Ga Dept of Agriculture


Consumer Q's November 2010

Q: I was given a frozen turkey by my boss after I had already purchased one for the holiday. How long can I keep a turkey in the freezer?
A: For best quality, use a whole turkey within 12 months and turkey parts within nine months.

Q: I saw a black radish at the farmers market. Is this a new variety?
A: The black radish is not new, but it is less familiar than the well-known red varieties. Black radishes have a rough, black skin with crisp, pungent, white flesh. Give them a try. Grate them or slice them thin and mix them with olive oil and ground black pepper. Try them in a salad with cucumbers, carrots and scallions. Slice them and eat them on toasted wheat bread with mayonnaise. The farmer selling the radishes will probably have more ideas. That is one of the best reasons for buying directly from the farmer at a farmers market.

Q: How much firewood is in a cord?
A: A cord is defined as: "The amount of wood which is contained in a space of 128 cubic feet when the wood is ranked and well stowed." Typically a cord will be stacked 4 feet high, by 8 feet wide, by 4 feet deep (4' x 8' x 4'= 128 cu. ft.).

Q: What is a safe internal temperature for cooking meat and poultry?
A: Raw meat and poultry should always be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature (the minimum temperature inside the meat – not inside the oven). When roasting meat and poultry, use an oven temperature no lower than 325 degrees F. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry have reached a safe minimum internal temperature. Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts and chops may be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Heat all cuts of pork to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees F. and ground beef, veal and lamb to 160 degrees F. All poultry should reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Q: What type of license do I need from the Georgia Department of Agriculture to be a dog trainer or groomer?
A: You will need a kennel license. A kennel is defined as “any establishment, other than an animal shelter, where dogs or cats are maintained for boarding, holding, training, or similar purposes for a fee or compensation.” Contact our Animal Protection Office at 404-656-4914 for more information.

Q: What is edible landscaping?
A: Edible landscaping is the use of food plants in the home landscape. Ideally, they will be aesthetically pleasing as well as productive. Edible landscaping blurs the line between the vegetable garden, orchard or herb garden and the rest of the landscape. Examples include planting basil among flowers, rosemary as a foundation plant, muscadines to cover an arbor or blueberries as an informal hedge. Parsley, red mustard and kales such as ‘Lacinato’ are especially pretty throughout fall, winter and spring when planted in beds or containers with violas or pansies (whose flowers are also edible.) Oriental persimmon, American persimmon, feijoa, fig, sarvisberry (serviceberry), crabapple, peach, plum, blueberry, pear, bunch grape and muscadine are a few fruiting trees, shrubs and vines that may be liberated from the orchard and vineyard and utilized in the home landscape. Texas tarragon, bay, anise hyssop, thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, garlic, eggplant, hot peppers, okra and chives are a few herbs and vegetables that have ornamental qualities. Garden writer Rosalind Creasy has been one of the leading proponents of edible landscaping. You can get many ideas from her books, but a trained horticulturist at your local nursery or garden center will also be able to offer advice.

Q: What is tasso ham?
A: Tasso ham is a flavorful, spicy and peppery version of smoked pork made from the shoulder butt. It is a Cajun specialty and is used to flavor stews, vegetables and other dishes. It may be found from internet sites or in grocery stores that specialize in Cajun products.

Q: What does a wooly bear caterpillar become? Is it true that it can predict the weather? Is it a pest?
A: The wooly bear caterpillar (more precisely called the “banded wooly bear caterpillar”) is a familiar fuzzy caterpillar with a center brown section with black sections at the front end and back end. According to folklore, if a woolly bear caterpillar's brown section is wide, the winter will be mild and if the brown section is narrow, the winter will be severe. This belief, while fun and interesting, does not hold up to scientific scrutiny. Wooly bear caterpillars can feed on many different kinds of plants. It is not a garden or agricultural pest. The wooly bear caterpillar becomes the Isabella tiger moth. Although the adult form of the caterpillar has a regal name, it is not as well-known as its lovable, larval form.

Q: Are guavas hardy in Georgia? I like the fruits.
A: The tropical guava (Psidium guajava) is very sensitive to cold temperatures. It will recover from brief exposures to temperatures as low as 29 degrees F. but will be completely defoliated. It cannot survive extremely cold periods for even a short time or moderately cold temperatures for long periods. The strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum) is a little hardier and can withstand brief periods as low as 24 degrees F. Neither would be a good choice for fruit production in Georgia. Feijoa (Acca sellowiana, formerly Feijoa sellowiana) sometimes goes by the name “pineapple guava” although it is not a true guava. Feijoa is an attractive evergreen shrub with rosy flowers and tasty fruit. It is hardy in much of Georgia but is more likely to do its best in the middle and southern parts of the state. There are specimens that are bearing fruit as far north as Atlanta and perhaps even farther north. If you are interested in growing guava-like fruit, consider feijoa.

Q: What are giblets?
A: Giblets are the heart, liver and gizzard of a chicken, turkey or some other type of poultry. Many cooks use giblets to make gravy. Some cooks broil or fry them to make appetizers or main dishes. Although often packaged with them, the neck of the bird is not a giblet.

Q: What does the gizzard of a chicken do?
A: The gizzard is the mechanical "stomach" of a bird. It is located just after the true or glandular stomach in the bird’s gastro-intestinal system. Since poultry have no teeth and swallow feed whole, this muscular organ mechanically grinds and mixes the bird's feed.

Q: Will tea grow in Georgia?

A: Yes. Tea is a species of camellia (Camellia sinensis) and it grows well in Georgia. It has white flowers that open in late summer or fall. They are not as big or beautiful as our more familiar camellia (Camellia japonica) or sasanqua camellia (Camellia sasanqua) but are attractive. The only commercial producer of tea in the United States is a farm south of Charleston, South Carolina. The biggest tea producers in the world are China, India, Kenya and Sri Lanka.

Q: How do you toast pecans?
A: Here’s some advice from the Georgia Pecan Commission:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place 1/2 cup of shelled pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer. Toast for approximately seven minutes. Check toward the end, to be sure they don’t burn. An alternative to toasting is a process called “dry sautéing.” Heat a dry sauté pan over medium high heat. Add shelled pecans and roast, tossing or stirring frequently. Do not leave unattended, as the pecans can burn quickly. When the pecans are browned, remove the pan from the heat and place the nuts on a cool plate to stop them from cooking further.

Q: Should eggs be washed before they are used?

A: Do not wash eggs before storing or using them. Washing is a routine part of commercial egg processing and the eggs do not need to be washed again. Bloom, the natural coating on just-laid eggs that helps prevent bacteria from permeating the shell, is removed by the washing process and is replaced by a light coating of edible mineral oil which restores protection. Extra handling of the eggs, such as washing, could increase the risk of cross-contamination, especially if the shell becomes cracked.

Q: What are some ways of using ‘Fuyugaki’ and other non-astringent persimmons?
A: Non-astringent persimmons are good for eating fresh. They can be eaten when they are hard like an apple and do not make your mouth pucker the way an astringent variety of persimmon will if it is not fully ripe. You can cut them up with bananas, apples, and oranges in fruit salads. They are a great addition to salads. Combine a diced non-astringent persimmon such as ‘Fuyugaki’ with spinach, and sprinkle with blue cheese and toasted pecans. Diced roasted beets are a good addition. Instead of blue cheese, try different oil dressings. A salad can be as individual as the person who makes it. When it comes to salads, creativity is the rule. Non-astringent persimmons can be used like astringent persimmons in cookies, puddings, cheesecakes, cakes and breads. Let them get very ripe before when using them in cooking.

Q: The angelwing begonias planted outside my apartment are too large to dig up and bring inside. Is it possible to take cuttings to preserve them? Will the cuttings root in water like a coleus?

A: Yes. The cuttings will root in water. That is one of the easiest ways to propagate begonias. Make the cuttings a few inches long and include several leaves. Keep them in a vase or jar in a sunny window. Pot the cuttings in potting soil when the roots are about half an inch to an inch long. Keep the plants in a sunny window and enjoy flowers all winter.

Consumer Q's is written by Arty Schronce. If you have questions or comments, please contact him at 404-656-3656 or via e-mail at