Fresh Foods for Summer
Summer is an essential time to keep food safety top of mind. In addition to preventing foodborne illnesses due to warmer temperatures, it is important for us to preserve fantastic summer harvests. As you would suspect, enjoying fresh foods is healthiest for consumption, but there are many techniques including refrigeration, freezing, freeze-drying, dehydrating, and canning to preserve both freshness and flavor. The point is to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, fungi, mold, yeasts, and other microorganisms from growing on foods.
Chilling and refrigerating foods is obviously the most common safety method for preventing bacterial growth on food. In hot summer weather, you should never let perishable food sit out for more than one hour. If you are traveling or outdoors, be sure to store any perishables in an insulated cooler maintaining a temperature below 40 °F. Tips include filling the entire cooler to capacity with ice or frozen packs, keeping the lid tight, and placing the cooler in a shaded area away from sunlight.
For the longer preservation of foods at home, you may store meats, vegetables, fruits, and other perishables in the freezer. Freezers often fill up quickly during the summer harvest, home canning could be an option for garden produce. Home canning is an age-old process for pressure-storing fresh foods like tomatoes or berries. We recommend using current cookbooks, USDA recommended equipment (pressure canners, jars), and scientifically tested guidelines to ensure safe canning techniques. Botulism poisoning and other deadly issues could arise through improper canning. When food preservation is done right, however, you could be reaping the fresh benefits of summer the whole year.