Save money and trips to the market with these tips and tricks from Rebecca DiLiberto's Penny Saving Household Helper. You'll be surprised how simple it is to keep food at its best.2. To keep herbs tasting fresh for up to a month, store whole bunches, washed and sealed in plastic bags, in the freezer. When you need them, they'll be easier to chop, and they'll defrost the minute they hit a hot pan.
3. A bay leaf slipped into a container of flour, pasta, or rice will help repel bugs.
4. Stop cheese from drying out by spreading butter or margarine on the cut sides to seal in moisture. This is most effective with hard cheeses sealed in wax.
5. When radishes, celery, or carrots have lost their crunch, simply pop them in a bowl of iced water along with a slice of raw potato and watch the limp vegetables freshen up right before your eyes.
6. Avoid separating bananas until you plan to eat them - they spoil less quickly in a bunch.
7. Put rice in your saltshaker to stop the salt from hardening. The rice absorbs condensation that can cause clumps.
8. Stock up on butter when it's on sale - you can store it in the freezer for up to six months. Pack the butter in an airtight container, so it doesn't take on the flavor of whatever else you're freezing.
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9. In order to make cottage cheese or sour cream last longer, place the container upside down in the fridge. Inverting the tub creates a vacuum that inhibits the growth of bacteria that causes food to spoil.
10. Believe it or not, honey is the only nonperishable food substance, so don't get rid of the stuff if it crystallizes or becomes cloudy. Microwave on medium heat, in 30-second increments, to make honey clear again.
11. Prevent extra cooked pasta from hardening by stashing it in a sealed plastic bag and refrigerating. When you're ready to serve, throw the pasta in boiling water for a few seconds to heat and restore moisture.
12. Keeping brown sugar in the freezer will stop it from hardening. But if you already have hardened sugar on your shelf, soften it by sealing in a bag with a slice of bread - or by microwaving on high for 30 seconds.
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13. If you only need a few drops of lemon juice, avoid cutting the lemon in half - it will dry out quickly. Instead, puncture the fruit with a metal skewer and squeeze out exactly what you require.
14. If you're unsure of an egg's freshness, see how it behaves in a cup of water: Fresh eggs sink; bad ones float.
Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.