Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saving Money on Celery and Cheese

OK, I know talking about grocery shopping isn't exciting, but I buy lots of celery and cheese and like to save money everywhere I can. So when I find either on sale I like to stock up. The problem lies in "shelf life." Celery becomes limp and cheese will mold if not used in a fairly short time right? Wrong! I have discovered how to extend how long they will stay fresh in the fridge.

OK so celery isn't every one's must have veggie, but I like it and use it for snacks instead of chips and such all the time, and like to keep it on hand. The process is simple first cut off the root end and trim the tops (You don't have to do this but it makes using the stalks faster and easier when you need them.) Wash the stalks well and allow them to drain for a few minutes. Then wrap them tightly in aluminum foil and store them in the fresh veggie bin in the fridge. I've had crisp green celery for up to three weeks.

Cheese is expensive, so when I find it on sale, I like to purchase a big block of the stuff. I use it in everything and frequently take a few cubes and some of crisp celery sticks for lunch. The down side to a big purchase can be waste due to it molding. Mold can be cut off and the cheese is perfectly fine, but there comes a time when there's too much mold to salvage the cheese. The solution is to NEVER touch cheese with your bare hands. To accomplish this you can purchase those disposable gloves like they use at the deli department, or you can just use plastic wrap. I put plastic wrap around the block of cheese and leave only the section I want to cut uncovered. Then I can securely hold on while I'm cutting. If I'm using the prepackaged stuff then I cut off the end of the package, slide a table knife down each side of the package to release any stuck places. Then I put the plastic on the counter and slide the cheese out of the package until I have exposed the amount I want to cut. The trick is to never touch the inside of the package or the plastic wrap side that will touch the cheese.

I have used the same plastic wrap to cover the cheese, but again you must use caution not to allow the side that you've touched to touch the cheese. It seems that no matter how well you wash your hands the oil from our skin reacts with cheese and will cause mold. So either use caution when wrapping with the plastic used to hold the cheese or just get a fresh piece.

When I follow this process, I've never had to throw away cheese for mold. Now my husband doesn't always do this and so sometimes I find a "fingerprint" sized circle of mold. Unfortunately once the mold process begins you can't just cut out the moldy section. You have to cut away below where the mold is found to stop the spread.

I hope I've explained this clearly because it has saved me grocery dollars and these days every dollar really counts.

Later ya'll

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