Dear Heloise: I would like to know if there is any way to SOFTEN IODIZED TABLE SALT once it has hardened. -- Elaine, via e-mail
Hmmm -- a good question, especially if you live in a high-humidity area. There is no recommended way to soften iodized table salt once it has caked, which is caused by age and moisture, according to our source. A major manufacturer suggests throwing the salt away, but will offer a coupon if you call the company. Table salt usually is pretty cheap, too.
While on the topic of table salt, do you know what is added to salt to keep it from sticking together? The answer is calcium silicate, which is an anti-caking, odorless, tasteless, white substance that is mixed in with the salt.
Canning and pickling salt contain no additives at all, so they are even more likely to lump and harden when exposed to moisture. -- Heloise
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Dear Heloise: To heat a hard-cooked egg (Heloise here: with no shell) in the microwave, push a wooden toothpick through the center. Place it on a microwave-safe plate or paper plate, with the toothpick pointed up to prevent the egg from exploding. Thirty seconds usually is enough time to make a tasty, warm egg. -- Marcia in Manistee, Mich.
Marcia, this is a new hint! We had a lot of fun testing it in Heloise Central. Do be sure to cover the egg with a paper towel, just in case. -- Heloise
P.S.: Saw a note posted on a microwave at a motel: “Do not heat hard-boiled eggs in the microwave!”
Dear Heloise: Instead of putting bread in the bag with brown sugar to keep it soft, put the sugar in a freezer bag without the original wrapping. Flatten it out while it is still soft and pack it down. Keep it in the freezer, and if it gets too hard, put it in the microwave for about half a minute.
You can measure and pack the sugar, when needed, from the outside of the bag. No sugar on your hands, and no soggy bread to pick out of the sugar. -- T.O., via e-mail
Dear Heloise: My family enjoys the taste and smell of fresh-baked bread made in the bread machine. What we don’t like is the amount of crust the bread machine produces. So we use the bread machine for the hard part, the mixing and kneading, but take the dough out of the machine before the baking starts and bake it in the oven. My mother mentioned this process for making bread to a friend, and the friend hadn’t even thought of that possibility. -- Linda in Bellevue, Neb.
LETTER OF LAUGHTER
Dear Heloise: When someone is trying to lose weight, he or she complains about losing it first in the face, and I have just discovered why.
It’s from chewing all those leafy or raw and hard-as-a rock, low-calorie vegetables. -- Carolyn Moore, via e-mail
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