Vegucation

Would like to share some helpful tips about keeping fresh produce that I've learned over the years. Eating as much fresh veggies as I do daily, one quickly learns how to keep it preserved and in optimum condition for as long as is possible. These are just some interesting tidbits of knowledge I've gleaned along the way.

Romaine. Romaine is pretty hearty for a lettuce. I generally buy 3 heads a week. The trick is not to prep them all. Take off the twist tie if there is one and return it to the plastic baggy and store in the fridge. Be careful not to store any lettuce at the very bottom or very back of your fridge. If lettuce freezes it kinda disintegrates.

Only pull off and wash as many leaves as you estimate you'll use in about 3-4 days time. Store those washed leaves in a stainless steel bowl with a loose fitting lid or loosely covered with plastic wrap. For some reason romaine seems to do much better stored in metal as opposed to plastic. After I wash the 3 days worth of leaves I try to get rid of as much excess water as I can. Then I break each leaf only into 2 pieces. All the bottom pieces go into the bowl standing up around the perimeter. Once all those have surrounded the edge of the bowl, the top halves fit nicely into the well left in the center. The bottoms seem to take moisture better than the tops. Especially if they are upright. Another thing to note is that while you want your romaine fairly dry, you don't want no water. A little bit of moisture on the bowl and the lid will keep things from drying out too much.

When you're ready to eat your romaine, tear up the halves into smaller pieces right then and there and not a moment before. My romaine is still crispy and delicious even at the end of the week.

Carrots and celery can be prepped up to a week in advance. Wash and slice and store in a loosely covered metal bowl. Try to get organic carrots as you don't need to peel them. That saves a lot of work and waste. Be sure to eat the celery tops too. They're delicious. You can eat carrot tops as well. The markets where I shop always sell the carrots topless (risque!), so I don't know how they taste.

Fresh broccoli, which I love, is a little more finicky. I don't really care for raw broccoli, so I always lightly cook it. Cutting it up into big florets and smaller stem pieces. I just cook it in a dry fry pan over medium heat. Just for a few minutes a side. Just until it barely turns bright green. After it's had a chance to cool, I'll cut it up smaller. It's easy to cook and turn when the pieces are larger. It's also harder to overcook that way. Broccoli is even easier to cook if you feel like turning on your oven. Just set it to 400 F, throw the chunks on a lipped baking sheet and cook for about 5-7 minutes.

Broccoli stores better in plastic. I don't know why, but this has been my experience. Store it in a plastic tub with a tight fitting lid and it'll just last the week. It'll get a little bit sallow looking near the end of the week, but it'll still be crispy and have decent taste. Stems will stay fresh longer than florets. So eat accordingly. You can maybe extend its life a little longer if you're willing to coat it in a little olive oil and salt. The oil will help the salt stick and the salt will act as a preservative.

Cabbage is really resilient and easy. A 2 lb head of green or red cabbage can be minced and stored in a metal or plastic container for up to 10 days and still be fresh as a daisy. Personally, I only wash the outer leaves. Cabbage is a great alternative to traditional lettuces for salad. It's crunchy, full of nutrition and so easy to prep. Unlike lettuce, cabbage doesn't mind the knife. You can quickly chop it all up in advance and have your salad base ready for a week or more in advance. It's crunchy and satisfying. It's also great on sandwiches the same way you would use lettuce or onion. If you haven't tried raw green cabbage you're missing out. It's inexpensive and tastes great.

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