Food secrets for savvy shoppers, home chefs


When it comes to being a home chef and savvy shopper, author Marcy Smothers cooks up some crazy questions regarding to food.

"Why should you take a bath with your strawberries? What can your dog's toy teach you about an artichoke? Why should you blow dry your chicken?" Smothers asks.

Her book, "Snacks, Adventures in Food, Aisle by Aisle," provides those answers along with more kitchen wisdom that certainly provides food for thought.

Smothers advises immersing strawberries in hot tap water for 30 seconds. Dry the berries, and then put them in the fridge. While cold impedes mold, heat does too. She tested the theory and found berries lasting three days longer due to that hot water bath.

And taking a hair dryer to a chicken?

"If you like a great roasted chicken with a crispy skin, it has to start with dry skin," Smothers said.

Chicken skin consists of nearly half water to start with, so use the low or no heat setting on the dryer and blow the surface area for about five minutes to give you that crispy consistency most love.

Also, there are all kinds of ways to test to see if your produce is fresh. When it comes to artichokes, Smothers says treat it like a dog's toy.

"Dog's toys squeak and a really fresh artichoke squeaks too, because it's full of water and well hydrated," Smothers said.

Hold one to your ear at the market and give it a squeeze. No squeak, no purchase.

She also says don't score or fork a potato if you're microwaving as that's a technique for ovens, not for nuking the spud.

If you want to keep fresh fish fresh, bag and ice immediately in the refrigerator. For every 2 degrees above freezing, your fish will age one day. For the typical 40 degree fridge, you fish aged four days instantly.

But there's a catch to this catch.

"The big important thing here is do not seal the bag! Sealing the bag traps the gases that make the fishy odor," Smothers said.

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