‘Use-by’ dates can confuse people

Dear Heloise: A number of years ago, I purchased a good amount of food, canned goods, etc. (a stockpile in case of an emergency). A review indicates that many have a “use by” date that has expired. Should I throw these in the dump, or can they be safely used by some organization?

R.B. McArdle, Hot Springs, Ark.

It all depends on how long beyond the expiration date, storage conditions and the type of food. I defer to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the source on this one.

Indicator 1: If the cans (meats and vegetables) have no dents, no bulging or are not leaking, it’s a “go” to use or donate in two to five years’ time.

Indicator 2: If they have been stored safely away in a cool, dry place (NOT a damp basement or hot or freezing garage), then it’s a “go.”

Indicator 3: High-acid foods, such as tomatoes or pineapple, have a much shorter shelf life of 12-18 months. These are a maybe/maybe not.


Dear Heloise: I always love the hints I get from your column. I had a problem separating stacked coffee filters when making coffee. I attempted to retrieve one while my finger was wet from another duty. The filter popped right out with a slight pinch upward. Now I moisten my finger before reaching for the filters. It makes the procedure so much easier.

Scottie in Little Rock, Ark.

Dear Heloise: Wintertime is soup and stew time. My freezer space is at a premium. I had an “aha” moment when it occurred to me to add only some of the required liquid, making a “condensed soup” for storage. I then add the rest of the liquid when reheating. Some things seem so obvious after I figure them out!

M.B., Mount Vernon, Va.

The best hints come during those unexpected — as you say, “aha” — moments! Don’t you just love soup? It’s easy to make, is low-cost and such a comfort food during the cold months. I wrote my Heloise’s Spectacular Soups pamphlet to share favorite family and friends’ recipes. To order one, please send $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (70 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Soups, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. When cooking soup, add less salt than normal and let individuals salt their portion. You taste less sodium in hot foods than cold. Also, use up the last of a bag of pretzels for a crunchy topping.


Dear Heloise: I bought a new set of measuring spoons. I decided to keep using the old set. I keep one spoon in my sugar bowl, one in my baking-soda container, one in my coffee canister, etc.

Ashley M., Springfield, Mo.

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

2015 King Features Syndicate

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