Sunday, February 01, 2009

Testing for Freshness

My daughter was cleaning out her cupboards, mostly to reorganize the space. Naturally she discovered some goodies that were well past their prime. We all have I thought I'd share some tips on how to know when something is ready for the trash bin.

Dried herbs & Spices - easy, sniff and taste a tiny amount. If it's lost flavor from the get won't have any in a dish. Ideally, we should mark the date we bought it right on the container. Most seasonings lose their oomph within a year.

Nuts should actually be kept in the freezer unless you are going to use them within a couple of weeks or they'll go rancid...(that weird "old" smell).

Baking powder and baking soda will look white forever and since there really isn't any taste or smell to give old, useless boxes away. Both of them are supposed to work together with flour and act sort of like yeast...expanding the dough. You really can see it working in muffins. It's why you usually add them just before baking.

Here's the real test to ensure their freshness:
Baking powder - 1 tsp in half glass of hot water - if it's fresh, it will bubble up. If not - replace it.
Baking soda's test is a little different - pour half tsp of vinegar over a little baking soda. It too will bubble up if fresh.

If you have any other tips on how to tell if things are fresh, please leave them in the comments.

You can also email me any kitchen questions you might have - ruth(at)4everykitchen(dot)com


Ruth Daniels said...

Great tip from Christopher, NYC
"I learned a great way to keep parsley fresh from a Russian lady I knew.

Put the parsley stalks in a glass or jar of water (like a bouquet in a vase),sprinkle the leaves with a little water, cover loosely with a plastic bag (the clear ones from your local produce section work great) and put in the fridge.
I put mine on the shelf in the door. I think it's best if the stems are freshly cut at the bottom, and if you have them loose (as opposed to tied or rubber
banded in a bunch) you can just pull out as many stalks as you need for your recipe. The water only needs to be changed after about a week. My parsley has lasted a good week and a half to two weeks, but it does start
to get a little yellow after a while."

I also do the same with basil - but leave it on a window sill NOT IN THE FRIDGE...basil is so delicate, the cold kills it quickly.

Martha said...

Just checking out all your blogs after being introduced to Presto Pasta Nights. This one is a pretty cool blog Ruth - different. I like it :-)

Ruth Daniels said...

Thanks Martha