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Nov
21

Storing Fruits and VegetablesWash your hands thoroughly before handling food. A 20 second scrub with soap and water should do it.

Wash all fruits and vegetables under running water before you use them. This also includes items you are going to peel, like oranges and bananas. Using a clean produce brush is a good idea but never use soap or detergents to wash fruits and vegetables.

Scrub fruits and vegetables with “hard” skins such as apples, eggplants, cucumbers, and green peppers under cool running water. Dry thoroughly with a clean cloth or paper towel to prevent mold from sprouting on a damp surface, and refrigerate.

Wash leafy greens and refrigerate them wrapped in a paper towel inside a plastic bag, or refrigerate unwashed in a plastic bag and rinse thoroughly right before use.

Check for any decay on the fruit or vegetables and discard it.

If there are bruises or bumps on any vegetable or fruit, make sure there is no decay under the skin.

Use a clean cutting board when cutting fruits and vegetables. Always use different cutting boards to cut your fruits and vegetables and meat. Plastic or other nonporous cutting boards can be run through the dishwasher after use.

If you are planning to store your vegetables after cutting them, make sure you refrigerate them within two hours. Store all cut vegetables in clean containers or bags.

Precut and peeled fruits and vegetables are very convenient to use. They should be properly refrigerated and eaten quickly as they have a shorter shelf life.

These food safety tips will make sure your family gets all the benefits of a diet full of fruits and vegetables.

Jul
10

Here are some food preparation and food storage tips which will come in handy in lots of different recipes you’ll try. They will make cooking easier for you.

Food Storage

Almonds
To peel the skin, it is best to bring almonds to a boil. It makes the skin soft and easy to peel.

Bread
Store bread with the bag in a plastic container and seal well so no moisture gets in. Keep the bread in the freezer after use; it remains fresh for days this way.

Butter
To soften butter, use a grater. Save the wrappers in the freezer. Use them for greasing pans or as cake pan liners.

Cabbage
To make stuffed cabbages, place them in the freezer overnight, defrost and the leaves will peel off easily. To soften leaves for wrapping dolmas, dip in boiling water, then fill and roll.

Cheese
Cheese tastes best when served at room temperature. To cut cheese, a blunt knife is better than a sharp one. When grating, use refrigerated cheese and do not forget to spray the grater with oil.

Coriander
Coriander and other herbs can also be frozen in ice trays filled with water. You can also follow these tips to store herbs and spices.

Coffee
Coffee beans taste best when purchased whole and kept in freezer. Grind only what you need. A blender or a food-processor will do as well as an electric grinder. Create your own flavoured coffees by adding toasted almonds, chocolate, vanilla, orange or lemon peels and cinnamon before grinding the coffee beans.

Corn
Use a shoe horn to remove kernels. Massage some oil so that it comes off easily.

Cream
Cream whips better if cold. To chill cream before serving, keep it in a bowl in water with ice cubes.

Eggs
Fresh eggs are rough and chalky. Old eggs are smooth and shiny. Test for fresh eggs by placing them in a bowl of salted water. Discard the ones which rise to the surface.

Egg whites can be stored in a freezer for a year. They can be re-frozen after defrosting.

Fish
Rub lemon on utensils to eliminate fish odour. If using frozen fish, thaw overnight in the fridge. Don’t freeze fish for more than two months.

Flour
Buy and store flour in a freezer. Don’t buy in bulk especially if you live in a humid climate.

Tips to Store Food

Fruits
Buy fruits before they ripe and ripen them in a bowl at room temperature.

Garlic
Store garlic in the freezer, peel and chop before thawing. Sprinkle salt on garlic to prevent it from sticking to the knife. Soak garlic cloves in cold water for a few hours. Grind and store this garlic paste in air tight bottles and keep them in the fridge. It can last from a week to a fortnight.

Ginger
Fresh ginger is best. But for storage, peel and grind ginger and store in an air tight jar and keep it in the fridge.

Herbs and spices
Buy in small quantity. Keep them away from heat. Follow our tips for storing herbs and spices.

Iced Tea
You do not need to boil it. Place the, tea bag, sugar, lemon peel and mint in a jar filled with cold water overnight in the fridge.

Lemon and Lime
- To cut lemon or lime easily, dip in hot water for 15 minutes, roll on counter top before cutting.
- Save rinds in your freezer and use them when a recipe calls for zest.
- You may use lemon or lime juice on the cutting board and utensils to get rid of unpleasant smells.

Lettuce
Never serve wet lettuce. Wash it in cold water and seal in a bag with a paper towel to absorb moisture.

Meat
To tenderize meat, rub with vinegar, brown sugar, garlic or raw papaya with skin.

Nuts
To crack any nut, place it in a pillow case or a plastic bag before cracking.

Onions
Refrigerate onions or soak them in water before cutting to avoid tears. Use a sharp knife to peel.

Oranges
Place in a hot oven before peeling to removes white fibres while you peel.

Pasta
For perfect pasta, boil in salted water, stir in some oil, cover to let boil for some time, then turn off the heat and let sit for 15 minutes till done. Add butter or oil to water in order to prevent boil overs. It also keeps the pasta from sticking. Once you take out pasta from the hot water in a colander, run it under cold or tap water to prevent it from sticking together.

Popcorn
It stays fresh if sealed in bags.

Potatoes
- Use brown skinned potatoes for deep frying and baking, and red ones for boiling or steaming.
- Store potatoes in cool dry and dark place.
- Don’t ever store them with onions.

Rice
- When cooking, drain rice, run it under cold water to wash off the starch.
- Make packets of two or four cups separately and store in a freezer for convenience.

Green salad
Green salad is best when served cold. Store salad in a zip lock bag with a paper towel to prevent greens from going stale.

Salt
Put a few grains of raw rice in the salt shaker to prevent it from humidity and clogging.

Soups
Before adding veggies, toss them with flour to keep them from sticking at the bottom.

Vegetables
Prepare veggies in microwave as it takes less time and retains colour. You may also steam veggies in ice water to retain their colour.

How to prevent Cooking odours
To prevent cooking odours, boil or simmer a pot of water with some vinegar or lemon skin. Leave it in the kitchen for a while.

Jun
25

Microwave cooking is really a great gift for those who want their meal to get ready in a few minutes. Most of us usually use our home microwave for reheating our meal, for making popcorn or just for melting chocolate. But here are some great tips that will allow you to add microwave cooking to your daily routine and will help to cut short the time you spend in the kitchen. We also have some tips on microwave cooking to make it easy for you to use the microwave.

Microwave Cooking

  1. Always use those dishes in the microwave which are recommended.
  2. Plastic papers, wood and glass can be used easily in the microwave.
  3. Never use metal pots in the microwave as it will produce sparkling.
  4. Microwave heat can penetrate only up to 1 and 1½ inches so always use a big dish or container for your recipe to properly cook food.
  5. A microwave always takes approximately 6 minutes per pound of food. This is for fruits, veggies and poultry etc. but sea food usually take less time. Be sure to read the time carefully required by your recipe when using a microwave.
  6. If you drop the power, the microwave will take more time for cooking.
  7. If you are used to your simple oven, you can easily convert the temperature of simple oven into microwave temperature for a particular dish. Microwave on 100% power is about similar to 425 degree of simple oven and 50% power will be approximately equal to 350 degree oven.
  8. Always arrange food in the dish in such a way that thick parts come at edges and thinner in center. It will allow the heat to distribute properly. A dish with a cone in the centre is always recommended.
  9. Always cover the dish container with a lid or plastic wrapper.
  10. Always try to use as much fewer liquids as possible in the microwave. If milk and water is required for a dish, go for milk only.
  11. If you are going to make any dish using baking soda or other such ingredients, leave for some time to allow these agents to work properly before putting the dish into the microwave.
  12. You do not need to add oil for preventing food from sticking in the microwave oven because food does not stick in moist heat of the microwave.
  13. Cut all ingredients of a recipe in uniform size for uniform cooking.
  14. Spray your food or grease it with oil for crusty look on baked items.
  15. By adding low fat cheese and other topping at the end of cooking will prevent the top from becoming tough and soggy.
  16. 20% of microwave food is cooked after removing from microwave, so serve the food after 5 minutes from removing from microwave.
  17. Stay away while uncovering the dish taken out from microwave as hot steam comes out of the container first. Similarly use kitchen cloth or gloves for handling anything which comes out of the microwave.
  18. Flavour of herbs and spices is usually enhanced in the microwave, so always use them in less quantity then usual.
  19. Salt taste also increases in the microwave, so use it in lesser quantity.
  20. Always keep your microwave clean from inside. An untidy microwave can greatly affect your recipe.
  21. Always set the microwave at 1 minute for reheating your food.
  22. Never cover your dish container with aluminum foil as it produces sparkling.
  23. Microwave cooking is best for low fat cooking.
  24. Fats from food in the microwave can easily be drained away by placing food in microwave between two paper towels.
Jun
18

Here are some general tips that will help you to deal with problems like how to store groceries and leftover meals. If you store your food properly, it will remain fresh for a longer time and you will minimize the risk of food borne illness.

Food Storage

Storing Food

  1. Do not leave cooked food for more then 3 hours at room temperature.
  2. Store cooked food in a refrigerator for maximum 4 days.
  3. If you want to store cooked food for more then 4 days, store it in the freezer.
  4. Always keep your refrigerator at or below 40 degree Fahrenheit. If your refrigerator or freezer becomes warm, it will spoil all the ingredients present in it and will increase the growth of harmful bacteria.
  5. If you are storing raw fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator, store them unwashed and wash them when you are going to utilize them. If you wash them before storing, the moisture will increase the growth of harmful agents.
  6. If you want to wash fruits and veggie before storage, wash them and dry them with a paper towel before storing.
  7. Always use shallow containers for storing food in the refrigerator so that all food gets proper cooling. Similarly use small plastic bags for storing food in the freezer.
  8. Store dry grains, beans and pulses in a dry and dark place in the kitchen. The lid of containers should be tight so that moisture cannot enter.
  9. If you have completely defrosted your food, do not refreeze it again, but if it is not completely thawed, you can refreeze it.
  10. Do not overstuff your refrigerator with food. If the refrigerator is too stuffed, the food may not get proper cooling and can go to waste.
  11. Clean your refrigerator and freezer every week to prevent any bacterial growth.
  12. Never defrost your food or meat at room temperature. Defrost it in the refrigerator or in cold water.
  13. Keep all food covered while storing in the refrigerator.
  14. Always store meat in the freezer, even if you want to store it for 4 hours.
  15. Store apples, pears, pineapples and melons in the refrigerator.
  16. Store bananas and tomatoes at room temperature; when ripe, place them in the refrigerator for long time storage.
  17. Store all berries in the refrigerator. Spread them on a tray in a thin layer. Never wash them before storing.
  18. Keep potatoes and onions in a dark and dry place in the kitchen and never store them together.
  19. Store mushrooms either in a plastic bag or spread them on a shallow container in a thin layer in the refrigerator.
  20. Wash and dry leafy vegetables before storing in the refrigerator. Tear leaves from the stems and put them in plastic bags with paper towels to absorb extra moisture.
  21. It is good to cut tops off of beetroots, turnips and carrots etc. Put them in a plastic bag and then store them in the refrigerator.
  22. Store bread in a dark dry place in a cupboard. If you want to store bread for more then 5 days from purchasing day, store it in the freezer in sealed form.
  23. Always store milk and eggs in the refrigerator.
  24. If you some doubt that food is spoiled, throw it away. Never take a chance.

Be sure to read up on more posts for preserving vegetables and storing herbs and spices.

Jun
08

Herbs and spices are used in fairly small quantities in making food. Due to this reason, people tend to store herbs and spices for a longer period of time. The basic concern regarding herbs and spices is to retain their taste and freshness. Special care and methods are used for this purpose. At times herbs and spices are stored differently because of the slight difference in their nature.

Tips to store herbs and spices

What are herbs and spices?

Distinguishing them at the most basic level gives us the information that herbs are generally the original plants and their leaves whereas spices are the dried seeds or fruits being used.

Tips for storing Herbs & Spices

  1. Always store the herbs and spices in air tight containers. This will keep them safe from moisture and dirt.
  2. Keep the containers in a dark and dry place. Always avoid contact with light and fluids.
  3. Do not store larger quantities in the same container. Divide them in several portions. This technique would help in retaining a consistent flavor.
  4. The best way to store herbs and spices is by putting them in a glass or metal container and sealing them properly.
  5. Herbs and spices can also be stored in woolen cloth bags. However again it must be noted that they should be in small quantities and in a dry place to avoid any contact with moisture.
  6. It is also suggested not to open the containers again and again rather put the required quantity to be used on daily basis in small jars.
  7. Do not store every spice or herb in the refrigerator. Although it is considered a good technique but always check a small quantity for its resistance in the refrigerator first.
  8. While storing any herb or spice, do not wash it before storing. Wash if required, at the time of using.
  9. If a fresh herb is needed to be stored for a week’s time, put the stem of the herb in a small jar with little water. This would keep the herb fresh until it is ready for use.
  10. It is preferred to store the spices and herbs in their whole form and grind them when they are required to be used.
  11. Cloves and rice are also used in the storage of some particular spices or herbs. Some cloves can be used or some rice can be spread all over the stored material.
  12. Drying spices and herbs before storing is also a good exercise. Some spices are dried and grounded before storing.
  13. Most herbs and spices when stored properly will retain their flavor for 6 months to up to a year.
  14. Whole spices stored properly can be used for up to 3 to 5 years in most cases.
  15. Never store dry herbs near humid sources like sinks, coffee makers, counter tops where you work with fluids etc. Also, store them away away from heat sources, such as stoves, microwaves, kettles etc.
  16. Herbs are often used for the treatment of different ailments. In such cases, mixture of herbs is formed. But special care must be taken while storing them. It would be appropriate to ask the experts about the expiry details of such mixtures and should be stored accordingly.

Use these tips for storing herbs and spices to get full advantage of their flavour.