Dear Heloise: I love CUCUMBERS, but have always wondered what the waxy coating is that is put on them, and why is it there? -- Doug G., via e-mail

Doug, I love cucumbers, too, and probably eat two to three a week! According to the Food and Drug Administration, many vegetables grow their own natural waxlike coating. However, this comes off after harvesting and cleaning. A wax coating is applied (which meets FDA food-additive regulations) to help retain moisture during transportation. The wax used is the smallest amount possible; only a drop or two on each piece of produce, so it’s not much at all.

The wax keeps mold from growing, prevents shrinkage, minimizes bruising and enhances the overall appearance. The wax doesn’t wash off with water and normal scrubbing. If you prefer not to eat the wax, just peel the skin before eating, but know that it is safe to eat and not harmful. Plus, that’s where most of the nutrients are. If the skin is a little tough, score it with a fork, and it will be healthy to eat and easy to chew. -- Heloise



P.O. Box 795000

San Antonio, TX 78279-5000

Fax: 210-HELOISE



Dear Heloise: I enjoy eating avocados with salads, sandwiches, etc., but my husband does not eat them. I can’t eat an entire avocado by myself, so I kept trying different ways to keep one fresh after cutting a section away from the seed.

My husband came up with a great hint: Do not peel the uncut portion of avocado that you are trying to save. Fill a small spray bottle with lime juice. After you slice a portion of the avocado, spray the cut area with the lime juice and store in a small dish with a lid for future use. The avocado will keep fresh for days, without turning the dark-brown yucky color, and the taste isn’t changed by the lime juice. -- Linda in Tyler, Tex.


Dear Heloise: I like soft butter when making toast. Is it safe to keep butter out on the counter, or must it be refrigerated? -- Nancy P. in New Jersey

Well, Nancy, you can keep butter at room temperature for a short period of time, but long term, be sure to refrigerate.

Especially when on sale, buy some extra butter and store it in the freezer, but be sure to first wrap it in foil or freezer-safe bags. In the refrigerator, be sure to keep the butter tightly wrapped or in a covered dish to prevent it from collecting odors from other foods. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I like to buy fresh bread from the bakery because I like larger slices. I slice the bread myself and put it in the freezer. However, when I just wanted two slices, the bread was all frozen and would not separate.

So, I put a piece of wax paper between every two slices, and the problem was solved. The wax paper made it easy to remove only two slices at a time. -- Sam G. in California

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.

, King Features Syndicate