Ask a Cook

Kathleen Purvis / The Charlotte Observer /

Q: A friend bought a bag of self-rising flour to make beer bread. The only other recipe on the bag is for rolls. What else can she do with it?

A: Self-rising flour is all-purpose flour with baking powder and a little salt added. Biscuits are probably the most common thing to make with it. Many Southern cooks keep a bag on hand just for that.

There are plenty of other ways to use it, though. While it won’t work in most yeast breads, which don’t use chemical leaveners, you can use it in quick bread recipes, including muffins. Just skip the baking soda and salt called for in the recipe. You also can use it to make fluffy pancakes.

One drawback to substituting self-rising flour for all-purpose is that different millers may use different amounts of baking soda and salt. In general, though, a cup of self-rising flour has about 1½ teaspoons of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt.

Q: I was given a big box of grapefruits and oranges for Christmas. What’s the best way to store it so it will last?

A: While citrus fruit will keep for a couple of days at room temperature, the best way to store it is in the refrigerator. If you can find the space, the vegetable drawer is the best spot. It should keep there for several weeks.

Don’t keep the fruit in a plastic bag or an airtight container, which can make it get moldy or soft faster. Mesh bags that let air circulate are fine. Look through the fruit regularly and use the ones that are getting soft.

If you’re going to juice it, bring it back to room temperature and you’ll get the most juice. And if you can’t use the fruit fast enough, both the zest and the juice can be frozen.

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