Question: How long can candied fruit be safely stored and where should it be kept? For now I have it in the refrigerator. Can I safely use it next Christmas?
Answer: According to a spokesperson at the Ultimate Nut & Candy Co., if the fruit is placed in a closed plastic bag and stored in a cool place, such as the bottom of your refrigerator, it should retain its quality for a year. So it sounds like you're on the right track.
Q: Some friends and I have been wondering how long food keeps. In particular, we are wondering how long one can keep: dried foods such as spaghetti, spaghetti sauce and gelatin; spices; unopened and opened bottles of liquor?
A: "The Food Keeper," a pamphlet from Food Marketing Institute developed in cooperation with the Institute of Food Science of Cornell University, says spaghetti may be kept as long as two years in the pantry; unopened spaghetti sauce for one year in the pantry, and gelatin 18 months in the pantry.
The pamphlet recommends storing spices and herbs in the pantry, but also notes they may be refrigerated or frozen. Whole spices may be stored one to two years; ground spices and herbs, six months.
As for unopened bottles of liquor, Lynne Strange of the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. Inc. tells us, broadly speaking, they may be stored indefinitely. Even after opening, most liquor bottles, if properly sealed after each use, may be stored practically indefinitely. Possible exceptions are liqueurs that contain dairy products--it might be advisable to store these under refrigeration.
In all cases, it's important to avoid extreme conditions of hot or cold, musty areas and storing the bottles next to products with dominant odors, such as mothballs. Some manufacturers give specific instructions, so it's also a good idea to read labels.
Q: Black olives. I like 'em. I eat three or four every day. But, I have never read or has anyone told me if they have food value. That they are good for you because they have such and such. I would certainly appreciate some words of wisdom on this matter.
A: Who better to supply them that the California Olive Industry? Each 100 grams, or 3 1/2 ounces, of small, medium, large or extra large black olives contains: 113 calories; 6.26 grams of total carbohydrate; 10.68 grams fat; 0.84 grams protein; 3.16 grams total dietary fiber; 80 grams moisture; 2.23 grams ash; 403 international units carotene; 0.88 milligrams ascorbic acid; 0.037 milligrams niacin; less than 0.01 milligrams thiamine; less than 0.01 milligrams riboflavin; 0.009 milligrams Vitamin B-6; 88.0 milligrams calcium; 3.30 milligrams iron; 872 milligrams sodium; 8.12 milligrams potassium and 0.25 milligrams copper.
As for fatty acid, the same amount of black olives contains 0.74 grams polyunsaturates, 8.04 grams monounsaturates and 1.90 grams saturates. The industry suggests those concerned with reducing sodium levels rinse black olives under cold running water just before serving to remove the salty brine.
Q: A television chef mentioned lemon-pepper seasoning. I am interested in knowing what it is--liquid or powder--and where it is sold.
A: According to the label, lemon pepper is a blend of "black pepper, salt, food starch-modified, citric acid, lemon peel, sugar, monosodium glutamate, garlic, onion, natural flavor and riboflavin as natural color." It's a coarse powder, sold in the spice section of most supermarkets.
In response to the March 9 You Asked About . . . column on why cheesecakes crack, M. Lane of Santa Monica writes: "My mother discovered a solution: about 15 minutes before the cheesecake is done, remove the cheesecake from the oven and with a thin, sharp knife, cut the cake away from the side of the pan. Return the cheesecake to the oven for the remainder of cooking time. This works."
Address questions on food preparation to You Asked About . . ., Food section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. Personal replies cannot be given.