Posts Tagged ‘berries’

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Washing Berries

June 14, 2016

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It’s berry season, and the markets are bursting with a variety to choose from. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are among the most popular of the mini fruits, and also the most delicate.

It is important to thoroughly wash berries, to remove debris. Running them under  water often damages them, as the stream provides too much force for something as fragile as a raspberry. The solution, is to soak, rather than rinse them, to get them clean. Strawberries, in particular, seem to make it to the dirty dozen list each year, due to their extremely high pesticide load. (Read more about the dirty dozen here.) Buying organic berries are recommended.

To properly clean fresh berries, place them in the basket of a salad spinner, and submerge them in cool, clean water to soak for several minutes. You can also add a couple of spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar to the first bath, to aid in the removal of debris. This may be too much acid for raspberries and blackberries, but for the sturdier varieties, the vinegar is fine. Use it sparingly, to make sure you don’t damage the fruit. Strain, and change the water a few times until the water remains clean. The vinegar is also helpful in fighting mold that develops quickly on soft fruit, like berries. Just be sure to get it all off before using them.

If you don’t have a salad spinner, a large bowl and a colander or strainer works as well.

Shake the strainer lightly, and allow the berries to dry before storing. (DON’T SPIN!!!)Place a folded paper towel in the bottom of the storage container to absorb any excess water and cushion the berries.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Pichuberries

September 24, 2015

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Last week I was on the hunt for fresh fruit to decorate the three tiered tart I was making for a photoshoot. I visited the Union Square Greenmarket and my favorite fresh produce shop in Chelsea Market, who often carry a unique selection of fruits and vegetables. The goal was to find fruit that was not only appropriate in scale, but also in color scheme. I wanted to stay somewhat neutral in palette, with soft greens and pale oranges being the focus.
I saw these unusual berries when I walked into the store, and knew they would be the perfect compliment to the green champagne grapes, mini seckle pears, and tiny apricots that I was using. What I didn’t know, was that they are a nutritional powerhouse, primed to emerge as the next super fruit in our arsenal of healthy foods.

What were these called? Pichuberries!

These tiny, waxy berries grow inside husks like tomatillos do. The fruit is sweet and juicy with a tart aftertaste. They orginated in Peru, and are grown commercially in Columbia.

Pichuberries have a low glycemic index, and are high in antioxidents, minerals and protein. The fruit is also a good source of vitamins A, E, D, P and  B complex vitamins B1, B12 and B6. Just 3 oz. of pichuberries can provide 39% of the recommended daily requirement of vitamin D. They also contain a compound called withanolides, which are associated with inhibiting cancer cell growth, and reducing inflammation.

The list of health benefits is so long, that the pichubery has its own website, where you can learn more about it.

Move over acai, these little guys are coming for you!

Photos courtesty of pichuberry.com

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Storing Berries

June 30, 2015

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Berries are plentiful and in season right now. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are delicious and nutritious. They are also very perishable. One little speck of mold seems to sprout out of nowhere, and spreads through the entire box quickly. Most experts advise keeping them unwashed until you are ready to eat them. Not only does that not seem to help, but I find that unwashed fruit becomes uneaten fruit around here.

The folks at Food 52 have a solution, and we think it is a good one.

They advise soaking berries in a mix of three parts water and one part white vinegar, to kill the mold spores and bacteria that causes the fruit to spoil. After a short soak, rinse the fruit well to get rid of the vinegar taste.
Keeping the berries dry is critical to extending their shelf life. They suggest laying paper towels in the basket of a salad spinner to cushion the delicate berries, and give them a good spin to dry them off. Once fully dry, line a container with paper towels to absorb any additional moisture, and partially cover it, so that air can get in. Place the container in the refrigerator, and enjoy your berries for days to come!

Photo:  Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Sinking Fruit

March 11, 2014

Blueberry muffins

When making muffins and coffee cakes with berries, it’s preferred to have them scattered evenly throughout the pastry. How do you avoid the blueberries sinking to the bottom? Make sure they are dry, and toss them lightly in flour before mixing them into the dough. The flour will keep them afloat, until the muffin is baked and enjoyed.

photo: Glasshouse Images

What Would a Caveman(or Woman) Do?

October 23, 2013

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Back in prehistoric times, cave people were incredibly fit. They didn’t diet, and they didn’t workout. There was no gym, no Soul Cycle and no Crossfit to join.They didn’t count calories, and had no trendy food related ailments or phobias.

While the Paleo diet, based on how our ancestors ate in Paleolithic times has certainly become a craze, there is something to be said for eating and behaving like our forefolks did.

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Cavemen and women travelled everywhere by foot. They didn’t have cars, or subways, or even bicycles. Everywhere they went, they walked. Often, that journey was several miles per day. If a saber tooth tiger was chasing them, they ran: fast!  Reconsider your transportation choices and try walking where possible.

They hunted and gathered their own food, and never, ever called for take-out.     Procuring food was very physical, and preparing it was also a task. Think about the energy needed pick berries, hunt and skin animals and even the act of rubbing sticks together to create fire. While we don’t really expect anyone to be hunting and fishing in urban areas, the act of preparing your own food increases your activity level, and provides you the opportunity to prepare cleaner, healthier meals.

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Our prehistoric pals ate a diet rich in fish, meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts and berries. Fast food, sweet treats and refined carbs didn’t exist. Clean eating was a way of life.  If you aren’t ready to go Paleo, consider giving up things that come in packages and eat only fresh foods.

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Neanderthals had overdeveloped right arms, originally thought to be a result of carrying heavy spears. Recent findings from archeologists in Cambridge debunked this theory, citing the many hours spent scraping animal skins to make clothing as the reason for this discrepancy. What repetitive motion based chores do you do that require a little muscle?

Many of our health woes have emerged due to the conveniences of modern living. Before you jump in the car and drive to the fast food restaurant, ask yourself “ What would a cave man do?” The answer just might be the secret to good health.

photos: Glasshouse Images

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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


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