Use these preparation and storage “bites” to enjoy the abundant summer produce at its peak of flavor, appearance and safety!
Bite 1. Prevent cut fruit from turning brown.
Keep cut fruits, such as apples, pears, bananas and peaches, from turning brown by coating them with an acidic juice such as lemon, orange or pineapple juice. Or use a commercial anti-darkening preparation with fruits, such as Fruit-Fresh®, and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Another method to prevent browning is to mix them with acidic fruits like oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and other citrus fruit or pineapple. Prepare the acidic fruit(s) first. Then, cut the other fruits, mixing them with in the acidic fruit(s) as you prepare them.
Cut fruits as close to serving time as possible. Cover and refrigerate cut fruit until ready to serve. Refrigerate peeled/cut fruits and vegetables so they are at room temperature no longer than 2 hours, TOTAL time.
Bite 2. Make the most of your melon baller.
Melon ballers, those little kitchen gadget with a scoop at each end of a handle about 6 inches long, can save valuable time in preparing fruits and veggies. Even if you never make melon balls, use a melon baller to:
· Core apples and pears.
· Cut away the inner membrane from peppers.
· Scoop out the inside of a cherry tomato and make tiny stuffed appetizers. Try stuffing the tomatoes with your favorite tuna salad sandwich mixture.
· Remove seeds and surrounding pulp from fruits and veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini papaya and kiwi.
· Scoop out the insides of potatoes for twice-baked potatoes
Bite 3. Take a salad spinner for a spin!
Salad dressing slides off damp salad greens and collects in the bottom of the salad bowl. You’ll get more flavor with less dressing (and fewer calories!) if salad greens are washed and dried before tossing your salad with dressing. A tablespoon of an oil and vinegar dressing may be all it takes for two cups of dried salad greens.
The easiest and quickest way to dry salad greens is in a salad spinner. A salad spinner uses centrifugal force to remove water from freshly washed salad greens and herbs.
Your wet greens are placed in a perforated basket that fits in a larger outer bowl. The bowl is covered with a lid that has a gear-operated handle, pull-cord or knob that you pump to turn the inner basket and spin the water off into the outer bowl.Pack greens lightly to avoid overcrowding and bruising them. After spinning, pat off any remaining moisture with clean paper towels.
When purchasing a salad spinner, take it for a spin at the store! You want a model that is sturdy, has a well-fitting lid and spins easily. Choose a model large enough so you don’t have to go through several “spin cycles” to dry all your greens.
A salad spinner also may be used to dry washed clusters of grapes. Note: If you are preparing small clusters of grapes for garnishing, cut the clusters with scissors. This helps keep the grapes attached to the stem.
Bite 4. Do this with radishes before refrigeration.
If the leafy radish tops are attached, remove them before storing. Radishes don’t keep as well if their tops are left on. Store unwashed radishes in an open or perforated plastic bag in a refrigerator crisper drawer that is separate from the one in which you store fruits. Wash radishes and trim their roots just before using.
Source: Alice Henneman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster