The How-to's of Food Care
By Patty Liston
You've been to the store, lugged the grocery bags into the house, set them on our kitchen counter, and begin to unpack and store what you have purchased. For most of the items such as canned goods and boxes, knowing where to store them is a no-brainer. However, when it comes to produce, we may think we know where and how to store them, but are we correct in our assumptions?
According to Hilary Meyer of Eating Well Magazine, our refrigerator is not necessarily the "go to" storage place for all things produce. My assumption was that most everything would go into my frige... somewhere. That is what crisper drawer is for, right?
Below are the correct storage locations for 5 different foods. If there was a quiz on this, I probably would have gotten all but 1 of these items wrong. Let me know how you do!
Questions #1: Are tomatoes a vegetable or a fruit? A fruit.
Tomatoes grow juicy and delicious on vines in the heat of the day. Putting them in the frig after you pick them or purchase them, does not make this fruit very happy. Think of them as being happiest on the beach, sipping a pina colada. The best place for them is on your counter but not in direct sunlight. Being refrigerated will turn this lovely fruit mealy and bland.
Yep, I got this one wrong too. I just purchased some fresh basil and put it in the vegetable crisper of my refrigerator. But it seems that Basil is a sun-loving, pina colada drinking, herb just like the tomato. Probably why the 2 are so delicious together in pasta dishes! This little bit of information explains why my basil wilted within a few days.
According to Ms. Meyer, basil should be cared for as you would fresh cut flowers. Fresh 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". To make sure that the basil, like your flowers has some fresh air, make sure that there is some kind of opening in the bag.
At least I have never put my potatoes in my refrigerator. But I have not kept them in a cool, dark, place, either, which is the recommended way of storing. Take your potatoes out of the plastic bag and put them in a paper bag, which is more breathable. Then, put the bag in a cool place in your kitchen. When potatoes are put in a cold frig, their starch is converted to sugar more quickly, which "can affect the flavor, texture and the way they cook".
Again, no cold conditions for this vegetable. Onions need to be stored in a cool, dark, dry, and well ventilated place, such as a food pantry or shelf. And don't put them next to your potatoes. It seems that potatoes give off moisture and gas that will cause onions to spoil. Separate living conditions for these two: or at least separate shelves!
Scallions and chives, on the other hand have a higher water content, bruise more easily and have a shorter shelf life, so these can be stored in your frig.
Thank you, thank you Ms. Meyers for the following information. I have heard so many different stories about avocados that it is finally good to have a "last word".
Avocados don't start to ripen until AFTER they have been picked from the tree. If you pick through the avocado bin at your local market, buy one or two that are hard, and put them in the frig, this critical ripening process will slow down. So, the rule of thumb is this:
If the avocado is already ripe, putting it in the frig will give you a few more days to think up delicious ways to use it before the avocado becomes mushy. If the avocado is hard, store it on your counter to ripen.