In this world wide moment of confinement when we can not get to the store or market on a regular basis, we thought we would offer a set of tips on how to best use and cook some of your vegetables while needing to preserve their nutritional value for extended periods.
The information we are providing comes to you from Chef Pino's library of food science books and in particular "La Scienza delle Verdure" by Davide Bressanini. It's a book that was recently published in Italy, in Italian and is not unfortunately, available in english. (see below for english alternative) We can't summarize the whole book here but are highlighting a short list of what Pino thinks are the most useful and interesting. ASPARAGUS - store in the fridge for a few days only wrapped in a damp cloth. After being cut asparagi keep growing and get progressively more woody. Ideally you should buy and cook immediately. BASIL - don’t refrigerate. Best stored at 10 to 12°c, it lasts max 8 days. The best time to collect basil is at the end of the day. It can be frozen in ice cubes like most herbs (sage, rosemary, parsley). EGGS - don’t store them in the fridge door. They get cracked more easily and the temperature is not as constant there. Also, it is best to keep them in cardboard cartons as plastic or ceramic will encourage bacteria retention when condensation forms outside the fridge and they are then placed back for later use. EGGPLANTS - Best stored at 10 to 12°c, cook asap. POTATOES - don’t store them in the fridge. The starch content changes quickly into sugar which makes them brown and burn more easily when cooked. Ideal storage is in a paper bag in a dark, cool spot. TOMATOES - don’t store them in the fridge: they might last longer but they lose a lot of flavor. When preparing a salad don’t cut tomatoes too much time before their use, this will also cause a significant loss of flavor. FREEZING VEGGIES - always blanch (boil for a minute in salted water) and shock (plunge in icy water) before packing them for the freezer. This process kills bacteria and stops enzymes from deteriorating. By using this technique you are preserving not just the color but the texture and nutritional value of your food. OTHER RESOURCES Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Better Taste, UCDAVIS - PDF file online