Produce prep

(erica) #1

It may be helpful to share tips that some of us have figured out over time. To get the ball rolling: Onion skins peel without splintering if they are moist. Soak papery-skinned onions in cold water for ten minutes or more before peeling. Onion skins come off more easily if you start at the end where the greens were, not the root end. If you want a bit more security when slicing them, leave the peel attached to the root, halve the onion pole to pole, then grab the peel to help you hold the half in place but farther from your knife as you near the root end.

After you’ve peeled a navel orange and are removing the pith, strip it starting at the stem end. It comes off readily compared to starting at the navel. Same goes for other citrus.

The “snot” contains a lot of the flavor in tomatoes, so either don’t seed them, or sieve the seeds and return the goo to the food.

Snapping asparagus stalks wastes a fair amount. If you are frugal, slice off the white, hard end, but keep the green unless it feels very woody.

IF you want to wash mushrooms, don’t do it until just before you use them, or they’ll get mushy faster. DO remove the stems of shiitake mushrooms. You can save them for making stock, but they are too tough for most cooking purposes.

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#2

Trim the dried end of the stalk. Run a vegetable peeler over less tender portions of the asparagus. Much better yield than the snap method.

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#3

Few things that come to mind.

Mangos - I’ve seen some WEIRD mango cuttings by people. I do 2 big slices as close to the flat side of the pit as possible. Then 2 more on each short side. Score each big half in chunks and flip the skin inside out and just shave it off the peel. You get nice big chunks this way.

Butternut Squash - I buy ones with the longest and straightest neck possible. Peel this with a large peeler then chop into whatever shape. The bottom part to peel is annoying.

Herbs - I don’t wash the whole bunch unless I am using it at that time. Just take out a few pieces. I also use the entire thing for parsley, cilantro and dill. The stems don’t bother me.

Green onions - I keep mine in water either on the counter or in the fridge depending on the heat of my kitchen. Don’t leave them like this indefinitely, or you will have some watery tasting onions.

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#4

Ha - can we ask questions on this thread too?

What do you do when you get those weird onions or shallots that has a top layer of half skin/half onion/shallot? Do you chuck that whole layer, or do you just cut off the papery portion? I admit that I often remove the whole layer, unless I’m running low on that ingredient. I am often dicing, and I like having a smooth surface to start with.

When you are cutting vegetables into matchsticks, you often need to trim the uneven ends to get consistently sized matchsticks. But the trim ends always seem like such a waste, and can be a big part of the vegetable (particularly the lump, bumpy bell peppers). Do you keep the trimmed ends and reuse, or do you sacrifice for even sized matchsticks?

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(erica) #5

My rule of thumb is to create the smallest amount of garbage, so I use the good part of the onion layer, and the butts and shoulders of the peppers. Dice those parts and use in salads or freeze for stews and soups. Jacques Pepin keeps a cleaned milk container in the freezer, stuffing it with vegetable trimmings until he’s making stock, when he cuts it open and pops the frozen mass into the pot.

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#6

I’m pretty sure the idea that mushrooms soak up water from washing has been debunked. At least it has been in my kitchen with white button mushrooms.

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(saregama) #7

Didn’t ATK come up with a mushroom brining ref a while back? Idea being that wouldn’t shrivel up while roasting.

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(Andrea) #8

I think they’re mostly water to begin with so they can’t soak up much more

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#9

If you put the entire butternut squash in the microwave for 4-5 min then peel it is sooooo much easier

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#10

Apparently if you peel a banana from the “bottom” to the stem that also removes some of the odd stringy things. (I haven’t tried this since i hate bananas)

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#11

This is a cool tip! I am assuming pierce it a couple times so it doesn’t explode ha! I’ll need to try this! Thanks

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#12

Hmm… yeah probably a good idea to stab it! I mever have but then again maybe i’ve been lucky :joy:

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(saregama) #13

A friend taught me to cut it in half (vertically), and roast like that, cut side down. Scoop out the flesh when done - no peeling.

I sometimes do that just to the bowl/rounded part. The rest I might peel and cube, or slice as it (with peel) and roast, then peel the skin off, depending on what it’s being used for.

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(ChristinaM) #14

But a mouthful of fiber is such a turn-off for me. Sometimes they are woody to the core.

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(erica) #15

It doesn’t explode since that’s not time enough to build up pressure. I nuke for three minutes, let the squash cool, then reheat if it’s not soft enough to peel. Timing depends on the size, shape, and ripeness of the squash, as well as the microwave wattage.

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#16

That’s my usual method too- but the cubed and roasted does have a different texture and gets those carmelized edges…

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(saregama) #17

Tbh I usually do the bowl/round part that way for soup, and the solid part in (unpeeled) slices/wedges or (peeled) cubes for more caramelized surface area.

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#18

Fruit…I always have fresh fruit (seasonal) on my kitchen table. I find when people come over if the fruit is peeled and cut up, it is always consumed, if not it just sits in the fruit basket.
When I cut say apples and or bananas, I sprinkle a little acid, lemon, lime, orange or pineapple juice to stop them from turning brown. When using the lemon or lime, I usually put some honey in a little bowl, or for that matter on the plate with the fruit.

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