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Fruit & Vegetable Tips

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To pit a mango, stand the fruit on its butt end, then with a sharp knife cut from top to bottom skirting the big central pit. Score the flesh in a crisscross pattern, cutting to but not through the skin. Partially turn each piece inside out so the skin domes upward, exposing the cubes of flesh.

Slightly green mangoes and papayas will ripen quickly at room temperature, especially if placed in a paper bag. Refrigerate completely ripe fruit in a plastic bag and use as soon as possible.

Allow salad greens to stand at room temperature no longer than 15 minutes before serving.

Red potatoes are great for salads because they don't absorb excess salad dressing or break apart as easily as other varieties...and because their skin is so thin, you don't have to peel them!

To cook potatoes for a salad: wash and place whole, unpeeled potatoes in a large cooking pot. Cover with cold water and add about 2 teaspoons salt per quart of water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until fork-tender, yet firm, about 15 to 30 minutes depending on the size of potatoes. Drain and allow to cool. Peel if desired. Slice or cut into chunks for salad.

To keep corn on the cob fresh up to a week, husk corn and remove silk and place the cobs in large, self-closing plastic bags in between layers of dampened paper towels, and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Lemon juice may be substituted for vinegar in many salad dressings and vinaigrettes.

A squeeze or two of lemon juice to vegetables adds great flavor without much fuss.

For fluffier rice, remove saucepan from the heat once cooking is complete, remove lid and let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork and serve.

White rice can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container up to 1 year.

Because brown rice and wild rice have an oily bran layer that can turn rancid at room temperature, they should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months

Store freshly cut herbs such as basil, flat-leaf parsley and cilantro on your kitchen counter in a glass with the water level covering only the stems, occasionally changing the water. The herbs will develop roots and keep for weeks.

Chop and freeze unused fresh herbs in small plastic bags. Simply take out the amount you need for use at a later date. It's just that simple. No more waste and no need to put the herbs in water to freeze, either! Be sure to label the bag with the name of the herb.

When purchasing fresh spinach, choose leaves that are crisp and dark green with a nice fresh fragrance.

Avoid spinach leaves that are limp, damaged or have yellow spots.

Keep fresh spinach refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to 3 days.

Unwashed fresh spinach, which is usually very gritty, must be thoroughly rinsed before using.

Since fresh spinach shrinks when it is cooked, count on one pound of the fresh leaves yielding about 1 1/2 cups cooked.

How To Choose a Watermelon (Source: California - Arizona Watermelon Association). There are three steps for choosing a whole watermelon:

1. Appearance - Look it over. Choose a symmetrical watermelon that is free of bruises, cuts and dents.
2. Weight - Lift it up. The watermelon should be heavy for its size.
3. Ripeness - Turn it over. The underside of a ripe watermelon is yellow and the rind has healthy sheen.

Cutting a Watermelon (Source: California - Arizona Watermelon Association):

1. Cut off both ends of watermelon.
2. Slice lengthwise into four quarters.
3. Separate flesh from rind using two lengthwise cuts.
4. Cut quarter in half with a horizontal slice.
5. Secure both pieces and cut in one inch vertical strips.
6. Trim to one inch cubes.
7. Place in rigid plastic containers and seal with tight-fitting lids.

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