Barb Ingham Professor & Food Safety Specialist
Professor & Food Safety Specialist
Some of our favorite childhood memories may be of home-preserved foods: delicious dill pickles, spicy salsa, and sweet jams and jellies. And many of us enjoy sharing these favorite items with family and friends. But how do we know that these family favorites are safe and of good quality to share?
It’s easy! Using and following research-tested, up-to-date recipes for freezing, canning, and drying foods, is a good way ensure that the foods are both safe and delicious. “Up-to-date” means recipes that are currently approved or recommended. “Research-tested” means that laboratory testing has been done to prove that the recipe is safe! In food preservation it is particularly important that we know that a recipe is safe; that is, the ingredients, proportions, equipment, processes and conditions have been laboratory-tested to assure a safe product.
What’s are the sources of safe food preservation recipes? Excellent sources of research-tested food preservation resources are available from the University of Wisconsin-Extension and other Extension programs, for example:
- Safe and Healthy: Preserving Food at Home under the recipes tab (UW-Extension)
- The National Center for Home Food Processing and Preservation
Unfortunately, seeing a recipe in print: in a cookbook, in the newspaper, on the internet, and so forth is no guarantee that the recipe has been reviewed to make sure that the product is safe (and you can assume that it hasn’t!).
What about Master Gardener newsletters and publications? When including a recipe for food preservation, be sure to reference one of the trusted sources noted above. If you don’t see exactly what you are looking for, i.e. pumpkin leather, check with your county Family Living educator for ideas. Avoid the temptation to simply search the internet for recipes.
What about recipes that aren’t for food preservation? Recipes are often included for a number of reasons:
- Inspire readers to use an abundant seasonal crop (101 ways to use zucchini…)
- Share a recipe that can be used to encourage children or others to try something new (kale smoothies!)
- Build camaraderie among the group (Ann’s Veggie Dip from the holiday party)
- Fundraising—cookbooks continue to be a source of income for many groups.
A few useful guidelines for recipes for a family meal include:
- Is the recipe appropriate for the audience? Recipes should be written clearly and in standard format. Ingredients should be readily accessible. Consider the age and experience with food preparation of the audience.
- Is the recipe in the public domain or do you have permission to reprint? “Public domain” includes sources such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or National Institutes of Health. Recipes on individual internet sites and in cookbooks are copyright protected. Get permission to reprint any recipes that are not in the public domain, and state “reprinted with permission from…” if you receive permission.
- Does the recipe conform to food safety guidelines? Recipes should not include unsafe practices, such as using uncooked eggs in a finished product. Some recipes may need specific food safety information, such as checking meat so that it’s cooked to a safe internal temperature.
In short, using tested recipes reinforces food safety and good nutrition and increases the likelihood of recipe success!
You’ll find Wisconsin recipes at the Learning Store under the Home & Family link, Food & Nutrition, Food Preservation information.