Time to test canner gauges

Weighted gauge canners do not require testing.

This is the time of year that we send out inquiries to all of our county Extension and Outreach offices to see which counties are offering canner gauge testing for dial gauge pressure canners. We have a fairly complete list of which counties in Iowa are planning to test canner lids this summer. We also have a short list of places in Minnesota and South Dakota that will test canner lids for home canners in those states.

Sometimes we get questions from callers wondering about the accuracy of their dial gauge pressure canners. We explain that canner lids/gauges tested yearly ensure accuracy and safety in home processed foods. If the gauge on the canner registers higher than the pressure actually is inside the canner, the food will be under processed. Resulting in an increasing risk of botulism poisoning.

Even if you do not think the gauge was dropped or damaged, moisture can cause a malfunction in the gauge. Call your local county office to set up a time to drop off your canner lid. You can also mail your gauge to the pressure canner manufacturer and they will test the gauge for you. They may or may not guarantee the results.

You may be wondering if you have a weighted gauge canner, what testing is necessary for it. Good news, those canners never need testing for accuracy. The weight never changes. You will need to make adjustments for altitude if you live at an altitude above 1000’. If the altitude at your home is above 1000’ you will need to change a 5 pound weight to the 10 pound weight or the 10 pound weight to the 15 pound position.

If you find any of this confusing or need further explanation, do not hesitate to contact us directly.

Iowa 1-800-262-3804

Minnesota 1-800-854-1678

South Dakota 1-888-393-6336

Or use our local phone number, 515-296-5883, if the area code on your phone is not from one of these states.

Happy Canning

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

More Posts - Website

Steaming Eggs

I have recently been visiting my mother-in-law. She loves having company and works so hard at making everyone feel comfortable and right at home. She always has some new cooking utensil or gadget she wants to share with me or a new cooking method she has discovered. On this visit she was busy steaming eggs. I am a firm believer in putting the eggs in a saucepan, covering them with cold water, bringing them to a boil, then removing them from the heat, covering the pan for the specified number of  minutes for your size egg and putting them in an ice bath for 5 minutes before peeling. My mother-in-law felt this process left the eggs difficult to peel. So she is now steaming her hard cooked eggs. She was so excited about it I decided to do a little research on it.

When hard cooked eggs are difficult to peel it is because the membrane that lines the shell is sticking itself to the egg white. When that happens it can be hard to peel the shell away without taking pieces of the white with it. For many of us that creates an unacceptable appearance.

My research found putting raw eggs into hot steam rapidly changes the outermost structure of the egg’s protein reducing it’s ability to bond with the membrane. The hot steam also causes the proteins to shrink as they start to bond together and the white begins to pull away from the membrane. That is why steaming eggs makes them easier to peel – the membrane has not attached itself so tightly to the white.

My mother-in-law purchased an egg steamer but you can easily steam eggs without one. In a saucepan, bring one inch of water to a boil. Lower a steamer basket with your eggs in it into the pan and cover it. Allow eggs to steam around 13 minutes for hard cooked and 6 and 1/2 minutes for soft cooked before transferring them to an ice bath.

The American Egg Board has done an article on steaming eggs as well that you may find interesting.

This method of steaming eggs works well on fresh eggs too. Just be sure your eggs are in a single layer in your steamer basket when you are steaming them.

I am definitely going to try steaming eggs for the deviled eggs I will be making for Easter and reporting in to my mother-in-law!

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.

More Posts

Gardening for Food Pantries

Food insecurity exists to some extent in nearly every community.  People who are food insecure not only experience food shortage, but they usually are unable to include fresh fruits and vegetables for a healthy diet because they are out of reach.  Either produce costs too much or is not available.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  By sharing our garden or orchard surplus or planting a dedicated giving garden, home, community, and school gardeners can help food banks, pantries, and community food distribution programs provide fresh produce to ease this problem.

A giving garden can be a whole garden, a row or two as championed by the Garden Writers Association’s Plant a Row for the Hungry, or even one container dedicated to growing healthy (organic if possible) vegetables or fruits for those in need. Or it can be a planned effort such as a Master Gardener garden program done alone or in conjunction with another organization. Every donation, no matter how big or small, makes a difference to someone in need.  Besides helping to fill food banks, pantries, and programs, raising vegetables and/or fruits to donate is rewarding for everyone involved, including children, so it can be a family affair.

Before planting, you will want to do a little research.  Contact local food banks, pantries, or distribution programs to find out if they will accept local produce, what fruits and vegetables they prefer, and when and where to drop off donations.  Once you know the details of donating, purchase seeds or plants for the preferred produce, plant, and tend your garden.  Often the most sought after produce is some of the easiest to grow.

Harvest your produce at its prime as you would for yourself and practice safe-handling.  Many who are served by food banks and pantries are at a higher risk for foodborne illness as they include children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.   Here are a few tips from Michigan State University Extension to minimize food safety risks when donating produce:

  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water before handling produce.
  • If pesticides were used on the product, be absolutely certain that you have followed the instructions on the pesticide label for application and safe harvest times. If you are unsure, discard the produce in the garbage—do not compost, eat or donate it.
  • Inspect each item of produce carefully. Discard any items that have signs of insects, bruising, mold, or spoilage. If you wouldn’t buy it, toss it!
  • Brush off as much mud and soil as possible from the produce.
  • Only use clean, food-grade containers or bags to store and transport produce.
  • Keep different types of produce separate.

If you have to wait a day or two to deliver your produce, refrigerate the produce so that it will stay as fresh as possible.

Some food banks offer donation receipts that you can use at tax time so remember to ask for a receipt if that is something you want. Gardeners who donate produce from their gardens or orchards to nonprofit organizations for distribution to people in need are protected from criminal and civil liability by the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Under terms of the act, donors are protected from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the recipient.

For additional help on donating and handling produce, download these free fact sheets from Michigan State University: Donating Produce  and Safe Handling of Fruits and Vegetables. If you are interested in a Master Gardener program, contact your county extension office.

Mother Teresa said it best, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”  Donating garden surplus or harvesting from a giving garden can do just that.

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.

More Posts

Supermarket Safety

As I write this there are many concerns about the flu epidemic plus we have received several calls about the Consumer Reports article concerning tainted romaine lettuce. The grocery store can be a place where you can be exposed to both of these things. In order to try and prevent both of these there are a few things you can do to help protect yourself.  A good place to start is to remember to always use the disinfecting wipes provided at the store to wipe down your cart before use.

Probably the two biggest areas of concern are the produce and meat departments. In the produce department you may see consumers lick their fingers in order to try and open the produce bags that are available and then use those same fingers to touch and select the produce they want. If you are someone that opens the produce bags using that method, use your other hand to touch the produce. And always wash produce at home before consuming. If you see nicks and bruises on the produce you are looking at, the protective skins could definitely be damaged which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the flesh. If possible, hand select your own produce rather than choosing a prepackaged bulk bag where you may not notice the nicks and bruises until you get home.

In the meat department look for thermometers in the refrigerated and frozen cases. Refrigerated cases should be at 40 degrees or below and freezer cases should be at 0 degrees or below. Raw and ready-to-eat foods should be separated. Raw meat and sushi should not be together in the same case unless there is a divider between them. Many meat departments now offer plastic bags for sanitation. To use them, pick up the meat with the bag then pull the bag through. That helps protect your hands and helps prevent cross contamination. Fish should be refrigerated or displayed not only on ice but in ice. Seafood is highly perishable allowing bacteria to grow rapidly on it.

Grocery stores in general go out of their way to make the shopping experience as safe for you as possible. It is always a good idea to take a few precautionary measures for yourself however. None of us are interested in getting the flu or food poisoning.


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.

More Posts


We had a caller recently who was interested in making tapioca pudding but had picked up the large pearl variety instead of the small. I enjoy tapioca pudding as well and thought it would be interesting to find some tapioca tidbits.

Tapioca is a starch extracted from the cassava root and although it has little nutritional value (tapioca is fat, protein, and gluten free) it is often used as a thickening agent as it has a neutral flavor, strong gelling power and can withstand the freeze/thaw cycle without breaking down. It also helps improve texture and moisture in the absence of gluten which is why it is used in many gluten free products. It is most often sold in pearl form. Small pearls, easily found in the grocery store, are used for puddings, and large pearls, usually found in health/natural food stores, are typically used in boba/bubble tea. It is also sold as flour and in flakes or powders. Some tapioca, sold as “minute” or “instant”, comes in a granulated form. You should use the kind of tapioca your recipe calls for or you may not be happy with the way the finished product gells.

Tapioca pearls must be soaked and then boiled with a liquid to form a gel. They are opaque prior to cooking but turn translucent upon hydration. Usually they are white or off-white but can be dyed to take on many colors which they often do when making boba tea.

If you are considering substituting tapioca starch for cornstarch, Bob’s Red Mill recommends 2 Tablespoons tapioca starch to 1 Tablespoon cornstarch. You can substitute instant tapioca for cornstarch in most recipes 1:1.

Instant, or minute, tapioca is the most commonly used for pie thickening. If you are using it in a pie filling, mix the instant tapioca with the other dry ingredients then toss with your fruit and let set for 10 minutes for the fruit juices to be absorbed. When baking the pie make sure it is bubbly in the center before removing it from the oven. This will assure the thickener has been fully activated. It is also recommended to let the baked pie rest overnight allowing starches within the pie time to re-bond and letting the juices be reabsorbed.

Tapioca can be stored indefinitely as long as it is kept tightly sealed to prevent exposure to heat and moisture.

Our recent caller has inspired me to make some tapioca pudding in the very near future. I may even try the boba/bubble tea! Click this link for a simple Bubble Tea recipe you might enjoy trying.


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.

More Posts

Beyond Pumpkin Spice and all Things Nice

If your love for “pumpkin spice” and all things pumpkin nice is beginning to wane or you were never a fan to begin, perhaps it is time to pigeon-hole those sweets and lattes and look at different ways to use the vitamin rich pumpkin (or squash).  The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene, a plant carotenoid which converts to Vitamin A in the body.  Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene reduces the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and some degenerative diseases.  Besides beta-carotene, pumpkin is also packed with Vitamins C and K, fiber, and other important nutrients while being low in calories.

Pumpkin is a surprisingly versatile product with a smooth, warming quality that lends itself well to creamy textures.  Squash, such as butternut, can be substituted for pumpkin.  Since all recipes do not use a whole can of pumpkin or the flesh of a whole pumpkin or squash, you may need to think of multiple uses for it.  Pumpkin/squash puree is good for 5-7 days in the refrigerator or 2-3 months in the freezer. Here are a few of the ways I use pumpkin/squash puree or a can of pumpkin that are an alternative to pumpkin spice and traditional desserts along with some recipes from my recipe box.

Drinks, smoothies, and yogurt parfaits


Thickening for chili soup, marinara sauce, or curries

Yeast breads and rolls


Pancakes or waffles

Vegetarian burgers (can also be used in meat burgers)


Ravioli or lasagna filling


Pumpkin Orange Smoothie
½ cup Greek yogurt (or substitute)
¼ cup milk or substitute
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
1 tablespoon honey
Blend until smooth; serve cold.

Black Bean Pumpkin Burgers
½ cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 garlic cloves
1 small onion
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 14-oz can black beans, drained, rinsed or 2 cups cooked black beans
Place all ingredients and half of the beans in a food processor.  Pulse until smooth.  Add remaining beans and pulse until just slightly chopped.  Form into patties.  Place patties on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 325F for 40-45 minutes.  Makes 4 burgers.

Pumpkin Hummus
2 cloves garlic
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin or 1 ¾ cups puree
2 tablespoons almond or peanut butter
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon olive oil
Dash cayenne pepper or smoked paprika
Ice water
Pumpkin seeds (optional)
Puree all ingredients in a food processor.  Add ice water until desired consistency is achieved.  Garnish with pumpkin seeds.

Cheesy Pumpkin Crackers
1 cup gluten-free flour blend
½ t salt
½ t pepper
3 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
½ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup grated cheese
1 tablespoon water
Mix all ingredients together.  Roll 1/8” thick on parchment paper.  Cut into squares or designs with a cookie cutter.  Use a fork to poke holes in top.  Bake on parchment lined baking sheet for 15 minutes at 400F.

Let’s spread the word. Pumpkins are not just for baking into pies, bread, or bars, displaying on your stoop, or carving into jack-o-lanterns. Pumpkin is a delicious addition to many kinds of food.

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.

More Posts

Potatoes . . . when to toss?

An AnswerLine caller asked:  “Should a potato with sprouts be used or tossed?”

Potatoes with sprouts (little green, white or pink nubs), are safe to eat per Dr. Benjamin Chapman, associate professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University.  He recommends that you simply cut out the shoot with a paring knife before cooking, making sure to take off a bit of the surrounding area, too.  If the potato is still firm, most of the nutrients are still intact.  Sprouting occurs when potatoes are exposed to conditions that are either too warm or too bright.  Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark place where the temperature hovers around 50 degrees and there is good air circulation.  Do not refrigerate potatoes.  Cold temperatures convert starch to sugar, giving potatoes an uncharacteristic sweet taste.  The sugar caramelizes during cooking producing brown potatoes and an off flavor.  Potatoes can be stored for a week or two at room temperature enclosed in a paper bag or a dark pantry with good results.

So when is it time to toss a tater?  University of Illinois Extension recommends that soft, shriveled, or wrinkled potatoes with or without sprouts should not be eaten.  What about green potatoes?  Green skin potatoes have been exposed to too much light.  Light causes the potato to produce chlorophyll and also solanine.  Solanine has a bitter taste and is an irritant to the digestive system that can cause paralysis in large quantities. Beth Waitrovich, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, says “small green spots can be trimmed off; however, if it’s more than a small spot, throw the potato out.  Do not use any green potatoes, trimmed or not, if you are serving children as they have a lower body mass and would be more susceptible to the solanine.”  If potatoes have a bitter taste, do not eat them.  For more information on green potatoes, see Green Potatoes:  Causes and Concerns by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

For other questions about food safety and storage advice that will help keep food safe after purchase or harvest, there is an excellent resource:  The Food Keeper.  This handy reference tool was prpduced by the Food Marketing Institute at Cornell University in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  It contains useful guidelines about how long you can safely store food;  to keep this valuable information at your fingertips there is also an app available for IOS or Android smartphones.  Visit the App Store or Google Play and search for “FoodKeeper Mobile App.”

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.

More Posts

Cheesecake! It’s What’s for Dessert!

It’s that time of the year when we begin to think about holiday desserts and often that leads us to cheesecake.  It’s one of the most popular desserts in the United States and is high on the list of the finest comfort foods in the world.

Cheesecake has a long history of being a popular dish.  It first became popular in Greece when the Romans conquered it in about 100 A.D using a recipe that called for “two pounds of rye flour, four pounds of wheat flour, 14 pounds of sheep’s cheese, and four and a half pounds of good honey.” (The Joy of Cheesecake by Dana Bovbjerg and Jeremy Iggers).  Cheesecake eventually spread to Europe via the Roman conquests and was eventually adopted as an Easter tradition by the Russian Orthodox Church.  Recipes began to appear in English cookbooks as early as 1747.

Our modern cheesecakes came by accident in 1872 when American dairymen were attempting to duplicate French Neufchatel cheese.  The recipe they stumbled on to was richer and creamier.  Soon the new cheese found its way into cheesecakes and the rest is history.  There are hundreds of recipes for cheesecake with common ingredients of cheese, cream, and a sweetener.  The type of each can vary.

Here are the most commonly used cheeses and the results you might expect:

Cream cheese.  The supreme ingredient found in most recipes is made from milk, contains at least 33 percent butterfat, and has 100 calories per ounce.  The water content is 50 percent yielding a texture that is smooth and soft with a delicate flavor.

Neufchatel.  Similar to cream cheese, it is made from whole or skim milk or a combination of milk and cream.  It is about 23 percent butterfat with about 70 calories per ounce.  A water content of 60 percent gives a slightly milder flavor and lighter texture than cream cheese.  When substituting Neufchatel for cream cheese, the higher water content may require a slight increase in one of the moisture holding ingredients (i.e. flour, cornstarch, gelatin, or egg whites).

Cottage Cheese.  There is a wide variety of cottage cheeses to choose from ranging in a butterfat content of 0.5 percent to 4 percent and 20 to 30 calories per ounce.  Cottage cheese starts with curds made from skim milk.  Richer cottage cheeses are made by adding whole milk and cream to the curds.  A food processor or blender will make the cheese smoother but will still yield a grainier texture.

Ricotta.  In the United States, ricotta is almost always made from whole milk or a combination of milk and whey.  The fat content ranges from 4 to 10 percent with about 50 calories per ounce.  Water content is about 70 percent with a slight grainy texture. Ricotta offers a lighter texture and can be used as a partial replacement for cream cheese in cheesecake.

In addition to cheese, cream is also often used in cheesecake recipes to lighten the cake or provide a richer flavor.  Common creams used include heavy sweet cream, half and half, and sour cream.  Even yogurt can be found in some recipes.  Each adds calories depending upon the fat content of the product.

Lastly, every cheesecake requires a sweetening of some sort and most recipes use sugar.  If honey is used, the cheesecake will be darker; it is also important to incorporate well and to reduce the volume of other liquids in the recipe because it has a higher moisture content.  Sugar substitutes are also possible but may yield less volume, less taste, tunneling, crumbling or lighter color.

Now for some tips to make the perfect cheesecake:

Start with a tested recipe from a reliable source.  There are as many recipes and ways to make cheesecake as there are people who make them.  Use a recipe that you trust.

Be hurry free.  Cheesecake takes at least 12 hours to make (including chilling), so allow plenty of time; making a day ahead of serving is recommended.

Use all room-temperature ingredients.  Give all the refrigerated ingredients at least two hours of counter time before using.  This is really important when it comes to cheesecake.

Use an electric mixer, food processor, or blender to mix the wet ingredients.  Be gentle with the electric appliances as you don’t want to incorporate too much air.  Even though hand mixing may be gentle, it does not yield a perfectly emulsified filling.   If you find lumps in the filling, press it through a sieve.

Use a spring-form pan.  A spring-form pan makes it easy to get delicate cakes out of the pan without damaging them. A spring-form pan is a type of cake pan that’s made in two parts: a base and a removable ring that serves as the side of the pan. When the sides are removed after baking, the cake is easy to serve.  If you only have a 10-inch pan and the recipe is for a 9-inch pan, it’s fine to use the pan you have. Changing the pan size when making cheesecake will affect the height of the cheesecake and its cooking time (thinner cheesecakes will cook a bit more quickly), but not its flavor or texture.

Eliminate bubbles.  After pouring filling into crust, let set for 10 minutes to allow air bubbles to rise to top. Gently draw the tines of a fork across surface of cake to pop air bubbles that have risen to the surface.

Resist the urge to overbake.  The center of a cheesecake should jiggle as a whole and the center two inches look softer when removed from the oven; it will continue to cook as it cools on the counter. Leaving the cake in the oven until it’s completely firm will result in an overbaked (and usually cracked) cheesecake.  The filling should be pale, not golden brown, with edges just barely puffed.  If you want a little brown color, place under the broiler for a minute or two. The target internal temperature, of cheesecake is 150 to 155 degrees.  A temperature probe can be used to determine the temperature but may increase the chance of creating a crack.

Be patient.  Allow plenty of time for the cheesecake to cool on the counter before refrigerating, 2 ½ to 3 hours.  After 10 minutes out of the oven, run a thin-bladed knife between the cake and the pan to free any sticking spots.  If you let the cheesecake cool for any longer than ten minutes, the sugar will set up and tend to stick to the pan. As the cheesecake cools, it will contract slightly. If it sticks to the pan, it may cause cracks.  When cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold and firmly set, at least 6 hours (overnight is best). This allows for easier cutting and time for flavors to develop.

Serve it perfectly.  To unmold cheesecake, remove the sides of the pan. Slide a thin metal spatula or cake lifter between the crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide the cheesecake onto a serving plate. (Cheesecake can be left on the pan bottom, too.) Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes. To avoid gummy, messy pieces, dip a sharp knife in very hot water and wipe dry between cuts.  Should there be leftovers, refrigerate for up to 4 days in a tightly covered container.

Now that you know a thing or two about cheesecake making, a blissful, sweet and creamy cheesecake can be a sure thing for your holiday dessert.

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.

More Posts

Safely disposing of unsafe home canned goods

Canned carrotsMany of you have probably finished your home canning for the season. As you are selecting your jars for use make sure you examine each jar for spoilage. What should you be looking for? First of all make sure the lid is tight and a vacuum seal was created. Look for any streaks of dried food on the outside of the jar. As you look at the contents inside the jar, see if you can detect cloudy canning liquid, rising air bubbles, or any unnatural colors. When you open the jar make sure you do not see any mold growing. Also pay attention to any spurting liquid or odd smells. These things are good indicators of food spoilage. Never taste the food from a jar that you suspect has been spoiled. You will also want to dispose of it properly.

If the jars are still sealed but show signs of spoilage, you can leave the jar intact but write on the jar that it is spoiled or poisonous and to not eat it. You can place those jars in a heavyweight garbage bag, close the bag, and place it in your regular trash container or dispose of it in your nearby landfill.

If the jars are not sealed they should be detoxified before being disposed of. In order to do that you will want to first of all protect yourself by wearing rubber or plastic gloves. Remove the lids from the jars. Carefully place the jars in a large pan on their sides. Add the lids to the pan as well. Add water to the pan until it reaches one inch above the jars. Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil. Boil for 30 minutes to detoxify the possible botulism toxin in the food. Once the food and lids have cooled you can throw them away in your regular trash. Wash the jars and the pan you used in hot soapy water.

To decontaminate any surfaces that the spoiled food may have come in contact with, spray or wet the surface with a solution of one part bleach to five parts water and let it sit for 30 minutes. If you are decontaminating metal utensils, use one teaspoon bleach to one quart of water and again let it sit for 30 minutes. Use paper towels to wipe up any treated spills. Discard of the paper towels in a plastic bag before putting them in your regular trash.

Spoilage in home canned food does happen. Make sure you examine your jars carefully before serving any not only to your family and friends but pets as well.


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.

More Posts

Have a safe Thanksgiving

Now that thanksgiving is nearly here, there are a few things that we need to keep in mind. Sometimes with all the family present and the confusion of so many people working in the kitchen it can be easy to lose track of time and allow food to sit out longer than two hours.

Remember that food should be refrigerated as soon as possible after the meal is served. Ideally, we want food to be either hot (above 140°F) or cold (below 40°F) within two hours of being served. Set a timer or an alert on your phone or watch to help you remember. The concern is that bacteria, which grow exponentially at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, will grow to a level that may sicken someone that eats that food. Bacteria love the foods that we typically serve at thanksgiving.

It is important to understand that the first people that get sick from food poisoning will be the very young, the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women. In most of our families, those people are pretty special to us.

Now that you are thinking about refrigerating the food to keep it safe, follow these simple tips.

    • Don’t be tempted to store the food outside or in the garage. Even on days below zero, a sunny day can warm the food to unsafe levels
    • If you are afraid to put warm food directly into the refrigerator, cool it in a pan sitting in a sink full of cold water. Stir the pot occasionally. You will be surprised at how quickly foods cool off.
    • Package the food into smaller containers. Small containers cool quickly. Place the containers on different shelves and allow as much room as possible for air circulation around the containers.
    • Consider freezing some of your leftovers if you won’t be able to use them within 5 days. Remember that you have 3-5 days to use up leftovers. If you wait 3 or 4 days before you freeze the leftovers, then you will need to use them the same day you thaw the leftovers.

Remember to enjoy this time with family and friends and have a safe thanksgiving.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

More Posts - Website


Subscribe to AnswerLine Blog

Enter your email address:

Connect with us!

AnswerLine's Facebook page AnswerLine's Twitter account AnswerLine's Pinterest page
Email: answer@iastate.edu
Phone: (Monday-Friday, 9 am-noon; 1-4 pm)
 1-800-262-3804 (in Iowa)
 1-800-854-1678 (in Minnesota)
 1-888-393-6336 (in South Dakota)