Q. Is it safe to refreeze foods after I have thawed them? I heard I have to cook them or throw them away.
A. As long as the foods were thawed in the refrigerator, they can be safely refrozen. We never recommend thawing raw foods at room temperature, ie letting them sit on the kitchen counter. There are two other safe ways to thaw frozen raw foods: the microwave or in cool water. If foods are thawed using these methods, we recommend they be they be cooked immediately and not refrozen.
Q. I read that there are products I can spray on my evergreens to prevent them from developing winter burn during the winter months. Are these effective?
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A. These materials are called antitranspirants and are applied to prevent the loss of moisture from leaves either by creating a physical barrier or by changing the plant’s physiology to close the pores (stomates) on the leaf surface. Universities have tested these materials, and the results have been mixed. Research indicates that the materials have limited, if any, benefits, and need to be reapplied after each substantial rain or snow occurrence to be at all effective. Your best defense against winter burn in our region is to water your evergreen trees and shrubs during mild fall and winter months, mulch their root zones with bark or wood chips, and avoid fertilizing or pruning the plants in late summer and early fall. For more information on winter burn, go to bit.ly/winter_burn.
Q. We have had our hay tested for nitrate over the past several years, and the numbers in the forage testing report seem different than before. How do we know the real potential for a problem with nitrate in our hay?
A. The numbers on your forage testing report for nitrate can be very confusing. That is because not all laboratories use the same scale in reporting nitrate. Some laboratories report the results as NO3 (nitrate) and others report as NO3-N (referred to as nitrate nitrogen), and therefore rely on different numerical scales to describe the nitrate content of hay or other feeds. Our Washington State University Extension Fact Sheet, Nitrate Poisoning in Ruminants, explains how to interpret nitrate numbers. It also provides insight to what nitrate levels would be considered safe, dangerous or toxic. It provides information about how to manage feeds that contain elevated levels of nitrate. Find it at bit.ly/nitrates_hay.
To submit a question for this column, please call the WSU Extension office in Kennewick at 509-735-3551.