The Land O'Lakes Test Kitchen

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Cooking & Baking Techniques

Cooking & Baking Techniques

Before you start, get some helpful tips on how to handle, measure and prepare ingredients.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Creaming

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

  • 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. If you don't have a pastry blender you can use two knives to cut-in the butter. 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.

     

     
  • 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 lb.
    1 cup = 2 sticks = 1/2 lb.
    1/2 cup = 1 stick = 1/4 lb.
    1/4 cup = 1/2 stick = 4 tbsp.

    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.

  • 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.

  • Storing

    Store butter in its original container in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the refrigerator door, and used by the date printed on the package.

  • Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt

    Use a standard measuring spoon and be sure the spoon is dry when measuring. Fill a standard measuring spoon to the top and level with a spatula or knife.

    When a recipe calls for a dash of salt, use about 1/16 teaspoon.

    A pinch is considered to be the amount of salt that can be held between the tips of the thumb and forefinger, approximately 1/16 teaspoon.

  • Butter

    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 lb.
    1 cup = 2 sticks = 1/2 lb.
    1/2 cup = 1 stick = 1/4 lb.
    1/4 cup = 1/2 stick = 4 tbsp.

    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.

  • 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.

  • Flour

    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.

    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.

  • Liquid Sweeteners

    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.

  • 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.

  • Nuts

    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.

  • Oats

    Store oats in a cool dry place in a tightly covered container, to keep out dust, moisture and insects, for up to six months.

    Spoon oats into a dry measuring cup and level with a spatula or other knife.

  • Spices

    Store whole and ground spices in airtight containers in a cool, dark place. Heat, light, and moisture cause spices to lose their flavor faster.

    To check whether a ground spice is fresh, open the container and smell it. If it still has a strong fragrance, it is still acceptable to use for baking.

    Use a standard measuring spoon and be sure the spoon is dry when the spices are measured. Fill a standard measuring spoon to the top with spice and level with a spatula or knife.

  • Sugar

    Granulated sugar should be stored covered, in a dry place.

    Granulated sugar: Spoon the sugar into a dry ingredient measuring cup and level with a spatula or knife.

    Powdered sugar: Lightly spoon sugar into dry ingredient measuring cup and level top with a spatula or knife.

    Brown sugar: Pack brown sugar firmly into a dry measuring cup. Brown sugar should retain the shape of the cup when turned out.

  • Beating Egg Whites

    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, can prevent egg whites from expanding to their full volume when beaten.

    Bring egg whites to room temperature for 20 minutes after they have been separated from the yolks. At room temperature, the egg proteins can form elastic bubbles more easily, and egg whites will beat to their highest volume.

  • Candy Doneness – (Specifically firm ball)

    Cook candy mixture to the temperature listed in the recipe.

    An alternate method to test temperature or candy stage is to drop a small amount of the mixture into cold water. If the mixture forms a firm ball that holds its shape when removed from the water, the candy mixture has reached the correct temperature.

    A candy mixture that is not cooked to a high enough temperature will have a softer consistency than desired and if cooked to too high a temperature, it will be hard and darker in color than desired.

     
  • 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.
  • Dissolving Crystallized Honey

    If honey begins to crystallize, place upright in a pan of hot water. Stir or shake occasionally until the crystals re-dissolve.

  • Foil-lined pan

    For ease in removing and cutting bars, line the pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges before adding batter.

  • Freezing Rasins

    Freeze raisins first to make them easier to chop.

  • Getting Rid Of Lumps In Sugar

    If lumps have formed in powdered sugar, sift sugar with a flour sifter or press the sugar through a fine-mesh sieve with a wooden spoon.

  • Grease & Flour Bundt® Pan
  • Heating Milk

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

  • Melting Chocolate

    Melt chocolate in the microwave, over direct heat, or over hot water.

    To microwave: Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, set power to Medium (50%) and heat, stirring occasionally for 1 to 2 minutes until melted.
    To melt over direct heat: Place chocolate in pan over very low heat. Chocolate scorches easily. Do not cover the pan.
    To melt over hot water: Melt chocolate slowly in a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of hot water. Be sure not to get even one drop of water into the chocolate because the chocolate will clump or harden (seize). If this happens, try stirring in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil for each 6 ounces of chocolate. Stir until smooth. (You may have to discard the chocolate and start over.)

    Chocolate may be melted with liquid from the recipes (at least 1/4 cup of liquid).

  • Mixing In Nuts And Raisins

    Before adding nuts or raisins to a batter, toss with some of the flour called for in the recipe. This helps to keep the nuts or raisins from sinking to the bottom.

  • 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.

  • Rolling Out Cookie Dough

    Roll out dough, starting in center, rolling toward outside edges, until desired thickness is reached.

    Cut out dough with desired cutter shape; place on ungreased cookie sheets.

     

  • Rolling Out Pie Crust

    Roll out dough, starting in center, rolling toward outside edges to 12-inch circle.

    Fold dough into quarters and place into bottom of ungreased 9-inch pie pan; unfold.

    Carefully push dough into pie pan to form crust, being careful to avoid stretching the dough. If stretched the dough will shrink and lose its shape during baking.

  • 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.

     

  • 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, spoon flour into a fine mesh food strainer and shake or tap it over a bowl.
  • Softening Brown Sugar

    If brown sugar hardens:

    Place a piece of foil or plastic wrap directly on the sugar. Set a piece of crumpled, dampened paper towel on the foil. Cover container tightly. The sugar will absorb the moisture from the paper towel and become soft. Remove the paper towel when it has dried out.

    To soften brown sugar quickly, place open bag of brown sugar in microwave oven. Set 1 cup of water next to the bag in the microwave. Microwave on High (100%) 2 to 3 minutes, checking often, until brown sugar is softened.

  • Softening Raisins

    If your raisins have become dry and hard: place raisins in a small pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. OR, combine raisins with water in a medium bowl. Cover and microwave on High for 30 seconds. Let stand for 5 minutes.

  • Tinting Coconut

    Create colorful coconut to decorate baked goods by combining 1 cup coconut with 3 to 5 drops of food color in a bowl; toss until evenly coated.

  • Toasting Coconut

    Toasting coconut enhances the flavor and lightly colors the coconut a very light golden brown color. To toast coconut, spread in single layer on ungreased jelly-roll pan. Bake at 350°F., stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from pan; cool completely.

  • 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 for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until golden brown.
  • Using Yeast

    Dough should be allowed to rise at 70° to 85°F. to encourage the best yeast growth.

    If you are making a recipe by the traditional method (yeast dissolved in liquid before dry ingredients are added) dissolve the yeast in liquid that is between 105° and 115° F. so that the yeast is not killed.

    If your recipe requires mixing the yeast with part of the flour before adding liquid, warm the liquid to 120° - 130° F. The flour protects the yeast from being killed by the warm liquid.

  • Whipping Cream

    When whipping cream make sure that the cream, beaters and bowl are all ice cold. Chill everything in the freezer for 30 minutes before you begin. 

    Beat whipping cream in chilled small bowl at high speed, scraping bowl often, until soft peaks form. Continue beating, gradually adding sugar, until stiff peaks form.

  • 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.

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

  • Eggs

    Select clean, fresh eggs which have been handled properly and refrigerated. Do not use dirty, cracked or leaking eggs that may have a bad odor or unnatural color when cracked open. They may have become contaminated with harmful bacteria such as salmonella.

    Unless a recipe specifies another size, use large eggs in baking recipes.

    Properly handle eggs for best results. Cold eggs are easiest to separate. Eggs at room temperature beat to high volume. Take the eggs out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before you want to use them.

    Always store eggs in the refrigerator in their original carton. The carton protects them from absorbing odors in the refrigerator.

    Fill a deep bowl with enough cold water to cover an egg. Place the egg in the water. If the egg lies on the side on the bottom, it is fresh. If the egg stands up and bobs on the bottom, it isn't quite as fresh. If the egg floats on the surface, it should be discarded.

  • Baking Powder

    Store baking powder tightly covered in a dry place. Baking powder stays fresh for about one year. Check the container for the expiration date.

    To determine whether baking powder is still fresh:

    Place 1/2 teaspoon baking powder in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup hot water. If the mixture foams, the baking powder is still good. If it does not foam, replace your box of baking powder.
  • Baking Soda

    Store baking soda tightly covered in a dry place. Baking soda loses strength with age, so fresh is best. It stays fresh for about one year.

    To determine whether baking soda is still fresh:

    Place 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda in a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon vinegar. If the mixture fizzes, the baking soda is still good. If the mixture does not fizz, throw out the old box and buy a new one.
  • Butter

    Store butter in its original container in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the refrigerator door, and use by the date printed on the package.

    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 lb.
    1 cup = 2 sticks = 1/2 lb.
    1/2 cup = 1 stick = 1/4 lb.
    1/4 cup = 1/2 stick = 4 tbsp.

    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.

  • 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.

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

  • Chocolate

    Store chocolate tightly wrapped in a resealable plastic food bag in a cool (60° to 70° F) dry place.

  • Eggs

    Select clean, fresh eggs which have been handled properly and refrigerated. Do not use dirty, cracked or leaking eggs that may have a bad odor or unnatural color when cracked open. They may have become contaminated with harmful bacteria such as salmonella.

    Unless a recipe specifies another size, use large eggs in baking recipes.

    Properly handle eggs for best results. Cold eggs are easiest to separate. Eggs at room temperature beat to high volume. Take the eggs out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before you want to use them.

    Always store eggs in the refrigerator in their original carton. The carton protects them from absorbing odors in the refrigerator.

    Fill a deep bowl with enough cold water to cover an egg. Place the egg in the water. If the egg lies on the side on the bottom, it is fresh. If the egg stands up and bobs on the bottom, it isn't quite as fresh. If the egg floats on the surface, it should be discarded.

  • Flour

    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.

    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.

  • Milk/Cream

    Milk, cream and buttermilk 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.

  • Nuts

    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.

    Spoon nuts into a dry measuring cup to the top.

    4 ounces nuts equals 1 cup chopped nuts.

  • Oats

    Store oats in a cool dry place in a tightly covered container, to keep out dust, moisture and insects, for up to six months.

    Spoon oats into a dry measuring cup and level with a spatula or other knife.

  • Raisins

    Store raisins in an airtight container at room temperature for several months. They can be refrigerated or frozen in an airtight container for up to one year.

  • Salt

    Store salt in a covered container in a dry place to prevent clumping.

  • Spices

    Store whole and ground spices in airtight containers in a cool, dark place. Heat, light, and moisture cause spices to lose their flavor faster.

    To check whether a ground spice is fresh, open the container and smell it. If it still has a strong fragrance, it is still acceptable to use for baking.

    Use a standard measuring spoon and be sure the spoon is dry when the spices are measured. Fill a standard measuring spoon to the top with spice and level with a spatula or knife.

  • Sugar

    Granulated sugar should be stored covered, in a dry place.

    Granulated sugar: Spoon the sugar into a dry ingredient measuring cup and level with a spatula or knife.

    Powdered sugar: Lightly spoon sugar into dry ingredient measuring cup and level top with a spatula or knife.

    Brown sugar: Pack brown sugar firmly into a dry measuring cup. Brown sugar should retain the shape of the cup when turned out.

  • Sweeteners

    Unopened containers of liquid sweeteners may be stored at room temperature. After opening, store containers in the refrigerator to protect against mold.

  • Vanilla Extract

    Store vanilla extract in a cool, dark place, with the bottle tightly closed, to prevent evaporation and loss of flavor.

  • Yeast

    Store packets of active dry yeast and quick-rising yeast in a cool, dry place to keep out moisture. Store unopened jars in a cool, dry place until opened. Once opened, store tightly covered in the refrigerator.

    Dissolve the yeast to be used in your recipe in warm water with about 1/16 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl. Set the mixture aside for 5 to 10 minutes. If it begins to foam and expand, the yeast is alive. If not, start over with a fresh package of yeast.

  • Baking Powder

    Store baking powder tightly covered in a dry place. Baking powder stays fresh for about one year. Check the container for the expiration date.

    To determine whether baking powder is still fresh:

    Place 1/2 teaspoon baking powder in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup hot water. If the mixture foams, the baking powder is still good. If it does not foam, replace your box of baking powder.
  • Baking Soda

    Store baking soda tightly covered in a dry place. Baking soda loses strength with age, so fresh is best. It stays fresh for about one year.

    To determine whether baking soda is still fresh:

    Place 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda in a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon vinegar. If the mixture fizzes, the baking soda is still good. If the mixture does not fizz, throw out the old box and buy a new one.
  • Eggs

    Select clean, fresh eggs which have been handled properly and refrigerated. Do not use dirty, cracked or leaking eggs that may have a bad odor or unnatural color when cracked open. They may have become contaminated with harmful bacteria such as salmonella.

    Unless a recipe specifies another size, use large eggs in baking recipes.

    Properly handle eggs for best results. Cold eggs are easiest to separate. Eggs at room temperature beat to high volume. Take the eggs out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before you want to use them.

    Always store eggs in the refrigerator in their original carton. The carton protects them from absorbing odors in the refrigerator.

    Fill a deep bowl with enough cold water to cover an egg. Place the egg in the water. If the egg lies on the side on the bottom, it is fresh. If the egg stands up and bobs on the bottom, it isn't quite as fresh. If the egg floats on the surface, it should be discarded.

  • Nuts

    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.

    Spoon nuts into a dry measuring cup to the top.

    4 ounces nuts equals 1 cup chopped nuts.

  • Spices

    Store whole and ground spices in airtight containers in a cool, dark place. Heat, light, and moisture cause spices to lose their flavor faster.

    To check whether a ground spice is fresh, open the container and smell it. If it still has a strong fragrance, it is still acceptable to use for baking.

    Use a standard measuring spoon and be sure the spoon is dry when the spices are measured. Fill a standard measuring spoon to the top with spice and level with a spatula or knife.

  • Yeast

    Store packets of active dry yeast and quick-rising yeast in a cool, dry place to keep out moisture. Store unopened jars in a cool, dry place until opened. Once opened, store tightly covered in the refrigerator.

    Dissolve the yeast to be used in your recipe in warm water with about 1/16 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl. Set the mixture aside for 5 to 10 minutes. If it begins to foam and expand, the yeast is alive. If not, start over with a fresh package of yeast.