This week it’s Q and A time. I love hearing from you and sometimes your great questions get posted but only the person who asked it, ever really sees the answer. So this week, I’m answering a few of your questions that I thought you might all be interested in.
Question: “ How should I store tomatoes? I heard they should not be refrigerated.”
GKC: Usually refrigeration extends the life of most fruits and vegetables, some produce like bananas and tomatoes can succumb to what is known as “chill injury” (btw, I get that in the winter in NY too J
Ripe tomatoes actually lose flavor in the refrigerator. For the most flavor and longest shelf life, store tomatoes at about 55 degrees (maybe in a wine fridge, or in a drawer in the regular refrigerator with independent temperature control). For those of you like me who do not have that swanky fridge, store them room temperature and use them within 4 days.
Question: “Can you ripen under ripe fruit in a paper bag?”
GKC: Funny but the paper bag method only works with fall and winter fruits that store starch like apples, pears, bananas, mangos (okay, one summer option), and kiwis. At home, you can increase the sweetness of these unripe fruits by putting them in a paper bag with a piece of already ripe fruit. Sorry, doesn’t work for summer fruits, just buy them almost ripe.
Question: “I have a new refrigerator with a “crisper drawer”, what is this and how does it work?”
GKC: I love this question because I also have many appliances that I am not sure how to use all the components so I’m thrilled to demystify this cool feature. Fresh fruits and vegetables are crisp because their cells contain a lot of water. Losing even 5% of this can make things like lettuce wilt. The crisper drawer is designed to retain moisture (not just chill). They do this with vent levers and dials to adjust humidity and air flow. For the crispest vegetables, especially leafy ones keep the vent 1/3 to ½ open, which will ensure a humid environment and still allow some ventilation. For crisp fruit, keep the vent closed to minimize the amount of oxygen that flows into the compartment. Strange but ripe fruit breathes on a cellular level so closing it, slows down respiration and increases storage life of the fruit.
Question: “So many cake recipes call for buttermilk, what can I substitute for that?”
GKC: For every ½ cup of buttermilk, I use ½ cup non-dairy milk or soymilk PLUS 1 tablespoon white vinegar. This really works well and I do it all the time.