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"Problem" ingredients

meatn3 Mar 4, 2009 03:33 PM

I have had several recent conversations with friends about cooking frugally and reducing waste. All of us seem to have at least one grocery item that we have trouble using up before it goes bad.
Mine is celery...What are your problem ingredients? You love them, but just can't seem to use them up in time!

  1. cayjohan Mar 4, 2009 03:43 PM

    I'd have to say fresh herbs. If one is buying herbs for a specific dish and flavor, you have to be committed to eating that flavor for a few days, else the herbs will go south. Cilantro, say. Love it, but I don't want five days of cilantro-flavored food. Basil is another.

    Thankfully our guinea pigs will eat up the excess (as with celery). Still, problematic. Wih I could grow my own herbs year rounds.

    Cay

    9 Replies
    1. re: cayjohan
      Caroline1 Mar 5, 2009 12:56 AM

      I keep clamshells of fresh herbs in the freezer all the time. Herbs with large leaves, such as sage, may not serve well as a garnish once frozen, but for cooking, the flavor is unchanged and they work great. At the moment I have mint, chives, rosemary, thyme, basil, epizote, parsley, cilantro, and probably a few more that don't pop readily to mind. Allows me to use them at leisure instead of playing the herb-of-the-week cooking game.

      1. re: Caroline1
        a
        Agent Orange Mar 29, 2009 07:47 PM

        When I've thrown rosemary and thyme in the freezer they have both turned black. Not appetizing.

        1. re: Agent Orange
          alkapal Mar 30, 2009 05:37 AM

          yep!

          1. re: Agent Orange
            chef chicklet Mar 30, 2009 08:27 AM

            yes mine too, is there a secret to freezing them? I say just chop them up and make bread or a pesto and freeze that.

            1. re: chef chicklet
              h
              HillJ Mar 30, 2009 05:35 PM

              When I have fresh herbs to use up I typically use them in oil or butter. With the oil I refrig with the butter I freeze for use in recipes.

          2. re: Caroline1
            danhole Mar 30, 2009 07:10 AM

            Caroline,

            You have said this before - "clamshells", what do you mean by that?

            Dani

            Never Mind! I see your answer down below!

            1. re: danhole
              j
              Jeff_the_Kid Jun 10, 2009 10:49 AM

              I believe a "clamshell" is the way the herbs come packaged. Two moulded plastice pieces, hinged on one side which close together areound the item packaged.

          3. re: cayjohan
            Soop Mar 5, 2009 01:29 AM

            I tend to make excuses. The only stuff I ever really buy is rosemary.. hey that's about it. oh yeah, basil. I can think of about a million things to use those guys in.

            1. re: cayjohan
              f
              fourunder Mar 5, 2009 02:53 PM

              Celery? You must learn how to enjoy a few more Bloody Marys :)

            2. Axalady Mar 4, 2009 03:47 PM

              meatn3, this isn't an answer to your post, but I thought I'd share how celery is no longer a "problem" ingredient for me. A few years ago my sister-in-law gave me Tupperware Fridge Smart containers. I cut the celery stalks off the base, wash it and dry it, put it in the container, put a paper towel over it and put the lid on. I open one of the holes for airflow. If it's in there long enough I may exchange the paper towel for a dry one. The celery stays good for weeks. I have several different sized containers I use for celery, carrots and lettuce.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Axalady
                goodhealthgourmet Mar 4, 2009 03:54 PM

                a plastic bag works just as well - either a partially closed zipper bag, or one of the "Baggies" that are flimsier & more breathable. i do it with herbs too, and my parsley lasts for at least 10 days that way, cilantro at least a week.

                1. re: Axalady
                  Caitlin McGrath Mar 4, 2009 03:59 PM

                  An even simpler celery preservation method, which I learned here on Chowhound, is to wrap the intact bunch in aluminum foil, enclosing it completely, and store it in the crisper drawer. It stays crisp for a couple weeks.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                    chicaraleigh Mar 13, 2009 02:03 PM

                    yep Caitlin - that's a great tip. Exactly how I store mine and it keeps forever.....well, almost forever

                    1. re: chicaraleigh
                      j
                      Jacey Mar 25, 2009 08:13 PM

                      would this work for other veggies, too? like asparagus, carrots, peppers, etc?

                      1. re: Jacey
                        chicaraleigh Mar 26, 2009 08:03 AM

                        good question - I'm not sure. I've never tried with anything else except for onion. That didn't work out very well. It turned into a really slimy mess-ugh!

                        1. re: Jacey
                          Caitlin McGrath Mar 27, 2009 03:45 PM

                          It works with cucumbers.

                  2. lucygoosey Mar 4, 2009 03:49 PM

                    It may be weird but mine is bread. I occasionally love it but then it's breadcrumbs and how many breadcrumbs can I use?
                    I've tried freezing half the bread but it's not the same.
                    I can take on your celery, I spread it w/ cream cheese and a little vegemite.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: lucygoosey
                      Soop Mar 5, 2009 01:30 AM

                      Oh that has to be mine. I tend to buy fresh bread on the weekend, make toast or eat some with cheese, and then half of it doen't get eaten.

                      But then I sometimes make My own, so it's not a huge deal. I definitely will try and make some foccacia tonight.

                      1. re: Soop
                        Emmmily Mar 5, 2009 12:17 PM

                        That was mine too until I discovered papa al pomodoro! saute some finely chopped onion & garlic in olive oil and/or butter, add sliced stale bread, stir it around so the bread soaks up lots of garlicy oil. Add a big can of tomatoes and some water or broth. Herbs like basil, oregano, or parseley, maybe some grated romano. Once it's cooked for a bit, either mash it up best you can in the pot with a fork or a chunkier soup or use an immersion blender or a food processor to smooth it out. At that point you can add pasta, ground meat, spinach, white beans, whatever you like (the authentic version would be to leave it plain, but I can't help but tinker).

                        1. re: Emmmily
                          Michelly Jun 11, 2009 05:15 PM

                          Smaller (half-size) loaves of bread are available in some stores. But they don't come in sourdough...yet.

                    2. dinaofdoom Mar 4, 2009 07:54 PM

                      baby greens.
                      i'm single and the bag always go bad before i can finish it all.
                      and the bulk options are even more expensive or not as good.
                      so i keep buying the damn bags, only to throw some of it out...
                      vicious circle!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: dinaofdoom
                        Caitlin McGrath Mar 4, 2009 08:06 PM

                        Try using the rolling-in-paper towels trick outlined by Axalady and goodhealthgourmet above. It really helps prolong the life of delicate greens.

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                          dinaofdoom Mar 4, 2009 09:37 PM

                          thanks!
                          i hate it when they get slimy and nasty.
                          that is probably the one thing i throw out with regularity.

                      2. l
                        Louise Mar 5, 2009 09:27 AM

                        Fresh herbs and celery. Though celery can be used up in a clean out the fridge type vegetable soup. And I suppose fresh herbs can go into a salad mix, depending on what they are, probably not rosemary.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Louise
                          dinaofdoom Mar 7, 2009 10:32 PM

                          i got a huge amount of dill from my CSA, which is my least favorite herb (can't think of what to do with a quantity, unless i am pickling, which i never am...).

                          ended up making a crapload of compound butter (with meyer lemon, capers and sun dried tomatoes) as well as much lemony yogurty dill sauce as my palate could stand.
                          and i still threw a bit out!

                          some herbs are hard to use up.
                          i have the same prob with cilantro.

                          1. re: dinaofdoom
                            Das Ubergeek Mar 8, 2009 08:09 AM

                            Next time chop it with brown sugar and salt, pack it between and around two sides of salmon, wrap it tightly in cling film, and cure it three days under weight, turning twice daily. Then rinse it, slice the gravlax thin, and eat with rye crackers and cucumbers and a little sour cream.

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek
                              Michelly Jun 11, 2009 05:26 PM

                              My dh's half Mexican, so we (I) make a lot of dishes using cilantro.
                              Try this Border Pesto: pulse 2 T pepitas (green squash seeds) in a blender with 1/2 t kosher salt until powdered. Add 1 clove garlic, 2 c cilantro leaves (packed), and pulse until chopped. With blender running, slowly add in 1/2 c olive oil. Pour into a bowl and stir in 2 T grated parmesan and 1 c crema agria OR creme fraiche (can substitute 1/2 c plain yogurt combined with 1/2 c sour cream) until smooth. Use as you would basil pesto; on pasta, spread on toast, or dolloped on soup (pref. tortilla or chicken lime soup).
                              Will post the cilantro soup recipe as soon as I can find it.

                          2. re: Louise
                            u
                            umbushi plum Mar 29, 2009 08:15 PM

                            i was going to mention celery for soup too! and if you have a big lot a parsley i always make tabouli with heaps and heaps of lemons yum

                            also fresh rosmary, sometimes i let it just sit out and dries out and i use it as "dried" rosmary.

                          3. l
                            laliz Mar 5, 2009 09:43 AM

                            milk ~~ even a quart goes bad usually before I finish it. I tend to buy little cans of evaporated milk for that reason.

                            bread, especially in the summer.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: laliz
                              goodhealthgourmet Mar 5, 2009 01:31 PM

                              laliz, you could also just keep powdered milk on hand and mix up as little or as much as you need at any given time.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                p
                                piccola Mar 29, 2009 04:29 PM

                                That's what I started doing after throwing out another litre of milk -- I buy it for baking and the occasional coffee, but since I tend to drink coffee at the office, the carton at home always goes sour. Now, I just mix up a small amount when I need it.

                                Not sure I'd recommend that for someone who wants to drink the milk, though. It doesn't quite taste the same.

                                1. re: piccola
                                  Paulustrious Mar 30, 2009 08:35 AM

                                  Higher fat milk lasts longer and (in my mind ) seems to freeze better.

                              2. re: laliz
                                q
                                queencru Mar 5, 2009 07:24 PM

                                I have a problem with milk as well. The tiny ones are not cost effective and get finished too quickly, and the larger ones go bad too early. I've switched to organic and find it lasts longer. Probably in the overall scheme of things I don't end up spending any more money on it because I'm not throwing out as much once it goes bad.

                              3. lisavf Mar 5, 2009 10:59 AM

                                Definitely celery and herbs. And scallions. You can only buy them in a prearranged "bunch" of maybe six, and invariably I only need one or two.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: lisavf
                                  l
                                  Louise Mar 5, 2009 11:02 AM

                                  I found a tasty way to use them up--Chinese scallion pancakes. They're really easy and take staple ingredients to fix--scallions, water, flour, salt, oil (pref sesame oil).

                                  1. re: lisavf
                                    Caroline1 Mar 5, 2009 11:09 AM

                                    If you put them in a glass of water, just like flowers in a vase, they'll keep much longer. Change the water daily. You can refrigerate or keep them on the counter. It works with celery too, but I don't bother because I'm CLUMSY...!!! Who needs to keep knocking a big old bunch of celery over all the time? Especially in the refrigerator! '-)

                                    1. re: lisavf
                                      Michelly Jun 11, 2009 05:27 PM

                                      Scramble scallions and herbs into your morning eggs.

                                    2. kattyeyes Mar 5, 2009 11:36 AM

                                      In our local supermarkets, you can buy celery by the stalk, so it is no longer a problem ingredient for us. :)

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: kattyeyes
                                        goodhealthgourmet Mar 5, 2009 01:31 PM

                                        your stores sell celery by the stalk? really? i've never seen that!

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                          c
                                          cyberroo Mar 5, 2009 01:35 PM

                                          Our more upscale market also sells celery by the stalk, which I thought was fantastic until I bought some and it was pretty ragged. Still better than leaving a bunch of celery to wilt in my fridge.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                            kattyeyes Mar 5, 2009 01:42 PM

                                            Yup! And just regular supermarkets here in CT...nothing particularly upscale about them (Stop & Shop, A&P). It's handy when you need just a stalk or two for a recipe.

                                            1. re: kattyeyes
                                              goodhealthgourmet Mar 5, 2009 02:10 PM

                                              interesting. i'm in Jersey & i've never seen it like that. then again i only buy occasional random things at our local Stop & Shop and A&P - they're both pretty gross, i don't even look at the produce there.

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                kattyeyes Mar 5, 2009 02:14 PM

                                                That is really interesting. Our local S&S is kind of the only game in my town (except for A&P)...both nearby S&Ss recently remodeled and have reflected those costs in their pricing. So many times, I run over to Price Right for produce. But for a stalk or two of celery, S&S gets my biz.

                                                1. re: kattyeyes
                                                  goodhealthgourmet Mar 6, 2009 04:52 PM

                                                  i'm really lucky - i live within 2 miles of Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Mitsuwa, and there's a terrific independent gourmet market a few minutes away as well...so it's rare that i need/want to shop for anything at the local A&P, S&S or Pathmark.

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                    kattyeyes Mar 6, 2009 05:03 PM

                                                    Oh, sure, just rub it in! You ARE lucky. TJ & WF are about 25 minutes away and I don't even know what Mitsuwa is, but I'm sure I'd only be more envious if I knew...as our Asian grocery is a 30-minute ride, too. The name is priceless, tho'--A Dong. :)

                                                    1. re: kattyeyes
                                                      goodhealthgourmet Mar 7, 2009 06:18 AM

                                                      aww, i didn't mean to rub it in :) i'm just trying to be thankful for what i DO have at my disposal, because ever since i left Southern California last year, i've been griping about how much i miss having Farmers' Markets and WFM locations everywhere i turn!

                                              2. re: kattyeyes
                                                LindaWhit Mar 11, 2009 09:02 AM

                                                My local Stop & Shop (Boston area) doesn't do that, but Roche Bros., Whole Foods, and local farm markets (Wilson Farms) do that - that's the way I've been buying celery this past year or so. And whatever I don't need immediately gets wrapped in foil, as Caitlin mentioned above.

                                            2. re: kattyeyes
                                              k
                                              Kagey Mar 7, 2009 06:50 AM

                                              I remember seeing that when I was in Oregon. I wish they did that here in the UK, where you can buy single carrots. Celery is my secret shame as well. I never get through the stuff.

                                              1. re: kattyeyes
                                                hyacinthgirl Mar 11, 2009 03:03 PM

                                                Funny how many people have the same celery issue. It's mine too. The last few times I've needed it, I've purchased the packed same day celery/carrot tubs. They're more expensive, but it only comes with about as much celery as I'll need for whatever I'm making. And I never have a problem eating the rest of the carrots on my own. Makes me feel better than having the celery go bad in the crisper.

                                                1. re: hyacinthgirl
                                                  u
                                                  umbushi plum Mar 29, 2009 08:18 PM

                                                  its so weird because i never can get enough celery, everyone just send yours down to Oz! i eat it with peanut butter put it in soup rissoto with cottage cheese, cheddar cheese. hummus etc maybe because i am celiac and hate gluten free bread so i use it as a base for heaps of spreads, but i actually get celery craving now

                                              2. tatamagouche Mar 5, 2009 12:01 PM

                                                Milk, b/c I don't drink it, only use it in recipes. I use a cup and the rest gets thrown away time and time again. Why don't stores carry anything smaller than a quart?

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: tatamagouche
                                                  Caroline1 Mar 5, 2009 12:43 PM

                                                  Try a Sam's Club. I know I've seen it there in pint bottles. I've bought it for my grandson. But I think I've also seen it in the cup or half cup size used in cafeterias. Worth a shot. Oh, and for the record, you can freeze milk. It works fine, except the homogenized somehow unhomogenizes during freezing, so after you thaw, you have to shake prior to each use. Good luck!

                                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                                    tatamagouche Mar 5, 2009 01:36 PM

                                                    Ah, nice tips!

                                                    1. re: Caroline1
                                                      corneygirl Mar 6, 2009 05:21 PM

                                                      I keep dried milk around for baking. I have never noticed the difference in bread, muffins, pancakes and such. I just add the milk powder to the dry ingredients, and water to the "wet" ones, so there isn't even an extra bowl. Also works for guests who lighten their coffee.

                                                    2. re: tatamagouche
                                                      greygarious Mar 5, 2009 02:25 PM

                                                      Same here, but smaller containers cost almost as much as quarts. If a container of milk is on the verge of souring and you nuke it on high long enough to almost boil it, it stops the process and keeps the milk usable for several more days. Either way, I often freeze it in 4 or 8 ounce increments which can be thawed for baking. I wind up freezing evaporated and buttermilk too. Problem is remembering to label it first!

                                                      1. re: tatamagouche
                                                        Kajikit Mar 5, 2009 03:01 PM

                                                        If you don't mind paying a bit more for it, look for individual serving sized milks. I know MacArthur Farms does one because I've seen it in the grocery store. You could even buy the long-life tetra packs that they sell for putting in kids' lunches and just open one as you need it.

                                                        1. re: Kajikit
                                                          Das Ubergeek Mar 6, 2009 02:58 PM

                                                          They also have shelf-stable "juice boxes" of milk meant for kids' lunchboxes. Nobody will judge you for buying them and using them in recipes.

                                                        2. re: tatamagouche
                                                          p
                                                          pepperqueen Mar 11, 2009 07:56 PM

                                                          I use Nido (whole milk) dried for cooking and for eating and everything else. it is quite good and tastes like fresh milk. I was lucky enough to find cans of it at flea market for $1 and stocked up. price in grocery about $4.

                                                        3. l
                                                          lemons Mar 5, 2009 01:40 PM

                                                          We can buy pints of milk, sometimes even half-pints in our larger supermarkets. And single carrots and stalks of celery, just the thing for making a little mirepoix or sofrito. Ditto onions, of course. Can't with green onions, but that's never a problem at our house. I have begun keeping celery and parsley like bouquets, either in fridge or on counter, depending on how hungry the cat is. One of our local bread suppliers, a bakery rather than a big commercial Wonder Bread-type outfit, is now selling half-loaves, too. And can't you buy individual rolls like you would bagels?

                                                          Caroline1, are you talking about the styrofoam clamshells restaurants use for takeout that you're using for freezing herbs?

                                                          I will say that sometimes it's more frugal to throw something out than it is to buy something else to make a dish to use up the remainder of the original problem child. Those of us who battle with our weight have had to learn that.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: lemons
                                                            Caroline1 Mar 5, 2009 01:56 PM

                                                            No, not Styrofoam "clamshells." All of the markets in my area, including the "farmers' market" chains where they are often 88 cents each, sell fresh herbs in a clear plastic clam shell. I just toss the whole thing in the freezer. The type I buy are fairly air tight, so no ice build up. Of course, the parsley, cilantro and epizote come in bunches, so those I chop and put in zip lock bags, usually reserving the stems in a separate zip lock, especially of parsley, for bouquets garni.

                                                            1. re: Caroline1
                                                              cayjohan Mar 5, 2009 02:51 PM

                                                              Doesn't that compromise the texture of the herb? That's my big problem food. Fresh herbs with bad texture. Now, I do make herb butters with them from tme to time, and freeze those. Still I just don't see how frozen, say - cilantro - fills the bill. Do tell your secrets!

                                                              Cay

                                                              1. re: cayjohan
                                                                Caroline1 Mar 5, 2009 03:45 PM

                                                                Well, I use them in things like stews and roasts and stuffing. The parsley works well in pilafs. Epizote in refried beans and such. I wouldn't try to make something like tabouli with frozen parsley. That won't work. But it works fine in cooked dishes.

                                                          2. soypower Mar 5, 2009 02:44 PM

                                                            Carrots. Probably because I generally dislike them. I know they last a very long time, but there's been so many times where I find a bag of them shriveled and unusable in the back of my fridge. I suppose I could freeze them, right?

                                                            1. Kajikit Mar 5, 2009 03:05 PM

                                                              Mine are pretty much the same as everyone else's... fresh lettuce (because there are only two of us and it doesn't keep for long!), and fresh herbs. When you're cooking for two there is only so much fresh basil or thyme or tarragon you can use at a time! Sometimes I toss the extra herbs in the freezer in the bag they came in, but they shed leaves and make a mess in the freezer compartment because the plastic bags have airholes punched in them and the leaves fall out!
                                                              I've never had any problems with celery - I keep it in the bag it came in and it lasts for a month. The outer stems might start to yellow and go icky, if they do you just peel them off and toss them in the trash, and you might have to trim a few inches off the top of the bunch as time goes by, but the inside of the bunch will stay just fine.

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: Kajikit
                                                                e
                                                                evewitch Mar 6, 2009 05:05 PM

                                                                Oddly enough, I have discovered that fresh thyme keeps nearly forever in the vegetable drawer in its plastic "clamshell." I have had a package in there for a couple of months now. I keep expecting it to mold, or dry out, or at least lose flavor, but it is still fine. A few brown leaves, which I pull off and discard each time I use it for a recipe...

                                                                1. re: evewitch
                                                                  Kajikit Mar 7, 2009 06:21 PM

                                                                  I bought a clamshell of thyme and it lasted for a month too... it was fairly fresh and dry and it just dried out a bit in the fridge over time. But another wetter bunch went mouldy, so it's the luck of the draw.

                                                                  1. re: Kajikit
                                                                    MMRuth Mar 7, 2009 06:22 PM

                                                                    What is a clamshell?

                                                                    1. re: MMRuth
                                                                      Das Ubergeek Mar 7, 2009 07:29 PM

                                                                      Hinged flimsy plastic box. Like Driscoll strawberry boxes but flatter.

                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                        MMRuth Mar 8, 2009 09:09 AM

                                                                        Thank you!

                                                                      2. re: MMRuth
                                                                        chef chicklet Mar 30, 2009 08:32 AM

                                                                        how funny! Never heard it called that before. I find them annoying anyway.

                                                                2. Das Ubergeek Mar 6, 2009 03:00 PM

                                                                  While celeri remoulade is normally made with celery root, I love it with batonnets of celery stalk... braised celery stalks, Chinese-style, are also quite good as a side dish, and you can even make celeri a la vinaigrette (find a recipe for leeks vinaigrette and adapt).

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                    alkapal Mar 12, 2009 03:46 AM

                                                                    das ubergeek, i like your celery batonnets idea. celery is cheaper -- by far -- than celery root here.

                                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                      Amuse Bouches Mar 30, 2009 01:29 PM

                                                                      We always make shrimp remoulade with celery batons as well.
                                                                      Sadly, I have the same celery problem that others have mentioned.

                                                                      I used to have an issue with buttermilk until I discovered the wonder of dried buttermilk.

                                                                      http://www.savour-fare.com

                                                                    2. im_nomad Mar 8, 2009 07:06 AM

                                                                      Green onions/scallions don't last jig time for me.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: im_nomad
                                                                        1sweetpea Mar 8, 2009 12:10 PM

                                                                        I have the same problem with celery. I like to use the leaves in the middle of the bunch, so I have to buy a whole bunch, but I'm not a fan of celery sticks, so most of the bunch often rots before I get to it. I had a large bunch that had already been in the fridge a week and I hadn't used a single stalk. I pulled off six stalks, plus the leaves, then made a simple celery soup with shallots, chicken broth and fresh thyme that was really good. I've never done that before, but I got to thinking that celery should sometimes get centre-stage, rather than be relegated to soup stocks and stews. I suppose Chinese celery would have been even tastier, but this was a perfect way to make use of my refrigerator staple. Celery, herbs and chiles are the items that go bad in my refrigerator. Sometimes ginger too. I get on kicks and use tons sometimes, but other times, it sits and goes bad. I've heard it can be frozen, but I've never tried it. Ideally, I'd love to go to the store when I'm in the mood to use ginger and find the perfect young, fresh piece, but too often, my grocery store has these petrified stumps that I wouldn't touch if my life depended on it. So, when I find some good, young examples, I tend to buy too much.

                                                                        1. re: 1sweetpea
                                                                          dinaofdoom Mar 8, 2009 06:14 PM

                                                                          cooking for one, i gave up on the petrified ginger nubs and now stock ginger people brand ginger juice in the fridge instead (from whole foods & other places).
                                                                          it's not too $$$, lasts quite a bit, and is just lovely.

                                                                          1. re: 1sweetpea
                                                                            LindaWhit Mar 11, 2009 09:06 AM

                                                                            Either freeze the fingers of fresh ginger, OR grate it all and freeze it in small plastic containers. OR grate it and put it in a glass jar and then fill the jar with dry sherry and leave it in the fridge. Keeps forever that way. At least as long as I've needed it in the fridge. I then replenish with the pre-grated in the freezer as needed. The sherry is also good in stir-frys.

                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                              Caitlin McGrath Mar 11, 2009 06:12 PM

                                                                              You can store the whole fingers in sherry (or vodka, for more neutral flavor) in the fridge, as well. That way, it can be minced or sliced or grated, depending on what you need for whatever you're cooking.

                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                LindaWhit Mar 11, 2009 07:23 PM

                                                                                Now there's something I haven't tried (the whole finger of ginger in sherry). Thanks, Caitlin! I usually use grated, but this is good to remember if I need sliced.

                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                  1sweetpea May 25, 2009 12:18 PM

                                                                                  What type of sherry? I have amontillado, which is fairly dry. Do you mean very dry or the sweet type? I wonder how sake would work. Sometimes I use sake instead of sherry for my Chinese or Japanese-inspired cooking. I bet the sake would take on an incredible ginger flavour. Mmmmm, sounds like a tasty beverage.

                                                                          2. a
                                                                            AngelSanctuary Mar 11, 2009 07:45 AM

                                                                            Herbs are hard to use, they always in such big bunches =(. But recently at my chinese supermarket there are ones in fewer quantities...now I think it's too little (._.'). If it's like really leafy herbs (like...Cilantro) I just make an oil out of them, keep pretty well.

                                                                            1. r
                                                                              RosePearl Mar 12, 2009 11:17 PM

                                                                              For milk, go to the deli-prepared foods section. Often there are small containers of milk. If you are only using the milk for cooking, buy the multi-packs of tiny cartons of shelf-stable milk. Our groceries here usually stock them with either the children's boxed juices, or the condensed milk and powdered milk products.

                                                                              1. Niki in Dayton Mar 13, 2009 01:03 PM

                                                                                I freeze celery before it goes bad, then use it to flavor stock. It keeps quite a while in the freezer, and although the texture is compromised by freezing, it's thrown away once the stock is made. I have one of those stainless steel strainers that fits inside of the pot; I just put the veggies and bones in that, fill with filtered water, and simmer away. Once the stock is done, everything in the strainer is tossed.

                                                                                I have several uses for leftover bread. It all gets put in the freezer; some for breadcrumbs, some to make croutons, and some for bread puddings. I'm part-Italian and was raised with "waste not, want not" ;-)

                                                                                1. Soop Mar 25, 2009 03:36 AM

                                                                                  I just thought of one: Dijon mustard.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Soop
                                                                                    alkapal Mar 25, 2009 07:52 PM

                                                                                    you've had dijon mustard go bad?

                                                                                  2. pikawicca Mar 29, 2009 07:05 PM

                                                                                    I can never use a whole bunch of celery before it goes floppy. Luckily, one of my local grocers sells the stuff by the stalk, so I can grab a couple when making stock or tuna salad.

                                                                                    1. danhole Mar 30, 2009 07:25 AM

                                                                                      Lettuce! Any kind. I just don't use enough of it, and you can't buy just a little. I'm the only one who eats it, and I can only eat so much, so I end up throwing most of it away. I have a lettuce keeper but it is suited for a head of lettuce, so if you get romaine, or some other kind, that just doesn't work. And I really don't like getting the salad in a bag. Anyway, you can't put that on a sandwich!

                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: danhole
                                                                                        kattyeyes Mar 30, 2009 07:51 AM

                                                                                        I used to get bag o'salad all the time. Now have been buying the clamshell of organic baby greens--it seems to keep better. I usually just eat it as salad, but have used it on sandwiches, too. It does work!

                                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                          danhole Mar 30, 2009 08:26 AM

                                                                                          Are the baby greens crispy enough on a sandwich? I like a crunch. Otherwise, that's a great tip Katty.

                                                                                          1. re: danhole
                                                                                            kattyeyes Mar 30, 2009 08:32 AM

                                                                                            I never thought of the crunch factor, but just went to the fridge and grabbed a few pieces--it does give a nice crunch. ;) Spring mix or baby greens should do the trick nicely for you. If you pack your sandwich to take to work, I do recommend packing the lettuce on the side so it doesn't get soggy.

                                                                                        2. re: danhole
                                                                                          corneygirl Mar 30, 2009 09:51 AM

                                                                                          A damp paper or dish towel around washed lettuce. Put in an open plastic bag in the crisper. It will keep like this for 5 to 7 days. Also, if the lettuce is still "good" - not slimy- but wilted, put it in a bowl with some ice cubes for a while. This will perk up most less than crisp veggies.

                                                                                          1. re: corneygirl
                                                                                            danhole Mar 30, 2009 01:53 PM

                                                                                            Thanks for that tip. Someone once told me to get the core out, wash it, shake it cry and then store it. Does that sound right? Of course that is for iceberg.

                                                                                            Another thing - This sounds like a dumb question, but I have always been confused abut my crisper drawer. It has that vent on it that you can open, close or leave halfway. How should I set it?

                                                                                            1. re: danhole
                                                                                              corneygirl May 25, 2009 11:48 AM

                                                                                              I don't know about the vent, my fridge doesn't have one. But I usually core the lettuce and wash - but if I get a lot of greens in my CSA share I just wrap in a damp dish towel and throw the bundle in the drawer.

                                                                                              1. re: corneygirl
                                                                                                danhole May 25, 2009 12:13 PM

                                                                                                When you do that (wrap in damp towel), how quickly do you use those greens?

                                                                                                1. re: danhole
                                                                                                  corneygirl May 25, 2009 02:50 PM

                                                                                                  Within a week, otherwise I end up with a lot of mystery bundles and mildew towels. Out of sight out of mind seems to be the rule in my house.

                                                                                        3. chef chicklet Mar 30, 2009 08:29 AM

                                                                                          Don't ask me why, but anytime there is an inch of jam in a jar, no one touches it.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: chef chicklet
                                                                                            Paulustrious Mar 30, 2009 08:43 AM

                                                                                            Get bigger teaspoons.

                                                                                            1. re: Paulustrious
                                                                                              chef chicklet Mar 30, 2009 12:36 PM

                                                                                              you means as in a long ice tea spoons? I don't think that's the issue, it's got something to do with it being viewed as the dregs.

                                                                                          2. Paulustrious Mar 30, 2009 08:40 AM

                                                                                            I have a similar problem. In my local Asian supermarket yesterday it was $1-50 for 5lb of carrots and $2 for 10 pound. I mean - it's only 50 cents more....

                                                                                            And those boxes of mangoes - never quite managed to finish one before I've been mangoed out.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Paulustrious
                                                                                              Das Ubergeek Apr 2, 2009 03:04 PM

                                                                                              Cubes of mango freeze really well -- then use them instead of ice cubes in sweet tea. :)

                                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                                h
                                                                                                HillJ Apr 2, 2009 03:50 PM

                                                                                                We do the same thing with grapes and watermelon. My kids place a grape or watermelon cube in each section of the ice cube tray add a splash of OJ and freeze them for later use as "fruit cubes" in tea, fruit juice or smoothies. Works great!

                                                                                                1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                  alkapal Apr 2, 2009 04:31 PM

                                                                                                  i knew someone who'd make ice cubes with lemon or lime wedges for iced tea or lemonade.

                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                    HillJ Apr 2, 2009 06:05 PM

                                                                                                    alkapal, great for cocktails too!

                                                                                            2. Boccone Dolce Mar 30, 2009 03:36 PM

                                                                                              Bread. I just freeze it but it's a hassle sometimes. I used to have celery issues, but now I just find ways to use it. I get tired of throwing stuff out. Produce seems to be a problem around here lately- stuff at the supermarket looks beautiful outside but when I go to use it, it's rotten. Thinking about planting a small veg garden (in containers- I have a huge front yard but not much space behind the house- just the citrus trees so far.

                                                                                              I wish I had time to shop daily for stuff- that's not possible, I've been cooking and freezing more often so I don't have to toss anything.

                                                                                              1. Michelly Jun 11, 2009 05:34 PM

                                                                                                Tomato paste. Oh, I know, I know; just make a stew or soup or sauce or something. What happens is that little can -or tube- somehow always gets behind some larger container and I don't see it until weeks and weeks later when it's all black and hard.
                                                                                                Maybe I should put a note ON the fridge.
                                                                                                And, like cayjohan, my guinea pig takes care of most every veggie, especially lettuce and celery.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Michelly
                                                                                                  alkapal Jun 12, 2009 06:31 AM

                                                                                                  just an idea, michelly: a little caper jar cleaned in the dishwasher is the perfect container for the paste. then put masking tape on the TOP, label it with mr. sharpie (contents and date) and put it in your condiment area (fridge door shelves, for me). maybe add a wee layer of olive oil on top before you put the lid on.

                                                                                                2. a
                                                                                                  Alice Letseat Jun 11, 2009 06:19 PM

                                                                                                  You can put "soft-stemmed" herbs like cilantro, basil,. dill or tarragon into fresh water and keep them like fresh flowers. They'll last a bit longer in the fridge in a glass of water, too. Other herbs, (like thyme or savory or oregano) wrap in damp paper towels and store in the veggie bin in the fridge.

                                                                                                  1. m
                                                                                                    madkittybadkitty Jun 12, 2009 10:52 AM

                                                                                                    sauerkraut. what do i do with sauerkraut besides things to do with sausages and hot dogs?

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: madkittybadkitty
                                                                                                      kattyeyes Jun 12, 2009 11:45 AM

                                                                                                      One kat to a badkitty: IT'S REUBEN TIME!

                                                                                                      Make a reuben (the sandwich).

                                                                                                      Make reuben soup:
                                                                                                      http://www.chow.com/recipes/19715

                                                                                                      Make reuben dip:
                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6130...

                                                                                                      There''s other info after nemo's dip recipe above from rworange including--believe it or not--mention of sauerkrautrecipes.com

                                                                                                      A look at that whole thread should have the topic covered. Believe your search is over! ;) Happy cooking!

                                                                                                      Or, serve the kraut as a side with pierogis. I assume by sausages you mean Polish or German sausages (kielbasa or wursts)--and you've already got that covered.

                                                                                                    2. s
                                                                                                      silvergirl Jun 12, 2009 01:08 PM

                                                                                                      Plain regular yogurt. Chicken Tikka Masala, naan, a yogurt cake, and there's still more. I try to remember to do smoothies, but always forget. I usually keep Greek yogurt around - It'd probably be cheaper in the long run to just use it, because then none of it would be wasted.

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