Washington Post food writers recently answered questions from readers.
Q. I’m not a big fan of herring (read: I really dislike it), but Mom buys a big jar whenever she’s in town and leaves half of it. Can I freeze it for her next visit, or will it turn to mush when I defrost it in six months? If it matters, it’s in wine sauce, not cream.
A. Manufacturers frown on freezing pickled herring in wine sauce. They don’t explain why, but it might be that the freezing process wreaks havoc on those poor herring. Plus, the wine sauce doesn’t actually contain alcohol. So if you put that jar in the freezer, the liquid may expand and crack or break the jar.
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Perhaps you have a friend who likes pickled herring?
Q. What is the best way to store cilantro?
A. Store cilantro as you do cut flowers, cutting it fresh and sticking it in a jar with a little water in it. You can cover the top with an overturned zip-top bag. That works pretty well.
Q. Could you recommend a brand of rum for using in mojitos and other clear mixed drinks?
A. Consider Banks 5 Island, if you can lay your hands on it, or Cana Brava.
Q. What does the instruction to marinate overnight really mean? Leave it in the refrigerator until ready to cook? Take out of the marinade in the morning? Marinate for eight hours?
A. Eight to 12 hours is the typical span when you see “overnight” in a recipe.
Q. When I was shopping this week, I saw some packages of beef back ribs that were marked down, and I grabbed all of them, thinking of Memorial Day grilling. When I got home, I realized that one package wasn’t a slab but individually cut-up ribs. I’m not even certain that they are back ribs - the package didn’t say - but I do know they aren’t short ribs. So, how do I cook the cut-up beef ribs so they get tender?
A. Back ribs tend not to have a lot of meat on them and can be chewy. But meat-lovers can fine pleasure gnawing on them, partly because their flavor is kind of earthy. Season them as you would short ribs (just salt and pepper, as they do in Texas, or something more elaborate — whatever you like). Then cook them low and slow, just like short ribs, at about 225 degrees. They’ll take roughly half the time of short ribs.
Q. Please tell me how to re-use the leftover liquid in a commercial jar of kimchi.
A. Consider using it to season stir-fries, as a base (along with oil and maybe mustard) for a vinaigrette, as a simple dressing for cole slaw, or in place of some of the water to cook rice.