Dear Heloise: I purchase fruits and vegetables at my local farmers market each week. The produce is not wrapped, and before I prepare any of it, I soak it in water to which I have added 2 tablespoons of bleach. I don’t know how many people have handled the produce prior to my purchasing it, and wish to be as safe as possible.
Eva Knight, via email
Washing produce is always important, especially with outbreaks of salmonella and E. coli. We checked with the Food and Drug Administration, and it does not recommend using bleach, soap, detergent or produce washes. They say to thoroughly “wash” all produce under only running water before using or cooking, which means to rub the surface with your hand or a vegetable brush to remove dirt, etc. If you want, you can use a clean paper towel to “scrub” the surface of delicate fruits and veggies.
Scrub firm vegetables, such as potatoes, using a produce brush. Fruits with hard skins, such as cantaloupe, should be scrubbed using a veggie brush under water so that bacteria don’t move from the outside to the inside flesh when the skin is cut. Use a colander when washing fruit or veggies so cleaned items don’t sit in dirty water.
Dear Heloise: The cleanest and easiest way to slice through an avocado is lengthwise all the way around to the pit, twist to separate in half, remove the pit and use a spoon to scoop the avocado out.
Dear Heloise: When opening a carton of fresh strawberries, we tend to reach for the pretty, luscious berries we see on top. Instead, empty the strawberries into a bowl and use the ones on the bottom first. Fewer wasted strawberries!
Gloria, via email
Dear Readers: Here are helpful hints for measuring sugar: Confectioners’ or powdered sugar, typically used in frostings and icings, absorbs moisture, which causes clumping. This is why it must be sifted or fluffed before measuring, then leveled off with a flat utensil.
Brown sugar should be pressed down firmly with a spoon and then leveled off. The brown sugar should retain the shape of the cup when turned out into the bowl.
Granulated sugar can simply be placed in the measuring cup and leveled off for use.
King Features Syndicate