Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Preservation is Key

I constantly find myself in quite the pickle with some of my fresh ingredients. They just seem to like to go bad on me, and sadly, I either end up hastily using them or tossing them. And I hate wasting food. So with summer in full swing and all kinds of goodies in season, what's a home chef to do? Well, I certainly have not figured it all out, but these are a few things I do know. After you give this a read, feel free to let me know any tips/suggestions you have to keep my fridge full of fresh goodness.

- Get rid of the plastic. Keeping your veggies and fruits in plastic promotes moisture collection and in turn, decays. I am totally guilty of just putting my plastic bags in my vegetable drawer only to find them a few days later nice and slimy. Removing it from the plastic can help prevent this. If you do like to keep things in plastic, try to use something to prevent the moisture from clinging to the food. I wrap my lettuce, cilantro, and fresh herbs in dry paper towel, and this has helped elongate their life by at least a week.

- Ginger likes to be sloshed. Ginger is an ingredient I use all the time in my stir fry, but it does not keep that well left alone in the fridge. Solution? Peel it, slice it up, and put it in a small container with enough sherry to cover. I have kept ginger for up to 6 months this way. And since sherry goes well in most dishes with ginger, the storage solution works out perfectly.

- Some stuff does not like the fridge. Keep your dang tomatoes out of the dang fridge. They lose flavor (one of the key components of flavor in tomatoes inactivates when cold). Same goes for onions.

- The baking soda is a lie. Contrary to their marketing scheme, baking soda does not do much good in your fridge at absorbing odors. You are much better off with activated charcoal. You can use this two ways. First, take some charcoal briquettes, place them in a container, and place in your fridge. Second, you can now buy small containers of pure activated charcoal, which I would recommend because they have a lesser chance of leaving soot on your food.

- Just because buttermilk is expired does not mean it's bad. Shocking! It's already sour! So it's really good for about a month after the date. I kid you not. It's not like you drink the stuff from the bottle.

I hope that helps extend the life on some of your fresh stuff. If I come across any more good ones, I will be sure to post them.


Catherine,  September 5, 2008 at 12:17 PM  

Have you tried those green produce bags advertised on TV? I got a pack at the store and for me, they worked well for some foods and not others. They too tell you to try to decrease moisture buil-up, so they suggest wiping out excess with a paper town every now and then. Overall, I like them for my veggies, but my strawberries didn't seem to care for them too much for some reason. Didn't know if you had tried them out or not.

Catherine,  September 5, 2008 at 12:19 PM  

Oh yeah, I also plan on trying out the charcoal. There's baking soda in my fridge now, and I haven't noticed any real differences. The only reason why it's still there is, because I tend to forget its there.

Skylar Wolfe September 7, 2008 at 10:33 AM  

I have not tried the green produce bags, but that sounds like a good idea. Better than constantly using paper towels to wipe away moisture from my lettuce and stuff. I will be sure to give them a shot next time I go to the store.

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