About the listeria scare


I am an advocate for local produce, but love my drupes, or stone fruits, which, unfortunately, do not grow well in Hawaii. During our summer months, these pitted fruits are available at the markets in abundance. After going to the Farmers Market in Portland, Ore., I know those farmers work hard at earning a living. They have to care for the trees all year long and then pick fruits from June until September.

Peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and cherries are all members of the Prunus genus and are called drupes.

The three types of drupes are either freestone, which are fruit that easily can be removed from the stone, or clingstone, which are difficult to remove, and the tryma, or nut-like fruit such as hickory and walnuts.

On July 24, Wawona Packing Company in Cutler, Calif., voluntarily recalled certain lots of pitted fruits because 2 nectarines and 1 peach tested positive for listeria monocytogenes. Drupe fruits were distributed to Costco, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Walmart.

Animals can pick up listeria monocytogenes from soil and water, so the bacteria can be found in meats, soft cheeses, cold cuts and raw, unpasteurized milk.

At a time when many are without electricity on the Big Island, it is important to keep in mind the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations on safe food handling:

— Never bag raw meat, poultry or fish together with other foods.

— Store food properly, making sure it is refrigerated soon after purchase.

— Wash your hands before and after handling food.

— Wash fresh fruits and vegetables by rinsing them well with running water.

— Use two cutting boards, one for fresh produce and the other for meat, poultry, and seafood.

— Wash your cutting boards and knives in hot, soapy water.

— Store foods safely. Cook, refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, fish and ready-to-eat foods within two hours.

— Check your refrigerator; it should register at below 40 degrees or colder.

— Clean any spills from raw meats, hot dogs or poultry.

— Cook foods safely and use a thermometer to be sure the meats are cooked through.

— Do not eat undercooked hamburger.

— Be aware of the risk of food poisoning from raw fish, clams and oysters.

— Serve foods safely. Keep cooked hot foods hot (140 degrees) and cold foods cold (40 degrees or lower).

Now that our daughter-in-law is pregnant, I want to make sure she knows that if pregnant:

— Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats or deli meats unless they are reheated until steaming hot.

— Do not eat soft cheeses unless the label states they are made from pasteurized milk. Common cheeses can typically be made of unpasteurized milk, such as feta, brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses and Mexican queso fresco cheese. Hard cheeses, semisoft cheeses such as mozzarella, pasteurized processed cheese slices and spreads, cream cheese and cottage cheese are fine.

— Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood unless it is an ingredient in a cooked dish such as a casserole. This includes refrigerated smoked salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna and mackerel. Canned fish such a salmon and tuna are OK.

— Do not eat raw, unpasteurized milk or eat foods that contain unpasteurized milk.

— Avoid eating salads made in a store with ham, chicken, egg, tuna or seafood salads.

Listeria in pregnant women can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or premature delivery. The elderly and those with a compromised immune system should also take heed on these CDC precautions.

The white nectarines and peaches were quite inexpensive, at under $2 a pound, so I purchased about 2 pounds, washed them thoroughly and then made a cobbler.

My Favorite Fruit Cobbler

Serves 6

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together in a small bowl and set aside:

1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix until creamy:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

Add:

1 egg yolk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, mix together:

4 cups assorted drupes, like nectarines, apricots and peaches (about 2 pounds)

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Scrape fruit mixture with spatula into an 8-inch baking pan.

Drop the topping, (the dough will be like frosting) evenly on top of fruit, then using an offset spatula, completely cover the fruit. Bake until golden brown, 45-55 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Please feel free to email me at audreywilson808@gmail.com if you have questions.

 

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