Home Insteading With Cooperative Extension (Week 34)
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Horticulture at Home
Katy Shook, Area Horticulture Agent
Find Out More About Figs
Perhaps there is no fruit more loved and hated than figs; but perhaps there is no fruit easier to grow. Native to the Mediterranean, and known throughout history, figs have found a favorable home in Northeastern North Carolina. Don’t let your past experiences rule out the chance to try this unique experience. Figs have come a long way in home gardens, and it may be time to revisit the trend.
Figs grow best in full sun to part shade, and require a moist, but well-drained soil (not soggy). They will grow in containers, but be sure to provide plenty of space, or be prepared to transplant regularly. The plant is attractive as an ornamental, producing large, dark green foliage, along smooth but knotty bark. Its average size is around 20 feet which makes it ideal for use as a small tree. Flowers are born inside the developing fruit structure, so don’t look for a show, but you can impress your friends with fun facts about the fruit development. Cold weather is the major problem for these trees as cold snaps can knock back entire plants, but the tree usually regrows without much effort. Insects and disease are few, but critters may try to steal your fruit at the end of the season. The only negative feature about the tree may be its milky sap that can cause dermatitis, and be a problem for pets.
To incorporate these vintage plants into a modern landscape, look for non-traditional cultivars. Magnolia Fig: A little less cold hardy, these burgundy-colored figs are good dried and can be grown successfully in a container. Marseille: This small growing fig is an heirloom type and produces greenish-yellow flesh with a rose-colored pulp early in the summer. Black Italian: A jet black fruit with deep red pulp is produced in two distinct crops, an early crop on old wood and a late summer crop on new wood. Italian Honey: Smaller fruit with green skin and rosy flesh, this delicate fruit has a closed “eye” that makes it more resistant to splitting.
For more information about growing figs at home, contact the Ask A Master Gardener Helpline at (252) 482-6585.
Family and Consumer Sciences at Home
Mary Morris, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
Tips on How to Safely Prepare Turkey for the Holidays
The CDC has some recommendations on preparing your Holiday Turkey Safely. Follow these guidelines below for a safe Holiday Bird. Handling poultry (chicken and turkey) improperly and undercooking them are the most common problems caused by outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to poultry. Here are four tips to help you safely prepare your turkey for the upcoming holidays.
- Defrost turkey safely in one of these ways:
- Inside the refrigerator, in a container.
- In a plastic bag that does not leak, in a sink or dishwasher filled with cold water (change the water every 30 minutes).
- In the microwave, following the oven manufacturer’s instructions.
Never defrost turkey by leaving it on the counter. Turkeys should be thawed to a safe temperature. When left outside at room temperature for more than 2 hours, its temperature becomes dangerous. Bacteria can multiply rapidly in the “danger zone” between 40 and 140 °F.
- Handle turkey the right way
Raw birds can contaminate anything they touch with harmful bacteria. Follow the four steps of food safety, cleaning, separating, cooking, and chilling to prevent bacteria from spreading to food, your family, and friends.
- Cook the turkey stuffing well.
Cooking the stuffing in a separate saucepan makes it easy to make sure it’s fully cooked. If you cook the stuffing in the turkey, put it in the turkey just before cooking.
For either method, use a food thermometer to make sure the center of the filling reaches a temperature of 165 ° F. Bacteria can survive in a filling that has not reached 165 ° F and cause food poisoning. If cooking stuffing in turkey, wait 20 minutes after removing bird from oven before removing stuffing; this allows it to cook a little longer.
Use a food thermometer to check that the filling has reached a safe internal temperature.
- Cook the turkey thoroughly.
Heat oven to at least 325 ° F. Place the fully thawed turkey on a baking sheet that is 2 to 2.5 inches deep. The cooking time will vary depending on the weight of the turkey. Use a food thermometer to make sure the turkey has reached a safe internal temperature of 165 ° F. Check this by inserting the thermometer into the center of the filling and into the thickest parts of the breast, thigh, and wing joint. Even if your turkey has a jumping temperature gauge, you should still use a food thermometer to verify that it is safely cooked. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before removing all the stuffing from the cavity and cutting the meat.
Be careful with leftovers. The bacterium Clostridium perfringens multiplies in cooked foods that are left at room temperature. It is the second most common cause of food poisoning. The main symptoms are vomiting and abdominal cramps 6 to 24 hours after eating.
- Outbreaks of Clostridium perfringensoccur most frequently in November and December. 2
- Many of these sprouts have been linked to foods commonly served for the holidays, such as turkey and baked meat.
To prevent food poisoning, refrigerate leftover food to 40°F or colder as soon as possible and within two hours of preparation. Cut or divide large cuts of meat, such as a roasted turkey, into small batches to chill and cool faster. Heat all leftovers until they reach at least 165 ° F before serving.