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Fruit & Vegetable Tips

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As a rule, flat-leafed parsley is best for cooking. Curly-leaf parsley is best for garnishing.

When boiling corn on the cob, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the corn's natural sweetness! (Remember not to overcook, which can toughen the kernels. About 3 minutes is all it takes.)

To quickly and easily remove the core from iceburg lettuce, firmly smack lettuce core-side down on the kitchen counter top and simply twist the core out!

Find a good buy on sweet or bell peppers, then find you don't have the time to prepare them before they go "bad"? Don't let them go to waste. Seed and chop those peppers and toss them in a freezer bag. Next time a recipe calls for chopped bell pepper, just grab what you need out of the bag.

When purchasing fresh mushrooms, always use a brown paper bag to hold them instead of a plastic bag. Store unwashed mushrooms in the paper bag in your refrigerator's vegetable drawer. They will retain freshness twice as long than if stored in a plastic bag.

Add a half a rib of celery when cooking cabbage to help eliminate the odor.

To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.

Try this terrific trick the next time you serve onions raw either as a garnish or in a recipe. After chopping or slicing the onion, place prepared onion in a bowl and fill with water to cover the onions. Toss in a few ice cubes and allow to soak for about 15 to 20 minutes, or up to 1 hour. Drain well before serving. You will have the crispiest, sweetest, best tasting onion ever.

There's more than one way to get the most juice from a lemon or lime. Roll them under the palm of your hand on the counter, heat for a few seconds in the microwave are two. The best way I have found is to simply cut the fruit in half and using the tines of a dinner fork, ream the inside while squeezing. You will be amazed at the amount of juice you get with very little work.

To peel garlic easily, you have several choices. One is to place a large butcher-type knife (flat side of blade down) on top of the clove and then whack the flat surface of blade as hard as you can. Not only does the peel release but you have partially crushed the clove. You can microwave the cloves for a few seconds until the peel is loose. Another method is the rubber tube product that can be purchased almost anywhere and is very inexpensive. You can put several cloves of similar size in at one time, roll with the palm of your hand, and the peels are off. A garlic crusher will remove the peel, but is messy and you will always lose a bit of the garlic that becomes trapped in the contraption!

Store lemon, orange and grapefruit rinds in the freezer; grate as needed for pies, cakes and cookies.

Wash salad greens in cold water and pat dry with paper or cloth towels. Place in a covered container or large self-closing plastic bag lined with a paper towel and store in refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.

Corn, beans, peas and other vegetables will lose sweetness as sugar in their tissues turns to starch. Store dry and unwashed in plastic bags in the refrigerator.

Winter squash is mature when you cannot pierce the skin with your thumbnail. If the squash has a soft skin, it means the squash is old and past its peak.

Cutting salad greens with a knife may cause discoloration and bruising. Gently tearing the leaves is better and makes a more attractive salad.

To retain the white color of fresh mushrooms, slice just before using or dip in lemon juice.

To always have fresh ginger on hand for a recipe, you can freeze it either peeled or unpeeled. An added plus -- thawing releases the juices and makes it easier to crush.

You should not cook mushrooms in aluminum pans because the mushrooms will darken.

You can revive wilted celery sticks by placing them in a bowl of ice water for an hour.

For juicier citrus fruits, microwave at 100% power, for about 45 seconds per fruit.

To keep fresh herbs fresh, remember that they like carbon dioxide. So put them in a plastic bag, blow air into the bag as if it were a balloon, and seal it tight.

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