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Helpful Hints

By Heloise

This article was published July 2, 2014 at 1:49 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: I just finished finely chopping onions for food I was preparing. Could I chop some in advance, place in a plastic freezer bag and store it in the freezer for future use?

How about doing the same with garlic?

-- Ernst G., via email

DEAR READER: Yes to freezing both of these items. After chopping, wrap tightly in plastic wrap or a plastic freezer bag. Just be sure you will be adding the onions or garlic to something you are cooking. After these foods have been frozen, the texture changes, so you don't want to use them raw after freezing.

DEAR HELOISE: Many grocery stores have people they pay to demonstrate food items. There are some problems with this, so some of us in the industry have hints to help out:

• These foods are samples, not snacks.

• Do not allow your kids to roam the store in search of these samples, and be aware that many stores do not let kids have samples unless parents are present.

• Always ask what the food is first. Do not eat the food and then ask, "What is it?" and then tell the demo person that you are allergic.

• Do not touch something and then put it back.

Thank you for helping to educate the public.

-- Food demonstrators in the Midwest

DEAR READER: These samples are a great way to try new foods, and these are some good rules for all to remember before approaching a demonstration.

DEAR HELOISE: I have two young kids who enjoy grapes as a healthy snack (me too). We like to buy them in bulk, but have the problem of them shriveling up and drying out in the refrigerator if not eaten right away.

To counter that, I pluck them off the stem and then store them in a bowl, covered with water. It keeps them hydrated so they last lots of extra days, and it doubles as a great way to wash them, too.

-- Paul M., via email

DEAR READER: This is the same storage method many readers use for keeping celery and carrots lasting longer. However, experts state that grapes are to be stored, unwashed, in the refrigerator, loosely wrapped in paper towels or a plastic bag.

DEAR HELOISE: Rotisserie chickens are very convenient and can be used in many ways. I buy two and chill them in the refrigerator for a few hours to cool them off. It is very easy, at this point, to rip the carcass in half with your hands or a knife, and cut off the meat for use in future meals. I wrap enough for one meal in a foil packet and stack these packets in a large, freezable container. You can then take out one packet at a time, while keeping the rest frozen.

-- Rose R. in Florida

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

Food on 07/02/2014

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