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Frequently Asked Questions

We've gathered our most commonly asked questions to help you find what you're looking for.

General Questions

Which varieties of apples are best for baking?

In the South, we love bakin' apple pies, fritters, cobblers, and more. The best apples for baking are the ones that hold their shape and don't turn to mush when heated. An easy rule of thumb is to think "not red." Two of the most widely available cooking apples have yellow and green skins: Golden Delicious and Granny Smith. Ideal for all kinds of baking, Granny Smith apples have a crisp, tart flavor, and Golden Delicious apples have a floral taste. Rome Beauty is a red variety that also is good for baking. Read our page about Cooking with Fruit for more helpful tips.

Why do my cookies and biscuits brown too much on the bottom?

Sometimes, cookies and biscuits will over-brown on the bottom because the oven temperature is too high. It's a good idea to check your oven calibration with an oven thermometer to verify the temperature. Over-browning also occurs when dark baking pans, which absorb heat, are used. It's best to bake cookies, quick breads, and biscuits on shiny pans to prevent burning on the bottom.

What does "cut in" mean in a recipe?

"Cut in" means to distribute small chunks of a solid fat (butter or shortening) into flour before adding the liquid (usually milk or water). You do this using a pastry blender or two knives in a crisscross cutting motion. This technique is used when baking biscuits or pastry, so they are tender and flaky. When the dough is baked, the fat melts in pockets, which produces the flaky layers. You can re-create the flaky biscuits available at restaurants by leaving the fat in larger pea-sized chunks. Want more tips for makin' biscuits? Check our our Southern Basics section.

What does "bolted" mean on flour packages?

Bolted means it is sifted through a fine sieve or screen.

I have an old recipe that calls for "sweet milk." What is that?

Sweet milk is simply fresh milk, not buttermilk. It's an old-fashioned Southern term commonly used to distinguish between the two in the days before refrigeration, when people churned their own butter and always had buttermilk on hand. Sometimes, it's preferable to bake using "sweet" milk when there are other strongly flavored ingredients, such as sharp cheddar cheese.

What's the difference between batter and breading for fish?

Batters are liquid mixtures of flour, eggs, and milk or water. Breadings are dry ingredients used to coat fish, such as cracker crumbs, bread crumbs, flour, or cornmeal. Usually, the fish is dipped into an egg mixture, then into the dry mixture. Batters tend to result in a thicker, breadier coating after the fish is fried. Corn meal breading is the favorite way to prepare Southern favorites, such as catfish and crappie.

Do you have the recipe for...?

Many requests are received each year for recipes using Martha White products. Some of the most requested recipes are included in our recipes section.

Was Martha White a real person?

Yes, she sure was! In 1899, Royal Flour Mill owner Richard Lindsey named his finest flour after his then 3-year-old daughter, Martha White. Since that time, Martha White has consistently provided home bakers with quality baking ingredients, mixes, and a wealth of baking tips and recipe information.

Product Safety

How long can I keep...?

For best quality, we recommend storing Martha White products in a cool, dry place and using them within the stated guidelines below; however, there are no safety concerns using products beyond the recommended shelf life. Product Category - Recommended Shelf Life Corn meal mixes (includes self-rising) - 8 months Regular corn meal Quick and regular grits All flour except whole wheat Hush Puppy mix Pizza crust mix Corn muffin mix - 12 months Brownies Pouch muffins, except corn

What exactly is a "Best If Used By" date, and how do I read it?

A "Best If Used By" date code may appear on your product. This future date, projected from the original date of manufacture, represents the last day the product is guaranteed to be fresh. It might look something like this: APR 04 2007. The date code represents the month, date, and year.

Is it still safe to use product after the "Best If Used By" date?

The products are still safe to consume, but you may detect changes in product flavor, volume, or texture after this date. We do not advise using products past their "Best If Used By" date because we cannot guarantee the same taste, quality, or performance.

What are some tips for flour safety?

To view more tips about flour safety, click here.

Product Questions

What's the difference between white and yellow corn meal?

The only difference between white and yellow corn meal is the color of corn used when it was ground. White corn meal starts with ground white corn, and yellow corn meal starts with yellow corn. They are interchangeable in recipes. Historically, white corn meal is preferred in the South and yellow is preferred in Texas and the rest of the U.S.

Can All-Purpose Flour be substituted for Self-Rising Flour in recipes?

If a recipe calls for Self-Rising Flour, add 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt for every cup of all-purpose flour substituted in the recipe. We do not recommend using Self-Rising in place of all-purpose flour because it will result in a very salty, strong baking powder taste.

Where can I buy Martha White products?

If you have difficulty locating your favorite variety of Martha White products, find out where to buy the product here. If you would like to see the product available at a particular grocer in your area, we encourage you to speak with your local store managers and request this item be given shelf space.

Do Martha White products contain gluten?

We are committed to providing a broad range of quality products designed to address the various needs and dietary preferences of our consumers; however, our collection of Martha White products currently contain or may contain ingredients derived from sources of gluten unless specified gluten free.

How-To Questions

How do I season an iron skillet to keep food from sticking?

An iron skillet will never wear out, but you need to treat it right by "seasoning" it, which prevents rust and keeps food from sticking. To season iron cookware, rub it (inside and out) with vegetable oil or shortening. Bake it in an oven at 350° for one hour. Remove it from the oven, and wipe off the excess oil with a paper towel. To maintain the finish, clean the cast iron using only hot water and a good stiff brush (never harsh detergents), and never wash it in the dishwasher. You may need to re-season it periodically. A well-seasoned skillet is a must for making crisp cornbread recipes.

When a recipe says to caramelize onions, what do I do?

Caramelize onions by cooking them until they are a deep, golden-brown color and have a sweet, nutty flavor. You need to cook the sugar that is present in the onion until it turns brown, or "caramelizes." The object isn't to burn them, but to brown them slowly. To do this, cook the onions in butter or oil over low heat for at least 15 minutes. The sweet onions will add new depth and style to many recipes, even traditional Southern cornbread.

How can I keep over-ripe bananas for baking if I can't get to it right away?

Over-ripe bananas are great for baking because they have lots of sweet flavor and a soft texture. You easily can keep them on hand in the freezer. Simply take the bananas out of their skins, seal them in a plastic bag, and place in the freezer. They'll keep for months. Then, whenever you want to make your favorite banana bread, all you have to do is defrost as many as you need, mash them, and proceed with your recipe.

Dried fruits are difficult for me to chop. Is there any easy way?

Cutting dried fruits with a knife is difficult because the fruits are so sticky. In the Martha White Kitchen, we find kitchen shears come in handy for this task. It's easier to snip the fruit into uniform pieces because the scissors' motion keeps the fruit from sticking. Periodically, while snipping the fruit, dip the scissors' blades in water. Bits of dried fruits add lots of flavor to baked goods, such as muffins and quick breads.