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Savor the Flavor of Fall...Safely

Is it just me, or have you also noticed the “pumpkin spice” flavor showing up just about everywhere? Seems it has become the designer flavor for fall! Our meals and menus often change, just as the seasons change. So as summer gives way to fall, you may be thinking chili, soups, stews, casseroles, “hot dishes,” and the fall dinners that are being advertised.

Chili, soups, stews, casseroles are some of the foods lend themselves to being prepared in larger batches. It seems we are more likely to prepare a big pot of chili, for example, rather than a small pot of chili. Some people think it’s just easier to do it that way; others prefer to have enough for several meals or to freeze some for future use; and still others find those foods to be more flavorful the second time around. Whatever our reasons, we just need to be sure that we are following research-based food safety practices so that we are safe in the process.

Keep in mind the two-hour rule and the two-inch rule. The two-hour rule tells us that two hours is the maximum amount of time for foods to be at room temperature if they are foods that are served hot or cold. Following this research-based food safety recommendation helps safeguard against the growth of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.

The two-inch rule is the food safety recommendation comes into play when we are refrigerating or freezing our leftover food. We need to choose containers that are large enough so that the food (chili, soup, stew, potatoes, etc.) is less than two inches deep in the container. This is so that all the food in the container will quickly cool down to a safe temperature for food storage. Temperatures below 40 degrees F. are considered safe for food storage.

A third food safety recommendation is to use refrigerated leftovers within three to four days, and to only reheat them once. Store them in the freezer if they won’t be used within three or four days.

Food safety and research-based food safety recommendations are sometimes disregarded because “we’ve always done it this way,” or “we’ve never had to do that.” But to not follow the recommendations is to gamble with our health and the health of anyone who is eating the food we’ve prepared. Like they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

NDSU Extension Service has many food safety resources. Contact the Sargent county extension office or visit http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/food-safety, the gateway to access pamphlets and brochures that address such topics as cooking for groups, food storage, and the clean, separate, cook, and chill keys to food safety.

As always, please give me a call if you or your friends, family, co-workers or employees have a topic you would like to learn more about through a presentation, lesson, program, activity or workshop. NDSU Extension has a lot to offer, and we are here to serve you!

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