The Land O'Lakes Test Kitchen

— Get to know our cooking, baking and dairy experts. —
Pan

Cooking Ingredients

From produce to dry goods and all things dairy, we’ve got the substitutions, storage info and techniques used by professional chefs.

  • Adobo Sauce, Adobo Sauce With Chipotle Peppers, Adobo Seasoning

    Description

    • Adobo sauce is a dark red, spicy Mexican sauce or paste made from ground chilies, vinegar and herbs. Other ingredients such as onions, tomatoes and spices may be added.  Adobo means sauce or marinade in Spanish and is used in Mexican or southwestern cooking as a marinade or a sauce.
    • Chipotle chilies are often packed in adobo sauce. 
    • Adobo seasoning is sold in a powdered form.

    Buying

    • Adobo sauce is most often sold in the ethnic food section in 8.25 ounce jars.  The adobo sauce with chipotle peppers is often sold in 7 or 12 ounce cans.

    Measuring

    • Measure adobo sauce as you would other liquids.
    • When a recipe calls for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, remove the amount of chilies needed for the recipe.  Sometimes the sauce is also called for.

     Storage

    • Adobo sauce with chilies can be frozen in a well sealed bag or container for a few months.
    • Use by the freshness date on the jar.
  • Aioli

    Description

    • Aioli is a mayonnaise flavored with garlic that originated in the Provence region of France.
    • Aioli is typically served as a sauce or condiment with vegetables, fish or chicken.

    Buying and Storing

    • Commercially prepared aioli can be found in the condiment section of the supermarket. Refrigerate after opening
  • Allspice

    Description

    • Allspice is an aromatic spice with an aroma of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. It has a distinct flavor and is deep brown in color.
    • It is available ground or as whole dried berries.
    • It is a popular spice to use in baking and the whole dried berries are often used in pickling.

    Storage

    • Store whole and ground spices in airtight containers in a cool, dark place. Heat, light, and moisture cause spices to lose their flavor faster.
    • Do not store spices above the range or oven.

    Substitutions

    • Substitute for 1 teaspoon ground allspice: 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, mixed together.
  • Almond

    Description

    • Almonds are the kernel from the shell of the almond fruit tree. Almonds have a tan colored shell and an almond shape. They are sweet, crunchy and flavorful.  They are a versatile nut.
    • Almonds are sold unshelled seasonally, and also are sold blanched or unblanched. Unblanched means the skin is still on the nut. They are sold sliced, chopped, slivered, candied, smoked and diced.
    • Almonds are tasty as a snack and used in many desserts, some Asian main dishes and in baked goods. One pound unshelled almonds equal about 1/3 pound shelled.

    Storage and Freshness

    • Store shelled nuts in an airtight container in a cool place. Heat, light and moisture make nuts go rancid faster. Refrigerate shelled nuts for up to four months or freeze for up to eight months. Unshelled nuts will keep twice as long.
    • Shelled nuts should be crisp in texture and uniform in color. They should not be shriveled or discolored. Nuts should smell and taste fresh, not rancid with an off-flavor. Rancid nuts will ruin the baked product. Always taste nuts before using.
  • American Cheese

    Description

    • Process American cheese is very popular and most often sold in 5-pound blocks for slicing in the deli or in 2-pound loaves or slices in the dairy case. Because the cheese is pasteurized it has a longer shelf life than natural cheese.
    • American cheese can be yellow or white and mild or sharp in flavor.
    • Process cheese is made from natural cheese. The cheese is pasteurized or heated and emulsifiers are added to disperse the fat. Other ingredients can be added for flavored process cheese, reduced fat process cheese or to create singles or slices of process cheese. The cheese is then poured into forms or made into slices.  Process cheese melts quickly and smoothly.

    Storage

    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap all cheese tightly in the original wrapper, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
    • Process cheeses like American have a long shelf life because they are pasteurized. Once they are opened, or sliced in the deli, keep them tightly wrapped and refrigerated to avoid drying out.
    • Freezing cheese is not recommended. However, if you do, freeze cheese in small amounts of less than one-half pound, no thicker than one-inch. Wrap well.
    • To use frozen cheese, thaw slowly in the refrigerator. Thawed cheese may be mottled in color, which should even out after thawing. Frozen cheese is usually crumbly and more suitable for cooking than for serving to guests or using for snacks.
    • What about mold? Most molds are harmless, but to be safe, discard at least one-half inch of cheese on all sides of the visible mold. Tips:
      • Make sure the knife blade is thoroughly cleaned when cutting each surface to avoid spreading mold to the freshly cut surface.
      • Use new wrap when rewrapping, to avoid spreading mold spores to the fresh areas.

    Cooking With Cheese

    • Melt cheese at a low temperature for a short time, stirring often. Cheese needs just enough heat to melt and blend with other ingredients. If heated too long or at too high a temperature, the cheese can become tough and stringy, and the fat can separate.
    • Cheese melts more quickly when shredded or cubed. Shred it when cold for easier shredding.
    • A process cheese like American will melt evenly and smoothly with no fat separation. Process cheese can be cubed to speed up melting time.
    • When cheese is used to top an entree, add it near the end of the baking time so it has only enough time to melt.

    Cutting and Serving Cheese

    • Cheese is easiest to cut when it’s cold.
    • Use a clean sharp knife to cut the cheese.
    • Cut rectangular, square, and cylindrical cheese into slices.
    • Cheese can also be cut into cubes.
    • Use a serrated cutter to make attractive crinkle cut shapes.
    • If you’re preparing a snack tray, try cutting a variety of shapes using a knife or small canape or cookie cutter.
    • To enjoy the full flavor of cheese, remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Be sure to keep it wrapped until it is served.
    • Cheeses are appropriate for all types of entertaining. How much to buy depends on the type of occasion, time of day, other foods being served, number of guests, and even the mix of people in attendance. Below are some good rules to follow:
      • Plan on 2 to 3 ounces of cheese per person when preparing snacks or sandwiches.
      • Allow a serving of 3 ounces of cheese when cheese is the only protein source, such as a cheese and fruit platter.
      • A 2-ounce serving is adequate when other food, such as seafood, appetizers or meats, are served along with the cheese.
  • Anchovy Paste

    Description

    • Anchovy paste is made from ground anchovies (a small salted fish), spices, vinegar and water. It has a unique, pungent flavor.
    • Anchovy paste is used in Caesar salad dressing and as an ingredient in some salad dressing and sauces.

    Buying

    • Anchovy paste is sold in tubes in the canned fish section of the store.

    Storing

    • Store the tube in the refrigerator after opening.
  • Apple

    Description

    • An apple is a fruit that has been grown for thousands of years. It is a very popular fruit that comes in many shapes, colors and sizes as well as flavor and textures.
    • Flavors can be sweet to tart, texture can be soft, almost mushy to very crisp.
    • Apples are a good source of vitamins and fiber.
    • Apples are popular for eating and are also used in salads, pies and other baked goods, in applesauce and in many other recipes.
    • Apple cider is made by pressing juice from the pulp of apples and is used as a juice or to make apple cider vinegar. Sweet apple juice will ferment, so it is most often filtered and pasteurized before selling.
    • Some varieties are:
      • Baldwin is a soft, early fall apple good for baking and sauce. The color of the apple is yellow with a striped red blush.
      • Braeburn is a crisp, sweet/tart apple that holds its shape in baking. It is good for all uses. The color of the apple is yellow with a striped red blush.
      • Cortland is a sweet, tart apple with a somewhat soft texture and is good for pies and baking. It is deep red.
      • Fireside is a large sweet apple that does not bake well.
      • Fuji is a sweet crisp apple, which is best for eating. It is a yellow green apple with red highlights to an almost all red apple.
      • Gala is very sweet and crisp and best for eating. Gala apples are a red striped to solid red apple.
      • Granny Smith is a tangy and crisp green apple that remains firm when baked. Good for pies and all purposes.
      • Golden Delicious is an apple with a sweet honey-like flavor, is juicy, and has a soft texture. It is golden to light yellow green in color.  It is an all-purpose apple. It retains its shape when baking, but is tender.
      • Haralson is a firm, tart apple that is good for eating and pies.
      • Honeycrisp is a relatively new apple, which has a honey flavor and a crisp texture. It is great for eating and for baking. The color is about 3/4 red over a yellow background.
      • Jonagold is a tangy and sweet apple and is best for eating. It has a red over yellow coloring.
      • Jonathan is tart and tangy apple and makes a good pie.
      • McIntosh is an old time apple which is slightly mealy and falls apart when cooked. The color is a deep red tinged with green.  It is good for applesauce.
      • Paula Red is a round red apple that has some yellow.  It is tangy and good for pies and eating.
      • Red Delicious is semi firm, sweet apple and is best for eating. The skin is a little tough. It has a traditional apple shape.
      • Regent is a sweet apple good for sauce.
      • Rome is slightly sweet apple, which has a crisp texture but cooks down for baking and pies.

    Buying

    • Look for apples with a smooth surface without bruises and blemishes. Some apple varieties are only available during certain times of the year. Fall is when a bumper crop of different varieties are at their best.

    Storing

    • Store apples in the refrigerator or a cool place.
    • Once apple cider is opened, refrigerate.  Fresh apple juice needs to be store in the refrigerator and used by the expiration date.

    Measuring

    • There are 3 to 4 apples in a pound, depending on the size; one pound equals about 3 cups sliced

    Tip

    • Some of the best pies and crisps used a variety of apples. Some hold their shape and others soften during baking.
  • Apple Butter

    Description

    • Apple butter is a thick mixture made by slowly cooking apples with sugar and spices and apple juice or cider. It is most often used as a spread on bread or toast.

    Buying

    • Look for apple butter in the jams and jellies section of the store.

    Storing

    • After opening store apple butter in the refrigerator and use by expiration date.
  • Apricot

    Description

    • An apricot is related to the peach family. They are small and can be pale yellow to dark orange with a rosy blush. Apricots have a balanced flavor. They contain one pit and split in half easily. Apricots have a short season, mid to late summer, and tend to be more expensive than peaches and nectarines. They are eaten, skin and all. Many apricots are just eaten as a snack but they can be used as a dessert or in cobblers or crisps. Apricots can also be purchased canned or dried.

    Buying and Storing

    • A ripe apricot should be somewhat firm, have a rich color with no green. They should yield to slight pressure. When they are ripe they are sweet, juicy and have a short shelf life. Keep apricots on the counter a few days or store in the refrigerator to keep them from getting too soft. Use within a few days.
  • Artichokes, Artichoke Hearts, Baby Artichokes

    Description

    • An artichoke is actually a flower bud of a thistle-like plant. Globe artichokes are the most common. Artichokes are available year round, but are most abundant in late spring.
    • Artichokes consist of the outer leaves, inner leaves, the stem, the heart and the choke. To prepare, the damaged or tough outer leaves are stripped away. Twist off the stalk or stem. Cut off the top third of the artichoke. Once the artichoke is cooked in water (with lemon juice), remove the coarse leaves and the hairy choke. The inner leaves can be dipped into melted butter or a sauce; then the fleshy part is scraped off with your teeth and the leaf is discarded. The heart is the tender part of the artichoke.
    • A bunch of smaller buds grows on the stock and they are sold as baby artichokes. They can be cooked and eaten whole, even the choke.
    • Artichokes hearts are sold canned or marinated in jars. Canned or marinated artichokes are often used in salads, appetizers and main dishes or on an antipasto platter.
    • Artichoke hearts are the tender bottom of the artichoke from which the leaves and fuzzy choke have been removed. The flat disk is the heart or bottom.

    Buying

    • Look for compact heads which should be olive green, have no off color or shriveled leaves. You will find them in the produce section almost year round, but late spring to the end of the year is when they are the best.

    Storing

    • Fresh artichokes are best refrigerated in a plastic bag and kept dry. They can be kept this way for up to one week. Canned or jarred artichokes should be used by the date on the can or jar.

    Tip

    • Use stainless steel or glass to cook the artichoke to prevent discoloration.  Cook until bottoms can be pierced with a knife tip.
    • Cook fresh artichokes in boiling water to which lemon juice has been added to avoid discoloration.
  • Arugula

    Description

    • Arugula is a slightly bitter and aromatic salad green that has a peppery mustard flavor. It is sold in bunches in the spring and is often used in spring mixes of greens.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for fresh looking leaves that are crisp, not wilted and with no yellow leaves. Iceberg heads are often wrapped in cellophane. Others are sold in plastic containers or unwrapped.  Keep lightly wrapped in the produce bin and use within a few days. Wash just before using and pat dry.
    • Smaller leaves and stalks are tenderer and some are best when they are young. Tender greens need to be cooked only a few minutes.
    • Some greens are quite seasonal and a larger variety may be found at farmer’s markets during the summer.
  • Asandero Cheese

    Description

    • Asadero is a Mexican cheese that is semi-soft. It has a firm, smooth texture and mildly tangy flavor. It has mozzarella-like characteristics and melts well. It can come in braids, loaves, balls and has a smooth, glossy appearance. It can substitute for Monterey Jack and mozzarella cheese. Sometimes it is called Oaxaca, which is where it was first produced in Mexico.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Asiago Cheese

    Description

    • Asiago originated in Italy. It is made from cow’s milk and formed into large wheels. It has a rind and a white to yellow interior, depending on the age of the cheese. It can have small to medium openings, or eyes. It becomes hard and grainy as it ages and can be used for shredding or grating. The flavor is mild when young and becomes sharp and pungent as it ages. It is often used in shredded blends of cheese.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Asparagus

    Description

    • Asparagus are thin stalks that come in white, purple and green. For many people they announce spring, as that is the prime season for them. At the tip of each stalk are tight pointed buds. Green asparagus is the most common and the stalks are 6 to 10-inches long. They can be tinged with a purple blush at the tip. White asparagus is harvested as soon as is appears above the ground while purple asparagus grows up to 2 inches before being harvested and has a stronger flavor.
    • Asparagus means sprout or shoot. Most asparagus is now grown in California.
    • Asparagus is a good source of vitamins and minerals.
    • Asparagus is good hot or cold. Asparagus is easy to prepare. Try roasting asparagus with olive oil and sea salt. It can also be used in stir frys, soups, risottos or added to salads.

    Buying

    • Look for asparagus spears that are firm with tight buds in the produce section. Woody stems need to be cut or snapped off. Thick asparagus stalks can be just as tender as thin stalks.
    • Asparagus can be found in the freezer section or canned.

    Storing

    • If the asparagus will be used within a few days, store in a plastic bag in the produce bin. Some people like to trim the ends and place them in a tall glass filled with some water.

    Tip

    • Asparagus spears that are a uniform size make for more even cooking or roasting.
  • Avocado

    Description

    • An avocado is actually a fruit grown on a tropical tree. The avocado can be green or almost black, depending on the variety. There are more than twenty varieties of avocadoes.
    • Avocadoes are available all year long. They are used on salads, for guacamole, in sandwiches or as a garnish on Mexican dishes.
    • Avocadoes have a buttery texture and a somewhat nutty flavor. They can be pear or round shaped and range in size from ounces to pounds.
    • A Hass avocado has an almost black slightly rough, pebbly skin. The flesh is pale golden yellow.  A Fuerte avocado is green and has a smooth skin and pale green flesh.

    Buying

    • Avocadoes are picked before they are ripened. Look for unblemished fruit. A ripe avocado will yield slightly to pressure.

    Storage

    • If ripe, avocadoes keep 2 to 4 days in the refrigerator. To ripen, place in paper bag for 2 to 4 days at room temperature. Once an avocado is cut and exposed to air it darkens. Lemon or lime juice applied to the surface will help prevent some discoloration. Wrap a cut avocado well with plastic wrap and refrigerate. You may need to cut away some of the discoloration to use.

    Tip

    • Add avocado to salad and sandwiches at the last minute to avoid discoloration, wrap with plastic wrap until served.
    • Have all the other ingredients ready for the guacamole and just mash the avocado in right before serving. Lime juice is added to guacamole and that helps prevent discoloration.
    • Avocado slices can be brushed with lemon or lime juice to prevent discoloration.
  • Baguette

    Description

    • A baguette is a long, narrow cylindrical loaf of bread that has a crisp exterior and a chewy interior.
    • Baguettes are used sliced for appetizers like bruschetta, as bread with a meal or for a sandwich.

    Buying and storing

    • Baguettes are best eaten the day they are purchased. Freeze in a freezer plastic bag if not using immediately.
  • Bananas

    Description

    • Bananas are a popular tropical fruit. They grow in a bunch and develop flavor and color after they are picked. Bananas are available year round.
    • There are many varieties of bananas. Cavendish, the yellow supermarket banana, is the most popular in the United States, but there are bananas in many colors and many sizes. Some bananas are finger size, others are chunky and are sweeter.
    • Bananas are popular for just eating, topping cereal, banana bread and banana pudding. Bananas are the base of banana splits!

    Buying

    • Look for bunches of bananas that are plump and even-colored. Avoid those that are soft, discolored or have bruises (unless they are on sale and you want to make banana bread!).

    Storing

    • To ripen bananas keep at room temperature or place in paper bag to speed up the ripening process. Ripe bananas can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 days. The skin will darken but the interior will be creamy white.

    Measuring

    • There are about three medium bananas to one pound and one pound equals about 1 1/2 cups mashed banana.

    Tip

    • Too many ripe bananas all at once? They are great for baking. Freeze the bananas, peel and all. When ready to use, thaw on counter top for a few minutes or microwave on defrost setting for 10 seconds or until slightly soft. The banana will pop out of the skin with slight pressure and be soft and ready to measure for great banana bread, cakes and muffins.
    • To prevent bananas from browning in a fresh fruit salad, brush cut surfaces lightly with lemon juice, or just add at the last minute.
  • Barley

    Description

    • Barley is a slightly nutty flavored grain that is used in soups, stews and side dishes.
    • Barley comes in a number of different styles:
      • Hulled or whole grain barley has only the outer husk of the barley grain removed.
      • Scotch barley is husked and coarsely ground.
      • Pearl barley has the bran removed, and then it is steamed and polished. It is often used in soups and comes in fine, medium and coarse sizes.
      • Quick cooking barley has been processed so it cooks faster than pearl barley.

    Buying

    • Barley is most often sold in one-pound boxes.

    Storage

    • Keep in the box in a cool dry place and use by expiration date on the box.

    Measuring

    • 1 cup of pearl barley equals about 3 1/2 to 4 cups cooked; slightly less yield with the quick cooking barley.
  • Basil

    Description

    • Basil comes in many varieties. A common variety has large oval pointed leaves with a warm, slightly spicy flavor. Lemon basil has a lemony scent, Greek basil has tiny, compact leaves and dark opal basil has crinkled purple leaves.
    • Basil is a key ingredient in pesto. It is found in many tomato dishes as it complements that flavor. Basil is an important culinary herb. The flavor intensifies with cooking, but also discolors the leaf. Fresh basil is available in the produce section year round, grows well in container gardens and is also available dried.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Bay Leaves

    Description

    • Bay leaves are leaves of the aromatic bay laurel tree. Bay leaves are most often used dried. There are two types, the Turkish which has a subtle flavor and is oval and the California bay leaf which is stronger flavored and has narrow leaves.
    • A leaf or two of bay leaves is all that is needed in soups and stews. It is used in bouquet garni (bay leaf, thyme and parsley). Bay leaves need to be removed before serving, as they can be a choking hazard. They have a long shelf life if the jar is tightly sealed and kept in a cool, dry place.

    Buying

    • Dried bay leaves can be found in jars in the spice section of the store. Sometimes fresh bay leaves can be found in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section.

    Storing

    • Store dried bay leaves away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.
  • Beans (Canned, Dried, Frozen)

    Description

    • Legumes or beans come in many shapes, flavors and colors. They are high in fiber and contain many nutrients and are low in fat. They are used in many recipes, from soups to main dishes.
    • Dried beans can be purchased packaged or, in some stores, in bulk. Most are available in cans; the cooking is done for you. Some are available frozen.
    • Most dried beans need to soak before cooking (see tip). Lentils and black eyed beans (peas) do not need to be soaked.
    • Some types of dried beans are:
      • Black beans are also called turtle beans or Mexican black beans. They are kidney-shaped and have black shiny skins and a somewhat earthy flavor. These beans are used in soups, bean dips, enchiladas, salads. They are available canned in the Mexican section of the grocery store and in the canned bean section, as well as with the dried beans. One cup dried equals 2 cups cooked.
      • Black eyed beans (peas) are a cream colored bean with a black spot. They have a mild flavor and smooth texture. They are said to bring good luck if eaten on New Year’s Day. They are used in a dish that combines black eyed beans, rice and bacon called “Hoppin’ John. They are available dried and canned.
      • Cannellini beans are also called a white kidney bean. These beans are large, white, have a smooth texture and a slightly nutty flavor. They are used in bean soups, bean salads, minestrone and other Italian dishes. They are available dried and canned. One cup dried beans equals 2 1/2 cups cooked.
      • Chickpeas, see Garbanzo beans below.
      • Chili beans or pink beans are similar to the pinto bean but are smaller and rounder. They are used for chili and refried beans.
      • Cranberry beans are a pink bean with beige streaks used in soups and stews. They are available dried.
      • Fava beans are large, orange-colored, plump beans in a large tough pod. They have a somewhat strong flavor and most often are used in soups and stews. Fava beans can be purchased dried, canned and fresh. See Beans, Fresh for fresh fava bean information.
      • Garbanzo beans are also called chickpeas. They are not a pea - although they grow in a pod - they are a legume. These beans look like a small hazelnut and have a slightly nutty flavor. Garbanzo beans are high in protein. The white garbanzo bean is considered the best. Garbanzo beans are used in salads and soups as well as hummus and falafel. They are available dried or canned. One cup dried beans equals 2 1/2 cups cooked.
      • Great Northern beans are a mild white bean used in soups and stews. They are available dried and canned.
      • Lima beans are also known as butter beans and are a large, flat white bean used in succotash, bean bakes and soups. Lima beans are a bit mealy or starchy. Seasonally lima beans can be sold fresh and are removed from the pod before cooking. They are available fresh, frozen, dried and canned. See Beans, Fresh for fresh lima bean information.
      • Navy beans are also called white beans. They are small, oval and white. Boston Baked Beans are made with this bean. They are also used in soups. They are available dried and canned. One cup dried equals about 2 1/4 cups cooked.
      • Pinto beans are beige with brown streaks. They turn a pinkish brown color when cooked. They are used in refried beans and chili. They are available dried and canned. One cup dried equals about 2 1/4 cup cooked.
      • Red kidney beans are also known as a chili bean. They are high in protein. They are used in chili and refried beans. They can be deep red or bright red. They are available dried and canned.
      • Soybeans are hard round beans found in many colors. They grow on a small bush like plant. The pods contain 2 to 5 round beans. Fresh soybeans are called Edamame, see Beans, Fresh. Soybeans are quite bland and can be used in soups and salads. Most soybeans are used to make oil, soy-based sauces or tofu. One cup dried equals about 2 1/2 cups cooked.

    Cooking tips

    • Dried beans must be soaked in water before cooking. Some dried beans have been presoaked, so they do not need this step. Sort through the beans and rinse. Beans can be soaked overnight, but a faster method is to cover the beans with 2 to 3 inches cold water. Quickly bring to a boil, simmer 2 minutes and then let stand, covered, off the heat for 1 hour. Discard the liquid.
    • Always simmer, do not boil as the beans break and the skins separate.
    • See foam appearing on the surface of the water while cooking beans? It is just water soluble protein and will absorb back into the liquid, no need to skim off.
    • A bean is cooked when you can mash it with 2 fingers or a fork.

    Measuring

    • Generally one cup of dried beans equals around 2 to 2 1/2 cups cooked beans. One can (15-ounce) equals about 1 3/4 cup drained beans.

    Tip

    • Salt and acid make beans tough. Add ingredients like lemon juice or tomatoes at the end of the cooking time.
  • Beans (Fresh)

    Description

    • Legumes or beans come in many shapes, flavors and colors. They are high in fiber and contain many nutrients.
    • A bean is a seed pod from a legume. The pods hold one row of seeds. Beans have been used as food for centuries. Many beans are sold fresh or dried or canned. See Beans (Dried, Canned, Frozen)

    Green beans or snap beans, and yellow wax beans are sold in the pod and cooked and eaten in the pod. Yellow wax beans have a subtle flavor. Green and yellow wax beans are sold fresh, canned and frozen. Now most green beans are stringless and personal preference determines if the ends are snipped off. French style green beans just mean that the green bean was cut in half lengthwise.

    Haricot vert is French for green bean. These are very tiny, slender, straight green beans found seasonally in the produce section. They are soft and tender when cooked.

    Flat or pole beans are larger, flatter beans that grow on a tall plant and are often steamed and seasoned with bacon. These are available fresh during the growing season.

    Miscellaneous beans that are somewhat more common dried, canned or frozen, but are available seasonally fresh

    Edamame is the Japanese name for fresh soybeans. When in season they are picked when not quite mature and sold in the slightly fuzzy green pod. They are legumes that come 4 or 5 beans to a green pod. Edamame can be steamed or cooked and then popped from the pod and eaten as a snack or a vegetable, in soups and main dishes. They are high in protein. Frozen edamame, shelled or unshelled, are also available. Edamame is available seasonally fresh, but is most commonly found frozen in the pod or shelled. The shell is not eaten. Store fresh edamame in the refrigerator and use within a few days.

    Fava beans are flat beans inside large pale green pods. The beans are tightly packed inside. They have a sweet flavor and a good texture when fresh and young. Seasonally, fava beans may be found fresh at farmer’s markets or in the produce section. Remove the beans from the pod before cooking. Fresh, tender fava beans need to be just shelled; older beans have a waxy skin around the beans. This needs to be removed. Blanch the beans in boiling water, then plunge in cold water. Pull off the skins. Cook the beans until just tender. A flavorful cream sauce goes well with fava beans. Fava beans can be purchased dried and frozen.

    Lima beans are also known as butterbeans and are large, flat green beans used as a side-dish on their own, in succotash or bean dishes. It is a mealy or starchy bean that is removed from the pod before cooking. It is sold fresh in season, canned, frozen and dried.

    Buying

    • Fresh beans should be firm, unblemished and have a good color.

    Storage

    • Fresh beans can be kept tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

    Measurement

    • One pound of green beans equals about 3 1/2 cups whole beans.
  • Beets, Beet Greens

    Description

    • Beets have the highest sugar content of any vegetable. They are available most often in a deep red, but yellow and other color beets are becoming more common.
    • Smaller beets can be used for pickling. They also cook faster and are tender. Tender, small beet greens can be used in salads and larger greens and stalks can be cooked and used as a vegetable. Cook trimmed beets until tender and then place in cold water and the skin slips off. Roasted beets are very good used as a side dish or in salads.
    • Beet greens are known for their sturdy texture and flavor. Fresh beets are often sold with the leaves attached. Small greens can be used for salads. Larger greens and stalks can be cooked for a vegetable.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for firm, unblemished beets without soft spots. They are often sold with the tops on. Canned and frozen beets are also available. Look for fresh beets in the produce section. To store, cut off tops and place in plastic bag and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  • Berries (Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries)

    Description

    • Berries are a popular soft fruit. Some are only available seasonally, although many of the berries they can be found year round. Berries are fragile.
    • Berries are eaten fresh and used in fruit salads, sauces, pies, desserts and jams.
    • Some common berries are:
      • Blackberries are the largest of the berries and are purple to black. They are sweet and juicy. The green cap comes away easily from the berry leaving a white core. They are usually eaten by themselves, on cereal, in fruit salad, desserts and jams.
      • Blueberries are round and deep blue with a slight silver frost on them. Cultivated blueberries are larger, sweeter and juicier than wild blueberries. Blueberries are popular for eating, in blueberry muffins, pancakes, cakes, pies and coffeecakes.
      • Raspberries are jewels of the berries. The raspberry is made up of many drupelets; each has its own seed. These drupelets are connected around the core or center of the berry. Raspberries are available in red, gold and black. They are fragile. The flavor and aroma is great and they are often eaten plain, with cream or baked in pies or desserts. They tend to be expensive, like blackberries. They are sold with the hulls off.
      • Strawberries are a very popular berry now available year round. Some are huge. They are purchased with the stems on. Look for bright red berries with fresh green caps. As with all berries, wash before using and use within a few days. Wash before removing the caps, otherwise they soak up the moisture. Sliced or whole, in a bowl or on cereal, for strawberry shortcake, desserts and smoothies, strawberries are an attractive and welcome fruit. Strawberries are good with chocolate. A strawberry, picked from the garden when ripe, has a great aroma and flavor. They are often smaller and solid. Commercial berries tend to have a hollow middle, especially the larger ones.
    • Buying

      • Look for berries in the produce section. They should be an even color, not bruised or wet looking. Most are sold in half pints, pints or quarts. Strawberries are sold with their green caps or hulls, raspberries without their caps.

      Storing

      • Berries are fragile and so buy what you can use in a few days. Don't wash until you are ready to use them. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Blueberries can be frozen right in the container.
  • Blackberries

    Description

    • Blackberries are the largest of the berries and are purple to black in color. They are sweet and juicy. The green cap comes away easily from the berry leaving a white core. They are usually eaten by themselves, on cereal, in fruit salad, desserts and jams.

    Buying

    • Look for blackberries in the produce section. They should be an even color, not bruised or wet-looking. Most are sold in half pints, pints or quarts. Blackberries are also available frozen.

    Storing

    • Berries are fragile and so buy what you can use in a few days. Don't wash until you are ready to use them. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
  • Blue Cheese

    Description

    • Blue cheese is a semi soft cheese that has a bacteria culture added to create blue-green veins in the white cheese. Blue cheese has a salty, pungent taste. Blue cheese is hard to slice as it crumbles easily. It is used on cheese trays and also on salads. Blue cheese is sold crumbled, in wedges and in chunks in the deli specialty cheese section and the dairy case. It should not have a smell of ammonia.
    • Strong, aromatic cheese such as blue cheese should be kept in a covered container.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Blueberries

    Description

    • Blueberries are round and deep blue with a slight silver frost on them. Cultivated blueberries are larger, sweeter and juicier than wild blueberries. Blueberries are popular for eating, in blueberry muffins, pancakes, cakes, pies and coffeecakes.

    Buying

    • Look for blueberries in the produce section. They should be an even color, not bruised or wet looking. Most are sold in half pints, pints or quarts. Blueberries are also available frozen.

    Storing

    • Berries are fragile and so buy what you can use in a few days. Don't wash until you are ready to use them. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
  • Bok Choy, Chinese Cabbage

    Description

    • Bok choy or Chinese cabbage is a cabbage with crisp, dark green spoon shaped leaves and firm, white ribs. It does not form a head. Bok choy has a mild sweet flavor and is crisp. The leaf and stalk can be eaten. Boy choy is used in salads, soups and stir fry.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for this cabbage in the produce section. It should be dark green with no signs of wilting. Store this cabbage in a plastic bag for 3 to 5 days in the produce bin of the refrigerator.
  • Bouquet Garni

    Description

    • A bouquet garni is the French name for a bundle of herbs, sometimes bundled in cheesecloth, that is added to soups, stews and broths to add flavor. You can also tie the herbs with string or place the herbs (removed from the stems) into a tea infuser.
    • The combination of herbs can vary but the classic combination is 4 springs parsley, 3 springs thyme and 1 bay leaf.

    Tips

    • Remove and discard the bouquet garni before serving.
    • If the herbs are tied with a string, tie the end of the string to the pot handle to easily remove the bouquet garni after cooking.
    • Substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leave and 1 bay leaf (crushed) for 1 teaspoon bouquet garni.
  • Bread Crumbs

    Description

    • Bread crumbs can be dried or fresh.
    • Fresh bread crumbs are made using a food processor or blender to create a crumb the right size. They are often added to meatloaf or toasted and used as a topping on casseroles.
    • Dry bread crumbs can be either plain or seasoned. They can be purchased or made at home by toasting bread in the oven and processing the toasted slices in the blender or dry bread crumbs can be purchased. These crumbs often top a baked dish or coat meat or chicken before sautéing.
    • Panko crumbs are a style of light, crisp crumbs that originated in Japan. They can be used for coating food for frying or sautéing. They make a crunchy crust.

    Storing

    • Fresh bread crumbs wrapped tightly can be refrigerated up to 1 week or frozen up to 3 to 6 months.
    • Dry bread crumbs can be stored at room temperature for a week or so. Purchased dry bread crumbs and Panko crumbs have a use-by date on the container.

    Measuring

    • One slice of bread equals about 1/2 cup fresh crumbs.
    • One slice of toasted bread equals about 1/3 cup dried crumbs.
  • Brie Cheese

    Description

    • Brie cheese is easiest to cut when it's cold. Use a clean sharp knife to cut the Brie wheels into wedges or thin slices.
    • Brie is a soft ripened cheese made from pasteurized cow's milk. The rind is covered with a downy coat of edible white mold and the interior is pale creamy yellow and buttery soft. The flavor can be mild to pungent.
    • Brie is sold in small or large wheels or wedges. Brie should give to slight pressure. Most Brie is eaten as is with crackers or fruit. Brie is often wrapped in pastry and baked for an appetizer. Look for this cheese in the specialty cheese section.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper, plastic food wrap or aluminum foil to retain moisture.
  • Broccoli

    Description

    • Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family. It resembles a tree with the sturdy green stalk and the branches bearing the compact green bud heads.
    • Broccoli consumption has soared in the last 20 years. Eat raw, cook as a vegetable, use in salads and stir frys.
    • Some recipes may call for baby broccoli. Others may call for a vegetable that is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.

    Buying

    • Look for broccoli with an even green color and compact bud heads or florets. As broccoli gets older some of the buds can turn olive or yellow. This can be trimmed off before using. Broccoli is available year round in the refrigerated produce area. Some stores sell bags of just the florets, no stalks. Broccoli is also available frozen in spears or just the florets.

    Storing

    • Store the unwashed broccoli in an opened plastic bag in the produce bin for up to one week.

    Tip

    • Don't overcook. The broccoli will turn olive green and be strong tasting.
    • Trim the stalks and cut in strips or slices and cook with the broccoli florets buds until tender. Remove the florets if they are cooked before the stalks, or cook separately.
  • Broccoli Rabe

    Description

    • Broccoli rabe is a flowering stalk that looks like tiny broccoli heads but is actually a member of the turnip family. It does have a bitter, pungent flavor. It is used in Italian dishes and can be fried, braised or steamed and used in soups.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for green, not yellow flowering stalks. Store in plastic bag in the produce bin and use within a week.
  • Broth, Bouillon

    Description

    • Broth or bouillon, often called stock, is made by cooking a meat, poultry or fish with water and vegetables like celery and onions. The liquid is strained off and used as a base for soups and sauces. Many home cooks make their own. Cans of bouillon or broth can be purchased in vegetable, beef and chicken varieties.
    • Bouillon cubes are compressed cubes of concentrated broth. These cubes are salty. Cubes are reconstituted with hot water before using. Cubes come in beef, chicken and vegetable flavors.
    • Bouillon granules are the same product only in a granular form.
    • Consommé that is sold in the condensed soup section has some tomato puree and gelatin added. It thickens a little when heated.

    Buying

    • Bouillon, broth and consommé are sold in the soup aisle in cans.
    • Bouillon cubes are sold in boxes or jars.
    • Bouillon granules are sold in the soup aisle in jars.

    Storing

    • For cans and jars store in a cool dry place and use by expiration date.

    Tip

    • One bouillon cube or 1 tablespoon of granules dissolved in 1 cup hot water equals 1 cup broth.
  • Brown Sugar

    Description

    • Brown sugar is white sugar combined with molasses which results in a soft textured sugar that is moist and sticky.
    • Light and dark brown sugar both have molasses but in varying amounts. Light brown sugar is more delicate in taste. Dark brown sugar retains more of the molasses flavor.
    • Muscovado brown sugar is the darkest brown sugar and is moist with a lot of flavor.
    • Demerara sugar is a dry, light brown raw sugar that has some molasses remaining and has golden large crunchy crystals. It is most often used in hot beverages.
    • Turbinado sugar is raw sugar that has been steam cleaned. It contains about 15% molasses, so the sugar has a slight molasses flavor. The color is dependent on how much molasses remains. It is light tan to golden brown in color and the large crystals make a crunchy and an attractive topping on quick breads, muffins or cookies

    Buying and Storing

    • Brown sugar and raw sugar are usually sold in 1-pound bags or boxes and can be found in the baking aisle of the supermarket.

    Tips and Substitutions

    • To measure brown sugar, pack it firmly into a dry measuring cup. Brown sugar should retain the shape of the cup when turned out.
    • Substitute 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar for 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar. (Slight flavor differences will occur.)
    • Substitute 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons molasses for 1 cup light brown sugar.
    • Substitute 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar for 1 cup granulated sugar. (Flavor will be affected somewhat.)
  • Brussels Sprouts

    Description

    • Brussels sprouts grow on a sturdy stalk. They look like miniature cabbages, from marble to walnut size and deep green in color. They are high in protein. Brussels sprouts are available year round, although the peak season is fall.
    • The smallest sprouts have the sweetest taste. They have an unpleasant odor if overcooked. Roasting Brussels sprouts brings out their sweetness.

    Buying

    • Look for firm, compact heads with bright green tight leaves. Avoid off color ones or those with holes in the leaves.

    Storing

    • Store them in the produce bin in a plastic bag for 3 to 5 days.

    Tip

    • Don't wash Brussels sprouts until you plan on using them.
  • Bulgur

    Description

    • Bulgur is wheat kernels that are steamed, dried and cracked to remove the bran. Bulgur has a nutty flavor and a tender, chewy texture.
    • A common use for bulgur is tabbouleh.
    • No need to always cook bulgur. Place bulgur in boiling water and allow to stand for about an hour to absorb the liquid. Bulgur can also be cooked. Bulgur can be eaten like rice or as a cereal.

    Buying and Storing

    • Bulgur is found with grains, rice and beans or in the ethnic section of the store. You can store bulgar in the freezer for a longer shelf life. Use by the expiration date.
  • Butter

    Description

    • Butter tenderizes a baked product.
    • It also adds color and flavor that is impossible to replicate.
    • Butter is available salted (salt acts as a preservative) or unsalted. Unsalted butter offers a delicate, cultured flavor.

    Storage

    • Store butter in its original container in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the refrigerator door, for up to one week beyond the date printed on the package.
    • Fresh butter should have a delicate cream flavor and pale yellow color. Butter quickly picks up off-flavors during storage and when exposed to oxygen; once the carton is opened place it in a resealable plastic food bag or airtight container.
    • Store butter away from foods with strong odors, such as onions or garlic.
    • Keep butter refrigerated between serving times.
    • Butter may be frozen for up to four months. Place the butter in a resealable plastic freezer bag.

    Substitutions

    • Unsalted butter may be substituted for salted butter or vice versa. It is not necessary to alter the amount of salt in the recipe.
    • Whipped butter may be used as a substitution based on weight, not volume. For example, if a cake recipe calls for 1cup (2 sticks) butter, you may use 8 ounces of whipped butter.
    • Stick margarine made from vegetable oil may be substituted for butter in most baking applications except pastry recipes and candy, made from boiled syrup. Using margarine will produce a softer dough than one made with butter.

    Measuring

    • Land O Lakes® Butter comes in stick form with markings on the paper indicating tablespoon and cup measurements. Use a sharp knife to cut off the amount needed for a recipe.
    • Butter Measurements:

      2 cups = 4 sticks = 1 pound

      1 cup = 2 sticks = 1/2 pound

      1/2 cup = 1 stick = 1/4 pound

      1/4 cup = 1/2 stick = 4 tablespoons
    • If using Land O Lakes® Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil, in the tub, spoon into dry measuring cup and pack down firmly with spatula, spoon or knife.
    • If using Land O Lakes® Whipped Butter, measure by weight, not volume.

    Handling Butter: Browning

    • Browning butter enhances butter’s rich flavor. To brown butter melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until butter just begins to turn a delicate golden brown color. (Butter will bubble and foam. WATCH CLOSELY.) Immediately remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool.

    Handling Butter: Clarifying

    • Melt butter over low heat in a small skillet or heavy saucepan. Remove white froth with a spoon as it forms on top. As fat rises, milk solids will sink to the bottom of the pan. Pour off clear yellow clarified butter; discard milk solids. Store in refrigerator.

    Handling Butter: Creaming

    • Beat butter or butter and sugar until soft, smooth and creamy. Use an electric mixer or food processor for easy mixing.

    Handling Butter: Cutting-In Butter

    • Mix in cold butter by gently pressing pastry blender into the butter and flour mixture. Butter is cut-in when the mixture is crumbly and looks like coarse meal. This may take a little bit of work. You may have to use a knife to clean off the pastry blender once in awhile.
    • Cutting the butter in coats the proteins in the flour and helps prevent the gluten-forming proteins from joining together with water and with each other.
    • Use two knives to cut-in the butter if you do not have a pastry blender. With knife blades close together, move the knives back and forth in opposite directions as in a cutting action. This will take more time, but it does work just as well as a pastry blender.

    Handling Butter: Softening

    • Soften butter slightly for easier mixing by removing from refrigerator and letting stand 30 to 45 minutes at room temperature.
    • To soften butter quickly, cut into chunks and allow to soften at room temperature about 15 minutes. If time is limited, place a stick of cold butter between sheets of waxed paper and hit it with a rolling pin on each side to smash butter.
    • The Land O’Lakes Test Kitchens recommend that you do not soften butter in the microwave for use in baking. The butter can quickly melt even when watched carefully.
  • Cabbage

    Description

    • Cabbage comes in many colors and shapes. The two most common are green and purple or red cabbage. Cabbage is crisp and mild when raw.
    • Cabbage is used raw in slaws, as a cooked vegetable and in soups and in other main dishes such as stuffed cabbage leaves.
    • Cabbage is a good source of fiber and vitamin C.
    • Chinese cabbage, or bok choy is a cabbage with crisp, dark green spoon shaped leaves and firm, white ribs. It does not form a head. Bok choy has a mild sweet flavor and is crisp. The leaf and stalk can be eaten. Boy choy is used in salads, soups and stir fry. Look for this cabbage in the produce section. It should be dark green with no signs of wilting. Store this cabbage in a plastic bag for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
    • Green or white cabbage has a firm, compact head. Use uncooked in coleslaw or cooked in stuffed cabbage leaves, boiled dinners and as a boiled or sautéed vegetable. This type of cabbage is used to make sauerkraut.
    • Napa cabbage is a cylindrical cluster of pale leaves with white ribs. It has a delicate flavor and used in Asian cooking. Use shredded in slaws.
    • Red cabbage is a reddish purple color. It comes in a compact round head and has a robust, slightly peppery flavor. Adding a few tablespoons of vinegar to the cooking water helps to avoid loss of color. Red cabbage is used in slaws, as a cooked vegetable and shredded into salads.
    • Savoy cabbage is a loose globelike head of light green curly or crinkly leaves with white ribs on a short stem. It is tender with a mellow flavor. It is a fall and winter cabbage.

    Buying

    • Cabbage is available year round in the produce section. Look for heads with compact leaves and a head that is heavy for its size.

    Storing

    • Store in the refrigerator in produce bin for a week or longer. A plastic bag will help retain moisture.

    Tip

    • The core of the cabbage is tough. To remove, cut the cabbage in quarters and cut off the base of each at an angle to remove the core.
  • Camembert Cheese

    Description

    • Camembert is a soft ripened cheese made pasteurized cow's milk. The rind is thin and covered with a downy mold. The texture is soft and almost oozing. The flavor is rich and sweet. It is eaten as is with crackers or fruit. Look for this cheese in the specialty cheese section.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Canola Oil

    Description

    • Canola oil is made from rapeseed. It is lower in saturated fat than other oils and has a neutral flavor.
    • It is good for cooking, stir frying, marinades and salad dressings.

    Buying

    • Buy canola oil in amounts that can be used in a few months to avoid rancidity problems. Canola oil is found in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • To keep oil from becoming rancid, store it where it is not exposed to heat and light and keep the container sealed. Use by the expiration date.
    • Canola oil can usually last 6 months if kept in a cool, dark place. 
    • Sniff all oil before using to make sure it isn't rancid.
  • Capers

    Description

    • Capers are green flower buds that have been dried. They can be sold dried or packed in a vinegar brine or olive oil. They come in various sizes. Capers become saltier as they are cooked. You might want to rinse them before using. Caper berries are larger than capers but can be used in the same way.
    • Capers are used in Italian and Mediterranean cooking and as a condiment. Buying
    • Look for capers in small jars in the condiment section or near the olives.

    Storage

    • Keep refrigerated after opening.
  • Caraway Seeds

    Description

    • Caraway seeds are from a plant with feathery green leaves. The small dark brown caraway seeds are aromatic. Caraway is found in rye bread, cabbage, some sauerkraut and meat dishes. It is also delicious in cream sauces.

    Buying

    • Caraway seeds are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
  • Cardamom

    Description

    • Cardamom is a seed related to the ginger family that is used in Indian cooking such as curries. It is the main ingredient in garam masala, an Indian spice mixture. It has a floral smell and a lemony flavor.
    • It is also used in the ground form in cakes and breads or for flavoring sugar.

    Buying

    • Cardamom pods or seeds and ground cardamom are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.
  • Carrots

    Description

    • Carrots are a familiar vegetable that are bright orange in color and have a smooth skin. They are high in Vitamins A and C.
    • Carrots are used as a vegetable, grated in salads, in soups, stews and main dishes. Sometimes carrots are sold with the greens attached.  Baby or mini carrots are 2 bites or so and are very popular as a snack.
    • Use carrots raw in slaws, as a cooked vegetable, roasted, and in baked goods like carrot cakes.
    • Canned and frozen carrots are also available.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for carrots with bright orange color and smooth, unblemished skin.
    • Carrots store well when refrigerated.
  • Cashew Nuts

    Description

    • Cashew nuts are a rich nut with a sweet, buttery flavor. They are tan and kidney bean shaped. The shell is poisonous, so they are sold shelled and roasted in cans.
    • They can be used as a snack and in some bars and cookies. Cashew nuts are also popular for salad garnishes and in stir frys.
    • They have a high fat content so can become rancid quickly.

    Storage and Freshness

    • Store shelled nuts in an airtight container in a cool place. Heat, light and moisture make nuts go rancid faster. Refrigerate shelled nuts for up to four months or freeze for up to eight months.
    • Shelled nuts should be crisp in texture and uniform in color. They should not be shriveled or discolored. Nuts should smell and taste fresh, not rancid with an off-flavor. Rancid nuts will ruin the baked product. Always taste nuts before using.
  • Cauliflower

    Description

    • Cauliflower is a member of the cabbage family. Creamy white florets are surrounded by green leaves curled around the edge of the head. Cauliflower is now available green, as well as the more familiar white head.
    • Cauliflower is eaten raw and used in salads and other vegetable dishes. It can also be used as a cooked vegetable, mashed and served like a potato for a low carbohydrate substitute. Cauliflower is also good roasted. Cauliflower can be cooked whole or separated into smaller pieces, often called florets.

    Buying

    • Cauliflower is available all year round in the produce department. Look for a compact, creamy white head. Brown patches that appear after the cauliflower is purchased can be trimmed away before using.

    Storing

    • Store the head of cauliflower in the produce bin. It should keep for a week or more if well wrapped.
  • Cayenne Pepper

    Description

    • Cayenne pepper is a dull red powder ground from hot chili peppers from the Cayenne region of French Guiana. Since the pith and seeds are used it is pungent and hot. Use sparingly.

    Buying and Storing

    • Cayenne pepper can be found with the spices in the baking section of the store. Store away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.
  • Celery, Celery Salt, Celery Seed

    Description

    • Celery is a green vegetable that has ribs or stalks attached to a stem. It is topped with green leaves. Some celery has strings, but the most popular, Pascal is practically stringless. White celery is available in the winter and is tender and less bitter.
    • Celery ribs or stalks break cleanly off the stem when celery is fresh. The darker the stalks, the stronger the flavor.
    • Celery is cut in strips and eaten raw, or sliced for salads and soups and main dishes. It is also a popular ingredient in chow mien and potato salad. Celery leaves are attractive and can be used as a garnish and used in soups.
    • Celery seed is a seasoning sold in the spice section composed of tiny celery seeds. This tends to be a bit expensive. Celery seed can be used in slaws, potato salad, canning and soups.  It adds a mild celery flavor.
    • Celery salt is a seasoning sold in the spice section and is made up of ground celery seeds and salt.

    Buying

    • Celery is sold in the produce department in plastic bags year round. Hearts of celery are trimmed stalks with some of the outer stalks and the leafy portion removed. It should be green and crisp looking and have no wilted looking leaves. Celery seed and celery salt are sold in jars in the spice section of the store.

    Storing

    • Celery can be stored in a plastic bag in the produce bin for up to two weeks. Limp celery can be used in soups or revived by standing it in a glass of water.
    • Store celery seed and celery salt away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.
  • Cellophane Noodles

    Description

    • Cellophane noodles are also called glass noodles or bean thread vermicelli. They look like a rice noodle but are firm and won't break.
    • They need to be cut with a scissor and soaked before using. They absorb other flavors well.

    Buying

    • Cellophane noodles are found in the ethnic or Asian section of the supermarket, in boxes or cellophane packages.

    Storing

    • Store in the cupboard and use by the expiration date.
  • Cheddar Cheese

    Description

    • Cheddar cheese is a very popular cow's milk cheese. It can be semi-firm to firm. It has a smooth, firm texture. Cheddar is sold in white or orange yellow color. Cheddar is a cheese that is sold aged, which means it was held under ideal conditions by the manufacturer for months to years. It is labeled mild, medium, sharp or extra sharp. As the cheese ages it becomes stronger in flavor and firmer and drier in texture. Cheddar is popular in grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, many other main dishes, sandwiches and just for eating. It is found most often in the dairy case or the specialty cheese section of the store.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Cheese

    Description

    • There are over 2,000 different types of cheeses in an amazing variety of flavors - from mild to extra sharp, tangy to spicy. And the textures range from creamy and soft to granular and firm.

    Storage

    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Strong, aromatic cheese, such as blue cheese, should be kept in a covered container.
    • Wrap all cheese tightly in the original wrapper, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
    • Firm cheeses, such as Swiss and Cheddar, will keep longer than softer cheeses.
    • Process cheeses have a long shelf life because they are pasteurized. Once they are opened, or sliced in the deli, keep them tightly wrapped and refrigerated to avoid drying out.
    • Freezing cheese is not recommended. However, if you do, freeze cheese in small amounts of less than one-half pound, no thicker than one-inch. Wrap well.
    • To use frozen cheese, thaw slowly in the refrigerator. Thawed cheese may be mottled in color, which should even out after thawing. Frozen cheese is usually crumbly and more suitable for cooking than for serving to guests or using for snacks.
    • What about mold? Most molds are harmless, but to be safe, discard at least one-half inch of cheese on all sides of the visible mold. Tips:
      • Make sure the knife blade is thoroughly cleaned when cutting each surface to avoid spreading mold to the freshly cut surface.
      • Use new wrap when rewrapping, to avoid spreading mold spores to the fresh areas.

    Cooking With Cheese

    • Melt cheese at a low temperature for a short time, stirring often. Cheese needs just enough heat to melt and blend with other ingredients. If heated too long or at too high a temperature, the cheese can become tough and stringy, and the fat can separate.
    • Cheese melts more quickly when shredded or cubed. Shred it when cold for easier shredding.
    • A process cheese will melt evenly and smoothly with no fat separation. Process cheese can be cubed to speed up melting time.
    • Shred natural cheese so it will melt quickly at a low temperature.
    • When cheese is used to top an entree, add it near the end of the baking time so it has only enough time to melt.

    Cutting Cheese

    • Cheese is easiest to cut when it's cold.
    • Use a clean sharp knife to cut the cheese.
    • Cut cheese wheels into wedges.
    • Cut rectangular, square, and cylindrical cheese into slices.
    • Cut wedges or triangular cheese into thin wedges.
    • Cheese can also be cut into cubes.
    • Use a serrated cutter to make attractive crinkle cut shapes.
    • Soft goat cheese is usually cut into rounds or served as a spread.
    • If you're preparing a snack tray, try cutting a variety of shapes using a knife or small canape or cookie cutter.

    Serving Cheese

    • To enjoy the full flavor of cheese, remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Be sure to keep it wrapped until it is served.
    • Sample cheeses beginning with the mildest cheese to more robust, such as American to Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese.
    • Label cheeses so guests can identify what they are sampling.

    Selecting Cheese

    • Cheeses are appropriate for all types of entertaining. How much to buy depends on the type of occasion, time of day, other foods being served, number of guests, and even the mix of people in attendance. Below are some good rules to follow:
      • Plan on 2 to 3 ounces of cheese per person when preparing snacks or sandwiches.
      • Allow a serving of 3 ounces of cheese when cheese is the only protein source, such as a cheese and fruit platter.
      • A 2-ounce serving is adequate when other food, such as seafood, appetizers or meats, are served along with the cheese.
      • Look for cheeses with different textures and flavors. For a large group, try 6 different cheeses on the cheese tray. For a smaller group, 3 different cheese may be adequate.
      • Variety is the key when planning for a cheese tray. Try a blend of hard or semi-hard cheeses, like Cheddar, a mild semisoft one, like Monterey Jack, and a soft, ripened cheese such as Brie or Camembert.
      • A good rule: 4 ounces or 1/4 pound cheese = 1 cup shredded cheese.
    • Process Cheese

      • Process cheese is made from natural cheese. The cheese is pasteurized or heated and emulsifiers are added to disperse the fat. Other ingredients can be added for flavored process cheese, reduced fat process cheese or to create singles or slices of process cheese. The cheese is then poured into forms or made into slices. Process cheese melts quickly and smoothly.
      • Process American cheese is very popular and most often sold in 5-pound blocks for slicing in the deli or in 2-pound loaves or slices in the dairy case. Because the cheese is pasteurized it has a longer shelf life than natural cheese.

      Natural Cheese

      • Natural cheese is made from pasteurized milk. This can be cow, goat, sheep or buffalo milk. A starter culture is added to begin fermentation of the milk and this also helps develop the final flavor and texture. A microbial enzyme is added to coagulate the milk. Curds develop and whey is drained from the curds. Salt is added and the curds are pressed into desired shapes or forms. Many natural cheeses are aged to develop the flavor and texture.
      • Imported cheese must be made from pasteurized milk. Artisan cheese is sometimes made from unpasteurized milk in this country, but must be aged before it is sold.
      • Many natural cheeses are sold in the deli, in the dairy case, in chunks, wedges or shredded.
      • There are various ways of classifying cheeses. For this purpose the cheeses will be defined as soft ripened, semi-soft, semi firm, hard and hard grating.
      • Some common types of natural cheese are:
        • Soft ripened - These cheeses have a higher fat and moisture content and are easier to spread and have a creamy texture. Examples are Brie and Camembert. See individual cheese entries for more information.
        • Semi-soft - Varieties include blue cheese, Gorgonzola, Feta, fontina, Havarti, Roquefort or Chevre (goat cheese) and Hispanic or Latin American cheese such as Cotija or Queso Blanco. See individual cheese entries for more information.
        • Semi-firm or firm - Varieties include Cheddar, Colby, Edam, Gouda, Gruyere, Monterey Jack, Muenster, mozzarella, provolone, Swiss or Emmental and Hispanic or Latin American cheese such as Chihuahua, Enchilado or Manchego. See individual cheese entries for more information.
        • Hard - these cheeses, often grated, are low in moisture. Varieties include Asiago, Parmesan, Romano and Pecarino Romano. See individual cheese entries for more information.
  • Cherry

    Description

    • Cherries are small round fruit that can be bright or dark red or yellow. They contain one pit.  They are available beginning in early summer till early September.
    • There are sweet and sour cherries. Sweet cherries, which are eaten fresh, are large and plump and eaten as is or used in desserts. Two common sweet cherries are Bing cherries which are large, sweet and juicy and have a deep garnet color, and Queen Ann. The Rainier Cherry is a sweet golden cherry with a pink blush that is available July through September.
    • Sour cherries are sour. They are often cooked with sugar for desserts, canned for pie fillings or used for juice or jam. They can be purchased year round in cans and sometimes frozen.
    • Maraschino cherries can be found with the ice cream toppings and in the baking area. They are sold in a flavored sugar syrup and can be purchased with or without stems.

    Storing

    • The Rainier cherry is quite perishable, as are most types of cherries. Buy what you can use in a few days. Wash just before using.
    • Look for colorful, plump cherries with stems attached. Refrigerate ripe cherries in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
    • Maraschino cherries should be kept in the refrigerator after opening.

    Measuring

    • 1 1/4 pound equals 3 cups whole or 2 1/2 cups halved cherries.
  • Chervil

    Description

    • Chervil looks like parsley. It has a delicate parsley or anise-like flavor and can be used like parsley. It is rarely used as a seasoning by itself because it is so mild flavored. Add the fresh leaf at the end of cooking. It also is sold dried and as a seed.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Chihuahua Cheese

    Description

    • Chihuahua is a cow's milk cheese that is often found in wheels, balls or braids and can be off-white to pale yellow. It has a delicate mild, slightly sour, salty flavor and is used like mozzarella cheese. This cheese melts well.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Chili Oil

    Description

    • Chili oil is a vegetable oil which has been steeped with hot red chiles in it to release their flavor and heat into the oil.
    • It is red-colored, spicy and hot and a favored ingredient in Asian cooking.

    Buying and Storing

    • Chili oil can be found in the ethnic Asian section of the supermarket and in Asian specialty markets.
    • Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
  • Chili Paste

    Description

    • Chili paste or chile bean paste is made of fermented fava beans, flour, red chilis and sometimes garlic. It is most often used in Asian cooking.
    • It can be very hot and is often used in Szechuan-style dishes.

    Buying and Storing

    • Chili paste can be found in the ethnic Asian section of the supermarket and in special Asian markets.
    • Store in the refrigerator after opening.
  • Chili Powder, Chili Flakes

    Description

    • Chili powder has cumin as a key ingredient. It is usually made from a variety of dried chiles. It is hot, but not as hot as cayenne pepper. Each brand varies in ingredients and heat level. Chili powder is finely ground and deep red. Chili powder is used in chili soup and other main dishes. It often is used as an ingredient in rubs for meat.
    • Adventurous bakers have added it to dark chocolate brownies, mousses and other desserts.
    • Chili flakes are flakes of dried hot red peppers and are also used in cooking and as a favorite addition to pizza.

    Buying and Storing

    • Chili powder and chili flakes are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.
    • Store away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.
  • Chili Sauce

    Description

    • Chili sauce is a thick red condiment that is made from tomato puree, vinegar, salt, onion, spices, flavoring, garlic powder and other ingredients depending on the brand. It can be mild and sweet or very hot and spicy.
    • Chili sauce is used to flavor Thai dishes but is also used in American dishes like meat loaf.

    Buying and Storing

    • Chili sauce can be found in jars in the Asian section and in the condiment section of the store. Store chili sauce in the refrigerator after opening and use by the expiration date.
  • Chives

    Description

    • Chives are related to the onion family and have hollow stems. The flavor is very mild and onion-like. Use freshly sliced in salads, sandwich spreads, omelets, cottage cheese, potato salad or as a garnish. They add nice flavor to savory biscuits and muffins.
    • Add at the end of cooking to retain flavor and color. Dried chives are available, but are low in flavor. Chives are available year round in the produce section.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Chorizo

    Description

    • Chorizo is a pork sausage that is highly spiced with cayenne, sweet red pepper and garlic. It is available in different heat levels and is most often used in Mexican cooking.

    Buying and Storing

    • Chorizo is sold in various size links and in bulk, cured or fresh. The casing on links can be removed before cooking.
    • Chorizo is sold in the ethnic section of the refrigerated area near the tortillas and other Mexican items. Cured chorizo will be in the ethnic section of the store or in specialty markets. Use by expiration date or freeze.
  • Chutney

    Description

    • Chutney is a condiment or relish made with pickled fruit or vegetables. It is sweet and spicy and originated in India. Some are quite hot. Mango chutney is one of the most common.
    • Chutney can be used as a sandwich spread, eaten with curries and used in cheese balls.

    Buying and storing

    • Buy chutney in the condiment section or ethnic department. It is sold in jars. Refrigerate the jar after opening and use by expiration date.
  • Cilantro

    Description

    • Cilantro is also called Chinese parsley and is an herb that has bright green leaves and stems. It is often mistaken for flat leaf parsley. It is from the coriander plant. It has a very fragrant aroma and a unique flavor that is often an acquired taste. The dried leaves are also available in the spice section of the store.
    • It is used in Mexican and Caribbean cooking. Add this herb at the end of cooking as it is sensitive to heat. It is best in cold dishes. Guacamole and salsa often use this herb. Some baked goods call for cilantro, especially paired with lime.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Cilantro will keep in a plastic bag for a week or longer. It helps if the leaves are not wet from the spray in the produce department. Cilantro is sold in a bunch in the produce section year round. Wash and snip before using. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Cinnamon

    Description

    • Cinnamon comes from the quill or inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree. These quills are cut into 3 to 4-inches pieces for cinnamon sticks or ground into powder.
    • Cinnamon is a popular spice. It has a fragrant warm aroma and sweet, spicy flavor. Cinnamon sticks are used in hot cider and other hot drinks, applesauce and rice pudding.  The sticks are removed and not eaten.
    • Ground cinnamon is a very popular spice used in baking cookies, cakes, apple pie and many more foods. Cinnamon goes well with many fruits and sometimes is included in sweet dips. Cinnamon/sugar sprinkled on toast is popular. Cinnamon butter is good on toast, waffles and pancakes.
    • Cincinnati chili uses cinnamon in the sauce. Other cooking applications include using cinnamon in Mexican mole sauce, in spice rubs for meat and more.

    Buying

    • Cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Store away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.
  • Cloves

    Description

    • Cloves are the aromatic unopened dried buds of a tall tropical evergreen. They are about 1/2 to 3/4-inch long, dark brown and somewhat nail shaped. Cloves have a pungent aroma and flavor.
    • Whole cloves can be used inserted in the surface of ham to flavor the meat and are used in some hot beverages.
    • Ground cloves are used in spicy cookies and desserts like gingerbread.

    Buying

    • Whole cloves and ground cloves are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Store away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.
  • Cocktail Sauce

    Description

    • Cocktail sauce is a tomato-based condiment that is made from chili peppers, Worcestershire sauce and horseradish, among other ingredients. It is pourable, red and often used with shrimp as a dipping sauce. Horseradish gives it the zingy taste.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for cocktail sauce in the condiment section. Store opened cocktail sauce in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date.
  • Coconut

    Description

    • The large oval brown husk-covered fruit of the coconut palm tree. Fresh coconuts are available year-round with the peak season being October through December. Once the outer shell is broken the white coconut meat is exposed.
    • Coconut is sold as fresh, whole coconut or as processed coconut, sold in cans or bags, or in bulk. It is sold sweetened or unsweetened, shredded, flaked and grated and dried moist or frozen.
    • Coconut Water is the liquid drawn from the center of the fresh coconut.
    • Coconut Milk is made from water and coconut meat, and is not sweetened. Light coconut milk is available in cans. It is 60% reduced in fat and calories.
    • Coconut Cream is a thick, syrupy, sweetened mixture sometimes known as cream of coconut.
    • One medium-sized fresh coconut will yield 3 to 4 cups grated or flaked coconut and 1 cup of liquid. Do not pack tightly when measuring grated or flaked coconut.

    Storage

    • Store fresh whole coconuts at room temperature for up to 1 month. Once a coconut is opened, store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The high oil content of coconut makes it turn rancid rather quickly if not stored properly.
    • If unopened, canned coconut can be stored at room temperature for up to 18 months and in plastic bags up to 6 months. Refrigerate both after opening up to 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.
    • If shredded coconut becomes dry, soak it in milk for 30 minutes, then drain off the milk and pat dry with paper towels. You can use the drained milk in recipes or blended drinks within 5 days.

    Opening A Fresh Coconut

    • First, drain any liquid inside the coconut by piercing the coconut 2 to 3 times with an ice pick. Crack the shell with a hammer and break the white meat away. Use a knife to peel away the dark inner skin.

    Toasting Coconut

    • Toasting coconut enhances the flavor and lightly colors the coconut a very light golden brown color. Spread the coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet with shallow sides. Bake at 325°F, tossing occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
  • Coffee

    Description

    • Coffee is big business. It is a popular beverage at home and in coffee shops. There are hundreds of types of coffee. Coffee beans grow in pairs inside the seeds or berries of the coffee tree. The bean is stripped from the pulp, parchment and skin. The bean is then cured before roasting.
    • Coffee is consumed hot, cold, in mocha combinations, in lattes and many other forms. Coffee, instant coffee or espresso powder are sometimes used in cooking as a flavoring to add a rich coffee flavor.
    • The flavor of the coffee bean depends on where it was grown and how it was harvested and roasted. Flavored coffee beans are very popular. They have flavors like hazelnut or spices added.
    • Coffee comes in caffeinated and decaffeinated forms.
    • How the bean is roasted affects the flavor. Light roasted coffee beans are pale to medium brown and make a medium flavored coffee. Dark roasted beans are dark and glossy and the coffee has a slight bitter flavor. American or regular roast makes a moderate brew, French roast is stronger. Espresso beans are glossy black and they have a definite roasted, bitter flavor.
    • Instant coffee is a fine powder made from coffee concentrate. Freeze dried instant coffee granules are made using freshly brewed coffee which is freeze dried to produce the crystals. The flavor is thought to be superior to the powdered instant coffee.
    • Coffee beans can also be found coated in chocolate and eaten as a treat or used as a garnish.

    Buying

    • Coffee beans can be bought in bulk, in packages and in instant form in the beverage aisle.

    Storing

    • Coffee lovers believe that coffee should be freshly ground as needed and the whole beans should be used within 2 weeks. Coffee beans can be frozen to increase the shelf life. Coffee takes up a large section of the grocery.
  • Colby Cheese

    Description

    • Colby cheese originated in Wisconsin. It is a semi-firm cheese that is easy to slice. Colby is made from pasteurized cow's milk, is most often yellow orange in color and has a semi-firm to firm texture with some small openings. It has a mild flavor and smooth, creamy texture. Colby cheese is most often sold in the dairy case in 8 or 16-ounce chunks. A large 13 pound cylindrical shape called longhorn is used for slicing in some delis. Colby is popular for snacking and for sandwiches.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Cold Pack Cheese

    Description

    • Cold pack cheese is made from a blend of natural cheeses such as Cheddar and other ingredients. This cheese mixture is packed into molds, often in plastic containers. It is spreadable at room temperature. Cold pack cheese is most often used eaten with crackers or for appetizers.

    Buying and Storing

    • Buy cold pack cheese in the dairy case, store in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date.
  • Collard Greens

    Description

    • Collard greens are a type of cabbage which does not form a head but has a bunch of straight, broad leaves. It is fibrous, so requires a long cooking when it is mature. Remove the ribs and cut the collard greens in strips to cook more quickly. It is popular cooked with ham hocks. Collard greens are popular in the South.

    Buying

    • Look for greens that are not wilted and don't have yellow leaves. Smaller leaves and stalks are tenderer. Some of these greens are quite seasonal and a larger variety may be found at Farmer's markets during the summer.

    Storing

    • Store these greens unwashed in a plastic bag in the produce bin and use within a few days.

    Tip

    • These green shrink when cooking as they are full of moisture. Allow 8 ounces per serving.
  • Cooking Sprays, Baking Sprays

    Description

    • Cooking sprays are convenient and are sold in aerosol cans. There are many types available: original (often soybean oil), olive oil and butter-flavored sprays. Baking spray has flour added to it. There is even a grill spray. Use sprays to grease (and flour) pans.

    Buying

    • Look for these sprays in the baking section of the store or with cooking oils.

    Storing

    • Store in cool dry place and use by expiration date.

    Tip

    • If using on non-stick pans or surfaces be sure to clean pans thoroughly after use to avoid residue build-up.
    • Vegetable shortening (with flour added when used in a baking pan), butter or oil can be substituted.
  • Coriander

    Description

    • Coriander is related to the parsley family. It is an aromatic herb. The flavor of the seeds is described as a blend of lemon, sage and caraway. The seeds are often toasted and used in Indian and Asian dishes or in pickling. Ground coriander is found in curries. The leaves are called Cilantro (see Cilantro). Buy in the spice section of the store.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Corn

    Description

    • Corn is a native American plant. Plump kernels grow in rows on a cob. It is actually considered a grain and cornmeal and hominy are made from corn. Sweet corn sold on the cob is available during the late summer and very early fall.
    • Sweet corn on the cob should be purchased as soon after picking as possible and cooked and served the day it is purchased. The "milky" kernels are high in sugar and as soon as it's picked, the sugar in the corn begins to turns to starch and lessen its sweetness.
    • Popular varieties of sweet corn are white, yellow, white and yellow combined and shoepeg.
    • Tamales are made with the husks of corn.
    • Cooked corn kernels are also popular in many entrees and side dishes and even in baked items such as corn bread.
    • Baby corn is tiny corn, 3 to 4 inches long, that is eaten cob and all. It is popular with Thai and Chinese cooks.

    Buying

    • Sweet corn on the cob is at its peak in mid-to-late summer through early fall. Look for plump ears with green, moist husks and corn silk tassels at the tip that look fresh.
    • Corn kernels are also available canned and frozen and small ears of frozen corn on the cob can be found in the freezer section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use fresh corn on the cob as soon as possible to prevent it from turning starchy. Keep it in a plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator.

    Tip

    • Corn on the cob can be boiled, cooked in the microwave or put on the grill without husks or with damp husks. Don't overcook.
  • Cornmeal

    Description

    • Cornmeal is made from corn kernels which are dried and ground. Cornmeal can be yellow, white or blue. It can be ground into fine, medium and coarse grinds. Cornmeal has a sweet flavor and a soft texture.
    • Stone ground or water ground cornmeal retains some of the hull and the germ of the corn, so doesn't keep as well as commercially ground cornmeal that has the outer hull and the germ removed by steel rollers.
    • Self-rising cornmeal is popular in the South and is white or yellow cornmeal with salt and leavening added.
    • Cornmeal is used to make polenta or grits (see Polenta). Cornmeal is also used to make cornbread, corn muffins, used to bread fish, roll out pizza dough on and cornbread-type toppings on Mexican casseroles.
    • White or yellow cornmeal is often enriched with B vitamins and iron to replace that lost with the removal of the hull and germ.

    Buying

    • Look for cornmeal in the baking aisle or the section with cooked cereal products. It is packaged in cardboard boxes or bags.

    Storing

    • The stone ground variety can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 months or in the freezer for two years. The more common cornmeal can be refrigerated for up to 6 months or stored in the freezer. If the cornmeal is used within a few weeks it can be kept in the cupboard. Storing it a tightly sealed container will help extend the shelf life.
  • Cornstarch

    Description

    • Cornstarch is a fine white powder made from the endosperm or starch of a corn kernel. It is used in cooking as a thickener in puddings, soups and sauces. When cornstarch is used with wheat flour it makes a fine textured cake or pastry.
    • Cornstarch is usually mixed with cold liquid before adding to a hot mixture. This will prevent lumps from forming.
    • Cornstarch sauces are clear, rather than opaque. Cornstarch is often used in Oriental cooking. 
    • Cornstarch is an anti caking ingredient in powdered sugar.

    Buying

    • Cornstarch is sold in a 1-pound box in the grocery store baking aisle or in a plastic container with a lid which helps in extending shelf life and makes it easier to measure.

    Storage

    • Keep in the box or in a sealed container and use-by date on package.

    Measuring

    • Use a standard dry measuring spoon or cup. With a dry spoon fill and then level off with a knife.

    Substitution

    • Use 2 tablespoons flour for 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
  • Cotija Cheese

    Description

    • Cotija is a cow or goat milk cheese and is very firm or moist like feta. It is white to ivory in color, salty and tangy and becomes more pungent as it ages. When it is young it is smooth, firm, salty and slightly crumbly. As Cotija ages it becomes dry, hard and granular. Since aged Cotija is crumbly and salty it is most often used to season or to garnish Mexican such as enchiladas or refried beans.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Cottage Cheese

    Description

    • Cottage cheese is a soft and unripened cheese in a curd form. The curds are white and appear clotted. Cottage cheese is made from pasteurized cow's milk. The milk is coagulated without rennet. It comes in small, medium and large curd sizes. The flavor is fresh and milky. The curds are in a cream that can contain up to 4% butterfat. Cottage cheese is high in protein.
    • Cottage cheese is sold in different forms: Whole (4-8% butterfat); partially skimmed or low fat in both 1 and 2 % butterfat; and fat free cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is also sold with added fruits or herbs, such as chives.
    • Cottage cheese is eaten alone, with salt and pepper or fruit. Sometimes it can be substituted for ricotta cheese in recipes, although it is higher in moisture. It can be blended and used in place of sour cream, although it will not be as rich tasting.
    • Baker's cheese is cottage cheese with some of the moisture drained off. It is slightly more acidic and has a tangier flavor and often used in cheesecakes.

    Buying

    • Buy cottage cheese in plastic tubs from 8 ounces to 32 ounces in the refrigerated section.

    Storing

    • Store cottage cheese in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date. Do not freeze.
  • Couscous

    Description

    • Couscous is pasta made by moistening wheat with water, coating it with flour and rolling this mixture into round pellets.
    • Couscous can be cooked by adding it to boiling water, removing it from the heat and allowing it to stand till the liquid is absorbed.
    • Couscous is used in side dishes, salads and soups. Some couscous is packaged mixed with herbs, cheese or other flavorings.

    Buying and Storing

    • Couscous can be found with rice, grains and sometimes with pasta.
  • Crackers

    Description

    • There are many types of crackers. Most are thin, dry wafers that are plain, salted or flavored and made from flour, salt, sometimes fat and water. The may be leavened or unleavened and often are pricked on the top and baked until they are dry. The common saltine cracker is an example, as is the graham cracker. Oyster crackers are round dime to nickel-sized crackers that may have a ridged edge and are used in soup. Hundreds of snack crackers are available in the cracker aisle.

    Buying

    • Usually crackers are sold in a box with a waxed paper or foil liner or in a bag. They are in the cracker or snack aisle.

    Storing

    • Keep crackers sealed well and avoid moisture. Use by the expiration date.
  • Cranberries

    Description

    • Cranberries are found in the produce section late fall until early winter. They are native to North America and grown in marshes and bogs. These small, scarlet round berries are popular in sauce or jelly, cranberry relish and in baked goods.
    • Dried cranberries are cranberries that are split in half and injected with sugar. They are plump and dark red and used as a snack, in baking, cereals, granola bars, muffin mixes, etc.
    • A huge array of cranberry flavored and 100% cranberry juice products can be found in the section with juices. Seasonally cranberry orange relish may be found in the freezer section. Cranberry sauce and cranberry gel are available in the canned fruit section

    Buying

    • Cranberries are found in late fall to January in good crop years. They are most often sold in 12-ounce bags in the refrigerated section of the produce department. The berries should be bright colored and not soft.
    • Dried cranberries are found in the dried fruit or baking section. They are usually sold in a resealable package. Sometimes they are sold in bulk in bins near the produce section.

    Storing

    • Cranberries can be stored in the produce bin in the refrigerator for a week or two. They can also be frozen right in the bag.
    • Keep dried cranberries tightly sealed and use by expiration date. They have a long shelf life.

    Tip

    • When cooking cranberries, cook till they pop. Don't overcook.
  • Cream

    Description

    • Cream is a dairy product that is produced from the butterfat from milk. Cream is sold with different percentages of fat content and that determines the best use of the cream. It is widely used in baking and cooking.
    • Half and half is a mixture of milk and cream and contains from 11 to 18% milk fat. It is most often used with coffee. There is a fat free half and half on the market.
    • Light cream, which is sometimes called coffee cream, has a fat content of approximately 20%. It cannot be whipped.
    • Heavy cream may also be called heavy whipping cream and has a milk fat content of 36 to 48%.  This cream is used for whipping.
    • Ultrapasteurized cream is cream that is briefly heated to 300⁰F to kill microorganisms that may sour the cream. It has a longer shelf life than fresh cream because of the heat treatment.  It also may take a little longer to whip.

    Buying

    • These dairy products are found in the refrigerated dairy case section of the store. They are sold in 1/2 pint, 1 pint and 1 quart containers.

    Storing

    • Store the product in the original container in the refrigerator at 35⁰F to 40⁰F. Use by the expiration date on the carton.

    Measuring

    • Measure cream in a glass or clear plastic liquid measuring cup on a level surface. Bend down so your eye is level with the markings on the cup. To measure in a measuring spoon, fill the spoon to the top. Do not pour the cream into a measuring spoon over other ingredients in case there is spillage.

    Whipping Cream

    • When whipping cream make sure the cream, beaters and bowl are very cold. Beat whipping cream in the chilled bowl at high speed, scraping bowl often, until soft peaks form. Continue beating, gradually adding sugar, if desired, until still peaks form.
  • Cream Cheese

    Description

    • Cream cheese is a smooth, creamy, spreadable (at room temperature) cheese made from pasteurized cow's milk. Salt and stabilizers are added. It has a mild, sweet flavor that is slightly tangy. It is sold in blocks in foil or plastic wrapped that sometimes are in a cardboard container. The most common sizes are 3 ounces and 8 ounces.
    • Cream cheese is used in baking, frostings, dips, cheese balls and desserts like cheesecake.
    • Cream cheese may have herbs, fruits or vegetables added.
    • Cream cheese is available in the following varieties:
      • Full fat Cream cheese
      • Neufchatel cream cheese (American variety) is slightly lower in fat (approximately 1/3 less fat) and calories so it contains more moisture.
      • Reduced fat cream cheese has an even lower fat content.
      • Non-fat cream cheese has no fat and has more starches added.
      • Whipped cream cheese is easy to spread because air is whipped into the cream cheese. It is soft and fluffy and good for spreading.
      • Cream cheese spread comes plain or flavored in small tubs. This is most often used on bagels.

    Buying

    • Cream cheese can be purchased in 8-ounce or 3-ounce foil wrapped package in the dairy case section. Whipped cream cheese is most often sold in round plastic containers or tubs.

    Storage

    • Keep in foil package or containers and use by the date on the package.
  • Cream of Tartar

    Description

    • Cream of tartar, also referred to as tartaric acid, is a fine white powder that is used in candy and frosting for a creamy consistency and to prevent crystallization. Cream of tartar is also used with egg whites to stabilize and add volume during beating (often for meringues).
    • Cream of tartar can help prevent discoloration of green vegetables. Add 1/2 teaspoon to the cooking water when preparing artichokes to help retain the green color.

    Buying

    • Purchase cream of tartar in small plastic containers in the spice section.

    Storage

    • It has a long shelf life when kept dry and in a cool, dark place.

    Measuring

    • Use a standard measuring spoon. Fill the spoon and then level off with a knife.
  • Crema

    Description

    • Crema is the Hispanic version of sour cream. It comes in different varieties, some are the consistency of whipping cream, and some are thicker like sour cream.

    Buying

    • Look for crema in the dairy case with other Hispanic refrigerated items. It is sold in plastic bottles.

    Storage

    • Keep refrigerated and use by expiration date on container.
  • Creme Fraiche

    Description

    • Crème fraiche is a slightly thick and richer than sour cream. It has a velvety texture and is high in fat. It does not curdle when heated.
    • Use crème fraiche in desserts and cream sauces or as a topping for fruit.

    Tip

    • To make your own crème fraiche heat 1 cup whipping cream to 100 degrees. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of sour cream, cultured buttermilk or yogurt. Allow to set at room temperature for 9 hours before refrigerating.

    Buying

    • Look for crème fraiche in the dairy case in stores.

    Storage

    • Keep refrigerated and use by expiration date on the container.
  • Croissant

    Description

    • A croissant is a flaky crescent shaped roll made from puff pastry. It can be eaten with butter and jam or used as a base for a sandwich. Mini croissants are also available.

    Buying and Storing

    • Croissants are often found in the bakery section of the store. Use within a few days or freeze for a few weeks and thaw before using.
    • Tubes of unbaked crescent roll dough can be found in the refrigerated bread section of the grocery store and baked at home. They can be used as a base for tarts, in appetizers and savory dishes.
  • Cucumber

    Description

    • An old saying goes “cool as a cucumber,” and that is an apt description. The long slender green vegetable is full of moisture, but is crisp and cooling. Cucumbers have a thin dark green skin and a pale green interior with white edible seeds. They need hot weather to thrive during the growing season. Cucumbers can be eaten peeled or unpeeled. If a cucumber is too big it will be full of seeds. Cucumbers are eaten as is or in salads. Slices top cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches or appear on vegetable trays. Cucumber slices also make a good edible garnish.
    • English cucumber is a thin-skinned, long, narrow cucumber that has no seeds. It is often sold wrapped in plastic wrap.
    • Small cucumbers, such as Kirby, are used to make pickles, but they are not commonly used for eating like the long slender cucumbers.

    Buying

    • Look for cucumbers 7 to 9 inches long that are green and slim with no soft spots.

    Storing

    • Store cucumbers on the counter if using within a day or two. They should last a week or longer when refrigerated.
  • Cumin

    Description

    • Cumin is available in a seed likes look like a caraway seed; they are aromatic and nutty. They can be toasted.
    • Cumin is also sold as a ground spice that is dark reddish brown. It is common in many Indian and Hispanic dishes and spice blends.
    • It has a sharp, slightly bitter flavor. It is used in chili powder and is also the base of many rubs.

    Buying

    • Cumin seed and ground cumin are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Store away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.
  • Curry Powder

    Description

    • Curry powder is a complex spice mixture made of up to 20 chilies, spices, herbs and seeds. Some of the ingredients used are cumin, cilantro, black pepper, black mustard, ginger and dried chilies. Curry powder is used for curries, dips, Indian cooking.

    Buying

    • Curry powder can be found with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Store away from sunlight in a tightly closed container.
  • Dates

    Description

    • Dates are the sweet and fleshy fruit of the date palm. The color ranges from tan to dark brown depending on the variety. They are sold fresh in season but the fruit is most commonly found dried.
    • Dates can be eaten as is, stuffed with nuts or cream cheese and used in baking fruitcake, date cookies, date bread and other baked goods.
    • They also appear in savory dishes such as stews.
    • Dates are sold whole, diced, pitted, unpitted and in other forms.

    Buying

    • Dates are often sold in plastic tubs or packages. In late fall they are often in the produce section or year round in the dried fruit area or baking area.

    Storing

    • Since dates are sweet when dried they have a long shelf life. After opening packages they should be kept in a cool dry place or in the refrigerator. They also can be frozen.
    • Store fresh dates wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • Dill

    Description

    • Dill has tiny feathery green leaves. These lacy, aromatic leaves can finely chopped and used in dips with cream cheese, with fish, cucumber salads or used whole as a garnish. The fresh leaves are sensitive to heat. Spicy, pungent dill seeds can be used in pickles, potato salad or cabbage.
    • Fresh dill and dried dill leaves (dill weed) are delicious in savory baked goods. The dill flower is added to dill pickles during canning.
    • Garnish cooked fish, use in cold dips and appetizers. Fresh dill is available seasonally.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried dill seeds and dill weed are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. 
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Edam Cheese

    Description

    • Edam is often sold in small rounds with a flat top and bottom. It is often coated in red or yellow wax. The color is pale yellow and the texture is smooth with small eyes or openings. It has a mild flavor. 
    • Use a clean sharp knife to cut the rounds into wedges.

    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.

    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

  • Edamamae

    Description

    • Edamame is the Japanese name for fresh soybeans. When in season they are picked when not quite mature and sold in the slightly fuzzy green pod. They are legumes that come 4 or 5 beans to a green pod.
    • Edamame can be steamed or cooked and then popped from the pod and eaten as a snack or a vegetable, in soups and main dishes. They are high in protein. Frozen edamame, shelled or unshelled, are also available.

    Buying and Storing

    • Edamame is available seasonally fresh, but is most commonly found frozen in the pod or shelled. The shell is not eaten. Store fresh edamame in the refrigerator and use within a few days.
  • Eggplant

    Description

    • Eggplant is called a vegetable but is actually a fruit that comes in many sizes, shapes and colors. Eggplant has a spongy texture and an off-white pulp. A large egg-shaped eggplant that has a smooth glossy purple skin with a rigid stem is the most common one. These large eggplant can be fried, stuffed or roasted and have a white flesh that turns somewhat grey when cooked.
    • Eggplant is rarely eaten raw. It can have a slight bitter, but fairly bland flavor that absorbs other flavors. Eggplant do contain tiny edible seeds. It is often peeled before cooking.  Typically eggplant weigh 1 1/2 to 2 1/1 pounds.
    • Another eggplant which is becoming more popular in the produce section is the narrow and small Japanese eggplant. It has a fine texture and a sweet flavor. It is often grilled or can be stuffed.
    • Baby eggplants are purple and white striped.

    Buying

    • Look for plump eggplants that do not have soft spots. The skin should be glossy and the stem not shrunken.

    Storing

    • Eggplant can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week or longer.
  • Eggs

    Description

    • Eggs add flavor and color, tenderize the product, add lightness when beaten, contribute to the structure and provide liquid in a recipe.
    • Brown-shelled eggs have the same flavor and nutritional value as white-shelled eggs.
    • Eggs are graded for quality (AA, A, B) by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The best grade, AA, has a firm yolk that stands up higher and a white that spreads less than a lower grade egg when broken. All three grades are suitable for baking.
    • Liquid pasteurized eggs and pasteurized eggs in the shell are available in some markets in the United States. These eggs may be substituted for unpasteurized eggs in recipes.

    Storage

    • Always store eggs in the refrigerator in their original carton. The carton protects them from absorbing odors in the refrigerator.
    • If eggs have been purchased before the expiration date and stored properly, they may be safely used for three to five weeks from date of purchase.
    • Liquid pasteurized eggs may be refrigerated unopened for up to 12 weeks from the pack date.

    Substitutions

    • Substitute for 1 whole egg:
      • 2 egg whites. Flavor and texture of the baked product may be altered when using this substitution.
      • 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute. Egg substitutes contain egg whites, nonfat milk, vegetable oils and other ingredients to replace the yolk. If used in a cake recipe the flavor, color and texture may be altered. The baked product may be less tender, more pale and may not taste as rich.
    • Substitute for 1 egg white:
      • 1 tablespoons meringue powder plus 2 tablespoons water. This substitution may be made in meringues and royal icing.
      • Powdered egg whites may be substituted in most recipes requiring egg whites. It can be used in angel food cakes or chiffon pies. Follow directions on the container.

    Beating Eggs

    • When beating egg whites, make sure that no traces of broken yolk have gotten into the whites. Keep the bowl and beaters free of any fat. Fat, even from the yolk, c
  • Enchilado Cheese

    Description

    • Enchilado is a semi-hard white cheese coated with red paprika or chili powder. It has a smooth texture with small eyes and has a salty, milky and tangy flavor. As it ages is becomes drier and crumbly.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Endive, Curly Endive

    Description

    • Endive or curly endive grows in loose heads of lacy green leaves with a white center. It has a slightly bitter flavor and can be used in salads or soups.
    • Red endive is crunchy with sweet and bitter flavors. The leaves are red tipped with a white base. They are often used as a base for appetizers.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for fresh looking leaves that are crisp, not wilted and with no yellow leaves sold in plastic containers or unwrapped. Keep lightly wrapped in the produce bin and use within a few days. Wash just before using and pat dry.
  • Escarole

    Description

    • Escarole is sold in bunches and has crisp sturdy leaves that have a mildly bitter flavor. Clean by washing in a bowl of water, rinse and repeat. If tender use raw or cook.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for fresh looking leaves that are crisp, not wilted and with no yellow leaves sold in plastic containers or unwrapped. Keep lightly wrapped in the produce bin and use within a few days. Wash just before using and pat dry.
  • Evaporated Milk

    Description

    • Evaporated milk is milk that has had 60% of the water is removed. It is sealed in cans and heat treated.
    • To reconstitute evaporated milk used equal amounts of evaporated milk and water. Many recipes call for using it undiluted. It is used in cream sauces, soups and baking.
    • Do not use evaporated milk for sweetened condensed milk.
    • Evaporated milk is available in regular, low fat (2%) and fat free varieties.

    Buying

    • Evaporated milk is found in the baking aisle of the store in 12-ounce cans that contain 1 1/2 cups of evaporated milk.

    Storing

    • Store unopened cans in the cupboard for up to 12 months or by the expiration date. Opened cans should be well covered and refrigerated and used within a few days. Do not freeze.

    Substitute

    • A substitute for 1 cup of refrigerated fresh milk is 1/2 cup evaporated milk and 1/2 cup of water.

    Measuring

    • Measure evaporated milk in a glass or clear plastic measuring cup on a level surface. Bend down so your eye is level with the markings on the cup. To measure in a measuring spoon, fill the spoon to the top. Do not pour the cream into a measuring spoon over other ingredients in case there is spillage
  • Fennel

    Description

    • Fennel is an aromatic herb used in cooking and featured in many Italian recipes. It is also considered a vegetable. All the parts - the stem, bulb, leaves (fronds) and seeds - are edible. The seeds which are small, brown and oval, are used in sauces and with fish and to flavor sausage. It has a mild licorice flavor similar to anise.
    • To use the bulb, trim off stalks. Peel any wilted layers and rinse. Cut a thin slice from the base and then quarter lengthwise or cut in slices to cook. The bulb can be roasted or used in soups and stews.
    • Fronds are often used as a garnish.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. The bulb should be whitish green and not discolored. Fennel seeds are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. 
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Fennel Seeds

    Description

    • Fennel seeds are small, olive green flat oval seeds from the common fennel plant. They have a slight anise or licorice flavor. Fennel seeds are used in some sausages and to flavor some meat dishes. They are also used to flavor sweet foods and many liqueurs.

    Buying

    • Fennel seeds are available whole and ground with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Store away from sunlight in a tightly closed container no more than 6 months.
  • Feta Cheese

    Description

    • Feta cheese can be made from pasteurized sheep, goat or cow's milk. It can be semi-soft to semi-firm. It is very white, firm, and crumbly, has a milky flavor with a tang and can be very salty. Feta cheese is used in appetizers and on salads and in some main dishes. Feta can be purchased in large or small chunks or in small plastic containers. It is sold in the dairy case or in the specialty cheese section. Flavored feta is popular now. Some deli departments sell it in brine.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • File Powder

    Description

    • File powder is made from young leaves of the sassafras tree. File powder is used as a binder or thickener in gumbo and other Creole cooking. Add just before serving the gumbo or other dish.

    Buying and storing

    • Look for file powder in the gourmet spice section.
  • Fish Sauce

    Description

    • Fish sauce is made from salted fish and is used in the place of salt in Oriental cooking. It does not have a fishy flavor.

    Buying and Storing

    • Fish sauce is found in jars in the ethnic food section and needs to be refrigerated once it has been opened.
  • Flour

    Description

    • Flour is finely ground and sifted meal of various edible grains.
    • Wheat is the most common source of flours used in baking. Wheat can be categorized in three types: hard wheat, soft wheat and durum wheat. Hard wheat is high in gluten and the wheat flour is good for bread baking. Soft wheat flour is lower in gluten and is better in baked goods like cakes and bars.
    • Wheat flour contains gluten, a protein that forms an elastic network. This network helps contain the gases that makes mixtures such as dough and batters, rise as they bake. Different flours vary by level of protein, which determines the applications for which that flour is used.
    • All-purpose flour is made from a blend of high-gluten hard wheat and low-gluten soft wheat and contains 10 to 11% protein. It is used for a wide variety of recipes, from breads to cookies and cakes.
      • All-purpose flour comes in 2 basic forms: Bleached and unbleached,which can be used interchangeably.
    • Bread flour is an unbleached, specially formulated, high-gluten hard-wheat flour.
    • Cake or pastry flour is fine-textured soft wheat flour with a high starch content. It makes very tender cakes and pastry.
    • Durum wheat flour is a high protein flour used for making pasta.
    • Rye flour is made from the grain of rye and is lower in gluten. Dark rye flour uses the whole grain, light and medium rye flour has some of the bran removed and is lighter in color. Most rye flour is used in bread baking.
    • Self-rising flour is an all-purpose flour to which baking powder and salt have been added.
    • Semolina is ground from durum wheat and is used in the best pastas.
    • Whole wheat flour, also called graham flour is made from hard, soft or a blend of the whole wheat kernel or combining white flour with the germ and bran to make whole wheat flour. Breads and graham crackers use this flour. Since it contains the wheat germ, it is higher in fiber, nutrition and fat content.

    Storage

    • Store all-purpose or bread flour at room temperature for up to 12 months. Temperatures higher than room temperature invite bugs and mold. Store flour indefinitely in the freezer. Flour may dry out with long storage and so at the maximum storage time may lose baking quality and the same results may not be realized as with fresher flour.
    • All flour should be stored in an airtight container. If flour is stored in the refrigerator, the flour should be brought to room temperature before using.
    • The amount of moisture in flour will affect the results of your baked product. Flour absorbs moisture during high humidity; it loses moisture in high altitude, cold weather or during long storage. Moisture in the flour can change quickly, so if the amount of flour to use is listed as a range, begin with the least amount and add additional flour as needed.
    • Store whole wheat flour in the freezer to prevent rancidity. When whole wheat flour is rancid it smells old or stale. Whole wheat flour may be frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to one year, as compared to one to four months at room temperature.
    • Store cake flour in an airtight container to maintain freshness. To keep cake flour longer than 6 to 8 months, place cake flour into a resealable plastic freezer food bag and freeze for up to 12 months.

    Substitutions

    • Substitute self-rising flour for the all-purpose flour in yeast breads by omitting the salt, and in quick breads by omitting the salt and baking powder.
    • You may substitute 20% of all-purpose flour with another grain, such as rye or buckwheat, or soy flour in certain recipes such as quick breads, muffins, or pancakes without a dramatic change in the end product. These flours provide flavor, but little to no gluten.
    • Substitute for 1 cup all-purpose flour: use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour.
    • Substitute for 1 cup cake flour: use 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.
    • Substitute for 1 cup self-rising flour: use 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

    Measuring Flour

    • Stir flour in the bag or canister with a large spoon to lighten it. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a spatula or knife. Be careful not to tap or shake the measuring cup when measuring. It is not necessary to sift the flour in baking unless the recipe specifically states to do so.

    Sifting Flour

    • Commercial, all-purpose flours today are “pre-sifted” and do not generally require additional sifting. However, if a recipe specifically calls for sifted flour we suggest sifting the flour by using a flour sifter or spooning flour into a fine mesh food strainer and shaking or tapping it over a bowl.
  • Fontina Cheese

    Description

    • Fontina is a semi-soft pale yellow cheese with a buttery taste. It is most often used for eating with fruit and crackers, but melts well and can be used in appetizers and main dishes. Buy in the specialty cheese section.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Garam Masala

    Description

    • Garam masala is a blend of dry-roasted, ground spices often used in Indian cooking. Each cook often makes their own mixture of up to 12 spices and ingredients vary by region. Spices and herbs that may be used include allspice, cumin, anise, bay leaf, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, hot pepper, coriander and chili powder.

    Buying

    • Prepared garam masala can be found at some supermarkets in the spice section or in specialty spice shops. Keep the container well sealed. It does not have a long shelf life.

    Storing

    • Store away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.
  • Garlic

    Description

    • Garlic is a member of the lily family and related to onions, leeks, chives and shallots. The garlic head or bulb grows underground and is covered with a white parchment-like skin. Heads contain 6 to 12 cloves depending on variety.
    • Garlic has a strong aroma and flavor. Garlic gets more intense the smaller it is cut or minced. Whole garlic cloves can be mild. Garlic is also milder in early summer.
    • Use garlic in savory dishes, rub on the sides of a wooden salad bowl, or over bread slices to flavor with garlic. Insert cloves into meat before roasting and use in many meat and main dish recipes. Roasted garlic is popular to spread on bread or use in other recipes.
    • Purple garlic is imported from France at the end of summer and is potent with juicy large cloves.

    Buying

    • Look for garlic that is firm and plump, not soft. Don't buy garlic that has green sprouts.

    Storing

    • Store in a cool, airy and dark place. Leave the cloves on the bulb and they won't dry out as fast as cloves that are separated from the head.

    Tips

    • To crush garlic lay the flat side of a chef's knife over the garlic clove and strike the knife firmly with your fist.
    • Roasted garlic becomes mellow and sweeter.
    • Garlic presses do a great job of finally mincing the garlic cloves.

    Measuring

    • 1 clove garlic equals 1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic.
    • One-half teaspoon prepared minced garlic or finely chopped fresh garlic equals 1 clove garlic.
  • Gelatin

    Description

    • Unflavored gelatin is obtained by cooking animal bones to extract the protein, which is the gelatin. It is an odorless, tasteless and colorless powder that is used to gel or thicken liquid mixtures. Gelatin is sprinkled over cold water and allowed to stand for 5 minutes, and then it can be added to hot water. As the liquid mixture cools and is refrigerated, the liquid begins to gel or set up. Packets of gelatin powder, which weigh 1/4 ounce, or leaf gelatin can be used to gel salads and desserts. Leaf gelatin is more common in the food service industry. Four sheets equal the 1/4 ounce package. It needs to be put in cold water first as well.
    • Gelatin is used in some desserts like refrigerated soufflés, mousses and aspic and other molded foods. Fruit flavored gelatin powders are made with gelatin.

    Buying

    • Buy gelatin in the area near the flavored gelatin. There are a number of 1/4 ounce packets in each box.

    Measuring

    • To gel 2 cups liquid use 1/4 ounce package or 4 sheets of leaf gelatin.

    Tip

    • Fresh pineapple has an enzyme which keeps gelatin from setting. Use canned pineapple in gelatin based desserts or salads.
  • Ginger

    Description

    • Fresh ginger is a knobby looking tan root found in the produce section. The flesh is pale yellow and slightly fibrous. You can buy the amount you want. It smells fresh and spicy when grated.
    • Fresh ginger is used in stir-frys and other cooking, in baking and in great tasting gingerbread, cakes and cookies.
    • Minced ginger can be found in a jar in the produce section.
    • Ground ginger is also widely used in baking.
    • Crystallized ginger is also called candied ginger. It is fresh ginger root that has been cooked in sugar syrup and then rolled in coarse sugar. This preserves it. It is strong flavored, so use sparingly in gingerbread, cakes, cookies and muffins.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh ginger in the refrigerated produce section in large knobby roots. Snap off a piece the size you want.
    • Crystallized ginger is often found in different spots in the supermarket. Look in the ethnic section, in the baking section, or with the spices. It can be in discs or chopped, in boxes or jars.
    • Find ground ginger with spices in the baking aisle.
    • Pureed ginger can also be found in a tube in the refrigerated section of the produce department in some supermarkets.

    Storing

    •  Ginger root can be stored in a plastic food bag for up to 1 month or longer. It can also be frozen.

    Substitute

    • Depending on the recipe, ground ginger or crystallized ginger can be substituted for fresh ginger.  Many recipes feature all three forms of gingers in one recipe.

    Tip

    • Use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to peel ginger. Then thinly slice across the fibers, to minimize the stringiness, into discs or flat slices. Stack them up and cut in matchsticks and then cut across these and mince.
  • Goat Cheese, Chevre

    Description

    • Goat cheese or Chevre, which is French for "goat," is a goat cheese available in many varieties, shapes and sizes. It can be fresh or aged. Most often these are artisan cheeses and are found in the specialty cheese section of the store. They usually have a smooth, white interior and can be nutty, buttery or piquant in flavor. Many of these cheeses have a light acid flavor. They can be used for appetizers and cooking and are sometimes flavored or coated with herbs or pepper.
    • Soft goat cheese is usually cut into rounds or served as a spread.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Gorgonzola Cheese

    Description

    • Gorgonzola is a pasteurized cow's milk cheese that can be semi-soft to semi-hard. It is moist, white to ivory with green mold veins throughout the cheese. It becomes crumbly as it ages. It can be mild to pungent. It is not as potent as Roquefort cheese. The mold becomes more pronounced as the cheese ages. Gorgonzola is good in sauces and with fruit and crackers. Gorgonzola usually comes in small foil wrapped chunks in the specialty cheese section.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Strong, aromatic cheese, such as Gorgonzola, should be kept in a covered container.
  • Gouda Cheese

    Description

    • Gouda is a cow's milk cheese that is often sold covered with wax in small wheels or wedges of large wheels. It is pale gold with small openings, or eyes. It has more butterfat than Edam. It has a smooth texture and mild flavor. Look for it in the dairy case or in the deli specialty cheese section. Gouda is attractive on a cheese tray.
    • Use a clean sharp knife to cut the wedges or wheels into thin slices.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Grapefruit

    Description

    • Grapefruits are a cross between an orange and a pomelo. (A pomelo is the largest citrus fruit. It has a heavy peel or rind and spicy pulp). Grapefruit actually grow in clusters like grapes. Depending on the variety they vary in size, color and sweetness. It is high in vitamin C.
    • Grapefruit are most often used for eating at breakfast or in fruit salads. Grapefruit segments can be found in the refrigerated section of the store, as well as grapefruit juice, which can be purchased refrigerated, in jars or canned.
    • The zest of a grapefruit is not used as it bitter.
    • White or golden grapefruit have a yellow skin and a pale yellow pulp.
    • Pink and ruby grapefruit have pinkish red interiors and are sweeter than the white grapefruit. They peak in January.

    Buying and Storing

    • Grapefruit should be heavy for their size as those will contain more juice.
    • They should be stored in a plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator.
  • Grapes

    Description

    • Grapes are a popular fruit. They are actually a berry. They grow on vines in clusters and that is how they are sold. Many grapes are grown in California. They come in many colors, shapes and sizes and also can have seeds or be seedless. Grapes are seasonal and, although red and green grapes can be found throughout the year, many are imported during the winter.
    • Black/purple grapes include Concord grape and the Riber grape. The Concord grape has a skin that slips off, but has lots of seeds and a thick pulpy interior. It is most often used to make Concord grape juice and jelly, although they are good in a pie. They are only available in the fall.
    • Red grapes that contain seeds and come in deep red clusters are large Red Globe and Emperor.
    • White grapes that contain seeds are Calmeria which are long with a mild tangy flavor. Black or white Muscat grapes are often used for raisins and white grape juice. They are plump and juicy.
    • Seedless grapes are very popular. The Thompson light green grape is well known and available all year. It is slightly oblong, sweet and juicy. The Flame is a cross and is red, round and crunchy sweet.
    • Champagne grapes are pea sized grapes and are usually used as a novelty garnish, although they are edible. Usually they are red.

    Buying

    • Grapes are purchased in bunches. Each one is attached by a stem to a cluster. Usually you can select the amount you want to buy. Look for plump grapes with no spoiled, crushed or moldy grapes. Concord grapes are sometimes sold in a small cardboard basket.

    Storing

    • Store grapes in the refrigerator if not using in a day or two. They last up to one week or longer when they are refrigerated.
  • Gruyere Cheese

    Description

    • Gruyere cheese is a semi-hard to hard cheese. It is made in wheels or squares and is naturally aged. It has an ivory interior with a golden brown exterior. The texture is dense and the flavor can be complex; fruity, earthy and nutty. It is often used in Swiss fondue for the flavor and the way it melts. Look for Gruyere in chunks or wedges in the specialty cheese section.
    • Use a clean sharp knife to cut into wedges or thin slices.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Havarti Cheese

    Description

    • Havarti is a semi-soft to semi-firm cheese that has a smooth texture and some small eyes or openings. It is often higher in fat than some other natural cheese. It is pale yellow. Havarti is often flavored with dill, caroway, herbs or peppers. It is used most often for eating with fruit and crackers. Buy Havarti in the specialty cheese section or sometimes in slices in the dairy case.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Herbes de Provence

    Description

    • Herbes de Provence is a mixture of fresh or dried rosemary, basil, savory, thyme, bay and sometimes even lavender, commonly used in southern French cooking. It can be used to season meat, poultry and vegetables.

    Buying

    • Dried herbs de Provence is located with the spices in the baking section of the store. It is sometimes sold in tiny clay crocks.

    Storing

    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.
  • Herbs

    Description

    • Herbs come from a plant that does not develop a wood stem above ground and dies after flowering. Often the stem, leaves, seeds and roots of some herbs are all used in cooking. Herbs add flavor and aroma to many foods. For information on specific herbs, see individual herb entries such as Basil, Dill and others.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tips

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Hoisin Sauce

    Description

    • Hoison sauce is a Chinese sauce that is thick and deep brown. It is sweet and spicy and has a slight bite. It is made from soybeans, chilies, sugar and salt. Use in marinades for pork or chicken, in stir-frys and other Asian dishes.

    Buying

    • Hoisin sauce is sold in the ethnic food section in jars.

    Storage

    • Once opened, store the sauce in the refrigerator.
  • Hominy

    Description

    • Hominy is the whole, hulled kernel of maize (corn) which has been soaked and boiled until the outer skin comes off. They look like a swollen corn kernel and are off white. Hominy can also be dried and ground into grits. Hominy is often used in soup; posole is a common one that uses hominy.

    Buying and Storing

    • Buy hominy in various size cans in the ethnic section or with the canned beans. Store in the cupboard and use by the expiration dates.
  • Honey

    Description

    • Honey is a thick, sweet liquid made by bees from the nectar of flowers. It is an all-natural sweetener. There are hundreds of different flavors, colors and even thicknesses, depending on the source of the nectar. Clover, sage and orange blossom are just a few of the most common types of honey.
    • Honey helps keep baked goods moist, keeping them fresher longer.
    • Varietal honey is sought out by gourmet honey lovers.
    • Usually, the darker the honey, the stronger flavor.
    • Most honey is pasteurized, but raw unfiltered honey is available in some markets. Honey can also be purchased whipped or in the honey comb where the honey is still in the wax cells. These products have a shorter shelf life than pasteurized honey. Clear honey is heat treated to prevent crystallization.
    • Honey is very sweet and recipes need to be adapted if honey is used in place of other sweeteners. Honey is used as a topping on pancakes and waffles, in baked goods, in ice cream, in beverages, in salad dressings, marinades and sauces.

    Measuring

    • Use a glass or clear plastic liquid measuring cup on a level surface. Bend down so your eyes are level with the markings on the cup. If you lightly spray the measuring cup with vegetable cooking spray honey will not stick to the glass.

    Buying

    • Farmer's markets and gourmet shops will have specialty honeys. The supermarket may have more common honey in jars and plastic bottles.

    Storing

    • Honey has a long shelf life if kept in a cool, dry place. If it crystallizes, gently heat in the microwave for a few seconds until it is free flowing.

    Substitute

    • For one cup of honey use 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar dissolved in 1/3 cup of whatever liquid is called for in the recipe.
  • Horseradish

    Description

    • Horseradish is a white carrot-like root which is a member of the mustard family.
    • When horseradish is freshly grated it has a harsh, strong aroma and peppery bite. After grating, vinegar is added to stabilize the heat.
    • Prepared horseradish is sold ground or dried, mixed with salt and vinegar, or as cream-style horseradish which is made by adding cream. There is also horseradish sauce which along with vinegar, has oil, sweeteners and and other ingredients added to it. Horseradish can come in fine and coarse grinds.
    • Horseradish is popular with roast beef. Horseradish is best used raw in sauces. Horseradish is the ingredient that gives seafood cocktail sauce its zip. It is also used in some mustards and relishes.

    Buying

    • If buying fresh horseradish look for unblemished skin and medium sized roots.
    • Prepared horseradish or cream-style horseradish is sold in glass jars in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Horseradish sauce can be found in the condiment section in jars with condiments.

    Storing

    • Keep jars of horseradish sealed well and in the refrigerator. As it gets older it goes from white to brown and becomes less potent.
  • Hot Pepper Sauce

    Description

    • This hot, spicy, peppery sauce is made from hot red chilies, vinegar and salt. It is used to add heat and flavor to many foods.
    • There are flavored hot pepper sauces and verde, or green tobacco sauce. It is made with green jalapeno peppers. Hundreds of varieties with varying degrees of heat can be found in grocery stores, at farmer's markets and specialty stores.

    Buying and Storing

    • Although hot pepper sauce is usually used by the drop, bottles up to 23-ounces can be found on the shelf. Keep sealed and store in the refrigerator or cool dry place.
  • Jicama

    Description

    • A jicama is a root tuber of a tropical plant. It is quite large, 8 to 12 inches long, and has a light brown skin and a white interior. Jicama can weigh one to twelve pounds and is often sold in chunks. It is crunchy and juicy and has the flavor of a water chestnut. It is most often eaten raw as a snack or in salads, but it is also good cooked, for example, in stir fry. Peel thinly before eating or cooking.

    Buying

    • Look for jicama in the produce section. They should have thin unblemished skin.

    Storing

    • Jicama keeps well in the refrigerator for over a week.
  • Juniper Berry

    Description

    • The juniper berry is a small blue-black berry which is too bitter to eat raw. It is often used to flavor marinades, sauces and stuffing. It is usually crushed before using and is the flavoring used in the liquor gin.

    Buying

    • Juniper berries are sold in a jar in brine or dried and are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Store away from sunlight in a tightly closed container. Refrigerate brined juniper berries after opening.
  • Kale

    Description

    • Kale is a mild flavored member of the cabbage family that comes in many varieties and colors. Common kale has frilly dark green leaves around a sturdy rib. Some varieties are red tinged. Kale has more flavor than cabbage. Kale has been used as a cooked green for years, but has become popular in salads. It is sturdy and holds up well with salad dressings. Cut out the rib and then cut the leaves crosswise. There are ornamental varieties as well.

    Buying and Storing

    • Kale is sold in bunches, banded at the bottom of the stems. Look for smaller crisp leaves with no yellowing or wilting. Wash and pat dry before using. Store kale in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. It will hold up well for over 1 week.
  • Kefir

    Description

    • Kefir is a thin fermented yogurt that is most often used as a beverage. It has a slightly tart flavor. Kefir is sold plain or flavored.

    Buying

    • Buy kefir in the dairy case.

    Storage

    • Store in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date.
  • Ketchup

    Description

    • This popular condiment is made of boiled tomatoes that are pureed and strained and mixed with vinegar and may have onions, peppers, sugar and other ingredients added, depending on the brand. It is pourable. Ketchup is sometimes spelled "catsup."
    • Ketchup is used on French fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, in salad dressings, barbecue sauces and in many other ways.

    Buying

    • Buy in the condiment area in bottles.

    Storing

    • Refrigerate after opening and use by expiration date.
  • Kielbasa

    Description

    • Kielbasa is a smoked polish sausage usually made with pork or beef and flavored with spice and garlic
    • Kielbasa is available in a low fat version which uses turkey meat and the same spices.

    Buying and Storing

    • Kielbasa is sold in large, pre-cooked links.
    • Buy in the meat department, store in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date.
  • Kiwi

    Description

    • Kiwi is a tropical fruit originally grown in New Zealand, but now grown in California. This small fruit from a tree is popular to eat or to add to a fruit salad or fruit tart.
    • Most common are the gold kiwi and the green kiwi. The gold kiwi has yellow flesh with tiny edible seeds and the skin is bronze. The skin is edible. The brown kiwi has a fuzzy brown skin with a green flesh and tiny black seeds. Most people peel off the skin. They are juicy and have a mild apple or strawberry flavor.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for fruit that does not have soft spots. If they are ripe they will yield to gentle pressure. They do continue to ripen. Store on the counter till ripe and then refrigerate and use within a few days.
  • Kohlrabi

    Description

    • Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family but has a turnip-like texture and flavor. They look like a floppy-leafed turnip. The pale green or purple bulb has a leafy top and the interior of the bulb is white and crisp. The round bulb is eaten. Large ones can be woody. They have a slight cabbage or turnip-like flavor. Most often kohlrabi is eaten as a raw vegetable or in slaws but they can be cooked.

    Buying

    • Kohlrabi is most common in the summer months at farmer’s markets and in the produce section. Look for firm green or purple unblemished bulbs.

    Storing

    • Kohlrabi can be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for a week or longer.
  • Lard

    Description

    • Lard is hot pig fat that is rendered, clarified and deodorized. Most lard goes through a process called hydrogenation to give it a vegetable shortening texture.
    • Leaf lard is the most commonly sold lard. It is 100% fat so does make flaky biscuits and pie crusts. It is also used for frying because of its high smoke point.

    Buying

    • Lard is found in one-pound packages in the refrigerated section. It is most popular in Hispanic markets.

    Storing

    • Store in the refrigerator and use by expiration date.
  • Leeks

    Description

    • Leeks are related to garlic and onions but are milder in flavor. They look like a large green onion. The large white bulb and 3 to 4 inches of the light green portion of the green stalks is the portion of the leek that is used. They are used in potato leek soup, in soups, au gratin dishes and other main dishes.
    • Clean leeks well before cooking. Cut off the root end and tough leaves, leaving the white/green portion.Separate the leaves and slice in half. Rinse under cold water several times to remove the grit and sand hidden in the leaves.

    Buying

    • Look for bright green stalks with no blemishes. The smaller leeks 1 1/2 inches in diameter are more tender.

    Storing

    • Store leeks in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to a week.
  • Lemon

    Description

    • Lemons are a bright yellow oval shaped fruit with a sour, tangy flavor. A lemon can have a thick or thin skin and a smooth or rough skin. They are available year round in the produce section and are high in vitamin C. Lemon juice enhances both sweet and savory foods. Lemons are used as an ingredient in salad dressings, in beverages, in lemon pie and pudding and in a lot of other baked goods like cakes and bars. Lemon zest is added as a flavor to many baked goods.
    • Meyer lemons are a cross between an orange and a lemon. They are sweeter, juicier and have less acid than the lemon. The Meyer lemon is rounder than a regular lemon and has a smooth skin. Use in salad dressings, in place of lemons and in lemon pie. The season is November through March.  Use as you would use a lemon.

    Buying and Storing

    • Lemons are found in the produce section and sometimes sold near the seafood department. Look for plump lemons that are not bruised or have soft spots. Lemon juice is sold in bottles in the condiment or juice section of the store or in small lemon shaped plastic containers in the produce section.
    • Lemons should be stored in the produce bin of the refrigerator. They have a long shelf life. Both the juice and the zest can be frozen.

    Tip

    • If juicing a lemon, allow it to come to room temperature and then gently roll on the counter before juicing to obtain more juice. One medium lemon yields 2 to 3 tablespoons of juice. 5 to 6 lemons yields 1 cup of juice.
  • Lemon Grass

    Description

    • Lemongrass looks like long woody stalks with coarse needle-like leaves. It is pale yellow green. It cannot be eaten raw. Normally only the bulb and about 4 to 5 inches above the stem is used. It can be coarsely chopped and added to hot and sour soups, curries or coconut milk based foods. It is like bay leaf, in that it should be removed, not eaten. Lime or lemon zest and juice can be substituted for fresh lemongrass.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for 15 to 18 inch lemongrass stalks in the produce section. It keeps several weeks in the refrigerator.
    • Pureed lemongrass can also be found in a tube in the refrigerated section of the produce department in some supermarkets.
  • Lentils

    Description

    • Lentils are a flat disc-like seed, a legume. They contain 25% protein and can be green, yellow, orange or black and are cooked and used in soup or salads. Lentils have a mild, earthy flavor. They become mushy if overcooked. Add salt and acid products like tomato at the end of cooking. Lentils are available dried and canned.

    Buying and Storing

    • Buy lentils in the dried beans and peas section of the supermarket. Well-sealed packages of lentils will last for up to one year in a cool dry place. Use canned lentils by the expiration date.
  • Lettuce

    Description

    • Lettuce varieties are generally considered mild greens that are served fresh in salads. They are available in many different varieties, but are classified by their shape.
    • Head lettuce is either a sprawling cluster of tender green leaves attached to a stem that form a soft head, like Boston or Butterhead, or are round crisp heads like the common Iceberg lettuce. Bibb is a type of Butterhead that is delicate with loose leaves, lots of flavor and more expensive than some of the others.
    • Leafy lettuce does not form a real head. Some types are green leaf lettuce or red oakleaf. They have crunchy stems and tender leaves.
    • Romaine or cos lettuce has long closely packed elongated coarse leaves formed from a round base. Romaine is the best example. It has good flavor and crunch and is the salad green used in Caesar salad. It has a longer shelf life than some of the head lettuces.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for fresh looking leaves that are crisp, not wilted and with no yellow leaves. Iceberg heads are often wrapped in cellophane. Others are sold in plastic containers or unwrapped. Keep lightly wrapped in the produce bin and use within a few days. Wash just before using and pat dry.
    • Some lettuces are quite seasonal and a larger variety may be found at farmer's markets during the summer.
  • Limes, Key Limes

    Description

    • Limes are a bright green citrus fruit from the lime tree. Limes are smaller than lemons, but have a similar shape. The pulp is green. They are tart and sour. The Persian lime is the most available, is seedless and has more aroma than some limes. It is high in vitamin C.
    • Limes are often used in beverages, for their zest and for a garnish. Lime juice is also added to guacamole to add flavor and keep the avocado mixture from discoloring.
    • Key limes are a smaller and rounder lime that is more yellow than green. It was originally grown in Florida. The juice is tangy and sour. The peak season is during the winter months. It is a key ingredient in Key Lime Pie.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for unblemished, colorful fruit without bruised spots, although sometimes a brown discoloration is on the skin and is harmless. Lime and Key Lime juice can be purchased in bottles. Lime juice is sold in small plastic lime shaped containers in the produce section.
    • Limes should be stored in the produce bin of the refrigerator. They have a long shelf life. The juice and zest can be frozen for later use. Keep the juice bottles or containers refrigerated and use by expiration date.
  • Liquid Smoke

    Description

    • This is a bottled liquid flavoring that is used to give food a hickory smoked flavor. Some brands have molasses, vinegar and caramel color added to the hickory smoke concentrate and water.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for it in the condiment section in small jars. Use by the drop. Store in the refrigerator.
  • Manchego Cheese

    Description

    • Manchego is a Spanish cheese that is made in 4 to 8 pound wheels. Manchego is made from cow’s milk and is ivory colored with small openings. The cheese has a thin rind and the texture is firm, compact and the flavor is buttery and piquant. This cheese is sold in the specialty cheese section in wedges.
    • Use a clean sharp knife to cut the wedges into thin slices.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Maple Syrup

    Description

    • Maple syrup is made from the sap of sugar maples. Maple sap is collected in early spring and cooked to yield sweet maple syrup. It is a natural sweetener. Depending on the sugar content of the sap, it takes from 28 to 80 gallons of sap to yield one gallon of syrup.
    • Maple syrup is used on pancakes, waffles, French toast and in candies, baked goods and sweet potato dishes. It is used in barbecue sauces because it gives a nice glaze to meat as the sugars caramelize. It can be drizzled on ice cream or hot cereal.
    • Maple syrup flavor is enhanced by heating.

    Buying

    • Maple syrup is located with other syrups in the grocery store and sold in jars or jugs. Read labels to make sure it is 100% maple syrup. Maple syrup is graded for quality. Grade A is the most common grade for consumers. It also comes in a range of colors and darker maple syrup has more flavor. Vermont is a big maple syrup producing state.

    Storing

    • After opening maple syrup keep it in the refrigerator. Warm maple syrup before serving on pancakes and waffles.

    Tip

    • Want to substitute maple syrup for sugar? For 3/4 cup sugar use 1 1/2 cups maple syrup and reduce the liquid in the recipe by 2-4 tablespoons.

    Measuring

    • Use a glass or clear plastic liquid measuring cup on a level surface. Bend down so your eyes are level with the markings on the cup. If you lightly spray the measuring cup with vegetable cooking spray the syrup will not stick to the glass.
  • Margarine

    Description

    • Margarine is made from vegetable oil, water and, in some brands, dairy products. It is a butter substitute. Butter is made from cream. Margarine is partially hydrogenated to become solid.
    • Margarine contains 80% fat so it can be substituted for butter in most baking applications except pastry recipes and candy made from boiled syrup. Using margarine will produce a softer dough than one made with butter.
    • Margarine is soft from the refrigerator so there is no need to bring to room temperature before using a recipe.
    • Margarine is sold salted and unsalted.

    Buying

    • Margarine for baking and use as a table spread is sold in the refrigerated section in 1-pound packages containing 4 (4-ounce) sticks. Margarine for spreading is sold in 8-ounce and 16-ounce tubs.

    Storing

    • Keep margarine in the original container in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the refrigerator door. Once the package is open store sticks in an airtight container to preserve color, freshness and flavor and keep refrigerated between uses. Margarine absorbs odors from other foods.
    • Use by the expiration date. Stick margarine may be frozen for up to 6 months if frozen before the expiration date.

    Measuring

    • Most margarine in stick form has markings on the wrapper indication tablespoon and cup measurements. Use a sharp knife to cut the amount needed for a recipe.
    • 1 stick equals 1/2 cup
  • Marjoram

    Description

    • Marjoram has a spicy sweet scent and the fresh or dried leaves are used in stuffing or with vegetables and pasta. It is often confused with oregano, because they look so much the same. However, it is milder and sweeter.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Masa Harina

    Description

    • Masa harina is fine cornmeal flour made from corn kernels that are treated with lye. The kernels are then dried and ground into the flour masa harina. It is used to make tortillas.

    Buying

    • Look for masa harina is the Mexican section and with cornmeal and flour.

    Storage

    • For longer shelf life store in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date.
  • Mayonnaise

    Description

    • Mayonnaise is a creamy white dressing made by creating an emulsion of egg yolks, oil, vinegar and spices.
    • Mayonnaise is white, creamy and spoonable. Mayonnaise is used as a sandwich spread, as an ingredient in potato, other salads, dressings and dips.
    • Mayonnaise is sold in light and reduced fat varieties.
    • Salad dressing contains no egg yolks and is sweeter than mayonnaise. It is used the same way as mayonnaise.
    • Reduced fat and fat-free mayonnaise and salad dressing are also available. The fat is replaced by thickeners and emulsifiers.

    Buying

    • Mayonnaise and salad dressing are sold in the store with prepared salad dressings.

    Storing

    • Refrigerate opened containers of mayonnaise and salad dressing and use them by the expiration date.
  • Melon

    Description

    • There are many varieties of melons on the market. These fruits tend to be large in size with a tough skin and lots of juice. Many often contain lots of seeds. Most are seasonal.
    • Cantaloupe or muskmelon -- a round melon that has a raised netting over a pale gold or grey green background. It has a sweet, orange, juicy flesh. Cantaloupe is most often eaten alone or in a fruit salad.
    • Crenshaw melon -- a large muskmelon that weighs 5-9 pounds and has a golden rind with ribs. The interior is orange, sweet and slightly spicy.
    • Honeydew melon -- an oval melon with a smooth pale yellow or white rind and a pale green, juicy, sweet interior. They often weight 4-8 pounds.
    • Watermelon -- a watermelon can be either round or oval and pale green to dark green, sometimes with stripes. The flesh is bright pink or green, although some varieties have yellow flesh. Some are considered "seedless" and the few seeds they have are small and edible. The seeded varieties have black seeds.

    Buying

    • Look for a watermelon that is green, firm, free of dents and cuts, has a pale yellow underside. The interior should be red and juicy. Seedless or seeded varieties are available and they come in all sizes.
    • Canteloupe and honeydew melons should have an easily detectable fragrance signaling ripeness.
    • Melon season is during the summer, especially watermelon, but some varieties are available year round.

    Storing

    • Store a cut melon wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Most people find a cold watermelon or melon tastes best.
  • Mesclun

    Description

    • Mesclun is a mixture of baby lettuces that contrast in texture, flavor and color. These often include arugula, frisee, oakleaf and radicchio.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for fresh looking leaves that are crisp, not wilted and with no yellow leaves sold in plastic containers or bags. Keep lightly wrapped in the produce bin and use within a few days. Wash just before using and pat dry.
  • Milk

    Description

    • Cow’s milk, the most commonly used milk in recipes, provides moisture, flavor, texture and color to recipes.
    • There are many kinds of milk:
      • Whole milk has had no fat removed and contains 3-1/2% milk fat.
      • Reduced Fat has had some of the fat removed and contains 2% milk fat
      • Low Fat milk has had some fat removed and contains 1% milk fat.
      • Fat free or Non-fat (skim) milk contains not more than 1/2% milk fat.
      • Buttermilk traditionally was the liquid remaining after butter was churned. Today it is made by adding a culture to low-fat or non-fat milk, which gives it a thick texture and tangy flavor.
      • Dry milk has had almost all the moisture removed. Buttermilk, whole milk, and non-fat milk all come in dried form.
      • Lactose-free milk is good for people who are lactose intolerant. It is available in whole, 2% and fat free varieties.
      • Evaporated milk is milk that has had 60% of its water removed.
      • Sweetened condensed milk has 50% of the water removed. The remaining mixture is 40% sugar and very sticky and sweet.

    Storage

    • Milk should be stored in the original container, refrigerated at 35° to 40° F. and consumed by the "Use by" date on the carton. Fresh milk should have a delicate, sweet milk flavor. Do not use milk that smells sour or has an unnatural color.
    • Unopened cans of evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk may be stored at room temperature for up to 12 months. After opening, store unused milk in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within five days.
    • Unopened packages of non-fat dry milk powder and buttermilk powder may be stored at room temperature in a cool dry place for up to six months.
    • Do not freeze milk, buttermilk, evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk. Freezing changes the texture and may cause separation of milk fat.

    Substitutions

    • You may use whole milk, reduced fat and fat free milk interchangeably in most recipes.
    • Substitute for 1 cup buttermilk:
       
      • Place 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup. Add enough milk to equal 1 cup. Let stand 5 minutes before using.
    • Substitute for 1 cup refrigerated fresh milk:
      • Use 1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water.
    • Substitute dry milk powder for fresh milk:
       
      • Mix the milk powder with water according to package directions.

    Measuring Milk

    • To measure milk use a glass or clear plastic liquid measuring cup on a level surface. Bend down so your eye is level with the marking on the cup.
    • To measure milk in a measuring spoon, fill the spoon to the top, but don't let it spill over. Do not pour the milk into a measuring spoon over other ingredients, in case there is spillage.
    • To measure dry milk, pour from package or spoon lightly into a dry measuring cup. Level with spatula or knife. Do not shake the cup to level or the dry milk will pack down and give an inaccurate measure.

    Heating Milk

    • Milk scorches easily. Heat over low to medium heat until bubbles form around the edges.
  • Millet

    Description

    • Millet is known for having a crunchy texture and nutty flavor.
    • It is a nutritious grain that is rich in protein and is used in casseroles and some baked goods.
    • Millet is prepared like rice by boiling in water and is used to make hot cereals and side dishes like pilaf.
    • Ground millet can be used as a flour.

    Buying and Storing

    • Millet can be found in Asian markets and natural food stores. Store in the cupboard. Use by the expiration date.
  • Mint

    Description

    • Mint is a strong flavored herb. Mint is aromatic and has a menthol flavor. Mint can be used in sweet and savory dishes.
    • There are many varieties of mint:
      • Spearmint, which has pointed oval, fuzzy light green, serrated leaves and lots of aroma is preferred for cooking. Spearmint is used in mint sauces.
      • Peppermint has smoother and darker leaves and is the most common. Peppermint is used most often in candy canes and mint fillings in chocolate candy.
    • Mint is used in ice tea, desserts and salads and with lamb. Mint is most often used fresh and is found year round in the produce section. Dried mint can be used to infuse tea.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Both peppermint and spearmint extracts can be purchased in the spice section.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.

    Tip

    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Miso

    Description

    • Miso is a bean paste made from fermented soybean which is aged from 6 months to 3 years. It is a thick paste and adds a salty, somewhat earthy flavor to Japanese food.
    • Sweet white miso is used in soups, sauces and dressings and is mild.
    • Dark miso is pungent and used in hearty broths.

    Buying

    • Miso is sold in the refrigerated section of some stores.

    Storage

    • Keep tightly sealed in refrigerator

    Tip

    • Add at the end of cooking. One tablespoon per 1 cup of liquid is usually a good amount.
  • Molasses

    Description

    • Molasses is made from the juice of sugar cane or sugar beets. It is boiled until a syrupy mixture remains that is a deep tan color. The length of time the syrup is cooked determines the color of the molasses.
    • Molasses add moisture, color and sweetness to foods and is used in both baking and cooking.
    • Most molasses is sold unsulfured. Sulfured molasses has sulfur dioxide added as a preservative.
    • Light molasses is lighter in color and flavor and comes from the first boiling of the syrup. It has the highest sugar content and ranges from light to golden brown. It is mild and sweet flavored and thick. Use light molasses if a recipe does not specify the type of molasses to use.
    • Dark molasses is darker in color and stronger in flavor and is the result of the second boiling of the syrup. 
    • Blackstrap molasses comes the final and third boiling and is strong and bitter. It is a dark brown syrup that is rich in minerals. It is sometimes used in chili. This is often found in health stores and some larger supermarkets.
    • Sorghum molasses is made from sorghum cane juice and is used instead of molasses by some cooks in gingerbread, baked beans and barbecue sauces.
    • Pomegranate molasses has become a new favorite. It is made by reducing pomegranate juice with sugar and lemon. It has a ruby color and a sweet/tart flavor. Use in salad dressings, drizzle on salads.

    Storing

    • Molasses can be stored in the cupboard. If it crystallizes the molasses can be gently heated to dissolve the crystals.

    Measuring

    • Use a glass or clear plastic liquid measuring cup on a level surface. Bend down so your eyes are level with the markings on the cup. If you lightly spray the measuring cup with vegetable cooking spray, the molasses will not stick to the glass.

    Substitutions

    • Light and dark molasses may be used interchangeably in recipes. 
    • For 1 cup molasses use 1 cup honey, although the flavor and color will be lighter.
  • Mole Sauce

    Description

    • Mole sauce is a rich, dark brown, spicy sauce sold as mole verde (green) or mole Pueblo (dark brown). It is sold mild or hot. It is made from a cooked mixture of chili peppers, tomatoes, onions and other ingredients. The secret ingredient is bitter Mexican chocolate. It is used as an ingredient in Mexican cooking.

    Buying and storing

    • Mole sauce is often sold in 8.25 ounce glass jars in the Mexican section of the store. Store in the refrigerator after opening and use by the expiration date.
  • Monterey Jack Cheese

    Description

    • Monterey Jack is a mild white cheese that originated in California. It has a supple texture with some small openings, or eyes and a mild creamy flavor with a slight tang. It is often used in Mexican recipes, as a snack or in sandwiches. This cheese is most often sold in 8 or 16-ounce chunks or shreds in the dairy case. It is often combined with other shredded cheeses. Aged Jack is sold in some specialty cheese sections and is most often used as a grating cheese, although if not too firm it is a good eating cheese with fruit and crackers.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Mozzarella Cheese

    Description

    • Mozzarella was originally made from buffalo milk in Italy but now is typically made with cow's milk. Mozzarella can be sold fresh or as a more familiar product which is drier and used for pizza, lasagna and other foods because it melts well and stretches or strings. It is sold by the slice in some delis and in the dairy case it is sold in shreds, shred blends and slices, as well as chunks. String cheese is a firm mozzarella cheese in a round stick form that can be pulled into strands. It is popular as a snack.
    • Mozzarella can be smoked. The firmer mozzarella that is found in the dairy case or deli is white, firm and should have a fresh clean flavor. It is often a lower fat cheese. As mozzarella ages it loses some of the stringing or stretchiness and may become somewhat sour.
    • Fresh Mozzarella is now often made from whole milk and is white, soft and spongy. It is a fresh, unripened cheese. It has a mild, delicate, milky flavor. It is found in whey or water in some delis in small containers or in plastic wrapped rolls, balls or braids in the specialty cheese section. Fresh mozzarella can be eaten as is, in salads, used for appetizers or sprinkled on pizza. Ciliegini are small 1-inch balls of fresh mozzarella sold in some specialty cheese sections. Fresh mozzarella “pearls” or 1/2-inch balls are also sold that way for appetizers and salads. Fresh mozzarella has a short shelf life.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Muenster Cheese

    Description

    • Muenster is a cow's milk cheese that has a creamy off white interior, sometimes with small openings. The cheese is semi-firm and slices well, although as it ages it gets too soft. This is because it has higher moisture and fat than some other natural cheeses. It often has a reddish orange exterior which is a coloring applied to the surface. This is to replicate the European Muenster which is surface ripened and has an orange/brown rind. The flavor of Muenster is mild, salty, buttery, and sometimes slightly tangy. Buy Muenster in the deli by the slice or in the dairy case or specialty cheese section. It melts well and is good in sandwiches and just for eating as is.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Mushrooms

    Description

    • There are many varieties of mushrooms, a fleshy fungus that grows both cultivated and wild. Many are sold fresh and dried and some are canned.
    • Mushrooms are a popular ingredient in salads, main dishes, stir fry, and sauces. Mushrooms have a cap, gills under the cap and a stem.
    • Button mushroom -- the most popular mushroom on the produce shelves. It is creamy white with white gills which darken with age. It has a mild flavor. It is round, usually 1-2 inches wide. To use, wipe clean with a damp cloth.
    • Chanterelle mushroom -- a trumpet-shaped wild mushroom that is 1-3 inches tall and wide. It has a rich, slightly fruity taste.
    • Cremini mushroom -- a light brown wild mushroom that looks like the cultivated button mushroom but is darker and has more flavor. It holds up well in cooking.
    • Enoki mushroom-- an off white mushroom with a tiny cap atop a narrow stem. Several may be clumped together at the bottom, but can be separated by trimming off the bottom. It is a popular mushroom in Asian cooking. It can be eaten raw and is often used in salads or used as a garnish.
    • Morel mushroom -- considered one of the most prized mushrooms, it is a wild mushroom that is only available fresh in the springtime and is usually expensive to buy. A morel mushroom is about 2-5-inches long. It has a sponge-like, honeycombed, light brown, cone-shaped cap. It is not eaten raw and has a delicate flavor and meaty texture when cooked.
    • Oyster mushroom -- a beige-colored, fan-shaped mushroom that has a mild flavor. It has a clam shell appearance and slippery texture like an oyster. It is most often found dried or canned.
    • Portobello mushroom-- taupe to brown in color, the caps of these mushrooms are large -- up to 5-6 inches -- with dark gills. Baby bellas are small portabella mushrooms. Portabella mushrooms have a meaty flavor and are often stuffed, grilled or roasted. A dark liquid forms when this mushroom is cooked. These are sold fresh year round.
    • Porcini mushroom -- a seasonal mushroom that is hard to find fresh but readily available dried. A fresh porcini mushroom has a large, tawny, umbrella-shaped cap and a thick stem. It has a potent flavor that is meaty and slightly smoky and a woodsy aroma.
    • Shitake mushroom -- a popular cultivated mushroom that has a large, tawny-brown, umbrella-shaped cap with cream-colored gills and a thick stem. It's flavor is rich, meaty and slightly smoky and is good in Asian dishes. It is sold fresh and dried.
    • Truffle -- a wild mushroom with a strong aroma and distinct, highly prized flavor. The summer truffle is dark brown on the exterior and reddish brown on the interior and has a distinct aroma and nutty flavor. The white truffle is rare and expensive. It is knobby in appearance and has a brown exterior and a marbled red flesh.
    • Wood ear mushroom-- a classic in Chinese soups, it is dark brown or black, ear shaped and has a mild, nutty flavor.

    Buying

    • Dried mushrooms are often sold in the produce section hanging on pegs. Popular varieties of dried mushrooms include: porcini, shitake, wood ear, oyster, morel and chanterelle. They need to be reconstituted before using. Soak them in warm water for 45 minutes and then strain the liquid to remove any grit and use the liquid in cooking.
    • Fresh mushrooms are sold in bulk or packaged, most often in 8-ounce containers. Look for firm, unblemished mushrooms.
    • The gills on the underside of mushrooms should be tight and the mushroom should be firm. Use the stems in broths and soups.
    • Dried mushrooms keep up to 6 months. 
    • Canned mushrooms are in the vegetable aisle. Some specialty mushrooms may be found in ethnic foods area.

    Storing

    • Store fresh mushrooms in the refrigerator.

    Tip

    • Don't wash mushrooms before using. A damp paper towel draped over mushrooms in an opened container will keep them from drying out. The shelf life for button mushrooms is longer; they can last more than a week.
    • Mushrooms release a lot of water when cooked, so cook quickly.

    Measurement

    • One (8-ounce) package of fresh button mushrooms equals 3 cups sliced.
  • Mustard

    Description

    • Mustard is a condiment made from the seeds of the mustard plant. The most commonly used seeds are the brown and white ones. White seeds are larger but they aren't as pungent. They tend to be used in American yellow mustard. English mustard use both brown and white seeds and the brown seed is used for pickling.
    • Mustard can be smooth or coarse-grained. Coarse-grained mustard have seeds in them and are more strongly flavored. There are many varieties of mustard including:  sweet/hot, wasabi, horseradish, hearty brown, honey mustard, stone-ground, chili-spiced mustard and dill mustard.
    • Mustard is used as a spread on bread, with hot dogs, brats and burgers as a condiment, in sauces, deviled eggs, salad dressing and potato salad as well as in many cooking applications.
    • Dijon mustard is made from brown or black seeds of a specific type of mustard plant. Mustard seeds are used with white wine, turmeric and vinegar to create this popular type of mustard. This smooth and creamy mustard has a peppery bite and can be used in vinaigrettes, sauces, with meat and spread on bread. Country Dijon often refers to mustard that has the pepper seeds to add flavor, texture and an appealing appearance.
    • Prepared mustard, sometimes called ballpark-type mustard is made using the white, milder seed and distilled vinegar, paprika and salt. Turmeric is added to give the yellow color. Most of these mustard are smooth, containing no seeds. This mustard is used in potato salad, on hot dogs and bratwurst and hamburgers and in Sloppy Joe mixtures.
    • Mustard seeds are small round seeds that can be used in pickling or added to potato salad.
    • Ground or powdered mustard is made from ground mustard seeds and is often added to a liquid to make a paste.

    Buying

    • Buy prepared mustard in the condiment section of the store. Mustard seed and ground mustard are with the spices.

    Storing

    • Store opened jars of mustard in the refrigerator after opening. It does lose it potency over time. Keep the seeds and ground mustard in a cool dry place.
  • Mustard Greens

    Description

    • Mustard greens have pale green frilly leaves and have a peppery bite. They are most often cooked, but tender leaves can be used in salads.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for fresh looking leaves that are crisp, not wilted and with no yellow leaves. Keep lightly wrapped in the produce bin and use within a few days. Wash just before using and pat dry.
    • Smaller leaves and stalks are tenderer and some are best when they are young. Tender greens need to be cooked only a few minutes.
    • Some greens are quite seasonal and a larger variety may be found at farmer's markets during the summer.
  • Napa Cabbage

    Description

    • Napa cabbage is a cylindrical cluster of pale leaves with white ribs. It has a delicate flavor and used in Asian cooking. Use shredded in slaws.

    Buying

    • Nappa cabbage is available year round in the produce section. Look for heads with compact leaves and a head that is heavy for its size.

    Storing

    • Store in the refrigerator in produce bin for a week or longer. A plastic bag will help retain moisture.
  • Noodles, Asian

    Description

    • Many Asian noodles are based on rice, rather than flour. A few varieties are: Rice noodles or rice sticks, Cellophane noodles (also called glass noodles or bean thread vermicelli), Ramen noodles, Soba noodles and Udon noodles. See individual entries for more information.

    Buying

    • Asian noodles are found in the ethnic or Asian section of the supermarket in boxes or cellophane packages.

    Storing

    • Store in the cupboard and use by the expiration date
  • Nuts

    Description

    • From a shopping and cooking perspective, nuts are any edible kernel from a hard shell, so for this purpose peanuts, a legume, are included here. There are many types of nuts that are used in baking and cooking. Most nuts are harvested in the fall.
    • Nuts are usually high in protein and fat. They are also a good source of many vitamins. They are eaten as a snack or used in both sweet and savory dishes. Many nuts are eaten raw but toasting often improves the flavor.
    • Nuts add flavor and a crunchy texture to baked products. Favorite nuts to use in baking include almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, and hazelnuts (filberts). Nuts may be used whole or chopped in recipes.

    Storage

    • Store shelled nuts in an airtight container in a cool place. Heat, light and moisture make nuts go rancid faster. Refrigerate shelled nuts for up to four months or freeze for up to eight months. Unshelled nuts will keep twice as long.

    Substitutions

    • Substitute the same amount of a different nut than called for in the recipe.

    Measuring Nuts

    • Spoon nuts into a dry measuring cup to the top.
    • 4 ounces nuts equals 1 cup chopped nuts.

    Toasting Nuts

    • Toasting nuts before adding to a recipe intensifies their flavor and may allow you to use less. Toast nuts in an ungreased skillet over medium heat (3 to 4 minutes), stirring frequently, until golden brown. To oven-toast, place in a baking pan. Bake at 350°F 5 to 7 minutes -- watch closely.
    Mixing In Nuts
    • Before adding nuts to a batter, toss with some of the flour called for in the recipe. This helps to keep the nuts from sinking to the bottom.

    Testing for Freshness

    • Shelled nuts should be crisp in texture and uniform in color. They should not be shriveled or discolored. Nuts should smell and taste fresh, not rancid with an off-flavor. Rancid nuts will ruin the baked product. Always taste nuts before using.
  • Oatmeal, Oats

    Description

    • Oatmeal is made from ground or rolled oats after the husks are removed. It is then crushed into flakes.
    • Oatmeal is a popular hot breakfast cereal. It is well known as an ingredient in many cookie and bar recipes as well as in toppings for fruit crisps.
    • Oats do not contain gluten so are not used as the primary ingredient in bread baking. They can be added to yeast batters and quick breads to add texture and nutrition.
    • Oatmeal is a 100 % whole grain product.
    • Old-fashioned oatmeal is made using the entire cut oat kernel and it is rolled into flakes.
    • Quick-cooking oatmeal is made by cutting the oat kernel into pieces before rolling into thinner flakes. It cooks faster.
    • Instant oatmeal is made by cutting the oats very fine and processing so cooking is not necessary. Just add hot water. Instant oatmeal often has sugar, spices and even dried bits of fruit added. This type of oatmeal comes in individual serving packets.
    • Steel cut oats or Scotch oats are oats that are cut into 2 or 3 pieces and are not rolled. Steel cut oats take longer to cook and are chewier.

    Buying

    • Oatmeal is located in the hot cereal aisle in round cardboard boxes. Instant oatmeal is sold as individual packets inside a cardboard box.

    Storing

    • Store oatmeal in a cool dry place for up to 6 months or freeze in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 year. Oats tend to get stale, rather than rancid, however, If not kept frozen, use by the expiration date.

    Substitutions

    • Old-fashioned and quick-cooking oats may be used interchangeably in recipes. Do not, however, substitute instant oatmeal.

    Measuring

    • To measure spoon dry oatmeal into a dry measuring cup and level with a spatula or knife.
  • Oil

    Description

    • There are many types of oil. Oil is extracted from the fruit of the olive tree and from plants, seeds and nuts. Cold pressing the raw product is one way to extract oil. This method does not use chemicals or heat so the flavor is not altered and nutrients remain.
    • The smoking point of an oil often determines how it is best used. The smoking point is the temperature at which the oil smokes and breaks down, which impacts the flavor. Oil is used for roasting vegetables, sautéing, cooking, in salad dressings, etc.
    • Common types of oil include olive oil, made from olives, the fruit of the olive tree, and vegetable oil or plant oil, made from seeds, grains, legumes or plants. See Olive Oil for more information on it.
    • Canola oil is made from rapeseed. It is lower in saturated fat than other oils, has a neutral flavor and is good for cooking, stir-frying, marinades and salad dressings.
    • Corn oil is made from corn and is almost tasteless and odorless. It is good for frying.
    • Cottonseed oil is made from the seeds of the cotton plant and is usually combined with other oils to make what is called “vegetable oil.”
    • Flaxseed oil is made from the flax seeds. It can turn rancid quickly, so store in the refrigerator. Don't cook with this oil as it doesn't tolerate heat well. Use it for salad dressings.
    • Grapeseed oil is oil extracted from grape seeds. It has a grape aroma and delicate, mild flavor. It is more expensive and is used for salad dressings.
    • Palm oil is high in saturated fat and is bright orange. It is not commonly used in the United States. Palm kernel oil is different and is used in some margarine.
    • Peanut oil is made by pressing peanuts. It is clear and has a mild or bland flavor. It does store well. It is good for frying, although has a slightly lower smoked point than corn or safflower oil.
    • Pumpkin oil is a newer oil that is made from pumpkin seed. The color is a greenish, dark brown. It is flavorful and nutty and is best used in uncooked sauces, vinaigrettes or drizzled over cooked vegetables.
    • Safflower oil is made from the seeds of the safflower plant. It has a high smoke point so is good for deep fat frying.
    • Sesame oil or toasted sesame oil is made from sesame seeds. One is light-colored with a slightly nutty flavor that is good in salad dressings. Asian sesame oil is darker and has a stronger aroma and flavor. This oil is expensive and is not for frying because of its low smoke point.
    • Soybean oil is made from soybeans and is light yellow in color. It is often used in margarine and shortening. It has a high smoke point and is good for frying, but foams, so is not good for deep fat frying. It is a major oil used in “vegetable oil.”
    • Sunflower oil is made from sunflower seeds and is pale yellow to pale gold in color and has a light flavor with a slight nuttiness. It has a higher smoke point than olive oil. It can be used for cooking and salad dressings.
    • Vegetable oil is an all purpose oil that is made up of a combination of oil, often cottonseed and soybean oil. It has a high smoke point so is good for frying. It is bland in flavor.
    • Hazelnut oil is often drizzled over vegetables or used in salad dressings. It has a bronze color and a toasted nut flavor. Use in stir-frys or vinaigrettes. It is more expensive and becomes rancid quicker than other oils.
    • Walnut oil is golden oil pressed from walnuts. It has a rich, nutty aroma and flavor. It is more expensive. Store in the refrigerator because, it can turn rancid quicker than the other oils. This is best used in salad dressings or drizzled on vegetables.

    Buying

    • Most nut oil is sold in small jars. Buy other oil in amounts that can be used in a few months to avoid rancidity problems. Oil is found in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • To keep oil from becoming rancid, store it where it is not exposed to heat and light and keep the container sealed. Use by the expiration date.
    • Nut oil needs to be used by expiration date and stored in the refrigerator.
    • Vegetable oil can usually last 6 months if kept in a cool, dark place. Nut oil has a shorter shelf life.
    • Sniff all oil before using to make sure it isn't rancid.
  • Okra

    Description

    • Okra is a slender, tapered green pod that contains lots of seeds. When cut and cooked it gives off a liquid that acts as a natural thickener making it popular for soups and stews. Before cooking cut off a bit from the bottom and stem end before slicing or adding whole to soups, curries and other dishes. When cut across the width okra look like small wheels.
    • Okra is often pickled and deep fried. It is popular in the South in many dishes, especially gumbo.

    Buying

    • Okra is available year round in the produce section, although peak season is July through September. Choose small, brightly colored pods that are firm. It is also available canned and frozen.

    Storing

    • Store fresh okra in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Olive

    Description

    • An olive is the fruit of the olive tree. It contains a pit and is bitter-flavored when untreated.
    • Olives are used as appetizers, in antipasto platters, on pizzas, in salads and main dishes.
    • There are many types of olives in many colors, sizes and flavor. Green olives are picked unripe, treated and then pickled in brine. Black olives and some green olives are picked ripe, placed in a boiling brine and then sold dried, pickled or in oil. Ripe olives contain more oil.
    • Kalamata olive or calamata olive -- a purple-black, smooth olive from Greece. It is shiny and almond shaped and is sold with or without pits, in vinegar brine or in olive oil.
    • Manzanilla or Spanish olive -- a green cocktail olive with a firm flesh and a smoky flavor. It is treated, fermented in brine for up to 1 year and then bottled in a weak brine. It is sold pitted and whole and, if pitted, often stuffed with pimiento or garlic.
    • Nicoise olives -- a small, dark brown or purple olive with a sour flavor. The pit takes up a large part of the olive. This olive is cured in brine and packed in olive oil.
    • Black or Mission olives -- a ripe green olive also called a ripe olive. It turns black during the curing process. Most are grown in California.
    • Dry-cured olive -- this olive is packed in salt that removes the moisture, making it wrinkled looking.
    • Oil-cured olive -- a dark black olive, wrinkled and bitter.
    • Tapenade -- a paste or spread made of olives, anchovies, capers, olive oil, etc. Tapenade is used as an appetizer for crackers or as a spread or in appetizers.

    Buying

    • Olives can be purchased in bulk at an olive bar in the store, in jars, in cans and in a pouch-like container.
    • Olives can be purchased whole, sliced and chopped in cans and jars in the area with the pickles and condiments.

    Storing

    • Olives purchased at the olive bar should be kept in the refrigerator and used within a week. Canned olives should be used by the expiration date and kept in the cupboard until opened. Refrigerate open jars of olives.
  • Olive Oil

    Description

    • Olive oil is graded by the process used to extract the oil and the amount of nuoleic acid it contains. Olive oil is made by pressing ripened olives. The flavor, fragrance and color do vary depending on where the olive was grown and the growing conditions. A lot of olive oil is imported, mainly from Italy, but much is produced in California. Olive oil has a low smoke point.
    • Extra virgin olive oil is from the first cold pressing of the olives. This means no heat or chemicals were used in the extraction of the oil. It is fruity, low in acid (nuoleic acid) and the most expensive. The color can range from very light to a bright green. This olive oil should be used to drizzle on salads or breads or in salad dressings. Heating diminishes the flavor.
    • Virgin olive oil is also made from the first pressing but is higher in acid. This is a good all-purpose oil.
    • Products labeled olive oil are made from a combination of olive oil from later pressings and some virgin or extra virgin olive oil added to improve the flavor and color. It may be called pure olive oil. It has a higher smoke point than extra virgin and virgin olive oil.

    Buying

    • Buy the amount of olive oil you can use within two months.

    Storing

    • Store in a cool, dark place. Olive oil will last longer than extra virgin and virgin oils.
    • Sniff all oil before using to make sure it isn't rancid.
  • Onion

    Description 

    • There are many types and varieties of onion, typically a round vegetable with a papery skins.
    • Bermuda and Spanish onion -- large and strong flavored, but not as strong as the yellow onion. These two varieties are squatter than a yellow onion and are good roasted with meat, in stir-frys, onion soup, for onion rings and in making caramelized onions.
    • Chives -- a harbinger of spring. It is a green, grass-like herb that has a hollow stem. It has a delicate onion flavor. It is used raw in cottage cheese, potato salad, some dips and spreads and as a garnish and is also a common cooking ingredient. Snipping chives with a kitchen shears is quicker than chopping them.
    • Pearl onion -- This is larger than a pickling onion and has yellow, red or brown papery skin. It has a delicate flavor and are about 1 inch in diameter. To easily remove the skin, immerse a pearl onion into hot water for a few minutes. Pearl onions are sold fresh in 8-ounce mesh bags in the produce section or frozen.
    • Pickling onion -- a white or pale onion used for pickling.
    • Red or purple onion -- this has a reddish purple skin and a white interior with a red rim. It is often used in salads and sandwiches. It is juicy and sweet, but can be a little pungent. Thinly slice and separate into rings. It is generally not used for cooking, as the color fades when heated.
    • Scallion or green onion -- this is a baby onion that has a small, white, swollen bulb at the base of a narrow green hollow stem. It has a mild onion flavor but some varieties can be hot. Slice and add to recipes raw or cook slightly to wilt. It can be used in slaws, salads and eaten raw. Most cooks used the bulb, the light green portion above that and some of the green stalks.
    • Shallot -- a small onion which has a flavor hinting of both garlic and onion. It is smaller than an onion. Only the bulb is sold and it is covered with a parchment like skin and contains 2 large cloves which also have the parchment covering. Shallots are often sold in mesh bags in the produce department. It can be used raw or with minimal cooking, as it can disintegrate and become bitter if browned and overcooked. You can substitute a mild onion for shallot.
    • Yellow onion -- a common onion that has a golden brown thin skin and a white interior. It has a strong onion flavor and aroma and can cause you to cry when chopping them!
    • Sweet onion -- a sweet onion has a high moisture content and is more perishable than other varieties. Several brands have become popular. The Vidalia® onion is grown in Georgia and is a crisp, sweet, mild onion available in May. The Walla Walla® variety is usually available in July and the Maui® variety arrives in April.
    • White onion -- this has a pure white skin. It is a strong-flavored onion good for cooking.

    Buying

    • Dry onions will be found in the produce department, usually near the potatoes or the sweet onions in a bulk display.
    • Look for no firm onions with no sprouts.
    • Green onions and scallions should not be wilted and should be a vibrant green. They will be in the refrigerated section of the produce department.

    Storing

    • Green onions should be stored in the refrigerator
    • Store other onions in a cool dark place and not in a plastic bag or the refrigerator.

    Tip

    • Peel onions just before using. Chopped or sliced onions lose potency if not used quickly.
    • 1 medium onion = about 1/2 cup chopped, 1 large onion = about 1 cup chopped
  • Orange, Orange Juice

    Description

    • Oranges are a juicy round fruit from the citrus family. They are available year round. Oranges are used as a fruit for snacking and for juice, as well as in salads. Oranges are graded US Fancy and US #1. Oranges are high in vitamin C and fiber.
    • Orange juice is available fresh, canned, frozen and refrigerated juice. Juice can be sold pulp free or with a range of pulp left in the juice.
    • Navel orange is a sweet orange with a slight tang and is good for snacking and fruit salads. Navel oranges are seedless. They get their name from the navel at the bottom. The peak season is November through May and most are grown in California.
    • Valencia orange is a sweet and juicy round orange with bright orange skin and is good for snacking and juice. It is the most popular variety for juicing. It does have seeds.
    • Seville orange is commonly used for marmalade. The skin and pulp are used.
    • Blood orange has a bright red colored pulp and a very sweet flavor. They have a thin skin and are juicy. They are the result of an orange tree crossed with a pomegranate tree!
    • Mandarins are a small, sweet orange with a loose skin that is good for snacking and fruit salads. Mandarin oranges are also sold canned in a water sugar liquid.
    • Clementines are a cross between an orange and a tangerine. They have a loose skin which make them easy to peel and popular for eating. Clementines are smaller than an orange and have a dark orange, smooth skin, sweet flavor and good aroma. They are seedless. The season is late fall to early spring.
    • Tangerines are also a member of the mandarin orange family. They are sweet and juicy, have seeds and a somewhat loose skin. They are larger than a Clementine.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for firm, unblemished peels with bright color. Orange juice concentrate is available in the freezer and, fresh 100% orange juice or orange juice concentrate can be purchased in the refrigerated section.
    • Oranges are fine at room temperature for a few days but will last for weeks in the refrigerator. Orange juice should be used by the expiration date on the container.

    Tip

    • One orange equals about 1/3 to 1/2 cup or juice and 4 teaspoons grated peel or zest.
  • Oregano

    Description

    • Oregano is popular in Italian and Mexican cooking. This herb has small pointed green leaves and a spicy flavor. It is similar to marjoram, just a little stronger. It goes well in tomato-based dishes. It is often used on pizza but also adds flavor to soups and stews.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Oyster Sauce

    Description

    • Oyster brine and soy sauce are the key ingredients in oyster sauce. It is colored with caramel and is a thick brown sauce. The flavor is delicate without a hint of fish.
    • Oyster sauce is used in Asian dishes for adding flavor.

    Buying

    • Oyster sauce is sold in small bottles in the ethnic section of the supermarket.

    Storage

    • Store the opened bottle in the refrigerator.
  • Papaya

    Description

    • A papaya is a tropical, melon-like fruit that can be sold in varieties that weigh 1 to 20 pounds. The exterior is green with gold and it has a somewhat pear shape. Papaya actually grow in clusters. The flesh has a sweet melon like flavor and is yellow to rosy pink. The cavity is full of small black seeds which are scooped out (although they are edible). Papaya is eaten as is or with a squeeze of lime or in fruit salads.
    • Papaya contains a digestive enzyme called papain, so it is said to aid in digestion.

    Buying

    • Look for papaya in the produce section. A ripe papaya yields to slight pressure. The larger varieties are often sold in chunks.

    Storing

    • A ripe papaya should be refrigerated and used within 3-5 days.
  • Paprika

    Description 

    • Paprika is made from the pods of a dried sweet bonnet red pepper. It is like a mild chili powder with a slightly sweet flavor, although has a slight bite. It has a fragrant aroma.
    • Hungarian paprika is made from a special Hungarian red pepper and has a slightly sweet flavor. There is also a Spanish smoked paprika.
    • Paprika is used for its color and flavor in goulash, meat dishes, and sauces and as a seasoning and garnish.

    Buying

    • Paprika is located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Store away from sunlight in a tightly closed container.
  • Parmesan Cheese

    Description

    • Parmesan is called a grana type cheese. It is made from partially skimmed or fat free cow's milk and aged. The texture is flaky and brittle and the flavor is full, sharp and sometimes nutty. Most Parmesan is shredded or grated. The Italian original is Parmigiano-Reggiano. This cheese must meet strict manufacturing standards in Italy. Look for Parmesan in chunks and shreds in the specialty cheese section and most often in shreds or grated in the dairy case. Parmesan tops many Italian baked dishes, pizza and salads. Younger Parmesan can be eaten as is and is sweet and nutty.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Parsley

    Description

    • Parsley is one of the most common herbs. Curly parsley is the most common and is mild in flavor with bright green leaves. It has a somewhat grassy flavor. It should be added at the end of cooking. It is often used as a garnish and is available fresh in the produce section all year long and dried in the spice section.
    • Flat leaf or Italian parsley is readily available year round in the produce section. The leaf is darker green, large and flat. It has a stronger flavor and is good for cooking. Snip either kind into potato salad, over boiled potatoes or in cottage cheese.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Parsnip

    Description

    • A parsnip looks like a white carrot and is related to the carrot family. It is starchy and has a unique, slightly nutty flavor that becomes sweeter when cooked.
    • Parsnips are harvested in the spring and are good roasted, steamed, fried and in stews.

    Buying and Storing

    • Parsnips are sold in the produce section and often are coated with a layer of wax to extend the shelf life. Look for the smaller parsnips as they won't have a woody interior and are sweeter.
    • Store in the produce bin in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  • Pasta

    Description

    • Pasta is a very versatile food that is sold fresh and dried. It comes in many shapes and cooks quickly, making it a convenient for serving with sauces, in main dishes, with butter, salt and pepper, with cheese, with pesto, etc.
    • Pasta is made from flour, most often semolina or high protein durum wheat, water and sometimes egg. Typically egg pasta is used with creamy sauces and other types of pasta are used with tomato-based sauces.
    • Tube shaped pasta fill up with sauce.
    • Angel hair -- long delicate strands of pasta.
    • Cannelloni -- a large round tube used for stuffing and baking with a sauce.
    • Capellini -- thin strands of pasta often sold in nests. Cappellini is a little thicker than angel hair pasta.
    • Conchiglie -- a short pasta shaped like a shell. The shells often have ridges.
    • Couscous -- technically a pasta, not a grain as is often assumed. It is a tiny round shaped pasta. See Couscous for more information.
    • Farfalle or bow tie -- bow tie or butterfly shaped pasta. It can have crinkled edges, have ridges or be plain. It is usually available in two sizes.
    • Fettuccini -- thin flat egg noodles about 1/4 inch wide.
    • Fusilli -- short thin spirals of pasta.
    • Gemelli -- two short stands of pasta twisted together.
    • Lasagna -- a wide flat dried pasta, about 2-3 inches wide, that often has fluted edges. It often has egg mixed in the dough. It is most often cooked before using in lasagna and other dishes with sauce; however, precooked lasagna is available that does not need to be cooked before using.
    • Linguine -- a flat ribbon-like noodle 1/8 inch wide.
    • Macaroni -- a dried pasta cut into short hollow tubes. Elbow macaroni is short, curved tube-shaped pasta.
    • Manicotti -- a large tube, about 4 inches long, used for stuffing.
    • Mostaccioli -- a 2-inch, ridged or smooth pasta tube used for stuffing.
    • Noodle -- thin strips of pasta that often contain egg. It can be found in flat or curly shapes as well as in different thicknesses. Noodles are most often sold dried in cellophane packages. Some refrigerated or fresh noodles can be found in the dairy case with the other refrigerated pastas. Noodles can be eaten with butter, salt and pepper and a sprinkle of cheese or used in many main dishes.
    • Orecchiette -- the name of this tiny, disk-shaped pasta means "little ears."
    • Orzo -- tiny rice shaped pasta used in soups and as a side dish.
    • Pappardelle -- flat, long, wide noodles with rippled edges.
    • Pastina -- tiny pasta shapes most often used in soups.
    • Penne -- a slender diagonally-cut tube of macaroni.
    • Radiatore -- small rippled shapes of pasta that look like "little radiators."
    • Ravioli -- squares of pasta that are stuffed with a filling. They can be purchased already stuffed, dried or refrigerated.
    • Rigatoni -- a ridged tube of macaroni.
    • Rotelle -- small, spoked-wheel shaped pasta.
    • Rotini -- short spirals of pasta.
    • Shells -- conchiglie or shell-shaped pasta that come in different sizes.
    • Spaghetti -- long, thin round strands of pasta used for the main dish, spaghetti. It is a popular pasta. There are many varieties now available such as whole wheat spaghetti which is nutty, slight sweet and chewy and high in fiber and durum semolina spaghetti which is made from a high gluten and high protein hard wheat called durum. Look for a statement in ingredients list that states it is 100% semolina flour. A gluten-free brown rice spaghetti is made from corn and potato starch. There is also "veggie" spaghetti which uses dried vegetable powder to give some added flavor and color to the strands.
    • Tagliatelle -- long, thin ribbon egg or eggless noodles sold in nests or, when fresh, in loops.
    • Tortellini -- small pasta stuffed, folded and pinched in rounds. It is sold fresh or dried and filled with cheese or cheese and meat mixtures.
    • Vermicelli -- a very long thin strand of spaghetti.
    • Wagon Wheels -- large spoked-wheel shaped pasta (see Rotelle).
    • Ziti -- slender 2- to 3-inch tubes of macaroni.

    Cooking

    • When cooking pasta add short or small pasta to boiling water all at once. For spaghetti or other longer pasta, gently ease the strands into the boiling water. As the strands soften they will bend without breaking into the boiling water.
    • Al dente means firm to the bite and what pasta should be cooked to, or it will be mushy.
    • Fresh pasta cooks in just a few minutes, dried noodles cook in 8 to 10 minutes and the dried pasta shapes in 10 minutes or longer. Follow package or recipe directions.

    Buying

    • Dried pasta is found in the section in the grocery store with pasta sauce. Refrigerated fresh pasta is found in the dairy case section of the store.

    Storing

    • Dried pasta can be stored on the shelf. Keep pasta that has been opened tightly sealed. Refrigerated pasta should be kept refrigerated and used by the expiration date.
  • Pasta Sauce

    Description

    • While many cooks still make their own pasta or spaghetti sauce, many consumers are reaching for prepared sauces on the grocery shelf. There is a wide variety available in jars, cans and in tubs in the refrigerated section. Consumers can choose from Alfredo, marinara, meat, meatless, plain tomato, with cheese, with basil and other herbs, garlic, onion, mushroom, chunky or smooth style and many more varieties.

    Buying and Storing

    • These pasta or spaghetti sauces are found by the pasta in the grocery store and in the refrigerated section near the refrigerated pasta. Store the jar or canned versions in the refrigerator after opening and use within a week. The refrigerated sauces have a shorter shelf life and need to be kept in the refrigerator. Use any type by the expiration date.

    Tip

    • Pasta sauces can be used in many main dishes and as the sauce in lasagna. If you have a small amount left over toss it in chili or vegetable soup.
  • Peanuts

    Description

    • Peanuts are technically a legume as they grow underground. Peanuts are high in protein. The most common types are Virginia and Spanish. The Virginia peanut is larger and more oval; the Spanish is smaller and round.
    • They are sold in bulk, in packages, in the tan oblong pod or shell, salted, unsalted. Inside the shell, the nuts will have a paper thin husk on them. They are also available shelled and roasted in vacuum sealed jars, or cans in a variety of different sizes and styles, from honey roasted to chili seasoned.
    • Peanuts are used in candies, cookies, desserts and for eating as a snack. Many savory dishes, including stir-frys, include peanuts and they make a great salad garnish.
    • Of course, a lot of peanuts are used to make peanut butter.
    • One pound of peanuts in the shell equals 3/4 cup shelled.

    Storage and Freshness

    • Store shelled nuts in an airtight container in a cool place. Heat, light and moisture make nuts go rancid faster. Refrigerate shelled nuts for up to four months or freeze for up to eight months. Unshelled nuts will keep twice as long.
    • Shelled nuts should be crisp in texture and uniform in color. They should not be shriveled or discolored. Nuts should smell and taste fresh, not rancid with an off-flavor. Rancid nuts will ruin the baked product. Always taste nuts before using.
  • Peas, Dried

    Description

    • Dried peas are also known as field peas and they are different from a fresh garden pea. They are grown just for drying and are packed full of nutrients.
    • Dried peas can be purchased whole or split, yellow or green. The yellow pea is said to have an earthier flavor than the green pea.
    • Dried peas disintegrate when cooked into a thick mixture. They do not need to be soaked like dried beans do, before cooking.
    • Split pea soup, other soups and some main dishes use split peas.

    Buying

    • Dried peas are sold in bulk in some stores but are found most often in 1 pound plastic bags in the area with the dried beans.

    Storing

    • Keep dried peas in the bag or a sealed container in a cool dark place and they will be good for months.
  • Peas, Fresh

    Description

    • Fresh peas are the seeds of a legume and come in a number of varieties, but they all come from a pod with plump peas inside. They are green and have a mild, sweet flavor.
    • Garden peas can be found fresh in the summer. The peas are removed from the pod before cooking. Most of the rest of the year this type of pea is purchased frozen or canned.
    • Snow peas, also known as snow pods are eaten pod and all because they are tender. The pod is green, slightly translucent and flat and the tiny peas are flat. These have a string and that is usually zipped off before eating. These are great eaten raw or briefly cooked or used in stir-frys. Look for these in bulk or pre-packaged in the produce section.
    • Sugar snap peas are also eaten whole, sweet, tender pod and all. However, they are plumper and rounder. Eat raw or briefly cook. They are good in stir-frys. Look for these in bulk or pre-packaged in the produce section.

    Buying

    • The garden pea is available seasonally and should have firm, unblemished green plump pods. Snow peas and sugar snap peas should also look fresh and unblemished. Canned and frozen peas are also available.

    Storing

    • All fresh peas should be used within a few days of purchase. Store unwashed peas in plastic bags in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator. The pre-packaged snow and snap peas should have a best when used by date.

    Measurement

    • One pound of fresh unshelled peas equals 2 servings shelled.
    • 4 ounces of pea pods equals 1 cup after tips and stems are removed.
  • Pectin

    Description

    • Pectin is a natural substance actually present in many ripe fruits and vegetables. Since some fruits and vegetables do not contain enough pectin to thicken when making jams and jellies, pectin in a liquid or a powdered form can be added. Pectin needs to be used with the right combination of sugar and acid to thicken the mixture.

    Buying and Storing

    • Pectin is sold where the canning supplies are sold. It is sold in a small jar or box the size of a flavored gelatin box. Specific directions for each type of fruit or vegetable are given to make many jams and jellies. Use by the expiration date.
  • Pepper, Bell

    Description

    • A bell pepper or sweet pepper is classified as a fruit, but is used as a vegetable. A pepper is a fruit which forms on the plant after it flowers. A red pepper is a green pepper that has been allowed to mature. Other varieties include purple, yellow and orange sweet peppers.
    • The sweetest pepper is the red pimiento pepper. It is grown for its thick skin and is usually roasted and packed in brine in large pieces, slices or diced. The pimiento is sold in jars or commercially used to stuff green olives. It is the pepper used to make paprika.
    • Roasted red peppers are peeled packed in water and salt and sold in jars. They can be used for appetizers, on antipasto platters, in sandwiches and salads.
    • Fresh peppers are roasted, stuffed, used in salads, eaten as a raw vegetable and used in main dishes. 
    • The red pepper is the highest in vitamin C.

    Buying

    • Look for bell peppers that are firm and unblemished in the produce department. Pimientos are found in the condiment or pickle area of the store.

    Storing

    • Store peppers in the refrigerator drawer. They hold well for a week or two.
    • Pimentos and roasted red peppers should be refrigerated after opening and used by the expiration date.

    Tip

    • To roast a sweet pepper, halve the pepper and remove the stalk and seeds. Place skin side up on a broiler pan and broil 2-3 inches from the heat. Watch closely. When the skin blisters and blackens, turn the pepper. When blistered on both sides remove with tongs and place in a paper bag for 15-20 minutes and the skin will slip off.
  • Pepper, Chile

    Description

    • In Mexico the word "chile" is used to describe both hot and sweet peppers. In the United States a chile pepper usually describes a hot pepper.
    • There are many varieties of fresh hot chile peppers. They are sold fresh or dried, as well as canned. In most cases, smaller peppers are hotter than larger varieties. Color is not an indicator of heat. Any fresh chile pepper can be dried. Canned chiles come diced or whole; some are fire roasted.
    • A chile pepper has a thin flesh. The veins and seeds contain the most heat or capsaicin.
    • Dried chiles sometimes have a different name than the fresh chile.
    • Anaheim or California chile pepper -- a large slender red or green chile with a medium heat level. These are often are stuffed.
    • Ancho chile pepper -- a small, brick red dried pepper. It is wrinkled looking and has a hot, sweet flavor. An Ancho chile is about 3-4 inches long and 3-inches wide. It is sold fresh or dried; the Ancho pepper is actually a dried poblano pepper. To rehydrate, soak the chile 30 minutes in hot water.
    • Banana chile pepper -- this has a long and tapered shape and is yellow.  It has a mild to medium hot heat level and is often pickled.
    • Cascabel chile pepper -- this is plum-shaped, mild-flavored and often used in salsas. It is bright red or yellow green and has a medium heat level. It is usually dried.
    • Cayenne chile pepper -- this is slim and slightly twisted and has a long point. It is available in red, green or yellow green colors and is 3-6 inches long. This chile is very hot. It is usually sold dried. This is the pepper used to make cayenne pepper.
    • Chipotle chile pepper -- a dried, smoked jalapeno pepper with a smokey flavor and some heat. It is often sold canned in adobo sauce (see Adobo sauce).
    • Fresno chile pepper -- this is shaped like a jalapeno pepper and is a lighter green color or red.
    • Habanero chile pepper -- one of the hottest chile peppers, this is a squat, small fat-shaped pepper that can be green, red , yellow or bright orange.
    • Jalapeno pepper -- a green chile that turns red as it ripens. It is short, plump and comma-shaped. The skin is smooth and the flavor is hot to very hot. It is one of the most common chilie varieties and can be purchased fresh or canned. Jalapenos are often used in salsa.
    • Pepperoncini or Tuscan pepper -- a neon-red chile shaped like a long cone. It has a medium heat and slightly sweet flavor and is often pickled. Pickled pepperoncini is pickled in a water and vinegar brine and sold in jars in the condiment section. Pickled pepperoncini are used on antipasto platters, in salads and sandwiches.
    • Peppadew -- a trademarked chile pepper variety that is often used as an ingredient or canned in a pickling brine. It is a sweet piquant pepper with some heat.
    • Poblano chile pepper -- a small, dark green chile that has a mild spicy flavor and is often used whole. When dried it is called an Ancho chile. This chile is often used in the stuffed pepper dish Chiles Rellenos.
    • Scotch bonnet -- an extremely hot, small red or green chile pepper that looks like an unwrinkled Habanero pepper.
    • Serrano chile pepper -- a long, slender chile with a pointed end. It is red or green and fairly hot. It is available fresh or canned.
    • Thai chili peppers -- a tiny, hot pepper that is red, green or yellow.

    Buying

    • Chile peppers can be wrinkled looking due to their shape but look for fresh chiles with vivid color and no blemishes or soft spots.

    Storing

    • Chile peppers should be stored in the produce bin in the refrigerator and can last up to 2 weeks or longer. Dried chiles last a long time if sealed and stored in a cool, dark place.

    Tips

    • Capsaicin is the volatile oil in chiles which can burn the eyes and skin. While it is concentrated in the veins and seeds of the chile, it is also all over the chile. Wear plastic gloves when working with chiles.
    • Most dried chiles should be crumbled and rehydrated in warm water for 30 minutes to an hour before using. Drain and grind to a paste-like consistency and then push through a sieve to remove the skins.
  • Pepper, Peppercorns

    Description

    • Peppecorns are the berries of the pepper shrub. They are a very versatile spice.
    • White berries or white peppercorns are the seed of the ripened berry and are more expensive because the skin is removed to avoid more ripening. White peppercorn or white pepper is often used in light-colored cream sauces.
    • Black peppercorns are berries picked that aren’t quite ripe and that are sundried. The riper a peppercorn, the more pungent.
    • Green peppercorns are under-ripe berries and aren't as pungent. It is usually preserved in brine. Green peppercorn is often used in sauces served with steak.
    • ;Pink peppercorns are not true peppercorns and come from a South American tree. They have a mild flavor.
    • Ground pepper is ground from black or white peppercorns.
    • Peppercorns are not related to paprika, chili peppers, green or red bell pepper.

    Buying

    • Pepper and peppercorns are sold in the spice department. Peppercorns from different countries will have different flavors. Now peppercorns are sold in jars with grinders, so the fresh taste of paper, ground the coarseness you want, is readily available without buying a pepper grinder.

    Storing

    • Store dried peppercorns or pepper in cool, dark place and don't buy more than you will use in a few months, as pepper and the peppercorns lose their pungency.
    • Store opened green peppercorns in the refrigerator for about 1 month.
  • Pesto

    Description

    • Pesto is a rich green, uncooked sauce most commonly made with basil, parsley, olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts blended together. Pesto is Italian for "pounded." Other styles of pesto can be made using fresh spinach, cilantro or mint and nuts such as walnuts can be substituted for pine nuts.
    • Pesto is most often eaten as a sauce with pasta, but is also used in appetizers and as a topping in meat dishes.
    • Pesto is easily made at home, but also can be found canned and fresh.

    Buying

    • Look for canned pesto in jars near pasta saucee or fresh pesto in tubs in the refrigerated section near the refrigerated pasta.

    Storing

    • Store purchased fresh pesto in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date. Homemade pesto should be stored in the refrigerator and used within a few days. It can also be frozen in air tight containers for a month or longer. Refrigerate canned pesto after opening.
  • Phyllo

    Description

    • Phyllo (also spelled filo) is very thin sheets of pastry dough that are used to make baklava and other Greek pastries, top pot pies or in appetizers.
    • When working with phyllo, keep the sheets that aren't being used covered with a damp dish towel. Remove just the number of sheets required for each step of a recipe. The sheets are very thin and tear easily, so handle gently.

    Buying

    • Phyllo is sold in the freezer section of the supermarket. Some supermarkets may carry fresh phyllo.
    • Phyllo can be stored unopened in the refrigerator for 1 month; once it is opened it should be used within 2-3 days. It can be frozen for 1 year.  Defrost in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator about 2 hours before using so it will be easier to handle.
    • Don't refreeze as the pastry will become brittle.
  • Pickle

    Description

    • A pickle is typically a fruit or vegetable that has been preserved in a seasoned brine or vinegar. Many foods can be used for pickling including cucumbers, onions, cauliflower, baby corn, peppers, fresh beans, watermelon rind, carrots, asparagus, peaches, olives and more.
    • Common pickle varieties include gherkins, dill pickles, sweet pickles and bread and butter slices.
    • Other pickled foods include pickled pigs feet, herring and other fish.

    Buying and Storing

    • A great variety of pickled foods are available in grocery stores, specialty stores and farmer's markets. They are sold in jars and should be refrigerated once opened. Use by the expiration date.
  • Pico de gallo

    Description

    • Pico de gallo is a fresh relish made from finely chopped jicama, oranges, peppers, chiles, onions, cucumbers, spices and other ingredients depending on personal preference.

    Buying and Storing

    • Fresh pico de gallo can be found in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Keep refrigerated and use within a few days. Canned varieties are available as well and should be refrigerated after opening.
  • Pine Nuts

    Description

    • Pine nuts are also called pinon, or pignole. These small, cream-colored delicate nuts or seeds are high in fat and are a key ingredient in pesto. Pine nuts are quite aromatic. They are more expensive than some of the other nuts as they are harvested from the cones of a special type of pine tree.

    Storage and Freshness

    • Pine nuts can be become rancid quickly. They can be stored for 1 month in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer. If the nuts become soft they can be toasted. Pine nuts can now be found in jars in the nut section.
    • They should not be shriveled or discolored. Nuts should smell and taste fresh, not rancid with an off-flavor. Rancid nuts will ruin the baked product. Always taste nuts before using.
  • Pineapple

    Description

    • This tropical fruit is familiar for its diamond-patterned skin, bright green fronds and pale yellow or golden yellow, juicy, sweet interior. Fresh pineapple is available in different varieties and sizes and sold year round.
    • Pineapples are popular for just eating, in fruit salads and in desserts.
    • Pineapple is available in rings and large and small chunks in the canned fruit section of the store.
    • An enzyme in fresh pineapple prevents gelatin from setting. Use canned pineapple in gelatin desserts.

    Buying

    • Look for a fresh pineapple that is more golden than green on the exterior and is firm with no soft spots. The stiff fronds should be green and not withered. Most pineapples sold today are already at the peak of ripeness.

    Storing

    • A ripe pineapple should be cut, refrigerated and used within a week. A pineapple will continue to ripen as it stands on the counter, but it will not get sweeter.
  • Pistachio Nuts

    Description

    • Pistachio nuts are small green or ivory nuts with a papery skin inside a tan shell. (Red nuts have been dyed). This shell easily separates to remove the nut, which is good for snacking and used in some ice cream and baked goods as well as savory dishes. They originated in the Middle East, but are now grown in California.
    • They have a delicate, sweet flavor and are sold roasted or unroasted. Roasted pistachios are sold either shelled or in the shell in cans or packages in the nut or snack aisle. They can be salted or unsalted or flavored with spices such as black pepper. One pound in the shell equals 2 cups shelled and chopped.

    Storage and Freshness

    • Store shelled nuts in an airtight container in a cool place. Heat, light and moisture make nuts go rancid faster. Refrigerate shelled nuts for up to four months or freeze for up to eight months. Unshelled nuts will keep twice as long.
    • Shelled nuts should be crisp in texture and uniform in color. They should not be shriveled or discolored. Nuts should smell and taste fresh, not rancid with an off-flavor. Rancid nuts will ruin the baked product. Always taste nuts before using.
  • Plantain

    Description

    • A plantain is often called the cooking banana. It has a green skin that turns yellow to black as it ripens. The texture is firm and the flesh is white to pink. A plantain has a squash-like flavor, is high in starch and is used like a potato. A plantain is not eaten raw. It is often boiled or fried, especially while still green. A plantain will become sweeter as it ripens.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for plump plantains without soft spots in the produce department. It will change color as it ripens. Store at room temperature and use before it becomes too ripe.
  • Polenta, Grits

    Description

    • Polenta and grits are both cooked cornmeal mush. Polenta is an Italian staple. Grits is a Southern United States favorite, often called hominy grits.
    • Polenta is coarse-ground cornmeal that is cooked. It can be eaten hot with butter or poured into a pan and chilled until firm. Chilled polenta can be cut and then baked, broiled or fried. Cheese is often added to the cornmeal mixture and tomato based sauces are often served with polenta. Polenta can be a main dish served with a sauce, a side dish or eaten for breakfast.
    • Grits are often eaten with butter and or syrup for breakfast, used as a side dish or as an ingredient in main dishes.
    • Prepared polenta can be purchased in the refrigerated section of the store. Slice and cook as desired. Quick cooking polenta/grits reduces the cooking time. Make sure you know which one you buy. Most recipes call for the quick cooking variety.

    Buying

    • Look for polenta or polenta mixes in the baking aisle, often near the cornmeal. Sometimes it is found in the specialty section of the store with ethnic products. Refrigerated polenta can be found in the refrigerated section of the store.

    Storing

    • Store polenta in the freezer for a longer shelf life. Prepared, refrigerated polenta is stored in the refrigerator and should be used by the expiration date.
  • Pomegranate

    Description

    • A pomegranate is a fruit with a leathery red skin. Inside are hundreds of tiny seeds called arils that are each enclosed in a juicy, somewhat transparent red sac. These clusters of sacs are separated by a white membrane, which needs to be removed. The juice is red.
    • Once the fruit is cut in half and the seeds are extracted, the seeds can be eaten whole, used as a garnish or added to salads or savory dishes.
    • Commercially pomegranate is used to make juice and pomegranate molasses.

    Buying

    • Pomegranates make a short appearance in the produce section from late fall to early winter. Look for a pomegranate that is heavy for its size and has skin without cracks.

    Storing

    • Store pomegranates in the produce bin of the refrigerator 1 to 2 weeks. After the pomegranate is opened it should be well wrapped and be used in a week.
  • Popcorn

    Description

    • Popcorn is a special variety of corn grown just for the purpose of popping. The ears are small and pointed at the top and bottom. During heating the starchy inside of the kernel swells and the outer part of the kernel bursts and the corn is popped. Popcorn is most often eaten as a snack, used in snack mixes or for making treats like popcorn balls.

    Buying

    • Unpopped popcorn is sold in plastic bags in 1 or 2 pound sizes, in glass jars or in a special popping pan. Look for unpopped popcorn and prepared popcorn in the snack aisle. Microwave popcorn is found in many flavors.

    Storing

    • Refrigerate unpopped popcorn after opening the packing to extend the shelf life. Use by expiration date.
  • Poppy Seed

    Description

    • A poppy seed is an edible seed from the poppy plant.
    • Poppy seeds are tiny blue-black round seeds that add crunch to quick breads, coffeecakes and cakes.
    • Poppy seeds are also used to flavor salad dressings.

    Buying

    • Poppy seeds are sold in small containers in the spice section in the baking aisle of the supermarket.

    Storing

    • Store poppy seeds away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.
  • Potato

    Description

    • A potato is a starchy root vegetable that come in many varieties and in many recipes including salads, soups, stews, gratins, casseroles and more.
    • A potato is a very popular vegetable that works well for many cooking methods and can be mashed, riced, boiled, baked, fried, deep fried, baked or cooked whole, diced, shredded or sliced.
    • Potatoes can be purchased fresh year round in the produce department and are also available canned, frozen and refrigerated in many forms.
    • Potatoes are high in carbohydrates.
    • There are many varieties of potatoes in long or round shapes and in white, yellow, russet or red skin colors. Some are described as floury or starchy, which means they have low water and high starch content. Those described as waxy hold their shape and have high water and low starch content.
    • New potatoes are usually sold in smaller sizes right after the potato is harvested.
    • Russet or Idaho -- quite starchy and fluffy when cooked. They are good for mashing and baking.
    • Fingerlings -- long, narrow and "finger" shaped. They are waxy and are not good for mashing, but are great in potato salad, for roasting and French fries.
    • Red -- a very common waxy potato idea for boiling and for use in salads.
    • Yukon Gold -- a good all-purpose potato that has become very popular. The flesh is a slight golden color and the flavor is buttery. They have a medium starch level.

    Buying

    • Look for potatoes that are not wrinkled, without sprouts or soft spots. A green colored skin indicates overexposure to light and can be bitter. If a small amount is discolored, cut the green area away before using. If much of the potato is green, discard it.
    • Potatoes come in many varieties and sizes. Sometimes the packaging will indicate the best use for the potato.

    Storing

    • Store potatoes in a cool dry place away from other vegetables. Do not store potatoes in the refrigerator as they become sweet and may turn brown when cooking. Store out of the plastic bag they are often purchased in. Wash them right before using.

    Tip

    • 3 medium potatoes equal about 1 1/4 pounds or 2 cups mashed or 3 cups sliced.
    • 1 medium potato equals 1 cup, cubed.
    • Potato skin contains lots of nutrients, so if peeling potatoes, peel thinly.
  • Provolone Cheese

    Description

    • Provolone originated in Italy. It is a pasta filata type cheese like Mozzarella. This cheese is often sold sliced in the deli in a round shape called a salami shape which weighs 9 to 10 pounds. It is a popular deli cheese. It has a firm, smooth texture and a white interior. The flavor can be mild and tangy or can be more pungent or even smoked. Look for slices in the dairy case. Chunks can be found in the dairy case or in the specialty cheese section. Use this cheese in Italian dishes or sandwiches or appetizers. It melts well.
    • Use a clean sharp knife to cut the rounds into wedges or thin slices.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Prune

    Description

    • A prune is made from a plum with a high sugar content.
    • They are dried with the pits and without fermenting.
    • Prunes are also marketed as "dried plums” and are sold in containers and bags in the dried fruit section.
    • They are most commonly used for eating right from the bag.
  • Pumpkin

    Description

    • A pumpkin is a type of winter squash. There are many varieties and vary greatly in size, but most tend to have heart shaped leaves. Growers compete each year at festivals and fairs to see who can grow the largest one. Some varieties can weigh over 1000 pounds.
    • Pumpkins have a hard, ribbed or smooth, orange or white shell and an orange pulp with seeds in a fibrous mass in the interior. The seeds, sometimes called pepitas, can be cleaned and roasted with oil and salt for a snack.
    • Pumpkin has a mild, sweet flavor and can be used like a squash, or used for pumpkin pie, bread, bars, cakes and other desserts. Some varieties are better for pie baking. Of course, they can be used for Jack O Lanterns.
    • Pumpkin is available canned. There is pureed pumpkin and pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling generally has spices or flavoring added to it.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh pumpkins with no blemishes or soft spots and that are heavy for their size. Pumpkins are harvested in the fall. Canned pumpkin is available all year long in the baking aisle of the supermarket.

    Storing

    • A fresh pumpkin lasts a few weeks if kept cool and dry. Cooked pumpkin can be frozen.
    • Canned pumpkin should be used by the expiration date.
  • Queso Blanco, Queso Fresco

    Description

    • Queso blanco means white cheese in Spanish and can vary from being a semi soft-soft or a firm crumbly cheese. They can have a mild, milky and salty flavor that becomes tangier as it ages. These cheeses don't melt completely when heated; they soften and hold their shape.
    • Queso Fresco is a fresh white cheese.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Quinoa

    Description

    • Quinoa is a very tiny, round, usually cream-colored grain that is high in fiber and contains more protein than any other grain. Quinoa has a firm, chewy texture and somewhat bland flavor.
    • It has been a food source since Ancient Incan times and is a staple in many parts of the world but especially in South American cuisine.
    • Quinoa is used as part of a main dish, as a side dish or in soups or salads. It can easily substitute for rice. Some homemade granola bar recipes call for quinoa.

    Buying and Storing

    • Quinoa is available in natural food stores and in the natural foods section of most supermarkets. In addition to being packaged as a grain, it is available as flour.

    Tip

    • Quinoa cooks like rice but cooks in almost half the time.
  • Radicchio

    Description

    • Radicchio is a member of the chicory family and has deep red leaves and white ribs. It has a slight bitter flavor.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for crisp heads and no wilting. Use within days in salads or sauté. Keep lightly wrapped in the produce bin and use within a few days. Wash just before using and pat dry.
  • Radish

    Description

    • A radish is a root vegetable that comes in an array of colors and sizes. Some are striped. The shapes vary from round to oblong, to oval. The red radish has the most peppery flavor.
    • They are eaten raw and in salads and used as a garnish.

    Buying

    • Look for firm radishes that don't feel spongy and that have fresh-looking greens (if greens are attached).
    • Store radishes in the produce drawer of the refrigerator.
  • Ramen Noodles

    Description

    • Ramen noodles are a deep-fried, crinkled noodle that is sold in cellophane packages. They often contain a dehydrated vegetable and broth packet to make a soup. These packages have flavors such as beef, chicken, shrimp, etc. They cook up in minutes to make a broth type soup.
    • Cooked, drained and chilled ramen noodles are often used in Asian salads.

    Buying

    • Ramen noodles are found in the ethnic or Asian section of the supermarket. They are in boxes or cellophane packages.

    Storing

    • Store in the cupboard and use by the expiration date.
  • Raspberries

    Description

    • Raspberries are jewels of the berries. The raspberry is made up of many drupelets; each has its own seed. These drupelets are connected around the core or center of the berry. Raspberries are available in red, gold and black. They are very fragile. The flavor and aroma is great and they are often eaten plain, with cream or baked in pies or desserts. They tend to be expensive.

    Buying

    • Look for raspberries in the produce section. They should be an even color, not bruised or wet looking. Most are sold in half pints, pints or quarts. They are sold with the hulls off. Raspberries are also available frozen.

    Storing

    • Berries are fragile and so buy what you can use in a few days. Don't wash until you are ready to use them. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
  • Red Pepper

    Description

    • Red pepper or crushed red pepper flakes are made from dried, hot red chiles. It is available ground or in flakes. They are made by crushing and dehydrating hot, dried red chilies such as ancho, cayenne and California peppers. The seeds are the source of the heat. These spices are used in many ways from soups to rubs or to just add a spicy zip to a finished dish.

    Buying

    • Red pepper and red or crushed red pepper flakes are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Store away from sunlight in a tightly closed container.
  • Rice

    Description

    • Rice is a grain harvested from the rice plant and comes in thousands of different varieties. It is used as a side dish, in casseroles, soups and salads. Rice is also used in desserts like rice pudding and glorified rice. Rice is a staple ingredient world-wide.
    • Rice can be found in many varieties, colors, sizes and textures and in short, medium and long grain style. Rice is non allergenic and rich in carbohydrates.
    • Rice mixes are very popular and there are many varieties on grocery shelves. Some have beans, seasonings or pasta added to them.
    • Some rice, such as basmati, is rinsed before cooking to remove some of the starch. Follow package directions for cooking.
    • Arborio rice has a squat, plump oval shape and is starchy. It is also called risotto rice because this Italian short grain rice cooks down to a creamy consistency in risotto.
    • Basmati rice has a great aroma, like popcorn, when cooked. It is long grain rice from India that has a nutty flavor and firm texture. It can be white or brown.
    • Broken rice is available in some Asian markets and other stores. It is rice that was broken during milling. This rice cooks in ten minutes.
    • Brown rice has the inedible husk removed. The bran layer is still on the grain, so it is high in fiber, chewy and nutty and takes 40-50 minutes to cook.
    • Converted or parboiled rice can be white or brown. Only the surface starches have been removed so it retains many of the nutrients of the rice grain and the grains remain more separated when cooked. It takes longer to cook and most often is long grain rice.
    • Jasmine rice is a fragrant long grain rice that is slightly stickier than basmati.
    • White rice has the bran layer removed. Many of the vitamins, minerals and some of the fiber are lost. It is usually enriched to replace some of the nutrients. It cooks in 15-20 minutes.
    • Long grain rice can be white or brown and is often mixed with wild rice in mixes. It is widely available and most is grown in the United States. The grain is longer than it is wide. Grains stay separated when cooked.
    • Precooked or instant rice is completely or partially cooked and dehydrated. It is reconstituted by placing it in boiling water for 5 minutes.

    Buying

    • Rice can be bought in bulk, in small bags or boxes or in 50-pound bags.

    Cooking

    • Follow package directions for each type of rice. In general, 1 cup rice = 4 servings (3/4 cup per serving).

    Storage

    • If kept in tightly sealed packages or containers in a cool, dark place, rice can last for years.

    Tips

    • Allow 2-3 ounces of uncooked rice per person.
    • Use cooked rice within a few days.
    • A good doneness test is to squeeze the rice with your fingers. It should be tender and have no hard center.
  • Rice Noodles

    Description

    • Rice noodles or rice sticks are pale, thin, flat and brittle and are sold in various thicknesses, in coils or loops. They are precooked so they need only soaking or minimal cooking. Rice sticks are the most popular of the Asian noodles are and made from rice flour and water.
    • Thin rice noodles are used in soups. A medium thick rice stick, called pho, is used in soups and in stir-frys. The wide rice stick is used in stir-frys.

    Buying

    • Rice noodles are found in the ethnic or Asian section of the supermarket, in boxes or cellophane packages.

    Storing

    • Store in the cupboard and use by the expiration date.

    Tip

    • Vermicelli can be substituted for rice sticks.
  • Ricotta Cheese

    Description

    • Ricotta cheese is an unripened fresh cheese made from cow's milk. It is a slightly curdy, moist cheese that is used in cooking. It is often used in lasagna and cheesecakes.
    • Ricotta cheese comes in different varieties. Part-skim ricotta is drier and whole milk ricotta is sweeter and more like cottage cheese.

    Buying and storing

    • Ricotta cheese is found in 15-ounce and 3-pound containers in the dairy case. Store ricotta in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date.
  • Romano Cheese, Pecorino Romano

    Description

    • Romano is another cheese that originated in Italy, specifically Rome. Mostly sold aged, it has a flaky and brittle texture and is salty, fruity and more piquant than Parmesan. It becomes sharper as it ages. Romano cheese is often found in shredded cheese blends.
    • Pecorino Romano is made from sheep's milk.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Roquefort Cheese

    Description

    • Roquefort is a sheep's milk cheese with blue green veins. It has a potent flavor and is salty. Buy in the specialty cheese area in small wedges.
    • Roquefort cheese is easiest to cut when it's cold. Use a clean sharp knife to cut into thin slices.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Rosemary

    Description

    • Rosemary has long slender, slightly prickly, stiff thick needle-shaped leaves on a sturdy stem. Pull the leaves off in the opposite direction they grow to use. Don't use the stems in cooking. To use fresh or dried rosemary for cooking the needles should be chopped (fresh) or crushed (dried), as they can be tough to bite into.
    • Rosemary has a great aroma and a slightly piney flavor making it one of the most pungent of all herbs.
    • The stem and leaves can be used as a basting brush or placed over meats to be broiled or roasted.
    • Use dried or fresh rosemary in small amounts on pork or chicken, in tomato sauce or on pizzas. Rosemary is often paired with olive oil and garlic in making oven-roasted potatoes. Artisan breads and foccacia often include rosemary.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Rub

    Description

    • A rub is a combination of dry ingredients such as spices, herbs and sugar, which is applied to meat, poultry or fish before it is cooked and sometimes after cooking. A rub can be spicy or slightly sweet.
    • A rub can be homemade or purchased in the supermarket in a huge variety of flavors.

    Storing

    • Store dry rubs in airtight containers in a cool, dark place, similar to how you would store spices.
  • Rutabaga

    Description

    • A rutabaga is actually a member of the cabbage family. It is larger, rounder and sweeter than a turnip. The flavor is sweet and cabbage-like.
    • The rutabaga is peeled and the flesh is pale yellow. It will intensify in color as it is cooked.
    • Sometimes rutabagas are combined with potatoes and mashed. They are also served with butter and salt and pepper or roasted. Rutabagas are harvested in the fall.

    Buying and Storing

    • Rutabagas are often sold waxed. Look for a heavy rutabaga with no soft spots in the produce department.
    • Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
  • Saffron

    Description

    • Saffron is an expensive spice. It is the hand-picked stigma of a small purple crocus plant and each flower provides only three stigmas. These are dried and sold in thread-like sections.
    • Saffron should be bright orange or red in color and have a strong aroma. Crush the threads and infuse them in hot liquid to maximize the flavor. It is commonly used in bouillabaisse, risotto and paella.

    Buying and Storing

    • Buy saffron in glass or plastic jars in the spice section in the baking aisle. Keep tightly sealed in a cool, dark place.
  • Sage

    Description

    • Sage is a strong herb most often used with meats. It is a member of the mint family and has a slightly musty taste and aroma. It has narrow, oval gray-green downy leaves.
    • It is popular in bread stuffing for poultry or use fresh leaves to place inside the cavity of poultry for more flavor. The flavor is enhanced by heating. Sage is sold fresh and dried.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Salsa

    Description

    • Salsa is Spanish for sauce and is a popular condiment. Salsa can be uncooked or cooked. The primary ingredients are tomatoes, onions and peppers but there are also green salsas made from tomatillos or green tomatoes. Some salsa recipes are made with black beans, corn, pineapple, peaches, mango or other combinations.
    • Typically somewhat spicy, salsa "heat" can range from mild to medium, hot and extra hot.
    • Salsa can be made at home and is often made in the summer when tomatoes and peppers are at the peak of the season. Fruit salsas are also popular. Serve with chips, add to main dishes, use in enchiladas, add to tacos, add to ground hamburger or use in dips.

    Buying

    • The varieties are endless and occupy many shelves in the ethnic Mexican section of the store. Fresh salsas are sold in the produce section and in the refrigerated section of the store. Salsa is sold in glass jars, plastic tubs or bottles.

    Storing

    • If it is a refrigerated product, refrigerate immediately. Jars should be refrigerated after opening. Use salsa by the expiration date.
  • Salt

    Description

    • Salt (sodium chloride) is a common seasoning that enhances flavors in cooking and baking.
    • In bread baking, salt controls yeast growth to prevent the dough from rising too much.
    • There are several types of salt that can be used in cooking and baking:
      • Table salt -- This is a fine-grained salt with additives that make it free-flowing. This is the most common form of salt used and comes from salt mined from large salt deposits left by dried salt lakes.
      • Iodized table salt -- This is table salt with added iodine. It is particularly important in areas that lack natural iodine, to prevent hyperthyroidism.
      • Kosher salt -- This is a coarse-grained salt that is additive-free.
      • Sea salt -- This can be coarse or fine-grained but sea salt crystals may also be flaky in appearance. This salt comes from the evaporation of sea water.

    Storing

    • Store salt in a covered container in a dry place to prevent clumping.
    • Salt can be stored indefinitely if stored properly.

    Substitutions

    • Kosher salt, iodized salt, sea salt or a non-sodium salt substitute may be used in place of table salt in baking.
  • Sauerkraut

    Description

    • Sauerkraut is pickled white cabbage. Cabbage is fermented with some water and salt is added. Sauerkraut is quite salty. It was an old way of preserving food for the long winter ahead.
    • Sauerkraut is used as a side dish, cooked with ribs or other meat, used as a condiment with bratwurst or hot dogs and used in casseroles.

    Buying

    • Although you can make sauerkraut, the majority of sauerkraut is sold commercially in plastic bags in the refrigerated section or in jars or cans in the vegetable aisle of the supermarket.

    Storing

    • Store refrigerated sauerkraut in the refrigerator and store any remaining sauerkraut from jars or cans in the refrigerator as well. They can be stored on the cupboard shelves before opening.  Use by expiration date.
  • Savoy Cabbage

    Description

    • Savoy cabbage is a loose globelike head of light green curly or crinkly leaves with white ribs on a short stem. It is tender with a mellow flavor. It is a fall and winter cabbage.

    Buying

    • Savoy cabbage is available in the produce section. Look for heads with compact leaves and a head that is heavy for its size.

    Storing

    • Store in the refrigerator in produce bin for a week or longer.  A plastic bag will help retain moisture.
  • Sesame Seed

    Description

    • The sesame seed is from a plant grown just for its seeds. Sesame seeds are tan, small, oval-shaped seeds that add a nutlike flavor when sprinkled on buns, bread, crackers and some main dishes.
    • Sesame seeds can be used plain or lightly toasted.
    • Sesame seeds are used to make sesame oil. Sesame seeds are ground for tahini.

    Buying and Storing

    • Sesame seeds are found in the spice section. Toasted sesame seeds can sometimes be found in jars in the ethnic Asian food section. Store sesame seeds in a cool dark place with other spices or refrigerate and use by the expiration date. They can become rancid, so taste a few if in doubt.

    Storing

    • Sesame seeds can become rancid quickly. They can be refrigerated for a longer shelf life.
  • Soba Noodles

    Description

    • Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour, wheat flour and water. They are grayish brown and have a stronger flavor than some of the other noodles.

    Buying

    • Soba noodles are found in the ethnic or Asian section of the supermarket, in boxes or cellophane packages.

    Storing

    • Store in the cupboard and use by the expiration date.
  • Sorghum

    Description

    • Sorghum is a grain with large grain seeds and coarse stalks.
    • It is a popular food grain around the world but, in the United States, the most common form of sorghum sold is sorghum molasses or syrup, a by-product made from boiling down the stalks.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for sorghum molasses or syrup in jars in the syrup area. Store sorghum in the cupboard.
  • Sour Cream

    Description

    • Sour cream is a dairy product that is made by adding lactic acid to light cream. It is white, thick and rich with a cultured flavor.
    • Sour cream is also available in reduced fat and no fat varieties.
    • Sour cream is used to top baked potatoes, in desserts and baked goods. Sour cream is also used to make dips and do add richness to many entrees and side dishes.

    Buying and Storing

    • Buy sour cream in the dairy section in plastic tub containers.
    • Store sour cream in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date.

    Substitute

    • For a substitute for sour cream, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to 1 cup light cream. Allow to stand at room temperature for 10-30 minutes to thicken. Refrigerate.

    Measuring

    • 1 (8-ounce) carton equals 1 cup sour cream.
  • Soy Sauce

    Description

    • This is an important ingredient in Asian cooking. Fermented boiled soybeans and roasted barley or rye are the base for this dark, salty sauce. It is used as a seasoning and as a cooking ingredient. There are lighter and thinner and dark and thicker versions. Dark soy sauce is slightly less salty and caramel is added during fermentation. Japanese tamari is a very dark soy sauce with strong flavor. Soy sauce is high in sodium but there are varieties that feature up to 40% less sodium.
    • Although a lot of soy sauce is used as a condiment, it is also used in Asian dishes, marinades, sauces and to flavor soups.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for soy sauce in the Asian ethnic area of the grocery store or in specialty Asian markets. Store in a cool dark place or refrigerate after opening.
  • Soybean Oil

    Description

    • Soybean oil is made from soybeans and is light yellow in color. It is often used in margarine and shortening. It has a high smoke point and is good for frying, but foams, so is not good for deep fat frying. It is a major oil used in “vegetable oil.”
    • It is a popular oil in Chinese cuisine and is becoming more common for cooking in the United States.

    Buying

    • Buy soybean oil in amounts that can be used in a few months to avoid rancidity problems. It is not commonly found in grocery store and may have to be mail-ordered or found in specialty stores.

    Storing

    • To keep oil from becoming rancid, store it where it is not exposed to heat and light and keep the container sealed. Use by the expiration date.
    • Sniff all oil before using to make sure it isn't rancid.
  • Spinach

    Description

    • Spinach has crisp, large dark green leaves. It is nutritious. It is now a popular salad green used alone or with other lettuce. It can also be cooked in a minimum amount of water for a few minutes until it is limp and used as a cooked vegetable. Wilted spinach salad with bacon is a popular way to serve cooked spinach as well as a vegetable with a dash of lemon or vinegar.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for fresh looking leaves that are crisp, not wilted and with no yellow leaves. It is often sold in a large plastic container or bag. Keep lightly wrapped in the produce bin and use within a few days. Wash just before using and pat dry.
    • Smaller baby spinach can also be found.
    • Find canned spinach with other canned vegetables or frozen spinach in the frozen vegetable section.
  • Star Anise

    Description

    • Star anise is a whole spice that looks like an 8 point star. It contains tiny black seeds with an anise like flavor.
    • It is widely used in Asian cuisine and to flavor liqueurs and baked goods. It is a ground ingredient in Chinese Five-Spice powder.

    Buying

    • Whole star anise can be found in Asian markets and with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Store away from sunlight in a tightly closed container.
  • Star Fruit

    Description

    • Star fruit or carambola is a yellow tropical fruit with deep ridges or ribs. When a star fruit is cut in half it resembles a 5-pointed star shape.
    • The star fruit does not need to be peeled before eating. It has a very sweet flavor and is often used as a garnish and in fruit salads and desserts.

    Buying

    • Look for star fruit in the produce section with specialty fruits. It should be firm and have a bright, even yellow color. If slightly green on the ribs, it can be ripened at room temperature.

    Storing

    • Use within a few days or store tightly wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • Strawberries

    Description

    • Strawberries are a very popular berry now available year round. Some are huge. They are purchased with the stems on.
    • Sliced or whole, in a bowl or on cereal, for strawberry shortcake, desserts and smoothies, strawberries are an attractive and welcome fruit. Strawberries are eaten fresh and used in fruit salads, sauces, pies, desserts and jams. Strawberries are good with chocolate.
    • A strawberry, picked from the garden when ripe, has a great aroma and flavor. They are often smaller and solid. Commercial berries tend to have a hollow middle, especially the larger ones.

    Buying

    • Look for strawberries in the produce section. They should be an even color, not bruised or wet looking. Look for bright red berries with fresh green caps or hulls. Most are sold in half pints, pints or quarts. Strawberries are also available frozen.

    Storing

    • Berries are fragile and so buy what you can use in a few days. Don't wash until you are ready to use them. Wash before removing the caps, otherwise they soak up the moisture. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
  • Sugar

    Description

    • Sugar cane and sugar beets are the sources of most granulated sugar.
    • Granulated or white sugar is highly refined sugar and most commonly used as a sweetener in cooking and baking.
    • In addition to sweetening, sugar adds tenderness to dough, stability to mixtures such as beaten egg whites and can aid in some food preservation.
    • Superfine sugar is finely ground granulated sugar that dissolves quickly. It is good in meringues and whipped cream. It is sometimes referred to as castor sugar.

    Buying and Storing

    • Sugar is found in the baking aisle of the supermarket. Store in an air-tight container to prevent hardening.

    Tip

    • To measure granulated sugar, spoon the sugar into a dry ingredient measuring cup and level with a spatula or knife.
  • Summer Squash

    Description

    • Summer squash are eaten when they are young. They have a soft rind or peel and seeds, and the whole squash may be eaten. These squash grown quickly and have mild flavors.
    • Chayote is pale green and has a large seed in the interior. It is round or pear-shaped and grows on a tropical vine. It has a slight apple flavor, but is fairly bland and can be used like zucchini. Look for this in the produce section.
    • Patty pan squash can be white, yellow or green. It has a scalloped appearance and is small. Slice and sauté, stuff, broil or grill.
    • Zucchini squash are green or yellow. Green zucchini is long and slender and can be eaten raw or cooked. The texture is firm and the interior is white. Yellow zucchini can be long and slender or available in a crookneck variety. Smaller zucchini are sweeter, but the overall flavor is somewhat bland and texture is tender. Young zucchini retain their shape when cooked quickly. The seeds are almost invisible in young zucchini. Zucchini can be sliced and sautéed, grilled, broiled, stuffed, or shredded and made into an array of baked goods, such as zucchini bread. Zucchini is an ingredient in minestrone soup. Zucchini flowers can be stuffed and deep fried.

    Buying

    • Some varieties of summer squash are mainly available in the summer, but zucchini is available year round. Look for unblemished, firm squash.

    Storing

    • Use these squash within a few days or refrigerate in the crisper drawer for up to one week.

    Tips

    • Wash these squash just before cooking.
    • One medium zucchini equals 1/2 cup cubes or 1 cup shredded zucchini.
  • Sweet Potato

    Description

    • The sweet potato is not related to the potato. It has a smooth skin. The variety that has an orange-red skin has a pinkish interior and the darker red-skinned variety has a brighter orange interior. Both have a sweet flavor.
    • Sweet potatoes can be baked, mashed, made into pies, and even used in cakes, biscuits and breads.

    Buying and Stoing

    • Look for firm sweet potatoes with no soft spots in the unrefrigerated produce section by the potatoes and onions.
    • Store in a cool dark place. Do not refrigerate.
  • Swiss Chard

    Description

    • Swiss chard is grown for its crinkly green leaves on a white stalk or dark green on a red stalk. There is even a rainbow variety. It can be prepared like spinach and tender stalks can be cooked as well. This green is most often cooked.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for fresh looking leaves that are crisp, not wilted and with no yellow leaves. Keep lightly wrapped in the produce bin and use within a few days. Wash just before using and pat dry.
    • Smaller leaves and stalks are tenderer and some are best when they are young. Tender greens need to be cooked only a few minutes.
    • Some greens are quite seasonal and a larger variety may be found at farmer's markets during the summer. Swiss chard is usually available at farmer's markets from July to the first frost.
  • Swiss Cheese, Emmental Cheese

    Description

    • Swiss cheese is patterned after Emmental cheese, Switzerland's oldest cheese, and is a very popular cheese in the United States. It is a firm cheese with large openings, called eyes, which are formed during aging. Swiss is ivory colored and has a supple, smooth texture. The flavor is sweet, nutty, and sometimes earthy. Look for Swiss in the deli, in the dairy case in chunks, slices and shreds. Swiss cheese is popular in sandwiches such as Reubens, in fondue, in main dish recipes and appetizers.
    • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
    • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Tapioca

    Description

    • Tapioca is obtained from the root of the bitter cassava or yuca plant. It is sold as granules, flakes, tiny balls (pearl tapioca) or flour (tapioca flour). During cooking the grains sweet and become gelatinous. Tapioca is used to thicken soups, puddings and fruit pies and is eaten as a dessert when combined with sugar, milk and eggs.

    Buying

    • Tapioca is sold in 1-pound boxes and found where the pudding and pie filling mixes are sold.

    Storing

    • Tapioca can be kept in the box and stored in a cool, dark cupboard. Use by the expiration date.
  • Tarragon

    Description

    • Tarragon is an herb with slender soft green leaves and a savory flavor, somewhat like anise or licorice flavor. It is used in béarnaise sauce, egg dishes and with poultry. It goes well with dill and parsley. It has a dominant flavor so use sparingly.
    • Tarragon flavored vinegars are popular. Tarragon is sold fresh in the produce section and dried.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Tartar Sauce

    Description

    • Tartar sauce is a condiment commonly served with fish and sometimes with vegetables. It is a white soybean-based mayonnaise which may include chopped capers, herbs, pickles and lemon juice or vinegar.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for tartar sauce in the condiment section. Store in the refrigerator after opening and use by the expiration date.
  • Tea

    Description

    • Tea is native to China and has been used for making a hot beverage for centuries. Tea as a beverage is popular worldwide.
    • There are hundreds of different types of tea but all tea leaves come from the same species of tea plant. However, where the plant is grown, the soil and climate conditions and how the leaves are processed gives each type of tea its characteristics.
    • Black tea where the leaves are picked and fermented before heating and drying. This makes a darker tea. Ceylon and Darjeeling are popular black teas.
    • Green tea is made from leaves that are steamed and dried but not fermented. This tea is favored by Asians and has a flavor that is slightly bitter or astringent. The color of the brewed tea is greenish yellow. Gunpowder, which is rolled into pellets, and Jasmine are two well-know types of green tea. Green tea is lower in caffeine.
    • Blended tea is an English-style tea and is made with leaves from various blends of black tea, so the brewed tea is dark. Earl Gray and English Breakfast are common examples of blended tea.
    • Oolong tea is a made from leaves that are partially fermented giving it a flavor and color that is in between green and black teas. The best know Oolong tea is Formosa Oolong.
    • Instant tea is brewed tea that has been dehydrated and granulated.
    • Specialty teas have floral or spice, mint or orange or other flavors added.
    • Herb teas are not true teas made from tea leaves. They are made by infusing herbs, blossoms or other ingredients and don't contain caffeine.
    • Tisanes and fruit teas contain no caffeine and tannins because they have no tea leaves in them.

    Buying

    • Fresh tea leave can be bought in bulk at specialty tea stores, natural food stores and Asian markets. Loose tea leaves, tea bags and instant tea, flavored or plain, sweetened or unsweetened are sold by the coffee in the supermarket.

    Storing

    • Store tea in a cool dry place, well sealed and it will last over a year. Follow use by dates on tea bags and instant teas.

    Tip

    • To brew hot tea, use 1 teaspoon tea leaves for each cup of water, plus one extra for the pot. Steep the tea leaves in hot water as directed. Each type of tea usually comes with directions on how hot the water should be and how long to steep the leaves. Tea balls are a convenient way to brew tea without having to strain the tea to remove the leaves.
  • Tempeh

    Description

    • Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake that is firm and dense and has a yeasty, nutty flavor. It holds its shape when cooked and absorbs other flavors. It is used as a meat substitute and is high in protein.

    Buying and storing

    • Tempeh can be purchased fresh and frozen. Store tempeh in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and used by the expiration date. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Teriyaki Sauce

    Description

    • This sweet and spicy condiment originated in Japan and is a soy-based sauce made with the addition of wine, sugar, garlic, ginger, chili peppers and spices. There are many brands each with their own combination of ingredients for teriyaki sauce. It is used as a marinade or for basting grilled meat. The sugar in the sauce lends a nice glaze to meat.

    Buying and Storing

    • This sauce is found in the Asian food section of the store and sometimes with other sauces like barbecue sauce. Many flavors and varieties are available. Store the sauce in the refrigerator after opening. Use by the expiration date.
  • Thyme

    Description

    • Thyme has many tiny, pointed oval leaves on each stem. It has a strong clove-like flavor and is popular in French cooking.
    • This herb is used in bouquet garni, in stocks and marinades and in pork and poultry dishes. The leaves are small, so often don't need to be chopped. It is pungent when fresh.
    • It is often paired with lemon in baked goods.
    • Thyme is available in the produce section year round.  Dried thyme leaves are also sold in the spice section.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
    • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
    • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

    Tip

    • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
    • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
    • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
    • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
    • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  • Tofu

    Description

    • Tofu is made from curdled soy milk that is extracted from ground, cooked soybeans. It is also known as bean curd or soybean curd and comes in regular, low-fat and nonfat varieties and in extra-firm, firm and soft styles.
    • Firm and extra firm tofu are white, bland and porous and readily absorb other flavors. Firm tofu can be sliced or cubed and marinated, sautéed or fried.
    • Silken tofu also comes in soft, regular and firm styles and can be used in soups, sauces and dips.

    Buying

    • Tofu is found in the produce section of the grocery store by the won ton wrappers.

    Storing

    • Tofu should be kept covered with water which should be changed daily. Store tofu in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date, usually no more than a week, since it is very perishable.
  • Tomatillo

    Description

    • This green or yellow fruit, which has a slightly sticky, papery brown husk, is not related to the tomato family. It does have the texture of a tomato and has lots of seeds. The tomatillo flavor is described as lemony and acidic. They are sold in the produce section and available all year long. They can also be purchased canned. The thin brown papery husk is removed before cooking. 
    • Tomatillos are often used in verde or green salsas and sauces and other Mexican and Southwestern dishes.

    Buying

    • Look for tomatillos that are not bruised or shriveled. They are in the produce section and sold by the pound. They are firm, even when ripe.

    Storing

    • Refrigerate tomatillos for up to 10 days.
  • Tomato

    Description

    • The tomato was first brought to Europe from the Americas by the Spanish and only became very popular in the United States in the 1900s. Now there are hundreds of varieties of this vegetable in many sizes, shape and colors. Though it is technically a fruit, it was declared a "vegetable" by the U.S. government in 1893 for trade purposes.
    • A vine-ripened tomato at its peak is preferred for flavor, color and texture. Many people grow their own in the summer for this reason, but they are widely available in stores and farmer's markets in season. Vine-ripened tomatoes sold in stores during the off season have some flavor advantage over the other tomatoes available in the winter but are usually more expensive. Other tomatoes sold in supermarkets are usually ripened with ethylene gas.
    • The tomato is high in lycopene, an antioxidant that also give the tomato its color. It is also high in Vitamins A and C.
    • Yellow tomatoes are usually not as acidic as red tomatoes. Green tomatoes, except for green heirloom varieties, are under-ripe tomatoes. They can be used in relishes, for pickling and for fried green tomatoes.
    • Heirloom tomatoes are older varieties enjoying new popularity. They can be found seasonally at farmer's markets and in some stores in a variety of colors, shapes, color-combinations and stripes. Fresh tomatoes are typically one of five classifications:
    • Globe or slicing tomatoes are a very common medium-sized tomato which is and smooth and round and most often red. They are good raw or cooked.
    • Beefsteak tomatoes are big, deep red and juicy. They are delicious raw or cooked.
    • Plum, Roma or Italian tomatoes are oval or egg-shaped and available in red or yellow varieties. These tomatoes have thicker skins with more pulp, smaller seeds, good flavor and not as much juice. They are often the most reliable year round tomato for flavor. They are used used to make many canned tomato products.
    • Cherry tomatoes are miniature 1 to 1 1/2-inch tomatoes that are red or yellow. Heirloom varieties can be black or purple. They are good to eat as a snack, in salads, as a garnish or sautéed lightly with olive oil and herbs.
    • Grape tomatoes are tiny Roma tomatoes less than 1-inch in length. They can also be called currant tomatoes. They are good for salads and garnishes or just for eating.
    • There are many types of canned or processed tomato products available in a range of sizes and flavors, sometimes including ingredients such as onions, basil, peppers or other seasonings. No-salt added, canned tomatoes are also available as are organic or fire-roasted styles.
    • Crushed tomatoes usually come in a large-sized can and have a texture between tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Use these tomatoes in spaghetti sauce and pasta sauce.
    • Diced, canned tomatoes are the product with the most variations. They commonly come in 10- to 28-ounce cans. The tomatoes are peeled, chopped, processed and packed in their own juice. Petite diced tomatoes are diced smaller. Many flavor options are sold in the diced tomato category. Some have seasonings such as basil, onion, oregano and chili powder already added to the tomatoes. These are marketed as chili-ready or pasta-ready and are convenient to use in soups, main dishes and Mexican recipes.
    • Stewed tomatoes are peeled, sliced and seasoned with onions, celery and bell peppers. They can be eaten as a vegetable or used in casseroles.
    • Sliced tomatoes are similar to stewed tomatoes, but don't have the added seasonings.
    • Sun-dried tomatoes are tomatoes that are dried and usually sold in oil in jars. They have a smoky flavor and chewy texture. Some are also sold in a dried form which must be rehydrated before using. They can be used in sauces, sandwiches, appetizers, etc.
    • Tomato juice is made from tomato concentrate and has salt added. It is sold in large cans or bottles and is used as a beverage or in soups and main dishes.
    • Tomato paste is made by cooking tomatoes for hours. This mixture is strained, seasoned and further reduced to make a thick red dark concentrated paste. Use in spaghetti sauce and other dishes to add rich tomato flavor.
    • Tomato puree is a thick concentrate made by cooking unseasoned tomatoes quickly and straining that to make a thick sauce. It may have some tomato pulp.
    • Tomato sauce is a thinner version of tomato puree with salt and spices added. It is now available flavored with basil or onion or other ingredients. Tomato sauce has a smooth texture and can be used in sauces, lasagna, casseroles, etc.
    • Whole tomatoes are sold unpeeled or peeled. They are packed in their own juices and can be used in soups, main dishes, etc.

    Buying

    • Look for fresh, firm tomatoes that yield slightly to gentle pressure (if using right away) and that are blemish-free.
    • Canned tomato products are usually near the pasta section and take up many shelves.

    Storing

    • To ripen, store fresh tomatoes at room temperature on the counter away from the sun or in a brown paper bag. Use ripe tomatoes within a few days. Refrigerating tomatoes does change the texture and flavor.
    • Store canned tomato products in the cupboard. Use by the expiration date and refrigerate after opening.

    Tips

    • Three medium tomatoes = about 1 1/4 pounds.
    • One pound fresh tomatoes equals about 2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes.
    • 1 medium tomato equals 1 cup chopped tomatoes.
    • To remove the skins quickly, plunge tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, remove and plunge in ice water. Drain, core and the skins will slip off.
  • Tortilla

    Description

    • Tortillas are an unleavened Mexican bread that is made of corn or wheat flour, water, salt and lard or fat. Many Hispanics make their own tortillas but they are commonly sold in supermarkets and ethnic Mexican grocery stores. Some stores make tortillas fresh right in the store.
    • Tortillas are eaten like bread and used as base for enchiladas, tacos, burritos, tortilla chips and other Mexican foods, as well as for sandwich wraps.
    • Tortillas even come in colors, flavored with spinach, tomato, pumpkin or other ingredients.
    • Tortillas are the base for commercially-produced tortilla chips, which come in many shapes and sizes.

    Buying

    • Look for tortillas in plastic bags in the refrigerated section of the store or on the shelf near the Mexican food products.

    Storing

    • Store tortillas in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date.
  • Turmeric

    Description

    • Turmeric is made from the orange-red colored root of a plant related to the ginger family. It has a bitter, pungent flavor and is popular in East Indian cooking. It is always used in curry preparations and adds both flavor and color to food. The color of turmeric powder is yellow-orange. It is a common ingredient in prepared mustard, as well as in curry powder.

    Buying

    • Turmeric is sold ground and found with the spices in the baking section of the store.

    Storing

    • Store away from sunlight in a tightly closed container for no more than 6 months.
  • Turnip

    Description

    • A turnips is a member of the cabbage family. It is small and white with green or purple crowns. The interior is white, crisp and slightly peppery.
    • Turnips are used as a vegetable with salt, pepper and butter or in soups and stews.
    • Turnip greens have a pungent and slightly bitter taste. Young, tender greens are best and need to be cooked only a few minutes. They will shrink when cooking as they lose moisture. Allow 8 ounces per serving.

    Buying and Storing

    • Choose young turnips that are white tinged with green or purple in the produce department.
    • Store in the produce bin in the refrigerator. Store the unwashed greens in a plastic bag in the produce bin and use within a few days.
  • Udon Noodles

    Description

    • Udon noodles can be sold fresh or, more commonly in grocery stores, in dried form. They are a thick Japanese noodle used in broths.

    Buying

    • Buy Udon noodles in bags or boxes in the ethnic or Asian section of the supermarket.

    Storing

    • Store fresh Udon noodles in the refrigerator. Store dried Udon noodles in the cupboard and use by the expiration date.
  • Vanilla

    Description

    • Vanilla extract adds a very sweet, fragrant flavor to baked goods.
    • Vanilla extract is produced by soaking dried vanilla beans in an alcohol and water solution. It is then aged for several months. Bakers like the complex flavor.
    • The three most common types of beans used to make vanilla extract are Bourbon-Madagascar, Mexican and Tahitian.
    • Imitation vanilla extract or flavoring is an inexpensive substitute for pure vanilla extract. The flavor is not as complex. It is found with the vanilla in the baking section.
    • Vanilla beans are pods that vary in length and thickness.
    • The reason vanilla beans and natural vanilla are so expensive is that the pods ripen on the vines for 8 to 9 months and then are hand picked and dried.
    • To use vanilla seeds, which have the flavor, the pod is split open and the seeds are scraped out. Use the seeds in home-made ice cream, in sauces and pastry creams for a wonderful flavor.

    Buying

    • Vanilla beans are sold in the spice section in tubes or jars. Usually they contain 2 to 3-inch pieces of vanilla bean pod.

    Storage

    • Vanilla beans have a long shelf life if kept sealed in a cool, dry place.
    • Store vanilla extract in a cool, dark place, with the bottle tightly closed, to prevent evaporation and loss of flavor.

    Substitutions

    • Imitation vanilla flavoring can be substituted for vanilla extract, but it may have an artificial taste. It is about half the cost of real vanilla extract.
    • Other extracts that may be used instead of vanilla are almond, peppermint, rum or lemon, where desired or appropriate. Use the same amount as the vanilla extract called for in the recipe.

    Tip

    • Once the seeds are scraped out the pods can be used to poach fruit, or add to sugar for a few weeks to make a vanilla flavored sugar.

    Measuring Extracts and Flavorings

    • Fill the measuring spoon to the top. Be careful not to let it spill over. Don't measure extracts or flavorings over the mixing bowl - any spillage will go into the bowl and you will not know the amount of extract or flavoring you have added.
  • Vegetable Shortening

    Description

    • Vegetable shortening is a solid fat made from vegetable oils like soybean and cottonseed. The oil is changed from a liquid to a solid through a process called hydrogenation during manufacturing. This shortening is 100% fat and is flavorless. It has a soft texture so can be easily cut into flour. It can be used in baking and cooking.

    Buying

    • Buy in foiled wrapped stick or cans in the baking section.

    Storing

    • Store up to 1 year or use by date. Store in cool, dark place.
  • Vinegar

    Description

    • Vinegar is a fermented liquid which is changed into a weak solution of acetic acid. It is usually diluted with water.
    • Vinegar is used for pickling, in sauces, in vinaigrettes, in salad dressings, etc.
    • Vinegar acts as a tenderizer in marinades; it helps break down the protein fiber in meats.
    • Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple pulp or cider. It is a light brown color, mild, slightly sweet and tangy and is a good all-purpose vinegar. It is quite inexpensive.
    • Balsamic vinegar is expensive if it is genuine balsamic vinegar from Italy. It is produced from the white Trebbiano grape and barrel fermented. It has a deep rich color and sweet tart caramel like flavor. It can be aged 3 to 12 years, but some gets aged 100 years. It is best used to drizzle on salads or other food or used in salad dressings. White balsamic vinegar is lighter colored and only aged 1 year.
    • Distilled white vinegar is high in acetic acid. It is sour or harsh as it is made from grain-based alcohol and best used in pickling.
    • Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice is mild and slightly sweet. It has sugar added so is less acidic than other vinegars. It can be white or light brown in color. Because of its delicate flavor it is used in salads and cold noodle dishes. It is good in fresh cucumber salads. It also comes seasoned. In a pinch substitute apple cider vinegar with a bit of sugar.
    • Sherry vinegar can be aged many years and has a nutty flavor. It should have a rich, mellow flavor with some bite. It is used for salad dressings and often to deglaze pans after sautéing chicken.
    • Wine vinegars are made from white or red wine or champagne. The champagne and white wines vinegars are milder in flavor and can be used in many ways. The red wine vinegars are good in marinades and sauces for hearty dishes.
    • Malt vinegar is made from malted barley and has a unique lemony flavor. It is served with “fish and chips.”
    • Herb or other flavored vinegars are made by adding herbs, like tarragon, or chili peppers to vinegar to infuse the flavor into the vinegar.

    Buying

    • Some vinegar is now sold in plastic bottles. Glass is still the most common. There is a huge variety of vinegars available to select from.

    Storing

    • Stored in a cool, dry place, vinegar has a very long shelf life. The flavor is affected by air and light.

    Tip

    • Sometimes a wispy white residue is found at the bottom of a jar of vinegar. This is called a “mother.” The vinegar is still good to use.
  • Water Chestnuts

    Description

    • A water chestnut is a nut-like tuber from an aquatic plant. It is 3 or 4-sided and shaped like a chestnut. It has a tough brown skin that contains the crunchy, white, sweet water chestnut. They are used in Asian dishes, salads and some casseroles.

    Buying

    • Water chestnuts are sold canned, but some Asian markets may sell fresh or dried water chestnuts. The canned versions are sold sliced or whole.

    Storing

    • Store canned water chestnuts in the pantry and refrigerate after opening, keeping water chestnuts in their liquid. Use by the expiration date on the can.
  • Watercress

    Description

    • Watercress has small dark leaves which are crisp and have a sharp, peppery flavor. They can be added to salads or used in sandwiches.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for fresh looking leaves that are crisp, not wilted and with no yellow leaves. Keep lightly wrapped in the produce bin and use within a few days. Wash just before using and pat dry.
  • Wheat

    Description

    • Wheat is the most common source of flours used in baking. Wheat can be categorized in three types, hard wheat, soft wheat and durum wheat. Hard wheat is high in gluten and the wheat flour is good for bread baking. Soft wheat flour is lower in gluten and is better in baked goods like cakes and bars.
    • Wheat grain is covered with a papery skin called bran. It is high in fiber. Bran is removed to make white flour.
    • Wheat flour contains gluten, a protein that forms an elastic network. This network helps contain the gases that makes mixtures such as dough and batters, rise as they bake. Different flours vary by level of protein, which determines the applications for which that flour is used.
    • Wheat germ is the tiny seed of the wheat grain. It has a nutty flavor and is rich in protein, fats and minerals, but is often partially or completely removed when making white flour. Wheat germ can be sprinkled on cereal or added to bread dough.
    • The endosperm or wheat kernel is the starchy part of the wheat grain that is high in starch and proteins. Wheat contains gluten, which provides the structure of foods like bread. Wheat is used to make white and wheat flours, for wheat germ, for wheat berries and is used to make many cereals.
    • Wheat berries are the whole grain of wheat. They should be soaked and boiled before adding to soups, salads or breads. They can also be sprouted and used in salads. They have a sweet, nutty flavor. Wheat berries are most often found in health food stores.

    Buying and Storing

    • Most wheat is used for flour, so look for other wheat products in the flour area of the store. Store in a cool, dry place and use by the expiration date.
    • Wheat germ is sold in jars. It has a short shelf life so refrigerate after opening.
  • Wild Rice

    Description

    • Wild rice is actually not rice but a grain from a grass stalk that grows 3-12 foot tall in water. It is grown in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada. It is the only cereal grain native to North America.
    • After it is harvested the grains are dried or roasted. It is a longer than an ordinary grain of rice and dark gray-brown or black. When it is cooked it puffs open.
    • Wild rice is expensive and is often combined with white or brown rice. There is a cultivated wild rice, which does not puff up and takes longer to cook. Wild rice is popular in soup, main dishes and as a side dish.

    Buying

    • Wild rice can be purchased in small bags and can often be found at farmer's markets.

    Tip

    • Clean wild rice thoroughly before cooking by placing it in a medium bowl and filling it with cold water. Stir to loosen any debris which will float to the surface. Pour off water and debris.
  • Winter Squash

    Description

    • Winter squash are eaten when ripe and have a thick rind. Some varieties have an edible rind, others must be peeled. Fall and winter are the peak seasons for winter squash but many varieties are available all year long.
    • Acorn squash is a popular fall squash shaped like an acorn and dark green or orange with ribs. The acorn squash has an orange flesh which has a mild, sweet flavor and a creamy texture.
    • Buttercup squash is turban shaped. It has a sweet, creamy orange flesh and can be baked or cooked and mashed.
    • Butternut squash is very common. It is tan or ivory-colored and has an oblong shape and a smooth skin. The flavor is sweet and the flesh is deep orange. Peak season is fall but this squash can be found year round in the produce section. Peel with a vegetable peeler. Use in soups, salads, main dishes and as a side dish.
    • Delicata squash is oblong, white and green striped and 5-10 inches long. The skin is edible and the flesh is yellow. Baked or steamed, it has the flavor of a sweet potato. If unavailable, substitute butternut squash.
    • Dumpling squash is a mottled cream and green color with an edible skin when cooked.
    • Golden Nugget squash looks like a tiny pumpkin and can be used as a bowl for dips and soups.
    • Hubbard squash is a large squash with a blue-green, extra-hard, warted skin. It has big seeds. Sometimes the grocery store produce department cuts Hubbard squash into more manageable sizes for purchase.
    • Kabocha squash is dark green with some spots and stripes. It is also called the Japanese pumpkin. It has a smooth texture and a sweet, almost caramel flavor.
    • Spaghetti squash can have a yellow, cream or tan skin. It is oblong in shape and 9-12 inches long. When cooked and cut looks the flesh looks like golden yellow strands of spaghetti and is slightly crisp and sweet. Some serve it with spaghetti sauce. Green spaghetti squash are not ripe.

    Buying

    • Look for squash that are heavy for their size, firm and free of soft spots.

    Storing

    • Store in a cool, dark place for up to 2 months for most varieties.

    Tip

    • A 2 1/2-pound butternut squash yields about 2 1/4 cups cooked squash.
    • A 1-pound acorn squash will yield about 1 1/4 cups cooked squash.
  • Won Ton Wrappers (Skins)

    Description

    • A Won Ton wrapper or skin is a very thin square of dough used to make Chinese dumplings or won tons, egg rolls and other Asian specialties.
    • They are also used in making some desserts.
    • Won Ton wrappers are sold in squares and circles and in different thicknesses. The circle-style wrappers are usually used to make potstickers.
    • They are sold prepackaged in most Asian specialty stores and in supermarkets.

    Tip

    • When filling wrappers, seal the filling in the wrapper by lightly brushing the edges with beaten egg white.
    • Egg roll wrappers can be substituted for won ton wrappers.
  • Worcestershire Sauce

    Description

    • This condiment is named for Worcester, England where it was first bottled. Most formulas for Worcestershire sauce include water, molasses, salt, corn syrup, caramel, garlic, vinegar, anchovies, tamarind, soy sauce, onion, lime and other seasonings. It is a thin dark condiment with a piquant flavor.
    • Worcestershire sauce is used to bump up the flavor in stews, gravies, marinades and main dishes. Use by the dash or teaspoonful. It is also a classic flavoring in Bloody Mary cocktails.

    Buying and Storing

    • Worcestershire sauce is in the condiment section of the grocery store. Refrigerate after opening.
  • Yam

    Description

    • A yam can come in many shapes and sizes depending on the variety. It has a rough brown skin, a pale flesh and tend to be blander then a sweet potato, but moist and sweet.
    • It is often confused with the sweet potato and can be substituted for sweet potato in most recipes.

    Buying and Storing

    • Look for firm yams with good color and no soft spots in the unrefrigerated section of the produce department by the potatoes and onions.
  • Yogurt

    Description

    • Yogurt is made by adding a bacteria to milk to culture or ferment it. It is often made from low-fat milk. The fermentation causes the milk to become thick and tangy. It is thick and creamy white.
    • Yogurt is high in protein, especially Greek style yogurt. This product is made from semi-skim or whole milk and is thicker and higher in protein than conventional yogurt.
    • Yogurt comes unflavored or fruit flavored and in full-fat, reduced fat and fat-free. The light versions tend to have artificial sweeteners added to reduce calories.
    • Yogurt is popular for snacking, in dips, spreads, salad dressings and in cooking. It is easily digested.

    Buying

    • Yogurt is sold in the dairy case in many sizes and flavors.

    Storing

    • Use yogurt by the expiration date. Store in the refrigerator.
  • Zest

    Description

    • Zest is the orange, yellow or green skin, rind or peel from oranges, lemons and limes. It is important not to remove too much of the peel, as the white pith underneath is bitter tasting. A fine grater or a tool called a zester can remove fine, moist shreds of zest. Zest can also be peeled in wide strips to use as a garnish or to make candied peels.
    • Zest is used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes in cooking and baking.

    Storing

    • Zest can be placed in a sealed container and frozen for up to one month but is better used fresh.

    Measurement

    • 1 orange should yield about 1 tablespoon fresh grated orange rind.