Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fruits & Vegetables-Choosing and Storing

From Land-O-Lakes Meals In Minutes

Stalks should be bright green, with little or no white. Avoid limp, dry looking spears. in general, the thinner the spear, the more tender it will be.
Refrigerate in a plastic bag. If limp, rehydrate by cutting the ends and standing them in about an inch of water in the refrigerator for an hour. Asparagus keeps up to 3 days.

Unless you plan to eat them immediately, avocados should be firm when purchased. They should feel heavy for their size, which indicates high oil content.
Store avocados at room temperature until they give to gentle pressure. To speed the ripening process, put avocados in a paper bag in a warm place, such as the top of a refrigerator. Refrigerated avocados quickly lose their flavor.

Look for carrots with their bright green and fresh looking tops still attached. The best ones are also young and slender without any hair-like roots.
Remove greens before storing and place carrots in a closed plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Carrots become limp when exposed to air.

Cucumbers should be firm with smooth, brightly colored skins. Avoid those that are limp or shriveled. Smaller cucumbers are younger, which means they're not as bitter, and have thinner skins and fewer seeds.
Whole cucumbers can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 10 days. Cut cucumbers can be stored tightly wrapped in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

Onions should feel firm, with dry, papery skins, and show no sign of mold or sprouting.
Store sweet onions and dried onions in a cool, dry place with good air circulation up to 2 months. Try to avoid stacking. Store green onions in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper.

Look for strawberries that are shiny-this indicates freshness. An intense perfume also indicates a tasty berry, as does full red color. Avoid fruit with green or open tips. Always inspect berries for mold.
Leave berries at room temperature if you plan to eat them the same day, otherwise refrigerate. Keeping strawberries dry and airtight extends their life. Never wash strawberries until you are ready to use them; then wash and dry them quickly.

Sweet Peppers:
Peppers should feel crisp and firm and have glossy skins with no wrinkling.
Peppers last longest in the refrigerator. Protect them from moisture loss by putting them in a paper bag or dry plastic bag in the crisper up to a week. If you will be using the peppers in a day or two, keep them in a paper bag at cool room temperature.

A tomato should smell good and feel firm (not hard). The color should be full and rich.
Do not refrigerate tomatoes. Keep at room temperature, preferably away from sunny windows.

Zucchini (Summer Squash)
Look for bright-colored skin, free of spots and bruises. In general, the smaller the squash, the more tender it will be.
Keep squash in a plastic bag in the warmest part of your refrigerator no more than 5 days.

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