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Fruit & Vegetables Cooking Tips

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Add Flavor With Food Waste: Save the loose skin on onions and garlic to toss into the fire just before grilling meats or vegetables. And throw dry fennel tops on the fire when grilling fish.

Apples: Refrigerated apples last up to 10 times longer than those left at room temperature. To prevent apples from speeding up the ripening process of other items in your produce drawer, store them in a plastic bag.

Asparagus: For tender asparagus, gently bend a spear until it breaks. The natural breaking point should separate the tender spear from the tough end. Dispose of the end pieces and steam to perfection!

Cabbage: Instead of blanching cabbage leaves to wilt them for stuffing, simply leave the whole head in the freezer overnight.

Celery: Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator, and it will keep for weeks.

Chopped Onions & Green Peppers: You can buy frozen chopped onion or green peppers for a quick recipe shortcut, or since they freeze so well, chop a whole bunch at once and freeze them in single servings.

Citrus Fruit Juice: To get the most juice out of fresh lemons, limes and oranges, bring them to room temperature and roll them under your palm against the kitchen counter before squeezing. Another method is to microwave fruit on high for 30 seconds, let stand a couple of minutes before cutting and squeezing them. Rolling it between your counter and hand also does the trick.

Citrus Zest: Before you squeeze juice from a lemon, grate off the rind into a freezer bag and freeze. Then when a recipe calls for lemon zest or rind, just pull it from the freezer. Sprinkle a little sugar over citrus zest or fresh ginger before chopping. The sugar not only dissolves and absorbs the juices but also helps spread the flavor.

Crisper Drawer: Line the bottom with a paper towel to absorb liquids that make veggies wilt.

Frozen Vegetables: These are an important staple, a quick way to separate them is to pour boiling water over them in a colander and then add them to your casserole or stove-top dish to finish cooking.

Garlic: To mince a garlic clove quickly, rub it over the tines of the back side of a fork. Save yourself lots of time by always using jarred minced garlic that can be found in the produce or condiment section of the supermarket. Peel garlic by using the heel of your hand, press the flat side of a chef's knife onto an entire clove of garlic. You can then slip the slightly crushed garlic from its skin. Hands smell after peeling garlic? Rub hands with the rounded side of a stainless steel spoon under running water.

Hot Peppers: When working with fresh chiles and peppers, wear disposable gloves. Don't handle the peppers under water (it extracts painful vapors).

Leafy Greens: The sooner you consume lettuce, spinach and other greens after they are picked, the crisper they will be. Rinse not-so-fresh greens under cool water to "revive" them. Dry by running the greens through a salad spinner or wrapping them in dry towels. Place in a loosely closed bag and refrigerate 1 hour. Leafy greens are packed with vitamins and minerals. When buying fresh greens, remember that they cook down considerably. One pound of spinach or mustard greens will yield a cup or two of cooked greens. Serve iceberg lettuce wedges instead of torn salad greens to save time making a salad. Also, before refrigerating iceberg lettuce, wash and remove the core so each time you need some for salad it's clean and ready.

Mushrooms: Mushrooms soak up water like a sponge, then release it later while cooking (which can change the consistency of recipes). Try "dry cleaning" your favorite fungi. You can find a "mushroom brush" with soft bristles at most kitchen stores. Lightly moisten the brush (or a rag) with water, and gently wipe the mushrooms clean.

Onion & Garlic Odors: To deodorize a plastic storage container in which onions or garlic were stored, wash thoroughly, then stuff a crumpled piece of newspaper in the container, and snap on the lid. In a few days the smell will disappear.

Parsley: Fresh parsley can be frozen. Wash the parsley and pat dry. Chop up the parsley and put it in a Ziploc freezer bag, and put in freezer. When you need some parsley, just take out what you need! Parsley can be kept fresh longer in the refrigerator by wrapping it in moistened paper towels and placing in a plastic bag. To have bright, crisp parsley for winter, spread freshly gathered parsley on a piece of paper and place in a cool oven with the doors left open. As soon as this is dry, crush the leaves and put in a bottle with a cork stopper. The parsley will retain its green color and fresh taste this way. When picking parsley, look for a lively, bright green bunch. There are two common varieties of parsley. Curly leaf parsley is relatively mild. Flat leaf (or Italian) parsley has a stronger flavor.

Peeling Fruits and Vegetables: Vegetable peelers are good for more than just carrots and potatoes. Use them to peel avocados, kiwi fruit, and many more produce items. Try it out next time you need to peel something difficult. To peel tomatoes, peaches, and pears, scald them in boiling water before peeling will allow you to peel their skins right off.

Peppers: When buying fresh peppers, choose those that are a little wrinkled but still unblemished. Wrinkling indicates mellowness.

Ripening Fruits and Vegetables: Many fruits and vegetables found in supermarkets today look ripe, but are hard as a rock. Soften them up by placing them in a brown paper bag and hiding the bag away in a dark cabinet for a day or two. This is great for items such as avocados, kiwi fruit, peaches, and more. Once ripe, refrigerate the produce to preserve vitamins.


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September 24, 2017

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