From Purchase to Storage, Tips on Extending Shelf Life

Grocery ShoppingThe average American wastes more than 200 pounds of food a year, says the Consumer Reports ShopSmart magazine.  The Vegetarian Times website says, “Americans throw out 25% of the produce we buy because it’s gone bad.” What a pity! Ever wish you had a magic wand that could keep your food purchases safe and tasty until you’ve consumed the very last morsel or drop? It would be nice, but you don’t really need that wand.  If you select foods carefully, get your perishables home and refrigerated promptly, and wrap and store foods appropriately, you can extend the shelf life of your food purchases and thereby cut down on grocery shopping trips and food bills.

BYOB: It Also Means "Bring your own bag."

grocery bagThe movement to ban those flimsy thow-away plastic grocery bags has recently come to Chicago and one of it's neigboring suberbs, Evanston. I have  mixed feelings about this required change in my bagging habits.

Warnings! Not Everything You Eat Is Healthy

So what shouldn't you eat?

Grocery Shopping Strategies for Safe Shopping

Woman grocery shoppingProtecting yourself and those that share your  household  from food-borne illness begins with careful grocery shopping.  The U.S. government urges consumers to take these precautions:

• Shop only in stores that look and smell clean.

• Shop for items that are not refrigerated or frozen first.  Put perishables and frozen foods into your cart last. 

Spring Celebrations: What’s on Your Menu?

matzoUSDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline gets extra busy this time of year with brisket, baked ham, and egg questions. Here are some Spring food safety tips based on questions our Hotline Food Safety Specialists have received from callers.

 

How long can I keep a ham in the refrigerator before cooking it? 

 

To answer your question, we need to know what type of ham you’re buying and how it’s packaged. What does the label advise? The label is the best guide for determining storage time. It gives the product name, whether it’s smoked or cured, and whether you must refrigerate it. While USDA doesn’t require manufacturers to list the freshness date on products, many do. Look for the instructions on the label that tell you how long you can keep the product. For example: “Best if used by April 15.”

Are Eggs Dyed for Easter Safe to Eat?

Dyed Easter EggsYes, if the answers to all the following questions are “Yes.”

 

Is the dye safe to ingest?  Check the package.  Most dyes in children’s kits are vegetable dyes and are safe.  However, some kits are meant to be used on blown-out eggs, and the decorative materials (such as sprinkles) aren’t intended for consumption. If you use food coloring, of course, that’s also edible. If the dye is edible, it’s okay to eat the eggs even if, when peeled, you note that  some color has leaked unto the egg white.

Alcoholic Beverages: What You Should Know

Be honest now.  When alcoholic beverages are involved, what type of drinker are you--a teetotaler, a moderate drinker, a heavy drinker, or (I hope not) an excessive drinker? Let's see what research can tell us about the various categories.

Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day Without Cabbage Stink

CabbageWhat’s the best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? With corned beef, cabbage, and beer, of course.  BUT, you reply, the smell of cooked cabbage can ruin the holiday for all.  Cheer up.  That tell-tale scent can be avoided.  Here’s a little-known fact that may help you a lot:  cabbage develops an unpleasant smell only when it’s overcooked.  Why?  Cabbage contains substances that, when broken down, turn into smelly sulfur compounds.  The longer the cabbage is cooked, the worse the odor.

Chocolate Is Even More Healthful Than You Thought

chocolate Thinking of giving--or sharing with--your sweetheart something sweet for Valentine' Day, for example a box of chocolates?  Well, why not?  Chocolate is not only delicious but, for an ever-increasing number of reasons, is actually healthful (in modest amounts).

There are many good reasons for eating chocolate regularly—from boosting your mood to contributing to your good health.  Moreover, Shelf Life Advice told you about a study proclaiming that chocolate may even help you stay thin!  To see that article, click here http://shelflifeadvice.com/content/latest-good-news-about-chocolate. To learn about many other benefits of eating chocolate, just keep reading.

Why I Shouldn't Cook Dinner

[Editor's note: Brutal winter weather has caused many of us to postpone supermarket trips and try to creatively make do with what's already in the kitchen. Hence, you may empathize with my daughter's culinary challenges. I think you'll also find her determination to produce dinner both admirable and humorous.]

 
 

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