Dear Heloise: I read your column every day in The (Fredericksburg, Va.) Free Lance-Star. My question is about how long you should keep SPICES. I know that when spices were in tins, they couldn’t be kept longer than a year, but now that they are in jars, does the same rule apply? -- Virginia C., Stafford, Va.
Well, Virginia, there are still some spices in tins, but the majority are sold in glass or small plastic containers.
Here is a quick guide:
* Ground spices are good for two to three years.
* Whole spices, three to four years.
* Herbs, one to three years.
* Seasoning blends, one to three years.
To help keep the spices fresh, store them in a cool, dry place, and keep them out of direct light. If you are ever in doubt about spices, because the taste or color is off, replace the spice.
An added hint: Extracts usually are good for about four years. However, pure vanilla will last indefinitely! -- Heloise
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Dear Heloise: Help! Will canned evaporated milk work as a substitute for milk when baking? -- Sherril, via e-mail
Yes, evaporated milk can be used in place of milk in recipes! Many use it to add a richer, creamier flavor, so substitute it all you want! Added hint: Did you know that evaporated milk is real milk? The milk is heated just enough to get rid of about half of the water that is in it. -- Heloise
P.S.: Evaporated milk is available fat-free and is wonderful to use in coffee or hot tea to boot!
Dear Heloise: I like to put some dried cranberries in my salad, and I really like the orange-flavored ones, but I can’t seem to find them anymore. My solution is to add some grated fresh orange rinds to the newly opened package. This keeps just as well as ever, and I get my orange cranberries. -- Doris B., Spokane, Wash.
Dear Heloise: I love making fresh vegetable juice for my husband and me. I know it takes a lot of time, but it is worth it. I have found ways to cut down on the work.
First, I clean and cut the veggies at night, put them in a plastic bag and place them in the refrigerator, and in the morning they are ready to go. I save time by putting a plastic bag as a liner in the receptacle that the roughage goes into. I take out the bag and place another in for the next day. I also use the same bags that the veggies come in so that I am recycling. -- Nancy T. in New York
Dear Heloise: After grilling steaks, burgers or other meat on your countertop grill, wet two paper towels, fold and lay on the unplugged grill. Close the lid, and by the time your meal is over, your grill will have steamed itself clean. Use the towels to wipe up the grill, and it’s ready for next time. -- R.D. in Kansas
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