Archive for Wednesday, October 15, 2003

How-to guide on drying, roasting pumpkin seeds

October 15, 2003

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How do you dry and roast pumpkin seeds?

Drying and roasting seeds are two different processes. To dry, carefully wash pumpkin seeds to remove the clinging fibrous pumpkin tissue. Pumpkin seeds can be dried in the sun, in a dehydrator at 115-120 degrees for 1 to 2 hours, or in an oven on warm for 3 to 4 hours. Stir them frequently to avoid scorching.

To roast, take dried pumpkin seeds, toss with oil and/or salt and roast in a preheated oven at 250 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

For the Walk Kansas Celebration, you served a peach and avocado salsa that was really good. Could you share the recipe?

The original recipe came from one shared by Shelly Platten, of Amherst, Wis., in the "Taste of Home" magazine. It is bright, colorful and different from the traditional salsas. Enjoy.

Peach Avocado Salsa

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1 (15-1/4 ounce) can sliced peaches, drained

1 medium ripe avocado, peeled

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 cups diced seeded tomatoes

1/4 cup diced onion

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 to 2 teaspoons seeded chopped jalapeño pepper (use rubber or plastic gloves to protect hands)

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dice the peaches and avocado into small pieces. In a bowl, combine the peaches, avocado, and lime juice. Add the remaining ingredients. Toss lightly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. Serve with tortilla chips, fish, or chicken. Yield: 3 cups.

Nutritional analysis for 1/4 cup serving: 51 calories, 3 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 55 milligrams sodium, 7 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 1 gram protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 1/2 fat.

Can tomatoes frozen or dying on the vine be canned?

Tomatoes that become frozen or die on the vine are not safe to use in home canning. This is because the acid level in the tomatoes drops significantly and at varying levels. Therefore, even if adding lemon juice to increase the acid content, the tomatoes may not be safe. The tomatoes can be eaten fresh or frozen.

To save tomatoes from a frost or hard freeze, remove them from the vine before a potential frost or hard freeze. Wrap each tomato in newspaper or wax paper. Store in a cool, dark location at 55 to 60 degrees. Check frequently for decay or damage. As color develops, remove from the paper and continue ripening at 70 degrees. With this method, it is possible to have fresh tomatoes at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Should a large pot of soup sit on the range until it cools, or should it be refrigerated hot?

Hot food can be placed directly in the refrigerator or it can be rapidly chilled in an ice or cold water bath before refrigerating. Cover foods to retain moisture and prevent them from picking up odors from other foods.

A large pot of food like soup or stew should be divided into small portions and put in shallow containers before being refrigerated. A large cut of meat or whole poultry should be divided into smaller pieces and wrapped separately or placed in shallow containers before refrigerating.

Is it safe to eat leftover food that was left out on the counter to cool at dinnertime, then forgotten until morning? Will additional cooking kill the bacteria that may have grown?

No. Bacteria exist everywhere in nature. They are in the soil, air, water and the foods we eat. When they have nutrients (food), moisture and favorable temperatures, they grow rapidly, increasing in numbers to the point where some types of bacteria can cause illness.

Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 degrees and 140 degrees, some doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. Some types will produce toxins that are not destroyed by cooking.

Pathogenic bacteria do not generally affect the taste, smell or appearance of a food. In other words, one cannot tell that a food has been mishandled or is dangerous to eat. For example, food that has been left too long on the counter may be dangerous to eat, but could smell and look fine. If a food has been left in the "Danger Zone" -- between 40 degrees and 140 degrees -- for more than two hours, discard it, even though it may look and smell good. Never taste a food to see if it is spoiled.

I've always soaked poultry in salt water. Doesn't that make it safer?

Soaking poultry in salt water is a personal preference, but serves no purpose for food safety. If you choose to do this, however, preventing cross-contamination when soaking and removing the poultry from the water is essential.

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