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Thursday, August 28, 2014, 6:34 p.m.
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HELPFUL HINTS

By HELOISE

This article was published March 12, 2014 at 2:32 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: I use a slow cooker several times a week. I always use fresh meat or meat that I thawed after being in the freezer. Can you put frozen meat in a slow cooker?

  • Anna L., via email

DEAR READER: No, and that’s from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry Hotline - (888) 674-6854 - which is the authority I go to for such questions. Meat always should be properly thawed before placing it in the slow cooker. The reason is that it takes a longer time for the slow cooker to reach the correct temperature if you are trying to cook a big hunk of frozen meat. Bacteria could start growing because of the lower temperature and longer cooking time. If you hear or read otherwise, it’s your call, and you are taking a chance of food poisoning. There are frozen meals available that are made specifically for the slow cooker. You can order them online or check in grocery stores.

DEAR HELOISE: I have noticed that spice manufacturers are making pre-measured spices in little blister pack-type packaging with a coordinating recipe on the back. I have been doing this for years. I take a clean, seven-day pill container and pre-measure my spices for my recipe into each compartment. I then wrap the recipe around the pill container with a rubber band. My preparation time is shortened by so much time, and I know in advance if I have all the spices I need for my dinner.

  • Darlene G., via email

DEAR HELOISE: If there is mold on the top of my jar of jam or jelly, can I just scoop it out and still eat the rest?

  • Bob H. in Florida

DEAR READER: No! You are seeing only the surface mold and not the remaining part, which may be growing down into the rest of the jam. According to experts, the mold could be producing a mycotoxin, which is poisonous and can make people extremely ill. Scooping it out might not get all of it. Don’t take a chance. Throw it out!

DEAR HELOISE: I have found a way to package hamburger meat and put it in freezer bags so my hands don’t touch the meat: I use my kitchen tongs. Open the bag and use the tongs to put whatever amount of meat you want into each bag. This is easier and safer than touching the meat.

  • Mary W. in Texas

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 Heloise@Heloise.com

Food, Pages 36 on 03/12/2014

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