By Johanna Hicks, Texas Cooperative Extension, Family and Community Health Agent in Hopkins County, [email protected]
My family recently enjoyed gathering to celebrate Fathers’ Day. We fired up the grill and cooked a delicious meal – fish caught from the Galveston Bay and fresh zucchini from our garden. Our neighbors also gathered around on their back porch to cook outdoors. Ahh, the smell of grilling filled the air!
July is National Grilling Month. Grilling offers the opportunity to eat a varied selection of proteins such as beef, chicken, wild game, and seafood. Maybe you fancy grilled fruits and vegetables? You can experiment with rubs, herbs, or marinades. Smoked or not? Direct or indirect heat? Perhaps, a grilled salad? The options are endless.
One tool all grillers should have in their toolbox is a thermometer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foods should be cooked hot enough to kill harmful germs and be maintained at 140°F until grilled food is served. Recommended internal temperatures are:
- Beef, pork, lamb, veal – 140ᵒ F
- Fish – 145ᵒ F
- Hamburger, ground beef – 160ᵒ F
- Poultry, hot dogs – 165ᵒ F
Other tips for grilling safely are to wash your hands before and after handling raw meat, keep raw meats, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods, refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours, and discarding leftovers after 4 days. Grilling food is a healthier option than frying as fat contained in or on the food drips out; vitamins and minerals are preserved, and calories are lowered.
Grilling also brings out smiles and up-lifted spirits, a time to bond with family and friends, and an opportunity for children and teens to learn about cooking.
So, this month, go outdoors! Breathe fresh air and enjoy what nature has to offer with flavors from the grill.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are – Theodore Roosevelt
Contact Johanna Hicks, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Family & Community Health Agent, at the Hopkins County Extension Office at P.O. Box 518 or 1200-B West Houston St., Sulphur Springs, TX 75483; by phone at 903-885-3443; or by email at [email protected].