Dear Heloise: I need a way to clean fruits and vegetables. Most fruit and veggie cleaners are rather pricey for the amount you get. — James K., Grand Rapids, Michigan
Dear James: I have several easy hints for cleaning fruits and vegetables:
First, wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before preparing fresh produce.
Smooth-skinned produce: Soak them in a mixture of one part vinegar to three parts water for at least 30 seconds. Gently rub the skin with your hands under running water, and dry with a clean paper towel.
Produce with rough outer skin: Items such as broccoli, potatoes and cauliflower are a little harder to clean. Soak in a solution of one part vinegar to 3 parts water for 1 minute. For heads of cabbage or lettuce, it’s best to separate the leaves first. After soaking, if soil still clings to the produce, use a brush to gently scrub the items and rinse well.
You can add lemon juice to the vinegar to raise the acidity, and this will increase the effectiveness of killing bacteria and help to reduce the chances of mold forming on your produce. You always should wash the rind of inedible produce, such as oranges, melons, etc., to prevent the transfer of bacteria to the edible parts.
Dear Heloise: Another way I learned to keep cheese from getting moldy in the fridge is to not keep it in the door compartment. It lasts much longer in the main part of the fridge. — Roslyn D., Escanaba, Michigan
Dear Heloise: I love to cook for friends. I just made a huge amount of avocado dip that has stayed a pretty color by adding not only fresh lime juice, but a heaping teaspoon of turmeric, a high-quality sour cream, plus chopped onions and whatever else you wish. — Irene P., Wilmington, Ohio
Dear Heloise: My question is regarding chicken, which I like a lot. What do you have to get rid of the black and awful-looking dark near the legs and thighs? It looks like blood and makes the meat dark after it’s baked. — N.Y.S., Finger…