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Fran's Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long do eggs last in the fridge?

Eggs in the Shell will last 4 to 5 weeks in the refrigerator. Raw Egg Whites will last for up to 2 to 4 days in the refrigerator. Hard Boiled Eggs are good for 1 week in the refrigerator.

For more information about how long foods will last in the fridge or freezer, visit our food storage section.

2. How do you buy parsley?

Parsley can be purchased two ways, either fresh, or dried. Fresh parsley can be found in the produce section of your favorite grocery store. It's usually sold in bunches.

Dried parsley is already ground, and can be found in the spice section of your grocery store. The spice section is usually in the same aisle as the baking supplies. For more information about parsley, visit our Herbs & Spices section.

3. I'm using olive oil because I was told it was great to use. But I've also heard that Pam® is best to use. What do you suggest?

Pam is great for greasing cooking surfaces. It keeps your food from sticking. Olive oil is great when your recipe calls for oil. It's low in calories and fats and it tastes great. For more information about olive oil, visit our Kitchen Tips - Guide to Olive Oil section.

4. I've never really used an oven before. Is it better to use that oven-cleaning spray or just put aluminum foil or something else in the oven to keep it clean? And where do I position the shelf in the oven, for specific foods?

If your oven is already clean (as it should be if it's never been used), then I'd suggest using an oven liner. You can find these at kitchen stores or in catalogs. If your oven needs to be cleaned and it is not a self-cleaning type, oven cleaning spray will work just fine.

The normal position for your rack is in the middle. This ensures even cooking for all your baking. The top rack position is good for broiling and browning things quickly. Otherwise I would recommend that you leave your rack in the middle position.

5. I've heard that fresh herbs and spices are better than the dry variety. Do I use fresh herbs the same way as I would the dry type?

The general ratio to substitute fresh herbs for dried is 3 to 1. That is, use 3 times as much fresh herbs as dried herbs that recipes might call for. For more information about spices, visit our Herbs & Spices section.

6. What is consommé and where do I find it in the grocery store?

Consommé is a clear soup made by boiling meat or chicken, bones, vegetables, etc., to extract their nutritive properties: served hot or jellied.

Most grocery stores carry this item in or around the soup isle. You'll probably find it on a shelf near the bullion and broth.

7. One of the food safety rules is to wash hands in hot, soapy water. Does hot water kill bacteria?

Hot water that is comfortable for washing hands is not hot enough to kill bacteria. The body oils on your hands hold soils and bacteria, so hot or warm, soapy water is more effective than cold, soapy water at removing those oily soils and the bacteria in them.

8. What food safety precautions should I take when shopping at the supermarket?

While shopping, you should keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from ready-to-eat foods in your grocery shopping cart and your grocery bags. Consider placing these raw foods inside plastic bags to keep the juices contained.

Also, transport food home right away and refrigerate perishables immediately to prevent any bacteria from rapidly multiplying in the food. When the weather's hot, place the roceries in the air-conditioned compartment of your car rather than the hot trunk. For more information about food safety visit our Food Preparation & Handling section at Fran's Kitchen Tips.

9. What is the proper temperature for my refrigerator?

Refrigerators should stay at 41° F (5° C) or less. A temperature of 41° F (5° C) or less is important because it slows the growth of most bacteria. The temperature won't kill the bacteria, but it will keep them from multiplying, and the fewer there are, the less likely you are to get sick from them.

Freezing at zero° F (-18° C) or less stops bacterial growth (although it won't kill all bacteria already present).

10. How long can leftover food be left out of the refrigerator?

Hot foods should be refrigerated as soon as possible, or within two hours after cooking. Don't keep food that's been standing out for more than two hours. Don't taste test it, either. Even a small amount of contaminated food can cause illness.

Date all your leftovers so they can be used within a safe time. Generally, they remain safe when refrigerated for three to five days. If in doubt, throw it out.

For more information about food storage visit our Food Storage section. We have storage charts for all types of food there.

11. What is the best way to clean kitchen counters?

Bleach and commercial kitchen cleaning agents are the best sanitizers, provided they're diluted according to product directions. They're the most effective at getting rid of bacteria. Hot water and soap does a good job, too, but may not kill all strains of bacteria. Water may get rid of visible dirt, but not bacteria.

Also, be sure to keep dishcloths and sponges clean because, when wet, these materials harbor bacteria and may promote their growth.

12. Should I wash raw meat, poultry, or seafood before cooking it?

Washing raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb, veal, or seafood before cooking is not recommended. Although washing these raw food items may get rid of some of the pathogens, it also allows the pathogens to spread around the kitchen.

Cooking these foods to a safe internal temperature destroys any bacteria that may be present. Also, don't forget to wash your hands with hot, soapy water before, in between, and after preparing these foods. For more information about meat, poultry and pork, visit our Cooking & Serving Meat section at Fran's Kitchen Tips.

13. How can I avoid food borne illness and food poisoning?

The four most important points to remember are:

1. Wash your hands frequently
2. Cook to proper temperatures
3. Refrigerate foods promptly
4. Avoid cross contamination

For more information about food safety visit our Food Preparation & Handling section at Fran's Kitchen Tips.

14. How can I prevent a soggy bottom pie crust?

Stop your bottom pie crusts from turning soggy with these tips:

  • Bake the pie on a lower rack in your oven. This will concentrate heat on the bottom of the pie and help the crust crisp.
  • Brush the bottom crust with corn syrup before filling.
  • Sprinkle dried bread crumbs or crushed cornflakes on the bottom crust before filling and baking.
  • If the recipe calls for adding the filling while it's hot, don't let the filling cool before you add it to the crust.

15. Do I need to sift flour before or after measuring?

It depends on how the ingredient is described in the recipe. If the recipe says '2 cups sifted flour' you should sift the flour, then measure it. If the recipe says '2 cups flour, sifted', you should measure the flour first, then sift it. Visit our Reading Recipes section for help understanding and reading recipes.

16. I NEVER knew what 10x sugar meant! Is it true that it means "powdered sugar" or "confectioner's sugar"? Or, am I way off course? lol. IF it DOES mean "the above", WHY is it called, "10x"? Thanks!

Confectioners' sugar, powdered sugar and 10x sugar are the same thing - there is no difference.

The name "10X sugar" refers to the number of times the sugar is processed to produce a fine powder.

17. My wife has a habit of placing the the open plastic packaging (example, the cheese manufacturer's plastic wrapping) into another plastic bag and storing in the refrigerator. My feeling is that the manufacturer's wrap should be removed and discarded, or you run the risk of cross contamination, as who knows where the original packaging has been in the store, or who may have touched it.

How you store an item depends on what you plan to do with that item. If you're going to keep it in the refrigerator and use it right away, it is perfectly alright to store foods in their original containers - providing the container can be resealed properly. If the item can not be resealed properly I suggest you put it in a package that does provide a good seal, such as plastic storage bag or plastic containers with resealable lids. If you plan on freezing or refreezing an item, then you should put it in a freezer bag or container to protect it. Most packaging isn't intended for use in freezing.

Have a question we haven't addressed? Click here to ask Fran!
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