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Hints From Heloise: What’s that floating in my vinegar?

Dear Heloise: I put some WHITE VINEGAR into a pint canning jar. It’s more convenient than pouring out of a gallon jug for quick uses. Why does it get “floaties” in it? I just rinse out the jar with hot water and use the same jar again. -- A Reader, via e-mail

The “floaties” you see are nothing more than “mother,” which is not harmful at all. Don’t panic or even pour them out. Mother is caused by natural bacteria that may develop after a bottle of vinegar is opened. Most vinegar we buy is pasteurized. Some other vinegars (nonpasturized or homemade) may develop feathery, floating objects. There’s no harm in eating it, or you can strain it out, and the remaining vinegar is A-OK to use. I keep several gallons of vinegar handy all over the house. My favorite pamphlet is Heloise’s Fantabulous Vinegar Hints and More, because it’s just crammed with my special recipes and hints for you. To receive one, please send $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (70 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Add a teaspoon or so of vinegar into a large vase of flowers to help them last longer. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: When cooking or heating certain foods in the microwave, you need to be extra careful so that there is not an explosion! It’s important to follow the directions. Most “solid” foods, especially whole potatoes, an apple or even a hot dog, need to be vented so steam will escape. You should pierce this food to release some moisture. Otherwise, “boom,” and a mess to clean up! -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: My hint is more of a warning. My husband barbecued our dinner. He thought he was doing good by putting the hot pad he used back in the cupboard. While eating, we smelled smoke and thought it was someone else barbecuing.

We got up to clear the table and found smoke pouring out of the cupboard! The hot pad must have had a hot ember on it. Luckily, nothing caught fire, but we emptied the cupboard and had a lot of cleanup. Please warn your readers to keep hot pads outside until they are sure it is safe to put them away. -- Lynne S., Oxnard, Calif.

Yikes! Who would have thought? How lucky that you were right there and had not gone away from home. Thanks for warning my readers. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I read your column every day in the (Punta Gorda, Fla.) Sun. I’ve had rotator-cuff surgery, so holding a mixer, breaking potatoes and mashing them is a strain. Now I use my sink, and I have a mat in there to prevent scratching. I place the bowl in the sink, and now my arms are lower. The added benefit is that any splatters are in the sink area and can be washed down. -- Sandy B., Punta Gorda, Fla.

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