OAC's 2023 Holiday Guide | Ontario Agricultural College

OAC's 2023 Holiday Guide

Posted on Tuesday, December 12th, 2023

Looking for the perfect holiday gift this year? Or stuck on what to (safely) make for a holiday get together? Read below for food safety tips, gift ideas and recipes from the Ontario Agricultural College. 


Food Safety Tips from OAC

Turkey, stuffing, eggnog and cookies are all holiday classics, but food safety practices are important with all of them to prevent food-borne illness, says Dr. Keith Warriner, from OAC’s Department of Food Science.

Ready-made eggnog is available in many stores throughout the holidays, but the food safety risks are for those who go with the homemade variety, which should be made with pasteurized eggs. 
Licking raw cookie dough from the bowl or the beaters has become somewhat of a tradition when making cookies but can lead to illness. “The food safety concerns are again from Salmonella that may reside in eggs, but also from the E. coli in the flour,” says Warriner.  

Since store-bought cookie dough is prepared with pasteurized flour and eggs, it is typically safe. But for making cookies at home, Warriner advises heating the flour in the oven or microwave to eliminate any risks.  

Raw turkey can become contaminated with various microbes and can cause mild to severe gastrointestinal illnesses, says Warriner. Purchase a fresh turkey no more than three days before the meal, and store it at the bottom of the fridge, says Warriner. A frozen turkey should be stored in the freezer until it’s time to thaw it in the sink. For more food safety tips of cooking your turkey, click here.

U of G and OAC inspired recipes

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
Did you know that the Yukon Gold potato was developed at the University of Guelph?  This enhanced potato is known for its disease resistance and growing performance in North America and for its smooth skin, pink eyes, deep yellow flesh and rich taste.  Its name reflects its distinctive colour and honours Yukon River “Gold Rush” country. Click here for a delicious Yukon Gold mashed potato recipe, taste tested and approved by U of G culinary chefs

Guelph Millenium Asparagus

When the Guelph Millennium asparagus variety was introduced to Ontario growers more than 20 years ago, it quickly became a game-changer. Before Millennium, growers struggled to keep fields producing high-quality asparagus year after year, according to Dr. David Wolyn, who has bred asparagus for more than 30 years and heads U of G’s asparagus breeding program.

“The previous asparagus varieties developed in the United States didn’t last long here in Ontario – just a few years of growth before their yield would drop off,” he said. “What we created was an asparagus that had a high yield and came back year after year.” Get inspired! Check out this recipe for oven-roasted asparagus.


Support OAC students, alumni and more.

There are plenty of OAC students and alumni that have launched their own successful business or “side-gig.” If you’re looking for a gift idea, check out the below products from our OAC community.

Acid League

Starting as undergrads doing fermentation experiments in a U of G food lab, OAC grads Allan Mai and Cole Pearsall have built a 30-employee company making acid-based ingredients for foods and non-alcoholic beverages. Their line of unpasteurized “Living Vinegars” is now selling across the US and Canada. They also sell sauces, vinaigrettes, condiments, salad dressings and related products and are busy creating new recipes for food products. They also produce non-alcoholic wine proxies that they say create new possibilities for food pairings for consumers dining out and at home. Buy Acid League products on their website

Support wineries owned by OAC alumni 

There are plenty of OAC alumni that own or lead Ontario-based wineries. Considering picking up a bottle of Ziraldo’s Ice Wine, Pillitteri Estates Winery, or Southbrook Wineries for your next holiday outing. All of which are connected to OAC alumni.

Something fragrant

Looking to add some summer-vibes to your holiday season? Love all-things lavender? Consider supporting Tullamore Lavendar Co, owned by Steven Larmer (BSc 10, MSc 12, PhD 16) and Stephanie Craig (former OAC staff). Located just outside of Arthur, Ontario, their website offers great gift ideas such as lavender tea, soaps, dried bouquets and even a share of their 2024 harvest. Support Tullamore Lavendar Co.

Cannon Fire Hot Sauce

A traditional, red and vinegary hot sauce, made using peppers grown from seed at the University of Guelph's Bovey Teaching Greenhouse on campus. OAC Food Science students are involved in the sauce recipe creation, label design and manufacturing. Every pepper was hand-picked and chopped by students, and processed and bottled at the University of Guelph. Buy U of G’s Cannon Fire Hot Sauce

U of G Honey

U of G's Summer Blossom Honey collection is sourced from local hives in the Guelph area. This honey is produced from a medley of local wildflowers that bloom in forest and meadows which give it a fresh and medium honey taste. Summer Blossom Honey is delicious as a spread on toast, natural sweetener, smoothie additive, and more. Produced by the University of Guelph's Honey Bee Research Centre. Buy U of G’s Summer Blossom Honey

Support U of G’s Arboretum Centre

From calendars to t-shirts, biodiversity sheets, booklets, window decals, buttons, lanyards, bamboo mechanical pencils and more, the Arboretum has fantastic gift options. You can also give the gift of an Arboretum workshop about birds, trees, stars, gardening, international biodiversity hotspots and more! All proceeds from merchandise sales go straight to the centre. Buy Arboretum Merchandise.


Happy Holidays from the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph

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