“What if, today, we were grateful for everything?” asks Charlie Brown.
You don't need to be a beloved cartoon character to understand the meaning of Thanksgiving. Giving thanks seems like an excellent goal for this year's celebration … and every day, really. Here are some important steps for a healthy, delicious and memorable holiday.
First, be safe Millions of Americans will be celebrating this Thanksgiving. Foodborne illness is a real concern. So, let's make sure everybody enjoys the meal and doesn't get ill.
From safely thawing a turkey to making sure it's properly cooked, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers a range of tips to keep your holiday safe. (One hint: take care with the stuffing). The USDA's famous Meat & Poultry Hotline will remain open on Thanksgiving Day until 11 a.m. PST; their team of experts is on hand to answer any questions you may have.
No, Thanksgiving feast would be complete without pie. Whether you're a sweet potato or pumpkin pie fan, good crust is essential. Making a good pie crust isn't rocket science...but it does involve molecular science. In this video, University of California researcher Amy Rowat uses science to show you how to make the best pie crust ever.
Second, savor the meal
Did you know that there's a science to eating? Before you pile lots of food on your plate, take time to consider these seven steps from University of California scientists and researchers; they will assure that you savor every bite of your meal.
Third, don't waste
Enjoy your meal, but make it a point to reduce food waste this holiday season.
“Food waste presents a major challenge in the United States. Estimates suggest that up to 40% of the food produced nationally never gets consumed, causing substantial economic and environmental harms. Wasted food utilizes vast quantities of precious land, water and human resources, yet rather than nourishing people, it feeds landfills, producing methane gasses that poison the environment. Much of the food waste (43%) occurs at the household level.”
We sought out experts from UC ANR's Master Food Preserver Program for advice on how to use leftovers. Some takeaways: refer to this food storage chart to determine how long you can safety store leftover food. For more tips, click here. Leftover turkey can be used to make a delicious homemade stock that can serve as the base for additional meals. We provide a recipe and information about how to safely preserve stock here.
However you celebrate Thanksgiving, the staff of UC ANR wishes you a safe, happy and healthy holiday.
Editor's Note: UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) researchers and educators draw on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. We operate the 4-H, Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver Programs. We live where you live. Learn more here. Are you a #veteran or #beginning farmer interested in learning more about poultry production? UC ANR is co-hosting a series of poultry workshops beginning in December and throughout 2017. Get the details here.
Learn more about native and indigenous foods from Valerie Segrest of the Muckleshoot Tribe in the Pacific Northwest; the post appears on the UC Food Observer blog.
What's one way to combat food waste, save money, and expand food knowledge? Ask a UC Master Food Preserver.
Or rather, have a group of dedicated volunteers do a hands-on demo at a CSA pick-up location. Tanaka Farms, located in Orange County, did just that. The farm's Community Supported Agriculture program delivers more than 1,600 produce boxes a month to a subscriber base that is highly motivated to prepare and cook food. Educating their customers is a mission of Tanaka Farms CSA as well as a tenet of the UC Master Food Preserver Program.
A sample Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box. (Photo: Tanaka Farms)
Working with Patty Nagatoshi, Tanaka Farms CSA program coordinator, UC Master Food Preserver volunteers have already held two workshops for CSA customers. These classes were tailored to preserving the contents of the CSA box, since CSA members often struggle to find a use for every item they receive. Volunteers handed out a list of suggested recipes as a reference after the workshops. These classes are helping customers to maximize their bounty while also cutting down on wasted food.
UC Master Food Preserver Volunteers demonstrate ways to use CSA produce. (Photo: UC Master Food Preserver Program of Orange County)
Additionally, Master Food Preserver volunteers held demonstrations at the farm's Strawberry and Corn Festivals. There they demonstrated dehydrating strawberry fruit leather, making strawberry freezer jam, canning corn relish and making corn broth.
Crushing strawberries for strawberry jam. (Photo: UC Master Food Preserver Program of Orange County)
These off-site demos are a prime example of bringing safe, reputable information directly to the public. Preserve today, relish tomorrow!
Posted on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 8:56 AM
“Food waste presents a major challenge in the United States. Estimates suggest that up to 40% of the food produced nationally never gets consumed, causing substantial economic and environmental harms. Wasted food utilizes vast quantities of precious land, water and human resources, yet rather than nourishing people, it feeds landfills, producing methane gasses that poison the environment. Much of the food waste (43%) occurs at the household level."
This poster played an important role in discouraging food waste and encouraging food conservation on the American home front during World War I. Noted artist Edward Penfield created the poster. It's held in the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
What history can teach us
Here's my take on food waste. It goes back in part to lessons I've learned from studying World War I (WWI), when the American government set food conservation goals (along with goals for local food production via Liberty – later Victory – Gardens). I'm a big proponent of both reducing food waste and producing more food in communities via school, home and community gardens. Big point: the World War I poster included in this post has advice we'd be well served to heed today.
It's an iconic poster from World War 1. Food…don't waste it. The image is regularly shared on Twitter and Facebook.
Poster from the collection of the Museum of Ventura County. (Credit: Aysen Tan)
Period piece or photoshopped image?
The original was produced in 1919 by the United States Food Administration, under the direction of the newly appointed food “czar” – Herbert Hoover.
The poster was reissued during World War II. It's been revised in recent years by individuals and organizations interested in encouraging an ethos incorporating local foods and sustainability.
While I'm the UC Food Observer, I also dabble in the history of wartime poster art. I'm often asked if this is a contemporary mock-up made to look and feel vintage.
It's not a mock-up. It's the real deal, produced 95 years ago, with messages we should embrace today.
The original poster: Yes: ‘buy local foods' is rule 4
The original poster has six rules that we'd be well served to follow today. The fourth rule – buy local foods – is somewhat of a surprise to people today, because the notion of buying local seems somewhat modern. But in WWI, the U.S. government encouraged the local production and consumption of food, in part, to free trains to more effectively ship troops and war matériel.
Tackling food waste through preservation: today's Master Food Preserver Program
Many land grant institutions, including the University of California, host master food preserver programs. These programs teach best practices on food safety and preservation to volunteers. The extensive training program prepares the volunteers to work in their community educating others on the safe practices of food preservation, including pickling, drying, freezing, canning and fruit preserves.
Thinking about gardening? Do we have resources for you!
The University of California sponsors the state's Master Gardener Program, which fields more than 5,000 volunteers in communities across the state. The Master Gardener Program is a national program, housed at the land grant institution in each state, but it's also connected to the USDA. Free gardening resources are available here. Advice to grow by…just ask.
Food waste is both an ethical and environmental issue. It should concern us that we wastenearly 40% of the food we produce and purchase in this food-abundant nation.
For an interesting comparative statistic, consider this: our nation produced about 40% of the fruits and vegetables we consumed on the American home front in World War II in school, home, community and workplace gardens. That was the result of the iconic Victory Garden program (which actually got its start in WW1).
Three messages then: participate in the national effort, commit to wasting less food, and if you can, produce some food of your own.
Notes: There are many additional resources about #foodwaste.
Connect: ReFED, a collaboration of nonprofit, government, business and foundation leaders, released a report in 2016 that identifies a number of potential solutions to the food waste challenge.
Tomatoes, garlic, and peppers are three key ingredients in most salsa recipes. (Photo: UnSplash)
May is typically a month filled with family gatherings and festive celebrations. With Cinco de Mayo at your heels, maybe your appetite for salsa has been whetted and you're craving more. Or perhaps you're planning ahead for Memorial Day and want the perfect snack for that social gathering. No matter what holiday is on your mind, isn't it nice to crack open a jar of home-preserved salsa for any snacking occasion?
Here are three simple steps to having homemade salsa any time of the year.
Step 1 (optional): Grow the ingredients
Take the process from tomato trellises to taste buds by planting a salsa garden this time of year. Get started with a salsa staple like tomatoes. There are great published references for growing tomatoes, but if you have further questions, ask a UC Master Gardener volunteer in your county.
3 quarts tomatoes (about 12 medium tomatoes), washed, peeled, cored, and chopped 3 cups onions (about 3 medium onions), chopped 1 ½ cups long green sweet peppers (about 4 Anaheim peppers), washed, seeded and chopped. Note: Sweet bell peppers may be substituted for long green peppers 6 tablespoons small hot red peppers (about 6 Jalapeno peppers), washed, seeded, and finely chopped 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 12-oz cans tomato paste 2 cups commercially bottled lemon juice 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon sugar 1 tablespoon ground cumin (optional) 2 tablespoons oregano leaves (optional) 1 teaspoon black pepper
Wash hands and work surfaces, and then prepare ingredients.
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.
Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ladle hot salsa into pint jars, leaving a 1/2–inch headspace.
Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel and apply two-piece metal canning lids.
Process 15 minutes in a water bath canner at altitudes up to 1000 feet. Above 1000 feet, increase processing time by 1 minute for every additional 1000-foot increase in altitude.
Let jars cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours, then check seals.
If you haven't canned before (or even if you have), turn to a local UC Master Food Preserver Program near you as a friendly resource.
Step 3: Eat the contents
Well, you are probably already very familiar with carrying out this step! Do it with confidence knowing that you followed a safe, home preservation process.
Whether you grow or buy, it is always fun to make and share your own jar. Are you craving salsa yet?
Thanksgiving leftovers can me transformed into delicious stock.
Feeling the pressure of holiday leftovers? There are simple ways to preserve holiday leftovers using extra turkey scraps and bones, while preventing tryptophan overload.
Any connoisseur of meat or vegetable stocks would tell you that the flavor of homemade can't be matched with something store bought. Homemade stock is easy to prepare and can be preserved for future use by simply freezing or using a pressure canner. Consider using homemade turkey stock for soups or as a cooking liquid for quinoa. A good stock adds a sublime flavor to any cooked grain.
Quick and easy homemade turkey stock
To prepare homemade turkey stock, place cooked turkey bones into a large stockpot and cover with water. (It's fine to still have some meat attached to the bones, it only adds to the flavor.) Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer the slurry for 30-45 minutes.
Once simmered, remove bones and let stock cool. Fat will rise to the top of the stock. Use a spoon to remove fat leaving only the turkey-infused liquid. At this point, strain stock through cheesecloth to remove any leftover herbs or bits of meat. This step is optional – many prefer to keep meat trimmings in the stock. Once the fat is removed and the stock is strained, the next step is to preserve the stock for future use.
Clean rims of jars
Preserving turkey stock
To freeze, simply seal the stock in a freezer-proof container, freezer gallon storage bags work great for this method. Clearly label and date the storage bag or container – remember that this method has a freezer storage life of 6 months. If freezing the stock in storage bags, it is best to lay the bags on a cookie sheet and freeze flat for easy storage.
For a longer shelf life, consider pressure canning your stock which will preserve the delicious turkey stock for up to 12 months in your pantry.
Simply bring your stock back up to a boil and fill sterilized jars, leaving one inch of headspace. Clean rims of the jars before putting on the two part lid, tighten the lid rings only to “finger tight.” Process in a pressure canner using guidelines available from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.