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Hints from Heloise: Fast-food condiment packets do last

DEAR HELOISE: How long are condiment packets from fast-food places good? Example: ketchup, honey, jams.

Joyce K., East Tawas, Mich.

DEAR JOYCE: Thanks for reading the column. This question comes up often at lunchtime, in break rooms and workplaces across the country, as well as at home. These packets don’t have an expiration date (I sure could not find one), because they really are meant to be consumed in a short time.

That said, if the packets are unopened, they supposedly don’t need to be refrigerated, just as ketchup, mustard or honey at home does not have to be stored in the refrigerator. You can keep them in the refrigerator if you want to, which the companies say does help prolong the taste and quality of the product.

The real key is, don’t toss them in a hot glove box in the car or truck, or keep them someplace they might freeze and then thaw, etc.

DEAR HELOISE: If you enjoy a handful of pistachios, you probably have come across a nut or two that is hard to crack open. Don’t use your teeth (especially if you have a lot of dental work) or a fingernail, which can split in an instant.

My Uncle Bobby taught me this trick: Use half of a shell and stick it in the opening of the pistachio, and twist the empty shell. The closed shell usually pops open.

K.M., Waco, Texas

DEAR HELOISE: I’m the only one in the house who drinks caffeinated coffee, so when I made a pot, I was always being asked, “Is it caffeinated or decaf?” I saved two plastic soda-bottle caps – one red, one green. I put the green cap on top of the coffee maker if I’ve brewed decaf, and red if the coffee is caffeinated. No more questions.

Scott R., via email

DEAR HELOISE: I found an easy way to remove the stems from mushroom caps. I grabbed my melon baller, and it worked amazingly. One swirl around, and the stems lifted right out. Don’t know what took me so long to figure that one out.

Martha in Port Charlotte, Fla.

DEAR HELOISE: I couldn’t figure out how to keep track of the TV remote in my bedroom. I had a beautiful oven mitt that was too pretty to get dirty and greasy in the kitchen. I tied it onto my bedpost. A good place for the remote!

Gloria Barrett, Johnstown, Pa.

DEAR HELOISE: I am an avid sewer and find that if I keep a large cork at my machine, it comes in handy for placing used dull needles in before disposing of them.

Kathy T., Vandalia, Ohio

Send a great hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 79500, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

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