Do you have the same daily dilemma we do.. When we open the pantry or the fridge - should we "Love it or Lose it"? What do expiration dates, sell by dates and use by dates actually mean? Is it safe to keep foods past their prime? One of our favorite TV doctors weighs in on this very important topic.
An excerpt of an article by Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Time.com Use-by dates are contributing to millions of pounds of wasted food each year. A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic says Americans are prematurely throwing out food, largely because of confusion over what expiration dates actually mean.
"Use by" and "Best by": These dates are intended for consumer use, but are typically the date the manufacturer deems the product reaches peak freshness. It's not a date to indicate spoilage, nor does it necessarily signal that the food is no longer safe to eat.
"Sell by": This date is only intended to help manufacturers and retailers, not consumers. It's a stocking and marketing tool provided by food makers to ensure proper turnover of the products in the store so they still have a long shelf life after consumers buy them. Consumers, however, are misinterpreting it as a date to guide their buying decisions. The report authors say that "sell by" dates should be made invisible to the consumer.
Most consumers mistakenly believe that expiration dates on food indicate how safe the food is to consume, when these dates actually aren't related to the risk of food poisoning or foodborne illness. Food dating emerged in the 1970s, prompted by consumer demand, as Americans produced less of their own food but still demanded information about how it was made. The dates solely indicate freshness, and are used by manufacturers to convey when the product is at its peak. That means the food does not expire in the sense of becoming inedible.
For un-refrigerated foods, there may be no difference in taste or quality, and expired foods won't necessarily make people sick. But according to the new analysis, words like "use by" and "sell by" are used so inconsistently that they contribute to widespread misinterpretation — and waste — by consumers. More than 90% of Americans throw out food prematurely, and 40% of the U.S. food supply is tossed--unused--every year because of food dating.
The result is a confused public — and tons of wasted food. Correcting these entrenched misconceptions, however, won't be easy. The report authors say the re-education could start with a clearer understanding of what the dates mean.
Remember schmaltz? Your mom and Bubbie likely used a lot of it in their cooking. Schmaltz, or chicken fat, has a great flavor and richness, and is part of Jewish culinary tradition.
Rendered chicken fat adds rich flavor to many recipes and makes use of parts of the bird that would otherwise be wasted. (Our Bubbies wasted nothing!) It is traditional to use schmaltz in chopped liver recipes, but schmaltz is also good for cooking potatoes and other root vegetables. What was old, is new again--in moderation, please!
To make schmaltz (a.k.a. rendered chicken fat), begin by saving bits of fat and skin removed from raw chicken. You can stockpile these in a sealable bag or container-and store in the freezer until about 3 cups are accumulated.
Place the fat and skin scraps in a heavy bottomed, non-reactive pan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the scraps render most of their fat and begin to brown. At this point, some add a chopped onion. Raise the heat to medium. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until the chicken scraps are golden brown and crispy, but not burned. Turn off the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Strain through a fine meshed strainer, or a cheesecloth. Store in a sealable container Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 4-6 months.
Try this with basil, tarragon, parsley, thyme, and sage for fresh garden herbs year round. After freezing the herbs in the olive oil, simply pop out and place in plastic freezer bags. Use these herb cubes as recipe starters.
Dental floss is not only for cleaning between your teeth - it also is a handy kitchen tool!
When a recipe calls for splitting a cake into two or more layers horizontally, toothpicks and dental floss make this task easy. Use several toothpicks placed at the proper level (use a ruler if you want precision sized layers) around the outer circumference of the cake, and then use a two-foot piece of waxed or unwaxed dental floss to make a clean straight cut. Just be certain that it is the unflavored type or your cake will have a hint of mint (which you might enjoy!).
Cut pastries in even slices with floss. Floss works well on cinnamon roll dough
Use dental floss to slice crumbly cheeses such as goat cheese or bleu cheese
Use floss to cut a cookie log into individual cookies.
Dental floss can sub in the kitchen for twine when tying herbs and veggies.
No – Do not use in oven.
From Real Simple and America's Test Kitchen
Bake a cake, grab some dental floss, and watch this video to perfect your layering technique:
Cutting kernels off the cob Cut corn from the cob without a mess. Place an ear in the center of a Bundt pan. As you slide the knife down, the corn will fall into the pan. Sweet Corn even Sweeter Adding some sugar to the water used to cook to the corn will enhance its sweetness
Decorate with Corn Cut a couple cooked cobs into small wheels and placing those wheels of fresh corn around the already cooked corn platter dish. A lovely presentation and your guests will know that they're eating fresh sweet corn!
Toothbrush as Corn Cleaner Use a clean toothbrush to remove stray threads of silk from freshly shucked ears of corn. The bristles will lift them away quickly and efficiently.
How to make them last longer and eliminate rusting
When you purchase a box of steel wool pads, immediately take a pair of scissors and cut each pad into halves. After years of having to throw away rusted and unused and smelly pads, you'll decide that this will be much more economical. In fact, you'll notice that the scissors get sharpened this way!
Plain steel wool pads, which are NOT filled with soap are kosher. Steel wool pads which are filled with soap do need kosher certification. Use steel wool to:
Eliminate coffee and tea stains from your carafe and porcelain mugs
Make your aluminum, iron and stainless steel pots and pans sparkle
Remove sticky tags, labels and glue off jars
Purge crusty baked-on food from casserole dishes
Brighten up flatware and serving utensils
Degrease stoves, ovens, broiler pans, oven racks and range hoods
Rachael Ray's steel wool tip: Watch this video to prevent steel wool from rusting.
As much as I adore plain whipped cream, I also love that it can be flavored. It loses its marvelous neutral character and becomes a flavor component in its own right, and sometimes that is exactly what you want.
1. Coffee Whipped Cream: Stir 2 teaspoons espresso powder or 2 1/2 teaspoons freeze-dried coffee crystals and a generous tablespoon of sugar into 1 cup heavy cream. Whip as usual, tasting and adjusting the sweetness toward the end.
Tastes good with: chocolate desserts, strawberries, pineapple.
2. Cocoa Whipped Cream: Use 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder and 4 teaspoons sugar for 1 cup heavy cream. Mix the cocoa and sugar with a tablespoon or two of the cream to form a thick paste (this serves to eliminate the lumps in the cocoa) before stirring in the rest of the cream. (For Mocha Whipped Cream, add 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder or freeze dried coffee crystals to taste.) For the thickest texture and richest flavor, refrigerate for an hour or overnight before whipping.
Tastes good with: chocolate desserts.
3. Nibby Whipped Cream: Start at least several hours ahead. Combine 1 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons roasted cacao nibs in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain the cream into a bowl, pressing on the nibs to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the nibs. Refrigerate the cream for at least several hours, or overnight, before whipping, adding sugar to taste.
Tastes good with: chocolate desserts, meringues and Pavlov, coffee drinks, sweetened blackberries.
4. Jasmine Whipped Cream: Start at least 8 hours ahead. Stir 1 tablespoon good-quality jasmine tea leaves into 1 cup heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours (no longer). Strain the cream into a bowl, pressing on the tea leaves to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the tea leaves. Whip the cream with 2 teaspoons sugar; or refrigerate it to whip up to a day later.
Tastes good with: rich chocolate desserts.
5. Orange Blossom Whipped Cream: Add 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, and 3/4 teaspoon orange flower water* to 1 cup heavy cream. Whip as usual, tasting and adjusting the flavor and sweetness toward the end.
Tastes good with: chocolate desserts.
6. Rose Whipped Cream: Add 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon rose water to 1 cup heavy cream. Whip as usual, tasting and adjusting the flavor and sweetness toward the end.
Tastes good with: berries (in particular, strawberries), watermelon, chocolate desserts.
7. Halvah Whipped Cream: Use 1/4 cup or more finely grated or crumbled halvah and 1 tablespoon of sugar (or more to taste) for 1 cup of cream. Whip and sweeten the cream as usual, then fold in the halvah. Or whip the halvah with the cream to start with, adding sugar to taste along the way; it won't get as fluffy, but the flavor will be more pronounced and the texture smoother.
Tastes good with: strawberries.
8. Lemon Whipped Cream: Use 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons cold Lemon Curd for 1 cup heavy cream. Whip the cream with the sugar and fairly thick but not quite stiff. Whisk in the lemon curd.
Tastes good with: strawberries or blueberries, fresh ginger gingerbread.
9. Fresh Mint Whipped Cream: Start at least 8 hours ahead. Stir 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves into 1cup heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours (no longer). Strain the cream into a bowl, pressing on the mint leaves to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the mint. Whip the cream with sugar to taste; or refrigerate it to whip up to a day later.
Tastes good with: strawberries or other berries, bananas, sponge cake, chocolate desserts, coffee drinks.
10.Praline Whipped Cream: Use 1/2 cup to 1 1/4 cup (to taste) finely chopped or crushed Praline for 1 cup heavy cream. Whip the cream until it holds a soft shape. If you fold in the crushed praline shortly before serving, it will retain its lovely crunch. If you whip the cream and add the praline a few hours in advance, the cream will dissolve the caramelized sugar and take on more of a burnt sugar flavor and color, though the bits of praline will be less crunchy. Divine either way!
Tastes good with: Berries, peaches, nectarines, bananas, apricots, chocolate desserts. Or use to top or fill a simple sponge cake or a nutty sponge cake. It's a superb filling for cream puffs too.
*Per KosherEye: Substitutions for Orange Flower Water include: For 1/2 tsp orange flower water substitute 2 to 3 tsp orange liqueur; or additional grated orange zest Other substitutes are orange extract, unsweetened orange juice concentrate. You can also use rose water or vanilla extract.
There are over 3,000 known pear varieties grown around the world, but only a handful of heirloom varieties have been carefully cultivated into the juicy, delicious fruit known as Northwest–grown USA Pears. Each has a distinctive character, texture, and flavor. Try them all to find your favorites!
Green Anjou In Season: September - July Flavor Profile: refreshing, sweet, juicy, with a hint of citrus
The Anjou is an all-purpose pear whose dense flesh makes it excellent for snacking, cooking, and slicing fresh into salads or over a bowl of oatmeal. Its skin color remains green as it ripens, so Check the Neck for Ripeness!
Red Anjou In Season: September - May Flavor Profile: aromatic, juicy, fresh and sweet
Sweet and succulent when ripe, red Anjou pears have a refreshingly sweet flavor and moist texture similar to their green counterparts. Their gorgeous maroon red skin adds a burst of color to salads, desserts, and entrees.
Bartlett In Season: August - February Flavor Profile: signature pear flavor with abundant juice
The Bartlett pear is unique in that its color turns from bright green to golden yellow as it ripens. Its creamy, sweet and aromatic flesh is perfect for eating fresh, as well as for canning or adding to salads or desserts.
Red Bartlett In Season: August - January Flavor Profile: juicy and sweet with a floral essence
Red Bartlett pears turn a gorgeous bright red as they ripen, and have a smooth, sweet, and juicy flesh. These delicious pears add a colorful pop to salads and desserts, and create a pretty pink hue when pureed or juiced with their skin intact.
Bosc In Season: September - April Flavor Profile: crisp, woodsy and honey-sweet
Bosc pears are easily identified by their long, tapered necks, long stems, and skin that is naturally russeted to a cinnamon brown color. They have a dense, fragrant, honey-sweet flesh with a smooth texture that holds its shape well when heated. It is an excellent choice for eating fresh as well as for cooking.
Comice In Season: September - March Flavor Profile: succulent, buttery, and exceptionally sweet
Comice pears have a full, round shape with a short neck and stem. They are most often green and sometimes have a red blush in spots. This succulent pear has a custardy flesh and a mellow sweetness that makes it an elegant dessert pear which is also delicious when paired with cheese.
Concorde In Season: September - February Flavor Profile: crunchy, earthy with a hint of vanilla
The Concorde pear is known for its tall, elongated neck and firm, dense flesh. Its skin is golden green and oftentimes has golden yellow russeting in spots. Its vanilla-sweet flavor and firm texture holds up well in heated applications, and it is also excellent for snacking.
Forelle In Season: October - March Flavor Profile: crisp, tangy, and refreshingly sweet
The Forelle is an uncommon variety known for its smaller size and its unique yellow-green skin that is naturally decorated with crimson freckles. It has a crisp texture even when ripe, and is perfect for snacking, cooking, and pairing with wine and cheese.
Seckel In Season: September - February Flavor Profile: bite-sized, crunchy, and ultra-sweet
Seckel pears are easily recognized by their small size and olive-green skin with a maroon blush. Known for their crunchy flesh and ultra-sweet flavor, they are an excellent choice for children’s snacks, pickling, or garnishing.
Starkrimson In Season: August – January Flavor Profile: aromatic, moist and sweet with a floral essence
The Starkrimson pear is named for its brilliant crimson red color, which brightens as it ripens. It has a smooth flesh, sweet flavor, and a subtle floral aroma, making it perfect for snacking, salads, or any fresh use that shows off the brilliance of its skin.