Welcome to A Garden Variety Blog!

Although my neighbors are all barbarians,
And you, you are a thousand miles away,
There are always two cups on my table.
--Tang Dynasty

I hope you, whomever you are,
will sit down "with" me for tea,
or flavored coffee or spiced cider,
and have a garden variety chat.
Now and then.
I am not so consistant about blogging
as I ought to be.
I *am* consistant about
drinking hot beverage
and the coffee/tea is always on the hob.

Come on in!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In My Kitchen

Today is the day I researched "How to store..." (fresh foods), inspired by the fact that I am tired of wrinkled, flabby ginger with mold spots. (You thought at first that I was referring to my aging body, admit it!)

GingerThe consensus (skewed by my own preference) is to cut a large root in chunks put in freezer bags, and freeze it. When you need "fresh" ginger", take out a chunk, peel (frozen ginger is supposed to peel easily using a spoon) and use.

I prefer ginger (sliced) mostly for flavoring the water I keep in the refrigerator. (2 gallons of water, with sliced ginger, cucumbers and lemons.)

LemonsThis was my favorite tip! "When you need a few drops of juice, simply poke the peel with a pin or a toothpick. Gently squeeze out the juice you want, and place it back in the refrigerator."

If you need a slice or two of lemon, don't slice the entire piece of fruit. Using a sharp knife, cut off the end, but don't throw it away. Instead, after cutting off a slice or two from the end of the lemon, put the cap back in place before placing in back in the refrigerator. The sliced off end will help keep the rest of the lemon fresh until you need more.


Place lemons in an airtight glass jar to keep in a refrigerator, or use a plastic ziplock bag to extend refrigeration shelf life for up to six weeks.

Cucumbers  Wrap each cucumber individually in a paper towel, then put all cucumbers wrapped in paper towels inside the plastic bag. Put the plastic bag with the cucumbers in a refrigerator. They will stay perfectly for the whole week.

Some people in saran wrap and they don't go limp, even after 10 days.

A produce manager said that if you run a cucumber under very hot water for about 15 seconds, then place in the fridge, the cucumber will last quite awhile. He said that's what they do before putting them out in the market.


Celery  Try storing celery wrapped in aluminum foil in the crisper drawer.

Fruits and Berries  Try storing strawberries and other berries in a screw-top glass jar in the refrigerator. It's also supposed to keep them much fresher longer.

Various Veggies: here's a good way to keep lettuce, carrots, celery and green peppers crisp and fresh. Never cut lettuce, because it bruises and turns brown. Tear your lettuce into a sealable container and cover with cold water and refrigerate. To use just take out what you need put it in the strainer to drain excess water and you have crisp lettuce. Slice celery, carrots and green peppers julienne style and put into sealable containers cover with water and refrigerate.

Store mushrooms in brown paper bags that has had air hole punch into them and then refrigerate.

Wrap fresh mint in a damp paper towel, making sure that it is not soaking wet. Place the wrapped mint in a plastic bag. The plastic bag should be large enough to not crush the leaves. Seal the bag. Place the plastic bag in your refrigerator, or in the crisper, if your fridge is set at a fairly cool setting

Or fill a jar about half full with water. Place the stems of the mint into to the jar, making sure that each clipped end is submerged. Place a plastic bag over the mint and jar. You needn't secure it since this method will require some air to reach the plant. Place the jar in the refrigerator. Change the water every two to three days. Stores for two weeks.

(I have mint growing almost everywhere here, so I don't store it on the summer. I do dry it for teas over the winter.)

Potatoes  Inspect all potatoes for soft spots, sprouts and mold. Only perfect potatoes are suitable for long-term storage.

Treat the tubers very gently so as not to bruise or cut them. Store in ventilated bins, bushel baskets, or a cardboard box with perforated sides. Completely cover the boxes or baskets with newspaper or cardboard to eliminate any light. Even a little light will cause potatoes to turn green and be rendered inedible. The ideal storage temperature for potatoes is 35 to 40 degrees, though they will usually keep for several months at 45 to 50 degrees.

Check on your potatoes regularly, and remove any that are soft, shriveled or sprouted.

Onions and garlic  Store in mesh bags or bushel baskets. Keep them cool (35 to 45 degrees F.) and away from light. In warmer temperatures, garlic will begin to sprout. Dryness and complete darkness are essential.

Winter SquashStore winter squash (with a bit of stem still attached) in a cool ( to 60 degree F) place that’s well ventilated. Humidity should be relatively low: 30-50%. Check your stored squash monthly to identify and use up any fruit that shows sign of decay.

Beets and Carrots  OK, I really don't buy fresh beets. LOL! I only buy pickled beets to use in the making of pickled eggs.

But I do buy lots of carrots. They need to be kept at a constant temperature of between 32 and 40 degrees F, and at 90 to 95 percent humidity, in a refrigerator, in moist sand or right in the garden. I have plenty of moist sand (Ha!), but I'd rather use the refrigerator. Put similar-sized, same-variety vegetables in a single layer in gallon freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible before sealing each bag. Stack bags flat on a shelf or in a drawer in the refrigerator. Check monthly for decay and use those first. Beets will stay hard and sweet for five months or more; carrots should last almost as long. Should there be fine root hairs or a little decay, simply peel this off; the root itself will be fine.

Avocados Store avocados at room temperature until they’re fully ripe.

You can tell if an avocado is ripe by giving it a gentle squeeze — if it yields to that light pressure, it’s ready to use.

It generally takes anywhere from four to seven days for a hard avocado to fully ripen.

You can speed up the ripening process by putting your avocados in a brown paper bag — placing an apple in the bag will help hurry things along even more. This will usually cut down the ripening time to 1 to 3 days.

Store fully ripe avocados in the refrigerator. Place them in a plastic bag. There, they'll usually keep well for another three to five days. To keep cut-up avocado from turning brown, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap before refrigerating — sprinkling a small amount of lemon or lime juice onto the exposed avocado flesh will also help prevent discoloration.

Stash leftovers in the freezer. Avocados freeze very well, with just a little bit of extra preparation. To freeze: Wash, peel and then puree the avocados. Add to the puree 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice for every avocado used to prevent browning. Place the puree in covered airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags and use within six months for best quality.