fresh produce en-US The Best and Worst Things to Buy at Farmers' Markets <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-best-and-worst-things-to-buy-at-farmers-markets" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="farmers market" title="farmers market" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Farmers' market extremists will tell you to never set foot in a produce aisle again, while grocery loyalists will dismiss markets as overpriced and inconvenient indulgences. So who's right? (See also: <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">25 Things You Shouldn't Buy at the Grocery Store</a>)</p> <p>It turns out: both. It just depends on what it is you're buying.</p> <h2>Best Things to Buy at the Farmers' Market</h2> <p>These are the fruits and veggies (and other things), you definitely should pick up fresh from your local Farmers' Market.</p> <h3>Berries</h3> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries tend to be expensive at the typical grocery store, in part due to the thousands of miles they've traveled to get to the store. Fresh berries at your local farmers' market will be in better condition (perishable berries don't tend to do well in transport), will be cheaper, and will most likely have fewer pesticides and fungicides than imported or commercial varieties. Ask your grower whether the berries are pesticide-free &mdash; I tend to trust a farmer who can look me in the eye and vouch for his or her berries.</p> <p>Most importantly, local berries, picked at the height of ripeness, are just sweeter and more delicious. Often you can find local varieties of berries that are tastier, but more perishable, so you'll never find them in a grocery store. Or you might discover the rare flavor of wild berries, foraged from the surrounding countryside.</p> <h3>Stone Fruit</h3> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Like tomatoes, most stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums) will ripen but not sweeten on your counter. That means that getting them when they are picked ripe is essential to getting the full seasonal flavor. In addition, stone fruit tends to get sprayed with a lot of pesticides. Ask your grower what their pesticide policy is and whether your fruit has been sprayed.</p> <h3>Avocados</h3> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Don't you just hate buying a bunch of rock-hard avocados at the supermarket, only to find out that they've gone bad by the time they've softened? Much of this is due to commercially-grown avocados being picked far too early (before the level of oils in the fruit have increased to the point where they are able to ripen) and then being transported in trucks where they are easily bruised. Worse, store refrigerators sometimes freeze fresh produce, causing it to go bad faster.</p> <p>By contrast, buying avocados from a local farmer ensures that they have been picked recently. In my experience, avocados from my farmers' market last far longer, don't turn brown inside, and are far more buttery and rich than supermarket avocados. I also have my go-to &quot;avocado guy,&quot; who helps me choose the perfect ripeness of avocados depending on when I want to eat them. And have you ever tried a Reed avocado? These huge, super-creamy avocados are rarely available in supermarkets, but they are my absolute favorite.</p> <h3>Rare or Unusual Vegetables</h3> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>The farmers' market is the best place to try out a new fruit or vegetable that isn't typically found in supermarkets. Have you ever tried the delicate fractal buds of a romanesco broccoli? How about those unfamiliar Asian greens sold by the local Japanese family farm? Or have you ever wondered what a Buddha's hand citron tastes like? The grower is a great resource for asking how to cook and eat these intriguing new vegetables.</p> <h3>Flowers</h3> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>This may seem like an odd thing to buy at a primarily food-oriented market, but pesticide-free cut flowers are a great thing to pick up on your shopping trip. Conventional flowers are usually grown with a heavy load of pesticides, which takes a toll on the workers involved. In addition, transporting fresh flowers isn't great for the environment. Buying seasonal, local, pesticide-free flowers is a great way to get some natural beauty into your home without harming the planet or other people.</p> <h3>Eggs</h3> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>So-called &quot;cage free&quot; eggs at supermarkets are typically not well-regulated. Cage-free might simply mean that the chickens have a door open for a few hours a day. By contrast, at a farmers' market, you can ask the farmer directly about how the chickens are raised and what they are fed. Many local chicken farmers are proud of their &quot;happy chickens&quot; that live a humane life from birth to death, and that eat a more natural diet including foraging for grass and bugs.</p> <h2>Worst Things to Buy at a Farmer's Market</h2> <p>Now that you've stuffed your grocery totes with the good stuff above, turn up your nose at this stuff, which isn't so great.</p> <h3>Wilted Greens</h3> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>The later in the day you come, the less fresh the vegetables will be. This is especially true of farmers' markets that attract growers from outside the immediately local area. Be discerning &mdash; just because it's at the farmers' market doesn't mean it's perfect. In addition, certain vegetables tend to do worse in the heat and sun &mdash; lettuce for example.</p> <h3>Unripe Fruit</h3> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>It's best if you can taste the fruit before you buy, so you can make sure you get produce at the peak of ripeness. Most growers will have samples or will willingly cut you a slice. Make the most of your money and buy only the best, in-season fruit.</p> <h3>Fast Food</h3> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Unfortunately, the crowds at farmers' markets tend to attract food vendors, many of which don't exactly serve health food. Skip the overpriced hot dogs, funnel cakes, and burgers. If you're really hungry and need something immediately, I like to head for the mom-and-pop tamale stands, which offer (usually) homemade steamed tamales and fresh salsas, instead of the deep-fried junk.</p> <h3>Non-Food Items</h3> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Some larger farmers' markets also tend to attract non-food booths that sell gifts and knick-knacks. Be careful not to be suckered into an impulse buy of something that you don't need (I'm thinking potholders, jewelry, clothing, etc). Of course, a local craft item can be a fun souvenir if you're traveling, or a thoughtful gift for out-of-town friends, but in general steer clear of anything you didn't specifically come to buy.</p> <p><em>What's your favorite purchase at your local farmers' market? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">The Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Save a Bundle on Your Groceries: Consider Your Local Asian Market</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">The Only 15 Foods That Are Worth Buying Organic</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">The Best and Worst Times to Go Grocery Shopping</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Fruits and Veggies That Stay Fresh a Month or Longer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Shopping farmers markets fresh produce fruits and vegetables groceries Fri, 12 Sep 2014 17:00:04 +0000 Camilla Cheung 1209037 at 12 Tricks to Make Groceries Last Longer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-tricks-to-make-groceries-last-longer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Grocery shopping mom toy" title="Grocery shopping mom toy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="159" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Saving on groceries doesn't just stop at the supermarket checkout. Have your dollar go even further by preserving your food and using some tricks to extend the life of your groceries. If you're throwing away food, you're wasting cash, and all the <a href="" target="_blank">tips you've used to save money at the grocery store</a> will be for naught. By learning how to preserve food, you're helping your wallet and the environment by reducing waste. Read on to find out the best ways to make your groceries last a good while.</p> <p><a href="">RELATED: Items Not to Buy in&nbsp;Bulk</a></p> <h3>Get an Ethylene Gas Guardian</h3> <p>The E.G.G. or <a href="" target="_blank">Ethylene Gas Guardian</a> ($25) is a product that will absorb ethylene, which is emitted by most fruits and veggies. Some types of produce that are sensitive to this ripening agent will spoil more quickly when exposed to this gas. A solution is to separate the items (there is a nice list of <a href="" target="_blank">Ethylene-sensitive foods on Real Simple</a>), and you can also choose to use the E.G.G. and put it in your produce drawer.</p> <h3>Educate Yourself About the Life of Your Grocery Items</h3> <p>Know how long each of your grocery items will last. For those without an expiration date, there is a <a href="" target="_blank">handy list on Ziploc's website</a> that gives an estimate of how long different types of produce and meats last when refrigerated and frozen.</p> <p>Don't wait until the food spoils and you end up throwing it away. Keep in mind the life of each item and eat it based on which one perishes the fastest.</p> <h3>Don't Cut Fruits and Veggies Till You Need Them</h3> <p>Keep fruits and veggies whole (until you need them) if you want them to last longer. Don't break off a stem, break it apart, or chop it into pieces if you're not going to eat it. &quot;As soon as you start pulling fruits and vegetables apart, you've broken cells, and microorganisms start to grow,&quot; <a href="" target="_blank">says Barry Swanson</a>, a food scientist at Washington State University.</p> <h3>Put Bread in the Fridge or Freezer</h3> <p>I have friends who immediately put the bread they buy into the fridge, and my mom puts slices of bread into the freezer to make it last longer. If you're not going to finish the bread in a few days, don't leave it out on the counter, or it will start to grow mold. The best method is to leave half of it in the freezer and half of it in the fridge.</p> <h3>Be Smart When Buying Organic</h3> <p>Even if you're a fan of organic foods, you might want to be smart when you're buying organic. For example, think about how long you take to eat a certain kind of food and choose to go organic based on that because organic foods spoil faster. If you find yourself constantly throwing away grocery items like eggs and milk, make a note of which ones and go for the normal kind the next time you're at the supermarket.</p> <h3>Invest in an Herb Savor</h3> <p>The <a href=";qid=1306112114&amp;sr=8-1" target="_blank">Herb Savor</a> ($30) from <a href=";utm_source=sugar-brand&amp;utm_campaign=16972849" auto_link_filter="" title="Shop for Prepara" target="_blank">Prepara</a>, which was also one of Oprah's Favorite Things, will lengthen the life of your herbs for up to three weeks, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the website</a>. It's not just a container, this kitchen gadget will keep the roots of your herbs &quot;slightly submerged under water.&quot;</p> <h3>Cook Foods That Are About to Perish</h3> <p>If the foods are approaching their expiry date or are starting to lose their luster, cook them before it reaches the point in which you have to throw them away. For example, make a stir-fry out of the old produce or make baked goods from the really ripe fruits such as banana bread out of old bananas. Start digging around the Internet for ideas!</p> <h3>Use Food Containers</h3> <p>Store your leftovers in containers and any fruits and vegetables that you have chopped into pieces. The seals keep the air out which helps the food stay fresh longer.</p> <h3>Consider a Sealer</h3> <p>Get a <a href=";qid=1306113364&amp;sr=8-28" target="_blank">nifty sealer </a>($10) to reseal your packaged goods. It'll keep the air from escaping, and it's more convenient than pouring the item into a food container.</p> <h3>Avoid Bagged Veggies and Pre-Cut Fruits</h3> <p>Bagged salads and pre-cut fruits certainly will save you a few minutes since there isn't any preparation time, but they also tend to spoil faster. Reach for whole, fresh produce at the grocery store to ensure that your veggies and fruits will last longer.</p> <h3>Throw Out the Bad Apple</h3> <p>Carefully look at your produce and throw out ones that are rotting because it can cause the surrounding foods to spoil faster as well. Mold spreads really quickly, so be sure to trash anything that has been infected by the fungus.</p> <h3>Make Fresh Produce More Visible in the Fridge</h3> <p>For foods that are perishable, try to make them more visible in your fridge and put them in front of processed food items. This is so you won't forget your fresh produce, and you're more likely to reach for them.</p> <p>Although it is recommended to keep produce in its respective drawers, you should try this technique if you find that you keep forgetting about the items in the drawers.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> It&#039;s no use buying tasty, inexpensive food if it goes bad before you eat it. Follow these tips to keep all that grocery goodness fresh. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align:center;"><a href="" style="border:none;"><img src="" alt="" /></a></p> <p><em>This is a guest contribution from our friends at </em><a href=""><em>SavvySugar</em></a><em>. Check out more useful articles from this partner:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="">How to&nbsp;Save Money at Whole Foods</a></li> <li><a href="">How to Stay Organized When&nbsp;Grocery Shopping</a></li> <li><a href="">7 Apps That Will&nbsp;Save You&nbsp;Money at the Supermarket</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">POPSUGAR Smart Living</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">The Produce Worker&#039;s Guide to Storing 25 Common Fruits and Veggies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">The Only 15 Foods That Are Worth Buying Organic</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">25 Low-Cost Foods Packed With Nutrition</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Supermarket Savings Guide</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Waste Not, Want Not: Stop Throwing Away Your Food!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink fresh produce grocery shopping kitchen storage Thu, 24 May 2012 10:24:13 +0000 POPSUGAR Smart Living 929530 at The Produce Worker's Guide to Storing 25 Common Fruits and Veggies <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-produce-workers-guide-to-storing-25-common-fruits-and-veggies" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Outdoor produce market" title="Outdoor produce market" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="135" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Unless you belong to a CSA or grow your own garden, produce can take up a huge chunk of your grocery budget, and throwing away food can also feel like throwing away money. As a former professional cook and produce worker, however, I know that getting the most out of your produce can be tricky if you don't know the best way to store or prep it. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="">Waste Not,&nbsp;Want Not:&nbsp;Stop Throwing Away Your Food!</a>)</p> <p>A note about freezing in general &mdash; there's less chance of freezer burn when you use a sealable freezer-weight bag; you can also suck out the air with a drinking straw to ensure that there's no air in the bag before you close it. I have also found that freezer bags are ideal when you are really hungry and impatient, because you can rip them open and toss them into whatever you are cooking to shorten the defrost time. Freezing is a much faster and easier way of preserving food than canning or putting in jars for the winter. For vegetables, you just need to blanche them first. There are many methods to blanching vegetables, and cooking times vary depending on the size and thickness. All you really need is some <a href="">basic blanching instructions</a> and a little practice.</p> <p>Whatever your preferred method may be, I've rounded up all 25 items from the previous produce worker's guide to <a href="">picking produce</a> and laid out some basic prepping and storage tips to help you get the most out of your favorite fruits and vegetables.</p> <h3>Avocados</h3> <p>The key to making an avocado last for a few days is to save the pit once you cut it open. I learned this trick from a chef when I worked at a ranch in New Mexico, where guacamole was part of our daily menu. Now, any time I have leftover guac, I&nbsp;place a pit in it before I&nbsp;store it in the fridge (a little lemon juice can also do the trick). If you only used half of the fruit and want to save the rest for later, keep the pit inside the half you want to save to prevent it from turning brown. I&nbsp;learned recently that you can also freeze avocados. Mash the avocado as if you were making guacamole, mix in a small amount of lemon juice, and place the mixture in a freezer bag. For suggestions and photos demonstrating different ways to cut an avocado, check out this Simply&nbsp;Recipes post on <a href="">preparing avacados</a> (I always use the knife method to remove the pit, but I recommend not using this method unless you are comfortable with a knife).</p> <h3>Bananas</h3> <p>Other than the peel-and-eat method, there are a number of ways to make bananas last, even for bananas that have already started to turn dark brown. You can always turn overripe bananas into bread, pies, pudding, smoothies, and, if you are feeling industrious, use them to make your own <a href="">baby food</a>. Freezing them is another option if you don't eat or use them right away. It's a good idea to freeze them in slices, though I&nbsp;know some people who peel them and freeze them whole. If you don't want them to ripen too quickly after bringing them home, you can put them in the refrigerator. Keep in mind that they will not continue to ripen in the fridge, so make sure they are ready to eat before you do this.</p> <h3>Basil</h3> <p>Most stores sell basil in large bunches, which is frustrating when you only need a few leaves for a recipe. Or if you have a garden, you know that once basil turns to seed or gets too tall, it is too bitter to eat. Pesto is always a way to turn all that extra basil into a meal, and it is easy to freeze (better to leave out the cheese and add when you are heating it up). When I'm not in the mood for pesto, or I'm just too lazy to make it, I like to chop up basil and freeze it with water in <a href="">ice cube trays </a>so that I have small amounts of it to cook with after the garden has been put to bed. You can do this with any fresh herb, and it's a smart way to use up what you don't use from bunches you get in the store.</p> <h3>Beets</h3> <p>Beets and other root vegetables tend to get soft when you store them for too long in the refrigerator, especially during the summer if your fridge tends to &quot;sweat&quot; like mine. The moisture makes the beets break down and lose their firmness. Like carrots, beets last longer when you peel and grate them. Beets make a mess any time you prepare them, but especially when grating them, so remember the apron and get creative. I love shredded beets on salads, and they make a nice garnish for meat and rice dishes. You can use a standard cheese grater, but remember to peel them first. Steaming them and adding a little lemon juice before storing them will stay fresh for up to a week at least, and they make a great quick snack.</p> <h3>Berries</h3> <p>No matter what kind of berry it is, it tends to have a short life span in my house, and the raspberries from my bushes rarely make it inside before they are eaten. I will say that most berries are delicate and shrivel within a few days of picking. Unless you are eating them immediately or turning them into a pie, freezing berries is the best way to extend their lives. The good news is that you don't have to do a lot of prep, with the exception of strawberries. Wash them if they need it, and when they are dry stick them in a freezer bag.</p> <h3>Broccoli</h3> <p>While broccoli will last in the refrigerator for up to a week without any prep, it will last a little longer if you cut the tops and store them in a container. You can also blanche and freeze them if you like to keep a regular stock of veggies in your freezer. For most people, the only question about getting the most out of broccoli is what to do with the stalks. Most stores sell broccoli by weight, which means you are also paying for the stalk. Even though it is a little tougher than the head, it is a versatile ingredient if you know what to do it with it. Peel and slice the stalk to toss in a stir fry, use it in a vegetable stock, or chop it into small chunks to throw in a pasta sauce or stew. My favorite use for the stalk is to grate it or chop it finely and make broccoli slaw. You can replace the cabbage with broccoli stalks, or you can add them as an extra ingredient. I think the stalks are just as tasty as the crowns, and you will get a lot more out of the cost of broccoli if you find a way to use them.</p> <h3>Carrots</h3> <p>Other than grating your carrots to extend their shelf life at home, you can also turn soft carrots into juice or other purees. I like to make <a href="">carrot ginger dressing</a> because it's versatile, and you can customize most carrot dressing recipes to match your tastes. Blanching and freezing most vegetables, especially root veggies, is best to do when the vegetable is fresh. This is an excellent option if you have a garden or belong to a CSA, since there's often more than enough for an entire family in one share.</p> <h3>Citrus</h3> <p>Citrus needs to stay cold unless you are going to eat it soon after bringing it home. The one type of fruit that tends to go bad in my fridge is citrus. I don't know why, but I always remember that blood orange when it's too late, and I find it shoved in a corner covered in blue fuzz. Like most items in this list, my recommendation is to peel it and place the slices in a clear container in the fridge. This method also helps you remember what is in your refrigerator, so you are more likely to eat it before it goes bad. Or you can make juice. Citrus juicers are cheap and easy to find.</p> <h3>Corn</h3> <p>Even if you've already read the article on how to pick produce at the store, this bears repeating &mdash; corn will last longer if you buy it with the husk and don't shuck it until you are ready to cook it. The husk keeps the corn moist and fresh. Also, keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat it. Most stores will display corn out of the cooler because customers tend to buy what's right in front of them in a beautiful display, but our department would take down the display at the end of the day and put the corn in the cooler overnight (same for other perishables that you might typically see displayed out on the floor). Corn can also be blanched and frozen, either on the cob or cut and cooked slowly for a cream-style corn.</p> <h3>Cucumbers</h3> <p>Cukes will last several days without any prep in the fridge. But they last a little longer if you take an extra minute to slice them and store them in a container in the fridge, or put them in separate plastic bags for ready-to-go snacks. Making a cucumber-and-onion salad with your favorite vinaigrette will extend their lives, but they can get mushy. When slicing cukes for salads, you can also make them a little fancier with a potato slicer. Just peel four or five small strips in equally-sized intervals, from the tip to tip, and then slice as you normally would.</p> <h3>Eggplant</h3> <p>You will find many <a href="">eggplant varieties</a> out there, and this is one produce item I would recommend not cutting before using it. What's most important to consider when prepping eggplant is that it tends to have a bitter flavor unless you press all the liquid out before cooking. There are many ways to press and prep eggplant, and I've picked out a short YouTube video that shows you one of the simplest ways to <a href="">press eggplant using Kosher salt</a>. The longer you leave the salt on the eggplant slices, the less bitter it will be.</p> <h3>Figs</h3> <p>Unless they are fresh, figs should always be stored in the refrigerator. Even if they are fresh, you should eat them within a few days after they ripen, or put them in the fridge until you are ready to use them. Figs are a great addition to any holiday or winter dish. Try dried figs on salads or slice them and add to a grilled cheese using a strong cheese such as Gruyere or Fontina. If you love lamb like me, try this recipe for <a href="">leg of lamb with balsamic-fig-basil sauce</a>. It takes about two hours, but it is completely worth it!</p> <h3>Green Beans</h3> <p>Beans will break down faster in a plastic bag, particularly if there's moisture in the bag. Freeze them if you aren't going to use them right away. Blanching green beans is easy, but you want to make sure they are cooked but still crisp, so be sure not to leave them in the boiling water for longer than about a minute. Also, be sure to drain and dry the beans completely to avoid freezer burn. I like to eat green beans raw if they are really fresh, but in the middle of the winter, they tend to lose their luster. No matter how you choose to prepare them, make sure you don't over-cook them. The same goes for asparagus and broccoli.</p> <h3>Kale</h3> <p>Even the healthiest bunch of kale should be eaten within a few days, before it starts to wilt. Cutting it up won't make it last longer. If the bunch has started to wilt, simply chop off the ends and soak it in warm water. Then put the kale in the refrigerator for a few minutes until it looks alive again. The easiest way to remove the leafy, edible parts is to hold the stem at the bottom and pull the greens away from the stalk. Kale cooks quickly, so unless you are putting it in a soup or stew, you don't need to leave it in the pan for very long (five minutes usually, or until it starts to get soft).</p> <p>One of the easiest side dishes to make is garlicky kale. Finely chop some fresh garlic, using whatever amount fits your taste buds, and saute the garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil on a low heat for about five minutes or so. Add the kale, and salt and pepper to taste; then stir around the mixture until the kale turns bright green (or purple depending on the variety). I highly recommend using a cast iron skillet if you have one. I've found that kale doesn't tend to freeze well, but you can certainly try it. I would recommend not leaving the kale in the boiling water for more than 30 seconds. If you like to make your own veggie stock, save the stalks to add to your mix.</p> <h3>Lettuce</h3> <p>Unless you live in a warmer climate, the lettuce you buy at the grocery store in the winter has probably traveled thousands of miles to get there, leaving it dried out and wilted. Reviving a wilted head of lettuce is similar to prepping kale and other leafy greens. Trim off the bottom of the heads and soak it in warm water before refrigerating it for a few minutes just before you are ready to prep it. You may need to rinse it again and send it through a salad spinner before making your salad.</p> <p>Romaine tends to be one of the heartier and more versatile varieties of lettuce, which is why I&nbsp;usually go for romaine, especially in the winter. Also, I try to find fresh romaine instead of the packaged romaine hearts, since those tend to be more expensive. One way to save time during the work week is to prep your lettuce ahead of time. Be sure to rinse and dry it as well as you can before chopping it. Then store the chopped lettuce in an airtight container in the fridge. I've found that it lasts up to a week longer than keeping a fresh head in the crisper.</p> <h3>Melons</h3> <p>Buying melons that have been cut in half and wrapped in plastic saves you prep time, but the melon will not last as long. Try to find fresh melons when they are in season. If you are only using half of the melon, and you need to wrap the other half in plastic wrap, remove the seeds and pulp in the middle. The melon will get a lot mushier if you don't. Watermelon tends to last longer if you cut it into large pieces or chunks and store in airtight containers in the fridge.</p> <h3>Mushrooms</h3> <p>Mushrooms tend not to last more than a week, no matter what you do to them. However, it is important that you don't wash them until you are ready to use them. It's best to store them in a paper bag in the fridge if you don't prep them. You can slice them and store them for a few days after, but make sure you use a good container, and remember to wash and dry them thoroughly before prepping or storing them. You can also <a href=",1950,152186-246193,00.html">freeze mushrooms</a>, but be sure to use them within three months. Dried mushrooms are always a nice addition to soups and stews in the winter.</p> <h3>Onions</h3> <p>If I know I'm making a recipe that calls for onions in the coming week, I will sometimes prep them when I get home from the store. All you need to do is dice or slice them and put them in a container in the fridge, but try to avoid plastic containers since they will retain the strong odor. Sliced red onions are great on salads and sandwiches, and it's always nice to have them on hand. If you don't prep your onions immediately, store them in a cool dark place (root cellars are ideal if you have one). Try to avoid putting onions in the fridge since the moisture can cause them to break down faster, and avoid plastic bags for the same reason.</p> <h3>Pears</h3> <p>Unless they are not ripe yet, pears should be stored in the refrigerator. You can always slice them for snacks throughout the week, but be aware that they turn brown faster than most fruits. Use a little lemon juice to keep them from getting dark spots.</p> <h3>Peppers</h3> <p>As with onions, peppers can be sliced or chopped ahead of time or stored whole. Either way, they should be stored in the refrigerator. Sweet peppers are also a nice addition to grilled cheeses. My favorite grilled cheese is cheddar, avocado, Dijon or spicy mustard, and sliced orange peppers. You can use tomato as well, but I prefer the crispness of the pepper.</p> <h3>Potatoes</h3> <p><a href="">Potatoes</a> and onions are very similar in that they should be stored in a dry, dark place rather than the refrigerator. Potatoes tend to turn brown soon after you cut them open, so use lemon juice, or soak thick slices in water overnight for excellent oven fries. Soaking them keeps them from drying out when you bake them.</p> <h3>Radishes</h3> <p>Like other root veggies, radishes will go soft more quickly in a fridge. Chop, grate, or slice them and store in containers. If you buy an entire bunch, cut off the greens once you get them home, but don't toss them. The greens are edible, and they are a delightful addition to soups or raw on a salad. Be sure to chop them finely, since they can be stringy and hard to chew.</p> <h3>Tomatoes</h3> <p>Try to avoid storing tomatoes in the refrigerator unless you are chopping them to cut down on prep time for a later meal. Green or less-ripe tomatoes will ripen after they've been picked, but you have to leave them in a warm spot, such as a sunny window, or in a brown paper bag. Placing them near apples can also quicken the ripening process. If you do prep and store them in the fridge, make sure you use them within a few days. They tend to get mushy and lose their flavor after.</p> <h3>Winter Squash</h3> <p>Winter squash should be stored outside of the refrigerator, unless you are preparing it for a recipe. Always peel any kind of winter squash, and to make your life easier and to avoid wasting any of the meat, cook the squash in the oven at around 350&deg;F until the squash is soft but not mushy. This makes it much easier to peel. But make sure the squash has cooled off before you try peeling it. Steaming or baking beets and turnips also makes peeling much easier and less wasteful.</p> <h3>Zucchini (and Summer Squash)</h3> <p><a href="">Zucchini</a> and summer squash are some of the most versatile vegetables to use and can add variety to any dish. You can slice, julienne, or chop them, leaving the skin on or peeling it according to your personal tastes, and store in containers for later use. They also store fairly well without being prepped, but they start to break down after about a week depending on the shape they are in when you buy them. Because it is moisture-rich, you don't necessarily have to blanch zucchini if you want to freeze it. If you plan to make zucchini bread, all you have to do is grate and measure out whatever the recipe calls for, and then place each serving in a freezer bag. When you thaw it, just remove the excess water. For a southern flare, try fried zucchini or summer squash. You don't have to use breading if you don't have any; just make sure you use enough oil to get them golden brown. Fried okra or fried green tomatoes do require some kind of breading for optimal flavor (and authenticity).</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Ashley Watson</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">12 Tricks to Make Groceries Last Longer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">17 Uses for Stale Bread</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Fruits and Veggies That Stay Fresh a Month or Longer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Keep Food Waste From Spoiling Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Keep Bread Fresh</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink food leftovers food waste fresh produce kitchen storage Mon, 28 Nov 2011 11:37:52 +0000 Ashley Watson 650005 at