The summer breezes are warm and the sun is out - an ideal day for a family picnic or a trip to a family reunion. As you pack up your goodies, follow these tips to make certain the food stays safe.
Keep cold foods cold -- below 40¡Æ F.
Keep hot foods hot -- above 140¡Æ F. Hot foods need a wrap. Use foil or towels to wrap hot dishes; place in a plastic-foam cooler. Serve within two hours after packing.
Raw meats need one plate, grilled meats another. That way you avoid spreading bacteria from the raw juices on the first plate to the cooked food.
Chill leftovers within 2 hours. Food spoils quickly outdoors or in the danger zone between 40 - 140¡Æ F. Two hours is the longest any food should stand out.
Make cleanliness a top priority. Everything that touches food (both hands and dishes) needs to be very clean.
Leave some foods at home. Custards, puddings, and egg-thickened dishes spoil easily.
Pack plastic garbage bags and paper towels for easy cleanup.
Let¡¯s consider the equipment you can use to transport, insulate, cook, and eat your feast - whether it¡¯s a basic lunch for two or a feast for the family reunion.
Baskets - Baskets may be open or have hinged lids, and they may be lined. If it has handles, they should be strong and durable, especially on larger models.
Coolers - Foods that spoil quickly, such as meats, fish, mayonnaise, and most dairy products, must be kept cold to prevent bacterial growth and the possibility of food poisoning. When purchasing a cooler, look for sturdiness; strong, easy-to-hold handles; and tight lids that lock in place. Another useful feature is a leakproof drain.
Bags - Designed especially for carrying foods and beverages and keeping them cool, ¡°refrigerator bags¡± are usually insulated with fiberglass, covered and lined with vinyl, and fitted with wraparound handles and a zipper that allows the flat top to be opened on three sides.
4 cups cooked macaroni, rinsed and chilled
¨ö lb. cooked ham, cubed
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
¨ù cup chopped green onions
¨ø cup commercial sour cream
¨÷ cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
2 tsp. prepared mustard
¨ö tsp. salt
¨ú cup sliced radishes
Green pepper shells
Combine macaroni, ham, celery, Cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions in a large bowl. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, and salt; stir into macaroni mixture, mixing well. Chill 1 hour. Stir in radishes. Spoon into pepper shells to serve.
Yield: 8 servings.
For More Information Contact: Nancy A. Freeman Extension Home Economist Harrison County Extension Service (228) 865-4227