From Across the Field 4/30/2020

Thus far we have been fortunate to miss out on some of the heavier rain that has fallen a bit farther south. As soil conditions become fit, with the exception of temperature I suspect that we will see increased planting s. This is my annual reminder to be safe and careful on the roads, especially south of Napoleon where 108 is closed and traffic is routed down some of the county roads.

Here yet today, or tomorrow depending on the weather, I plan on mowing the lawn for the third time this spring, the frost a while back slowed up what was some nice lush growth after the first mowing. Remember starting out we should be mowing grass fairly short this time of year, about two and a half to three inches off the ground is about where I like to be.

The smell of fresh cut grass is an indicator that we are also closing in on barbecue and grilling season. This weekend if it isn’t too chilly I think I’ll fire up my charcoal smoker and experiment with a pork loin or in preparation for a brisket on Mother’s Day weekend.

When cooking outdoors there are a couple of things to remember regarding temperature. The first of which is to preheat the grill or smoker that you are working with. This will allow for an even cooking temperature throughout the cook. For burgers and steaks on direct heat preheat the grill to at least 400 degrees. This allows for the proper searing and will prevent the meat from stick to the grate. As for the smoker depending on the cut of choice, I like to preheat to somewhere between 200 and 250 degrees and maintain that temperature over an extended period of time.

This is also a good time to discuss cooking temperatures. All ground meats and poultry products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees as a food safety measure. Whole muscle cuts such as steaks and chops can be prepared to a range of temperatures and degrees of doneness, including pork. The National Pork Board recommends cooking pork to 145 degrees, which will result in a slight pink internal color, and a juicy pork chop. With integrated pork production there is no longer the need to cook pork to 160 degrees, where it tends to become dry.

Regardless of your target temperature, let the cooked cut of meat rest before slicing and serving. This short wait period will allow the juices to redistribute, resulting a more palatable product and a more satisfactory eating experience. I’ll end this week with a thought from legendary football coach George Halas: “Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.” Have a great week and stay healthy out there.

Garth Ruff,

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator

OSU Henry County Extension

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