99 Burning Food Questions: The Complete List

Get the full list of the most common food questions from cooking to food prep and more.

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Should Ketchup Be Refrigerated? (2:36)

1. Is artificial food coloring something to worry about?

While the FDA states that most children have no adverse effect to artificial food coloring, a number of new studies have presented a strong correlation between food dyes and hyperactivity, behavioral issues, and ADHD among children. The adverse effects of food coloring are not just a children’s behavior issue; these dyes can also cause allergic reactions as well. 

2. Do you need to refrigerate ketchup?

Ketchup lasts on the shelf for at least a month. The salt and sugar in ketchup acts as a natural preservative, and its acidity prevents bacteria growth. However, every time you open the bottle, bacteria gets in and sugar breaks down. You can get much more mileage if you keep it in the fridge – where it can stay for at least six months – where you maintain the preservatives, acidity, and keep it below the mold danger zone.

3. Does adding salt really make water boil faster?

It is a big misconception that salt makes water boil faster. There are lots of variables when boiling water – your burner, temperature of the water, your pot – but salt does not speed the process up.

4. What are the halves in fat-free half and half?

Halves are technically whole milk and cream, but when you remove fat from the recipe, you gain thickeners, artificial flavors, and sweeteners to retain that thick and creamy taste. So, halves of fat-free half and half are essentially fat-free dairy and additives – it’s not real! 

5. Should I really not be washing mushrooms before I cook them? Does washing them change their texture?

The theory that the texture of mushrooms gets ruined when washed due to water absorption is a myth. Mushrooms are 80 percent water, so there is little room for them to absorb excess water. Not only can you wash your mushrooms, you should! 

6. Why do I have to rinse grains before I cook them?

When grains are together they rub against each other, which adds flour to the outside of them. When you don’t rinse them, you get a starchy coating on your grains. Rinsing is particularly necessary when it comes to quinoa, as it has an outer coating called saponin that will make it taste bitter without a rinse.

7. Does hot food need to cool before putting it in the refrigerator?

No, putting hot food in your fridge does not move the temperature above the 40-degree mark, meaning the rest of your food will remain safe. The basic rule of the thumb is to store hot food in smaller portions in shallow containers. In addition to this, make sure not to leave your food on the counter for over two hours, as bacteria can start to grow.

8. Can you freeze cheese?

Yes, you can freeze cheese. By freezing it, it will remain safe to consume later on. Just remember, the texture will probably change once thawed.

9. How low can you set your slow cooker without bacteria forming?

As long as you leave your slow cooker on low, and the temperature does not drop below the 140º F mark, you’re out of the danger zone. If you use a timer, make sure to eat the food or store it within two hours, to avoid bacteria growth.

10. Does scooping out a bagel reduce the calories enough to make it worth the hassle?

It’s not worth it unless you fill your bagel with a healthier option like tuna salad made with olive oil. While scooping a bagel can save you between 50 to 75 calories, this allows for more room to pack on cream cheese and other unhealthy fillings, which can lead to an increase in the amount of calories being consumed. 

11. Canned, frozen, or fresh veggies - which one is best? 

Frozen veggies may actually freshest because they’re picked when they’re ripe and then frozen to seal in the freshness. This can also be true for canned veggies, but they are also often very high in salt. Both these options will keep so that you can avoid wasting spoiled food. Fresh veggies are often picked before they’re ripe since they make a long trip to the store and then can sit on shelves for a long time. When you have the choice, fresh veggies from a farmer’s market are probably best, followed by fresh or frozen options at the store depending how soon you’ll eat them.

12. Are you supposed to remove the outer leaves on a head of a lettuce?

Some people may remove these outer leaves because they’re the most likely to be contaminated with pesticide, have dirt on them or be a little bruised. With that said, a simple rinse will probably remove anything you might be worried about and you can then feel free to toss these into your salad along with the rest.

13. Can non-dairy milk be substituted in a recipe for dairy milk at a 1:1 ratio? 

This depends entirely on the type of milk since alternate milks made from nuts or soy has different properties and textures than regular milk. That means the amount you add might vary and you may have to add other ingredients to make up for the differences in chemistry or texture. It’s best to find a well-tested recipe that worked for others when you’re looking to use a milk alternative.

14. What's the difference between green onions, scallions, and chives?

All of these vegetables are part of the same Allium family (related to regular onions and garlic). The versions you buy at the store can all be eaten in their entirety. Each has a slightly different flavor and work best in different types of dishes. It’s best to use what the recipe calls for, but if you don’t have one on hand, these others will make flavorful substitutes.

15. Why do some people order their Chinese food without MSG?

There’s a misperception that MSG might cause health problems, but no well-designed studies have reliably found this connection. Some people occasionally say they experience allergic symptoms and so may choose to avoid it if doing so improves their condition. MSG is often used in Asian foods to improve flavor by adding a more “meaty” flavor (called “umami”) to food.

16. What's the truth about sell by dates? Are they about food safety? (For example, how can I tell if my eggs are fresh?) 

Sell by dates are suggestions by the manufacturer about when to sell a product, but the product will be good and safe to eat for some time after that. This is just the point at which the manufacturer guarantees the food will be good at sale and safe to eat afterwards and was instituted both for food safety and for legal reasons. There’s nothing magic about the sell by date, so don’t worry if you’re using food that’s a few days past the date if it still looks, smells and tastes fine.

17. Is burnt or crusty food bad for your health?

The charred parts of food you might eat can contain chemicals that promote cancer and possibly other illnesses. Having them every now and then is unlikely to cause you any harm, but regularly eating burnt parts of food may increase your cancer risk in the long run.

18. What's the difference between regular and extra virgin olive oil?

The key difference is when the oil is collected. Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first press and is likely the richest in many of the healthful nutrients olive oil can carry. Virgin oil is the next press and likely contains fewer healthful nutrients. Regular oil is pressed from the collected leftovers. There hasn’t been a lot of research on how the health effects of different types of olive oils vary, but extra virgin is probably best.

19. Can dried herbs really go bad?

Dried herbs can go bad if they’re not kept in the right conditions. Hot, humid environments can encourage mold to grow on your dried herbs and it’s that mold that can be bad to eat. If you keep your dried herbs in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, like in a sealed container in your cabinet, they should stay good for a long time.

20. Is a wooden spoon a germ magnet? Should I use only stainless steel ones?

The research is mixed on this question and still evolving. While the common thought was that stainless steel is easier to clean because it has no cracks or crevices, studies have found that wooden spoons may actually be less likely to harbor bacteria. Researchers are still trying to figure out why this might be, but you’re likely safe with either one as long as you clean them both thoroughly in between uses.

21. When you start cooking a dish with raw chicken or meat, are you supposed to switch to a clean spoon once the meat is cooked? Is there a risk for contamination if you don't? 

You should separate the utensils you use for raw and cooked meats like chicken. The cooking process kills bacteria that may be on the surface of these meats, which is what makes them safe to eat. If you then use the same knife or a spoon you used to prepare the meat on the cooked meat, you’ll likely re-contaminate the food. Switch utensils or clean thoroughly between uses for raw and cooked meat.

22. How unhealthy is it to really eat the skin off a rotisserie chicken? 

Removing the skin is an easy way to make your meal a little healthier. A significant amount of fat lies just under the skin (that’s why it tastes so good!), which you can avoid eating by removing the skin. The skin is also sometimes charred, which means it can contain some chemicals that may increase cancer risk long-term. It’s not the worst thing for your health, but it’s an easy way to make your chicken a little bit healthier.

23. Are you supposed to wash fresh fruits in vinegar? 

Fresh fruits can be rinsed with water or washed with soap if you’re concerned about significant pesticide contamination. Vinegar can be used in place of soap as a cleanser, but keep in mind this may change the flavor of the fruit and the texture of the outside.

24. How do I get the smell of garlic off my hands?

Stainless steel is said to help, although it can be hard to get contact with every part of your hand that might smell, even with a stainless steel “soap” bar. Some use coffee grounds, although this probably just masks the smell with something you might like more. Finally, some people use vinegar or lemon juice mixed with salt to remove the odor.

25. Why is there foam on top when I open a can of beans? 

That foam has to do with the contents of the brine that the beans sit in. Beans are cooked in the can after the canning process, which releases some of the starch in the beans into the surrounding water they’re canned in. That starch is what makes the water foamy.

26. Does iced tea have the same benefits as hot tea? 

Assuming you make the iced tea as hot tea first and then cool it, they should have the same benefits. Cold brewing tea may pull less of the components of tea out of the tea bag, but the difference is likely to be small and the health benefits are likely very similar.

27. How long is it safe to keep hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator? 

Keeping the shells on helps the eggs after hard-boiling them helps them to keep for longer. With the shells on, the eggs should be good for about a week in the refrigerator. Without the shells, you should plan on eating them in about five days.

28. How do I keep cheese from getting crusty once opened? 

Exposure to the air is what makes cheese crust and dry out. Wrapping the cheese in wax paper or parchment paper will help to reduce moisture loss while keeping air away from the surface of the cheese. Avoid using plastic wrap since the cheese can pick up a plastic taste if left in this wrap for too long.

29. What's the difference between baking powder and baking soda? 

These two compounds are completely different chemicals. Baking powder is a mix of different chemicals bakers have found to help bread rise. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, a simple chemical that reacts with water to form carbon dioxide gas. The formation of that gas can also help baked goods rise, but the reaction is different than the one behind baking soda.

30. Is whole garlic the same as the pre-minced, bottled garlic you buy in stores? 

As long as you mince the whole garlic you bought from the store, they should be the same. The big caveat to this is that pre-minced, bottled garlic may also have other ingredients or chemicals added to it, whether those are sweeteners, thickeners, salts or preservatives. If you’re looking to avoid anything other than garlic, it might be best just to invest in a garlic press or food processor.

 

31. Are you supposed to wash raw chicken before cooking it? 

It’s best not to rinse raw chicken before you cook it. Cooking will kill all of the bacteria you might be worried about, so washing it doesn’t make it safer to eat. What washing does do is spread bacteria on the chicken all over your kitchen sink and surrounding counters, which may contaminate other foods you’re preparing.

32. Is boiling hot tap water worse for your health than boiling cold water? 

The temperature water starts at before boiling has no effect on health or how your body will deal with the water after you drink it. As long as they’re from the same source, cold water and hot water will be the same once they reach boiling.

33. Canola oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, or coconut oil - which one is the healthiest to cook with?

In general, oils that have more saturated and monounsaturated fats are going to handle heat better. Olive oil and coconut oil hold up the best under heat and olive oil is the one with the most studied and verified health benefits. Coconut oil has more saturated fat than butter and its health effects aren’t well understood.

34. Is honey healthier than white sugar?

There is no reliable evidence to indicate that honey is significantly healthier than white sugar. Honey is another form of sugar that can have similar effects on the body as other types of sugar you might buy in the supermarket. The healthiest option is to reduce the amount of sugar you eat in your daily diet, including honey, white sugar and other sweeteners.

35. Cooked versus raw vegetables: is one healthier than the other?

Each has its own pros and cons. While cooking can remove or destroy some of the nutrients present in certain vegetables, it also makes those vegetables easier to digest, which can mean more nutrients actually make it into your body. Eating raw vegetables may help ensure all the nutrients are present in the food you eat, but it’s also harder to digest your food and access those nutrients in the first place. Ultimately, a healthy mix of raw and cooked is the best way to go.

36. How do the health benefits of almond and soymilk compare to regular milk? 

Many studies are showing that regular milk can benefit health and does not contribute to weight gain, high cholesterol or diabetes the way some have claimed in the past. Soymilk and almond milk are both healthy alternatives for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan, but there are no significant, established medical benefits to drinking one over the other.

37. Should I avoid buying vegetables with soil on them?

Some vegetables will come with some residual soil still on them. The only danger here is that these soils may contain some pesticides or small rocks or sand that could damage your teeth. You can simply wash off the soil and, if need be, scrub them lightly. This should be sufficient to avoid any small danger from eating small amounts of pesticide.

38. How long should I keep leftover food in the refrigerator? 

It’s best to consume leftovers as soon as you can. How long to keep them depends a lot of the type of food, but the longer they stay in the refrigerator, the more likely they are to grow bacteria that may harm your health. A week at most is a good rule of thumb.

39. Do tomatoes need to be refrigerated? What's the best way to store them? 

Some say that refrigerating tomatoes kills a little of the flavor, but it also helps them last much longer than when they’re left out. To get the best of both worlds, leave your unripe tomatoes out on the counter until they’ve ripened, then move them into the fridge to keep them from going bad too quickly.

40. Is olive oil or butter a better option to cook with?

Olive oil contains unsaturated fats, many of which seem to boost the health of the heart and lower the risk of diseases like heart disease and obesity. Olive oil is also fairly stable when used to cook at high heats. While research is still ongoing about the exact health effects of butter, olive oil is likely to still come out as the healthier option.

41. How long can cooked meat be stored for? 

If you’re not planning to eat meat you’ve just cooked within three to four days, you should freeze it. Frozen meat can be kept for months and you can just defrost it when you want to eat it. Just be sure not to refreeze meat since that meat can grow bacteria as it thaws, which means you might get a sickening dose next time you thaw it out. Refreezing also kills flavor and can damage the structure of the meat 

42. Table, sea, or kosher salt: is one healthier than the other? 

Different salts can have slightly different tastes because they contain more or less of certain types of minerals in addition to the sodium and chloride that are the basis of table salt. Most table salt contains iodine, which can prevent certain thyroid diseases, but kosher salt does not, which means you’ll need another source of iodine. Many of the other minerals contained in sea salt are also found in many of the foods we eat and are not essential to get through the use of sea salt.

43. How nutritious are frozen diet meals?

This depends heavily on the ingredients. Those that are made with simple, whole ingredients are generally healthy and nutritious. But many contain large amounts of additives, like added sugar and salt, which can be damaging to health. It’s best to check the box for nutrition information and ingredients before you decide to buy.

44. Are green smoothies just as healthy as eating vegetables?

This depends on whether you’re juicing or blending. Blending vegetables maintains the fiber and most of the nutrients intact, whereas juicing removes all of the fiber, some of the nutrients, and tends to concentrate the sugar found in these foods. Blending is much closer to eating vegetables. Juicing is not and is less healthy than eating fruits and vegetables whole.

45. Can grilled food be bad for your health?

The burning of food that comes with grilling can produce some chemicals that may be cancer causing. However, the effects of these chemicals on your health are likely to be small. The health effects will depend more on the food being grilled, like eggplant versus beef for example. Keep in mind that grilling food is also significantly better for you than frying food.

46. Can frozen meat go bad?

Frozen meat remains good for months to years, although it might not look great or have quite the same flavor and texture if it remains frozen for very long periods of time. It’s very unlikely to go bad in the freezer in a way that would make you sick.

47. What's the difference between a turnip and a parsnip? Is one more nutritious than the other?

The two are different root vegetables with different balances of vitamins and minerals. Parsnips tend to be sweeter than turnips, but both are commonly used in soups or stews and keep for a long time. Both are fairly nutritious.

48. Is it necessary to have different cutting boards for vegetables, meats, and breads?

Vegetables and meats can both carry bacteria that may get transferred to other foods if you use the same cutting board. Having a separate cutting board for meats and vegetables can help to reduce cross contamination. But the key is to use different cutting boards for things that will and won’t be cooked. Never cut something that won’t be cooked (like bread) on the same board as raw meat for example. The most important thing you can do is wash your cutting boards thoroughly with soap and water between uses.

49. Hot coffee or iced coffee - which has the most caffeine? 

Assuming you’re brewing the coffee the same way before icing it, both have the same amount of caffeine. However, adding ice to your coffee will water it down as the ice melts. That means there may be less caffeine (and less coffee) in a cup of iced coffee with ice than in a regular coffee in the same sized cup. 

50. How long can food be left out at room temperature? 

This depends entirely on the type of food. Most fruits and vegetables are fine at room temperature, for example, whereas meat or milk might go bad. It’s best to check out guidelines for specific foods if you’re going to be leaving them out for a while. 

51. Can I eat canned goods after the expiration date has passed? 

The expiration date marks the company’s guarantee that the food will be safe to eat, but there’s nothing magical about that date. Eating something from the can a day after the expiry is unlikely to be harmful. You might want to think twice about something that’s been expired for months or years.

52. Do dry herbs and spices have nutritional value? 

Absolutely. The drying process generally just removes water, although some of the nutrients may go with the water during the drying process. But these herbs and spices can have healthy vitamins and minerals on top of the delicious flavors they carry.

53. Is regular yogurt or fat-free yogurt healthier? 

Research is generally finding that fat-free dairy is not necessarily healthier than regular dairy, may not help with weight loss, and may actually be worse for you because of the other ingredients that are often added to fat-free yogurt. That fat is often replaced with large amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners to make up for the change in taste. It’s probably more important to make sure the yogurt you buy has live active bacterial cultures still in it rather than looking at fat.

54. What is the best way to defrost chicken?

There are two good ways based on how much time you have. If you’re thinking a day in advance, put the chicken in the refrigerator 24 hours before you’ll need it and defrost it slowly. This will prevent bacterial growth. If you need the chicken quickly, put it in a bowl of warm water for a few hours. It’s best not to leave chicken out on the counter to defrost since this takes too long and increases the chances of bacterial growth.

55. Are organic vegetables more nutritious than conventionally grown ones? 

The jury is still out on this question, but ultimately all vegetables are good for you. The studies showing that vegetables lengthen life, prevent cancer, lower heart disease and decrease diabetes risk were all done with conventional vegetables. Neither is probably that much better than the other, so the choice is more about your personal preference.

56. How can you prevent yourself from crying when cutting onions?

There are a few ways. You can cut the onions under a kitchen vent (on high for best results), wear a pair of goggles (there are a few out there specifically for onions, but any will do), or try putting the onion in the freezer for 15 minutes before cutting it. Cutting the onion under running water will also do the trick.

57. Can almond flour substitute all-purpose flour? 

It’s important to remember with any cooking substitute that the properties of each ingredient will be different. Almond flour doesn’t contain the gluten that flour does and is also much more dense. As a result, you’ll end up with a baked good that won’t rise very much, is very heavy and may not stick together very well. You may be able to find recipes that add other ingredients to make up for these changes.

58. What is the difference between organic and free-range chicken? 

The word organic is a term regulated by the FDA and any farmer using it has to meet certain guidelines. That’s not the case with free-range, which basically just means chickens have “access to the outside.” Organic chickens are fed only organic feed, haven’t been treated with antibiotics and are all free range. Free-range chicken feed isn’t regulated and antibiotics may have been used.

59. What is the liquid on top of sour cream and yogurt? 

This liquid is whey that has separated out from the curds that make up yogurt. This is a perfectly safe liquid that is one of the protein components of milk that you can either mix back in or pour out depending on your preference.

60. Should you eat salmon skin if a dish comes with it?

Unlike poultry, the fats of fish tend to be a little healthier, which means that any fat under the skin of a piece of salmon is likely to be higher in the healthier unsaturated fats. The main concern is possible small amounts of chemicals that might be linked to cancer if the skin is charred, but the risk is relatively low and the benefits of eating fish are significant.

 

61. Is yeast extract the same as MSG? 

Essentially yes. Yeast extract is made from components of yeast, one of which is a chemical called glutamic acid. When you add water to yeast extract, it’ll combine with other chemicals, like sodium, to make monosodium glutamate (MSG) from glutamic acid. Many companies substitute the phrase “yeast extract” for “MSG” without changing the ingredients since they know some people avoid MSG.

62. How can I prevent apple and pear slices from browning? 

A tried and true method is using a little lemon juice, which contains citric acid. This weak acid interferes with the chemical process that normally takes place in fruits like apples to cause browning of the fruit. 

63. What is the difference between brown rice and white rice? Which is more nutritious? 

Brown rice is one step up the processing chain from white rice and is brown because it still contains part of the hull and bran of the rice grain. This is why brown rice is slightly higher in fiber and some nutrients like magnesium, manganese than white rice. Remember, what you eat with the rice often matters more than the color of the rice itself.

64. Is using agave as a sweetener a healthy alternative to sugar? 

There are no good studies to indicate that using agave sugar is any different health-wise from regular sugar. Both sources are natural (regular sugar is from sugar cane) and both forms are processed to make them easy for consumers to use in recipes. What’s more important for your health is cutting down on the amount of sugar - regular, agave or otherwise - that you’re eating.

65. What is the best way to clean cutting boards? 

You want to thoroughly clean your cutting boards in hot water with soap. While there are some “natural” methods promoted by some people, soap is the safest way to kill all the bacteria that could contaminate your food and make you or someone else sick. Just make sure you rinse your board thoroughly after you soap it up.

66. Should I stick to egg whites and avoid yolks?

Most studies have debunked the idea that yolks are bad for us. In fact, they’re very healthy! Yolks were frowned on because they were high in cholesterol, but it’s been found that consuming cholesterol in eggs doesn’t increase your blood levels of cholesterol. Egg yolks contain many vitamins and healthy nutrients that are very good for you. 

67. How should clementines be stored? 

Clementines can be stored in the open air in a cool spot somewhere in your kitchen. There’s no need to put them in a plastic bag, since this can actually cause them to mold more quickly. Putting them in the refrigerator can also add a few days of life to the fruit if you aren’t eating them fast enough.

68. What is the difference between cornstarch and corn meal?

The difference is the level of processing each one has received. Corn meal is essentially ground up corn kernels and is used to make things like corn bread or polenta. Cornstarch has been refined to the point that the only part of the corn that’s left is a specific type of sugar called starch. Cornstarch is fairly tasteless and thickens much more than regular flour, so it’s often used as a thickener in different recipes.

69. Is frozen fruit less nutritious than fresh fruit?

Generally the answer is no, and it may actually be more nutritious in some cases. That’s because frozen fruit is frozen soon after it’s picked, which freezes in place a lot of the healthiest vitamins, mineral and nutrients present when fruits are ripe. Fruits that are both under or over ripe either haven’t stored up these nutrients or have started to lose them, which can mean the fruits you buy off the shelf may be less nutrient-rich than those in the freezer aisle.

70. What can I do to store cut open avocados?

When you cut open an avocado, it starts to brown as chemicals in the fruits go through a chemical process called oxidation. You can block this process by using a weak acid like lemon, lime or orange juice, or a bit of vinegar. Then cover the surface of the avocado with plastic wrap to minimize exposure to the air and put it in a sealed container.

71. Is it safe to cook chicken in a slow cooker?

The key question when it comes to meat safety is what temperature has the meat reached on the inside. To kill all harmful bacteria and viruses, meat has to reach a specific temperature inside in order to kill all of the bacteria and to be safe for eating. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of your slow-cooked chicken is high enough before you remove it to eat.

72. Should I soak Brussels sprouts before cooking them?

Soaking is just another way of washing the Brussels sprouts so that you can remove dirt and any pesticide residue. Wash them or soak for about 15 minutes in water before preparing and cooking!

73. What's the difference between "organic" and "natural" vegetables?

Foods labeled “organic” have been grown under a specific set of regulated conditions set by the FDA that qualifies them as organic. According the FDA, the term “natural” can be used if “the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.” Since that includes essentially all fruits and vegetables, the term is fairly meaningless.

74. Do baby carrots have the same nutritional value as large carrots?

Baby carrots have similar nutritional profiles to regular large carrots, so pick the one you like eating the most! 

75. How can I keep fresh bread from going stale? 

The best places to store bread are in a plastic bag at room temperature away from sunlight in the short term or in the freezer for the long term. Putting bread in the refrigerator will actually speed up the process that causes bread to go stale, but it will also keep mold at bay. Heating up your bread in the oven or toaster before using if it’s stale already can also help.

76. How long does tofu last once opened and how should it be stored?

Tofu can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week. Leave it in the container you bought it in and fill the container with water for best storage. If you won’t be using it soon, you can also cut it into chunks and store it in the freezer for up to three months.

77. Do I need to peel ginger before grating it?

The outside of the ginger can be tough and hard to eat depending on what you’ll be using it for. However, there’s nothing unsafe about eating the outside of the ginger, especially if you’ve washed it beforehand.

78. Do microwave ovens kill bacteria?

Yes, but the key is the time you microwave for and the temperature your food reaches.  Microwaves heat food by making water molecules move faster and faster. To kill bacteria, the food has to be in the microwave long enough to get hot enough to kill bacteria, just like boiling water that might be contaminated. The microwaves made by the oven don’t, by themselves, kill bacteria.

79. Should ground coffee beans be stored in the freezer?

They can be, especially if you end up with a large amount for some reason (like if you’ve bought in bulk). Beans can be frozen for up to a month, but shouldn’t be taken out until you’re ready to use them. Put them in airtight bags and bring them out to thaw on your shelf when you want them. You should use them within two weeks.

80. How often should I bleach my sink to avoid bacteria growth? 

Bacteria will start growing on your sink mere minutes after bleaching, so the question isn’t how to avoid bacteria but how often to eliminate nasty buildup that could contaminate food. There’s no rule for this and some people like a daily clean while others say once a week or once a month is okay. It’s probably fine just to bundle sink cleaning with cleaning the rest of your kitchen.

81. Is it okay to eat the skin of sweet potatoes? 

Absolutely and the skin is sometimes very nutritious. Potatoes tend to have lower levels of pesticides on their skin because they grow in the ground rather than being sprayed directly. Rinsing them should be fine to remove anything concerning.

82. Can whole milk substitute for evaporated milk?

Evaporated milk is made by heating up milk to remove some of the water. This condenses it, but you can remake the original milk by adding that lost water back in. As long as you’re adding enough water to the evaporated milk to get it back to its original amount, it should be equivalent to regular whole milk.

83. Should pears be refrigerated?

Few people know that pears are actually supposed to ripen off of the tree. That means that it’s normal for you to get a pear that feels unripe at the supermarket, because it’s supposed to be in the process of ripening. You should leave pears out at room temperature until they ripen and then you can put them in the refrigerator once they’re ripe to help them keep for a few more days.

84. Are you supposed to remove the plastic insert when cooking a turkey? 

It’s best to follow the directions provided on the label. Some plastics should be removed before cooking while others are oven safe. When in doubt, you can always remove a plastic insert to be safe. If the instructions tell you to leave it in, you should be fine.

85. How safe is it to cook raw chicken and vegetables in the same pan? 

Cooking chicken and vegetables in a pan should kill any dangerous bacteria that the raw chicken might be carrying. The bigger concern is whether you’re cutting things that won’t get cooked on the same board you used to cut the raw chicken. For example, you shouldn’t cut salad vegetables on the same cutting board you used for raw chicken.

86. What is the best way to prolong the life of bananas?

Bananas ripen faster when they’re around other fruit that’s also ripening, especially other bananas, so separating them can help. Aside from separating your fruit, you’ll want to wrap the stem of the banana in plastic wrap. This decreases how much of the gas that causes ripening reaches the rest of the banana and slows the ripening. It’s also why some bananas come with plastic wrap already on the stems.

87. Is almond butter healthier than peanut butter?

All nuts vary in their nutritional makeup, which means that almonds will have more of some nutrients (like calcium) and peanuts more of others (like B6). Neither is healthier than the other, but some people may prefer the taste of one to the other.

88. Is using cooking spray unhealthy?

There are no health concerns about any of the chemicals used in cooking spray, so you shouldn’t feel as though using these more convenient alternatives will endanger your health. Keep in mind, though, that spray on oil is only possible with some complicated chemistry. Several chemicals are added to these canned oils to make sure they spray evenly and without clogging the spray nozzle.

89. How should leafy, water-based herbs be stored?

First, wash your herbs when you get them to remove anything that might make your herbs go bad faster. You can then put your herbs in the fridge, but avoid colder areas that might freeze them. Since the fridge can also dry herbs out, try wrapping them in a slightly damp paper towel before putting them in the fridge or place them in a sealed mason jar with a little water at the bottom.

90. Is it necessary to wash a pre-washed bag of lettuce?

No. In this case, the company has already done the work for you and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

91. How should I store onions and garlic?

Onions should be stored in a cool, dry and well-ventilated place. Don’t leave them in a plastic bag because they can mold more easily. The same principles apply to garlic. Mesh bags make great containers to hold them all together while allowing good airflow.

92. Are there any health concerns associated with vegetable oil?

This depends on the type and form of vegetable oil. Some vegetable oils, like olive oil, are very healthy and have been shown to have significant health benefits. Vegetable oils that have been partially or fully hydrogenated lose most of their health benefits and may even damage your health.

93. Can Greek yogurt be used as a substitute for cream cheese and sour cream?

Sour cream is a better bet than cream cheese. This is because the taste and consistency of Greek yogurt is much closer to sour cream than cream cheese. If you’re using cream cheese in a recipe and you want to replace it with Greek yogurt, you’ll probably have to add something additional to sweeten and thicken the recipe.

94. What is the difference between jelly and jam?

The difference is in how they’re made. Crushing up the fruit and cooking it with other ingredients like sugar and pectin until it’s a spreadable consistency make jam. Crushing fruits, cooking them, and then straining the juice out make jelly. That juice, without the other parts of the fruit, is combined with other ingredients like sugar and pectin and thickened to make jelly.

95. Are canned fruits considered to be healthy?

It depends mostly on what else is in the can. The problem with canned fruits is sugary syrup is often added to help preserve the fruits so they retain their flavor, color and shape. As a result, canned fruits are often much higher in sugar than their fresh versions, making them much less healthy. It’s always best to go with fresh or frozen fruit over canned. 

96. How safe is it to eat raw eggs?

The concern about raw eggs has to do with possible salmonella contamination. Infection from raw eggs isn’t common because farmers take many steps to try and reduce the amount of Salmonella that makes it from hens to the eggs and then into your home. With that said, infections do still occur and can sometimes be life threatening. In general, it’s best to cook your eggs before eating them.

97. Does searing meat seal in the juices?

As it turns out, searing meat does not seal in more juices than simply roasting it in the oven. On the Dr. Oz Show we tried making steak both ways and weighed them both; the findings showed that the roasted version actually weighed more, meaning it had more juices inside. 

98. Will alcohol evaporate when I cook with it?

While most people assume that all the alcohol used in cooking simply gets evaporated during the process, that may not be entirely true. Whenever you reduce a liquid that has alcohol in it, both the water and alcohol get evaporated. To fully get rid of the alcohol, you have to reduce your liquid until it's totally dry. If you add alcohol to a pot with meat and vegetables, those ingredients will soak up the alcohol and it will not in fact be evaporated.

99. Are brown eggs really healthier than white eggs?

Many people assume brown eggs are healthier than white eggs because of the marketing around brown food (bread, rice, pasta, etc). In reality, brown eggs are no better than white eggs, and actually cost you a lot more. One carton of brown eggs weekly can add up to $75 over the course of a year. Stick to white eggs and enjoy the same nutritional benefits.