DEAR SARA: How do you store your bagged salads? I bought a couple of bags of salad on sale last night. I'm curious to know how you store yours without it getting brown really fast. -- Mickee, Kentucky

DEAR MICKEE: I tend to purchase heads of lettuce and salad ingredients instead of bagged salad. I think bagged salad often tastes funny; however, I do understand the convenience and have bought it many times. If you buy it often, try the SaladSac, which is a reusable cotton bag that absorbs moisture. It can be machine-washed and dried. It costs about $10 and takes up less room than a salad spinner. It's available at many gourmet stores and retail outlets.

If you'd rather not buy a new item, I suggest you remove your bagged salad from its original packaging and place it into a plastic storage container with paper towels to absorb moisture.

DEAR SARA: When my local store had triple-coupon week, I bought a bunch of yogurt because it was so cheap. In order to make sure that it wouldn't go bad before the expiration date, I froze it. Last night, I took one of the packages out and put it in the refrigerator. When I went to serve it to my daughter, it was watery and not yogurtlike at all. It tasted relatively OK, but I didn't give it to her because it made me nervous. Is it OK to give to her even though the texture is different? -- Amy, New Jersey

DEAR AMY: You can safely freeze yogurt cups. The cultures go dormant when frozen, and the texture and smoothness will not be the same as fresh yogurt, but it's not harmful.

DEAR SARA: I have a bunch of one-gallon plastic ice-cream containers. I was wondering whether you had any ideas for uses for these. I have them under the counter waiting for some great idea to use them. -- Michelle, Texas

DEAR MICHELLE: I save them sometimes, too. I like how easily they stack. I use them to hold cleaning supplies so I can carry them around the house easily. I've also used them to store bath toys, food, crayons, as a mop bucket, seed-starter containers, kitchen compost scraps and pet food. Good for you for saving them to reuse.

I often read about purchasing fruit when it's in season, and that there is an ideal time to purchase fruits for the best flavor and price. When are the best times to purchase fruits? -- Natalie, e-mail

DEAR NATALIE: Seasonal fruit, especially locally grown or from your own garden, is fresher, tastes better and costs less. You can also shop ethnic markets. Their fruit and produce is sometimes less expensive, too.

Below is a handy seasonal-fruit list.
Apples: August-December.
Apricots: May-August.
Bananas: Year-round.
Blueberries: June-July.
Canteloupe: June-August.
Cherries: May-August.
Cranberries: October-December.
Grapefruit: November-May.
Grapes: August-October.
Honeydew: May-November.
Oranges: October-June.
Peaches: June-August.
Pears: August-November.
Pineapple: March-June.
Plums: July-September.
Strawberries: April-July.
Tangerines: November-January.
Watermelons: May-August.


photo by qfamily