Dear Readers: Is a GREEN BELL PEPPER the same “fruit” as a red bell pepper? Yes! Available in colors of green, orange, red, yellow and even purple, these beautiful fruits (that’s right, it’s a fruit, not a vegetable) are available year-round.

When picked while they are green, these peppers are considered “not ripe.” The longer they are left on the plant, the sweeter they become, and the color changes from green to yellow, orange and then red.

Really! Who knew? Not me! Not only are they great to cook with, but they are even yummier when eaten raw, with or without a dip.

Another healthy, tasty hint: Peppers are a great source of vitamins A and C, and red peppers contain twice as many vitamins as the green ones and are the sweetest-tasting! -- Heloise



P.O. Box 795000

San Antonio, TX 78279-5000

Fax: 210-HELOISE



Dear Heloise: I read your column in the Milwaukee Post. I have a hint for you and your readers that my son tried and now we use quite often. We use a grapefruit spoon to scrape out seeds and insides of peppers instead of knives. -- Geraldine T. in Milwaukee

You’ve discovered one of the many things I use a grapefruit spoon for! They work well on grapefruits, but are perfect for seeding peppers and cucumbers. Section the meat not only of grapefruit, but also of oranges and kiwi fruits. Another hint: Use the spoon to remove pits from peaches, apricots and other fruits. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: If I am baking potatoes for a crowd, couldn’t I put them in the dishwasher? Would that get them clean enough? -- Mary I. in Dallas

No — just the spray of water and high temperature of water won’t clean them. The dishwasher water will not clean all the crevices that a potato has. The Food and Drug Administration recommends simply washing fruits and vegetables under running water, with no soap or special produce wash. To make sure the potatoes are clean, you should gently scrub them with a vegetable brush. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I like to make sure browned, crumbled meat is completely drained. First, I do the initial draining. After a brief time for cooling, I fold a paper towel into a square and place it at the bottom of a clean bowl to one side. I pour the drained, crumbled meat into the bowl and lean the bowl slightly on its side, with the paper-towel side at the bottom. The paper towel will absorb the remaining fat in just a couple of minutes, then I remove and toss the paper towel. -- Mary A., Vancouver, Wash.


Dear Heloise: I am a part-time caterer. Here is a hint I use when making crab cakes, salmon cakes or other foods that list breadcrumbs as an ingredient. I use instant mashed potatoes instead. They are a good binding agent, and no one guesses “potato” as an ingredient. They just wonder how the food was formed so perfectly! -- Brittany S., via e-mail

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

2012, King Features Syndicate