Dear Heloise:

I have a great tip I read in a magazine once to make potatoes last longer and not sprout.

You put an apple in with your potatoes! Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but I tried it, and it works great.

Marie in Texas

Marie, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you really shouldn't store apples and potatoes together. Ripening fruit like apples gives off ethylene gas, which causes potatoes to sprout.

Potatoes are best stored in a dark, cool and well-ventilated place. But don't leave them in the plastic bags -- the bags prevent good air circulation.

Hint: Ever wonder why potatoes sometimes have green-tinged skin? It's because when potatoes are exposed to light, they can turn green. This doesn't hurt the potato itself, as you can simply cut off the green part and use the rest.

Dear Heloise:

What I find to be very helpful is to buy inexpensive measuring cups at a store where items are a dollar. I put them in various foods for quick measuring.

For instance, I keep the one-cup measure in the flour bin, half-cup in the rice container, 1/3-cup in the oatmeal, etc.

This can be done for pancake mix or anything that requires the same measure each time, and it saves time fumbling around looking for measuring cups. Also, I usually write the recipe for things like pancakes and oatmeal in indelible marker right on the inside of the container's lid for quick reference.

Gale Larsen

Lakeland, Fla.

Dear Heloise:

I use the top of a butter dish to keep my sweetener packets in. It takes up little space, and it's easy to take one packet out at a time.

I also use one-pound margarine containers for my coffee filters -- one group of filters fits perfectly.

Dorothy Bradshaw

Punta Gorda, Fla.

Dear Heloise:

I keep a pizza pan in my oven to catch anything that might boil over.

It also serves as an extra pan to bake cookies on.

Martha

Russell Springs, Ky.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. Please include your city and state when faxing or using e-mail. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

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