IFAS News

University of Florida

Mother-daughter team teaches the art of canning food

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Vegetables
UF/IFAS Extension Agents Melanie Thomas, left, and her mother, Jackie Schrader teaching canning classes in Duval and Clay counties. Photo courtesy Melanie Thomas

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As a little girl, Melanie Thomas would ladle hot fruit into glass jars with  her grandmother or watch from afar as her parents canned fruits and vegetables in the kitchen.

“I was one of those who was afraid of the pressure canner and left that job up to my mom and dad,” said Thomas.  “They always seemed like they knew what they were doing and had it under control.”

Now Thomas is a fearless advocate of preserving your own food.  She and her mother, Jackie Schrader, join forces each month to teach canning classes through a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension program.  Once every month, they gather students in either Duval or Clay County to instruct on everything from pressure canning low acid foods, including vegetables, meats and soups, to adding just the right amount of sugar and spices.

Their next class is scheduled for January 22 at 9:00 a.m. at the Clay County Extension office in Green Cove Springs. The February class is set for the 12th in Duval County. (more …)

Almonds may help augment nutrients in diet, UF/IFAS study shows

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

 

Two hanfuls of almonds.  Image used in the 2014 Research Discoveries report.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Eating a moderate amount of almonds each day may enrich the diets of adults and their young children, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“Almonds are a good source of plant protein — essential fatty acids, vitamin E and magnesium,” said Alyssa Burns, a doctoral student in the UF/IFAS food science and human nutrition department. Burns conducted the study as part of her graduate work.

Her statement is backed by the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend people eat unsalted nuts.

For the 14-week study, published in the journal Nutrition Research, UF/IFAS nutrition scientists gave almonds daily to 29 pairs of parents and children. Most of the adults were mothers with an average age of 35, while their children were between 3 and 6 years old. The children were encouraged to consume 0.5 ounces of almond butter daily. Parents were given 1.5 ounces of almonds per day.

Participants ate almonds for a few weeks, then they resumed eating their typical intake, which included other foods as snacks.

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UF/IFAS Extension helping students enter the food service workforce

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition
Micaela Howell prepares cake as part of Dunnellon High School's culinary arts program. The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences helps the program by administering a certification exam. Photo by: Dunnellon High School

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Brandi Smith, 17 and a senior in the culinary arts program at Dunnellon High School, dreams of one day being accepted into the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. A program at her high school has set her on that path.

“Culinary arts is the one thing I have always loved doing,” said Smith, who is set to graduate in May.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension program and Marion County Public Schools is helping Brandi achieve that dream. She is one of about 400 students who, in the last four years, have passed through the food service program at Dunnellon High. As part of that class, Nancy Gal, a UF/IFAS Extension agent in Marion County, prepares students for a rigorous certification exam. (more …)

“Dine In” with your colleagues, family and friends on Dec. 3

Topic(s): Announcements, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition

Family Eating An Al Fresco Meal

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Dig in! Dec. 3 marks the second annual day for “Dining In” for Healthy Families across the United States, and UF/IFAS Extension faculty are encouraging everyone to enjoy a nutritious meal with those close to them, which also enhances communication.

Eating together at home as a family shows many benefits, as documented in scientific research. The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) has chosen to focus of families dining-in— no matter the size of a family.

The Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences is planning a lunch for Dec. 3 in its conference room on campus, and faculty and staff encourage all campus units, county Extension offices and UF/IFAS research and education centers to do the same, as well as dining with their families that evening, said Linda Bobroff, a UF/IFAS nutrition and health professor.

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Students help UF/IFAS professor breed better, tastier peppers

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Crops, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

 

Horticulture Professor Balasubramanian Rathinasabapathi (Saba). Experiments, beaker, laboratory.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences students are learning how to breed better peppers under the guidance of Professor Bala Rathinasabapathi.

And by “better,” we mean a more savory taste, among other characteristics. Florida produces $207 million worth of bell peppers annually, according to the Florida Department Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). In fact, as of 2012, Florida ranked second nationally in the value of bell peppers. Improving traits may help the Florida pepper industry grow even larger.

Now, for a new study published in the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, Rathinasabapathi and his team cross-bred two heirloom varieties of peppers – the Bulgarian Carrot and the Round of Hungary — to come up with more desirable consumer traits.

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UF/IFAS experts predict food trends for 2016

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research

 

Lunch, carrots, watermelon, and salad sit on a table cloth with a picnic basket.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As 2015 starts to wind down, world-renowned food scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are already predicting trends for 2016. As they do, here are some hints as to what you can expect see in grocery stores and on your dinner table:

Total sensory foods – Smart food manufacturers now appreciate that flavor and aroma alone are not enough for many consumers, and that visual and textural stimuli are also important to the consumer. Foods incorporating innovative approaches to a blending of sensory attributes will likely win the consumers’ dollar. Scientific studies show that people shown a picture of a high-calorie food, such as pizza or pastry before experiencing an unfamiliar taste will find that taste more enjoyable than if they were shown a picture of a low-calorie food, such as watermelon or green beans. Thus, the appearance of a food is a critical part of the eating experience. Doug Archer, 352-392-1784, dlarcher@ufl.edu.

Decline of grilling – Grilling has been the go-to way of cooking red meats and poultry, but newly re-kindled concerns about the safety of red meats and meats and poultry cooked in conditions that may char or add smoke may cause consumers to return to recipes that call for baking in the good old oven. A contributor to this trend is the explosion of recipe sharing on social media for mixed meat and vegetable meals prepared easily in the oven. Doug Archer, 352-392-1784, dlarcher@ufl.edu.

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UF/IFAS and a Sumter County church are helping locals dig in the dirt

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Nutrition, Vegetables
More than 40 gardeners currently have plots in the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and United Church of Christ’s Community Garden.

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OXFORD, Fla. — Maureen McCoy has always gardened and enjoys knowing where her food comes from and exactly what is used to grow it. And that’s why she signed up for a plot in the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and United Church of Christ’s Community Garden.

“There are no words for the peace of watering your garden and gathering the bounty you have grown,” said McCoy.

More than 40 gardeners currently have plots in the church’s raised-beds on four acres of land that was once a pasture.  It cost UF/IFAS and the church about $5,000 to build the beds out of pressure-treated 2x6s and 4x4s and install irrigation from the church’s well.  Mulch for pathways was donated by Sumter County.  In addition, leftover soil was donated by Speedling in Bushnell. (more …)

UF/IFAS gives back at Thanksgiving

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For some, Thanksgiving means more than gobbling turkey and watching football. It’s the season of giving thanks and giving back to the community.

Many faculty, staff and students at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences go the extra mile to help others during the holiday.

Here are some examples:

  • The UF Field and Fork Food Pantry opened in August and offers members of the UF community healthy, nutritious food free of charge to anyone with a valid UF ID. In support of the pantry, the J. Wayne Reitz Union will serve as a donation location through Nov. 23. To donate food, go to the Reitz Union’s 1st floor Information Desk near the Career Resource Center. Acceptable donations include non-perishables such as canned vegetables, canned/dried fruits, soups, peanut butter and hot or cold breakfast cereals. All food drive proceeds will benefit both the Field and Fork Food Pantry and the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank. Contact Kevin Florez at KevinF@union.ufl.edu. The pantry is at 564 Newell Drive, just south of the Marston Science Library and behind the McCarty D and Food Science and Human Nutrition buildings on the UF campus in Gainesville.

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UF/IFAS expert gives food-safety tips for Thanksgiving

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Safety

 

A tomoato being hand-washed in a kitchen sink.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You’re about to feast, give thanks, watch football and, maybe, take a nap. But as you head into the Thanksgiving holiday, how do you make sure you’re preparing your food properly and, then after dinner, how to you ensure your food stays safe to eat?

Amy Simonne, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor of food safety and quality, said although there are few clear-cut answers, she offers some situations and suggestions:

  • If the turkey, stuffing and gravy or other perishable foods are left out at room temperature longer than two hours or for one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees, the Food Safety Inspection Service of the U.S. Department (USDA/FSIS) recommends you discard them.
  •  After you’ve cooked and served the meal, when turkey, stuffing or gravy are not left between 40 and 140 degrees, you can divide the products into small portions and keep them in the refrigerator for three to four days or in the freezer for two to six months. This recommendation also comes from the USDA/FSIS. For more information, click on: http://1.usa.gov/1uKfrNl.

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UF receives $1.2 million NIFA grant to spread the word on new national food safety standards

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Economics, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida will help lead the charge in educating stakeholders on the sweeping changes being made to national food safety regulations with a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

The grant will help establish the Southern Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Center to Enhance Produce Safety at UF, lead by the team of Michelle Danyluk, Renee Goodrich Schneider, and Keith Schneider in the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department; Amy Harder in the Agricultural Education and Communication Department; and Danielle Treadwell in the Horticultural Sciences Department.

NIFA recently announced more than $2 million in grants to establish two regional centers supporting comprehensive food safety training and education, pursuant to the rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) being released this fall. These centers will play a leading role in coordinating and implementing FSMA-related training, education, and outreach programs for small and medium-sized farms, beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, small processors, and/or small fresh fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers.

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