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updated: 4/5/2012 6:08 AM

Using refillable cups on single-serve brewing systems

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Q. How much coffee do you put in your Keurig My K-Cup? I'd like to start using ours, but I've read horror stories from those who have overfilled and underfilled their cups.

Libby, Canada

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A. I didn't like the My K-Cup, but I've been happy with the Solofill reusable filter (solofill.com). My experience with the My K-cup was that the brewed coffee would spew, leaving me with grounds in my coffee and three pieces to clean afterward. The coffee was too weak for my liking, and it overflowed once as well.

I didn't have that problem when I used the Solofill filter. I like my coffee strong, so I fill the Solofill filter to the fill line. I don't feel the need to tap it like I did with the My K-cup, because the lid presses the grounds down. It's not that I want the grounds completely packed; I just want to make sure there aren't any stray grounds close to the top that might escape and make it into my coffee cup. The lid is attached and the filter is built-in, so there's only one piece to clean. I just give it a little whack on the counter near my sink and the grounds are removed easily.

Q. How do you get all of that glue off mayonnaise, pickle and other jars? I can't get some of it off, no matter how hard I scrub, even under scalding hot water. Also, I'd like to make a bunch of gift jars out of them, but I can't seem to get the odor out. What do you use to make sure all of the smell is gone?

Carol, Nevada

A. Label removal is easier if you score the label and soak the jars in hot water, then use vinegar, baby oil or vegetable oil and a plastic scrubbie to remove it.

To remove the pickle smell, soak the jars overnight in a solution made of vinegar, baking soda, a couple squirts of dishwashing liquid and very hot water. Afterward, run it through your dishwasher. If it still has an odor, put crumpled newspaper and a sprinkling of baking soda inside the jar and let it sit overnight.

Q. I'd like to grow turnips in my garden, but I'm having trouble finding turnips in my canning books. One states that it's not recommended. What do I do with the turnips if I can't can them?

F.D., Virginia

A. I've never canned turnips, but you can freeze them.

Wash, peel and cut the turnips into roughly -inch cubes. Boil water and blanch the cubes for 2 minutes. Don't overcook them. After they've been blanched, plunge them into a bowl of ice water. Allow them to cool, then place them in freezer storage bags. You can also cook them entirely, then mash and freeze them (must be consumed within six months).

You can dehydrate turnips, too. Frugal Village member Robin, from Oregon, shares: "To dehydrate turnips, peel and slice them - inch thick, blanch 3 to 5 minutes and then dry to a very tough to brittle state (125 degrees). To use in soups or stews, rehydrate and mash. Add teaspoon sugar per cup of rehydrating water to improve flavor." They make a great snack when dried, too (think: potato chip).

• Sara Noel owns Frugal Village (frugalvillage.com), a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. Send tips, comments or questions to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106, or sara@frugalvillage.com.

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