Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Family & Community Health Agent
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 various 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 maintained at 140°F until serving the grilled food. Recommended internal temperatures are:
- Beef, pork, lamb, veal – 140ᵒ F
- Fish – 145ᵒ F
- Hamburger, ground beef – 160ᵒ F
- Poultry, hot dogs – 165ᵒ F
Other safety tips for grilling are washing your hands before and after handling raw meat, keeping raw meats, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods, refrigerating leftovers within two hours, and discarding after four days. In addition, grilling food is a healthier option than frying as fat contained in or on the food drips out. It preserves vitamins and minerals and has lower calories.
Grilling also brings out smiles and uplifted spirits, a time to bond with family & friends, and an opportunity for children and teens to learn about cooking.
So, this month, go outdoors! Breathe fresh air and enjoy what nature offers with flavors from the grill.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are – Theodore Roosevelt.