. This was approved by the FDA in 1988 and is 200 times as sweet as sugar. Sucralose, with a brand name of Splenda, was approved by the FDA in 1988 and is 600 times as sweet as sugar. Alitame is pending FDA approval in the United States and is 2,000 times as sweet as sugar. Neotame is also waiting FDA approval and is 8,000 times as sweet as sugar.

    The correlation between artificial sweeteners and cancer risk has been studied extensively for many years. The summaries of research studies follow.

    Saccharin induces bladder cancer in rats when fed in high doses. However, rodents also develop bladder cancer when fed ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) in large doses. Artificial sweetener use that is greater than 1,680 milligrams a day (equivalent to 100.8 liters of soda per day) leads to an increased risk (1.3 times higher than if you didn’t drink 100.8 liters of soda per day) of bladder cancer in humans. There is no evidence that aspartame causes cancer. The new generation sweeteners (acesulfame-K, sucralose, alitame and neotame) have had initial studies completed for safety, but no long-term studies are available. Rats fed artificial sweetener as 5 percent of their diet for 1.5 years had no increased risk of cancer. When mother rats and their offspring were fed saccharin as 7.5 percent of their diets, 30 percent of male rats developed bladder tumors. This study resulted in the ban of Saccharin in Canada. Twenty monkeys were fed 25 milligrams of saccharin (1.5 liter soda equivalent) for 24 years, while 16 monkeys did not consume saccharin. None of the monkeys developed bladder cancer or urothelial proliferations. Researchers in the United Kingdom reviewed 19,709 death certificates between 1966 and 1972 and compared bladder cancer mortality between people with diabetes (who supposedly used artificial sweeteners frequently) and those without diabetes. There was not a significant difference between the two groups. A Danish study could not detect an increase in bladder cancer mortality in people born between 1941 and 1945 when artificial sweeteners were heavily used. Cyclamate in 500 milligram doses per day (the equivalent of 30 calorie-reduced drinks per day) was given to 21 monkeys for 24 years. Three monkeys showed cancer, compared to zero out of 16 monkeys that did not consume cyclamate. The cancers were not bladder cancer, but one thyroid and two uterine cancers. These tumors frequently occur at this rate in monkeys, so the authors couldn’t conclude they were from cyclamate. Aspartame was associated with an increase in brain tumors, but the study received criticism due to the ecological factor (when two events incidentally occur at the same time). In this situation, aspartame was associated with the increased incidence of brain tumors, although there was no information available on the aspartame consumption of the brain tumor patients. Home computers, VCR usage and other factors also increased at the same time. Aspartame consumption was studied in 56 children with brain tumors and 94 children without brain tumors (along with passive smoke and consumption of cured meats). There was no elevated brain tumor risk to the child from maternal consumption of aspartame during pregnancy or lactation. Research concludes that there is no evidence that artificial sweeteners are harmful to your health. Avoiding high doses of artificial sweeteners would be a prudent lifestyle choice (as with any food, nutrient or medication). Finally, as careful consumers, we should review the studies on new generation sweeteners (acesulfame-K, sucralose, alitame and neotame) as they become available.

     Posted on 8 Jun 2006

    Nedra Christensen
    Utah State University Extension Dietician

    Q

    Are steam canners safe to use?

    A

    Due to the lack of definitive research regarding the safety of steam canning, USU Extension researchers agree with the present USDA and National Center for Home Food Preservation recommendation against using steam canners. The USDA Complete Guide to Canning states, “Steam canners are not recommended because processing times for use with current models have not been adequately researched.”

    Steam canning should not be confused with boiling water canning. Steam canning requires a special canner to boil water and make steam. The theory is that steam canning uses less water and reaches temperature in a shorter time than a boiling water canner. A boiling water canner is a large pot where jars are submersed in boiling water by at least 1 inch of water.

    It has been Extension researchers’ experience that many consumers are using steam canners despite recommendations against their use. For those consumers who still use steam canners against recommendations, Extension researchers firmly advise against steam canning low acid (e.g., vegetables) or borderline acid foods (e.g., tomatoes). Under-processing these foods can lead to botulism food poisoning.

    For acid foods such as fruits, jams or jellies, there is not a risk of botulism. However, under-processing can lead to food spoilage in these types of foods. Preliminary research has indicated that these six steps will help decrease the chances of under-processing acid foods in a steam canner.

    Place appropriate amount of water in the base. Place the perforated cover over the base and bring water to a low boil.

    2. Pack and fill jars. Secure lids firmly, but not over-tight. Set each full jar on the base and allow it to warm while packing and filling enough jars for one batch.

    3. When the last full jar has warmed for 1-2 minutes, place the dome on the base and slowly (4-5 minutes) increase temperature setting of the stove until a column of steam 8-10 inches is evident from the small holes at the base of the dome.

    4. Begin timing the process, maintaining the column of steam following the water bath canning recommendations adjusted for your altitude. Do not reduce temperature setting of the stove. The dome should not bounce from the base during processing. Do not allow water reservoir to boil dry. If the column of steam ceases, then the process was not successful, and you will need to start over.

    5. When processing time is complete, turn stove off and wait 2-3 minutes before removing the dome. Remove the dome by turning it away from your face and body to avoid burns.

    6. Allow jars to cool and seal. Remove metal bands and store the jars in a cool, dark place.

    It is hoped that in the years to come, sound scientific studies can define a safe steam canning process and processing parameters. Until that time, it is best to avoid this process until researchers can fully determine it is safe to use.

    Posted on 16 Sep 2005

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist

    Q

    Are the berries on a Lodense Privet poisonous?

    A

    Lodense Privet, Ligustrum vulgare, have white odorous flowers and black berries are attractive and palatable for birds, however the berries and parts of the plants are poisonous to mammals, including cattle, cats, dogs, and humans.  

    I looked under the FDA Poisonous Plant Database (http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~djw/plantox.html)  for privet.  This database contains references to the scientific literature describing studies of the toxic properties and effects of plants and plant parts and 92 records, which could be articles or studies that show toxic properties of privet.

    Please note, that they are several ornamental plants that can be toxic to mammals, and I appreciate your question and good judgement should be used when selecting plants for our landscapes.

    If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me. 

    Posted on 14 May 2008

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    As I've grown older I've lost my appetite, can I get it back?

    A

    If as a senior you find that the foods you used to love just don’t taste the same, it’s not your imagination, it’s a fact. Over time our senses of taste and smell (chemosensory) diminish, either naturally or as a result of medical treatments such as chemotherapy or medications. These chemosensory losses can result in a decrease in appetite, lack of interest in food or even malnourishment and anorexia.

    As complex as the reasons may be for chemosensory loss, compensating for taste or smell is well within your control. Here are some ideas for making food more appetizing.

    • First, make sure that the food is attractively arranged and garnished. Present meals on plates with simple patterns so the food is clearly visible.
    • Vary the shapes, textures and temperatures of the food. Take time to savor your food; smell it before you taste it, and chew thoroughly before swallowing.
    • Augment your food’s flavor with a variety of herbs, spices and other flavor enhancers. Maximizing food flavor does not call for great culinary skill, only imagination. You will find that, even if following a restricted diet, by creatively adding common ingredients in small amounts, the bitter notes of some foods can be masked, and your overall enjoyment of food can be increased.
    • Look for strongly flavored foods, if tolerated, such as garlic, onions, citrus fruits and flavored vinegars.
    • Use fruit sauces or jams, as well as concentrated flavors and extracts to stimulate taste buds.
    • Double the amount of herbs and spices added to recipes, but within reason. Some spicy seasonings, such as black or red pepper, shouldn’t be doubled automatically.
    • Also, dry rubs and spice/herb combinations on meat and poultry add flavor without fat.
    • Use flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate (MSG) to enhance savory foods or reduce perceived bitterness or acidity. MSG’s effectiveness is not dependent on the ability to smell; and because it is lower in sodium than table salt (75 mg vs. 2,500 mg/teaspoon), this easy-to-use flavor enhancer can boost the flavor of sodium-restricted diets.
    • Add small amounts of fat (creamy dressing, cheese sauce, bacon bits) to soften sharp-tasting foods. 

    The chemosensory losses associated with aging and medical treatments can be readily and easily managed. By using these simple tips, seniors themselves, or through their caregivers, may regain the enjoyment eating once had, leading to improved nutritional status and better overall health.

    Posted on 30 Oct 2000

    Jean Alder
    Home Economist, Cache County 

    Q

    Can a Person safely eat the head of any venomous snake? If not, why?

    A

    Heat will denature snake venoms.  The venom glands are modified salivary glands situated at the back, dorsal surface of the head.

    Posted on 18 Dec 2007

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist 

    Q

    Can I have my pumpkin and eat it too?

    A

    There are more things you can do with a pumpkin than just carve it. Pumpkins are high in vitamin A and fiber, low in fat, and a good source of vitamin C, potassium and phosphorus. Jackolantern pumpkins may be too stringy to eat and are often too large. For cooking, select sugar pumpkins, which are a smaller, sweeter variety with closedgrain flesh. Pumpkin can be prepared in a variety of ways: baked and eaten as a vegetable; baked into a pie, or made into soup. The seeds are a popular snack when dried and sometimes roasted and salted. Here are some things to try with your pumpkins:

    • Basic preparation: Rinse off any dirt before using. For pumpkin puree to use in soup, bread or pie, you can steam, boil or bake. Peel pumpkin and cut into 1 ½ to 2 inch chunks. Steam for 15 to 20 minutes, or cook in boiling water for 8 to12 minutes. Puree. Or if the pumpkins are small, split and clean out the seeds and pulp. Put flesh side down in a baking pan with a bit of water. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hours or until the flesh is tender.
    • Microwave preparation: wash a 1 ½ to 3 pound sugar pumpkin; cut off the top, saving the lid, scrape out the seeds and pulp, and cover the opening with plastic wrap. Make a small hole in the plastic wrap. Microwave at high until fork tender, about 8 to 10 minutes per pound. Cut into wedges and serve with butter, salt and pepper. Or you can scoop out flesh, mash and add desired seasonings, or use in many other creative ways.
    • For just plain pumpkin eating, wash a 1 ½ to 3 pound sugar pumpkin; cut off the top, and save the lid and stem for a handle. Scrape out the seeds and pulp, wipe out the inside, then brush with melted butter and/or sugar or salt, if desired. Replace the lid and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Coat the inside flesh once again with butter, sugar, or salt and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is fork tender. Slice into wedges and serve plain.
    • Try making a stuffed pumpkin by cutting the top off and scooping the seeds out. Prepare a casserole of mostly precooked ingredients such as browned meat and cooked vegetables. With the ingredients still hot, place inside the pumpkin, set the pumpkin on a baking sheet and cook at 350 degrees for 1 to 3 hours, depending on the size of the pumpkin. A scooped out pumpkin also makes a nice serving bowl for salad or soup.
    • Make pumpkin pancakes by adding fresh cooked pumpkin to your favorite pancake batter. Cook as directed and serve with warm applesauce.
    • To dry pumpkin seeds, carefully wash the seeds to remove the clinging fibrous pumpkin tissue. The seeds can be dried in the sun, in a dehydrator at 115 to 120 degrees for 1 to 2 hours, or in an oven on warm for 3 or 4 hours. Stir them frequently to avoid scorching. Store in airtight container.
    • Roasted pumpkin seeds make a tasty snack. To roast, take dried pumpkin seeds, toss with oil (1 teaspoon per cup of seeds) and/or salt, and roast in a preheated oven at 250 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.
    • Another way is to wash and drain the seeds, then place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
    • For seasoned seeds, melt a tablespoon of butter and toss on clean seeds. Season with salt and pepper or other seasonings and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Roasted pumpkin seeds will stay fresh for up to 10 days.

    Posted on 23 Oct 2000

    Jean Alder
    Home Economist, Cache County 

    Q

    Can I use a wood cutting board?

    A

    Wood cutting boards are safe if they are made from hard wood such as maple. Cutting boards make from soft wood such as pine should not be used. After using the cutting board for raw meats you should clean thoroughly with hot soapy water or in a dishwasher and then sanitize with a solution of 1 teaspoon bleach with 1 quart lukewarm water. For optimal safety have more than one cutting board in your home. Designate one to use for raw meat products and separate one to use for vegetables and fruits.

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Can you substitute cooking oil for shortening/lard in a cake recipe in equal parts?

    A

     The substitution for a cake would be in equal parts.   You may want to cut back on fat and replace half with oil and half with applesauce.   The moisture of the cake will be equivalent.
       There are times when you can't replace shortening/butter in a recipe  ---- pie crust.

    Posted on 6 Dec 2007

    Nedra Christensen
    Utah State University Extension Dietician

    Q

    Do habanero peppers ripen on the vine?

    A

    Here is some info on picking unripe peppers. http://www.extension.umn.edu/info-u/nutrition/bj763.html.

    Posted on 5 Sep 2008

    Jaydee Gunnell
    Master Gardner and Horticulture Agent, Davis County 

    Q

    Do I need to use soap and water to clean fresh fruits and vegetables?

    A

    Rinse fruits and vegetables in clean running water. Soap is not necessary and may not be desirable.

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Do you have a safe tomato salsa recipe that incorporates green peppers?

    A

    I have a recipe that I personally researched at the University of Georgia.  Unfortunately, they have not yet published it.

    Per pint jar: 1 part Roma tomatoes (only Roma were researched) approx 8 oz. by weight (Boil 1 minute, then plunge in cold water to loosen skin.  Slip skins off.). Cut into 1/2 inch pieces or smaller.
    1 part any combination of onions and peppers (sweet or hot) approx 8 oz. by weight. Dice into 1/4 inch pieces.
    Up to 1 tablespoon total of dry spice. We used 1/4 tsp salt and in one batch 1/4 teaspoon cumin.

    Heat in a saucepan for 1 minute.  Add 1/3 cup lime or lemon juice into a pint jar.  Fill with cooked salsa to 1/2 of top.  Heat in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

    Posted on 24 Aug 2007

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist

    Q

    Do you have information on freezer meals?

    A

    Preparing several meals at a time and storing them in the freezer is an excellent way to save both time and money. It also provides an answer to the daily question, “What’s for dinner?”

    Preparing freezer meals is a popular way to cook. There are numerous cookbooks on the topic as well as many Internet sites that list a variety of techniques and recipes. Consider these tips to prepare freezer meals.

    • To begin, consider working with family members or friends when preparing the meals to move things along quickly.
    • Select recipes and create a shopping list for all entrees and side dishes. Organize your list by store sections. When shopping, take advantage of store sales and coupons.
    • The night before assembling the meals, stir up mixes, cook large food items such as whole chickens and organize your work space. Place recipes in sheet protectors. Create combined work areas for dishes using similar ingredients. Gather cooking dishes, storage items, marking pens and other needed items.
    • When cooking, prepare ingredients that are the same for several recipes, then divide the food. For example, chop onions for all the dishes or cook all the ground beef and separate it for individual dishes. Create assembly lines. Remember to follow good food safety practices.
    • Once assembled, label all food items, including name of the food, date and preparation instructions.
    • Freeze food items. If making sloppy joes, tape hamburger buns to the meat mix package and freeze together.
    • Take food items out of the freezer the night before you plan to eat them and thaw in the refrigerator.
    • Incorporate healthy side dishes into your meals using fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and milk.
    • Consider using “quick mix,” the equivalent to baking mixes purchased from the store. It is about half the price, is more nutritious and can be used to make such things as biscuits, pancakes and muffins. The recipe includes nine cups flour, one cup plus two tablespoons nonfat dry milk, four teaspoons salt, one and three-fourths cups shortening and one-third cup baking powder. Stir baking powder, dry milk and salt into the flour. Stir all dry ingredients together until mixed well. Cut fat into flour mixture until all particles are thoroughly coated. Store in a tightly covered container for up to six weeks at room temperature. For recipes that use quick mix, go to http://extension.usu.edu/files/fnp/easy/quickbre.pdf or stop by your local Extension office for a copy.

    Posted on 28 Apr 2006

    Darlene Christensen
    Family & Consumer Sciences, 4-H/Youth Agent, Tooele County

    Q

    Do you have recipes for cooking pumpkin?

    A

    It’s that time of year again. Leaves are changing, mornings are frosty and pumpkins are dotting walkways and doorways. In addition to being a welcome sign of fall, pumpkins are also a welcome sign at the table. The bright orange color of pumpkins is a dead give away that they are loaded with the antioxidant beta-carotene (a pro-vitamin to vitamin A). Vitamin A is vital for eye health and promotes healthy skin and strong bones. Antioxidants are beneficial for heart health and may reduce the risk of some types of cancer. Pumpkin is naturally low in fat and sodium. In addition to vitamin A, pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber and a good source of potassium and vitamin C. Pumpkins are not just for pies, but can be used in side dishes, soups, breads and other desserts. Choose smaller pumpkins for cooking since they are more tender and flavorful. Cook fresh pumpkin like any other squash. Cut the pumpkin into chunks and simmer for 30-40 minutes until tender. Puree the pumpkin and use in your favorite recipe. For more convenient cooking, purchase canned, pureed pumpkin. Make pumpkin ice cream by mixing 1 quart softened vanilla ice cream with 1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree and 1 to 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice. Or, try a breakfast smoothie by blending pumpkin puree, yogurt, milk and cinnamon together for a quick nutrient-packed breakfast. Consider these additional recipes for your autumn table. Pumpkin Fluff Dip

    1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix

    1 (15 oz.) can solid pack pumpkin

    1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

    1 (16 oz.) container frozen whipped topping

    In large bowl, mix pudding, pumpkin and spice together. Fold in whipped topping. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with graham crackers, gingersnaps, apple slices or other fruit. Makes 3 cups. (source: homecooking.about.com)

    Pumpkin Sauce for Pasta

    1-2 lb. pumpkin, seeded and cut into chunks

    1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

    3 cloves garlic, minced

    1 onion, finely chopped

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1 teaspoon dried parsley

    1/2 cup evaporated milk

    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

    salt and pepper to taste

    Note: You can substitute one can pureed pumpkin for fresh pumpkin cooked in broth.

    In large sauce pot, add pumpkin chunks and broth. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until pumpkin is tender, about 20 minutes. Mash pumpkin into a puree. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until tender. Stir onion, garlic, parsley, milk and seasonings into pumpkin puree. Pour over hot cooked pasta and serve. Note: if using canned pumpkin, add vegetable or chicken broth to the puree if sauce is too thick. Serves 3 to 4.

    Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

    3 cups all-purpose flour

    1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

    2 teaspoons baking soda

    1 1/2 teaspoons salt

    3 cups granulated sugar

    1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY'S 100 percent Pure Pumpkin

    4 large eggs

    1 cup vegetable oil

    1/2 cup orange juice or water

    1 cup sweetened dried, fresh or frozen cranberries

    Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil and juice in large mixer bowl. Beat until just blended. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

    (source: verybestbaking.com -- Libby’s Pumpkin)

    Easy Pumpkin Soup

    1 pumpkin about 4 pounds

    2 cups milk or light half and half

    3 cups chicken broth

    1 cup grated cheese

    3 cups seasoned croutons

    Cut a lid from top of pumpkin. Remove and discard seeds and fibers. Alternate layers of croutons and cheese in pumpkin. Add chicken broth and milk. Bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours in a 350 F oven. To serve, stir contents gently with a spoon until pumpkin flesh and other ingredients form a thick soup. For larger pumpkins 8-9 pounds, double recipe ingredients. To make soup without whole pumpkin, mix 2 cups pureed pumpkin with remaining ingredients and cook in large stock pot until croutons are softened.

    Posted on 1 Oct 2004

    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Do you have suggestions for nutritious brown bag lunches?

    A

    Healthy foods can help children do their best in school, but getting kids to eat good-for-you foods can sometimes be a trick.

    Consider these tips to jazz up a lunch, while also keeping nutritional value in place.

    Include an apple, orange, pear, kiwi, mango, star fruit, banana, a box of raisins or grapes rather than a fruit roll up or fruit chews. Send 1 percent milk in place of 2 percent. Send vegetables with dip, or mix chopped vegetables with cream cheese and place on a bagel.

    Use whole grain bread when possible. Try pita bread, wraps, tortillas and bagels. Variety can make a difference. Leftover waffles with cream cheese, peanut butter or even egg salad are a new change. Try macaroni salads, ants on a log (peanut butter on celery topped with raisins), salsa and chips, or meat and cheese. Cut leftover chicken into strips and pack with dippers of ranch dressing, barbecue sauce or mustard sauce. Pack baked chips, pretzels, air popped popcorn or dry cereal. Limit sweets to once or twice a week. Help your children get used to eating fruit. Freeze pudding, which also helps keep other foods cool. Send packets of 100 percent juice. Be cautious since some juice is only 10 percent juice with added sugar. For a change and added nutrition, send a yogurt drink. Place an ice pack in the lunch box. Keeping foods cold will reduce the chance of food-borne illness and will help keep foods fresh.

    Provide hand wipes and remind children to use them before eating. Surprise your child occasionally with a love note, a joke, riddle or treat. Remember to include one food item with protein (meat, cheese or egg), one carbohydrate item (roll, bread, pita, crackers), and at least one fruit and one vegetable for each lunch. To make your job easier, let your children give menu ideas and help with shopping for lunches.

    Posted on 14 Nov 2005

    Carolyn Washburn
    Family and Consumer Science and 4-H Agent, Washington County 

    Q

    Do you have tips for dealing with lactose intolerance?

    A

    Approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population and 75 percent of adults worldwide are reported to be lactose maldigesters, which means they have reduced digestion of lactose due to a low level of lactase, an intestinal enzyme that catalyzes the digestion of lactose into glucose and glactose.

    Here are some strategies to deal with lactose intolerance that can help those with lactose intolerance improve health and prevent osteoporosis.

    • The amount of lactose that causes notable symptoms differs among people. Most lactose maldigesters can tolerate the amount of lactose in 8 ounces of milk (12 grams lactose). Double blind studies have shown that most lactose maldigesters could tolerate 4 ounces of milk twice a day, working up to 8 ounces of milk twice a day if consumed with a meal.
    • Consuming lactose with a meal or a solid food slows gastric emptying (or delivery of lactose to the colon), which allows more time for lactase to work on lactose.
    • Whole milk is generally better tolerated than lower fat milk. Chocolate milk is better tolerated than unflavored low-fat milk, although the mechanism by which cocoa reduces lactose intolerance is unknown.
    • Cheeses generally contain less lactose than milk. In cheese processing, the whey (the main source of lactose) is removed from the curd, which reduces the lactose content greatly. The ripening process also decreases the lactose, so within 34 weeks ripened cheeses have little or no lactose.
    • Yogurt is tolerated well by lactose maldigesters because of the semisolid consistency and the release of the lactase enzyme from the bacterial cultures. It is important that lactose maldigesters consume yogurts with live, active cultures.
    • Frozen yogurt and ice cream may be tolerated by lactose maldigesters, but they are not tolerated as well as nonfrozen yogurt.
    • Milk with bacterial starters (sweet acidophilus milk or yogurt milk) can improve tolerance, but it depends on the strain of the bifidobacteria that is used. Personal trial of products is required.
    • Gradually increasing intake of dairy foods improves tolerance to lactose. Continued exposure to lactose may enhance the efficiency of colonic bacteria that metabolize lactose. Elimination of lactose from the diet probably worsens intolerance to lactose with primary lactase deficiency.
    Posted on 26 Apr 1999

    Nedra Christensen
    Utah State University Extension Dietician
    Q

    Do you have tips for high altitude baking?

    A

    If you have problems with fallen cakes, soft candies and collapsed breads, adjusting the recipes for Utah’s high altitude will give you picture-perfect culinary delights. Consider these tips.

    Cakes:

    • If using a cake mix, follow the directions on the box for high altitude baking. If making a cake from scratch, several things will help. Decreasing the leavening agent keeps the product from over rising and collapsing. Decreasing the sugar reduces richness and sustains structure. Adding liquid helps maintain structure since quick evaporation occurs at high altitudes. Start with the adjustments below, making one change at a time.
    • Adjustment 3,000 feet 5,000 feet 7,000 feet
    • Baking powder- For each teaspoon, decrease by 1/8 teaspoon 1/8-1/4 teaspoon 1/4 teaspoon
    • Sugar- For each cup, decrease by 0-1 tablespoon 0-2 tablespoons 1-3 tablespoons
    • Liquid- For each cup add 1-2 tablespoons 2-4 tablespoons 2-4 tablespoons

    Breads.

    • If using a bread machine, decrease the yeast by 1/8-1/4 teaspoon.
    • If making bread by hand, reduce rising time. Let bread rise only until double in bulk. Do not let it over rise.
    • Add more liquid if needed since flour looses moisture in dry climates.
    • If making quick breads, reduce the baking powder or soda by one fourth.

    Candies.

    For the best quality candies, calibrate and adjust your thermometer for altitude. Do this by placing your thermometer in boiling water for 10 minutes. Read the level on the thermometer. For example, if the thermometer reads 203 F, subtract this from 212 F (the boiling temperature of water at sea level). This leaves a nine degree difference. Then subtract that number from the temperature called for in the recipe. Example: If the recipe calls for 246 F, subtract nine to get a cooking temperature of 235 F. Cook candy to the newly adjusted temperature.

    Posted on 22 Apr 2005

    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Do you have tips for safe home canning of tomatoes and salsa?

    A

    The two most common ways that people preserve tomatoes are canning or making salsa. Tomatoes may be canned as juice or as whole tomatoes or used in a variety of recipes. Here are some tips:

    • To make tomato juice, you need about 23 pounds of tomatoes per canner load of 7 quarts. Wash, remove the stems and trim off bruised or discolored portions. To prevent the juice from separating, quickly cut about 1 pound of fruit into quarters and put directly into saucepan. Heat immediately to boiling while crushing. Continue to slowly add and crush freshly cut tomato quarters to the boiling mixture. Make sure the mixture boils constantly and vigorously while you add the remaining tomatoes. Simmer 5 minutes after you add all the pieces.
    • If you are not concerned about juice separation, simply slice or quarter tomatoes into a large saucepan. Crush, heat and simmer for 5 minutes before juicing. Press both types of heated juice through a sieve or food mill to remove skins and seeds.
    • There are specific food mills that separate the seeds and skin from the pulp, putting the seeds and skins out one side and the nice pulpy juice out the other. These strainers are not expensive and well worth the money if you plan to can a lot of tomatoes, apples or other fruit purees.
    • After you have separated the seeds and skin from the pulp, put the juice back in the pot and bring it to a boil and then put it into warm quart or pint jars. Add lemon juice, citric acid or vinegar to those jars before you process them in a boiling water bath.
    • The acidification of tomatoes is important. The tomatoes that are raised today commercially or in a home garden do not have as much acid in them as in our grandmothers’ day. To insure safe acidity in whole, crushed or juiced tomatoes, add 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice or one-half teaspoon citric acid per quart of tomatoes. You may also add one-fourth cup of vinegar as an alternative. For a pint, use one tablespoon bottled lemon juice, one-fourth teaspoon of citric acid or two tablespoons of vinegar.
    • For a boiling water bath at 3,000 to 6,000 ft process pints for 45 minutes and quarts for 50 minutes (1,000 to 3,000 ft, pints for 40 minutes, quarts for 45 minutes; above 6,000 ft, pints for 50 minutes, quarts for 55 minutes.). If you are using a dial gauge pressure canner at 4,000 to 6,000 ft, process pints at 8 pounds for 20 minutes or quarts at 13 pounds pressure for 15 minutes (2,000 to 4,000 ft, pints 7 lbs for 20 minutes and quarts 12 pounds for 15 minutes; 6,000 to 8,000 ft, pints 9 lbs for 20 minutes and quarts 14 lbs for 15 minutes). If you are using a weighted gauge canner, process pints at 10 pounds pressure for 20 minutes, and quarts at 15 pounds pressure for 15 minutes.
    • Crushed tomatoes, which can be used later in stews, soups or chili, are also popular. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, then cut out the cores and remove the skin. Put them back in a pot and bring them to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Process them in a boiling water bath, pints for 45 minutes (3,000 to 6,000 ft), quarts for 55 minutes (1,000 to 3,000 ft, pints for 40 minutes and quarts for 50 minutes; above 6,000 ft, pints for 50 minutes and quarts for 60 minutes). If you process crushed tomatoes in a dial gauge pressure canner, do pints at 8 pounds pressure for 20 minutes and quarts at 13 pounds pressure for 15 minutes (1,000 to 3,000 ft, pints at 7 lbs for 20 minutes and quarts at 12 lbs for 15 minutes; 6,000 to 8,000 ft, pints at 9 lbs for 20 minutes and quarts at 14 lbs for 15 minutes). If you use a weighted gauge pressure canner, process pints at 10 pounds pressure for 20 minutes and quarts at 15 pounds pressure for 15 minutes.
    • For traditional cold pack tomatoes just peel them, remove the cores and squish them into the bottle the way grandma use to do. Process them in a boiling water bath (3,000 to 6,000 ft) 95 minutes for quarts or pints (1,000 to 3,000 ft for 90 minutes; above 6,000 ft for 100 minutes). In a dial gauge pressure canner used at 4,000 to 6,000 ft, process pints at 8 pounds pressure for 40 minutes, for quarts, 13 pounds pressure for 25 minutes (2,000 to 4,000 ft, pints at 7 lbs for 40 minutes and quarts at 12 lbs for 25 minutes; 6,000 to 8,000 ft, pints at 9 lbs for 40 minutes and quarts at 14 lbs for 25 minutes). Of course each time you fill a pint or quart jar of tomatoes, before you process them, add the acid either lemon juice, citric acid or vinegar.
    • Making salsa with your tomatoes is also popular. Canned salsa recipes need to have a tested, approved processing time. It is not safe to take a wonderful home-made, home-developed salsa recipe and then decide on a processing time. If you have such a wonderful recipe, I recommend you freeze and not can it. 

    Here is a tested salsa recipe for canning.
    Chili Salsa
    5 pounds of tomatoes
    2 pounds of chili peppers
    1 pound onions
    1 cup of vinegar
    3 teaspoons of salt
    1/2 teaspoon of pepper
    Yields: 6 to 8 pints of salsa

    It is preferable that the chili peppers be roasted and peeled before they are used in this salsa but you can use chili peppers, the variety of your choice, without peeling them. Prepare the chili peppers. Wash the tomatoes, dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds until skins split, then dip in cold water, slip off skins, and remove cores. Coarsely chop tomatoes and combine chopped peppers and onions and remaining ingredients in large saucepan. Heat to boil, and simmer 10 minutes. Fill jars and leave one-half inch headspace. Adjust lids and process. Process pints at this altitude (1,000 to 6,000 ft) for 20 minutes (above 6,000 feet for 25 minutes) in a boiling water bath canner.

    Posted on 18 Sep 2000

    Jean Alder
    Home Economist, Cache County 

    Q

    Do you have tips on cooking for one?

    A

    Cooking for one on a regular basis can become monotonous. There are also nutritional concerns if meals are skipped or not complete.

    There are many tasty dinners available in grocery stores. Fast food restaurants and delicatessens also provide food rapidly. In these cases, you pay for someone else's labor. Sometimes it may be worth it to you; other times it may not. You can make most meals for a lot less money and tailor them to your personal likes and diet needs. They are also available without leaving home.

    Portioning individual servings and freezing them for later can be a useful solution to the daily cooking problem. Though it takes more time initially, it takes much less time per meal than cooking every meal from scratch. For a slight increase in work, you can have 6-10 portions for later use.

    There are also economic benefits to cooking and freezing large quantities. It is possible to take advantage of the normally lower price per pound for larger purchases. When consciously planning to preserve part of the food, there is less likelihood of spoilage problems since there are fewer leftovers. Money is also saved by not going to the grocery store as frequently; thus there is less temptation for impulse buying.

    Freezing food can be a helpful way to simplify food preparation for solo cooking. Consider these tips.

    • Carefully select freezing containers and packaging. The major objectives in packaging are to keep air from the product and minimize moisture loss from the product. All containers and packaging materials should be food grade. If you plan to take food directly from the freezer to the microwave, use containers sold as microwave safe. 
    • Cool foods quickly before freezing. Foods should be cooled quickly to retard the growth of bacteria and to help retain the natural flavor, color and texture. The more rapidly the food freezes, the better the quality of the food later. Allow 1 inch space around packages to allow the food to freeze rapidly. Freezer temperature should be 0 F or below.
    • Make soup or stew ice cubes. A convenient method for handling soups, stews and other liquid mixtures is to make bowl-shaped ice cubes. After cooking, freeze the mixture in microwaveable bowls overnight. Then run tap water over the back of the bowl and remove the frozen disk. Place them in a plastic bag, press the air out, seal it and return it to the freezer. To use, place a frozen disk in a bowl and microwave it. 
    • Experiment with freezing family favorites. From a safety perspective, there is much more flexibility when freezing products than when canning. No food becomes toxic due to freezing method. Feel free to experiment by combining a variety of products or seasonings. Boiled potatoes tend to become soggy, but can be included if that is acceptable. Freeze a small batch initially to see if you like the results.
    • Freeze individual portions when possible. This works well for berries, vegetables, muffins, slices of pie and cake. Spread food individually on a cookie sheet so it doesn't touch. Freeze overnight or until frozen solid, then transfer to bags or containers and place in freezer. Breads freeze well. Specialty breads can be made in small loaves, frozen in serving portions or individually frozen, then stored in the same plastic bag.
    • Be aware that certain items should not be frozen, due to effect on the quality of the product. For example, gravy, pudding and cream pie filling curdle when frozen and thawed. Other items that shouldn't be frozen include mayonnaise, salad dressing, cream to be whipped, sour cream, yogurt, soft meringues, lettuce or other fresh greens, cream or custard pies and hard-boiled eggs. Mayonnaise, salad dressing, sour cream, yogurt and gravies can be frozen if used in combination with other ingredients. 
    • Be aware of thawing and reheating methods. Most products can be reheated in a variety of ways. Foods frozen in sealed bags can be reheated by placing in boiling water. Bread products and meats, such as barbecued ribs, can be heated in an oven or toaster oven. Toaster ovens are less expensive to run than standard ovens and are usually large enough for single servings. Most products can be reheated in a microwave oven. If bread products are left too long, however, they will become tough and dry. Soups and stews can be heated in a sauce pan or microwave oven. Fried rice is best refried.
    • Purchase larger quantities of meats, poultry and fish. It is usually cheaper per pound to buy larger quantities of meat. Do not freeze fresh meats in the packages they are sold in if you want to keep them longer than 1-2 weeks in the freezer. The film over fresh meat is made to allow oxygen to reach the meat so it keeps the bright red color. However, the presence of air with frozen food will lead to freezer burn and rancidity. After dividing into portions, wrap the meat in plastic wrap and freezer paper, or seal in plastic bags for freezer storage. If not dividing the meat, removal from the grocery store package prior to rewrapping is optional.

    The same techniques used for cooking for one can also be used for someone in the family with special diet requirements or when taking food to someone who is unwilling or unable to cook. More information can be found at http://extension.usu.edu/files/foodpubs/fn501.pdf

    Posted on 15 Jan 2004

    Charlotte Brennand
    Food Safety Specialist

    Q

    Do you have tips on food safety after a flood?

    A

    When in doubt, throw it out is good advice when dealing with food that has been exposed to floodwater. Floodwater may carry silt, raw sewage, oil or chemical waste that make water-damaged foods unsafe to eat. If floodwater has covered, dripped on or seeped into a package of food, discard it. Consider these additional tips for food safety after a flood.

    Discard a food item that is moldy or has an unusual look or odor. Keep in mind, however, that color and odor are not always sure ways to test a food’s safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they have been warm too long, they may contain food poisoning bacteria in quantities that can cause illness. Never taste food to determine its safety.

    Frozen foods that have partially thawed and still have ice crystals may be safely refrozen. Most once-frozen foods that have been thawed can be cooked and eaten immediately if they haven’t been above 40 F longer than two hours. These foods can be refrozen after cooking.

    Cans of food that do not have dents or rust can be saved if handled properly before being opened. For added safety, boil the canned food at least 10 minutes before eating it.

    Be sure to wash and sanitize undamaged containers before opening. To disinfect the cans, remove paper labels and wash the containers with a strong detergent solution and brush to remove dirt and silt. This is important since paper can harbor bacteria. Rinse the scrubbed containers and re-label cans with a permanent marker. Thorough removal of dirt and silt and rinsing are extremely important since the disinfecting action of the next step, a chlorine solution, is diminished by any substance left on the containers.

    Immerse the clean, rinsed cans in a lukewarm (75 to 120 F) solution of chlorine for two minutes. Use 2 tablespoons of 5 percent chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Chlorine loses its effectiveness when it is in a solution and open to the air or when it comes in contact with unclean materials, so it is important to change the solution frequently. Remove the cans from the bleach solution and allow to air dry before opening or storing. Use disinfected cans as soon as possible since they may rust.

    Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands during the disinfection process. Strong detergent and bleach solution can be hard on bare hands. Wash all dishes and utensils in hot soapy water with a brush to remove dirt. Sanitize glass, ceramic and china dishes, glass baby bottles and empty canning jars using the same method for undamaged cans. Dishes with deep cracks should be thrown away. Metal pans and utensils can be disinfected by immersing them in water and boiling for 10 minutes.

    Kitchen utensils made of iron will likely be rusted. Remove the rust by scouring with steel wool. Disinfect with the bleach solution and re-season. To do this, apply a light coat of unsalted fat or oil and place in a 350 F oven for about an hour.

    Food poisoning can be serious and even deadly. If you have concerns about the safety of food that has been exposed to floodwater, proper handling of the food is very important. If you are not able to take the time to clean and disinfect canned items, utensils and dishes, it is best to throw them away.

    If you have questions or concerns about food safety issues, contact your local USU Extension office.

    Posted on 20 Jun 2005

    Adrie Roberts
    County Director, Family & Consumer Science Agent, Cache County

    Q

    Do you have tips on how I can use cranberries during the holidays?

    A

    Some people love cranberries; others turn their noses up at them. Recent statistics show, however, that more people are at least willing to try them. The health benefits of cranberries, combined with their unique taste, versatility and ease of use, have led to increased use and production. In 2004, 6.58 million barrels were produced in the United States, which is up 6 percent from 2003.

    Consider this information on the benefits of cranberries:

    • Cranberries are a rich source of antioxidants, which help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. Antioxidants reduce oxidative damage to cells that can lead to cancer, heart disease and other degenerative diseases. Anthocyanins, the antioxidant compound in cranberries, gives them their red color. The 5-A-Day program suggests that we eat by the rainbow, or eat all colors of fruits and vegetables each day to get a variety of the phytochemicals needed for good health. Cranberries fit well into the rainbow. 

    • One cup of cranberries is an excellent source of Vitamin C (15 milligrams or half the daily need), Vitamin B6 (72 milligrams) and fiber (1.3 grams) and has only 54 calories. It has no cholesterol and only a trace of fat.

    • Fresh cranberries are available in stores mid-September through December and may be stored in the refrigerator for up to four weeks. Before using, sort and rinse cranberries in running water. Freezing cranberries for later use is economical and easy. To freeze fresh cranberries, double wrap them in plastic without washing. When using frozen cranberries in your recipes or formulas, no thawing is necessary. In fact, best results are obtained without thawing.

    Dried Cranberries: Eat as a snack, or use them as a replacement for raisins.

    1 (12 ounce) bag of cranberries
    1/4 – 1/3 cup sugar or corn syrup

    Submerge fresh cranberries in a pot of boiling water with the heat turned off. Let them sit in water until the skin pops. Do not let berries boil or the flesh will turn mushy. Drain. If desired, coat the berries with either a light corn syrup or granulated sugar. Transfer berries to a cooking sheet and place them in a freezer for 2 hours. This breaks down the cell structure, promoting faster drying. Place berries on a mesh sheet in the dehydrator and dry for 10 to 16 hours, depending on the make of the dehydrator, until chewy with no pockets of moisture. Or, place them on a cookie sheet and dry in the oven. Turn on the oven for 10 minutes at 350 F. Then place the cranberries on a cookie sheet in the oven, turn off the oven, and let them sit overnight. Store dried cranberries in the freezer.

    Cranberry Salad

    2 cups frozen, chopped cranberries
    3 cups miniature marshmallows
    3/4 cup sugar

    Mix together and refrigerate overnight. Then mix the following together and add to above ingredients. Do this step one hour before serving.

    2 cups chopped, peeled apples
    8 ounces pineapple tidbits, drained
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
    8 ounces whipped topping

    Cranberry Apple Pie
    2 ready-made 9 inch pie crusts 
    8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced 
    1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries 
    3/4 cup sugar 
    3/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

    1/4 teaspoon cloves

    Place apples in pie crust. Blend cranberries in blender and spoon over apples. Mix sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and spoon over apples and cranberries. Place top crust on the pie and make slits in the crust. Brush top with a little milk. Bake in oven at 425 F for 50 minutes.

    Cranberry Apple Bar

    Batter:
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon flour
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    1/2 cup cranberries
    4 cups sliced apples

    Stir together and place in a baking dish

    Topping:
    1 cup oatmeal (uncooked)
    ½ cup brown sugar
    ½ cup flour
    1/8 teaspoon baking soda
    1/8 teaspoon baking powder
    Mix together, then add
    4 tablespoons butter (melted)

    Sprinkle topping on the batter and bake at 375 F for 35-40 minutes.

    Cranberry Orange Relish
    4 cups fresh cranberries
    2-3 whole oranges quartered 
    1 cup sugar

    Grind fresh cranberries and oranges in a meat grinder using a small disk. Pour into a bowl and add 1 cup of sugar or more to taste. Mix all ingredients well, chill and serve.

    For more information on cranberries, visit www.cranberries.org/consumers/cframeset.html

    www.5aday.com/html/research/summaries.php#5

    Posted on 19 Nov 2004

    Nedra Christensen
    Utah State University Extension Dietician

    Q

    Do you have tips on safe food handling techniques?

    A

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foodborne illnesses affect millions of people and cause thousands of deaths yearly. Approximately 800,000 illnesses occur in children under the age of 10 each year. Since September is National Food Safety Education Month, now is a good time to renew awareness of safe food handling techniques. Consider these tips when chilling, cleaning, separating and cooking food.

    Keep cold foods cold.

    • Make sure the refrigerator temperature is 40 F or below and the freezer is 0 F or below.
    • Don't overfill the refrigerator. Cool air must be allowed to circulate to keep food safe.
    • Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and leftovers within two hours of purchase or preparation, or within one hour if the temperature is above 90 F. At room temperature, harmful bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes.
    • Divide large quantities of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.
    • Thaw food in the refrigerator. For quick thawing, submerge in cold water in airtight packaging, or thaw in the microwave and cook the food immediately.
    • Keep food out of the temperature danger zone, which is between 40 and 140 F.
    • Marinate foods in the refrigerator.
    • When transporting food, place cold food in a cooler with ice or commercial freezing gels. Keep the cooler in the coolest part of your car rather than in a hot trunk.

    Clean hands, food preparation areas and food properly.

    • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before preparing or eating food.
    • Use a plastic or non-porous cutting board, then run it through the dishwasher or wash in hot soapy water after use.
    • Use paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them often on the hot cycle.
    • Rinse fruits and vegetables with cold running water before preparing or eating them.
    • Wash hands, cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot soapy water after preparing each food item, especially meats.

    Keep food separated so cross-contamination doesn't occur.

    • Keep raw meat, fish and poultry wrapped properly in the refrigerator so juices do not drip on other foods.
    • Do not place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
    • Use a separate cutting board for raw meat products.

    Cook to proper temperatures.

    • Cook ground beef to at least 160 F. Do not eat ground beef that is pink inside. Cook roasts and steaks to at least 145 F, poultry breasts to 170 F and whole poultry to 180 F.
    • Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating.
    • Rotate food in the microwave to avoid cold spots.
    • Cook eggs properly. Cook them until both the yolk and the white are firm. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160 F. Use pasteurized egg products or shell eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella for recipes that call for raw or undercooked eggs. Do not eat doughs or batters made with raw eggs.

    Posted on 6 Sep 2001

    Charlotte Brennand
    Food Safety Specialist

    Q

    Do you have tips to help prevent dehydration?

    A

    The hydration status of a person refers to body water balance. Water or fluid has many positive effects on the body, including lowering the heart rate, keeping a lower core temperature during exercise and assisting with proper mental functioning. Dehydration occurs when people don’t have enough fluid in their bodies. It can be caused by diarrhea, vomiting, overheating, diabetes, diuretic medications, high fever or excessive sweating. Though dehydration is a serious problem, it can easily be prevented by simply drinking enough water. Dehydration is ranked among the top ten reasons for Medicare hospitalizations. When adequate fluids are consumed, there is a significant reduction in confusion. The ability to feel thirst lessens with age, so seniors especially need to be aware of proper hydration. In the aging process, bodies begin losing muscle and gaining fat. Muscle holds water but fat does not, so as a person ages, body water decreases. For optimal performance, access to fluids is especially important during exercise. In one study, running speeds decreased by 6 to 7 percent when the athlete was dehydrated. Consider these tips to prevent dehydration.

    Drink at least eight cups of water a day. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. By this time you are already dehydrated. Drink by schedule, not by thirst. Carry a water bottle and drink from it regularly. Keep a full water bottle in the refrigerator door and drink from it every time you open the refrigerator. Know where to find fluids when away from home.

    Drink extra amounts in extreme heat to replace water lost from sweating. If you are sedentary or a moderate exerciser, water is sufficient for hydration. If you are exercising strenuously, sodium (salt) replacement is necessary. If you consume enough sodium at a meal prior to exercising, sodium rehydration beverages are generally not necessary. If you exercise daily, be sure to drink plenty with meals. Drink 16 ounces 2 hours before exercise, drink 8 to 16 ounces 15 minutes before the activity, then drink at least 4 to 8 ounces every 15 minutes during the activity. After exercise, drink 24 ounces per pound of body weight lost during the activity. Do not replace water with alcohol or caffeinated drinks. Know the symptoms of dehydration. These include thirst, dry mouth, dark yellow urine, fatigue, irritability, dizziness, feeling of blacking out when sitting up or standing, confusion, muscle weakness or cramps, sunken eyes, headache and low blood pressure. If you feel any of these symptoms are becoming life threatening, go to the emergency room or contact your physician immediately.

     

    Posted on 10 Mar 2004

    Nedra Christensen
    Utah State University Extension Dietician
    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    does 1 tablespoon make 2 teaspoons

    A

    It takes 3 teaspoons to equal one tablespoon. 

    Posted on 3 Jan 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County 

    Q

    Does anyone have any idea what a size #2-1/2 can is? I have an old recipe that calls for this size and I am lost! Thanks for your help.

    A

    Here is a chart:

    Can Size Number Approximate Volume of Food Approximate Weight of Food
    No. 300 1 3/4 cups 14 to 16 ounces
    No. 303 2 cups 16 to 17 ounces
    No. 2 2 1/2 cups 20 ounces
    No. 2 1/2 3 1/2 cups 27 to 29 ounces
    No. 1 picnic 1 1/4 cups 10 1/2 to 12 ounces
    No. 3 5 3/4 cups 51 ounces
    No. 10 3 quarts 6 1/2 pounds to 7
    pounds and 5 ounces

    Posted on 26 Sep 2007

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist

     

    Food Storage

    Q

    All of the recipes I can find for canning green beans require a pressure canner. Is there a safe way to can green beans using a boiler canner?

    A

    First and foremost, canning low acid foods like beans MUST be done in a pressure canner.  A safe pressure canning process is required to destroy the organisms and spores that cause botulism.  Old recipes exist on the internet where people were instructed to boil vegetables for many hours, but that still does NOT kill botulism spores.

    Next, to ensure safety, Extension only recommends research-based, safe, canning processes.  These can be found on the USU Extension website and http://www.homefoodpreservation.com.

    There are a few recipes for pickling beans.  When pickling, acid is added to a level that prevents growth of the botulism organism.  With enough acid present, a boiling water canner can be used.  Here's a recipe for pickled dilled beans:
    http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_06/dilled_beans.html.

    Posted on 7 Sep 2007

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist

    Q

    Are jars that have air bubbles in them after bottling, safe?

    A

    Yes.  Small amounts of air are not a concern providing a good vacuum seal was obtained.  It is best to remove as much air as possible to prolong shelf life though.  

    Posted on 28 Oct 2008

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist

    Q

    Can I get my pressure cooker tested? When and where? Thanks for a great service! jh

    A

    Most of Cooperative Extension offices throughout the state will test pressure canner gauges.  Check your local county office.  If by any chance they cannot, we can request a neighboring county help out.  Look for the phone number of your county office on http://extension.usu.edu or in your phone book.

    Posted on 30 Oct 2007

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist

    Q

    Can I store wheat, sugar, flour or other products purchased in 25 pound bags in a rubbermaid container? I am looking for space efficient ways to store bulk grains and legumes.

    A

    The food storage can be in any size of container.  The “Use It or Lose It” food storage book, prepared by USU suggests finding storage containers that fit the space you have available and in a size that matches the frequency in which you use the product stored.  It is possible to use gallon bottles, smaller jars or individual containers.  Use only products designed for food – which would include Rubbermaid containers.

    Posted on 5 Sep 2008

    Joanne Roueche
    Family and Consumer Science Agent, Davis County

    Q

    Can I use bay leaves or nails in my wheat to protect from insects?

    A

    Bay leaves, chewing gum, nails, or salt DO NOT prevent the contamination of grain by insects.

    Posted on 13 Sep 2006

    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County 

    Q

    Can powdered milk have a problem with mold?

    A

    Mold requires some moisture to grow.  It only needs a little, such as in bread.  If the powdered milk is kept dry in a bag or can, mold will not typically grow.  If you are referring to home food storage, it is best to store powdered milk in a sealed #10 can using oxygen absorbers.

    Posted on 20 Aug 2007

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist
    Q

    Can you tell me what the adult form is for the weevil that I find in my flour and pasta?

    A

    Thanks for your question. You could have a grain/rice weevil (see linkbelow) or a flour beetles (see attached file). I can't say for sure without a  subcription/picture/submitted sample. Weevils are a particular type of beetle, but they have a prominent snout that distinguishes them from other beetles. Both grain/rice weevils and flour beetles will go after processed flour, pasta and whole grains. Read more about how to control these beetles and other pantry pests in the attached fact sheet.
    Please let me know if you have more questions about this insect problem or others.

    http://www.hortnet.co.nz/publications/hortfacts/hf401018.htm

    Posted on 16 Jan 2008

    Erin Hodgson
    Extension Entomologist

    Q

    Can you use canned food such as soups and vegetables past their use by date and if so how far past can you use them. How long does home canned fruits keep their nutional value?

    A

    Shelf life dates are created for two reasons (a) safety and (b) quality.  As long as the cans are sealed and have not been subjected to high heat or freezing, they will remain commercially sterile and safe.  Quality is a different story.  The quality shelf life is set by the manufacturer.  It is usually the date when the food no longer tastes as good as the original. After the shelf life date certain foods will still retain quality and others will not.  You will have to sample some to find out.  After opening visually check the food and smell the contents.  If anything looks out of the ordinary, discard it.  I opened a five year old can of mushrooms packed in water and they smelled awful.  It was a chemical degradation of the mushroom.  Similarly, I opened a six year old can of pears in lite brine.  They were exceptional.  Most canned foods will retain all of their nutritional value (calories, protein, minerals), except vitamins.  Most likely all of the vitamins degraded and will not offer nutritional benefit. Cooperative Extension recommends that you store canned goods for less than five years.

    Posted on 26 Sep 2007

    Sarah Oldroyd
    Family & Consumer Science and IFCS Agent, Salt Lake County 

    Q

    Do I need to treat water before storing it?

    A

    Water that is stored for long periods should be sanitized or disinfected. To treat water add 1/4 tsp. (16 drops) liquid chlorine bleach (5%) per gallon of water. You may want to rotate your water every few years.

    Posted on 13 Sep 2006

    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Do weevil turn into moths? If not where would moths come from in my food storage room? and how do you get rid of them?

    A

    Weevils are small beetles. Moths have a caterpillar stage, but are not weevils. Weevils are common grain infesting pests. Store grain in plastic buckets with dry ice or oxygen absorbers to kill live weevils or moths. If there are eggs, they won't be killed during that treatment. They can be killed by retreating the grain with dry ice of oxygen absorbers at a alater date. This publication http://extension.usu.edu/files/foodpubs/fn371.pdf can help give more details.

    Posted on 11 Feb 2008

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist

    Q

    Does my stored food still have any nutritional value?

    A

    Nutrients in food are affected by exposure to heat, light, and air. There are many nutrients to consider in stored foods. Following are some effects of storage on some nutrients: 
    · Calories - foods continue to provide needed energy over time 
    · Minerals - very little change in stored foods 
    · Carbohydrates - very little change in stored foods 
    · Proteins - change in reaction in recipe; for example old wheat flour will not rise, because the proteins are unable to form gluten 
    · Fats - oxidation (become rancid) creates off flavors and odors 
    · Vitamins - some loss over time; destroyed by heat, light, and oxidation. Storing and eating a variety of foods can assure adequate vitamin intake.

    Rotate stored food within 2 to 3 years to maintain optimal nutritional value.

    Posted on 13 Sep 2006

    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    How do I keep insects out of stored grain?

    A

    Homeowners can freeze grains to control insects. To control insects by freezing, place 1 to 15 pounds of grain in a medium to heavy plastic bag and place in freezer for 2-3 days. After removing bag from freezer leave grain in a warm room for 24 hours to allow grain to dry from condensation.

    If you have large amounts of grain you can use dry ice fumigation. In a 5-gallon bucket place 3 to 4 inches of grain in the bottom, spread 2 ounces of dry ice on the 3 to 4 inches of grain. After the ice is added, fill the container with grain to desired depth. Allow approximately 30 minutes for the ice to vaporize (evaporate) before placing the lid tightly on the container. You can place the lid ajar over the container during the 30 minute evaporation phase. After evaporation the lid must be fit air-tight to remain effective.

    Note: Freezing and dry ice will control adult and larval stage insects, but not eggs. You may have to use multiple freeze cycles until no further insect activity is observed.

    Posted on 13 Sep 2006

    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    How do I store fruits and vegetables?

    A

    Here is a link to the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  They have a page with resources on storing foods safely.  Several linked publications can help you with storing fruits and vegetables.

    http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/store.html 

    Posted on 12 Dec 2007

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist

    Q

    How long can I keep stored foods?

    A

    Under cool, dry, dark conditions most food will keep well for 18 months to 2 years. Wheat and sugar will keep well for 25 years. Foods which have been canned correctly and stored correctly will be safe for much longer periods of time. However, as food ages there will naturally be changes in color, flavor, odor, and texture. Color will darken, texture will soften, and odor will change. Although the food may be safe it might not be palatable. If any of the following apply throw the food out: 

    • Food was processed improperly (untested canning recipe, no altitude changes, etc.) The jar may be sealed, but deadly microorganisms are sealed in the jar. 
    • Bulging cans 
    • Milky appearance to liquid. As food ages the liquid will become cloudier as food sloughs off, but it should not be milky. 
    • Mold growth 
    • Slimy appearance or texture 
    • Rancid odor 
    • Corrosion on inside of can, especially along seam 
    • Rust, especially on seam or seal of can 
    • Frozen canned goods - this can cause hairline fractures in the seal and seams. If accidentally frozen, keep frozen until ready to use. 
    • Off-smell

    Posted on 13 Sep 2006

    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    How long does pectin keep if the box has not been opened?

    A

    Pectin has an expiration date on the box.  It is recommended to use it within one year or before the expiration date.  It's not so much that it will hurt you, (meaning causing problems with food safety) it's more that the quality of the pectin decreases once the expiration date has passed.  The jam/jelly or whatever product you may be making will not gel as well, in short, the pectin won't work like it's designed to.

     If you'd like more information, check out the following website:

    http://missourifamilies.org/quick/nutritionqa/nutqa159.htm

     It provides links to another state's extension website and a USDA website that go into further details.

    Posted on 11 Sep 2007

    Sarah Oldroyd
    Family & Consumer Science and IFCS Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    How much food should I store?

    A

    A basic food supply will contain one pound of dry matter per person per day. One pound of dry matter provides about 1600 Calories of energy each day. Dry matter includes: wheat, sugar, dry beans, rice, pasta, oats, flour, dried fruits, dried vegetables, dry milk, etc. Storing dry matter will provide calories, but other nutrients such as protein, vitamin, and mineral may be sacrificed. The addition of fruits, vegetables and storing a variety of dry matter will improve the nutritional quality of stored diets. USU Extension publication FN-503 Food Storage Cooking School "Use It or Lose It!" http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/FN_503.pdf has some excellent ideas for determining amounts of food for storage.

    Posted on 13 Sep 2006

    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    How much water should I store?

    A

    Plan on 1 gallon per person per day for a 2 week period or 14 gallons per person. You may need more for personal hygiene or if most of your food storage contains dehydrated foods requiring water for hydration.

    Posted on 13 Sep 2006

    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County 

    Q

    How to store fresh oranges to last as long as possible?

    A

    Oranges can be kept at room temperature. The start to decline in quality within a week. They will still be good until mold pierces their skin and spoils the inside. This can happen quicker if there is moisture present. Some fancy mail order companies wrap the orange in wax paper to keep out moisture. This can help some. I am not aware of any tricks to prolong storage time. You can store oranges in the refrigerator crisper for 2-4 weeks. Again the quality will be good until mold grows. Orange peel, juice or flesh can be frozen. Frozen citrus will last for 6-12 months. Oranges cannot be successfully canned in any way, except marmalade. It becomes bitter when canned.

    Posted on 11 Feb 2008

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist

    Q

    I am trying to use flour that has been stores for about 30 years. It looks ok and tastes like flour but I have baked two loaves and they will not raise. they taste ok but how nutritional would they be?

    A

    As flour ages it loses its protein content, similar to whole wheat.  When that happens the gluten content goes with it.  It is the gluten that allows the loaf of bread dough to be more elastic and rise when the yeast is at work.  So……….a dough enhancer, a gluten flour, or a dough pep are the answer to bringing the gluten content back up—just like with whole wheat that is old.  These can be found in most supermarkets—or places like Kitchen Kneads.  One that is probably the most popular is Vital Wheat Gluten.

    Hope that helps---oh, and each product will tell you how much to use for various amounts of flour in use.

    Posted on 15 Jul 2009

    Teresa Hunsaker
    Family & Consumer Sciences, Weber County

    Q

    I grew up eating green beans which were pressure-canned at home. When my mother heated them for a meal, she brought them to a boil then removed the lid and let them boil for at least a minute with the lid off. She said this was necessary to be safe. Is it necessary or was that just something passed down from before pressure canning was available?

    A

    Thanks for your great question!  If you are canning green beans today and you pressure can them correctly (for Utah County altitude, you need to process them at 13 lbs pressure if using a dial-gauge canner or 15 lbs pressure if using a weighted gauge canner), any microorganisms that may have existed in the jar will have been destroyed by the heat of the processing.  With a low-acid product like green-beans, the microorganism we are most concerned with is the C. botulinum spore.  If this spore (which is around us, in the air, in the soil, etc.) is placed in a low-acid, moist environment with no oxygen (which is exactly what we do when we can green beans), it can develop a toxin that is deadly.  In order to destroy to botulism spore, we need to heat the contents of the jar to an internal temperature of 240 degrees F.  The only way to do that is with a Pressure Canner, which uses the pressure to increase temperature beyond boiling point (212 degrees F) of water.  As long as the contents of the jar have been processed correctly - at 13lbs or 15lbs pressure for 20 minutes in pints or 25 minutes in quarts, then you should be able to open up that jar of beans and eat them straight out of the jar without any negative effect.

    In other words, the contents of the jar do not need to be boiled prior to consuming.  If you don't know how long it was processed, or are concerned it might not have been long enough, then you could go ahead and boil the contents (full rolling boil) for about 10-15 minutes prior to consuming.  This doesn't help in every situation, but can render the botulism spore inactive for a period of time and help you feel sure that it is safe to eat.

    One other motto to consider: When in doubt, throw it out!

    Please let me know if you have further questions related to canning or food safety!  I'd be happy to answer them for you!

    Posted on 24 Nov 2008

    Jana Darrington
    Family & Consumer Science Agent

    Q

    I have a question about my pressure canned sliced peaches. I cold-packed sliced peaches covering them with a light syrup. Following instructions I packed them with 1/2 inch headspace and poured the liquid to 1/2 inch headspace. However, the peaches floated up so that they were not covered by the liquid during processing. I did run a wooden spatula down the sides of the jars and seemed to get all air bubbles out of the jar. I processed in the pressure canner according to instructions at 10 PSI for 10 minutes. When I removed the jars the liquid was boiling and there seemed to be a lot of air bubbles around the fruit. The jars were already sealed when I took them out of the canner after waiting 10 minutes after the pressure seal dropped. The liquid is down considerably - looks to be about 1 1/2 to 2 inches and the peaches are floating. There are air bubbles and air pockets. The seal is fine. Are these peaches safe?

    A

    This is a common defect in raw pack.  Fruits and tomatoes suffer this same problem.  What happened was the floating fruit helped some of the syrup to boil out during processing.  Also, the air inside the fruit is being vacuumed out and the space is filled with syrup - further dropping the liquid level.

    Providing the seal is fine the peaches have been safely processed.  I would consume these first, since the fruit above the brine will lose quality quicker during storage.

    Posted on 1 Oct 2007

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist 

    Q

    I have a question regarding commercially canned tomatoes. I have read on your website that the nutritional value of vegetables may not be maintained after the expiration date. I have heard somewhere that tomatoes are an exception, and there could be a problem with the tomatoes that would not be able to be detected, and that they should just be discarded at the expiration date for safety's sake. Is this true?

    A

    Commercially canned foods will retain most of their vitamin content for the shelf life storage time stated on the cans.  After that time, the company is stating it no longer supports it's own claims.  During storage, vitamins are the only major nutritional element lost.  So, the food will still retain all of the calories, proteins, minerals, etc.

    Commercially canned foods that have not been compromised will remain safe --even after the expiration date.  We recommend that people replace their food storage as their finances permit.  A general rule for canned goods is 5 years.  If you wait too long, then the food no longer tastes any good and it is harder to eat.

    Posted on 30 Oct 2007

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist

    Q

    I have tried pressure canning chicken 4 times now. I've done 2 batches cooked chicken and 2 batches raw chicken. All 4 times most of the water cooked out of the jars. Is this supposed to happen and is the chicken safe for us to eat?

    A

    Providing that the lid has sealed and you processed the chicken properly, it will be safe despite the loss of liquid.  There are several possible reasons the liquid boiled off:

    1. The jar is packed too full - incorrect headspace. 
    2. Starchy foods may absorb some liquid.
    3. The liquid you added to cover cold, raw food was not hot enough when you put it in the canner.
    4. You did not remove air bubbles when you packed the food.
    5. The pressure canner was not sufficiently or properly exhausted (Pressure fluctuated, or temperature lowered suddenly during processing, due to uncontrolled heat source. If the pressure canner cools too quickly while the contents of the jar remain at a much higher temperature, the liquid will boil over. The "coming down" period has to be gradual and even. The petcock was opened before the pressure had returned to zero).
    6. The gauge is inaccurate.  Have it tested at your local Cooperative Extension Office.  

    Posted on 23 Apr 2008

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist

    Q

    I just inherited a pressure canner. It's pretty well used and I'm a little nervous about using it. I've never done pressure canning before. Is there a place where I can get it checked out for safety, and how do I learn how to use it.

    A

    Check with your local Extension Office.  They can test the gauge and can look over the pressure canner.  SOme really old models are not worth saving.  New models cost as little as $80.  Ask the Extension Agent if there any Master Canners in your county who could help you learn a little about canning.

    Be sure and check out http://www.homefoodpreservation.com.  They have all of the safe recipes and have many how-to's.

    Posted on 30 Oct 2007

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist 

    Q

    I just prepared pesto today containing basil, pine nuts, garlic, italian cheeses, and lemon juice, pretty much in that order from largest quantity to smallest. For how long could I keep this in my freezer before the oil will go rancid or the pesto will otherwise be inedible. Seems to me that I kept some a while back for 6 months, and after eating it I got sick, though this could be coincidental.

    A

    Pesto has approximately a 6 month shelf life in the freezer.  If you
    package it to exclude as much air as possible, it may last up to 12
    months.  Over time the oil will oxidize (rancidity).  Rancidity produces
    off-flavors, but I am not aware of any health issue.  I do not think you
    got sick from the pesto.

    We do recommend that pesto be kept refrigerated for 5-7 days or frozen.
    It cannot be safely left out at room temperature. 

    Posted on 5 Sep 2007

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist