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You might be storing your ice cream all wrong

It’s extra hot outside, but that doesn’t have to bother you — mostly because it’s the perfect excuse to enjoy an extra scoop of ice cream. (Is there really anything better than ice cream on a hot summer day?) But before you go and load your freezer full of pints of your favorite flavors, you may want to consider how you’re handling that frozen treat. Ice cream is a perishable product, and it needs to be treated with care. Whether ice cream lasts in your house a few days or a few months (who are these people?), you should pay attention to how you’re storing and handling it. Of course the easiest way to deal with ice cream is buying it and eating it in one sitting. (You may take this as your permission to do so — after all, food waste is a huge concern nowadays.) But, if you’re…

How to freeze asparagus

Asparagus is one of the first official signs of spring and a promise that more homegrown produce is right on its heels. All winter long we wait for those green spears to show in the garden, but just like that, warm weather hits and the season is over. If you’re getting into June and you still have an abundance of asparagus in the ground, don’t fret. Freezing it means you’ll have asparagus spears available for the whole year to come. 1. Go homegrown Only bother freezing locally grown asparagus while it’s in season for your area. Asparagus that has been shipped from other states, or even internationally, will almost always be less tender and have less flavor — not a good place to start. 2. Size matters The spears you select for freezing should be at least as thick as a pencil. Thinner spears don’t hold up very well in…

Foods you should never freeze

Your freezer allows you to do everything from plan meals ahead to eliminate food waste. While you can usually throw in most dinner dishes or leftovers and be fine, the super cold temperature isn’t ideal for all foods. Certain ingredients can morph into something gross once thawed or even become a health hazard. The freezer has it’s limits. Here are some foods that just shouldn’t be frozen: Milk While it would be nice to have a few quarts of this staple item stowed away, milk stored in the freezer can separate into chunks and turn watery when it thaws. It is still technically safe to consume when this happens, but the consistency won’t be anything like what you would expect for your morning coffee or cereal. If you absolutely must free milk, try putting it in an ice cube tray to lessen the effect. Pull it out, and you won’t…

Get your ice cubes to stop sticking with this easy trick

If you’re like many Americans, the ice cube maker on your refrigerator is broken no less than 364 days a the year — and that’s if you’re lucky enough to have one. Most of us still rely on the ancient technology that is ice cube trays. But even trusty trays come with problems. With only 12 cubes per freeze (24 if you’re fancy and have two trays!), you’re out of ice in no time, especially if you are entertaining. You probably freeze cubes ahead of time and store then in your freezer’s side bid or even a plastic bag. But right when you go to gather the fruits of your pre-planning labor, you find your cubes have fused together into an enormous indoor iceberg.  Yuck! Avoiding this situation in the future is a total cinch. Don’t let your ice cubes stick together in the first place. Here’s how: Also see, the difference…

The first TV dinner was a Thanksgiving feast

While you may not think America’s most celebrated homemade holiday feast has anything to do with a modest frozen TV dinner, the two forever share a slice of history. The first mass produced TV dinner was, in fact, literally made from Thanksgiving leftovers. As the story goes, in 1952, someone in charge of purchasing at Omaha-based C.A. Swanson & Sons seriously overestimated how much turkey Americans would consume that Thanksgiving. With 520,000 pounds of frozen turkey to unload, a company salesman named Gerry Thomas had a light bulb idea. Thomas, having been inspired by the neatly packaged Pan Am Airlines airplane food, ordered 5,000 aluminum trays. He recruited women, armed with scoops and spatulas, to run his culinary assembly line, and work began making mini Thanksgiving feasts full of turkey, corn-bread dressing, peas, and sweet potatoes, thus creating the first-ever TV dinner. The original TV Dinners  sold for 98 cents…

Freezing herbs and other methods to make them last all winter

The cool, fall weather has been here long enough that most gardens are finally on their last leg. For many, the biggest draw of a home garden is the easy access to fresh herbs. But soon it will be too cold, and there won’t be any herbs left to pick straight from the garden. So what can you do to prolong access to your herb garden? Each herb favors different types of treatments, so Doug Oster, garden editor for the Tribune-Review and Everybodygardens.com gave us the dirt on how to best save each of the common herbs in the coming winter months. Move herbs Indoors If you grew herbs in containers this summer, some of them may continue to thrive if you bring them indoors. “There are certain herbs that will happily keep going on the window sill,” said Oster. “Rosemary, thyme, sage, mint, lemon balm. Those will be happy to limp along near a window indoors. They’re not going to look…

You can thank this woman for your convenient frozen dinner

What’s for dinner tonight? If you’re considering anything that comes from the freezer, you can thank Mary Engle Pennington. Pennington, “The Ice Lady,” was a pioneer in food preservation. As the population of the United States shifted from the countryside into the city in the early 20th century, people began turning to grocery stores for their entire food supplies. The lure of the Industrial Age left families without the relative ease and safety of food they once had in their backyard farms. But there were no standards for safe food handling or storage at the time, and as a result, many frozen or refrigerated foods were rightfully deemed unsafe. Among other issues, people complained their foods arrived to their grocer spoiled, dried out and even moldy. Hundreds died and thousands became sick every year after consuming contaminated foods — particularly eggs, milk, fish and poultry. Pennington was a key scientist in the passage of the landmark…

This is why you should never defrost food on the kitchen counter or microwave

We’ve all been there — the intention to cook a nice chicken breast for dinner only to realize we’ve forgotten to defrost. Rather than looking for an alternative, we attempt to speed up the process by tossing the meat in the microwave instead. So what’s the big deal? Well, defrosting at those warm temperatures puts you at serious risk of eating dangerous levels of bacteria. Yikes! According to Professor Costa Stathopoulos from Abertay University, defrosting meat in the microwave “is really not the best of techniques.” Stathopoulos appeared on BBC Two’s Inside the Factory earlier this month and showed the difference between turkey meat that had been defrosted in the fridge versus turkey meat defrosted on the counter. The latter had twice the amount of harmful bacteria, including ecoli microorganisms. And that’s not even considering the warm temps the meat reaches in the microwave. Cold temperatures slow down bacterial growth, so your chance of an upset stomach…

Can you still eat freezer burned foods?

The freezer can be a lifesaver when it comes to food prep. Whether it’s that container of frozen mashed potatoes, a homemade pie or that slow cooker starter, frozen foods can be a lifesaver, but there’s always the risk of dreaded freezer burn. So what exactly is this icy crust composed of, and is the food still safe to eat? Freezer burn occurs when foods dry out in cold temperatures. Those icy crystals are a result of moisture escaping your pint of ice cream or bag of chicken breasts and turning to ice on the outside of the food. This means either the food wasn’t stored properly, or it has been frozen for too long — everything dries out eventually. But fear not, a little freezer burn never hurt anyone. It’s entirely safe to eat foods that have a little burn, though they might not be as tasty. Texture of freezer burnt foods…