Dear Barbara: I am really interested in pomegranates and pomegranate juice. It is suppose to be loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C and other important things. Pomegranates are so messy to eat, and they stain whatever they touch. I was going to buy pomegranate juice at the health food store, but I thought it was quite expensive. My neighbor said to just buy grenadine at the liquor store and that it was just that; pomegranate juice. Is that true? — Holly from Lodi
Dear Holly: Your neighbor is partially right. Originally grenadine syrup that is used in mixed drinks was actually made from pomegranate juice. Of course, you can see the degree of difficulty they would have in extracting the juice from all those seeds and still keep the price reasonable. Today, with everything so high tech, it still tastes like pomegranate juice, but a lot of companies make it from fruit flavors, sugars, and red food coloring. Some even contain liquor. You can check with the local liquor stores, and they would be able to tell you if there are any brands that still use pomegranate, but remember that grenadine is syrup, not juice. Supermarkets are carrying more pomegranate juices, so the prices are dropping. It would pay to do a little comparison shopping. Ask if you could taste a sample. I am sure they would be more than willing to do that for you!
You do want to tell whoever is in charge of produce about it and when you are ready to buy more.
Dear Barbara: I recently purchased some apples for a pie, and when I went to slice them, they were kind of spongy or mealy. Is there something I can do to make them work? — Vicki from Lockeford
Dear Vicki: A mealy apple is just that; a mealy apple. There is no way to fix it. I would suggest that if you run into that again, about all you can do is make applesauce and maybe throw in a handful of sweetened, dried cranberries for texture. Next time you purchase apples, be sure you ask if you may taste the apple first and the produce person will cut you a slice.
Dear Barbara: I wanted to buy ranch dressing in the small packet, but it calls for regular milk. The large packet calls for buttermilk, but the large packet is $3.99 compared to the small packet at $1.75. Since I already have buttermilk at home, and I only need a small amount of dressing, could I use the buttermilk in the packet that calls for milk? — Unknown Raley’s shopper
Dear Raley’s shopper: I see no reason for you not to use the buttermilk. You would just have Buttermilk Ranch instead of Original Ranch.
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 email@example.com. Please include your first name and city.