Posts Tagged ‘food storage’

Eat Your Vegetables

July 20, 2012

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of the Union Square Greenmarket.

I tend to go on Saturday mornings, after a particularly grueling cycling class down the street, and pick up whatever strikes my fancy.

While the greenmarket goodies tend to last longer than their supermarket purchased counterparts, fresh produce only lasts so long.

I was thrilled to stumble upon some tips in the New York Times Dining section this week, on how to prolong the freshness of summer’s vegetable bounty.

Here are a few key tricks to preserving the produce of the season:

Greens, like lettuce, are best washed in advance, dried and stored.

Soft herbs such as basil and soft produce such as mushrooms and berries should be washed when used, as the water will speed spoilage. I find that putting basil in a glass of filtered water that comes a few inches up the stems, keeps it fresh for several days. Frequent readers will note that I am also a big proponent of making pesto, and basil oil while it’s still green and “perky”.

Anything that comes in bunches, should be released from it’s binding, as the closer the vegetables are packed, the faster they will rot.

Leafy tops of root vegetables, such as carrots and beets should be trimmed to 1” long to prolong freshness but prevent them from drying out.

Fruits and vegetables should be stored separately, as the ripening fruit emits ethylene, which damages vegetables.

Some produce will continue to ripen on the counter: stone fruits, melons, mangoes, apples, pears, tomatoes and avocados.  Bell peppers, citrus fruits, and berries will only deteriorate.

Bananas ripen quickly, and will speed the ripening of anything they are stored with.

If you can, cut and simply cook vegetables, as they will last longer in the refrigerator that way. Prepare them separately, to allow more flexibility in their use.

Intimidated by the skills needed to slice and dice vegetables? Have no fear.

The specialty market Eataly, just north of Union Square employs a fulltime vegetable butcher who will peel and cut your produce to order.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

Waste Case Project: Weekend Wrap-Up

March 31, 2012

The week is coming to an end, and the Waste Case Project diary is coming to a close.
As a grand finale in using my food to the fullest, I had the chicken stock I made last night with a bit of shredded chicken and diced carrots for lunch, bringing the meal toll for one lowly little roasted chicken up to 6!

Tonight, a little celebratory take-out and a glass of wine (which somehow never goes to waste around our house) while I reminisce about the project…

The week has been an eye-opener. Here are a few of the big take-aways from my experience:

1. Consciousness is half the battle. I knew we were wasting food, but never really thought about how much we were tossing out needlessly. The idea that others are starving and we are lucky enough to live where food is plentiful and accessible, is a gift which should not be taken for granted. Thinking about the issue inspired me to find ways to decrease our food waste.

2. Taking inventory of exactly what you have laying around that is still fresh and usable is the key to avoiding waste. Planning around those items, instead of starting fresh every day, makes a huge difference in what gets eaten and what gets tossed out.

3.Proper wrapping and storing of food makes a big difference in it’s taste and freshness. Leaving the seed in the leftover avocado and wrapping it well, and drying the washed lettuce and rolling it in a paper towel before bagging it are just examples of how I increased the shelf life of our food.

4. Shoving food down your throat so it “doesn’t go to waste” is worse than throwing it in the dumpster. Eating excess food  and stuffing yourself leads to weight gain and health issues. If you have to choose between your food “going to waste and going to your waist” I choose the former every time.

5. Leftovers can be boring. Just reheating last night’s dinner held very little appeal for me. Up-cycling last night’s dinner was an interesting challenge. I could reinvent that roasted chicken in 100 different ways, yet I rarely tried. Now I know that a roasted chicken means at least 2 dinners, not one. The creativity will come in the second night.

5. Nobody is perfect. There will be food that goes to waste. But, just because this experiment is over, it doesn’t mean we will go back to our old ways. I will be a conscious shopper and chef, now that I have seen what a difference a little planning can make.

6. The only thing more frightening to your husband than the thought that his wife will turn into her mother, is the fear that she will turn into his mother. My mother in law would save a bread crust in the hopes that someone would eat it. She kept everything way too long and thought the freezer was a cryogenic crypt that preserved things for perpetuity. While there is definitely a limit to my food scrap hoarding, she was definitely on to something! Know when to say when. and if it seems at all ‘iffy” I say toss it, rather than risk illness.

7. Indigo Jones readers are loyal and loved having something to follow everyday. I promise to find something new to pique your interest, and post more often, even if it’s just a little tidbit that your might find of interest.
Thanks for joining me on this journey !


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