Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Lettuce


By Reena Nerbas

Tear or Cut Lettuce

Dear Reena,

My mother always told me that lettuce should be hand torn and never cut with a knife. Is this true or is it a myth? Thanks, Aimee

Dear Aimee,

Many cooks believe that lettuce that touches metal will react and prematurely turn lettuce brown. While this isn’t completely a myth, it really doesn’t make a difference whether you tear or cut, lettuce turns brown at almost the same rate, give or take a day. The exception to this is when people use a knife that isn’t clean, causing bacteria to form on lettuce; in this case lettuce browns quickly. The benefit to knife cut lettuce is that it creates uniform pieces which are easier to eat.

Browning Romaine

Hello Reena,

Three pack Romaine lettuce keeps well in the original package in the crisper, but after it is washed and kept in a container in the refrigerator, the ribs and some of the leaves turn brown. What is the reason for this? Elizabeth

Dear Elizabeth,

Browning lettuce edges is caused by two chemicals; enzymes and poly-phenols, and when they combine they oxidize, which turns many fruits and veggies brown. When lettuce is cut or torn the cell walls are damaged and the edges quickly turn brown. To sustain the life of your lettuce once you have purchased it; remove leaves from core, wash and spin. Wrap leaves in paper towels and tuck them inside of a sealable plastic bag. Extra Note: Romaine lettuce turns brown faster than Iceberg lettuce.

Dried Out Pens

Hi Reena,

I have some new ball point ink pens that have dried out. Is there a way that these can be restored? Thank-you, Emily

Dear Emily,

Begin by shaking the pens to loosen the solvent inside. If you do not have the strength in your hand to scribble vigorously, ask someone else to take a crack at it, sometimes a few seconds of swirls on a paper or the bottom of a rubber shoe fixes pens. If that doesn’t work, heat the tip with a hairdryer or hold it under hot water, doing this helps soften the ink. Or hold the end of the pen 1 cm away from a lighter flame, heat the tip so that the ink that has congealed behind the ball flows freely.

Sticking Closet Doors

Dear Reena,

The sliding doors in an upstairs and downstairs closet glide smoothly until they get to a certain point, that being just before they’re completely closed. Is there anything we can use so they’ll close without sticking? Thanking you in advance, Dale

Dear Dale,

A closet door that won’t properly close is often the result of a misaligned door track. Using a screwdriver, tighten the door tracks. If the door still sticks, replace worn roller wheels. If necessary, adjust the height of the door using the screws, or plane the door. Lastly, replace the guides and the door should easily close.

Pasta Party

· Liven up supper tonight with rainbow or Valentine colored pasta noodles. Cook pasta is normal. Rinse with cold water and drain. Toss with a little cooking oil to prevent pasta from sticking together. Separate pasta into bowls and add a few drops of food coloring and mix well. Let sit for 10 mins. Heat and serve.  Extra Tip: Works with rice as well.

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