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Refreeze meat, thawed slowly, within 24 hours


Q: Why can't you refreeze raw meat?

A: According to advisers with the meat and poultry hot line run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, raw meat can be refrozen if the meat has been thawed slowly in the refrigerator and has not remained thawed for longer than 24 hours.

Q: Can fresh bananas be dehydrated?

A: Fresh bananas can be dehydrated as can many other fruits. Fruits can be sun-dried if you live in a hot, low-humidity climate where temperatures are above 90 degrees for many days. Given Baltimore's humid weather, the oven is probably a better choice.

For most fruits, you'll want to heat the oven to about 150 degrees and slice the fruit into about 1/4 -thick slices and place on an oven-proof rack. Place in the oven for 4 to 24 hours or until fruit is very dry.

For more precise information, consult one of the many books on the subject, such as "How To Dry Foods," by Deanna DeLong (Tuscon:HP Books, 1979).

Q: I have seen recipes calling for sea salt crystals or kosher salt. Is this kind of salt better than the conventional fine table salt I buy at the supermarket?

A: Sea salt is a form of salt containing many valuable minerals. Although it's more expensive than regular supermarket brand fine table salt, it does have more nutritional value and is additive-free. It is also said to be less bitter in taste than the conventional refined table salt which commonly contains additives. Kosher salt, which is found in coarse-size crystals, is also additive-free.

Send your questions to: What's Cooking, c/o Food & Home, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Although personal replies are not possible, questions of general interest will be answered in this column.

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