Monday, 23 April 2012

Food Storage Advice

I was thinking, not many people know really how to store what - which sometimes leads to food getting soiled. So thought I'd share what I do..  Sunday's are my Veg and Fruit days.. I prefer to buy fruits and vegs direct from the fresh market on Sunday. I find they're freshest there and rates are quite alright.

So, here is what I always try to buy - depending on what is available and how fresh it is.

Potatoes
Peas
Tomatoes
Onions
Lemons
Ginger
Garlic
Coriander
Mint
Cucumbers
Apples

This is how I store them:

Potatoes
In a large box/jali, covered, with a dark cloth or sheet. Or a large cloth bag. Keep them dry and keep them out of sunlight. As dark as possible. Put in an apple, to per one kilo. That will help keep them fresh for longer.

Peas
Shell them, and put them in a freezer bag. UNWASHED. Rinse before use.

Tomatoes
Wash and cut in half. Put in large pot and let cook. Once they're all soft and mushy, blend them with a hand blender or in a normal blender. Save this puree in small plastic boxes or freezer bags. I save half of it like this and cook the other half down to a paste like consistency. Then either save that, or make chili sauce or ketchup out of it. That too, if its a lot, freeze, otherwise put in glass jars and keep in fridge.

If you want to keep some fresh and whole, keep them in a bowl lined with a paper or kitchen towel. Stem side up. Move them around every day. Keep them dry and out of sunlight and whatever you do, do NOT put them in the fridge. If its very hot, keep them in a room which is cooler.. room temperature is fine for tomatoes. Fridge spoils them quickest.

Onions
Keep them out of sunlight, in a box, mesh bag or in a nylon stocking! Just drop in an onion, tie a knot and drop another.. Keep them hanging and away from direct sunlight. Keep them away from other vegs, that will spoil them sooner.

Lemons
If you need a slice or two of lemon, don't slice the entire piece of fruit. Using a sharp knife, cut off the end, but don't throw it away. Instead, after cutting off a slice or two from the end of the lemon, put the cap back in place before placing in back in the refrigerator. The sliced off end will help keep the rest of the lemon fresh until you need more.

Other than that, store them in the fridge. If you have more than easily storable, scrape off the peel for lemon zest and store in a plastic box in a freezer. Juice the lemon and either make a syrup by boiling juice of 7 to 8 lemons with half a litre water and 1 cup sugar. Make a thick syrup and store in fridge. Use in lemonades. If you want plain lemon juice on hand for cooking, store in ice-cube tray in freezer and use as needed.

Ginger
Keep refrigerated in a well sealed bag with all the air pressed out. To store a large chunk, buy ginger that isn't wet, moldy, or withered; leave the peel on and dry it. It should keep for a couple of months. To use, simply cut off a "finger" of ginger, re-bag the rest, press out the air, and reseal.


Or, fry it and grind it with the oil. Store in glass bottle as ginger paste.

Garlic
The first thought for many people is to store garlic bulbs in the refrigerator or in the freezer. The cold temperature spoils the taste as well as the texture of the garlic cloves.

Garlic is best stored in a cool, dry place. Immediately after buying, take the garlic bulbs and place them in an airtight container or cloth bag. Store them in a cabinet, in a cool dark environment.

Or, fry, and grind with the oil. Store in glass bottle in the fridge as garlic paste.

Coriander
Either ground to a chutney and in the freezer, or, cleaned and wrapped in a moist cloth. Place the moist cloth in a plastic bag and keep in the fridge. Keeps fresh over a week.

Mint
Similar to the coriander. As cutney or in moist cloth in fridge. Additionally, make a syrup of it and store. Use for teas and juices.

Cucumbers
Wrap each cucumber in a tissue and keep them all in a plastic bag in the fridge. Will keep inshaAllah longer than a week.

Apples
The best place to store apples is the fruit and vegetable crisper drawer in the refrigerator.  When apples are stored in the refrigerator, they can stay perfectly fresh for the whole month or even more!  You can store the apples in the refrigerator with or without a plastic bag.  I’ve done it both ways, and haven’t found much of a difference in how long the apples stay fresh.  If you choose to store apples in the refrigerator inside the plastic bag, puncture some holes in the bag to let the air in.

If you are planning to use your apples within a week and don’t have that much space in your refrigerator, you can store them on the counter.  The apples will stay perfectly fresh and crisp on the counter for at least a week.

Also, when you buy apples, examine them to make sure they are not bruised.  Apples that are bruised will spoil pretty quickly, especially on the counter.  Buy good apples that don’t have bruises.  You can count on good apples staying fresh when stored for 1 week on the counter or 1 month in a refrigerator.