You could fool a kid with it, but why? Bone broth popsicles

I make a mean chicken stock.

Many a morning the house is filled with the pleasing aroma of chicken bits and bones boiling, culminating in a fat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free yet flavor-filled stock (my stock pot is the one wedding gift I still use, 30 years later, thanks Brian and Marg).

Others in the house think the smell is overwhelming so I boil stock when they are away.

Regardless, I wouldn’t make it into a popsicle.

Bone broth – the centerpiece of the Paleo diet – is now being turned into popsicles.

I find frozen water, sometimes with a squeeze of lime, works well. It’s called ice.

Stock on the counter invites microbiological trouble

I’m in Brisbane one day and I cook a whole chicken and then make stock.

It’s my go-to food.

Back in Manhattan I had a groovy measuring cup similar to the one, right, that easily separates the fat. Overnight in the refrigerator also works (I have 3 containers biding their time in the fridge).

A well-flavored – careful not to over-salt — chicken stock is a key ingredient, not just for soups and stews, but a meal of shrimp and red pepper over rotini, stir-fried veggies, even some kinds of bread.

So when Michael Ruhlman, some sort of cookbook author, said on his blog that he likes to make chicken stock and leave it out on the stovetop all week, using portions day to day to make quick soups and sauces, Harold McGee of The New York Times decided to check with a real expert: O. Peter Snyder, a food scientist and veteran educator and consultant to the food-service industry, who has at times taken issue with government guidelines he considers unnecessarily conservative.

“The process described by Mr. Ruhlman is a very high-risk procedure,” wrote Dr. Snyder. “It depends totally on reheating the stock before it is used to be sure that it doesn’t make anyone ill or possibly kill them.”

Boiling does kill any bacteria active at the time, including E. coli and salmonella. But a number of survivalist species of bacteria are able to form inactive seedlike spores. These dormant spores are commonly found in farmland soils, in dust, on animals and field-grown vegetables and grains. And the spores can survive boiling temperatures.

After a food is cooked and its temperature drops below 130 degrees, these spores germinate and begin to grow, multiply and produce toxins. One such spore-forming bacterium is Clostridium botulinum, which can grow in the oxygen-poor depths of a stockpot, and whose neurotoxin causes botulism.

Once they’ve germinated, bacteria multiply quickly in nourishing stock. They can double their numbers every 90 minutes at room temperature, every 15 minutes at body temperature. A single germinated spore can become 1,000 bacteria in a matter of hours, a billion in a few days.

As Dr. Snyder put it, “After sitting on the stove and growing bacteria for two or three days, Mr. Ruhlman’s stock almost certainly has high levels of infectious Clostridium perfringens cells, or Clostridium botulinum or Bacillus cereus cells and their toxins, or some combination thereof.”

Why has the Ruhlman family survived? Because Mr. Ruhlman boils the stock before he serves it, Dr. Snyder wrote. Any active bacteria are killed by holding the stock for a minute at 150 degrees or above, and botulism toxin is inactivated by 10 minutes at the boil.

But quickly reheating a contaminated stock just up to serving temperature won’t destroy its active bacteria and toxins, and the stock will make people sick.

In 2008, a 26-year-old Japanese mother in the Osaka region shared a meal of leftover fried rice with her two children, ages 1 and 2. She had prepared and served the rice the day before and kept it at room temperature.

All three became ill 30 minutes after eating the leftovers, and were hospitalized. Both children lost consciousness, and the youngest died seven hours after the meal. Pathologists later reported in the journal Pediatrics that the rice contained a very common spore-forming bacterium, Bacillus cereus, along with a heat-resistant toxin that the bacterium tends to make on starchy foods, and that can cause vomiting even after being heated to the boil.

Dr. Snyder agreed that official pronouncements on food safety can be inconsistent and self-defeating. “The F.D.A. Food Code is very conservatively written,” he wrote. “Four hours after it’s cooked is plenty fast enough to get food into the refrigerator.” And slow enough to relax and enjoy the meal.

I’m with Pete.

Real-time turkey: using a thermometer to ensure safety

Color is a lousy indicator. So are those pop-up thingies that Michele wrote about last night. There was one on my bird that I was apparently supposed to insert. Or not. It  popped after 20 minutes. Useless.

Poultry should be cooked to an end-temperature of 165F or 74C, as measured by a tip-sensitive digital thermometer. The problem with 15-pound turkeys is that the breast was creeping up to 140-150F, while the stuffing and other parts were languishing at 120. Foil over the breast helps, but it’s always a problem; and why gravy was invented.

This isn’t perfect, and cross-contamination is always a concern, but I removed the two turkey breasts, ensured they were fully cooked, scooped out the stuffing and brought it to a safe temperature in the microwave. The remainder of the bird went back in the oven.

A delicious meal was had by all. To avoid problems with Clostridium perfringens, I took the remainder of the turkey apart within an hour, the good meat in the refrigerator, the rest into the stock pot – turkey stock is really one of the best parts of the (subsequent) meal.

Stick it in.

E. coli at Denver Stock Show came from kids’ area; do people know the risks with petting zoos?

The Denver Post reports that exposure to animals at Denver’s National Western Stock Show was the likely cause of an E. coli outbreak that occurred in the Denver area in January and February, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said today.

Specifically, contact with animals in the "Feed the Animals" exhibit on the third floor children’s area of the exposition center was probably where the outbreak originated, according to the extensive 15-page report.

A total of 30 cases were identified.

Children were disproportionately affected in the outbreak, suggesting a source that children would likely have more contact with than adults.

The report noted that the third floor children’s area of the expo center had a variety of exhibits geared towards children, including pony rides, a playground area, cages housing rabbits and poultry, educational exhibits, and hands-on activities.

In addition, food vendors were also located on the floor.

One of the exhibits was the "Feed the Animals" exhibit, where calves, goats, lambs, pigs and other farm animals were brought in from private owners located throughout the region. …

There were opportunities throughout the day for the visitors to feed the animals.

While feeding the animals was not a risk for illness, touching them put the visitors at higher risk of developing E. coli infection.

The investigators said that while hand sanitizer dispensers were readily available in the "Feed the Animals" area, and there were numerous signs instructing visitors to practice hand hygiene, the use of the sanitizers "was not protective against the illness."

In addition, handwashing facilities with running water, soap and paper towels were not readily available in the area.

There were no signs that warned that animals could cause disease or any that specifically cautioned against sipping from cups or eating or drinking in the animal contact areas as well as the use of strollers in that area.

The investigators suggested that such signs be posted in the future.

Chicken soup may lower blood pressure, study finds

Lunch was delicious, thanks.

The key to a good soup or stew is a good homemade stock. Canadian Thanksgiving dinner last Monday night was a hit and the students ate everything so there were no leftovers.

I made a turkey stock with the remnants, and then cooked another turkey breast later in the week so Amy and I could enjoy turkey leftovers. What you see (right) is the second batch of stock draining into the stock pot, and a container of the first batch of stock that has cooled in the fridge so the fat has solidified on top. Remove the fat, sauté some garlic, onion, veggies (I use a mixture of frozen and fresh, whatever is around), add some turkey meat, fresh oregano and hot sauce and the stock and it’s turkey soup or stew for lunch.

According to a report to be published in the Oct. 22 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Japanese researchers have found that collagen proteins found in chicken may actually lower blood pressure.

Dr. Byron Lee, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, said,

"As this study suggests, some collagen in chicken may lower blood pressure. But be careful. The salt we put on our chicken and in our chicken soup may offset or even reverse this potential benefit."

I don’t add salt.