Tips for extending life in the kitchen

Dear Heloise: To keep metal scrubbers from RUSTING, wrap them tightly in foil. This will keep them fresh and rust-free. — Felicia Fox, via email

Felicia, that’s a good idea. Another option is placing the metal scrubbers in a plastic bag and storing it under the sink in a bowl. — Heloise

MUFFIN MAKING

Dear Heloise: I was making some ham-and-cheese muffins this morning, and my dry buttermilk has a tendency to get lumpy. (I use dry because it keeps longer than the liquid form.) I used my coffee mill to grind it. This worked perfectly. — Linda V., via iPhone

IS IT EDIBLE?

Dear Heloise: I will buy what I assume to be fresh ground beef at the meat market and put it in the refrigerator, not the freezer. When I take it out to use a couple of days later, it will have a dark color. It doesn’t smell bad, but the dark color gives me pause. Is it safe to eat? — Gary S., via email

Gary, when meat turns brown, it usually means that most of the blood has seeped out, but if it’s still pink in the middle of the meat and does not smell bad, it’s generally safe to cook and eat. — Heloise

SPINNING EGGS

Dear Heloise: There is a foolproof way to tell cooked eggs from uncooked ones: Place an egg on the counter and spin it. If it spins freely and quickly, it’s hard-boiled. If it spins slowly and wobbles, it’s uncooked. The reason is that when the egg is cooked, the yolk is fixed and stabilized, which allows the egg to spin. When an egg is uncooked, the yolk prevents the egg from spinning freely. — Francine T., Falls Church, Va.

COPPER CAPER

Dear Heloise: I inherited my mother’s stainless-steel pots and pans with a copper bottom on the outside. That copper has turned black over the many years it was used and washed. How do I remove the discoloration of this copper and make it shine again? — Karen P., Godwin, N.C.

Karen, here is my favorite method for cleaning copper: (1) Make a paste of 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 cup of white vinegar. (2) Stir in a little flour and keep blending until you have a thin paste that will adhere to the copper. (3) Cover the copper area with the salt-vinegar-flour paste and let it sit for 15 minutes to one hour. (4) Rinse in warm water and soap, and polish with a clean, soft cloth. WARNING: All decorative copper items should be washed only in warm, soapy water and dried thoroughly. Never use an abrasive cleaner on these items, because you’ll probably remove a protective layer of lacquer. — Heloise

SLOW DOWN THOSE BANANAS

Dear Heloise: I put clear, wide shipping tape around the stem of a bunch of bananas to greatly slow their ripening. — Mary H., via email

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