Dear Heloise: I like to buy organic potatoes that come in a bag but always heard not to store potatoes in the refrigerator.
How can I keep them from growing sprouts if they can’t be refrigerated? — Vivien W., Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Vivien, organic potatoes will start to sprout anywhere from 30 to 140 days after being harvested. They need to be stored in a cool area with a temperature of 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit and about 85% humidity. Examine them once a month to remove any sprouts. Be sure to discard any soft or mushy potatoes or those with black or green spots.
Have you given any thought to growing your own organic potatoes? — Heloise
Dear Heloise: My husband loves to cook and especially to bake. He love, love, loved your pumpkin bread recipe! We don’t have a copy, so would you reprint it in your column? He says he wants to make several loaves and freeze them. — Cindy C., Howell, Mich.
Cindy, I love this recipe. It’s so easy to make and tastes great. You’ll need:
1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup salad oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
Sift together all dry ingredients. Add nuts and mix well. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients and add to dry ingredients. Mix just enough to blend. Pour into a 9-inch-by-5-inch-by-3-inch greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 75 minutes.
You’ll find this recipe in my pamphlet “Heloise’s Baking Soda Hints and Recipes. To order a copy, please visit www.Heloise.com, or send $5 along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed long envelope to Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX, 78279-5001. — Heloise
CANNED TOMATO PASTE
Dear Heloise: I bought a tube of tomato paste thinking it would be so much more convenient than the can when you only need a little. It was great until I saw that the tube had exploded after several weeks in my refrigerator, making a mess. Now I’m reluctant to buy a tube again. What could have caused this to happen? — Diane, via email
Diane, if the canner hasn’t sufficiently sterilized the tomatoes, cans and equipment, or if you forgot to wash your hands and thoroughly clean your prep area, two things can happen:
1. Fermenting causes CO2, which can build up pressure in the tube or can, causing it to explode.
2. Botulinum bacteria can also cause CO2 to build up, but this is very serious. An exploding tube would be the least of your problems.
If you do not use up all of your tomato paste within a week, I suggest throwing it out to avoid any complication that might arise. — Heloise
VEGGIES IN CHILI
Dear Heloise: Your recent suggestion of adding shredded vegetables to meatloaf was a good idea. It reminded me of my late wife’s practice of tossing frozen peas, carrots and corn into chili she made. It didn’t change the taste, but gave us vegetables in our one-dish meals. — J. Keith C., Omaha Neb.