Is this safe to eat?

Sometimes it’s more a question of quality than safety.  Frozen food is a great example of this. When it comes to freezer burn, this problem is more of a quality issue.  While safe to eat, the quality of freezer burned food may be poor.

But, before I go on, I must stress that the safety of food in a freezer is always based on the fact that the food and the freezer has been at zero degrees or below. If there has been a power outage and/or the food has reached a temperature over 40 degrees at any time while in the freezer, the safety of the food may be in question.

What is freezer burn in the first place?  It is simply the result of air coming into contact with the food while it’s in the freezer.  Usually there is a color change and dry spots develop on the food. Freezer burn may just be dehydration or food may also have an “off flavor”.  While it may not look  or taste appetizing the food is completely safe to eat.  If the damaged area is small, it can be cut off before or after cooking.  If the damage is extensive the food may need to be pitched.

To help keep frozen food from getting freezer burn, there are some fundamental tips:

Re-wrap meats when you come from the store. That thin film found on grocery store meat is not thick enough to keep air from getting in. For best quality rewrap meats with moisture and vapor–proof wraps or bags.  This is also a good time to separate the food into serving-size pieces and remove foam containers to ease defrosting and cooking in the future.

Not all bags are created equal.  Don’t use “storage” bags when you should be using “freezer” bags.  Bread bags and plastic bags from grocery stores are not moisture or vapor proof and will not protect food in the freezer no matter how tight they are wrapped or how many layers have been used.

Air is not your friend. Since air is the real problem, make sure to squeeze as much air out of freezer bags and other container as possible before putting the food into the freezer.  Those vacuum sealers do a good job of getting the air out when freezing foods.

Use freezer quality containers.  Leftover margarine, cottage cheese or sour cream containers are not designed for this purpose and won’t do a good job of keeping that air out. Also, it is not recommended that you reuse the plastic containers and trays that come with microwaveable entrees. Use plastic containers or wide-mouth glass jars specifically designed for the freezer.

Prevent FISH food. Make sure everything that goes into the freezer gets labeled with its name and the date it was frozen.  Often food get stuffed into the back of the freezer and forgotten. Develop a frozen food inventory and practice FIFO—First In-First Out. This will help prevent what food safety experts call FISH food—First In-Still Here.

If care is taken, the quality of frozen fresh foods like meat, poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables will be good for a year.  Precooked foods and leftovers are best if eaten within three to four months. Sometimes veggies with a few freezer crystals, that have been frozen at the proper temperature, can be rinsed under a colander and then steamed. Using up food in the freezer on a weekly basis is a good budget-inducing habit that helps you avoid food waste.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

PS for a fantastic tip on how to use the freezer for planned-over meals see “Was the caterer just here?”

Fresh Local Corn–Enjoy While You Can

We all know that local corn-on-the-cob tastes the best. One of the reasons is that corn’s natural sugars change quickly after harvest causing the corn to lose its sweetness quickly. Corn is one of those great summer farm market treats.

When selecting sweet corn look for husks with good bright green color that are snug to the corn ear and the silk dark brown. Avoid silk with worms or decay. Select ears that are full of kernels. These kernels should be well developed and plump, tender and milky.  If they are too large or too dark they can be tough, chewy and pasty.

For best quality, store corn in the husks uncovered in the refrigerator. If you have corn without the husks, put them in a perforated plastic bag. Corn is best when eaten within two days. After removing the husks and silk, wash the corn in cool running water before eating, cooking or preserving.

Nutritionally corn is a good source of carbohydrates as well as small amounts of Vitamins A and C.  It is sodium-free and low in fat.  Depending upon the size, corn can yield 2/3 to 1 cup of corn per ear. One medium ear of corn contains about 90 calories. Corn provides folate and thiamin as well as fiber.  It can also be a source of zeaxanthin, an antioxidant that may protect against age-related eye disease, such as macular degeneration.

Even though corn is a starchy vegetable, it can still fit into a healthy balanced diet.  According the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans we should try to eat 2-2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day and this can include 5 cups of starchy vegetables a week. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-3/ The key here again is balance and moderation and an occasional ear of corn-on-the cob when it’s fresh adds variety.

Instead of the traditional boiled and slathered with butter and salt corn-on-the-cob, try roasting on the grill with a little olive oil. I recently placed husked corn in a zip-top bag with a small amount of olive oil and added an herb blend. I turned the bag over several times to coat the ears with the oil and seasoning.   Then I took the cobs out of the bag and placed the cobs directly on a hot grill turning them several times until the kernels were slightly charred and golden. The flavor was great and there was no need to add extra salt or butter. Do be careful to watch the corn as it cooks, you don’t want it to overcook and dry out.

Judy’s favorite method for grilled corn is to start in the microwave and then finish on the grill at the same time the other items are cooking. That keeps it sweet and from getting tough and burnt. She cooks it in husks or in a covered dish for 2 minutes per ear. See her recipe below for corn salad using leftover cooked corn.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Here is one of Food and Health Communication’s Favorite recipes for corn:

Fresh Corn Salad

Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 cup
Total Time: 15 min | Prep: 15 min | Cook: 0 min

Ingredients:

6 cups dark green lettuce, preferably red leaf
2 ears of corn, shucked and cooked
1 large, ripe tomato
1/2 medium-sized, ripe avocado
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons flavored vinegar
Black pepper to taste

Directions:

Cut the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and soak in a large amount of cold water; allow to stand so the dirt sinks to the bottom. Drain the lettuce well in a colander. Place the lettuce in a salad bowl.

Cut the corn off the cob and place on top of the lettuce. Core and dice the tomato and place on top of the salad. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop out the flesh from the rind. Dice the avocado and place it on top of the salad.

Chill and cover the salad until ready to serve, up to 3 hours.

When ready to serve, drizzle oil and vinegar over the top and add black pepper to taste.

Serves 4. Each 1 cup serving: 148 calories, 8g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0gtrans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 18mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 4gsugars, 4g protein.© Food and Health CommunicationsAnother article in the blog on Corn-on-the-Cob

Shucks with the husks

Freezing the Taste of Summer

One of the great tastes of summer  is corn-on-the-cob. Lots of people try to retain that great flavor for later in the year by freezing corn when it’s at its peak.

People are always looking for quick and easy ways to do things and the internet tends to perpetuate this with the latest fads and quick-you-have-to-try recipes. Preserving corn-on-the-cob is frequently a topic. I’ve heard two new corn “ideas” this year. While neither are “unsafe”, the quality of the final products may not be so great.

One of these  methods is freezing corn cut off-the-cob  in a mixture of water, sugar and salt in lieu of blanching. There is no research to prove that this sugar and salt brine would be a substitute for heat to inactivate enzymes.

Another  “tip” going around is to put the corn directly in the freezer (husks and silk and all). This method obviously doesn’t include blanching either.  For my personal thoughts on cooking in the husks see an earlier blog post Shucks with the Husks .

If you’re going to freeze corn, blanching is highly recommended.  This is for quality not safety. Blanching inactivates enzymes within the food. If not destroyed,  these enzymes can cause loss of flavor, color and texture in the frozen food. Blanching is scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time and the immediately cooling in ice water.  Without blanching you may have a very poor quality product.

Fresh sweet corn may be frozen cut-off or on-the-cob. I usually tend to avoid frozen corn-on-the-cob because sometimes it’s mushy, watery and “cobby” tasting  when cooked. If you really love eating corn from the cob, here are some tips that can help you be successful:

According to the National  Center for Home Food Preservation  http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/corn.html medium ears of corn should be blanched for 7 minutes. One of the key steps to keep this corn from tasting like the cob when thawed is to leave them in the ice water and even adding more ice to completely chill the cobs after blanching.  The general “rule of thumb” is to chill the corn for as long as it was blanched. Don’t allow it to stay too long or it will get soggy and allow to drain well before freezing. Another tip to get better quality results is to slightly thaw the corn-on-the-cob before cooking.

I usually suggest to people to try freezing a few ears and then prepare and see if you and your family likes them before getting carried away and using a lot of freezer space on something you won’t like come January.

Here are a few more tips from Chef Judy Doherty to savor your favorite foods this summer:

  1. Berries can be frozen in zip bags so they are ready for smoothies, muffins, pies, sauces/purees, and cobblers. Mix them for a fun new flavor sensation or keep them separate.
  2. Tomatoes can be cooked into sauce or salsa and frozen in a zip storage bag.
  3. Herbs can be made into pesto or frozen in tupperware so they can be slipped into your favorite foods and dishes. To make a simple pesto, puree your favorite herbs with a little olive oil then freeze on foil, slice and freeze the squared in a zip storeage bag.
  4. Corn should be steamed and then cut off the cob for the best results. Or just cut it off the cob and then steam before freezing. The problem with freezing a whole cob is that you will overcook your corn trying to heat the whole cob.
  5. For peaches and tree fruits, cut them into wedges, freeze on a sheet, then put them into zip bags.
  6. Spinach and other greens may be flash steamed (steam quickly) and then stored in zip bags or plastic containers in small serving sizes.
  7. If you have a lot of fresh mint consider freezing it in ice cubes so you can flavor water or tea.
  8. Grate zucchini and carrots and freeze them in ziplock bags so they are ready for muffins and quick breads.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

 

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Keeping Bread Fresh

I bet everyone, at one-time-or-another, thrown a loaf of bread or an extra bag of hot dog buns directly into the freezer in the store wrapper.  Then a few weeks later wondered what happened  and why it was crumbly, dry, tasted like the inside of the freezer and was basically inedible.

Easy answer: freezer burn.

This is the process of food drying out inside the freezer. This usually happens if the food has been improperly wrapped.  Cold moving air inside the freezer is your enemy when it comes to the quality of the food once thawed.  This air can get into inappropriate containers and wraps and causes the food to be dehydrated, develop off-flavors along with other quality and texture changes.

Bread is a perishable product. The main problem with bread is that it becomes stale and may develop mold.   In general, commercial breads can be kept in a cool dry place (like the pantry, kitchen counter or bread drawer) for two to five days. Homemade breads and those commercially made without preservatives have a shorter shelf life.

You can put bread in the refrigerator to inhibit mold growth, but this tends to speed staling. 

 Freezing bread is generally the best alternative for storing bread for longer than a few days. Staling and  mold growth will be slowed or halted in the freezer.  The  main thing to remember is that it should be wrapped well. Just putting it in there in the bag it came in from the store is asking for failure.  Bread wrappers are not sufficiently moisture-vapor resistant to be used for freezing.  Well wrapped bread keeps in the freezer for two to three months.

Bread should be removed from the store wrap and placed in what they call moisture and vapor proof packaging. This packaging will not become brittle or crack at low temperatures and keepd that damaging air out. This packaging will also protect foods from absorbing off-flavors or odors.

What is a good wrap? Specifically developed freezer paper is good.  Heavy-duty aluminum foil also works well. Another good way to package bread is in zip-top freezer bags.  These allow you to take out just what you need and keep the rest frozen.

A few kitchen hacks to keep bread fresher longer:

  • I wrap my bread in two slice packs inside the freezer bag, just right for a sandwich or easy to separate if I only want one piece.
  • I slice English muffins and bagels before freezing and separate the layers with plastic wrap. That way if I only want half a muffin I can easily take out just one half and keep the rest frozen.
  • I do the same with bagels. Cut them in half and then in quarters and separate the pieces as I wrap. That way if I only want half a bagel I get both a top and bottom and not just the boring bottom half.
  • When purchasing loaves of bread from a store it is always better to get the bakery to pre-slice them on a machine for you. Then you can wrap the slices into 2 serving packets or double bag them all if you are going to use them up fast.

Thawing a piece or two of frozen bread only takes a few minutes on the counter.  Individual slices, bagels  or English muffins can go straight into the toaster.

One last thing. What about if the bread does become moldy, should you just cut it off and use it anyway?  NO.  Bread is porous allowing molds to quickly and easily spread. It may be contaminated with toxins deeper than you can see. Moldy bread should be pitched.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

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Teachable Moments

Educators call lessons learned in real life “teachable moments.” That’s the time that is just right for someone to learn something.

Wouldn’t you think that would be true with food safety? Especially when it’s related to cooking.

Cookbooks and on-line recipes could be a really good source of food safety information.  Putting the appropriate information—like cooking temperatures, cross contamination risks or storage times — right into a recipe would provide the cooks the info right when they need it.

This seems so simple. But it’s not being done. A study at North Carolina State University, that was recently published in the British Food Journal* looked at cookbooks and the advice they gave about food safety. The researchers evaluated a total 1,497 recipes from 29 cookbooks that appeared on the New York Times best sellers list for food and diet books.

One thing they specifically looked at was if a recipe did tell the reader to cook the food to a specific internal temperature. In other words—did they encourage the use of a food thermometer?

They also looked to see if the recipe perpetuated food myths. Some of these were cooking poultry until the “juices run clear” or hamburger until it is brown.  Both of these are unreliable for determining if the food has reached a safe temperature.

Some of the cookbooks recommended cooking temperatures. Yeah!  But not very many—only 8% or 123 of the recipes reviewed even mentioned a temperature.  But unfortunately not all of these temperatures were right. So even if a person followed the recipe exactly they may not be cooking the food to a high enough temperature reduce the risk of a foodborne illness.

Overall, only 89 out of 1,497 recipes gave readers reliable information that they could use to reduce their risk of foodborne illness.

This isn’t new info. A similar study was done about 25 years ago, and found similar results. So nothing really has changed in the past quarter of a century.

Ideas for educators:

  • put minimum cooking temperatures into recipes that you share with students
  • when doing food demonstrations use and explain good food safety practices including hand washing, heating to a proper temperature quickly, refrigeration or ice chests to keep cold food cold, avoiding cross contamination on cutting boards and with utensils, and using a food thermometer when appropriate
  • don’t use vague terms such as “cook till done” or “bubbly inside” to describe when a food is done; explain the process like cook chicken until the juices run clear and the internal temperature is 165 degrees F.
  • offer storage tips for finished products like refrigerate in shallow pan immediately

Here is one example from foodandhealth.com

Chili on The Grill

Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Total Time: 20 min | Prep: 5 min | Cook: 15 min

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 bell pepper chopped
1/2 jalapeno, chopped fine (no seeds)
Dash of cumin
Dash of chili pepper
Dash of dried oregano
Drizzle of olive oil
Juice of 1 lime

Directions:

Place all items, except for the lime, on foil with the drizzled olive oil. Place on preheated grill of 400 degrees F. Grill until the beans are heated through and the veggies are caramelized and tender, about 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with lime juice.

Serve the beans and vegetables with grilled chicken that is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F and steamed brown rice. A side salad is great, too! Serve all food hot immediately. Refrigerate leftovers immediately.

Serves 4. Each 1/2 cup serving: 172 calories, 4g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 8mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 9g fiber, 2g sugars, 8g protein.
© Food and Health Communications

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

*Katrina Levine, Ashley Chaifetz, Benjamin Chapman, (2017) “Evaluating food safety risk messages in popular cookbooks”, British Food Journal, Vol. 119 Issue: 5, pp.1116-1129, https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-02-2017-0066

Here is our food safety temperature poster:

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Activity Idea: Crostini Bar

You guys, I just got the coolest request from longtime reader Pat Hunter.

Pat wrote…

I am working on a simple demo for a table I am planning on the topic of plant-based meals. I thought a crostini bar might be an inviting stop for customers. Everyone enjoys make-your-own bars. I would like to use a whole grain cracker, hummus, etc. Have you ever created a handout on this topic?

I haven’t made a handout on this particular topic, but today I want to share a bunch of strategies in this blog post.

Here’s everything you need to build a tasty and appealing crostini bar that’s also good for health!

The Bases:

Crostini make the most sense as the base for a crostini bar. For a nutrient boost, make sure that you’re slicing and toasting whole wheat bread or using pre-made crostini that highlight whole grains.

As Pat suggested, whole grain crackers are also a delightful base for the toppings, and in this day and age it might be wise to throw in some healthful gluten-free crackers as well.

Sliced cucumbers can also be good bases for the toppings in this bar if people are looking to go low-carb or get an extra veggie boost.

The Middles:

Plain hummus is a great topping for the next section of the crostini. Its mild flavor complements the toppings to follow, and its creamy texture makes it an effective “glue” for holding the toppings to the bases. Set out a few different flavors of hummus and let participants try their favorites.

Artichoke tapenade, olive tapenade, and red pepper tapenade are all also colorful and tasty options for the “middle” section of the crostini bar. Choose the options with the lowest sodium to keep your bar heart-healthy.

Finally, bean dip makes a great high-fiber addition to this crostini bar.

The Toppings:

Now let’s add some color! Sliced and diced raw vegetables are phenomenal toppings for a crostini bar. Plus, they add the necessary visual appeal and crunch that a topping should provide. Go for a mix of things like shredded carrots, halved grape tomatoes, ribboned cucumber (use a peeler to make thin ribbons), diced celery, sliced radishes, chopped bell peppers — really whatever is in season and looks appealing would be great at this part of the bar.

A shredded green salad with a light dressing can also be a great crostini topper. Consider ribbons of raw kale or chard, bulked up with shredded carrots or Brussels sprouts, then tossed with a bit of oil and fresh lemon juice.

You can also add steamed and sliced beets with goat cheese as a final option in the toppings section of your bar.

The Finishing Touches:

Salt, pepper, olive oil, citrus juice, fresh herbs, toasted and chopped/sliced nuts, and/or salad dressings can all add the perfect “finishing touch” to a crostini bar. Consider setting out a selection of those ingredients at the end of the bar for people to add to their creations before they eat them.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to build a crostini bar for your next presentation or event?

Spring Farmers’ Market Tips

Spring is a time for the farmer’s markets to come to life. This early season often brings many kinds of greens that are delicious in salads, soups, pasta, and steamed dishes.

Here are a few tips to make the most of the spring markets…

  • Take cash. Most of the farmers accept cash. Small bills are always a good idea and will help you move quickly through the market.
  • Go early. Getting there early ensures close parking, great selection, happy farmers, and the ability to walk through the stalls at your desired pace.
  • Bring sturdy reusable bags. A grocery store bag (or five) is always a good idea. With these study bags, you can easily carry what you purchase without juggling an armload of produce or ripping thin plastic bags.
  • Stock your kitchen. If you are buying greens, make sure you have oil, vinegar, onions, garlic, and other flavoring agents to use with them once you get home. While at the market, consider the fresh young green onions and garlic, lemons, and flavored vinegars to use these culinary nutrition prizes in your cooking as well.
  • Grab some greens. Many greens can do double duty as fresh salad greens and steamed greens. Serve them raw when you first get home and cook them later in the week as they age. Spinach, kale, chard, and arugula are examples of these multi-tasking champions.
    • For a fresh salad, rinse your greens well and spin them dry. Shred or chop them, then toss with oil, vinegar, grated carrots, and a few of your favorite seasonings. Citrus such as lemons and limes, along with fresh herbs, can bring delightful flavors that accent the bitterness of the greens. Sweet carrots, acidic vinegar, and bitter greens are a culinary delight. 
    • Steaming greens is also very easy. Why not sauté some fresh garlic or onions in a little olive oil and then add the rinsed greens to the pan, tossing quickly for a minute? That’s all you need to do for a tasty spring side dish!
  • Explore roots and tubers. Take a look at the carrots, beets, and other baby root vegetables and bring some home to add to salads and meals during the week. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Tips and recipes are but a Google search away. You can also contact us if you need help!

I hope this helps you and your clients make the most of spring markets!

Display of the Month: MyPlate

It’s been a while since we’ve done a display of the month, and now is the perfect time to revive the tradition with MyPlate!

The Materials:

The Activities:

  • Food Group Lottery
  • Food Group Lighting Rounds

The Details:

If you have access to the wall behind your table, set up either or both of the MyPlate Banners along with the Art of Health Poster. If you don’t have access to that wall, use just the MyPlate Banner and Stand alongside your table and add the Art of Health Poster to your table (you can prop it on a Tabletop Easel). In front of your table, arrange the MyPlate Floor Decal to add extra interest to your booth.

On the table itself, scatter the resources included in the MyPlate Wellness Fair Kit, leaving room for some MyPlate Handouts and the prizes (MyPlate StickersMyPlate Vegetable StickersMyPlate Fruit Stickers and/or MyPlate Bookmarks) you’re going to offer in order to draw people to your booth and reward participation during activities. In one corner of the booth, arrange the materials you’ll need for the food group lottery.

And, just for fun, finish setting up by tying on a MyPlate Apron, which you can later give away as a prize, if you’d like!

Now, on to the activities!

For the Food Group Lottery, have volunteers write down their names and favorite food groups on individual pieces of paper and put them all in a clear bowl or box. Shuffle all the submissions, then draw 10 winners. Reward them with the prizes listed above, or these adorable MyPlate buttons.

For the Food Group Lightning Rounds, gather all your participants in a circle in front of your booth. Explain that you’re going to name a food group and then each person has to list a healthful food that would fit in that group, one at a time. If a person can’t think of a food or lists something that isn’t healthful, he or she is out and the circle gets smaller. Repeat with the rest of the food groups until you’ve got a small group of winners remaining. All of the previously-suggested prizes would make great rewards, as would these pretty MyPlate plates!

Previous Display Inspiration:

Free Handout:

And, to add one more fun aspect to your display, here’s a free MyPlate coloring page. How will you incorporate this into your booth?

Finally, here are some fantastic workbooks to help your clients learn valuable health and nutrition lessons…

Easter Eggs: What You Need to Know

Eggs are a fun and traditional Easter staple. Did you know that at one time they were banned during Lent and became a treat to eat on Easter? Eggs also symbolize fertility and renewal. They are associated with the end of winter and the coming of spring.

Here’s another bit of egg trivia: the average person consumes one-and-a-half dozen eggs at Easter, and the average family eats about four dozen eggs during the holiday.

It’s always fun to color Easter eggs, but remember that these eggs should not be left at room temperature for longer than two hours. If you’re thinking of having an egg hunt, it would be safer to use plastic eggs instead of real eggs. Why? Well, if the shells are cracked, then they can easily be contaminated by dirt and moisture from your yard. Plus, there’s always the concern that the hunt will take longer than two hours.

And speaking of food safety, if you are putting colored eggs into a braided bread or Easter pastry, remember to eat or refrigerate the pastry within 2 hours of pulling the pastry out of the oven. If you plan to store it for longer, then you can keep the pastry in the refrigerator for three to four days.

The food safety fun doesn’t end there!

For some families, pickled eggs are an Easter tradition. This usually involves placing hard-cooked eggs into a vinegar or pickled beet solution. Despite the pickling, these eggs should still be refrigerated. Use pickled eggs within seven days of preparing them.

And finally, the week after Easter is often considered “egg salad week” because one the most popular ways to use up all those hard-cooked eggs is by making egg salad. Remember, hard-cooked eggs should be kept refrigerated and eaten within seven days of cooking.

Now let’s talk about preparing the tastiest and prettiest Easter eggs.

The green ring that sometimes appears around the yolk of a hard-cooked egg is usually caused by hard boiling and over cooking. This is the result of a reaction between the sulfur in the white and iron in the yolk, which interact when combined with high heat. This green part is safe to eat — it’s just a little unappetizing. For best results, try this method instead:

Recipe: Hard-Cooked Eggs

For a kinder and gentler way to cook eggs, place them a pan and fill it with cold water until you have about  1” covering the tops of the eggs.

Bring everything to a full boil, put a lid on the pan, and then take it off the heat. Set a timer and let the pan stand for 12 minutes (for large eggs) to 15 minutes (for extra-large eggs).

When the time is up, drain the pan and cool the eggs under cold running water or in an ice bath.

Refrigerate when cool.

Not only does this method eliminate the green ring, the whites will be less rubbery! Plus, this approach helps prevent the shells from cracking. Remember, eggs are easiest to peel right after cooling.

And speaking of peeling, did you know that the fresher your eggs are, the harder they’re going to be to peel when cooked?

This is because the airy space between the shell and the egg itself increases as an egg ages. The shell becomes easier to peel as this air space increases. If you want eggs that will peel more easily, buy them a couple weeks before Easter and keep them in the fridge.

Shopping Tip: Eggs are usually on sale close to Easter. This may be a good time to buy a couple extra dozen. The “use by” dates on the egg cartons indicate the date before which the eggs should be eaten for best quality, not food safety. Usually eggs can be safely eaten for 2-3 weeks beyond the sell-by date. That said, eggs should be refrigerated at the store, so avoid displays of eggs that are not kept cold.

I hope these tips and tricks come in handy as you prepare your spring celebrations!

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

Nutrition Month Display Ideas

It’s not too late to set up an engaging display for National Nutrition Month!

The best displays feature information in a variety of formats, presented in an eye-catching and memorable manner. Here are a few strategies that you can use to put together your best display yet…

Bulletin Board:

It’s usually a good idea to center a bulletin board around a banner or poster. For Nutrition Month, I would recommend any of the following, depending on the space you have available.

Once you’ve picked a poster/banner or two to center your display, it’s just a matter of filling in the details. One way to vary the view while imparting key information is to add a few relevant handouts, like these!

You can also print out pictures that support your main point (people being active for an exercise board, healthful foods/meals for a nutrition board etc) and fill in a few gaps with assorted stickers or wall decals.

Tabletop Display:

Tabletop displays offer a better chance for interaction than a bulletin board display, but they also take up more room.

The key to a good tabletop display is having something that will draw people to the table. Banners on stands offer a great way to stand out from the crowd, and these options are perfect for Nutrition Month:

Floor stickers are also creative (and intriguing) eye-catchers here. My personal favorites include:

Then you want to fill your table with resources that will help your audience learn and remember key Nutrition Month lessons. Posters like the ones featured in the bulletin board section above are great options, and you can prop them up on a tabletop easel or two. Handouts are useful take-home resources too, as are stickers/bookmarks/other fun prizes.

If you’re talking about sugar, salt, or fat content in your display, I’d highly recommend test tubes, which you can use to display the average amount of your featured element in a variety of foods.

These materials offer a great visual way to compare and contrast different options, and the test tubes have gotten wonderful feedback in the past. In fact, they’re one of our most popular resources for health fairs!

And there you have it! A little Nutrition Month display inspiration!

For additional resources to help with your National Nutrition Month celebrations, don’t miss these amazing materials…