Eight tips for better tasting fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables provide a wonderful array of tastes and nutrients, so take the time to care of them.
Due to all the produce harvested in the United States and imported from other countries, we can enjoy a vast variety of fruit and vegetables all year round. The following tips from Michigan State University Extension will help you enjoy your produce at its peak flavor, appearance and nutritional value while making sure it is safe to eat.
- Clean all fresh fruits and vegetables using lukewarm water and a vegetable brush, if it has a tough skin, and then dry it using clean paper towels.
- Prevent cut fruit from turning brown. Acidic citric juices like lemon, orange or pineapple juice keep cut fruits like apples, pears, peaches, pears and bananas from turning brown. You may also choose to use a commercial anti-darkening product like Fruit-Fresh®, just follow the manufacturer’s directions. Mixing apples, pears, peach and bananas with citric fruits like oranges, tangerines, pineapple and grapefruit also keep them from browning. Prepare the citric fruits first then cut the other fruits, mixing them with the acidic fruits as you prepare them.
- Cut fruits as close to serving time as possible. Cover and refrigerate cut fruit until ready to serve. Your refrigerator should be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
- Take your salad greens for a spin in your salad spinner. Wet salad greens make salad dressing slide off. You’ll get more flavor and fewer calories, with less dressing if salad greens are rinsed and dried before dressing your salad. The easiest and quickest way to dry salad greens is in a salad spinner. Don’t pack greens into the spinner; make sure they have enough room to spin around in there. After spinning, pat off any remaining moisture with clean paper towels. A salad spinner can also be used to dry fruits like grapes and cherries.
- Radishes like to be topped. If the leafy radish tops are attached, remove them before storing them in the refrigerator. Radishes don’t keep well if their tops are left on. Store unwashed radishes in an open or perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator vegetable crisper drawer that is separate from the one in which you store fruit. Trim the top of the radishes and their roots then scrub and rinse them just before using.
- Separate fruit and vegetables from meats in your refrigerator. Prevent cross contamination by keeping fruit and vegetables that will be eaten raw separate from other foods such as raw meat, poultry or seafood.
- Store fruit in your refrigerator separately from vegetables. Fruit give off ethylene gas which can shorten the storage life of vegetables. Some vegetables, like onions and cauliflower, also give off odors that can be absorbed by fruits and affect their quality.
- Refrigerate fruit and vegetables in perforated plastic bags. This helps keep their moisture yet provides for air flow. Unperforated plastic bags hold in excess moisture and can lead to the growth of mold or bacteria. Use a sharp object to make several very small holes in a food grade plastic bag, about 20 holes per medium-size bag.
It is well worth the time and money to take care of fresh produce so that it provides maximum nutiritonal value.