Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Homemade Jams and Jellies

By Reena Nerbas

Bleach Stain on Carpet

Dear Reena,

Any “camouflage” ways or means to lessen an obvious bleach stain on a beige carpet? Shelley

Dear Shelley,

Since the color is gone from the area, you can dye the area. All carpet is dyed in the first place therefore it is definitely a technique that will work if done correctly; however, it is risky business. Color matching is a great challenge and for best results consider hiring professional carpet dying services that will help you repair your carpet for less than half the cost of replacing the carpet.

If you are determined to fix the carpet yourself, the first step is to find out what kind of textile your carpet is, and whether or not your carpet is stain resistant.

When purchasing carpet dye consider how much dye mixture is required to cover the carpet you are repairing. Coverage must also be sufficient to allow the dye to bond evenly with carpet fibers. Make sure you are buying a carpet dye with a colorfast guarantee. Dyed carpets should not fade when cleaned. Also find out the drying time and setting time. Clean the carpet before beginning and follow all directions listed on the color dye kit. Test carpet dye on a swatch of carpet (if you have one available) or on an inconspicuous area.

Extra Tip: If the stains are really small you can try coloring the bleached areas with a brown permanent marker or hair dye.

Crystals in Homemade Jam

Dear Reena,

Every year my father makes jams and jellies. Last fall he made jam with tree ripened peaches. He followed the directions per the box of pectin and all the jars have crystals on the bottom of them. The jam has great flavor, but the bottom is crystalized. Wondering if it’s because the peaches are a higher sugar and so less would have been needed? Any ideas? Thanks! Kristen

Dear Kristen,

Crystals form when excess sugar remains undissolved in the jam/jelly mixture, or when the mixture is over or undercooked. Make sure to dissolve all crystals on the inside of the pot scraping the sides as you cook; the risk of undissolved crystals increases when recipes are doubled. Pectin content and acidity will vary depending on the ripeness, growing conditions, and variety of the fruit—peaches have a low pectin content and will likely need a pectin or acid boost. This is contrary to fruit such as grapes where crystals are a natural component, in these cases, place the juice in the fridge overnight; the crystals will settle to the bottom of the container. In the morning pour the juice through a strainer, lined with a coffee filter. Lastly, jam/jelly may crystalize in the refrigerator after being stored for a period of time; this occurs when the lid of the container is not airtight. As the moisture from the jar evaporates, the substance crystalizes.

Feedback from Wise Contributors

Re: Threading a Needle

In today’s issue of my newspaper, there is a lady asking about making threading a needle easier. As an aging sewer and quilter, I use a couple of different needle threaders available at most sewing outlets. One is a very simple piece of plastic handle with a wire loop attached. The wire loop slides through the needle eye, you put the thread through the loop and draw it back. These are very inexpensive and usually come 2/package. The second one is a plastic piece which has a hole to fit an inverted needle (eye down). You lay thread across the piece, push a handle down and it makes a small loop through the eye which you pull through. I have both and use them constantly. Joan

Re: Fresh Leftover Mashed Potatoes

Solution for reheating leftover mashed potatoes, take a frying pan and add some oil of your choice (I use avocado). Heat and add leftover potatoes level in the pan; allow the potatoes to crisp, flip them and crisp on the other side. The result is, tasty reheated mashed potatoes. Maxine

Coffee Tip!

  • For years I’ve used Instant Coffee when I don’t have time to brew a pot, and have added Coffee-Mate or some other ‘whitener’ instead of liquid coffee creamer. The problem with adding the powdered whitener to the hot coffee is that it tends to clump up, and stick to the spoon handle. I discovered a simple solution this morning: put a couple of spoons of whitener in the cup FIRST, then add the hot water, stir, and then add the instant coffee. Presto! No clumping!

Enjoy your column always! -Dave

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: Ask a question or share a tip at

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