Archive for the ‘Food’ Category
By Hilary Meyer, Associate Food Editor, EatingWell Magazine
Now that spring has sprung, I’m loading up on more fresh veggies, and that has me thinking about the best way to store them to keep them at their freshest. I only go to the grocery store once a week, which means I have to keep my produce stored properly to avoid ending up with a giant pile of bad veggies ready for the compost pile at the end of the week.
And as it turns out, the refrigerator is not the go-to storage unit for all your produce. Below are 5 types of produce you shouldn’t keep in your fridge.
Tomatoes: OK, a tomato is technically a fruit, but taste-wise, it’s closer to a vegetable. If you’ve ever grown tomatoes, then you know that they love the heat and hate the cold. Turns out even after they’re plucked from the vine, they still hold their aversion to cold. The fridge is not the ideal place to store tomatoes. Store them there and your perfect tomatoes turn into a mealy disappointment. They’ll still be good for cooking, but not the best for eating fresh. Instead store them on your counter (not in direct sunlight) and enjoy them when they’re ripe.
Basil: Tomatoes and basil go well together on your plate and it turns out they have similar needs in the storage department too. Like tomatoes, basil loves the heat, so extended periods of time in a cold environment like a refrigerator causes it to wilt prematurely. Basil will do best if it’s stored on your counter and treated as you would fresh cut-flowers. A fresh bunch of basil can be stored for in a cup of water (change it every day or two) away from direct sunlight. Covering it loosely with a plastic bag will help keep it moist (but make sure the bag has an opening to allow for some fresh air to seep in).
Potatoes: Potatoes like cool, not cold temperatures. They do best at around 45 degrees F, which is about 10 degrees warmer than the average refrigerator. Most of us don’t have a root cellar (a cool, dark place to store root vegetables like potatoes), so keeping them in a paper bag in a coolish spot (like a pantry) is best. Why paper? It’s more breathable than plastic so potatoes won’t succumb to rot as easily. And why not the fridge? Storing potatoes at cold temperatures converts their starch to sugar more quickly, which can affect the flavor, texture and the way they cook.
Onions: Onions don’t come out of the ground with that protective papery skin. To develop and keep that dry outer layer, they need to be “cured” and kept in a dry environment like a pantry, which is not as damp as the refrigerator. Also, lack of air circulation will cause onions to spoil, as will storing them near potatoes, which give off moisture and gas that can cause onions to spoil quickly. Store onions in a cool, dry, dark, well-ventilated place. (Light can cause the onions to become bitter.) Scallions and chives, however, have a higher water content, bruise more easily and have a shorter shelf life, so store these alliums in the fridge.
Avocados: Avocados don’t start to ripen until after they’re picked from the tree. If you’re buying a rock-hard avocado, don’t store it in your refrigerator, as it slows the ripening process. On the other hand, if you have a perfectly ripe avocado that you’re not ready to use, storing it in the refrigerator may work to your advantage by prolonging your window of opportunity to use it before it becomes overripe. So the bottom line on storing avocados is store hard, unripe avocados on your counter and store ripe avocados in your refrigerator if you’re not going to eat them right away.
EatingWell Associate Food Editor Hilary Meyer spends much of her time in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, testing and developing healthy recipes. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.
Now that the holiday season has begun, many people are making extensive grocery lists in preparation for parties, dinners and cookie swaps. But before you shop, Janice Revell, co-founder of StillTasty.com, says “Look in your pantry and your cabinets and check whether the items really do need to go. You’ll be shocked by what you really don’t need to throw away.”
So before you throw out that years-old sugar or replace that bottle of vanilla that’s been gathering dust, consult our list of “forever foods.” You may be surprised how many of your kitchen staples have a shelf life of decades — even after they’ve been opened. (Text: Laura Moss)
Regardless of whether your sugar is white, brown or powdered, it will never spoil because it doesn’t support bacterial growth. The challenge with sugar is to keep it from hardening into chunks. To keep sugar fresh, store it in an airtight container or seal it in a plastic bag. If your brown sugar is more like a brown rock, you can revive it with just a minute in the microwave on low heat.
Pure vanilla extract
If you have pure vanilla extract in the back of the cupboard, there’s no need to throw it out because it lasts forever. It may be more expensive than its imitation counterpart, but its shelf life certainly outweighs the extra cost. Keep that vanilla flavor at its best by sealing the bottle after each use and storing it in a cool, dark place.
White, wild, jasmine, arborio and basmati rice all keep forever so there’s no need to throw them out. Brown rice is the one exception because it has a higher oil content so store it in the refrigerator or freeze it to maximize its shelf life. Once you’ve opened a bag or box of rice, move it to an airtight container or resealable freezer bag to keep it fresh.
You can thicken gravies and sauces for years with just one box of corn starch because it keeps indefinitely. Store this kitchen staple in a cool, dry area and be sure to reseal it tightly after each use.
Whether you use it in your tea, on your toast or as an alternative sweetener, that jar of pure honey is good forever. It may get grainy or change color, but it’s still safe to eat — and delicious — because its antibiotic properties keep it from spoiling. You can help keep it fresh by storing it in a cool area, and you can improve the quality of crystallized honey by placing the jar in warm water and stirring it until the grainy parts dissolve.
Mixing drinks at your holiday party? There’s no need to replace those decades-old bottles of gin and whisky. Distilled spirits like vodka, rum, whisky, tequila and gin don’t ever spoil — even after opening. The taste, color or aroma may fade over time, but it’ll hardly be noticeable. Keep the bottles tightly closed and store them in a cool area away from direct heat or sunlight.
The contents of your salt shaker will never spoil, regardless of whether it’s basic table salt or sea salt. Simply store it in a cool, dry place and salt will keep indefinitely.
If you come across a years-old bottle of corn syrup in your pantry, don’t throw it out. This sweetener keeps indefinitely as long as you keep it sealed and store it in a cool, dry area.
What good are pancakes or waffles without maple syrup? Luckily, this flavorful syrup will never spoil if you refrigerate it or freeze it. For long-term storage, seal it in an airtight plastic container and freeze it.
Distilled white vinegar
This wonder product can be used for everything, from making marinades and salad dressings to cleaning house and doing laundry. But the best thing about distilled white vinegar is that it lasts for years. Simply close it tightly after each use and store the bottle in a cool, dark place.