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Sunday, 23 January 2011

Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting & some real nice ways to decorate them and present them

Makes 15 cupcakes

Winter Spices make up for the best winter flavours. And one of the best treats during colder days are 
these spiced apple cupcakes. make these and serve them with a cinnamon latte or simply any latte, and see for yourself how cozy they will make you feel. Be very careful though, as these are highly addictive and will have your crawling out of bed for one more bite!!!
This very simple Caramel frosting is the perfect compliment to the flavour combination here, but feel free to try a cinnamon frosting, or a fluffy vanilla frosting as they all go exceptionally well with these yummy treats :)

You Need

200g butter, softened                                             
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
2/3 cup (150g) caster sugar                                  
1 cup (150g) self-raising flour, sifted       
1/3 cup (80 ml) milk
½ cup (75g) plain flour, sifted                             
3 eggs
1 tsp DS Cake Spice Mix, or D Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
5 medium apples (750g)                                      
25g butter, extra
1/3 cup (75g) firmly packed brown sugar                       

For Frosting 
You Need

100g butter
200g sifted icing sugar
1/3 cup golden syrup

Preheat oven 180°C | 360°F. Place cups in cupcake-tin holes or cups or if do not wish to use cups; grease the holes and line with baking paper. Set Aside.

Peel and core apples. Cube them finely (remember in cupcakes you don't want super large pieces). Sprinkle cubed apples with a little lemon juice to avoid browning. Melt the 25g extra butter in a large frying pan; cook apple cubes until browned slightly (about 5 minutes). Add brown sugar; cook stirring until mixture slightly thickens (about 5 more minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the sifted flours and spices, set aside.

In a large bowl, Beat Butter, rind and caster sugar with electric mixer until light & fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternate sifted flours and milk in 2 batches. 

Fold in the apple mixture into the batter until well combined. Spoon batter into prepared cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes (till golden brown and when toothpick inserted near centres it comes out clean).

Once done, remove from pan, cool thoroughly on wire racks.

Prepare the Caramel Frosting. Place all frosting ingredients in a bowl and beat with electric mixer on low speed, till well incorporated. turn the speed up and beat till light and fluffy (frosting consistency). if the frosting appears slightly thicker than you'd like, add a little more softened butter, but beat well after the addition.

Tip These Cupcakes can be served warmed (without the frosting) with vanilla ice cream instead.
They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Here are some cool ways to decorate and present these apple treats... Enjoy :)

Coated with coloured sugar and shaped like an apple!

In a Basket or an apple collecting box!

dip cupcakes in red liquid fondant like you would fondant Fancies
top with a mini spretzle stick and a fondant leaf 

topped with marzipan apples

Happy Baking ;)

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Oysters Rockefeller

Easy   |   Makes 8 appetizer servings

I was in Carrefoure the other day and they are selling these boxes of fresh oysters, that have just been flown in. They looked and smelled very fresh and I just couldn't help myself, so I got a box and decided to have the girls over for Oysters & Champagne :) 

Oysters are so great, you should never miss out on them! I know that they are not everybody's cup of tea, but  trust me, they are an acquired taste that once acquired, become a real proper treat. I was one at some point, who hated oysters and thought the texture was repulsive! That was at a time when my palate was young and inexperienced. Ever since then, I have to say I have changed my mind about so many foods, I thought I disliked! Thing about food is that you really should approach it with an open mind, and allow new experiences to sink in and be removed from being totally foreign. Give yourself a chance to get accustomed to a new flavour or texture. Our initial reactions to all things new are always discomfort. But if we allow ourselves, we learn that different is not really that bad! You might not like it the first time, or the second time, but once you are used to it, you find that you in fact love oysters! Because they are delicious and nothing beats nibbling on these sea jewels with some Champagne, wine, or your choice of refreshing juices.

Please read Understanding Seafood Part1 on selecting and preparing seafood for tips on knowing fresh seafoods, how to handle them, clean them ...etc

Oysters can be served plain with a squeeze of lemon juice, and I find this to be the best way to serve oysters. I like to really taste the sea (oysters taste of the sea). They can also be served with a sauce on the side of vinegar and chopped shallots. Not every one is into this plain oysters and lemon option as the flavour is unmasked. I have also found that an Oysters Rockefeller is an easier introduction to Oysters for those who are weary! And for the love of Oysters I am sharing this recipe with you hoping it will encourage you to try them out.

Whichever way you decide to go, just make sure you try and try till you find your palate. Don't just give up from the first try!

You Need
24 fresh oysters in the shells*
Rock Salt
3 tbsp melted butter
2 bunches baby spinach leaves, torn
1 small medium, finely chopped
2 handfuls of finely chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper
a few drops Tabasco (optional)

*You can ask the person in the seafood section to open the oyster shells for you if it makes your life easier. But it is much better to open them yourself and keep them protected in their shells till you are ready to cook. Juts follow the method in the picture and described below.

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, 1tbsp melted butter and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.

In a saucepan, cook onion and spinach in 500 ml of boiling water until tender (about 2-3 minutes). drain well and press excess moisture out by squeezing the spinach leaves.

Now, thoroughly wash oyster shells. Place an oyster at a time on a clean kitchen towel, where all sides of shell are covered by towels and not in contact with your skin (this is because the shell can be sharp and might cut your skin, this way you keep your hands safe).

Using an oyster knife Open the shells of the oysters by inserting the knife into the hinge between the shells (check drawn picture above for hinge).

Move your blade along the inside of the upper shell to release the muscle while twisting to open it.
Then slide the knife under the oyster flesh to release it from the bottom of the shell.

Or you can use a metal glove to protect your hands

Remove oysters from shells, discard the top part but keep the bottom deep part of the shells. Wash the bottom shells thoroughly with water. Replace oysters back in the shells. line a shallow baking pan with rock salt (rock sea salt), and arrange prepared shells on top. If you do not have access to rock salt, then crumble up a large piece of foil paper and place on the baking pan, then place oysters on top. the salt | foil paper will be a base to hold oysters in place, so they don't  wiggle and tip to the side.

In a separate bowl, combine spinach and onions with 2 tbsp melted butter, hot sauce, garlic and freshly ground black pepper, toss to mix well. spoon 1 tsp of the spinach mixture on top of each oyster, and top all with prepared bread crumb mixture. bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes (the edges of the oyster muscle will begin to curl). serve warm.

Another way for baking oysters will be to follow the directions above, except do not add spinach & breadcrumb mixtures, instead top oysters with flavoured butter (flavour with spices or herbs as you like). bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes and serve warm.

Do you like Oysters? If you do what is your preferred way to have them? If you don't, do you think you will at least give it a try? Would you try the Oyster Rockefeller Recipe above? I would love nothing more than hearing your thoughts! Please do leave a comment...

Friday, 21 January 2011

Classic Onion Rings & a recreation of Chilli's Awesome Blossom

Easy  |  Serves 6 appetiser portions

Classic Onion Rings

Who doesn't like onion rings?!  I know I like them!

Growing up, there was a time when onion rings were hugely fashionable! You found them at every fast food restaurant’s menu. I don’t know why but this cloudy weather today reminded me of this yummy snack. I guess because most of my early memories are of growing up in the harsh winters of Amman. So when it gets cloudy early memories come up and food is a big part of those memories!
I remember my mum making these alongside home-made chicken burgers, when we used to get snowed in for a couple of days. When snowed in - in Amman, or at least back then -  there is absolutely nothing to do! You are just simply stuck at home! Added to that, mum had to manage us all with loads of energy and no outlet. After playing with the snow and complaining that we are bored, she used to prepare this meal for us, and have us help her in the kitchen. I always loved adding onion rings on top of my chicken burger drizzling the whole thing with her delicious home-prepared mustard sauce on top!!! Mmmmm- heaven!

With that said, we usually ate healthy food at home. These used to come merely as occasional treats! This made these crunchy onion rings feel even more like a treat!… so in today's post, I want to treat you to the best onion rings recipes “The Classic Rings” & "Chilli’s Awesome Blossom"! Yes, you remember that? The Ossom Blossom that used to live in Chillies! I always loved that irresistible Awesome Blossom, and have no idea why they stopped making them! Not to bother, here is how you can make it at home :)
You will definitely want to add these recipes to your reservoir of regularly used recipes, because everyone will love you for making them :))

A Quick Note on Serving & Presentation

Onion rings are a very good appetiser to start your meal. But they can also be used as part of sandwiches especially burgers. You can present them diner style – in a basket lined with wrapping paper, or in paper cones for a city vendor feel! For cocktail parties, I like to make super small paper cones, fill them with 2 or 3 rings lightly drizzled with dip, which guests can pick with sandwich skewers or mini cheese forks. Tie the whole thing with a ribbon, or tie the ribbon on the sides as a handle! A very cute way to serve these in a Cocktail Party.

For the Classic Onion Rings
You Need

4 medium sized yellow or brown onions, cut into slightly thick slices and separated into rings
Vegetable oil or shortening*
¾ cup flour
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 tbsp vegetable cooking oil
A pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder

*TIP Most diners and restaurants would fry foods in either shortening or goose fat. Oil is much lighter, but will not have the same deep fatty flavor as frying in those fats. Oil is, however, relatively healthier. The choice is yours :)

Prepare your batter in a large bowl; 
Combine flour, milk, egg, oil and seasoning and beat with a rotary beater till smooth (you can do this process in a blender as well).

 Heat oil or shortening in a large skillet for deep frying the rings. (if you have a heatproof thermometer you need the fat to reach 365°F for best results, if not make sure the oil is hot before adding the rings). Frying in oil that is not properly hot results in foods soaking up the oil and turning out greasy and without a crunch.

Meanwhile, using a fork, dip the separated rings into the batter. Lift up and drain off excess batter. Fry the rings in a single layer (a few at a time) in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Separate the onions if they stick together while frying.

Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels, then transfer to serving plate, or cones. Serve with your preferred dip, ketchup or the Awesome Blossom Dip below.

Chillie's Awesome Blossom

For recreating Chilli’s Awesome Blossom
You Need
1 Large onion sliced like a blossom (as described below)
2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp salt
Freshly Ground Black pepper to taste
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk

For Awesome Blossom Dip 
You Need
½ cup sour cream
2 tbsp ketchup
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp red pepper powder
1 ½ tsp fresh horseradish or ½ tspprepared horseradish
¼ tsp paprika

In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Set aside.

To create the blossom shape slice off the top ¼ inch of the large onion (the stem side). Cut through the top towards the bottom of the onion like you would if slicing a pie or a pizza, only stop about ½ inch from the bottom so the onion remains in one piece and does not fall apart. 

Soak the cut onion in ice water for about 30 minutes. This will make the onion open up and “blossom.” 
Drain the onion, dip it in the flour mixture, then dip it into the buttermilk and then back into the flour. Deep fry the onion in hot oil until it becomes golden brown. The onion must be totally submerged in the oil. Remove from oil, cut out the center and serve with dipping sauce.

To make Awesome Blossom DipIn bowl, mix all the dipping sauce ingredients together until well combined. Transfer to serving dip bowl and serve. Chili’s serves the dipping sauce in the center of the Onion Blossom. If you want to stay true to that, then place the dipping sauce in the centre which you cut out earlier. Otherwise just simply dive in!

Super cool food from super cool days ;)
Have you tried this recipe before? How did it turn out? 
Let me know what you think of this recipe and weather you too loved Chillie's Awesome Blossom. Also do share with me what is your favourite sandwich with onion ring? I do love to hear from you so leave me a comment before you go.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Cheese Fondue

Easy   |  makes 3 cups fondue

Cheese Fondue is the ultimate winter nibble. It is warm, gooey, comforting and really tasty. Served alongside some roasted chestnuts and matching red wine or an extra large hot beverage makes for an absolute beautiful tucked in and cozy night. 

The best thing about fondue is that it is a very social dish. It is the type of food you have with friends while chatting. I love serving Fondue when my friends are over, and love the freedom it gives me to actually be with them rather than in and out of the kitchen.

Gruyère Cheese Factory
If - like me - you are interested in knowing how foods came about and how they were created, then here is a little bit about the origins of fondue. 

Fondue is in fact a very old preparation. There is a dispute about whether fondue is Swiss or French originally, but what is known is that it originated in an area that did not belong to either country, which later on became part of Switzerland. With that said, the first documented recipes of Fondue where all in French, and written by French cooks and French food writers.

The Earliest recipes of cheese fondue are very different from modern recipes, and always included the addition of eggs. One of the early ways of making fondue, eggs were added to the melted cheese and then scrambled. The other preparation was more like a cheese soufflé. It was not until the early 1900's that fondue preparation took the simpler approach that we know in today's recipes.

It's been known that fondue originated as the food of peasants. Which makes sense, because it made use of old hard cheese and old stale breads. But because of its goodness, and its social characteristic, fondue became very popularly spread amongst people of all backgrounds.

It is worth mentioning here that there are 3 types of fondue: 

  • cheese fondue 
  • chocolate fondue 
  • beef fondue

For a rustic feel, hand-tear baguettes instead of slicing them neatly. Then Just dip them in!!

Fondue parties have made a comeback from the 70's when they were most popular, and are now back in fashion. Just prepare your fondue, and since rustic is the utmost stylish genre of the moment, serve it with whole baguettes and some that are torn into pieces by hand, rather than symmetrically cubed.
You can serve cheese fondue with a variety of accompaniments; crudités, crackers, bread sticks, pears, apples, grapes, pickles, olives, jams...etc

Nowadays, there are many options when it comes to fondue serving-ware, from fountain machines, to copper pots, to electric heaters and everything in between. it doesn't matter how you serve it, just make sure the cheese stays warm for the ultimate flavour and effect.
There are many recipes, and you can play around with the ingredients as you like. However, it is usually made using Gruyère cheese with Emmental or swiss cheese. Some have used cheddar as well. Feel Free to experiment and come up with your own version.

Meanwhile, here is mine...

You Need
3 cups shredded Gruyère
2 cups shredded Emmental
3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups dry white wine or (1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup white grape vinegar)
1/4 cup half and half or light cream
2 tbsp kirsch (optional)
Crushed Pecans (optional)
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of white pepper

Stand grated cheeses at room temperature for 30 minutes. Coat cheeses with flour and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat wine or vinegar over medium heat until small bubbles start rising to the surface - just before boiling pint - reduce heat to low and gradually add in the coated cheese stirring continuously. make sure cheese is melted after each addition before adding more. Stir until the mixture bubbles gently. Remove from heat. Stir in milk, kirsch and spices and mix well. Transfer to fondue pot, keeping it bubbling gently over fondue burner.

If mixture becomes too thick from the heat, stir in more milk. Serve with a variety of breads, vegetables, fruits, olives...etc

Hope you have enjoyed this recipe, and that you will have it on your menu the next time you entertain friends at home.

I love cheese Fondue, and most people don't mind melted cheese lol so I kind of think your friends are going to love you for it. :))

Let me know how it turns out when you make it...

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Dima's Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Easy  |  Serves 6

This is a classic Italian dish that you will find on the menus of almost every Italian restaurant. There are many variations to this recipe and ways of incorporating its ingredients. This is my version, and how I like it prepared. I find great comfort in a warm dish of pasta, and love nothing more than unwinding with this Carbonara and a glass of wine after a long day at work! Hope you enjoy it, and give it a go, because I am telling you, it is a treat! 

The addition of Fromagio Pecorino - Pecorino Cheese, one of my favourite Italian cheeses - gives it a depth of flavor as opposed to that made with only Parmesan cheese, or with other cheeses. Pecorino has a fruity hint to it, it is tangier than Parmesan cheese and deeper. I use it it very frequently in my Italian cooking.

Vintage Pecorino
Here is some info on Pecorino 
It is made out of sheep’s milk and the process of making it is very interesting. It is basically about curdling the milk, and gathering the curdled part in a mould, while pressing out all the liquid. The curd will then take the shape of the mould and become more solid. It is then coated with a layer of coarse sea salt. It can be had fresh or aged. Of course vintage cheeses have a deeper flavor and is therefore sharper. 

Please buy real cheese and grate it at home, do not use pre-grated and packed cheeses. This makes a huge difference to the flavor and quality of your food!

This Spaghetti Alla Carbonara is delicious, and super easy to make. Everyone will love it and it will become a regular request by your family. Try it out and see how good it is J

You Need
150g Pancetta, sliced 3mm thick
(pancetta is the best accompaniment, but if not found or if you do not wish to have pork, then try turkey bacon instead)
1 tbsp EV Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 packet Spaghetti noodles (try brown Spaghetti as its richer in fibers than white pasta)
1 tsp onion flakes (found in supermarkets where the spices and dried herbs are)
A handful of finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp butter, softened
50g Pecorino, freshly grated
50g Parmesan, freshly grated
9 large egg yolks, slightly beaten with a fork
1 tbsp coarsely chopped parsley for garnish

Bring salted water to a boil, adding freshly ground black pepper and onion flakes to it. Once boiled add the spaghetti and cook till Al dente and drain, but do not wash.  

Meanwhile, cube Pancetta, heat the olive oil together with chopped onion and sliced garlic, until translucent but not browned. Use a deep heavy bottomed saucepan. Turn the heat to low and add the cubed pancetta, sprinkle with freshly grated black pepper. Cook pancetta till browned but not crisp. Still on low heat, add the butter and finely chopped parsley to pancetta. When butter is melted in the still hot pan, add the cooked spaghetti and toss well to coat the spaghetti and combine all ingredients. Add the grated pecorino and half the parmesan, then immediately add the egg yolks, while pan is still warm. Toss to coat.

Note that the eggs will be tempered by the heat of the pan and therefore do not pause a health risk here. But if your pan was too hot and you did not toss quickly you will end up with scrambled eggs which is a disaster! The idea is for the eggs to coat all like a creamy sauce.

Plate your pasta, and sprinkle the tops with the coarsely chopped parsley, freshly ground black pepper and some toasted pine nuts. Top all with the remaining grated parmesan cheese and serve warm.

Bon Apetito

Hope you like Pasta because this is so good, you really don't want to miss out! Have you seen my post Understanding Pasta - All There is to Know ? if you haven't make sure to check it out, it is a very nice introduction to pasta, so you can start making some delectable pasta dishes yourself :)
Don't forget to leave me a comment and tell me what you think of this recipe :)

Monday, 10 January 2011

Understanding Fruits & Vegetables - Part 2

 Handling and Storing Fruits & Vegetables

In Part 1 of Understanding Fruits & Vegetables, I have extensively covered how to choose the right produce and what to avoid; all in the attempt to have the best quality fruits and vegetables in our diet as well as in our cooking. After all good cookery starts with good quality produce. 

Having picked the right produce, Handling and Storing know how’s help you keep it in the best conditions to ensure relative longevity and freshness. This part is dedicated to understanding best practices in Handling and Storing your Fruits and Vegetables.

Good To Know: 
Why do fruits and vegetables get spoilt?
The spoilage of fruits and vegetables is caused by microbes which are always on their surface as well as in the air. Bacteria, Moulds, and yeasts attack the weak and damaged plant tissue, breaking down the cell walls, consuming its content and leaving behind their unpleasant waste products. Vegetables are attacked by Bacteria, which grow very fast, making them decay faster than fruits, which are more acidic and therefore more resistant to Bacteria. However, Fruits are readily attacked by Yeasts and moulds.

Pre-cut fruits and vegetables are convenient (the ones cut at home, or store-bought), they do make your time in the kitchen shorter, but are more susceptible to deterioration and spoilage. Therefore do not opt to buying those, unless you know they will be consumed shortly.

Soil harbors Bacteria and must be removed before storage

Handling Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
The aim of fresh produce storage is to slow the inevitable deterioration. Here are the main  guidelines to proper Handling of produce before and during storage:

  • Choose the right fruits (read part 1)
  • Fruit bowls and refrigerator drawers should be cleaned regularly to reduce the microbial population.
  • Bear in mind that Mushrooms as well as some ripe fruits (berries, apricots, figs, avocados, papayas...etc) have a naturally high metabolism and therefore deteriorate faster than apples, pears, kiwis, cabbages, carrots and other good keepers.
  • Mouldy fruits and vegetables should be discarded straight away. “1 rotten apple spoils the barrel.”
  • Your produce shouldn't be subjected to physical stress, whether dropping apples on the flour or packing tomatoes tightly into a confined space, as this leads to bruising and possible breakage, which eventually exposes the protected interior to microbes leading to its depletion and spoilage.
  • Even rinsing in water can lead to spoilage, in the case of berries for instance, as rinsing can make them more susceptible to infection by abrading their protective layer. Therefore they should only be rinsed, right before use, not before storage.
  • Soil harbours large numbers of microbes and should be removed from the surface of sturdier produce, potatoes for example, before storing them.

Leaves, greens should be stored
 in closed containers
Proper Storage Requirements:
The longevity of stored produce is strongly affected by the atmosphere it is stored in. Plant tissue is mostly water, and therefore require a humid atmosphere to avoid drying out, damaging its internal system. In practice, this means, keeping plant foods (leaves, herbs, greens...etc) in restricted spaces (plastic bags, drawers within a refrigerator). This slows down moisture loss. However, plants breath out carbon dioxide and water, which will accumulate too much moisture on its surface. Too much humidity encourages microbial attack. Therefore, lining the container with absorbent material will delay condensation (tissue paper, a towel, or even a paper bag are all absorbent materials that can be used for storage). 

Deterioration can also be slowed down by limiting stored plant’s access to oxygen. This can be done by squeezing the air out of the bags when sealing them. With that said it is also important to know that bagging promotes ripening, which means storing produce in closed bags will have them pass from ripe to over-ripe too quickly, and therefore must be consumed fast. Don’t forget, one damaged leaf can speed the decline of a whole lettuce head. You therefore need to check on your produce regularly, and consume it relatively fast. After all, these steps will help you keep them for relatively longer periods, but not forever!

A very common commercial treatment that slows down water loss and oxygen uptake in whole fruits and vegetables is waxing (read about waxing in part 1). Also commercial packers are now using container inserts that contain permanganate to destroy ethylene and elongate storage. There are many procedures and products that can be used on a commercial level and in large professional kitchens to maximise storage conditions, but the points above are the most common for home storage.

Temperature control is also a very common storage condition. Temperature controlled areas like a cold room, a fridge, or a freezer are all common for food storage.

In the Fridge: 
Cooling slows down chemical reactions in general, also slowing down the growth of microbes. A reduction of just 5°C can double storage life. However, different fruits and vegetables are stored at different temperatures. In general, the produce native to cool climates are best kept at near freezing point. Meanwhile, those native to warmer climates will be injured by those low temperatures. Like for instance bananas, their skin will turn black in the fridge, and avocados darken and fail to soften further in the fridge. 

Foods of tropical and subtropical origins, keep best at relatively higher temperature, room temperature rather than in the fridge. Bear in mind that room-temperature here is referring to temperatures 10-18 °C not 40°C! Therefore storage facilities in the gulf region for instance, or other regions during warmer seasons, need to be temperature controlled too.

In the Freezer: 
Freezing is the most drastic form of temperature control. It stops the overall metabolism of fruits, vegetables and spoilage microbes. How it works: Freezing causes all the water to crystallise therefore immobilising other molecules and suspending chemical activities. Microbes are hardy and most of them revive after warming. But it is worth knowing that freezing kills plant cells causing it to become limp and wet, lacking crispness. Frozen food producers limit the damage by freezing food as quickly as possible (the new methods of shock freezing, do just that, were foods are frozen up to -40°C in no time). Under these conditions only small crystals form which do less damage than larger crystals to the plant cells. Home and restaurant freezers are warmer than commercial freezers and their temperature fluctuate so some water melts during freezing causing the food’s texture to suffer.

Although freezing reduces activities it can also include enzymatic break-down of vitamins and pigments. Blanching is the best solution to this problem and is widely used in restaurants and at home before freezing. Blanching is when food is immersed in rapidly boiling water for a minute or two (to inactivate the enzymes), and then just as rapidly immersed in cold water to stop the cooking process which softens the plants. If vegetables are to be frozen for more than 2 days, they are to be blanched first. Fruits are rarely blanched as their cooked flavours and textures are less appealing. Therefore the enzymatic browning of fruits is stopped by packing it in sugar syrup (680g sugar per 1 litre water) supplemented with ascorbic acid (1/4 – ¾ tsp per quart). This process also improves the texture of fruits as the sugar is absorbed into the walls of the fruits making them firmer. 

Frozen produce should be packed as air-tight and water free as possible. Surfaces exposed to the relatively dry atmosphere of the freezer develop freezer burn. Freezer burnt patches, develop a tough texture and stale flavour. This is especially relative for restaurants and kitchens that use freezer rooms. You cannot place foods exposed in a freezer room.

Canning is another storage method, in which foods are first prepared and then placed in a jar or in the commercial sense a can, which is then firmly closed. Containers are usually sterilised before canning to ensure no bacteria populates them. I have covered canning in my Figs Jam post.

Below are the guidelines on storing the most commonly consumed Fruits and Vegetables:

Asparagus Wrap the bases of fresh Asparagus in wet paper towels and keep upright in a tightly sealed storage container for up to 4 days.

Green Beans Refrigerate in covered container for up to 5 days.

Beetroots (Beets) Trim the beet greens, leaving an inch or 2 of the stem. Do not cut the long root. Store unwashed beets in an open container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Broccoli  Keep unwashed broccoli in a covered container for up to 4 days.
Brussels Sprouts Refrigerate in a covered container for up to 2 days. Or in their net bag for up to 4 days, making sure to remove any wilted leaves.

Cabbages Refrigerate in covered container up to 5 days, making sure to remove wilted leaves.

Carrots Refrigerate in plastic bags up to 2 weeks.

Cauliflower  Refrigerate in covered container up to 5 days.

Celery   Refrigerate tightly wrapped up to 2 weeks.

Cucumbers  Keep salad cucumbers in fridge for 10 days. Pickling cucumbers should be picked and pickled the same day.

Eggplants Refrigerate whole eggplants for up to 2 days.

Fennel Refrigerate tightly wrapped up to 5 days.

Leeks Refrigerate tightly wrapped up to 5 days.

Mushrooms A paper bag or damp cloth bag makes them breath and so stay firmer for longer. Store them unwashed.

Onions  Store in a cool, dry, well ventilated place for several weeks.

Peas and Pea Pods (snow peas, sugar snap peas, or fresh peas) Store tightly wrapped in fridge for 3 days.

Peppers (Sweet and Hot)  Refrigerate in covered container (drawer) to 5 days.

Potatoes Store in dark, well ventilated place that is cool and slightly humid (not wet), for several weeks.
-       Bright lights cause potatoes to develop green batches that are bitter. The fridge causes potatoes to darken when cooked and become sweeter.

Parsnips  Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

 Turnips Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Shallots Store in a cool, dry, well ventilated place for up to 1 month.

Summer squash
 Winter Squash  Store whole squash in a dry, cool place for up to 2 month.
Store cut squash wrapped in plastic in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Summer Squash  Refrigerate tightly wrapped in the fridge for up to 5 days. Fresh from the garden squash can be stored for up to 2 weeks.

Sweet Potatoes Store in a cool, dark, dry place for up to 1 week.

Tomatoes When stored in the fridge, tomatoes lose their flavour. Ideally they should be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. In warmer areas either buy tomatoes daily or store at room temp for 1 day.
Zucchini Refrigerate tightly wrapped in the fridge for up to 5 days. Fresh from the garden squash can be stored for up to 2 weeks.


Storing Fruits

Apples Refrigerate for up to 6 weeks. Store bulk apples in a cool moist place.

Apricots Refrigerate ripe fruits up to 2 days.

Avocados    Store at room temperature to ripen. Refrigerate ripened fruits for up to 4 days.
Note that refrigeration darkens the colour of the avocados.

Bananas   Store at room temperature to ripen to bright yellow. Overripe bananas are brown.

Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries and Boysenberries  Refrigerate berries in a single layer, loosely wrapped for up to 2 days. Rinse right before use, not before storage.
Cantaloupe Refrigerate ripe whole melon up to 4 days. Refrigerate cut fruit up to 2 days in a tightly wrapped or covered container.
Star Fruit    Refrigerate ripened fruit up to 2 weeks in a tightly wrapped or covered container.

Cherries Refrigerate in a covered container for 2-3 days.

Cranberries Refrigerate up to 4 weeks or freeze up to 1 year.

Grapefruit Refrigerate up to 1 week.

Grapes Refrigerate in covered container up to 1 week.

Honeydew melon Refrigerate ripe whole melon up to 4 days. Refrigerate cut fruit up to 3 days in a tightly wrapped or covered container.

Lemons   Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

Limes   Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

Oranges   Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

Peaches and nectarines Refrigerate up to 5 days.

Pears  Refrigerate up to 5 days.

Pineapples   Refrigerate up to 2 days. Cut fruits last a few more days if placed in a tightly covered container and refrigerated.

Figs  Place fresh figs in a single layer in a paper towel lined container. refrigerate for up to 3 days. Store dried figs in a an airtight container and refrigerate up to  6 months or freeze up to 1 year.

Fig Types

Plantains This starchy fruit must be cooked before eating. They change from green to yellow-brown then to black. Black plantains are fully ripe. 

Plums  Refrigerate up to 3 days

Rhubarb Wrap stalks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Watermelon Refrigerate whole watermelon up to 4 days, and cut fruit up to 3 days in a closed or tightly wrapped container. Watermelon does not ripen after picking.

Guava Refrigerate ripened fruit up to 5 days.

Kiwi (green) Store ripened fruit in the fridge for 2- 3 weeks.

Papaya Refrigerate ripened fruit in covered container up to 3 days.
 Pomegranate Store seeds in freezer bag up to 1 yera in freezer. Store several weeks in fridge.

Mango Refrigerate ripened mango up to 5 days

Passion Fruit 
Refrigerate ripened fruit up to 1 week.

You now should be able to store your produce right, ensuring freshness for best results in flavour and texture. This information is also particularly useful in the planning process - before you do your shopping. Plan your week’s intake of produce to minimise waste. Also don’t buy your perishable fruits many days before consumption. Knowing how to store fruits can help you determine how to plan your meals ahead, especially if you are entertaining and need to manage your space and time. 

Knowing your food, as well as how to manage and store it is the base of your kitchen experience. No matter how good a cook you are, you cannot fix a rotten apple! And you cannot create the perfect pie out of those rotten apples. 
It all starts with the produce!

Thank you for reading this post, the list is long, but the post had to be comprehensive. I am hoping that these 2 parts of Understanding Fruits & Vegetables will help you maximise on your produce and get the best out of it.  I love nothing more than to hear from you, so don't shy away, leave me a comment before you go:)