Posts from the ‘Tips and Tricks’ Category

Keeping Produce Fresh

This is a copy of an article from The Dollar Stretcher newsletter – I’m posting it here (unchanged) because it has some good tips on what to put in the fridge versus on the counter….

Keeping Produce Fresh
by Leanne Ely, CNC
Don’t let it spoil before you taste it

One place you can really get nailed on is buying fresh
produce. Produce will only keep so long so you absolutely have
to have a plan to use it up. If all you do is buy it and let
it sit in your fridge, you might as well start flushing five-
dollar bills down the toilet!

But still the question remains, how do you keep your produce
fresh? That’s a great question and the answer varies according
to what you have. Let’s tackle the most common fruits and
veggies, shall we?

First up, some things you need to know. There is a certain
chemical compound called ethylene that is released as produce
ripens. This ripening action builds up in a closed plastic bag
so the gas makes your food break down quicker. What I do is
keep the bags open to avoid that too quick ripening factor. If
you take it out of the bags, it will dry out so opening the
bag really helps to preserve it. Check the packaging you
bought your produce in. Often times, these bags have little
holes in them to allow the ethylene to release without drying

Secondly, there are things that should be refrigerated and
there are others that should not. Here is a list of stuff to
store in your pantry:

– Onions
– Potatoes
– Garlic
– Shallots
– Hard winter squashes
– Sweet potatoes

Keeping these guys away from the light will help prolong their
shelf life and stop your potatoes and onions from sprouting.

Here is a list of stuff to stick in the fridge:

– Apples
– Cherries
– Grapes
– Melons (unless you’re trying to ripen up on the countertop)
– Corn
– Berries (don’t wash until ready to use)
– Grapes
– Peas
– Any citrus
– Artichokes
– Asparagus (cut the ends off and place them in a glass of
water, plastic over the top)
– Lettuces
– Spinach
– Eggplant
– Cucumbers
– Mushrooms
– Peppers
– Leeks
– Greens
– Cauliflower and broccoli
– Cabbage
– Carrots
– Beets
– Any fresh herbs
– Radishes
– Green onions or scallions
– Zucchini and summer squash
– Turnips
– Green beans
– Celery

The thinner the skin on the fruit or vegetable, the sooner it
needs to be used.

Here is a list of stuff that can start on your counter then
can go into the fridge if necessary, but you need to be aware
that it can get too cold and end up somewhat bruised or ruined
by the fridge:

– Avocados
– Bananas
– Tomatoes
– Peaches
– Papaya
– Apricots
– Plums
– Pineapple
– Pears
– Nectarines
– Mangos
– Kiwi

There you go with everything you wanted to know about keeping
produce but were afraid to ask! This simple guide should help
you start storing and using your produce wisely without the
spoilage. Enjoy!

How to Check the Hotness of Jalapenos

Here’s a tip from Simply Recipes website on how to “read” the hotness of a jalapeno… my hubby loves to eat them with french bread and fancy cheeses and meats for a simple supper… I don’t know if it’s true or not but I’m willing to give it a try!

Basically, the smoother the pepper, the milder it is — if it has striations in it, then it’s a bit hotter — if it’s turning red it’s very hot!

Keeping Cukes Fresh Longer

This is a tip from a Dollar Stretcher website member that I thought was pretty good and might be useful to keep in mind…

Keeping Cukes Fresh Longer

I love the long, “seedless” cucumbers because I don’t like the
big seeds in regular ones. However, this kind of cucumber is
large and expensive and it always goes bad before I can use it
all. I hate to waste that much money.

I’ve discovered a simple way to keep the cucumber fresh much,
much longer. I peel and slice the whole cucumber and place the
slices in a plastic container that has a sealing lid. I put a
paper towel or a paper napkin on the bottom and another one on
top of the slices and close the container with the lid. The
paper towels/napkins absorb the extra moisture that seems to
make the cucumbers rot so quickly. The taste is great, and I
can keep the cucumber slices “fresh” for a week if necessary,
maybe longer!

Five surprising uses for ketchup

This post caught my eye and I thought others might find it interesting to read as well…

here’s the 5 uses the article talks about:

  • cleaning copper cookware/items
  • cleaning auto parts
  • alternative to tomato juice to kill skunk smell
  • remove chlorine from hair
  • freeze small packets to use as cold compress for boo boo’s

Hm…interesting…I don’t know if I’d try ketchup on skunk smell, for cleaning my car, or let them pile up in my freezer, but I can see myself trying the other 2 suggestions.

Storing/Preserving Fresh Garden Vegetables

Now that I have my own little garden, I find myself with lots of tomatoes and green onions, and even lots of potatoes! I’m really happy. It’s so cool growing a vegetable – I never knew it could be! Anyways, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the veggies I can’t eat before they go to waste (or get given away, which is never bad)… I found some tips on how to store or preserve veggies that I thought I might try and others might find useful too!

Zucchini cannot normally be frozen but if you puree it (remove skin and seed) and store in freezer bags or tupperware type bowls and freeze. When ready to use, thaw and drain off excess liquid. The pureed zucchini can be used in breads, muffins, lasagna, soup, and so on.

Pick tomatoes just as they begin to change color/orange and wrap each tomato in a newspaper
sheet. Store them in a warm spot up to two months until ripe. When ripe, wash tomatoes and put in freezer on tray until frozen. Once frozen, put into freezer bags and put back in freezer. When you’re ready to use them, pull them out and run under hot water – the skin will come off easily and they can be crushed, mashed or pureed for soups, stews, or sauce.

Spice It Up! by Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

Below is an article contained in a Healthy-Foods email newsletter (part of I received in my inbox this week. I thought others might find it an interesting read. My hubby and I were just talking about how different foods are said to resemble the part of the body they supposedly keep healthy and this article about herbs/spices is somewhat related to that idea!

Article Source: Healthy-Foods, Just for You By Leanne Ely, C.N.C. —  Volume 9, Issue 33, ISSN 1536-5085  August 15, 2008
Spice It Up! by Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

It has been reported recently, that there are copious benefits in the
spices we use to make our food more flavorful—aren’t you excited? Good
news for those of us who absolutely adore good Indian, Mexican and other
spiced up foods! Here is a list of spices with their healthy benefits as
well as ideas on using them…enjoy!

1. Turmeric –The reason curried dishes are yellow is mainly because of
tumeric. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants are
incredible—I take it myself daily in the form of a supplement for my
gallbladder. It’s delicious in rice, on fish and stir fried into veggies.

2. Basil — Ah, the taste of summer. Who can resist fresh basil and
tomatoes from the garden tossed with olive oil and garlic on a plate full
of pasta? Dried, it’s wonderful in soups, pasta dishes and chicken. Basil
is good source of vitamin A, plus C, potassium and calcium, with almost no

3. Dill — It’s not just for pickles. Try some dill sprinkled on fish,
chicken or even in a light cream soup. Dill is known for its antibacterial
qualities, as well as its iron content, fiber and magnesium.

4. Garlic — Nectar of the gods, well, bulb of the gods anyway. Garlic has
a way of making the most ordinary food gourmet. Try sprinkling garlic
powder (not garlic salt) into a prepared box of white cheddar macaroni and
. Surprise! It’s pretty good. Fresh, though, is best. Squeeze it
from a press into almost anything, except chocolate. Garlic has
anti-inflammatory properties and may help lower blood pressure.

5. Ginger — Sprinkle it in your stir-fry, try it on baked chicken breasts
with a little soy sauce and garlic. For fun, get it fresh (it’s that
alien-looking root mass in the produce department) and freeze it. It will
keep almost indefinitely when frozen. To use, hack off a piece, peel it
and grate into your recipe. Ginger tea helps quell nausea and an upset

6. Nutmeg — I love nutmeg. If you can find nutmeg nuts and the itty,
bitty grater that comes with it, buy it. Once you’ve had freshly grated
nutmeg, the powdered stuff in the jar is beneath you. Obviously an
ingredient in baking, it’s also good grated on sauteed squash, green
beans, and carrots. Nutmeg may help with pain relief and stress.

7. Oregano — A staple in Italian cooking, it’s also good in stews and
salad dressings. Oregano is nutrient rich, a good source of fiber, plus a
fabulous anti-bacterial (oil of oregano is used in some natural cold
remedies), as well as a terrific antioxidant!

8. Rosemary — This beautiful plant grows wild in my garden and provides
an intoxicating aroma to meats, stews and root veggies. Try some crumbled
in your carrots for a change of pace. Rosemary stimulates the immune
system and helps with digestion, too.

9. Tarragon — An almost licorice flavor, this delicate herb takes front
and center in vinaigrettes, as a delicious sprinkle on the top of baked or
poached poultry and fish. Tarragon is known for stimulating the brain,
nervous system and digestive system as well.

10. Thyme – Definitely make time for thyme! It’s strong and adds a hint of
character to an otherwise pretty standard dish. Use it with chicken, soups
and beef. Thyme is an amazing antioxidant, is nutrient rich (vitamin K
content is off the hook) and may protect cell membranes from oxidization.

Storing Celery Tip

I’m not a big fan of raw celery but it’s handy to have for cooking soups and different dishes…so I try to keep some in the fridge. I was having a problem with it ruining (getting shriveled up or limp and slimy) before I really got a chance to use it all so I started researching ways to prolong the “shelf life” of it in my fridge. I can’t recall where I found this tip but I tried it and it really works!

When you buy celery, wrap it in tin foil and put it in the crisper in the fridge…it will stay crisp for a lot longer than if you don’t do this…I’ve had my celery in the fridge a couple of weeks and it’s as good as new!

I’m hoping to try making a celery soup soon to use up my ever-lasting celery! I’m thinking about this one….