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Everything you wanted to know about Fruits
and Vegetables but were afraid to ask!

Fruits

General - All:
Place thin-skinned fruits in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 1 minute then peel with a paring knife.

Spear fruit with a long-handled fork and hold over a gas flame until the skin cracks, they'll be easier to peel.

When preparing cut fruit ahead of time, toss the pieces in lemon juice so that they will not darken. The juice of 1/2 lemon should be enough for a quart or two of cut fruit.

Place green fruits in a perforated plastic bag. The holes will allow air to circulate while retaining the ethylene gas that fruits produce during ripening.

Bananas:
Ripen green bananas by wrapping in a we dish towel and placing in a paper bag.

Freeze ripe bananas for later use. First peel, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in freezer bags.

Lemons:
Freeze lemon peel and then use when a recipe calls for fresh lemon rind.

Whole lemons will yield much more juice if stored in a tightly sealed jar of water in the refrigerator. Yield will also increase by submerging a lemon in hot water for 15 minutes before squeezing. Or: warm in the oven for a few minutes before squeezing.

Limes:
Wrap limes in tissue paper and store on the lower shelf of the refrigerator.

Strawberries:
Strawberries will stay fresher when kept in a colander in the refrigerator. Don't wash until just before using.

Tomatoes:
Direct sunlight will soften tomatoes, not ripen them. Leave them stem-side up out of direct sunlight but in a warm place.

Store tomatoes with stems pointed down and they will stay fresher, longer.

Sunlight doesn't ripen tomatoes, warmth does. Find a nice warm spot near the stove or dishwasher where they can get a little heat.

Save the juice from canned tomatoes in ice cube trays. Store the cubes in plastic freezer bags for cooking or use in tomato drinks.

Begin with cold, refrigerated tomatoes. Hold tomato firmly and scrape with a paring knife from the bottom to the top several times. Prick the skin with the point of the knife and the peel will remove easily.

To improve the flavor of inexpensive tomato juice, pour the can into a refrigerator jar and add one chopped green onion and a cut-up stalk of celery.

Vegetables

Odors:
To cut vegetable odors when cooking, simmer a small pan of vinegar on the stove or add vinegar directly to the cooking water.

General - All:
No More Tears - Onion Cutting Tips If you put your onions in the fridge and let them get good and cold before cutting them, they won't make your eyes tear. Another trick for tearless cutting is to light a candle and place it next to the cutting board.

To freshen up wilted or blemished vegetables, pick off brown edges, sprinkle with cool water and wrap in a towel. Refrigerate for an hour.

Put vegetables in water after the water boils to preserve essential vitamins.

Remove the tops of carrots, beets, etc., before storing.

For overcooked vegetables, put the pot in a pan of cold water. Let pot stand for 15 minutes to 1/2 hour.

Vegetables will stay fresher in your refrigerator if you line your crisper section with newspaper and wrap vegetables with it. Excess moisture is absorbed and veggies stay crisp.

Leftover corn, peas, green beans, carrots, celery, potatoes, onions? Just store in a container in your freezer and use when making a soup or stew.

When cooking carrots, peas, beets or corn, add a small amount of sugar to the water to keep the flavor.

Onions, broccoli and Brussels sprouts will cook faster if you make an X-shaped cut in the base.

Avocados:
Ripen avocados by burying them in a bowl of flour.

To speed up the ripening process for Avocados place them in a brown bag with an apple, banana or tomato. The gases emitted from the fruit hasten the ripening process.

Beans:
When cooking dried beans, add salt after cooking. When added in the beginning, it slows the cooking process.

Beets:
If beets lose their color when boiled, add a little lemon juice to the water.

Cabbage:
Put half a lemon in the water when cooking cabbage to keep the smell from filling the kitchen. Overcooking makes the smell worse too, so keep it crisp.

Carrots:
Marinate carrot sticks in pickle juice for a zesty flavor. Or try adding sugar and horseradish to cooked carrots for a nice change of pace.

Celery:
Store celery in paper bags, not plastic. And leave the outside leaves and stalks alone until ready to use.

Cucumbers:
Clean cucumbers with a ball of nylon net before making pickles.

Corn:
To keep sweet corn yellow, add 1 teaspoon lemon juice to the cooking water just about a minute before taking off the stove.

Never salt the water you cook corn in. It will only toughen the corn.

Corn on the cob will be simple to open if you wash them with cold water, place in a plastic bag and freeze for an hour or so before shucking.

Lettuce:
To perk up soggy lettuce, add lemon juice to a bowl of cold water and soak lettuce for an hour in the refrigerator.

Lettuce won't rust as quickly if you place a paper towel or napkin in the crisper or container. Or: put a few dry sponges in the crisper to absorb excess moisture.

Store lettuce in paper bags, not plastic. And leave the outside leaves and stalks alone until ready to use.

Onions:
To avoid 'onion eyes' peel under cold water or refrigerate (or freeze) before chopping.

For lunch box sandwiches, sprinkle with dried onion instead of fresh onion. They will have turned into crisp onion pieces by lunch time.

Wrap onions individually in foil to prevent sprouting.

After an onion has been cut in half, rub the cut side with butter to keep it fresher, longer.

Potatoes:
Overcooked potatoes can get soggy when milk is added. Sprinkle with dry powdered milk for the fluffiest mashed potatoes.

To hurry up baked potatoes, boil in salted water for 10 minutes. Then place in a very hot oven.

Insert a nail into a potato to shorten baking time by 15 minutes.

Cut potatoes in half and place them cut side down on a baking sheet in the oven for a quicker baking time.

When making potato pancakes, add a little sour cream to keep from discoloring.

When making mashed potatoes, save some of the water the potatoes were boiled in and add to some powdered milk for use when mashing. This restores some of the nutrients lost in the boiling.

For sensational taste, try using a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese instead of butter. Or substitute sour cream for milk when making mashed potatoes.

Squash:
Leftover squash can be improved by adding some maple syrup before it is reheated.

Pancakes:
For the very lightest pancakes, replace liquid with club soda. Use up all the batter as it will go flat if stored.

To submit your favorite recipes to be included in the Garden of Friendship Recipe Book, please email them to Barbiel

Background graphics made especially for the Recipes Committee of the Garden of Friendship by Valatine