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!

Chicken Lo Mein

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Did you know that March has been designated as the National “Noodle Month”?

And if you are feeling like you are running out options for take out during the COVID-19 pandemic, and you are craving something salty, something savory, but you don’t know quiet these flavors are combined into your favorite take out dish, then this easy peasy recipe is just for you. It’s Chicken Lo Mein and it is packed with oodles of noodles and veggies to keep you happy and healthy at the same time.The noodles in this dish are big on flavor without the greasey guilt that you find in most take out foods. This recipe is pretty much straight forward. It is composed of just noodles, chicken and spinach cooked in a garlicky hoisin/soy sauce and dude, it is seriously fresh!

For the most part, lo mein noodles in the ethnic foods section of most major supermarkets. However, in this quarantine kitchen pantry, I substituted the lo mein noodles with the fettuccine I had on hand. You can also use spaghetti or soba noodles. I did not have any hoisin sauce, but there was a bottle of honey barbecue sauce in the fridge, which is somewhat similar to hoisin. I am happy to report that both of these substitution worked well in this dish and it turned out just as delicious.

So, are up to honing you home cooking skills with this dish? Are you game? Ready! Set! And away we go!

 

ENJOY!

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From the Quarantine Pantry:
Soy sauce, sesame oil, olive oil, honey bbq sauce, fettuccine, cilantro, garlic, carrots, arugula/spinac salad mix, snow peas and chicken breasts.

SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS:

For the Sauce:

3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

For the Lo Mein:

8 ounces uncooked lo mein noodles

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips

1 cup shredded carrots

1 cup snow peas

3 cups fresh spinach

1/4 bunch of cilantro sprigs, optional

DIRECTIONS:

To make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, hoisin sauce and sesame oil. Set the sauce aside.

For the lo mein: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lo mein noodles and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a large nonstick sauté pan set over medium heat, add the olive oil and sesame oil. Once hot, add the garlic and chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until the chicken is cooked through, no longer pink. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set it aside.

Add the carrots and snow peas to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach, cooked noodles, chicken and prepared sauce to the pan and cook, stirring, until combined and the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.

To serve, place in shallow bowls and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

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Chickpea Quesadillas

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It’s “Taco Tuesday” and you will not be disappointed with this veggie-friendly quesadilla. Neatly stuff a mess of cumin seasoned smashed chickpeas into a flour tortilla and sprinkle with a mix of cheese and scallions, and you will have so much gooey goodness made with you, the health conscious and family budget friendly and absolute foodie, in mind.

Enjoy!

MAKES 4

INGREDIENTS:

2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small red onion, diced

1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 large (9- to 10-inch) flour tortillas

2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

2 cups cojita cheese, crumbled

1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese

3 medium scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced

For Serving:

Salsa, guacamole, sour cream, Mexican hot sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Add half of the chickpeas to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse until broken down but not puréed. (Alternatively, place in a large bowl and mash with a fork.) Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan (at least 10 inches) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, stir to coat with the oil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the whole and mashed chickpeas, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl combine the cheeses and set aside.

To assemble the quesadillas: Place the tortillas on a work surface. Top each tortilla with 1/4 cup of cheese. Divide the chickpea mixture among the tortillas, spreading into an even layer but leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top of the chickpeas, then top each with scallions. To fold the quesadillas, fold the top of the tortilla down over the filling to the center. Holding that piece down and working clockwise, continue folding the rest of the tortilla towards the middle until the filling is completely covered (you will have about 5 folds). Carefully flip the quesadilla over and repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Heat a large frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Add the quesadillas (as many as will fit in a single layer), folded-side down. Cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Repeat as needed until all the quesadillas are cooked.

Reheating: If not serving immediately, let cool completely and wrap each quesadilla tightly in aluminum foil. Refrigerate or freeze in resealable plastic bags. Reheat uncovered in a 325°F regular or toaster oven until warmed through, about 15 minutes if refrigerated, or about 25 minutes if frozen. Microwaving is not recommended, as the quesadillas will be soggy.

COOK’S NOTES:

Storage: The foil-wrapped quesadillas can be stored in a resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.