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Fruit & Vegetable Tips

Useful fruit and vegetable tips that will help make work in the kitchen easier and more efficient.

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Most of the fiery heat in a hot chile peppers (such as jalapeño) is located in the seeds and membrane -- carefully remove them first before chopping and you'll tame the pepper's fire greatly without sacrificing on taste.

To prevent a serious chemical burn on your hands that will literally last for hours, always use plastic gloves when preparing raw hot chile peppers (which contain capsaicin, the main ingredient in pepper spray). This safety tip is especially important when preparing a large quantity...and do keep your hands AWAY from your face, especially no rubbing the eyes or chapped lips!!!

For the best flavor and crisper texture when using raw onion in foods, soak in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes and drain thoroughly prior to using in foods such as salads and salsas or as a condiment.

At the store, purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged. If buying fresh cut produce, be sure it is refrigerated or surrounded by ice.

At home, chill and refrigerate foods. After purchase, put produce that needs refrigeration away promptly. (Fresh whole produce such as bananas and potatoes do not need refrigeration.) Fresh produce should be refrigerated within two hours of peeling or cutting. Leftover cut produce should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than two hours.

Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables with cool tap water immediately before eating. Don't use soap or detergents. Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cut away any bruised or damaged areas before eating.

Use a cooler with ice or use ice gel packs when transporting or storing perishable food outdoors, including cut fresh fruits and vegetables.

Fresh strawberries will last longer when stored in the refrigerator, unwashed, in an airtight container between layers of paper towels, preferably without the berries touching.

When adding whole cherry or grape tomatoes to a marinated salad, first carefully pierce them with the tines of a fork. They'll be more flavorful because they can absorb the marinade better. Tip courtesy of SassyGranny.

Save those thin white plastic bags you brought ice cream home in! Once the bananas have reached the "perfect" ripeness, place them in one of those white plastic bags and store in the refrigerator. They will remain "firm textured" and retain their bright yellow color for up to a week.

Banana's past their prime? Then peel, slice or leave whole and freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, place bananas in a plastic freezer zipper bag. Use thawed in any recipe calling for mashed bananas.

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