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Fruit & Vegetable Tips

Useful fruit and vegetable tips that will help make work in the kitchen easier and more efficient.

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Most of the fiery heat in a hot chile peppers (such as jalapeño) is located in the seeds and membrane -- carefully remove them first before chopping and you'll tame the pepper's fire greatly without sacrificing on taste.

To prevent a serious chemical burn on your hands that will literally last for hours, always use plastic gloves when preparing raw hot chile peppers (which contain capsaicin, the main ingredient in pepper spray). This safety tip is especially important when preparing a large quantity...and do keep your hands AWAY from your face, especially no rubbing the eyes or chapped lips!!!

For the best flavor and crisper texture when using raw onion in foods, soak in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes and drain thoroughly prior to using in foods such as salads and salsas or as a condiment.

At the store, purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged. If buying fresh cut produce, be sure it is refrigerated or surrounded by ice.

At home, chill and refrigerate foods. After purchase, put produce that needs refrigeration away promptly. (Fresh whole produce such as bananas and potatoes do not need refrigeration.) Fresh produce should be refrigerated within two hours of peeling or cutting. Leftover cut produce should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than two hours.

Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables with cool tap water immediately before eating. Don't use soap or detergents. Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cut away any bruised or damaged areas before eating.

Use a cooler with ice or use ice gel packs when transporting or storing perishable food outdoors, including cut fresh fruits and vegetables.

Fresh strawberries will last longer when stored in the refrigerator, unwashed, in an airtight container between layers of paper towels, preferably without the berries touching.

When adding whole cherry or grape tomatoes to a marinated salad, first carefully pierce them with the tines of a fork. They'll be more flavorful because they can absorb the marinade better. Tip courtesy of SassyGranny.

Save those thin white plastic bags you brought ice cream home in! Once the bananas have reached the "perfect" ripeness, place them in one of those white plastic bags and store in the refrigerator. They will remain "firm textured" and retain their bright yellow color for up to a week.

Banana's past their prime? Then peel, slice or leave whole and freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, place bananas in a plastic freezer zipper bag. Use thawed in any recipe calling for mashed bananas.

A dampened paper towel or terry cloth brushed downward on a cob of corn will remove corn silk.

Freeze whole strawberries, peach and banana slices on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, store in a plastic zipper bag in the freezer. Great for use in beverages such as fruit smoothies.

You'll get superb flavor as well as protection from discoloration if you sprinkle avocado with fresh lime juice instead of lemon juice.

To ripen green pears, place 2 or 3 in a brown bag, loosely closed, and store at room temperature out of direct sunlight.

To ripen a tomato fast, put it with an apple in a perforated bag or a covered bowl. The apple gives off ethylene gas that speeds the ripening process.

Dip fresh strawberries into sour cream or plain yogurt and roll in strawberry-flavored gelatin crystals for a quick treat.

To keep cut apple slices from turning brown, sprinkle them with a little lemon juice or other citrus fruit. Great idea for kid's school lunches!

Don't refrigerate those tomatoes you just purchased at the local market! Instead, store them stem-side down in a basket or bowl on your kitchen counter or table and they will continue to ripen, improving their flavor and texture. Refrigerate after desired ripeness is reached.

Don't squeeze fresh tomatoes to remove the seeds because it makes them mushy. Instead, scoop the seeds out with a teaspoon or very clean fingers!

To keep cauliflower snowy as it cooks, add 2 tablespoons lemon juice or white vinegar to the cooking water.

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