How Long Your Fresh Produce Will Really Last?

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Are you wondering how long your fruits and vegetables will last, and how to tell when produce has gone bad? This handy little guide for the quarantine kitchen  is here to help.

We -are all in the midst of the global COVID-19 Pandemic. And I am sure that you all have just done a limited run to your local grocery stores  with  few bags fo fresh produce, but do you know how to extend the life of your fruits and vegetables at home?

To keep your bounty fresh with this handy food storage guide.

Now, keep in mind that this guide is that  outlines the shelf life of common fruits and vegetables so you can smartly plan meals to eat your most fragile foods first.

And yes, we have all encountered that fuzzy science experiment in the back of the fridge. So no  more finding slimy lettuce in the crisper drawer at the end of the week!

In the Chart below, tips  on how to store and help preserve your food longer and in its best condition are listed.  The Chart also shares signs that your food is at peak ripeness so you can enjoy that fleeting crispy cauliflower at its glory.

HOW TO STORE AND PRESERVE FRESH PRODUCE

Produce How Long It Lasts Tips for Fresh Produce
Apples 4-8 weeks in the fridge It’s OK if your apple has a few brown spots. Those can be cut away. But if it looks wrinkled or feels mushy, it’s time to toss.
Avocado 4-7 days at room temperature Peel off the stem. If the skin underneath is green, the avocado is ripe. It’ll also give in to light pressure when squeezed.
Bananas 2-5 days at room temperature Bananas are best when they’re yellow and have just started to develop brown spots. A ripe banana will be easy to peel.
Blueberries 1-2 weeks in the fridge Most blueberries you get at the store will be ready to gobble down. They’ll have a blue-gray color. If they start to feel moist or look moldy, it’s time to toss.
Broccoli 7-14 days in the fridge Your broccoli should have a rich, green color. It’s best to eat when the stems feel firm, not limp.
Carrots 3-4 weeks in the fridge Carrots are past their prime when they feel limp or have developed a white, grainy look. If you bought carrots with their greens on, it’s best to cut the greens off and store separately.
Cucumbers 1 week in the fridge Your cucumber should have a bright and even green color throughout. Discard if it has any sunken areas, is yellow or has wrinkly skin.
Garlic 3-6 months at room temperature Garlic in its prime will feel firm and have an off-white color. If it’s grown any sprouts, peel them away before cooking. Pass up garlic that has turned tan or looks wrinkly.
Iceberg and romaine lettuce 7-10 days in the fridge If your greens look discolored, feel soggy or have a rotten smell, it’s time to discard.
Lemons 3-4 weeks in the fridge Healthy lemons will be bright yellow and slightly firm to the touch. It’s overripe if it has soft spots, dark blotches or is oozing juice.
Onions 2-3 months at room temperature A good onion will look clean and feel firm. Moisture and soft spots can be a sign it’s gone bad.
Oranges 3-4 weeks in the fridge Juicy oranges will look bright and feel slightly firm to the touch. Check to see that there are no soft spots.
Peaches 1-3 days at room temperature Ripe peaches will have a deep golden color. They’ll also wrinkle slightly around the stem and give in a bit when gently squeezed.
Potatoes 3-5 weeks in the pantry A good potato will feel firm and smell like earth. It’s OK if it has small sprouts, but if the sprouts are longer than a few centimeters, your potato may have gone bad.
Strawberries 3-7 days in the fridge Fragrant and bright strawberries are the best to eat. Discard if there is any sign of mold.
String beans 3-5 days in the fridge The beans should be slender and firm without any visible seeds. You’ll know they’ve gone bad if they’ve turned limp or moist.
Tomatoes 1 week at room temperature Ready-to-eat tomatoes will feel firm when slightly squeezed and seem slightly heavy compared with their size.
Watermelon 7 to 10 days at room temperature Tap on the side. If the melon sounds hollow, it’s good to eat. Also, it should feel firm when pressed but not hard as a rock.
Whole mushrooms 7-10 days in the fridge If the mushroom feels sticky or slimy, it’s bad. Whole mushrooms will keep longer than sliced mushrooms.
Zucchini 4-5 days in the fridge Your summer squash should be firm yet slightly flexible and have glossy skin. If the zucchini looks gray, it may be overly ripe.

Download the Printable Chart

No matter what-or when-you decide to cook, it’s best to err on the conservative side when judging whether food is safe. Trust your instincts. If something looks or smells off, your best bet is to toss it.

Want more? Read up on: 12 secret tricks to keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer.

Be Well and Stay Safe Out There!

Caramel Clementines

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Fresh orange slices bathed in a butterscotch caramel sauce — is simply divine, bright, and bold. Known as “aranci caramellizzati” in Italy, it was first introduced by food writer Elizabeth David in her 1954 work, Italian Food. who wrote appreciatively of caramelized Sicilian oranges. This stylish confection was popularized in the 1970s in a cooking course published as a monthly magazine by London’s Le Cordon Bleu. Exotic and sweetly astringent, they were a standby of posh dinner parties throughout the Commonwealth, the sort of dish that was not particularly difficult to make but still signaled a home cook’s understanding of elegance. Similar desserts were all the rage on London dessert carts during the ’80s. Today, there are a number of modern recipes for this dessert by British cooks such as Nigel Slater and Sophie Grigson. Even Nigella Lawson offers a similar recipe in Forever Summer and suggests serving the oranges with yogurt. If yogurt is not your style, this dessert is versatile enough that you can accompany caramelized fruit with a slice of pound cake or vanilla ice cream, if you desire. Also, think about serving it over meringues to make it an caramelized orange pavlovas.

Adapted from Matthew Card 
Milk Street Magazine, 2017

Serves 6

Ingredients:

4½ pounds of clementines or 8 navel or cara medium oranges
1 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons salted butter
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
A splash of triple sec or Grand Marnier
Pistachio nuts, for garnish (optional)

For serving:
Plain Greek Yogurt

Directions:

Carefully peel the clementines and slice crosswise, into thirds. If using oranges, cut the top and bottom ½ inch off of the oranges. Stand each orange on one of its flat ends and use a sharp knife to cut down and around the fruit, peeling away all the skin and pith. Thinly slice the oranges crosswise. Evenly shingle the sliced fruit in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Combine the sugar, ¼ cup of the orange juice, and the cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, 2 to 3 minutes,  and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar begins to color around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Note that the bubbles should go from thin and frothy to thick and shiny. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, swirling the pan often, until the sugar is coppery-brown, 1 to 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter, and whisk until melted. Add a splash of the remaining orange juice  and whisk until smooth. Note that the mixture will steam and bubble vigorously, then add the remaining orange juice and triple sec and whisk until fully incorporated. If the caramel separates and sticks to the bottom of the pan, return it to the heat and simmer until the hardened caramel dissolves. Pour the caramel evenly over the oranges, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to stand for 25 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the oranges to a serving platter or individual plates. Remove and discard the cinnamon sticks and whisk the caramel to recombine. Pour the caramel over the oranges. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the fruit to stand at room temperature.

To serve, spoon  a large dollop of yogurt into a bowl and top with the fruit and lightly drizzle with the caramel sauce. Garnish with a sprinkle of pistachio nuts.

Cook’s Notes: 

Don’t think about the caramel’s color for the first few minutes. The sugar mixture will melt, froth furiously as the heat increases (and moisture evaporates), and finally subside into larger, shinier bubbles before coloring. If the sugar browns too quickly, slide the pan off heat and whisk steadily to incorporate cooling air.

You can also use an assortment of citrus fruits instead of just oranges. The differences in size, acidity and sweetness make the dish all the more fascinating.

Also, to switch up the flavor, replace the cinnamon sticks with two star anise (our favorite) or six cardamom pods (lightly crushed). Use granulated white sugar, not a “natural” sugar, since the latter will make the color of the caramel hard to judge. Unsalted butter and a pinch of salt replaces salted butter. You also can serve the oranges with ice cream, pound cake or topped with a handful of toasted and chopped nuts.

The original recipe calls for the dessert to  be served cold, but we liked it more at room temperature, where the fruit seemed more flavorful.

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9 Ways to Use Over Ripe Bananas

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FFood waste is an important topic that’s near and dear to our hearts. This year, was all about striving to build a better, healthier lifestyle and a more efficient kitchen, which includes reducing how much of our purchased food gets tossed into the trash or compost. As we are living in the time of COVID-19, we should be even more concious about our food choices as well.

Bananas are one of the most popular fruits consumed by people around the world and they are often lingering around the kitchen. It’s not uncommon to end up with no less than three overly ripe bananas sitting on the counter at the end of each week. Here are some tips on how to freeze your leftover fruit you might face if you don’t have time to cook/bake with it:

  • Toss bananas into the freezer, peel and all, and reserve for another day. These are perfect for baking with later.

  • Slice bananas into 1”-thick pieces and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, then transfer to a ziptop baggie and store in the freezer. Use in smoothies as needed.

  • Mash 2-3 bananas (or however many your favorite banana bread recipe calls for) and place them in a ziptop baggie. Store packets in the freezer and make sure they’re labeled. Keep until you have time to make banana bread.

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Here are some other interesting ways to make the most of your leftover bananas:

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Banana Quick Bread and Muffins: The darker and uglier the banana, the more flavourful the muffin you’ll end up making. Perfect for tucking into the lunchbox or serving to friends with a cup of coffee, our foolproof recipe for perfect banana bread is one you won’t want to miss.

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Banana Smoothies: When bananas are just too ripe and mushy for to consume on their own, add them to smoothies instead. They’re full of flavor and bring a coveted, creamy component to your favourite blended drinks. Our Banana Berry Breakfast Smoothie is a great recipe to try!

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Banana Oatmeal: Add a large dollop of mashed bananas to your morning oatmeal, stirring it into the cereal before serving.

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Banana Pancakes: Mash 1 to 2 bananas and add them to your favorite pancake recipe – no ingredient alterations required.

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Banana Nice Cream: Freeze banana slices until you have a decent amount (1/3 of a blender full), then blend them to create the best vegan ice cream you’ll ever make.

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Banana Beauty: You might be surprised to learn that overripe bananas can also find their way into your beauty regime, but that’s exactly what happened when we created our DIY avocado face masks. For oily skin, combine ripe banana, avocado and egg yolk to make a soothing all-natural skin brightener.

Banana Foster: Another great recipe for bananas that are perhaps a little too ripe for your taste to eat on their own is Banana Foster. This comes together easily with common kitchen ingredients and is super delicious! Serve with vanilla ice cream or on top of a simple vanilla or gingerbread cake.

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Banana Pops: This a great DIY project for you and the kids while every one is on lock down. Peel and cut bananas in half. Insert popsicle sticks and cover in plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 3 hours. Then remove from the freezer and dip into melted chocolate adding sprinkles, chopped nuts or dried coconut to suit your taste. Enjoy!