5 Food Safety Tips to Help You Kick Off Fall
Break out the cable-knit sweaters and buckle up for the pumpkin craze . . .
IT'S FALL TIME!
That's right. September 22nd marks the official 2017 Autumn Equinox, and whether you've been counting down the days since last fall or switching gears now, this start of the season is worth celebrating.
But with any change in season comes new pro-tips for food safety practices. Let's dive in, shall we?!
Gear up the right way for game day.
Before you cheer on your favorite team at the next tailgate, there are plenty of easy, little steps you can take to be on your food safety game.
- First, a food thermometer should be best friend when firing up the grill.
- Be sure to keep salads, dips, fruit and veggie trays, and any other perishable foods cold in an insulated cooler with ice or frozen gel packs.
- Securely wrap up your raw meat and poultry and keep fairly separate from other foods to prevent juices from cross-contaminating your ready-to-eat food.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Safety Inspection Service also suggests is to monitor the temperature of your foods from home (or store/restaurant) to the tailgate location to avoid bacteria development.
Preserve your summer fruits and vegetables.
It's safe to say we're all stoked for pumpkins, apples, squash, and all of our other favorite fall produce.
But what about zucchini! And eggplants! And peaches, herbs, and fresh summer berries! There so many summertime flavors worth enjoying all year round, so why not do just that? Here are a couple of easy preservation tactics to try with the sunny season fruits and vegetables left in your kitchen:
- Drying the produce by removing all the water content (fun fact: bacteria needs water to survive) and using a dedicated dehydrator.
- Canning, of course, is always an option! Just seal the food in a sterile, airtight environment to kill those mean little bacterias.
- Pickling fruits and veggies will eliminate potential dangerous pathogens from forming because they can't survive vinegar's acidity, making the food safe and edible for years. Just know it can drastically change the food's flavor! Click here to learn more on how the pickling method.
- Freezing is by far one of easiest and quickest ways to save your summer produce through the winter. Be sure to know which fruits and veggies can bare the cold (softer fruits will suffer more and their texture will change), and that bacteria is NOT killed from freezing (many become dormant until defrosted). It's best to freeze them on a metal tray, then once they're completely hard, transfer to airtight, sterile freezer bags. Treat fruits like apples to ascorbic acid first and blanch starchy veggies like potatoes in ice water before freezing.
Prepare for those farmers market, pumpkin patch, and apple orchard trips.
One of the best things about fall is all the fall-themed outings! Who doesn't love a seasonal stroll through a local pumpkin patch this time of year? Or enjoying some apple cider at your favorite apple orchard? Fall activities are not only a great way to find the freshest, straight-from-the-ground produce, but also learn where they come from!
However, it's so important to practice food safety and prevent the spread of germs before, after, and during these mini fall trips. Here are a few easy ways you can do that:
- Bring your own bag for storing items you buy.
- Pack a couple small bottles of hand sanitizer to use during your outing.
- Bring a cooler and separate your cold, more perishable purchases.
- Clean and wash all the items you've found as soon as you get home.
Begin your fall kitchen cleaning checklist.
With a new season, comes a good ole fashion deep clean. Get your kitchen up to fall food safety standards by creating a cleaning and organizing checklist. Trust us, your kitchen will be thanking you later! Start of your autumn cleaning with these tasks:
- Empty and wipe down all the cupboards.
- Sort through your summer produce (scroll back up for ideas on preserving!), determine the remaining shelf life for all, and free up space for all your new fall goodies.
- Show your fridge some love and give it a nice scrub. (Hey that rhymed! 😉)
- Sanitize all appliances, countertops, and sinks.
Get ready for fall holidays and house guests.
Tis the turkey and spooky season! Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner, meaning it's time to prepare for visits from all those fall ghosts, ghouls, and guests. Stay ahead of the game and apply these food safety precautions so you can enjoy these wonderful holidays to the fullest!
- Post trick-or-treating, sort through treats for signs of tampering, such as discoloration or an unusual appearance, small pinholes, or tears in wrappers, and toss anything that looks suspicious.
- Don't send kids out on empty stomach! A little snack will help them avoid munching on collected candy before you can inspect through it.
- Before Thanksgiving creeps up, reach out to your expected house guests and ask for any food allergies, preferences, and if they plan to bring/make any dishes.
- And lastly, see our fall kitchen cleaning checklist on what you can do to welcome your guests with open, freshly scrubbed arms.
Hope we've helped you learn a thing or new before diving headfirst into the crisp, fall fandom! Now get out there and get your autumn on. 😏 🍁