October 17, 2013

Consumer Q’s

Question: Does soy milk require refrigeration?

Answer: It depends on how it is manufactured and packaged. Most soy milk, rice milk and almond milk for sale in grocery stores is “shelf stable” and does not need refrigeration until it is opened. However, check the carton label when you buy and follow the instructions.

Q. I read that a cake mix had been recalled for an undeclared ingredient. What is an “undeclared” ingredient?

A. When a manufacturer fails to list an ingredient on the label, the ingredient is said to be “undeclared.” The manufacturer failed to “declare” it on the label.

Food manufacturers must list the ingredients on the product label. Some ingredients cause allergic reactions in some people. These reactions can be severe and even fatal. That is why companies recall foods that do not list or declare all ingredients.

People want and need to know what is in the foods they consume. Besides the health and safety reasons, there may be religious or ethical reasons why a person needs or wants to avoid consuming a certain ingredient.

Q: Is it safe to set out snapdragons in the fall? I see them for sale at nurseries. I thought they were planted in the spring.

A: You can plant snapdragons in the fall as well as in the spring. Snapdragons are quite cold hardy. If you plant in the fall you are likely to get blooms in fall and sometimes even in the warm parts of the winter, and your fall-planted snaps will have a jump on the ones you plant in the spring. For colorful beds or containers in fall, winter and spring, combine snapdragons with pansies, violas, ornamental kale and cabbage, dusty miller, dianthus and curly parsley.

Q: Do you have a recipe for wilted lettuce?

A: Wilted lettuce (also known as scalded lettuce) is an old-time recipe. People who are only familiar with cold uses of lettuce will be intrigued and may warm up to a different way to use this leafy vegetable.

Here is a basic recipe: Pack lettuce leaves (tear them in pieces if they are too large) into a bowl. (Leaf lettuce and lettuces with thinner, greener leaves such as Bibb or Boston are better for the recipe than the paler, thicker-leaved iceberg types.) Don’t use wet leaves. The lettuce should be washed beforehand and allowed to dry before you begin. Mix in some finely chopped green onions. Pour on a heated mixture of bacon grease (or a liquid oil substitute such as olive oil or peanut oil) mixed with vinegar, sugar and salt as if it were a salad dressing. The ratio of oil or grease to vinegar is a matter of taste. Cover the bowl with a lid for a few minutes to allow the lettuce to wilt. Season with black pepper or herbs if you like.

There are plenty of variations to this recipe that you will find in old cookbooks and by surfing the internet. Some people toss the lettuce with the heated mixture and serve immediately. Some cooks chop the cooked bacon pieces and serve them on top along with tomatoes and chopped hardboiled eggs. Other cultivated and wild greens such as mâche (corn salad), creasie greens, chickweed, dandelions and sorrel can be used to make wilted salads.

If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce (arty.schronce@agr.georgia.gov) or visit the department’s website at www.agr.georgia.gov.

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