My friends and readers-
I will be taking the rest of the week off from my own writing due to a sad loss in our home. This week, the hubbs and I had to say goodbye to our beloved pug, Sebastian Guinness, after 12 years of immense laughter, adventure and life. Our hearts are broken but we are forever touched by the little soul of this tremendous, furry, ultimate foodie. No plate went into the dishwasher without his approval, no bowl unturned. I will miss him at my feet in the kitchen and by my side, waiting patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) for his portion of my ice cream on movie night. There wasn't a food on the planet he didn't devour wholeheartedly, with gusto and glee, like a true culinary aficionado. I will always look at summer cherry tomatoes and smile- they were his favorite. His snoring presence on my lap as I read through my cookbooks will be a delightful memory I cherish. <3
Pug snoozing in one of his favorite spots- the kitchen, as I cook.
I came across this interesting article after questioning myself on how exactly I was supposed to store all these fresh fruits and vegetables I collect throughout the week... I hope you find it as helpful as I have. From an excerpt titled, "The ABC'S of Fresh" by Henry's Markets, who have merged with Sprouts to create the new Sprouts Farmers Market. I'm excited and very curious that we will have a Sprouts opening here in the East Bay this September...
“The main way to lengthen shelf life is by using cold temperatures to slow food’s respiration, or ‘breathing’ process,” explains Marita Cantwell, PhD, a postharvest specialist at the University of California, Davis. In general, the warmer the temperature, the faster the rate of respiration, which is why refrigeration is critical for most produce. But while you want to slow it down, you don’t want to stop the breathing altogether. “The worst thing to do is seal produce in an airtight bag,” says Barry Swanson, a food scientist at Washington State University. “You’ll suffocate it and speed up decay.” Some fruits emit ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas that speeds ripening and can lead to the premature decay of nearby ethylene-sensitive vegetables. Put spinach or kale in the same bin as peaches or apples, and the greens will turn yellow and limp in just a couple of days. So the first trick is to separate produce that emits ethylene from produce that’s sensitive to it. (See “Gas Wars,” below).
There are also some innovations to help extend the life of your fruits and veggies. Some products actually absorb ethylene and can be dropped into a crisper, such as the E.G.G. (for ethylene gas guardian), which is shaped like, you guessed it, an egg, and ExtraLife, a hockey-puck-like disk. A variety of produce bags are also on the market, such as those by Evert- Fresh and BioFresh, which both absorb ethylene and create an atmosphere that inhibits respiration.
At least as important as how you store produce is when you buy it. Do all your other shopping first so that your berries and broccoli don’t get warm—and respire rapidly— while you’re picking up nonperishable items. Get the produce home and into the fridge as soon as possible. If you’ll be making several stops between the market and kitchen, put a cooler in the car. Shop farmers’ markets soon after they open: Just-harvested greens wilt rapidly once they’ve been in the sun for a few hours.
Even under optimal conditions, fragile raspberries will never last as long as thick-skinned oranges. Eat more perishable items fi rst (see “Fastest to Slowest Spoilers,” right). And if you still find yourself with a bushel of ripe produce—and a business trip around the bend—improvise. Make a fruit pie, a potful of soup or a great big vat of tomato sauce, and throw it in the freezer. You’ll relish your foresight when you get home.
If you notice that your produce always seems to rot just a few days after you buy it, you might be storing incompatible fruits and veggies together. Those that give off high levels of ethylene gas—a ripening agent—will speed the decay of ethylene-sensitive foods. Keep the two separate.
Use trapped ethylene to your advantage: To speed ripen a peach, put it in a closed paper bag with a ripe banana. One bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch. Mold proliferates rapidly and contaminates everything nearby, so toss any spoiled produce immediately.
For longer life, keep your produce whole—don’t even rip the stem out of an apple until you eat it. “As soon as you start pulling fruits and vegetables apart,” says Barry Swanson, a food scientist at Washington State University, “you’ve broken cells, and microorganisms start to grow.” Cold-sensitive fruits and veggies lose flavor and moisture at low temperatures. Store them on the counter, not in the fridge. Once they’re fully ripe, you can refrigerate them to help them last, but for best fl avor, return them to room temp.
Never refrigerate potatoes, onions, winter squash or garlic. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry cabinet, and they can last up to a month or more. But separate them so their flavors and smells don’t migrate.
REFRIGERATE THESE GAS RELEASERS:
Apples, Apricots, Cantaloupe, Figs, Honeydew
DON’T REFRIGERATE THESE GAS RELEASERS:
Avocados, Bananas (unripe), Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Tomatoes
KEEP THESE AWAY FROM ALL GAS RELEASERS:
Bananas (ripe), Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Lettuce and other leafy greens, Parsley, Peas, Peppers, Squash, Sweet potatoes, Watermelon
Fastest to Slowest Spoilers: What to Eat First
With proper storage and a little planning, you can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables with just a single weekly trip to the supermarket. The key is eating the more perishable produce early on. Use this guide—created with the help of Marita Cantwell, PhD, postharvest specialist at the University of California, Davis—based on a Sunday shopping trip. The timing suggestions are for ready-to-eat produce, so allow extra days for ripening if you’re buying, say, green bananas or not-quite-ripe pears. And remember, looks count. Appearance—vivid green spinach; smooth, unbruised peaches; plump oranges—is the best clue to whether fruits and veggies are fresh to begin with.
EAT FIRST: SUNDAY TO TUESDAY
EAT NEXT: WEDNESDAY TO FRIDAY
EAT LAST: WEEKEND
Thank you to Henry's Markets and Sprouts Farmer's Market for the useful info, and thank you all for your understanding and support.
Love and laughter,