Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cooking Series #3 - Making Produce Last

It took me a while, but I finally figured out how to buy fruits and vegetables and not have to be at the store every 3rd day getting them fresh, or throwing them out because they went bad faster than we could eat them. (Maybe you already do something similar to this & I am slow on the uptake...)

I mentioned yesterday how I make lettuce last longer. You will be SHOCKED how long lettuce lasts if you start doing this. For all non-lettuce produce items, these are the main principles I follow:
1.) Buy them at a variety of ripeness the day you're at the store
2.) Eat the stuff that goes bad faster first.

It's not rocket science, I realize, but hey, like I said, this strategy took me a while to figure out.

I'm just going to talk fruit today since I think it's generally harder to make it last.

On a trip to the store where I'm basically all out of produce at home, I will generally buy the following (if they are at what I deem to be a good price):
Strawberries (1-2 containers)
Blueberries (1 container once in a while)
Bananas (6-8)
Avocados (3-4)
Peaches (3-5)
Cantaloupe (1)
Pineapple (1)
Apples (5-10)
Clementines (during the fall/ winter only)
Tomatoes (do we know yet if this is a fruit or vegetable? I always thought veggie but I'm going to pretend it's a fruit today so I can include it in this discussion.)

Strawberries seem to go bad the fastest around here. I usually wash them & cut them up on day 1 or 2, which seems to make them last longer. They're gone in a day or two.

Blueberries - I have mostly given up on them since they are expensive and we don't just eat them by themselves. But sometimes, if they're on sale, I buy a container for either a fruit salad or for putting in my cereal in the morning.

Bananas - Addie and I either each have one every day or we split one. When I buy them, I buy a few that are almost ripe and a few that are very green. If ever I buy too many, I save the last 4 and make banana bread... with chocolate chips. [Always chocolate chips.]

Avocados - Addie eats 1/3 or 1/2 an avocado every day. Same strategy as bananas - I buy a couple that are already ripe and a couple that aren't green. If all of the ones at the store are already ripe, then I just buy 1 or 2. At home, I cut the ripe avocado in half, and scoop out one half for her to eat. I leave the other half, put it in a ziplock baggie (or tupperware container) & pop it in the fridge. It lasts another day or 2 still green!

Peaches - I don't buy these as often, but when I do, I just buy a few because we don't eat them a ton and their ripe window seems short.

Cantaloupe - I often buy the least ripe cantaloupe available. Between our bananas, strawberries, and avocados, we are usually set on produce for the first couple days, so I want the cantaloupe (and the pineapple for that matter), later in the week. You know a cantaloupe is ripe by the smell (and supposedly the color... but I think smell is easier.) If it smells like cantaloupe, it's ready to go. So I try to find one that doesn't smell like cantaloupe.  When I cut it up at home, I usually cut it in half, cut up one half into small pieces & put it in a tupperware. This lasts us 2-ish days. I saran wrap the other half and pop it in the fridge for when the first half runs out.

Pineapple - once the cantaloupe is gone, the week is almost over and the pineapple is ripe.  You know it's ripe because the outside has turned more yellow than green & you can pretty easily pull out the leaves (or whatever the spiky things on top are called). Chop up the whole thing... put it in a tupperware. And it lasts us another 2 days.

Apples - These seem to never go bad. haha. I'm sure they do, but I have never experienced it. I buy several and eat 1 or 2 per day as a snack. Sometimes on the go, sometimes with peanut butter. I like gala or braeburn for snacking & granny smith for baking.

Sometimes, (like if all the produce at the store is ripe and it's hard to find not-yet-ripe items,) I go crazy, and cut it all up and throw it in a fruit salad. If I'm going to do this, I usually also buy blueberries, red/purple seedless grapes & kiwi. Then my fruit salad consists of strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, kiwi, blueberries & grapes. A fruit salad with all the colors of the rainbow is way prettier and thus, more fun to eat :)

Well - there you have it. More opinions on buying fruit that you ever wanted. Is that too anal? What strategy do you use? Were you already using a similar strategy? Did I miss any fruits you love? Is anyone else mourning the fact that summer (aka: fresh, cheap fruit season) is almost over? Share some opinions & comment love below!