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Pantry Pointers

A Bit about Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is made from sweet white grapes and aged in wooden barrels for at least 10 years (that explains the hefty price!). You can substitute cider vinegar or a mild red wine vinegar.…

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About Baking Soda

Baking soda is used as a leavening agent in cakes, quick breads and biscuits. It requires acidic ingredients such as buttermilk, lemon juice or molasses to activate it. Many recipes call for 1/4…

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About Foil

When covering a baking sheet with aluminum foil, it makes little difference which side is up. However, experts recommend that cookies be baked with the shiny side of the foil down.

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About Shortening

Shortening is 100% vegetable oil that is solid at room temperature. It’s commonly sold under the brand names Crisco and Spree.

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Baking Soda and Baking Powder

Baking soda and baking powder are both leaveners that cause baked goods to rise and give them a light texture. But - and this is a big but - baking soda neutralizes acidic ingredients (buttermilk,…

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Bouillon or Broth Substitution

One bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon of granules dissolved in 1 cup of boiling water may be substituted for 1 cup of broth in any recipe.

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Brown Sugar Substitute

There’s no need to run to the store if you’re out of brown sugar—you can substitute 1 cup granulated sugar or 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar for 1 cup brown sugar. (It’s important to sift the…

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Butter Alternatives

I’m always looking to save fat and calories where I can. I discovered that I can replace butter or margarine with Molly McButter or Butter Buds in mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, stuffing,…

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Canola vs. Vegetable Oil

When a recipe calls for vegetable oil, canola oil can be substituted in equal amounts. There should be no difference in the final product.

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Chocolate

Bittersweet and semisweet chocolate are sometimes used interchangeably. But true to its name, bittersweet is not as sweet as semisweet. It's available in packages of 1-oz. squares, chips and candy…

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Citrus-Flavored Extracts

Keep lemon and orange extracts on your pantry shelf to use when you don’t have fresh citrus peel. If your recipe calls for 1 teaspoon grated orange or lemon peel, substitute 1/2 teaspoon extract.…

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Cleaner Ketchup Bottles

Ketchup bottle squeeze tops get messy so fast. I save tops from used bottles and run them through the dishwasher so I have clean ones on hand. When the top currently on the ketchup gets messy, I…

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Dated Dry Goods

I write the date on all of my dry goods, including cake mixes, spices and baking powder, before adding them to the pantry. It helps remind me how long I’ve had ingredients on hand. Of course, I…

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Different Types of Cornmeal

Cornmeal can be either white, yellow or blue depending on which strain of corn is used. Traditionally, white cornmeal is more popular in the South and yellow is preferred in the North. Blue…

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Great Toothpick Dispenser

Store toothpicks in an empty spice bottle with a shaker top and screw-on lid. It’s easy to remove the lid and gently shake out a toothpick through the holes when you need one. They’re always clean…

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Homemade Nonstick Coating

“I created my own nonstick coating to grease cake pans,” says Fran Curl. “I combine 1/4 cup each of flour, vegetable oil and shortening. I stir the mixture well and keep it in my refrigerator,”…

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Keep Marshmallows Fresh

To keep marshmallows from turning hard, store them in the freezer. When thawed, they’re like fresh. —Lyn C., Provo, Utah

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Lemon Juice Alternatives

When a recipe calls for juice from a fresh lemon, you can use either fresh, frozen or bottled lemon juice in equal amounts. When lemons are in season or you have excess lemons on hand, juice them…

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Lemon or Lime?

Lemon and lime juice or zest can be used interchangeably in equal amounts in most recipes. Add a little of both for a refreshing lemon/lime flavor.

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No-Fuss Container for Olive Oil

I keep my olive or vegetable oil in a plastic squeeze bottle like the kind used for ketchup in restaurants. This way I don’t have to stop and unscrew the cap in the middle of making a recipe.…

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Pan Substitution

In most recipes, an 11-in. x 7-in. x 2-in. pan can be substituted for a 9-in. square pan, since both hold 2 quarts. The baking time should not change.

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Powdered Buttermilk Blend

Keeping powdered buttermilk blend in your pantry is a convenient way to always have buttermilk on hand. You can reconstitute the amount needed for your recipe in just seconds. SACO Cultured…

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Rice in Recipes

Instant rice (which is precooked before packaging) and long grain rice require different amounts of liquid during cooking, so they cannot be substituted measure for measure. Once prepared, you can…

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Separating Coffee Filters

To make basket-type coffee filters simple to separate, turn the stack of filters inside out, then back. This gets them to pull away from one another. —Arleen S., Long Beach, California

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Soft Vs. Dry Bread Crumbs

Soft bread crumbs are made from fresh or slightly stale bread. Tear the bread apart with a fork or use a blender or food processor to break it into fluffy crumbs. Pile gently into a measuring cup…

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Softening Brown Sugar

To soften brown sugar, place a slice of bread or an apple wedge with the brown sugar in a covered container for a few days. If you’re in a hurry, microwave on high for 20-30 seconds. Repeat if…

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Store Onions and Potatoes Separately

I've learned never to store onions and potatoes together. The onions make the potatoes spoil more quickly. —Vickie Hullihen Phillips, Helsinki, Finland

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Storing Cooking Sprays

The manufacturers of various nonstick cooking sprays suggest their products be used within 2 years from the date of purchase for best flavor. Take a child’s crayon and mark the purchase date on…

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Storing Leftover Evaporated Milk

Leftover evaporated milk should be transferred from the can to another container for storage. If stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, it can be used safely within 3 days.

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Storing Olive Oil

Olive oil can be stored tightly capped at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 year. When chilled, the oil turns cloudy and thick. Chilled olive oil will return to its original…

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Storing Sugar

Store sugar in a pitcher with a tight lid. Just pour out what you need. —Cora H., Tiffin, Ohio

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Storing Vinegar

Vinegar should be kept in a cool dark place. Unopened, it will keep indefinitely; once opened, it can be stored for up to 6 months.

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Substitute for Corn Syrup

For each cup of light corn syrup in a recipe, substitute 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup water. For each cup of dark corn syrup, substitute 1 cup of packed brown sugar and 1/4 cup water.

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Substitute for Sour Cream

Plain yogurt can be substituted in equal amounts for sour cream in baking recipes as well as in casseroles, dips and sauces. You may notice dips and sauces might be thinner in consistency when…

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Testing Baking Powder and Soda

If you don't seem to have much success with making baked goods, there may be a simple answer—your baking powder and/or baking soda may not be fresh. The shelf life for these products is…

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Tricks for Opening Jars

Have a hard time opening new jars of pickles, jam and such? Stick a spoon between the lid and the glass threads and gently pry until you hear a pop. Then the lid will twist right off. —Suzi R.,…

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Types of Sugar

There’s no difference between powdered sugar and confectioners’ sugar—some cooks use one name, and some use the other.

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Using Baking Powder

Baking powder, like baking soda, is a leavening agent. It contains both baking soda and the correct amount of acid to activate it. Many recipes call for 1 teaspoon of baking powder per 1 cup of…

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Waxed vs. Parchment Paper

Waxed paper and parchment paper are not the same—parchment paper is heavier than waxed paper. But in many cases, the two can be interchanged. Waxed paper has lots of uses—loosely covering foods in…

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White Baking Chocolate

White baking chocolate is usually sold in 1-ounce squares in the baking section of grocery stores. You can substitute vanilla baking chips in place of squares, but be certain to use the same…

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