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Summer Party Tips: Baby Carrots (Using for Dips) Hot Dogs (Ditching the Guilt), and Watermelon (Finding a Ripe One)

watermelon, carrotsSummer parties often involve dipping, grilling, and happily biting into fresh fruit. Here are some useful things to know about those mini-carrots perfect for dipping into guacamole or hummus, those hot dogs sizzling invitingly on the grill, and that giant watermelon waiting to be sliced. Nothing shouts summer quite as loudly as these foods.  Let's answer some FAQs about these ubiquitous treats.  Note: some questions express concerns about harmful substances in these beloved edibles. 

Ten Exotic Fruits: Novel Treats to Drink and Eat

Buddha's HandEver eaten a  Buddha's hand? No?  How about a custard apple, rambutan, yumberry, or dragon fruit?  These are  just a few among many strange-looking but tasty exotic fruits. Though not as bizarre (or cruel) as the people-eating plant in the musical Little Shop of Horrors, they are about as odd as their names imply.  Some are beautiful and some as ugly as ugli-fruit (a grapefruit hybrid). Read on to see photos of ten obscure exotic fruits, learn more about these products, and find out where they can be purchased.

Ethylene and Produce: Friends or Foes?

applesBuying a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables these days?  Then it's well worth knowing something about ethylene. "What's ethylene?" some may ask.  It's a plant hormone that fruits and vegetables produce naturally as they ripen.  Reducing exposure to ethylene slows the natural ripening, thereby extending produce shelf life.  The problem is that, like many gases, it's sneaky--invisible and odorless.  Nevertheless, you can infer its presence and control it to some extent.

Syrup from a Tree or from a Lab--Which Should You Pour on Your Pancakes?

waffle and syrupAt home and in restaurants, the pancake syrup you're using is probably not pure maple syrup but a highly processed product with flavorings that are likely to fool your taste buds into thinking the ingredients just recently left the tree. Is the real stuff better--tastier and/or healthier?  Which is the better buy? Let's compare the products in many ways and find out how they differ and which is the better choice.  Then let's discuss handling matters--should you refrigerate syrups?  How long can you keep them? Final question: What can I cook with syrups?

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