Consumer Qs: Many uses for tasty balsamic vinegar

Gary Black

Gary Black

By the Georgia Department of Agriculture

Gary W. Black, commissioner

Question: Are double cantaloupes common?

Answer: A double cantaloupe occurs when two small melons near each other on the same vine or adjacent vines fuse together as they grow larger. Double cantaloupes are not common. This doubling occurs much more frequently with cucumbers and summer squash than with cantaloupes. We ran a photograph in the Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin in 2000 of a man who grew a double cantaloupe. You may find one in your vegetable garden, but you are never going to see one at the grocery store, as a double cantaloupe does not conform to standard sizes and would be culled before it reaches the market.

Q: Someone gave me a bottle of balsamic vinegar. Does it need to be refrigerated after opening? It looks expensive. What do I use it for?

A: You do not need to refrigerate it. The finest balsamic vinegars may be aged for 25 years or more and are savored like fine wines or liqueurs. They can be expensive. Mass produced (and less expensive) kinds may not be as thick or sweet as the traditionally produced balsamic vinegars, but can still be tasty and add a kick to many foods. Experiment with different brands and ways to use them. The more expensive ones are used sparingly and in ways in which their rich and complex flavors can be fully appreciated. The less expensive ones are used when greater quantities are needed.

Here are a few suggestions on how to use balsamic vinegar: Mix it with extra virgin olive oil as a dip for warm bread or as a salad dressing. Drizzle it on tomatoes or grilled eggplant. Try a small amount over fresh or grilled peaches or roasted figs. A little can also perk up a bland sauce or soup.

Q: How can I have fleas in my tool shed? I do not have dogs or cats.

A: Buildings can become infested with fleas even when there are no pets around. Other animals such as roof rats, squirrels, raccoons and stray dogs or cats may take shelter or nest in structures and be the source of the infestation. Seal openings through which these animals may have entered your shed. A pest control company can treat for fleas if you cannot get the situation under control.

Q: What are some shrubs that will bloom in the summer? What colors are available?

A: Some options for summer-flowering shrubs are vitex (lavender, white), pomegranate (vermilion), hydrangeas (blue, pink, purple, lime, white), althea/rose of Sharon (purple, lavender, white, pink, bi-colors with purple or wine eye-spots), crepe myrtle (pink, crimson, white, orchid), abelia (white or rose flowers with rosy bronze or copper calyxes), roses (red, pink, white, yellow, coral), buddleia/butterfly bush (white, violet, purple, pink, orange, gold), oleander (white, pale yellow, red, pink) and gardenia (white).

Don’t rule out sub-shrubs, semi-shrubs or shrubby perennials such as hypericums (yellow), Argentine senna (yellow), anisacanthus (orange), coral bean (red), yellow bird-of-paradise (yellow with red stamens), Confederate rose (white to pink) and lantana (yellow, light purple or a mix of crimson, magenta, orange and pink).

On the net:

Georgia Department of Agriculture: www.agr.georgia.gov