KSU EXTENSION: With Easter looming, egg-handling tips prove helpful






Finney County Extension agents

The first day of spring finally arrived on Thursday after a very cold winter, and people everywhere are celebrating the promise of warmth to come. Although colder temperatures are still ahead, the season of spring is also associated with ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth.

Easter arrives shortly after the official mark of springtime, giving people even more to celebrate. Every year there are reports of illness caused by eggs, particularly from raw or lightly cooked eggs.

Here, as a reminder, are some commonsense tips about Easter eggs:

* Choose the freshest eggs possible and open the carton before you buy to make sure the shells are intact. Eggs should be refrigerated at 40 degrees F or colder.

* Wash your hands thoroughly, and make sure children wash their hands, before and after handling uncooked shell eggs.

* If you are dyeing, coloring or decorating them, make sure they get back into the refrigerator within two hours. If you are using the eggs in an egg hunt, don't eat any that were placed on the ground or left out for more than two hours. Do not eat hard-cooked eggs with broken or cracked shells. Hard-boiled eggs with unbroken, colored shells that are free of cracks are safe to peel and eat if the coloring used was food-safe.

* Hard-cook eggs instead of boiling them — the gentle cooking will help avoid green rings around the yolk (not unsafe but unappetizing) and will also help prevent cracking. This method is recommended by the American Egg Board for cooking eggs to be dyed: Place eggs in single layer in saucepan. Add enough tap water to come at least one inch above them. Add a tablespoon of vinegar for better dye coverage after cooking. Cover pan and quickly bring just to boiling. Turn off heat. If necessary, remove pan from burner to prevent further boiling. Let eggs stand, covered, in the hot water for 15 minutes for large eggs, about 12 minutes for medium and 18 for extra-large. Immediately run cold water over eggs or place them in ice water until completely cooled. Do not keep eggs warm or at room temperature (between 40 degrees and 140 degrees F) for more than two hours. Store in refrigerator until it's time to dye the eggs.

* Use only food-grade dyes and food-safe decorating materials. Dye the eggs in water warmer than the eggs so they don't absorb the dye water. Wash your hands between all the steps of cooking, cooling, dyeing and decorating. Once the cooked eggs are decorated, return them to the refrigerator within two hours. They can be stored up to a week inside the refrigerator, not in the door.

* If you're going to use dyed, cooked eggs as decorations in braided breads, serve the baked goods within two hours after baking or refrigerate and eat within three to four days. Consider using one set of eggs for decorating and eating, and another set for decorating and hunting. Or to be extra safe, use plastic eggs for your Easter egg hunt instead of real ones.

* If you're going to hide real eggs outside, be sensible — don't hide them where they can come in contact with animals, birds or lawn chemicals. Do not hide eggs with cracked shells, because bacteria could contaminate the inside. The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should not exceed two hours.

* Eat properly refrigerated, hard-cooked eggs within seven days.

These tips come from the following sources: The federal food-safety information website (www.foodsafety.gov) and the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Services.

Any questions or concerns, call Léhisa de Fornoza at 272-3670 or email lfornoza@ksu.edu.

Healthy yards and communities

Everyone with an interest in growing environmentally friendly yards is invited to attend "Kansas Healthy Yards and Communities" at 7 p.m. April 2 in the Grandstands Meeting Room on the fairgrounds in Garden City.

David Coltrain, Finney County Extension agent, will present the program. Strategies that will be covered include: "Build and Maintain a Healthy Lawn," "Right Plant, Right Place," "Water Wise," "Mulch, Grasscycle and Compost," "Fertilizing," "Managing Yard Pests," "Pollution/Water Quality" and "Songbirds and Butterflies."

The program is free, but please pre-register by calling the Finney County Extension Office at 272-3670. A minimum of 10 pre-registrations is required by April 1 to facilitate meeting room setup and materials required.

Kansas State Research and Extension is committed to making its services, activities and programs accessible to all participants. If you have special requirements due to a physical, vision or hearing disability, call David Coltrain at 272-3670.

March garden calendar

* Vegetables and fruits: Prepare soil for spring planting; fertilize garden soil as testing indicates; plant peas, onions, lettuce and other salad crops in early March; plant asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries; plant potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage in late March; finish pruning fruit trees, grapes and brambles; remove strawberry mulch when growth begins.

* Flowers: Plant pansies, snapdragons, calendulas and other cool-loving annuals; clean up the perennial bed by cutting back foliage and removing winter mulch layer; divide and plant perennials in the garden; if dry, prepare soil for planting by adding compost or other organic matter; as growth begins, fertilize gardens as needed; plant new roses; remove winter mulch from existing roses and prune; cut ornamental grasses back to within three to five inches of the ground; fertilize spring flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils when they emerge; help control iris borers by destroying old foliage before new growth begins.

* Lawns: Spot spray for dandelions, henbit and chickweed; before green-up of buffalo and Bermuda, spray glyphosate if weeds are present; apply crabgrass preventer in late March through mid-April for best results; seed thin areas in bluegrass and tall fescue lawns; mow grass one-half inch lower to remove winter debris.

* Trees and shrubs: Prune trees, except birch, maple and walnut, which are best pruned after leafing out; prune spring flowering shrubs after blooming; mulch tree and shrub plantings up to four inches deep, keeping mulch away from trunks.

If you have any questions about things to do in March or any other concerns, call David Coltrain at 272-3670 or email coltrain@ksu.edu.

Discovery Days 2014

Are you ready for Discovery Days? Teens who are 13 to 18 by Jan. 1, 2014, need to put June 3 to 6 on their calendar to be in Manhattan on the K-State University campus. This year's Discovery Days theme is "Momentum."

Discovery Days is about staying in college dorms, attending workshops and classes about timely and fun projects, careers and hobbies, college tours, community service and more also will be offered.

Teens can also share talents in the Talent Show. Are you ready to dance? Are you ready for some KSU Call Hall ice cream? Are you ready for some great speakers and Discovery Days Night Lives and all the other possibilities for a college campus success?

Discovery Days is open to all youth age 13 to 18; 4-H membership is not required.

Discovery Days is in full swing with registrations. Registration will close on April 15. Transportation is provided for Finney County youth on a first registration basis.

Registration information and fee is available at www.Kansas4-H.org and www.finney.ksu.edu. For more information for youth involvement, call 272-3670.

Early registrations are more likely to get the workshop and classes they sign up for. Don't wait until April 15.

For 4-H inquiries and questions, call Barbara Addison at 272-3670 or email baddison@ksu.edu.

4-H camping

What does camp do for campers? Camps light sparks in children and young people, which may take flame now or which may require years to burn.

Camper's excitement, like fireflies' lighting a summer's evening, sparks childhood memories of fun-filled, stress-free, spontaneous days. Attending summer camp can be a time for experiencing nature and the outdoors, making new friends and learning life skills. Summer camp is more than just a vacation.

4-H Camps offered are:

* 4-H Discovery Day, June 3 to 6, on the Kansas State University campus. It is open to all youth age 13 to 18 by Jan. 1 of the current year. Registration is due April 15 at www.kansas4-H.org or www.finney.ksu.edu.

* Lakeside 4-H Camp, June 12 and 13 at Scott County Lake, Lakeside Conference Center. It is open to all youth, grades first through third complete. Registration deadline is May 15.

* Heart of Kansas 4-H Camp, June 23 to 26 at Rock Springs 4-H Center south of Junction City. The residential camp is open for all youth grades fourth through seventh complete. Registration deadline is May 1.

* Photo Adventure Camp, "Images with an Edge," June 14 to 17 at Rock Springs 4-H Center. Open for ages 13 to 16 as of Jan. 1, 2014. Registration due May 1.

* 4-H Campference, June 23 to 26 at Rock Springs 4-H Center. For youth age 12 to 14 as of Jan. 1, 2014. Acquaints youth to leadership activities and some camping activities. Registration due May 15 or until slots are filled.

* Wildcat Sewing Fun Camp at K-State — Salina Campus, June 30 to July 2 will be Junior Camp for 4-H age 9 to 12; July 1 to 3, will be Senior Camp for 4-H age 13 and older. Registration due in June. 4-H members and friends can come and explore clothing and textiles.

* KS 4-H Geology Guided Field Trip, to be announced in June. Information about 4-H Camps is available to the public. Call the Finney County Extension Office at 272-3670, email fi@listserv.ksu.edu or visit www.finney.ksu.edu or 501 S. Ninth St.

Camp has a distinctive supportive environment, made up of four major dimensions: the outdoor setting, positive treatment of individuals, positive norms and expectations, and stability and structure. Camp is different from home, community and school in many significant ways. Here are eight major differences: Parents are not here; no television; we do different activities; learning is different at camp; camp has different values; you have different relationships with peers, friends and adults at camp; camp has a different environment than home; you can be a different person at camp.

Camp is a learning adventure like no other place to learn self-confidence, cooperating with others and life beyond one's own world. The outcome of camping is for those life lessons to contribute in a positive and significant way that enhances the child's adjustment into their adult years.

Experience the spirit of 4-H Camp. For 4-H inquiries and questions, call Barbara Addison at 272-3670 or email baddison@ksu.edu.

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