How to use terracotta disks to keep things fresh

How to use terracotta disks to keep things fresh

If you cook much you know the irritation of opening the brown sugar only to find it has become as hard as a rock. Some people recommend placing a piece of bread into the box to keep sugar fresh but that leaves you with messy bread crumbs in your sugar.

Canisters are not much help. Cookies become stale and sugar becomes lumpy as they sit in most types of canisters. Each cook has his own secrets about keeping food fresh but there’s one secret many don’t know about: terra cotta. Terra cotta prevents many dried foods from getting stale, sticking together, or becoming lumpy.

If you can’t find the disks made specifically for dropping down in pantry items you can make your own moisture keepers. You don’t actually make them but you purchase the terra cotta in an unusual form. Terra cotta pots are sold at most any place that sells craft items.

Although the pots aren’t unusual it is unusual to see them in your foods. The pots range in size from bitty to gigantic. Choose tiny ones, shaped like a plate, to use for foods. Make sure they are clean before placing them in with food.

The trick to using terra cotta disks is to get them wet first. Don’t put the dripping disk into foods but dry off slightly. The disk will be moist to the touch and will appear a darker color but will not be soaking wet. Place one disk in a box of brown sugar and it will stay soft until ready to use. There is no need to refrigerate the sugar and disk, simply keep them in the cupboard.

Larger containers, such as vats of flour will require more small disks or a large one instead. It doesn’t matter what size or shapes the terra cotta is so long as it is terra cotta. Things made or painted to look like terra cotta will not do.

Terra cotta plates, made to go under a pot to catch water, are made in different sizes. As long as the plate will fit into the packaged goods it will work. No need to get carried away and shove a large plate in a five-pound bag of sugar, though. Just place two or three disks into the bag and the sugar will stay fresh.

The disks will work to keep coconut or raisins from sticking together. They also work in a canister to keep cookies fresh. Try them in popcorn, rice and rice cakes, salt and other dried goods. Use one disk for a quart-size container, two for a half-gallon, and so forth. If you find that you’ll need more than three, try to choose one of the next sizes instead.

The disks don’t necessarily have to be plate-shaped. Craft stores have lots of terra cotta projects where the pieces are available in many different shapes. Sometimes you can find mini flowerpots, small chickens, flowers, or other shapes. It’s very important that the shapes are one hundred percent terra cotta and are not painted, stained, or coated in any way.

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