HELOISE

HOUSEHOLD HINTS

Dear Heloise: I have a consumer complaint that I wonder if you could address. I love green olives, and very often I find that the jars do not "pop" when I open them. Some do, but many do not. I have tried many brands and find the same situation throughout.

Katie in New York

Katie, we have the same taste! My husband kids me that if I could put green olives on ice cream, I would. Hmm — think I'll try it with vanilla.

Don't worry if all tops don't pop! Some manufacturers use a pasteurization process, which doesn't need a vacuum-sealed lid. Most brands I've bought do sort of "pop," so I'm not sure about your situation. Here is what I'd do: I'd buy one of each brand (from the same store) and open them all at the same time. No pop? I'd put on my Heloise Hat and become a Hello-ease detective. Call each manufacturer and ask. If you do, please let us in on your hint-hunting results.

Hugs, Heloise

Dear Heloise: Most frozen fish comes in vacuum-sealed plastic. Instructions say to remove from packaging before thawing. It's hard to get the vacuum packaging off while the fish is frozen.

Web research indicates that it is safer to remove the plastic before thawing, but how does one do it without frustration? So far, my best solution is to slice the plastic down the middle with a paper cutter. Do you have any hints?

Maureen A. in San Diego Sure do.

Try running the whole package under cool tap water (or place in a sink) just long enough to "loosen" the wrap.

"For my readers wondering Well, what's wrong with letting it thaw in the package?" here is the reason: It's safer foodwise. It's not a law, though.

If you let fish thaw out in the refrigerator, which may take some time, you will be OK, because the temperature stays constantly cold. This is why you should not let fish thaw on the counter, unless you remove the plastic. If not, as it slowly thaws to room temperature and is tightly sealed in plastic, it's a perfect situation for yucky bacteria to start growing and possibly cause food poisoning! When in doubt, follow the provider's instructions.

Heloise

Dear Heloise: I read in the Ventura County (California) Star the hint about opening produce bags at the store. There is an easy way to open the bags. Simply hold the bag close to your mouth and breathe on the end that opens. The moisture from your breath allows you to separate those thin layers. Try it and see!

Annie O., Ventura, California

Dear Heloise: Regarding finding the edge of a plastic-wrap roll: Place your thumb over the center of the cutting edge and tear off a sheet. Your thumb will leave a small tab, which is easy to find for the next sheet.

Lori A., Englewood, Florida

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