Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Produce that lasts the longest

Brussel sprouts and mince with spaghetti
Food Diary (December 26, 2011)
Breakfast: Rolled oats with plums, coconut, sunflower seeds and flax seeds
Lunch: Brussel sprouts and mince with spaghetti
Dinner: Potato and onion soup, fried egg
Baking/sweets: Chocolate ice cream

Today was the second time in my life that I bought brussel sprouts. The first experience happened years ago, and it wasn't the most memorable. Today I decided to give it another chance and have another date. I am glad I did. It is too early to say whether we are looking into a regular longer term relationship but we will certainly be seeing each other again soon. There are some leftovers in the refrigerator and I also froze some. Isn't this great, things you can do with vegetables.

Today's Favourite Photo
Source: Camemberu
Chocolate Raisin My Favourite Tart

Today’s Favourite Blog
Source: Forbes
A very informative article on produce that lasts the longest.

Cabbage: Even after they have been picked or harvested, fruits and vegetables continue to respire and are supported by internally stored energy compounds. The more a vegetable or fruit breathes the more quickly it is likely to spoil. Cabbages can last for weeks because they have a very low rate of respiration. They should be stored in the refrigerator, loosely wrapped, as the cool temperatures will slow down their breathing even further. In fact, it’s likely that if you buy your cabbage from the grocery store, it will probably have already been in storage for a couple of months before hitting the shelves.

Eggs: According to the USDA, eggs can be kept refrigerated for 3 to 5 weeks from when you buy them. Over time, the yolk absorbs water from the white and when the egg is broken, the yolk appears flatter and more fragile. While the egg shell acts like a sterile seal, preventing the contents from becoming contaminated, it’s porous. This means moisture and carbon dioxide in the white evaporates out through the pores, allowing air to penetrate into the shell. This makes the egg white thinner, causes it to lose some of its thickening and leavening powers. To keep them fresh, store eggs in the original egg box, and keep them at the back of the fridge on the middle shelf.

Apples: Apples contain a lot of fiber and sturdy cellulose material that make them hardy and resistant to spoiling quickly. In addition, they have thick skins that prevent them from drying out and are also often coated in a waxy, water-soluble substance that acts as a further barrier against moisture loss. Properly stored, apples can remain good to eat for a weeks. The best way to keep them is to place them in a Ziploc bag, squeeze out all the air and keep in the fridge. Another reason to keep apples in a bag and separate from other fruits is that they produce a fair amount of ethylene which encourages ripening.

Potatoes: potatoes can last several weeks if not months, before they spoil. They don’t need to be refrigerated, but they need to be kept in a cool, dark and dry place. Even if they start to sprout, they can still be eaten but it’s very important to remove every part of the greenish sprout before cooking as the ends can be toxic to some people.

Peppers: They contain a particular gene that prevents their cell structure from breaking down and spoiling. In addition, peppers have a very turgid cell structure, and the cells hold on to their moisture very well

Yogurt: Certain kinds of yogurt - organic and probiotic varieties that contain live and active cultures or “good” bacteria, have a very long shelf life. These kinds of yogurt will just continue to ferment and the healthful bacteria will produce increasing amounts of lactic acid that will simply make the yogurt more tart, but certainly not harmful. As a general rule, if kept undisturbed in the refrigerator and the seal is unbroken, organic and probiotic yogrts can be kept for several weeks beyond their use-by date. However, the more traditional and conventional kinds of American yogurt that are made from milk, pectins, fillers and other compounds that add texture, will spoil quite quickly because they contain a certain type of protein that’s prone to spoilage.

Watermelon: The thick, inedible rind maintains the freshness of the fruit. Watermelons have an extremely high water content – over 90%. While other produce such as leafy greens - which also contain a lot of moisture, suffer from this characteristic as it makes them susceptible to drying out, watermelons aren’t at risk from losing juice because their tough skins act as a barrier. Moreover, the rind prevents contamination from airborne bacteria and other spoilage nasties. Once ripe, watermelon can be stored for up to a month in the fridge (and only 1 week at room temperature). Refrigeration, however, can be detrimental to their nutritional value.

Steak: It’s not as if a fresh sirloin steak or flank steak is going to last for weeks. But, compared to ground or chopped meat a whole cut of protein has a considerably longer shelf life, about 3 to 5 days if properly stored in the refrigerator and handled as little as possible, as opposed to 1 to 2 days for the ground variety. This has to do with bacterial growth. Since bacteria thrive on the surface of meat, and ground or chopped meat has much more surface area, they are susceptible to faster rates of spoilage as a consequence of speedy bacterial growth.

Onions: We conventionally think of onions as being fresh vegetables, however, they’ve been dried or cured before they reach the supermarket. Having been preserved in this way, they’ll keep in the fridge for 2 or more months, depending on when they were harvested. Sweeter onion varieties will have a shorter shelf life, however, due to their high sugar and water content. It’s best to store onions in the fridge for maximum shelf life, and opt for an open container so that plenty of air can circulate between the bulbs. It’s a good idea to line the base of the container with paper to absorb any excess moisture otherwise the onions might start to rot. Alternatively, you can keep onions in a cold basement or garage using a rather unique storage vessel.

Deli Meats: If left unopened, pre-packaged deli meats such as roast turkey or beef, in their original sealed packaging, will last a fair amount of time – generally about 2 to 3 weeks from you time you buy them. In addition to vacuum sealed pouches where all the oxygen has been removed and therefore preventing bacteria from thriving, some deli meats are pasteurized using post-packaging technology that can that can increase shelf life from 14 days to 45 days. Once opened however, deli meats should be consumed within 3 to 5 days as they have been exposed to the air and possible contamination.

Butter: An unopened stick of butter will generally last for 4 to 6 months if stored in a cold 40 degrees Fahrenheit refrigerator. If you open it, though, it’s best to store the butter in an air-tight container rather than leaving it semi-exposed in its original wrapping on the refrigerator shelf, as it will start to harden and take on the odors of other products in the fridge. If properly stored, opened butter will last up a 1 month.

Winter Squash: Winter squash can generally be stored for up to 3 months in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight.  Their thick, tough skin allows them to breathe, but it also protects them from contamination, attack from bacteria and from losing moisture and drying out. Also, much like onions, squash have actually been cured before they reach the grocery stores to ensure they last for as long as possible. When buying, always try and go for fruit that have the stems still attached. Stems act like an airtight plug in fruit, and if the stems were removed when the squash were harvested they were at risk of being contaminated by bacteria at the point where the flesh was exposed

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  1. That's a great article! Good to know all that. Very informative indeed.
    Your brussel sprouts/mince pasta looks super yummy! I'm a sucker for brussel sprouts. Can't imagine why some folks just eat them twice in their lifetime :D I've even recently discovered another way to cook them, Chinese style, with salted eggs. Yummmm! Ooh, I gotta go buy me some brussel sprouts now. You've just got me craving for them.

  2. Great list of long-lasting produce! Now that I'm alone again in the condo, I have to pare down and actually think about what I buy again because I can't eat as fast as two people!

  3. I haven't had Brussels sprouts for ages! I must buy them soon! Yoru pasta looks deliciousç
    Thank you for this very practical article! Actually this is weird because most people I know keep eggs in the fridge and I have always used to do so. One day I met someone who didn't and who told me that since the shops don't keep eggs in the fridge, she didn't. I have been following her example for at least 5 years and have never had any problems even with dishes based on raw eggs (mousses, tiramisù etc.). I keep them in the kitchen until the expiration date.
    This list has just reminded me I have had a cabbage for at least three months in my fridge and it still look very "fit" ;-)
    The only thing I have problems with are potatoes. Kept in the dry pantry (no heating, but it's not a fridge either) together with onions, they quickly start "growing".

  4. ping: Second time round I liked brussel sprouts. Either I cooked it better or my taste has deteriorated (oops I mean improved). I saw some recipes for deep fried sprouts, the outer gets quick crispy, meant to be super delicious. Pity about your aversion to deep frying! I can’t imagine Chinese style with salted eggs, not sure what that means. Will check.

    Yummychunklet: that was quite useful article

    Sissi: I always keep eggs in the fridge. I guess it keeps longer in the fridge. I was staying with a friend in Siberia and she kept milk and mayo outside, on the kitchen counter, during summer. It was warm during summer, and there was lots of room in the fridge. I guess we (some of us anyway) are used to keeping eggs, milk etc in the fridge. In supermarkets the stock is turned over quick so eggs don’t sit there for too long.
    Three months is a long time for cabbage. Guess I should not hesitate in buying a big cabbage next time. Sprinkle some salt and you will get sauerkraut, sort of:)

  5. Well, you're way ahead of me. I've actually never bought Brussels sprouts...nor have I tried them. I probably need to get on that. I know they're not all that bad. ;)

  6. I have just thought about something interesting. I don't know what type of bread is popular in Sweden, but the thick black, dense, German-style moist bread is best kept in the fridge! (A friend's grandmother used to do it and now I do it too). In general I prefer keeping any bread in the fridge (if left for the following day) and then refreshing it in the microwave than simply keep it outside. (Freezing is my favourite method though).
    Another thing is keeping ground coffee tightly closed and in the fridge. The aroma keeps for longer.
    I could also tell you about the advantages of keeping nail polish and mascaras in the fridge, but I suppose it wouldn't be very useful for you ;-)

  7. That tart is stunning and the sprouts sound amazing!

  8. Caroline: only slightly ahead perhaps

    Sissi: I know that bread, you can buy it here. I rarely buy it.
    I used to keep coffee in the fridge, then I read somewhere that it makes no difference, and I didn't notice anything myself. I guess it may make a difference if the coffee is kept for sometime like weeks.
    Thanks for the tip on nail polish and mascaras. I didn't know that. Its not useful for me, I use a lot and quite often so I finish my bottles quite fast before it goes bad:) Maybe I will buy bulk and keep in the fridge

  9. That's one hell of a beautiful tart, its food perfection