Solve problems you didn’t even know you had with our Institute experts’ genius home hacks.
Put liquids in the blender first: Create perfect mixes (no more stopping and stirring) and keep your machine happily buzzing: Pour in liquids, then soft foods like yogurt or ice cream followed by fresh fruits and veggies. Finish with anything frozen.
Lab lowdown: The vortex created by blending liquids first pulls the solids down, making sure you get even blending every time, explain our Kitchen Appliances & Technology Lab experts.
Soap up your Cast-Iron Pans: Despite what you might have heard, soap won’t scrub away years of hard-earned flavor. Also called patina, the seasoning on cast iron isn’t really a layer of cooking oil — it’s a thin layer of polymerized oil (a plastic-like substance) bonded to the pan’s surface. Surfactants in soap shouldn’t affect it — just don’t leave the pan soaking.
Lab lowdown: To keep cast iron looking and cooking great, our Kitchen Appliances & Technology experts reseason after each use. Their go-to method: Once you’ve washed and dried the pan, add oil, spread it evenly with a paper towel or pastry brush, heat it on the stovetop on High until it starts to smoke, and give it one more good rub.
Another simple way to protect and maintain the patina: Cook more! The seasoning improves every time you use the pan. In the market for a new one? We like Lodge’s 12-inch cast-iron skillet ($39.50, above). It’s great for super high-heat cooking, like searing steak or baking cornbread.
Use cool tools to whip cream: Literally. Freeze your mixer’s bowl and beater 15 minutes before whipping cream or egg whites for serious fluffiness.
Lab lowdown: Keeping ingredients at lower temps will help add volume to get a stronger foam.
Load the dishwasher from the inside out: If you’ve ever had to send a dish through a second cycle to get it spotless, listen up. Heavily soiled dishes should go in the middle of the bottom rack with the dirty sides facing inward, where they’ll be closest to your machine’s strongest water spray.
Lab lowdown: Be sure not to overload your machine or block its detergent dispenser — if water or detergent can’t reach dishes, they won’t get clean.
“Bathe” your delicates: Not all hand-washing methods are gentle enough for delicate sweaters or lingerie. The next time these need a soak, fill your sink with lukewarm or cool water (check the care label). While water is running, add fine fabric detergent — our Lab likes Woolite ($4.50). Swish until fully dissolved, then press your garment down until totally immersed — never start with it in the sink.
Lab lowdown: Water hitting the fabric can cause stress and damage, and detergent can be harder to rinse out when poured right onto clothing.
Create a fridge floor plan: Yes, there’s a right way to organize your fridge to keep things fresher longer (and stop wasting food and money!). Here’s where everything should go: soft drinks and condiments in the door; produce in the crisper drawers; meat on the bottom in the meat drawer; dairy products like milk and anything highly perishable in the middle; and eggs in their carton — no matter how pretty your egg tray is — to prevent them from absorbing strong odors and flavors from other foods.
Lab lowdown: Since temps can vary throughout the fridge, it’s important to keep food where it’ll stay safest. In our Kitchen Appliances & Technology Lab’s tests, the doors always fluctuate the most (some chill is lost every time you open them!), so they’re a no-go zone for perishables.
ON ANOTHER MATTER …
Seal Star: Covergirl Super Mascara
An all-time favorite of our beauty team, CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Waterproof Mascara ($9, covergirl.com) impressed the GH chemists with its budge-proof formula and lash-transforming results — plus, testers loved it.
1. Instant “Growth”: GH experts used the Lab’s Visia machine to measure transformation in length and volume through magnified before-and-after photos. Consumer testers also noticed the dramatic results.
2. Stay-Put Performance: It earned near-perfect scores in water-resistance tests — no smearing, smudging or running after testers splashed their faces 10 times with warm water.
3. Unbeatable Value: This under-$10 pick performed better than competitors triple its price. An extra-large brush with small plastic bristles makes it easy to apply, and it comes in three shades.
4. Consumers’ Choice: Testers gave it top scores for smudge- and flake-resistance. One raved that while she cut onions, “the tears came and the mascara stayed put!”
The following products and vehicles were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unless otherwise indicated, discontinue use of the products immediately and return them to the store where purchased for a refund. For more information about the products, call the manufacturer or CPSC’s toll-free hotline, 800-638-2772. Only some cars or trucks recalled are affected. Contact a dealer for your model to see if it is included in the recall. The dealer will tell you what to do.
Jo-Ann’s battery-operated Maker’s Holiday 10-count LED string light sets, sold at Jo-Ann stores nationwide from October 2017 through February 2018 for about $14.
The light set’s glass jars can break during normal use, posing a laceration hazard. Consumers should immediately stop using the light sets and contact Jo-Ann stores for a full refund. Consumers can contact Jo-Ann stores toll-free at 888-739-4120 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST Monday through Saturday, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online www.joann.com. Click on “Recalls” for more information.
Chrysler 2017 Dodge Caravan and Jeep Wrangler
The brake switches on these vehicles may malfunction, keeping the brake lights illuminated and/or allowing the vehicle to be shifted out of the Park position without the brake pedal being pushed. Having the brake lamps continuously illuminated or being able to shift the vehicle out of PARK when the brake pedal is not pressed (and the ignition is in the Run mode) can increase the risk of a crash. Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the brake switches for free. Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 800-853-1403.
(c) Hearst Communications Inc.; Distributed by King Features Syndicate
—GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: How to use everything better–