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What Do You Know About Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs?

What Do You Know About Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs?

Fresh or dried herbs help add color and a distinctive flavor to every meal.

Choosing Vegetables

Each vegetable has particular indicators of quality, but in general crispness and a bright color are very good signs to look for. Choose vegetables in season for the best value. Out-of- season produce adds variety and interest to meals, but may cost more than locally grown vegetables.

Checking Vegetables for Quality & Freshness
Checking a cabbage; Before buying a cabbage, check that the heart is firm by pressing the center with your thumb. Avoid those that have soft or discolored outer leaves, and brown or damaged patches.
Checking a cabbage; Before buying a cabbage, check that the heart is firm by pressing the center with your thumb. Avoid those that have soft or discolored outer leaves, and brown or damaged patches.
Checking a cauliflower; Always pull back the outer leaves of a cauliflower, and look carefully between the florets to ensure that there are no insects or signs of decay. The florets should be firm and white.
Snapping a bean
To make sure that green beans are fresh, hold a bean between your forefinger and thumb, and bend it gently. If it is fresh, the bean will snap in two – not bend – under light pressure.

Shopping Vegetables Wisely

  • Selecting shape and size When buying vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, choose those of a uniform size and shape so that they cook evenly.
  • Testing avocados Test an avocado by cupping it lightly in your hand and squeezing very gently. If it gives slightly, it is ready to eat. Pressing with fingertips will cause bruising.
  • Buying garlic Buy plump garlic with tightly packed cloves and dry skin. Avoid any bulbs with soft, shriveled cloves or green shoots.
  • Selecting chilies Choose chili peppers according to your taste. In general, the smaller the chili, the hotter it will be.

Choosing Vegetables

Salad and Fruit Vegetables

  • Lettuces Choose lettuces that are firm and crisp, with bright, undamaged leaves. Avoid any that have discolored or yellow outer leaves.
  • Peppers Red, yellow, and orange peppers have a sweeter flavor than green peppers and are more suitable for salads.
  • Cucumbers Select cucumbers that are large, straight, and firm with fresh, shiny skin.
  • Other vegetables Some vegetables, such as zucchini, cauliflower, and mushrooms, that are usually served cooked, make delicious salad ingredients. Use them raw or cooked to add extra texture to salads.

Ripening Tomatoes

If you need to speed up the ripening of green tomatoes, place them in a paper bag with an apple or a ripe, red tomato. Place die bag in a warm, dark place, and leave it there for a couple of days until die tomatoes ripen and turn red.

Storing Vegetables

Most vegetables have a limited storage time. Green vegetables should ideally be used within two days, but some root vegetables can be stored for several weeks in a cool, dark, airy place. All vegetables lose nutrients as soon as they are cut, so prepare them just before use.

Storing Garlic

Storing in oil; To store garlic, peel a whole head of garlic, place the cloves in a jar, cover with olive oil, and refrigerate. The oil will preserve the garlic, and the garlic will flavor the oil, making it delicious for salad dressings. Refrigerate the flavored oil for up to two weeks.

Reviving Celery

Maintaining crispness; Revive wilted celery sticks by placing them in a bowl of iced water for at least one hour. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to improve the flavor. To revive a whole head of celery, cut a thin slice from the root end, and stand the head in iced water.

Bright Idea

Making a garlic pot Keep garlic fresh by allowing air to circulate around it. Instead of buying a specially made garlic pot, use an upturned terra-cotta pot that has a drainage hole in its base. Place the garlic on a small saucer, and cover with the terracotta pot.

Storing Onions

Saving pieces of onion Leave the skin, and try to retain the root end on the piece of onion that you wish to keep. Wrap in plastic wrap, and store in a refrigerator for up to three days.

Stringing onions; Onions and garlic are best stored hung up in strings. Put the onions or garlic bulbs in a nylon stocking. Tie a knot between each onion or garlic bulb, then hang in a dry place.

Keeping Chilies

Freezing in freshness Chilies freeze very successfully and can be used straight from the freezer, without thawing first. Freeze fresh, whole chilies in a freezer bag.

Making a Garland

String fresh chilies in a garland to dry and store. Using strong cotton or nylon thread and a clean needle, string them, knot the thread ends together, then hang the chilies to air-dry.

Cold Storage

Most vegetables can be stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. Vegetables that perish quickly should be stored in the refrigerator. However, low refrigeration temperatures can bring about changes to the flavor and texture of some vegetables, such as potatoes.

  • Mushrooms Store fresh mushrooms in a paper bag at the bottom of the; refrigerator.
  • Cabbage and celery Keep cabbage and celery in the salad drawer of the refrigerator in order to retain flavor and texture.
  • Tomatoes Avoid storing tomatoes in the refrigerator; low temperatures change their texture and can spoil the ripening process.

Shopping for Fruits

Methods of testing ripeness vary from one fruit to another, but plumpness, firmness, and a good fragrance are usually good, general indicators of freshness in most types of fruit. Farm stands and greenmarkets offer the freshest produce, and often feature unusual items.

Ensuring Freshness

  • Grapes Before buying grapes, shake the bunch gently. The grapes should stay on the stem. If a few fall off, the branch is not fresh.
  • Citrus fruits Citrus fruits such as lemons, Oranges, and grapefruits should feel heavy for their size if they are juicy.
  • Banana skins The skins of bananas become slightly flecked with brown when ripe. Slightly green, underripe bananas will ripen at room temperature in a few days.
  • Berries These should be plump, not shriveled or moldy, with good color. If the hulls are still attached, the berries were picked when underripe, and they will be flavorless.

Checking Fruits for Quality & Ripeness

Checking a melon

To determine whether or not a melon is ripe, hold it firmly in both hands. Lightly press the area immediately around the tip of the melon, at the opposite end from the stem end; the surface should give slightly. A ripe melon will also have a pleasantly sweet scent.

Checking a pineapple

To check whether a whole pineapple is ripe and ready to eat, pull gently at a leaf at the top of the pineapple. If the leaf pulls out easily, the fruit is ripe. Like melons, pineapples have a sweet scent when ripe. Soft, dark patches indicate bruising.

Storing Fruits

Most fruits should be consumed quickly, when they are at their best and most nutritious. If it is necessary to store fruits, the correct conditions will help preserve their flavors and vitamin content. Remove tight packaging unless the label states otherwise.

Cold Storage

Wrapping fruits

To store citrus or hard fruits for longer than one week, wipe each fruit dry, and wrap in newspaper. Pack in a plastic bag or a box, and store İn a cool, dry place.

Storing long-term Store pears for up to six months at 30°F (-0.5°C). Store in single layers to avoid bruising.

Preventing damage

To store soft berries, invert the container onto a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Arrange berries in a single layer. Discard any damaged or moldy berries, and cover lightly with more paper towels before chilling.

Keeping Fruits

  • Storing grapes Wrap bunches of grapes loosely in newsprint, and keep them in the dark. For a tasty treat, freeze whole grapes and snack on them straight from the freezer.
  • Getting the most juice Citrus fruits such as ‘oranges, lemons, and limes will yield the most juice if they are stored at room temperature. If they have been stored in a refrigerator, warm each one in the microwave on High for about five seconds.
  • Freezing bananas Freeze whole bananas in their skins, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to six months. Eat them while slightly frozen, or mash them and use in baking or drinks.

Maintaining a Supply of Herbs

Herbs make such a wonderful difference in even the simplest everyday dishes that it is worthwhile ensuring that you always have a supply of both fresh and dried versions. Even in winter, you can have a choice of fragrant leaves for both cooking and garnishing.

Harvesting Herbs

  • Using potted herbs Herbs in pots bought from a farm stand often have a limited life, but if you use just a few top shoots at a time, they will thrive longer.
  • Managing growth Allow herbs to become established before harvesting them regularly, and pick evenly to keep them in good shape. O Growing herbs closeby Grow your herbs on a kitchen window ledge or by the kitchen door so that they are always within easy reach, even when it is dark or raining. O Letting herbs flower Allow a few herbs, such as borage, rosemary, or chives, to flower, and use as a pretty garnish.

Growing herbs for cooking

Grow a variety of herbs together on your kitchen window ledge. Herbs that will grow well together for culinary use are parsley (the Italian flat-leaved variety is best), chives, thyme, oregano, and sage.

Storing Herbs

Once herbs are cut, they have a short life, and their aroma and flavor soon diminish. With careful storage, however, herbs can be kept fresh for several days. Tender-leaved herbs such as basil, chervil, and coriander wilt quickly, so they should be used up as soon as possible.

  1. Before storing delicate herbs, cut the ends off the stems with a sharp knife. Place the herbs in a tall glass of cold water covering at least 1 in (2.5 cm) of the stems. Add a pinch of sugar to the water.
  2. Place a plastic bag loosely over the herbs and glass, and secure the bag with a rubber band. Store in a cool place or in the refrigerator. Change the water and trim the stems every one or two days.
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Category: Food Knowledge

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