Tips for Cleaning Electric Pressure Cookers

Recently a friend emailed me asking how to clean an electric programmable pressure cooker (EPPC) so that it didn’t retain the smells of previous cooked foods.  This friend is certainly not the only one asking this question.  In fact, after I got my own EPPC, I had the same concern.  In my search for advice, I encountered lots of stories and advice from other EPPC owners with one owner even claiming to have found maggots growing in the condensation collector!  True or not, there are at least eight parts of any EPPC that should be cleaned after every use and it only takes minutes to do:  the inner pot, base, trivet, lid, silicone ring, pressure valve, condensation collector, and the anti-block shield.  With the exception of the base, all of these parts are dishwasher safe with most manufacturers.  The cooker base must be kept dry but can be wiped with a damp cloth.

It is always best to consult the manual that came with the EPPC for the best way to clean the appliance, but we know how manuals get misplaced or sometimes really don’t provide much information.  Another source is to look online for the EPPC manufacturer and hopefully find care information; however, this may not be possible with some generic EPPC brands.   One EPPC manufacturer, InstantPot, provides great care and cleaning tips.  While the tips may be specific to InstantPot, they would be useful for other EPPCs as well if information cannot be found from a specific manufacturer.

If after all of these areas have been cleaned properly and a lingering odor is still detected, it is likely coming from the silicon sealing ring as it does hold food odors.  I have found three ways to help defuse those odors: soaking the ring in vinegar, turning the lid upside down between uses or leaving the ring exposed to air, and placing a small box of baking soda in the unit between uses.   Other suggestions I’ve read include putting the ring in the sun, wiping the ring with a stainless steel soap disc, soaking or steaming in lemon water and baking soda, or purchasing two rings, one for savory and one for sweet.  If one does opt for a second sealing ring or needs to replace a ring, be sure to get genuine manufactured parts to ensure the EPPC will work correctly and safely.

Another concern EPPC users have is with the gradual discoloration of the stainless steel inner pot.  If it is turning a blue-yellow, white vinegar will bring it back to it’s original luster.  The procedure is to let white vinegar stand in the pot for at least 5 minutes and then rinse with water.  If the bottom of the pot is dulled perhaps due to sautéing or hard water, I have found that a small amount of baking soda or a non-abrasive scouring cleanser like Bar Keepers Friend Liquid Cleanser on a damp cloth or sponge does an excellent job of bringing back the original shine after rinsing and drying. Don’t use anything metallic for scouring because it will damage the finish!

These are the suggestions that I gave my friend as they seem to work well for me.  If you are an EPPC user and have additional suggestions, I’d love to hear your tips!


Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Air Fryers

My sister-in-law is interested in purchasing an air fryer. It is a new concept to me so I decided to do some research on it for both she and I. The basic premise is you can fry foods in air rather than oil. I think we would all agree that if we could enjoy our favorite fried foods without all the extra fat calories from the oil we would be very interested in doing that!

Hot air frying machines work by circulating extremely hot air around food using a mechanical fan that cooks the food and produces a crispy layer on the outside while keeping the inside moist. This would be similar to the way convection cooking is done. The only oil needed is what is brushed on the food before air frying. They do caution to not overload the air fryer as the food wouldn’t cook properly and could even lead to unsafe foods by staying at bacteria-friendly temperatures for too long. So cooking in smaller batches would be a necessity.

If purchasing an air fryer you would want to consider several things like the amount of counter space the appliance will take up, the wattage required to run the appliance, the capacity and what settings are available. On the plus side, it seems an air fryer would be a lot safer as there would be no pots of boiling oil around. It would also be less work in the beginning, there would be no oil to dispose of, no lingering smell in the house, and you would not feel as heavy full after eating. On the minus side, you cannot replicate the texture or flavor of foods that were traditionally deep fat fried and the actual cooking time is significantly longer. Plus air fryers are a bit pricey.

The jury is still out for me to consider purchasing an air fryer but the concept is an interesting one!


Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Pizza on the Grill

Summertime brings the grill out at our house and with it comes one of our favorite foods made on the grill—PIZZA!  Making pizza on the grill may seem like making a soufflé in a rice cooker, but it actually makes a lot of sense and works very well.  The key to pizza is high heat and that is something a grill specializes in. In addition, the kitchen stays cool. It’s a great party food or a fun way to feed family that just happen to stop in on Sunday night. But most importantly, it is the delicious, slightly smoky and not-too-charred-just-enough-for-taste crust that makes it the best grilled food.  All you need is a robust pile of charcoal or a gas grill and an optional pizza stone.

Here’s some tips to help you get started with pizza on the grill:

Get everything ready to go—all the toppings, the sauce, the cheese, whatever you wish.  This is key because you have to move fast once you start. Use grated melting cheeses like Mozzarella, Fontina, or Jack.  Toppings (meats and veggies) must be pre-cooked or pre-grilled as there is not enough grilling time to cook them as in an oven.   I like to have everything in individual containers on a table right next to the grill.

Make the pizza dough or use prepared pizza dough.  I like to make my own.  My recipe is at the end of the blog.

While the pizza dough is rising, prepare the grill.  Give the grill plenty of time to get hot. Once the grill is hot, season the grates or put your pizza stone onto the grates.  To season the grates, dip a tightly folded paper towel (or silicon brush) in olive oil (seasoned if you like with garlic, chilies, or herbs) and use a tongs to wipe the grill grates.  If you are uncomfortable with putting your pizza directly on the grates, disposable wire mesh grill toppers work well.

Shape the pizza dough on a slightly floured surface.  I like to use my hands.  My recipe will make one 12-inch round or 4-6 individual rounds.  We like to do the individual rounds so everyone can personalize their pizza.  Do not put a raised rim on the rounds as it will be too thick to grill properly.  The rounds should be rather thin.  Place your round(s) on a floured or parchment lined rimless cookie sheet and let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then poke around on the dough with a fork. (This will keep the round from puffing.) If you are preparing for a party or larger number of guests, you can make the individual rounds ahead, stack them separated between parchment paper, and keep in the refrigerator for up to two hours before grilling.

With everything ready to go, brush the top side of the round with olive oil (or seasoned olive oil).  Lay the oiled-side of the round onto the hot grill grates (omit if using a pizza stone).  Close the lid of the grill and grill for approximately two minutes.  After two minutes, open the grill and check the bottom side of the round to see if it is getting brown.  If nothing is happening, use a tongs to move or rotate the round.  Grill for an additional minute if needed.  By this time, the top of the pizza should be bubbling, too.

Once the round has browned or slightly charred on the bottom, remove the round and flip it over.  Close the grill to retain the heat.  Brush the grilled surface with a little olive oil and then spread on a little sauce.  Less is better with grilled pizza.  A thin spread of a thicker sauce is better than a thinner sauce so you don’t end up with a soggy pizza.  Sprinkle on the toppings, cheese, and then meat (meat should be fully cooked).  Again, keep it light as grilled pizza is not panned pizza.

Slide the topped pizza back onto the grill, close the lid and grill for 2-3 minutes more or until the bottom begins to brown or char slightly and the cheese is melted.  Remove the pizza from the grill and finish with a light sprinkle of sea salt, if desired.

Pizza combinations are endless.  Keep it simple.  The best grilled pizzas have two or three toppings max.  Consider texture, flavor, and color when picking toppings that go together. (Photo pizza is a combination of leeks, asparagus, and smoked pork without any sauce.)  Try it, and I think you’ll be convinced that the grill is an excellent pizza maker! 

Pizza dough recipe:  1 cup light beer or water, 1 tablespoon or package active dry yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 ¾ cup bread flour.  Heat beer or water to 120-130F.  Combine the beer or water, yeast and sugar in a mixer bowl.  Stir to combine.  Let stand until the mixture foams, about 5 minutes.  Stir in olive oil, salt, and flour.  Mix until dough comes together.  Knead on a floured surface, adding additional flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes.  Allow to rest 20 minutes.  Punch dough down and let rest a few minutes before forming round or divide dough for individual pizzas and then let rest for a few minutes before forming rounds.

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Transitioning from Incandescent and CFL bulbs to LEDs

Like many consumers today, my family has gradually been changing from incandescent and compact fluorescent (CFLs) bulbs to light emitting diode (LED) lights.  For many reasons, LEDs lighting is preferable to incandescent and CFL lighting:  LED’s light up very quickly achieving full brightness in milliseconds, are dimmable, radiate very little heat, use less energy, have a long life, contain no toxic materials, give off zero UV emissions, and operate in extreme hot or cold temperatures.  But gone are the days when buying lightbulbs used to be a cinch. When a 60-watt incandescent bulb burnt out in by-gone days, you purchased another pack of 60-walt bulbs, reinstalled, and that was the end.  Since 2012, incandescents have gradually been phased out, replaced temporarily by CFLs, and now the LEDs.

As we began the transition, we found there are more lighting choices than ever before and that we had much to learn in order to get the right bulb.  A good place to start is by looking for the ENERGY STAR label and checking out the chart: ENERGY  STAR Light Bulb Purchasing Guide as a guide to finding the right bulb for your light fixture.   (ENERGY STAR is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency helping consumers save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices.)  Since all LED bulbs are not created equal, LED bulbs that have earned the ENERGY STAR have met the highest standards for quality and performance.

The next step was learning the jargon:

Lumens.  For brightness, look for lumens, not watts as used by incandescent bulbs.  Lumens indicate the light output whereas watts indicate energy consumed.  Certified LED bulbs provide the same brightness (lumens) with less energy (watts).  The Purchasing Guide provides a chart to determine how many lumens are need to match the brightness of an incandescent bulb (i.e. 800 lumens = 60 watts).

Color Temperature.  LED bulbs are available in a wide range of colors matching a temperature on the Kelvin Scale (K).  Lower K values mean a warmer, yellowish light while high K values equate to cooler, bluer light.  There is a small illustration of this in the Purchasing Guide.  For a larger, more colorful and easy-to-read chart, check out the chart provided by Westinghouse.

Color Rendering Index (CRI).  This information is not always on the box but sometimes can be found in the lighting displays at the store.  CRI tells how accurately colors appear under the bulb’s light, ranging from 0-100.  The old incandescent bulbs have a CRI of 100.  Consumer Reports recommends a CRI of 80 for interior lights.

Although there are many advantages to using LEDs, they are still a bit more expensive than alternatives.  Due to their extremely low power requirements, LEDs ultimately save money over their life and will pay for themselves in energy savings.  In some communities, that savings can come within six months of installation.  Further, to help consumers, some power companies and city utilities offer energy savings programs or rebates for purchasing LED bulbs and/or LED light fixtures. From January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017, participating Iowa electric utilities are helping residents make the simple switch to energy-efficient lighting by offering special pricing on ENERGY STAR® qualified LED bulb purchases of 12 or less. If you want to see the real value of switching to LED’s, visit and check out the Energy Savings Calculator.

A couple of other factors that entered into our replacement equation was the need to make some fixture changes or adjustments.  Even though the LED bulbs are supposed to be exactly the same in size as the incandescents, we found otherwise.  Therefore, it was a good idea to bring our incandescent bulb along and measure everything carefully beginning with the length of the base.  The biggest surprise for me was that contrary to popular belief, LEDs do generate heat and that they need to be in a non-enclosed fixture to allow heat to dissipate from the heat sink.  Without the ability to vent, they can overheat and fail early.  A sales person at Lowes showed me how the new bulb-type fixtures provide for heat dissipation with a nearly inconspicuous small venting system in the glass of the fixture.  Further, he advised that if the LED bulbs are put into existing, enclosed fixtures, the fixture might still be usable by lengthening the stem of the fixture so that there is a small space between the top of the glass and the fixture base.  There are also bulbs specifically designed to be placed in enclosed fixtures.  If you purchase a fixture that already has LED lights incorporated into it, the heat dissipation will have been taken care of by the manufacturer, but you may need to remove some insulation in your attic surrounding the location of the fixture.

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Choosing a Home Air Filter

Recently AnswerLine received a call about furnace filters.  The caller wanted to know the tradeoffs of the various kinds of filters with regard to efficiency and air quality.  And further, how often did an air filter really need to be changed.  Great questions!  However, I didn’t have all the answers and requested time to do some research and get back to the caller.  In doing so, I learned a lot.

In by-gone days, there was only one thing to know when purchasing a filter for your heating/AC system (HVAC)—the dimensions.  It certainly is a different story today.  The wide range of filter options, numbers, and prices can be overwhelming and confusing.

The original purpose of the HVAC filter was to do one thing:  protect the equipment.  Since then, a second function has been added as an option:  reduce indoor air pollution.  Therefore, the filter’s real job is to reduce the amount of dust, dirt, and debris that is in the air so that it does not accumulate on components inside the HVAC system; and as an option, prevent those inside the home or building from inhaling dust, allergens, and other irritants.

Changing or cleaning the air filter when appropriate increases the efficiency and life span of the system and decreases energy costs. Dirty, clogged filters block airflow and cause the system to run longer; further, they also allow the dirty air to get past the filter and make its way into the fan motor, coils, and other parts of the system along with the home environment and into the lungs of humans and pets.

Air filters are either mechanical or electrical.  Mechanical filters capture airborne pollutants on a filter medium; their effectiveness is dependent on both media and design.  Information provided by University of Illinois Extension shows that fiberglass filters remove up to 2%, washable/reusable filters remove up to 6%, thin pleated filters remove up to 11%, deep pleated filters remove up to 25%, and pleated electrostatic filters remove up to 49% of sub-micron particles.  Electronic filters use an electric field to capture debris like a magnet and remove up to 94% of sub-micron particles; ultraviolet or HEPA filters may be built into or added onto an electronic filter.  Most homes use a mechanical filter due to cost unless additional filtration is needed for health reasons.

Filter rating systems devised by individual companies make it hard to compare filters and should be avoided as there is no standard.    Rather consumers should look for the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) which sets a standard for rating the overall effectiveness of air filters by measuring the filter’s ability to trap particles ranging in size from 3.0 microns to 10.0 microns. Every filter has a MERV rating.  (If it is not on the packaging, contact the manufacturer.)  A residential filter commonly has a MERV rating of 1  to 12.  A higher MERV rating means finer filtration with fewer dust particles and other airborne contaminates passing through the filter.   Here in lies the caveat.  A filter with a higher MERV rating will also restrict airflow more than a filter with a lower MERV rating and will likely increase your systems running time and energy use.  Remember, the filter only needs to keep the coils and blower free of dust and debris.  All HVAC systems are designed for a specific CFM (cubic feet per minute) airflow rating. If the airflow is restricted by say 10%, that could equate to a 10% loss in efficiency, and 10% higher energy consumption along with longer heat up or cool down cycles; or in worst case, if the system is struggling with the CFM due to restriction, the blower motor may eventually over-spin and burn out.

Most home systems require modifications for filters greater than MERV 8.  Studies show that medium-efficiency filters strike the best balance between allergen removal and filter cost.  Flat, disposable, spun fiberglass filters (MERV 1-4) protect the HVAC system from large particles but cannot block the microscopic particles that are most irritating for allergy and asthma prone humans and pets.  Medium efficiency pleated filters made of polyester or cotton paper offer a MERV rating of 5-12 due to the larger and denser surface area thereby allowing them to capture smaller and greater numbers of particles without impeding air flow to the unit. High efficiency pleated filters have MERV ratings of 13-16. Electronic filters do not have a MERV rating.

Most experts recommend that consumers use a filter recommended by the furnace manufacturer.  If a manual for the unit does not exist, call the manufacturer or the HVAC dealer.  Should additional filtration be needed beyond that designed for the unit, consult the manufacturer or dealer for technical assistance.   A flat, fiberglass filter will serve the basic need of protecting the system.  If additional air filtration is needed, a flat, pleated filter that fits into the HVAC systems’ slot with a MERV rating of 7 or less is an acceptable filter for most systems; the pleats provide a greater surface area to trap particles thereby protecting the system and improving air quality.

Lastly, no manufacturer can predict how long its filters will last because none of them know the dust conditions in individual homes.  Checking the filter often is advised with the rule of thumb being, “if it looks dirty, it is dirty.”  A general guideline is to change filters at least every three months to maintain maximum efficiency but monthly checks are encouraged.

For more in-depth information consult:

EPA technical document, “Residential Air Cleaners:  A Summary of Available Information”
American Lung Association, “Health House Furnace Filters: Tips about Your Furnace Filter”
University of Illinois Extension, “Healthy Indoor Air”

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Making Sense of Clothing Care Labels

I was recently doing some laundry for a family member and double checking the care labels. If you are anything like me, some of them can be confusing! Here is a basic primer on care labels with links for more information if you are interested.

Anything wash related has a pictogram that looks like a wash tub with waves representing water on the top. If that is the only symbol showing, it is okay to wash the garment normally. Any lines under that tub indicate permanent press or a delicate/gentle cycle depending on the number of lines.

The bleach pictogram is a triangle. If there is a blank triangle, any bleach is okay to use when needed. If there are lines in the triangle, only non-chlorine bleach should be used when needed.

A square represents the dryer. A circle inside the square means normal drying. Again, any lines under that square would mean less heat on either the permanent press or delicate/gentle cycle depending on the number of lines. A blank circle in the square means any heat is okay while a darkened circle in the square means no heat/air only. Between those two extremes are circles with dots in. Three dots for high heat down to one dot for low heat.

The ironing symbol looks basically like an iron. Unless the pictogram shows lines representing steam coming from the bottom of the iron with those lines crossed out, you may use a dry or steam iron. Again, maximum temperatures for ironing are shown in dot form with three dots being high temperature down to one dot for low temperature.

A circle on its own is used for dry cleaning. An X through the circle means “Do Not Dry Clean”. Additional information in or around the circle is for the drycleaner.

The Federal Trade Commission enforces the Care Labeling Rule which requires manufacturers and importers to attach care instructions to garments.

This was a good refresher for me and I hope helps you read the care labels in your garments more easily.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Putting Your Canner to Bed

canner1This is the time of year when the garden has stopped producing and it is time to think about storing your canning equipment.   If you spend time in the fall to clean and pack your canner and supplies your equipment will be ready to go when your produce is ready to harvest in the spring.

Here are some tips from the National Center for Home Food Preservation that you can do:

Begin with your canner.

  • Check and clean your vent and safety valve. Clean the vent by drawing a small cloth or string through the opening. In order for it to operate it needs to be free of any food or debris. Clean the valve by removing it if possible or by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Check your gasket. The gasket is what seals the canner and keeps steam from leaking when canning. If you need to replace your gasket order a new one from a hardware store that sells canning supplies or from the manufacturer. It is better to do this now than having to wait for one to be ordered when you are ready to use your canner.
  • Dial gauge canner need to be tested yearly. Call us at AnswerLine and we will be able to tell you where you can have your canner dial gauge tested. If your gauge is off you will have time to get a new gauge ordered before spring. Weighted gauge canners do not need to be tested.
  • If the inside of your canner has turned dark fill the canner above the dark line with a mixture of 1 tablespoon cream of tartar to each quart of water. Put the canner on the stove and heat to boiling. Boil covered until the dark deposits are gone. Dump out the water and finish cleaning with soapy water. If you struggle with hard water try adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to the water in the canner when you are processing your jars.
  • Store your canner with crumpled clean paper towels inside. This will help absorb any moisture. Place the lid upside down on the canner. Never store it with the lid sealed.

Now check on your jars and lids.

  • Look over all of your jars for any chips or cracks. By taking the time now you can prevent jar breakage during canning.
  • Make sure to remove all rings from the home canned foods when storing them. Wash and dry them completely and store them in a dry place. Bands can be reused unless they rust.
  • The flat lids can only be used once so discard after using the jar of food. If you have some flats left over, write the date on the package. The sealing compound should be good for 3 to 5 years after purchase if stored in a cool dry place.

Remember to use your home canned foods within a year or two years at the longest.

By taking the time now to “put your canner to bed” you will be ready when the warmer days of spring come and the canning season begins again!

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Preparing your home for winter

fall-tree1The leaves on the trees are turning beautiful colors outside our windows reminding us that fall is here and winter is on its way! Is your home ready for winter?  Doing some simple tasks now can reduce your utility bills and keep problems away.

  • Clean out your gutters. The leaves and debris can cause water to back up. In the fall that could cause water to overflow and instead of being diverted away from your house it could cause basement water problems. In the winter frozen water from thawing snow can cause ice dams that can cause moisture damage to your roof and interior ceiling. Running water through the gutter will also show if there are leaks that need to be fixed.
  • Have your furnace checked. Regular maintenance of both your air conditioning and furnace will keep them running well. There is nothing worse than waking up on a cold morning and not having the furnace working! Changing the furnace filter regularly will help with utility costs since air does not circulate well through dirty filters.
  • Check the weather stripping on doors and windows. Sealing gaps around doors and windows will keep cold air out and warm air in.
  • If you have a wood burning fireplace be sure and have the chimney inspected. Regular cleaning can keep soot or creosol from depositing inside the chimney. Regular cleaning reduces the risk of a chimney fire.
  • Change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.   This should be done once a year. Test the detectors monthly to make sure they are working properly.
  • Since the days are shorter replace light bulbs with LED or CFL lights. These ENERGY STAR bulbs last longer and save you a lot of money on your electric bills. When you are decorating for the holidays look for LED Christmas lights.
  • Make sure you drain your outdoor hoses and store them in the garage for the winter. Drain any irrigation system and rain barrels that you have been using this summer. Allowing water to freeze can cause damage that you will find in the spring.

Many of these items can be done without hiring a professional. By spending some time in the fall you will enjoy the energy saving and the peace of mind knowing you are ready for the snow to fly!

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Try Grilling Pizza

Have you ever tried using your grill to cook a homemade pizza? If you haven’t done it before you should try it!  Not only is it easy to do, the pizza has a wonderful crispy crust and you are not heating up your house cooking it inside!  I usually make a homemade crust but there are several options available at the grocery store if you want to save that step and purchase one.  If you use your favorite homemade pizza dough recipe spread both sides with corn meal to keep it from sticking to the grill grates.


You are then ready to put the pizza crust on a hot grill. The crust will cook quickly so watch it carefully to make sure it doesn’t get to dark. Usually it will only take a couple of minutes. Once you see grill marks simply flip it over so both sides are cooked evenly. *We will be putting it back on the grill with the toppings for the final cooking.)  When finished the crust should have char marks on it.


When it is done remove the crust to a cutting board or cookie sheet. Now you are ready for your toppings. We like to be creative but you can use any toppings that you like. Our favorite is chicken, bacon, ranch with spinach. The ranch dressing is our pizza sauce   Make sure that your toppings aren’t piled too high since we will be returning it to the grill to finish cooking.


If you have a charcoal grill the last cooking will be done with indirect heat meaning that you will want to gather your coals to one side of the grill. The pizza will cook in the other side. I have a gas grill so I simply turn off one side of the burners. This indirect heat will be like putting it in your oven. The toppings will heat and the cheese will melt. The result will be a pizza that your family will rave about!



Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Go ‘Bananas’ for Summer Treats

July is National Ice Cream month and even has its own day on July 17th in 2016! Ice cream as we know it is made from dairy products, sweeteners, gelatin, flavorings, fruits and other ingredients. America loves ice cream. In fact, the average American consumes nearly 22 pounds of this delectable dessert per year (

But look out ice cream, there’s a new ‘one ingredient ice-cream’ in town and it’s taking the internet and media by storm! It’s low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and is a great source of dietary fiber, potassium, and manganese. Further, it’s perfect for those looking for a guilt-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, egg-free, or vegan treat with no added sugar. What is it?

If you guessed BANANAS, you are right!! Thanks to banana’s high pectin content and a bit of kitchen wizardry, bananas make a wonderful soft-serve treat. And because it’s a simple, make-it-yourself treat, you can personalize it with additions of other fruits, nut butters, chocolate chips, nuts, cocoa, spices, or any other add-in desired. Or, bananas can be the only ingredient.

Besides bananas (and any other fruit or add-in desired), you will need a high-powered processor to pulverize the fruit. There are designated frozen dessert soft-serve processors on the market which work very well such as the Yonanas, Big Boss, and Dessert Bullet. However, a blender or food processor will usually work equally as well as long as it is powerful enough to pulverize frozen bananas.

So how do you make this magical treat? It starts with the bananas. Always use bananas that are ‘cheetah spotted’ or over ripe. 20160531_223140These bananas are the sweetest and have developed their pectin potential. 20160531_223509


Peel the bananas and cut into ¼-inch coins if using a food processor or blender; if a designated dessert processor is used, follow the manufactures directions.20160531_223744

Place the banana pieces in an airtight freezer bag and freeze for at least 2 hours before using; 24 hours is best. Do the same with other fruits you intend to use with your bananas. Remove bananas and other fruit from the freezer and let thaw for 10-15 minutes before making your treat.

One large banana will make two servings especially if additional fruit is used. The ratio of banana to other fruit is about one banana to 3/8 cup fruit. You can make a bigger batch as long as the food processor or blender is big enough and powerful enough. If using a designated dessert processor, follow the manufacturers’ directions for preparing your soft-serve treat by feeding the fruit through the tube into the pulverizing part of the machine.

20160609_203407If using a blender or food processor, follow these instructions: place the frozen banana pieces (and other frozen fruit , if using) in the blender or food processor and pulse. At first the banana pieces will look crumbled, then mushy and gooey something like oatmeal, and suddenly they will magically become smooth and creamy. You will have to stop occasionally and scrape down the sides and help move the fruit into the blades. After the magic happens, continue to blend for a few more seconds to add a little air and blend in any nut butters, cocoa, flavorings or spices desired. 

20160609_204819The banana soft-serve is now ready to eat. Stir in any additional whole or chopped add-ins or top off as desired. OR, put it in an airtight container and freeze until solid or for later use.

Recipe ideas are endless. To get started, check out Banana “Ice Cream”, Chocolate Banana Ice Cream, and the Yonanas recipe website and let your imagination go. Enjoy your ______-free treat!


Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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