Dear Readers: Tomorrow is THANKSGIVING, and that means there likely will be leftovers for your family for a few days. Here are some hints to help you safely consume and store leftovers:
* Make sure to freeze or refrigerate all leftover items within two hours of finishing the meal. The Food and Drug Administration recommends “discarding any perishables (foods that can spoil or become contaminated by bacteria if unrefrigerated) left out at room temperature for longer than two hours.”
* Take turkey off the bone before storing, and you can keep the turkey meat in the freezer for up to six months.
* Store stuffing for three to four days in a refrigerator, or for a month in a freezer.
* When reheating leftover gravy or sauces, make sure to bring the gravy to a rolling boil before serving to prevent illness from eating gravy that may contain bacteria.
* Any cooked side dishes (including mashed potatoes) should keep in the refrigerator for three to four days, and then should be thrown away.
* Mashed potatoes can be kept in the freezer for up to 10 months when stored in an airtight container.
* When it is trash day, take all leftovers that haven’t been eaten for three days after the Thanksgiving meal and throw away.
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San Antonio, TX 78279-5000
Dear Heloise: What exactly are capers, and how are they used in cooking? -- Amanda T., via e-mail
A staple in many Mediterranean meals, capers are actually pickled flower buds harvested from a bush in the area. They are interesting little round, green “balls,” found in jars in the olive section of most grocery stores. The smaller, or nonpareil, caper is most commonly used in chicken piccata and pasta dishes, adding salty flavor.
Another hint: Capers will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator. Just make sure to store them in the brine they are packed in. Take out only the capers needed, and leave behind the rest in the remaining brine. -- Heloise
Dear Readers: After opening a container of cottage cheese, store it in the refrigerator on a low shelf (not in the door or in a drawer). After spooning out the amount you need, smooth the surface to cut down on liquid formation and possible separation. Or try this Heloise hint: Store the cottage cheese upside down with the lid on tight, on a plate. This makes it last longer because it creates a seal. -- Heloise
REUSING CEREAL BAGS
Dear Heloise: Save the bags that come inside cereal boxes, as they can be reused. I use the bags to flour chicken or fish. Saves on wax paper, and you are repurposing! -- Dewey in New Hampshire
Dear Heloise: I love to bake, and I often need to measure ingredients that are sticky, such as honey and molasses. After many messy cleanups, I started spraying the cups or spoons with cooking spray first. Now my ingredients slide right out! -- Sandy D., via e-mail
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