Keep Your Fruits & Veggies Fresh
Tired of tossing your produce before you’ve even opened the package? Adopt these tactics and you’ll be able to preserve your fruits and veggies for long enough to enjoy them.
Prep Your Veggie Bin
Even though it may be labeled “crisper drawer,” you may find that veggies stored inside it quickly become limp and moldy. The culprit is moisture. The solution is simple: Draw the moisture away from the vegetables by lining the drawer with newspaper covered with a layer of paper towel.
Line Storage Bags
When you get your celery, romaine lettuce, or radishes home, take them out of the plastic bag they came in. Line a re-sealable bag with paper towel, put in the produce, and then squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing the bags. The produce will last up to two weeks.
Your freezer can be a powerful tool for long-term life for most vegetables and some fruits-if you know how to use it. The first problem with freezing produce is that the water inside expands, breaking down the cell walls, so the food is mushy when you defrost it. This usually isn’t a big deal with vegetables that will be cooked, since cooking softens them anyway. But it usually precludes freezing fruits that you want to eat raw.
The other problem with freezing is that fresh fruits and vegetables contain enzymes that will cause them to lose nutrients, flavour, and colour, even when frozen. So before freezing produce, you’ll want to inactivate the enzymes by blanching-giving them a quick dip in boiling water or steam and then an ice-water bath to stop the cooking process.
Freeze Celery for Seasoning
Chop up extra celery; then microwave it at 10-second intervals on a paper towel until it is dried. It will keep in the freezer for up to a year for use in seasoning soups and other dishes.
Revive Your Raisins
Are your raisins all dried out and clumped together? Don’t chuck ’em. The next time you make oatmeal, throw in a handful a few minutes before the cereal is finished cooking. They’ll plump right up. Delicious! To use dried-out raisins in other recipes, just soak them in warm water for a few minutes first.
Freeze Your Bananas
Got more ripe bananas than you can use? Slice ’em up and lay them out on a small cookie sheet. Freeze the slices on the cookie sheet; then toss them into a resealable plastic freezer bag. Keep them frozen until it’s time for your next smoothie or banana bread.
No Fruit Near Potatoes
Don’t store potatoes next to apples-or apricots, bananas, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupes, or peaches, for that matter. All these fruits emit ethylene gas, a natural ripening agent that causes potatoes to sprout sooner. And don’t refrigerate potatoes. They’ll last longer in a place that’s dark and cool, not cold.
Hydrate Your Asparagus
You probably already are in the habit of snipping the bottoms of cut flower stems before you put them in a vase or wrapping them in damp paper towels for transport. A sharp, fresh cut helps the stems draw water. The same principal works to keep asparagus fresh: Snip the bottoms of asparagus stalks and wrap them in wet paper towels to prolong freshness.
Keep Mushrooms Fresh
Your mushrooms are starting to wrinkle and discolour, and you haven’t even taken the plastic off the basket yet. Well, that was your mistake. They’ll last longer if you take them out of the package as soon as you get home and store them in a brown paper bag in the produce bin of your refrigerator.
Give Veggies a New Lease On Life with Lemon
Wait! Before you stuff those wilted vegetables into the garbage disposal, try this: Soak the produce in 1 teaspoon of lemon juice added to 2 litres of water. If the vegetable has a stalk-like celery, asparagus, or broccoli-cut the bottom off before soaking. Slice or chop other veggies, such as peppers or radishes, so the lemon water can soak in. The veggies should perk up in about half an hour.
Chop ‘n’ Freeze Leftovers
Blanching before freezing is the best way to preserve veggies for the long term. But you don’t want to go through that trouble for a leftover piece of pepper or onion. And you know the piece is probably doomed if you just wrap it in plastic and stick it in the fridge. Here’s a handy solution that will preserve the leftover piece for at least a few weeks: If you like to stir-fry, slice up the leftovers. Or if you think they might come in handy for adding to a sauce or dip, chop them. Freeze the pieces in a resealable plastic bag or a plastic container with a tight lid. Later, just break off whatever you need from the frozen chunk-there’s no need to thaw it before you use it.