Tricounty News

Dry venison jerky safely

W-Deb-Botzek-LinnVenison jerky is an easy to make flavorful snack. Remember when processing any meat, food safety must be at the forefront. In recent years, illnesses caused by Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 from homemade jerky have raised questions about the safety of traditional drying methods.

It is important that the meat strips reach a sufficient temperature in the drying process to kill harmful pathogens that may cause
foodborne illness. A food dehydrator, or your oven, should maintain a temperature of at least 145-155 degrees F for 4-6 hours when drying meat. But, to ensure the meat strips reach a temperature where pathogens are destroyed, the University of Wisconsin recommends heating the jerky (after drying) in a preheated 275-degree F oven for 10 minutes. This method, as a final step in the drying process, achieves an extra margin of safety and produces a quality jerky product.


Food manager certification courses offered

University of Minnesota Extension is offering two courses to help food service establishments meet the educational requirements for Certified Food Managers.

The initial certification course, using the ServSafe? curriculum, will be offered on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the Midtown Office Complex in St. Cloud. The class will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with the exam following at 4:30 p.m. Participants must attend all day to be eligible to take the certification exam. This course includes information about safe food preparation, handling, sanitation and prevention of foodborne illnesses. Registration is due by Nov. 5.


Food safety after school

Where is the first place kids go when they get home from school? The kitchen. They rummage through the cupboards and refrigerator seeking a snack. The kitchen is not always the safest place if kids become ill from the food they eat. Children under age 15 are at a higher risk for foodborne illness as their immune system is not as developed as an adult’s.

When heading to after-school snack time, kids can help prevent foodborne illness by following these guidelines:

• Place backpacks, books, and sports equipment on the floor, or designated area. They carry germs that we don’t want on the table or counters where food is prepared.


Homegrown tomatoes

“What’d life be without homegrown tomatoes, only two things that money can’t buy, that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes” (G.Clark 1983)

These song lyrics may reflect a Minnesotan’s anticipation of the first “homegrown” tomato of the season! Tomatoes are the most popular home preserved food. The variety of preservation methods and the versatility of preserving tomato juice, salsa, jam, dry tomatoes, pickled green tomatoes, and more, make it a treasured treat of summer and beyond.

We think of tomatoes as “high acid”, but research tells us that the acid varies by the variety, heat, moisture, soil, and ripeness. Current canning recommendations require that acid be added to (almost) all canned tomato products whether water bath processed or pressure canned.

So, when canning “plain” tomatoes:

• Quarts: add 2 Tablespoons bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid

• Pints: add 1 Tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid

Bottled lime juice can be used in exchange for bottled lemon juice. Tomato products like salsa may use vinegar to acidify and add flavor. Acid can be added directly to jars before filling or after filling, prior to applying the lid.

Home-canners have asked if heirloom tomatoes are acidic enough to be canned without adding acid. Horticulture researchers have concluded the acidity of heirloom tomato plants is no different from the non-heirloom varieties. In fact, there are some heirloom varieties that are more low-acid than hybrid varieties. As a result, the same recommendations apply for adding acid when canning heirloom tomatoes.

See University of Minnesota Extension for preserving tomatoes and salsa information at

Can vegetables safely

Are you planning to can green beans, carrots or beets? If so, know that safe home-canned vegetables require processing in a pressure canner.

The acidity in the food determines if fruits or vegetables are processed in a pressure canner or a boiling water bath canner. Low-acid vegetables and meats contain too little acidity to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria and must be pressure canned.

Botulism is a food poisoning most commonly found in improperly processed home canned vegetables, such as beets, peppers, carrots, green beans, and mushrooms, as well as other low-acid foods canned at home, including soups, meats, fish and poultry. Because these bacteria grow only in the absence of air, they are harmless on fresh foods.