Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Veggie Tales

I thought I'd share some tips on how to make your fresh produce last longer. There is nothing worse than bringing home fruits and vegetables, just to have them go bad on you before you can use them.

When you get it home, fill your sink with cold water. Separate the leaves (don't cut them; pull them off the stem) and soak them in the water for about 10 minutes. Drain the lettuce (I use a spinner) and lay out a line of paper towels. I place the lettuce leaves on the paper towel and roll them up in the towels. Put it in a gallon freezer bag and squeeze the air out as you seal it. They should last at least 7 days or more, depending on the type of lettuce.

Take the celery out of the bag it comes in and wrap it up in aluminum foil. It will last for a very long time this way without getting limp. I've had mine last about month this way.

Fresh Herbs
If I'm going to use them in a day or two I just throw them in the drawer in the fridge. However, if it's going to be awhile I will wash them and then pulse them in the food processor with olive oil. I put them in ice cube trays; freeze and then pop them out and store them in the freezer in a freezer bag. I'll just throw a cube in whatever I'm cooking and it tastes like fresh. Obviously, this would only work for cooked foods.

Peppers (all kinds)
Again, if I'm using them in cooking (not salads), I will chop them up and spread them out on a cookie sheet. I'll put it in the freezer for about 1/2 hour and flash freeze them. I then store them in a freezer bag in the freezer and throw in a handful into whatever I'm cooking. They'll last for months this way.

Onions normally last a long time on the counter but you can also do the same as the peppers. This obviously, will only work if you are cooking the onions. If you need them fresh for salads it won't work.

Kale, swiss chard, spinach
Do the same as lettuce

Potatoes and other root veggies
Store, in a cool, dry place and they last quite a while (at least 2 weeks)

You can put them in the refrigerator once they are ripe but the skins will turn black. They are perfect on the inside but most kids won't touch them once they look like that! If bananas are starting to look brown I'll throw them in the freezer (skins and all) and use them for banana bread, etc.

Oranges & apples
They should be fine on the counter but you can store in fridge.

Plums, peaches, nectarines
They will ripen in the air. Once they are ripe I will put them in the refrigerator otherwise they start going bad.