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County Extension

  • Best melons to enjoy in the summer heat

    The Ohio State University Extension has a bi-monthly food news release called Chow Line. A recent edition focused on melons. While written for Ohioans, the information is very appropriate for us in North Carolina, too. The article really did a great job of outlining the benefits of eating melons and explained how to select the best melons. I can’t write it any better than my colleagues Tracy Turner, the Chow Line editor, and Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator for The Ohio State University Extension. So I’m sharing it.

  • Fall armyworms will be here before we know it

    By Sam Marshall

    The dog days of summer are upon us and as we move into the hottest parts of July and August, a new suite of insect pests will soon descend upon our landscapes. One pest in particular, fall armyworm, is a caterpillar that appears about this time of year in your yard and, left unchecked, can wreak havoc in Bermuda grass lawns. So now is the time to start monitoring and controlling early populations of this hungry pest.

     

    What are armyworms?

  • Facts about freezing bread

    For the past couple of weeks in this column I’ve been talking about freezing foods and how to keep it from developing freezer burn and off-flavors. But one food I haven’t specifically talked about is bread. I bet everyone has at one time or another thrown a loaf of bread directly into the freezer in the store wrapper and then wondered what happened when you took it out a few weeks or months later. It was crumbly, dry, tasted a lot like the “freezer” and was basically inedible.

  • Sweltering summer heat has varying effects on plants

    Glen Frey of Eagles fame had a song on the original “Beverly Hills Cop” movie soundtrack called “The Heat Is On.” More than 30 years have passed since its 1984 release and we just recently lost Mr. Frey. Who would have known that Axel Foley, Eddie Murphy’s beat-up Chevy Nova-driving Detroit cop character, would become so iconic? And, a few thought Mr. Murphy had already reached the pinnacle of his movie career so early.

    What does any of that have to do with gardening? Absolutely nothing. But, the heat surely has been on lately.

  • Salvias: Tough plants for a tough climate

    By Sam Marshall

     

    Over the years, salvia, also referred to as sages, have been steadily growing in popularity. And why not? For the low-maintenance gardener, salvias offer an excellent addition to a coastal garden. Able to withstand the heat, the humidity, drought, and coming in a variety of colors and sizes, salvias add fragrance and beauty to any home landscape that lasts well into the fall months.

     

    Growing salvias

  • Don’t get burned by freezer burn

    So here’s the question: Is it safe to eat freezer burned food?
    In this column I frequently talk about the difference between the quality and safety of food. When it comes to freezer burn, it’s a quality thing. While safe to eat, the quality of freezer-burned food may be poor.

  • How to preserve foods by freezing them

    We recently completed a four-week series on food preservation at the Extension office’s demonstration kitchen. In this class we made a peach and blueberry jam, pressure-canned carrots and made quick-pack pickles. Participants put on aprons and got into the kitchen complete these processes firsthand. In addition to these canning techniques, the students had lots of questions about another method of food preservation: freezing foods.

  • Looking to cookbooks for food safety information often results in bad advice

    Dr. Ben Chapman, our food safety specialist at N.C. State, says cookbooks give readers (mostly) bad advice on food safety.

    I agree with Dr. Chapman when he says cookbooks and online recipes could be a much better source of food safety information. Putting the appropriate information, like cooking temperatures, cross contamination risks or storage times, right into a recipe would provide the cooks the info right when they need it.

  • Time for tomato troubles

    Whether you call it “pomme d’amour,” “pomodoro ,” “love apple” or just “tomato,” growing this vegetable that’s actually a fruit is a challenge in southeastern North Carolina. The plant clinic at the Arboretum on Oleander Drive in Wilmington is always full of tomato troubles this time of year: bacterial wilt, tomato spotted wilt virus, root-knot nematodes, early blight, late blight, ... the list goes on.

  • More home kitchen inspection

    In last week’s column I asked four questions about food safety practices in the home kitchen. How did you do? Would your kitchen pass a food safety inspection?

    As promised, here are four more questions. Choose the answers that most closely apply to your everyday practices in your kitchen.

    5. When using a cutting board: If you’re cutting raw meat or poultry, what do you do before cutting fresh produce or bread before the same meal?

    a.Use a separate cutting board

    b.Wipe the cutting board with a damp cloth or sponge