Dear Barbara: Some casual restaurants I go to have the ketchup bottle on the table all day. Does this mean that ketchup doesn’t have to be refrigerated? I would also like to know if mayonnaise has to be refrigerated if it is purchased at a store and not homemade. — Gwen from Lodi
Dear Gwen: Most all ketchup says to refrigerate after opening. Some of this is to hold the quality of the product.
According to a professor who worked as a consultant for a ketchup company, if your ketchup is in a plastic bottle, you definitely need to refrigerate it. If you purchase ketchup in a glass bottle, you don’t have to refrigerate it because the cap seals it better than the cap on a plastic bottle.
As far as the mayo goes, it should always be refrigerated whether it is homemade or not.
Dear Barbara: I keep my “honey bear” in the cupboard, but I don’t use much and I know it won’t go bad. What it does do is crystallize around the edges. Is there any way of fixing that? — Alice from Lodi
Dear Alice: If you heat the honey, it will melt the crystals and go back to its original form. Do this very slowly. If the tempeture is too hot, it can splash on you and that can be a very serious thing because honey is thick and will keep on burning. Keep a bowl of ice water next to the stove, and if you get burned, immediately immerse it in the ice water. Keep the honey splash very cold until you can get to a doctor.
Dear Barbara: I use quite a few mushrooms, so I buy a good portion all at once. I find that the white button mushrooms don’t stay white. They darken before I can use them all. Is there a way of preventing that to happen? — Dee from Lodi
Dear Dee: To keep mushrooms from darkening, wipe them clean with a slightly damp paper towel. Pat them dry and wipe them with a clean paper towel that has been dipped in a small amount of lemon juice.
Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and city.