Buying and Storing Fresh Produce
Last week, I posted my first in a series of videos on the Leafy Café Facebook page which I have named “Nutri-mercials”. My lovely yoga & Pilates instructor sister, Patricia, came up with that name and I think it perfectly describes what I would like to present. These videos will be short (about 5 minutes or so) little insights into nutrition answering YOUR questions. The first video was a request for y’all to send in some questions, and you did. The2cd video posted is about buying and storing FRESH produce. OK, now this is just me (not my filmmaker/cinematographer husband) making these little videos with my iphone. They will improve, I promise!! But it is sooo much fun J Any pointers are always welcome!!
Folks are concerned because they want to purchase FRESH veggies and fruits but often get them home and they spoil quickly so... what are some tips for veggie longevity?
Well, I immediately thought of my main man when it comes to produce, Don Maxey. Don and his wife Hollie run Uncle Don’s Local Market on beautiful St. Simons Island, GA. These tips apply no matter where you are so check it out.
South GA does not have really great farmer’s markets (yet) or much in the way of CSAs so accessing fresh locally grown goods can be challenging. Luckily for SSI, Don came along. Don shops from local farms to bring Islanders the freshest in season produce from the mainland counties which surround St. Simons Island so we now have one-stop shopping for organic seasonal greens, tomatoes, whatever the farmers are harvesting daily. One of the tips for veggie longevity is to buy as much from local growers (or grow your own). This means the veggies are so fresh they will last way longer than those shipped from the other side of the planet to your big box grocer. Watch as I talk with Don about the importance of buying local & organic whenever possible.
Don says these small farms are able to maintain nutrient levels in the soils which in turn give our produce more vitamins and minerals, hmmmm. The farmers use a Brix test to determine the absolute best time for harvest based on nutrient content of the food, who knew?? Don reckons that even consumers will own Brix testing devices (aka a refractometer) to ensure they are buying the best. I know people use Brix tests for calculating sugar to determine ripeness of grapes in winemaking, and I use a hydrometer for measuring potential alcohol content when making home brew but I had not heard of Brix testing used in this method. To learn more about Brix testing for nutrient density, click HERE.
Here’s what Don and I recommend for buying and storing fresh produce:
· Buy as much from local growers as possible. Check out farm stands, CSA’s or grow your own! This ensures you the freshest produce to start with and also the most nutrient dense.
· Try not to over purchase, buy only what you need.
· Keep fruits separate from veggies when storing in the fridge. Soon I will be testing the BluApple which is sold in many high-priced stores (whole foods) for $10. I will let you know if it is worth! Try following these guidelines for what to put in the refrigerator and what NOT to put in:
OUT OF THE FRIDGE:
· Veggies such as hard squashes, root vegetables/onions: cool dry, out of light space but not fridge
· Stone fruit such as peaches, plums, cherries – out of fridge until ripe, then in bottom of fridge in a dry drawer
· Citrus – ripen out of fridge
· Tomatoes – temp reacts with tomatoes and turns flavor OFF so out of the fridge away from direct sunlight. In fact, Don shared with me that tomatoes are so temperature sensitive that even fluctuating natural temps can interfere with the life of the tomatoes to try to keep them as constant a temp as possible.
IN THE FRIDGE: (In plastic bags in the crisper)
· Zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli,
· Mushrooms, in a paper bag in fridge
· Herbs, delicate lettuces, in water in fridge or wrapped in paper towel in bag
· Greens, Lettuces, fresh herbs: Wash in cold water (soak if limp) and shake off excess water (I use a salad spinner but you can use kitchen towel. Store wrapped in paper towels in airtight container
I know, y’all in the South are saying “WHAATT we can’t do that”, especially in the summer, just do the best you can, eat your veggies up, use them in a smoothie or freeze if you see they are on the way out and you cannot possibly get to use them. I am investigating the little BLUAPPLE which you place in your veggie drawers, I’ll get back to you on whether or not it’s worth the ten bucks!!
Next up in the Nutri-mercial lineup; Juicing, is it a Fad??