Dear Barbara: I am seeing a lot of brownie/cookie/cake recipes using espresso powder. I have looked all over and cannot locate it in stores. I tried the Internet and located it on King Arthur’s Flour company website, but the shipping is more than the powder! Any suggestions? — Marena from Lodi
Dear Marena: Espresso powder is instant espresso coffee. Freeze dried granules are instant espresso coffee. The difference is in the procedure. Both are made from previously brewed espresso coffee, except that one has the moisture taken out by dry heat (hence powder) and the espresso instant coffee crystals are made by freezing the brewed coffee first, then extracting the water. The crystals are known to have superior flavor and dissolve equally as well as the powder.
Any supermarket should carry instant espresso in the coffee aisle. I use Medaglia D’Oro and I buy it at Raley’s. It is imported from Italy and comes in a 2-ounce glass jar. The jar has a red, white and green label with yellow text. Because it comes in such a small jar, it is easy to overlook. If you don’t see it, ask, because I know they carry it.
Instant espresso is now being called for in many recipes because it enriches the flavor of the chocolate without tasting like coffee.
Dear Barbara: How long after the expiration date can you use buttermilk? It is already sour, so I can’t tell by smelling it. — Rachel from Lodi
Dear Rachel: Buttermilk is very low in fat compared to regular milk. Therefore, it doesn’t go bad as fast. When you look at the date on the buttermilk, you can assume that it will be good at least a week past that date. I would not recommend storing it in the fridge door. If there are people in your home who open the refrigerator door frequently, it is hard for the unit to keep the temperature below 40 degrees. This is especially true of older refrigerators. It takes a longer time to bring that temperature back down. Slightly toward the back of the refrigerator, where it is cooler, is a good place to store the buttermilk. Also, for maximum storage time, don’t take it out of the refrigerator until you are ready to use it, then immediately return it to the refrigerator so the temperature of the milk doesn’t rise.
You will know when it is bad. Look in the carton before you pour it. If you see mold or it looks very lumpy, discard it.
Buttermilk freezes well. You could measure it into freezer bags in one or two cup increments and freeze it. Just take out what you need. Just shake it up a bit after thawing and you’re all set for baking.
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.