Tomatoes burn enamel pot

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DEAR SUN SPOTS: It seems I’m always turning to Sun Spots for one thing or another.

I have an enamel canning pot I recently used to make a marinara from fresh tomatoes. In cooking down the sauce, I managed to burn a thick layer of sauce on the bottom of the pot. Now it’s like cement, even after using the pot to boil and process the jars of sauce.

Do you or any readers have any suggestions on how to clean this mess off? Thanks! — Andrew Hall, Ajhall5136@gmail.com

ANSWER: Sun Spots found several possible methods at ehow.com (www.ehow.com/how_5551975_clean-burnt-enamel-pots.html). Of course, she cannot promise they’ll work!

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1. Soak the enamel pot in warm soapy dishwater for several hours. Scrub with a soft brush. Do not use an abrasive scrubber like copper mesh, because they can damage the enamel cooking surface.

2. Put 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide, two drops of dish soap and one cup of water into pot. Gently boil the solution for 15 to 20 minutes. Let it cool before using the scrub brush to remove burned-on material.

3. Use a biological laundry detergent, which contains water-activated natural enzymes that will digest the burnt food particles. Cover the burnt surface with the detergent and one inch of water. Let the pot soak for several hours and scrub away any debris, repeating if necessary.

4. Fill the pot halfway up with warm water. Drop one to two tablets of denture cleaner, depending on the pot size and severity of the burn, into the pot and let soak until the solution stops bubbling. Like the laundry detergent, the denture cleaning tabs use digestive enzymes meant for cleaning food particles, but also work with effervescence to loosen the burn.

5. Add unwashed, unpeeled, cut-up potatoes and water to the pot until it is full. Boil until most of the water is removed. Refill the pot and boil down a second time. Drain and throw away potatoes. Scrub the burn with a nonabrasive scrubbing brush to remove.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: What can I do to keep my bananas from turning black?

I have been recycling my hanging plant pots and other plant pots to my florist. They are very glad to get them. — No Name via email

ANSWER: While there are many techniques out there to help preserve bananas (see July 2013 column at http://tinyurl.com/pfbjjr6).

One suggests that if you put them in the fridge that although the skin will still turn black the fruit inside ripens much more slowly.

Some websites speculate that the old bromide about never putting your bananas in the refrigerator may have just been away to sell more bananas!

Readers who love bananas might be interested (or more likely distressed) to know that there is a fungus attacking some popular breeds of bananas. You can read about Panama disease at many sites, including http://tinyurl.com/oxbf5le.

DEAR MRS. SUN SPOTS: The Hillside Sport Club in Jay is planning its annual pumpkin walk and is looking for pumpkins and Halloween decorations.

If anyone wants to donate pumpkins from their patch, we will gladly pick them up. Or if you have any old lights or decorations to donate, we will be happy to take them off your hands.

Last year we had more than 240 pumpkins and 1,000 people. We hope to make this a yearly community walk. If any groups would like to join in, please email me.

The walk will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 25 and 26 at the Rec Field in Livermore Falls.

On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. there will be pumpkin carving for the kids at the Livermore Falls Fire Department. Pumpkins will be provided.

There will be hot-mulled and cold cider or hot chocolate to enjoy while you are viewing the wonderfully carved pumpkins. There will also be baked goods, candy and popcorn and a few ghost and goblins. Everything is free, and everyone is welcome! — Janice Sweeney, hillsidesportclub@live.com

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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