Bacteria can spread when washing poultry

Dear Heloise: Is it necessary to rinse fresh poultry before cooking? My mother always did, and for years I also rinsed it. I have read, though, that it should not be, because it spreads bacteria in the kitchen. – A Reader, Charlotte, N.C.

You are right! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, raw meats and poultry should never be washed because of possible cross-contamination from juices. As you wash the meat and poultry, juices could splatter in the sink, onto counters and elsewhere in the kitchen. Once the food is thoroughly cooked, the bacteria will be killed, so there is no need for rinsing. – Heloise

P.S. Another food that should never be washed is eggs in the shell, because bacteria can get through the porous shell to contaminate the egg.


Dear Heloise: Do you have a recipe for making sweetened condensed milk? Can I substitute cream of coconut in recipes for sweetened condensed milk? – Marty B., Eastover, N.C.

Yes, I do have a recipe, and yes, you can use cream of coconut as a substitute! For the recipe, gather the following:

1 cup powdered milk

1/3 cup boiling water

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons butter

Mix all the ingredients together in a blender and blend on low for one to two minutes. Increase the speed until smooth. You shouldn’t be able to feel any sugar granules when done, and the amount will be equal to one can of sweetened condensed milk. You can find this recipe and many others in my Heloise’s Seasonings, Sauces and Substitutes pamphlet, which is available to buy online at, or by sending $3 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (68 cents) envelope to: Heloise/SSS, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. In an emergency, substitutions are great, but be aware that they might not have the same texture and consistency as the original. – Heloise


Dear Readers: We all have canned items in our pantries. I asked my staff in Heloise Central if they wipe the top of the cans before opening and using. All but one staff member ALWAYS wipes the top, while my one staff member said she wipes the can only if it looks dirty or dusty (she also uses a can opener that takes the lid completely off, and there is no danger of it falling back into the can). Readers, write and let me know if you always wipe the top of cans or not, and why. – Heloise


Dear Heloise: When a bottle of mustard, barbecue sauce, ketchup, etc., is seemingly empty, my wife cuts off the top and bottom with a serrated knife. She then uses a flexible spatula to scrape the lining of the bottle into a small container. Each of these bottles yields over 1/2 to 1 cup of sauce to be used another day. – Paul and Becki S. in Florida

Hints from Heloise run occasionally in Lifestyles. Readers may send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE, or email: Letters won’t be answered personally.