Storage Tips: Gourdy, Gourdy, Look Who’s Forty

I’m probably just a little too pleased with that title.

So you’d have to be, like, totally inept not to be able to store winter squashes relatively well in the short term. It’s like they were designed with our needs in mind, and you’d have to be a real malicious jackass to mess em up before Thanksgiving, at the earliest.

But you can really go the distance with these little buddies if you’re diligent. Here’s how to avoid Squash Sabotage:

  • Squashes will last their longest when stored, undamaged, at around 55°F and 60% relative humidity. Warmer temperatures will make them lose weight and moisture. Colder temperatures risk damaging them, too. Garages, basements and root cellars are great options, but for us Brooklynites with limited space, perhaps consider leaving them near a front entryway to your home or near a cracked window– drafty air from outside will help keep them cooler and slightly moister than it is in the rest of your home.
  • The fridge is a sorta OK place to keep em, but chances are they will get moist and rot faster.
  • If you wanna get cray cray about it, you can wipe each one down before storing with a mild solution of vinegar and water (or bleach or hydrogen peroxide) to kill any mold or spores which may already be on the flesh. Be sure to dry them very very well!
  • You’ll want to inspect them for nicks and damage, and eat any ones with signs of wear and tear first.
  • Much like apples, they can be lightly wrapped in paper and placed in boxes, or you can just leave em out all cute and fall-time rustic style. It’s best to give them a piece of cardboard or fabric to sit on, as a hard surface can, after time, cause a mushy spot to develop.
  • I’ve also heard you don’t want to store pumpkins with apples, because they can off gas to one another….kinda like me and my boyfriend after the chili tasting contest we went to last weekend.
  • Butternuts generally last the longest, followed by big pumpkins and acorn squashes. Delicatas, like their name suggests, aren’t quite as hardy, but with diligence they can last well into the New Year!

And did you know that, much like pumpkin seeds, you can roast the seeds of other squashes?  Butternut, spaghetti, and acorn squashes all are fair game, brosef!

So bust out your cumin and olive oil, salt n’ stuff and get those little crunchy pepitas a-roasting!

Impress your friends!  Charm your date.  Give your kids a reason to like you!

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Managing Your Melons

Did you know that there’s a National Watermelon Promotion Board?

Yeah, me neither. Here’s what they say about storing their, presumably, favorite food.

Store Watermelon on the Warm Side
Compared to most fruits, watermelons need a more “tropical” climate – a thermometer reading of 55° F is ideal. However, whole melons will keep for 7 to 10 days at room temperature. Store them too long, and they’ll lose flavor and texture. After cutting, store watermelon in refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Lower Temperatures Cause Chill Injury
After two days at 32° F, watermelons develop an off-flavor, become pitted and lose color. Freezing causes rind to break down and produces a mealy, mushy texture. Once a melon is cut, it should be wrapped and stored at 36° – 39°F.”
Removing Seeds Is A Breeze
Wash and quarter a whole melon, then cut each quarter into three or four wedges. Cut lengthwise along the seed line with a paring knife, and lift off piece. Using a fork, scrape seeds both from the removed piece and the remaining flesh on the rind. Use for cubes or continue with recipe.

 

Ah! and what’s more there’s apparently a California Melon Research Board.

California doesn’t have a steady supply of drinking water, but they have a melon research board.

Ok.

Anyways, this is what they suggest for storing cantaloupe.

How should cantaloupes be stored at home?
Refrigerate ripe melons, but do not freeze. It is best not to cut a cantaloupe until you are ready to eat it. If you need to return cut melon to the refrigerator, do not remove the seeds from the remaining sections as they keep the flesh from drying out. Cut melon should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and put back in the refrigerator immediately.”

 

Storage Tips: Eggplants

Turns out eggplants don’t like the refrigerator anymore than cucumbers or tomatoes. In a perfect world (which this clearly isn’t) they’d be kept at 50 degrees and consumed quickly.

So, the choice is yours: bundle them up in a paper towel and plastic bag and keep them on the top shelf of your fridge, or leave them on the table top at room temperature. Either way eat em up quickly, ideally within a day.

And because I’ve always wanted to know myself, here is a recipe for Babaganoush. Turns out it’s easy.

Ingredients
1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)
1 glove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Prick eggplant with a fork and place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake the eggplant until it is soft inside, about 20 minutes. Alternatively, grill the eggplant over a gas grill, rotating it around until the skin is completely charred, about 10 minutes. Let the eggplant cool. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, drain off the liquid, and scoop the pulp into a food processor. Process the eggplant until smooth and transfer to a medium bowl.

On a cutting board, work garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt together with the flat side of a knife, until it forms a paste. Add the garlic-salt mixture to the eggplant. Stir in the parsley, tahini, and lemon juice. Season with more salt, to taste. Garnish with additional parsley.

Storage Tips: Children of the Corn

I’m really grasping at straws with this title. Suffice it to say this is about storing corn.

NOTE: This info was wholeheartedly ganked from this website.

Corn, like most things, is best eaten shortly after harvest. “You can wrap unhusked ears in a plastic bag and refrigerate until preparation time. Do not remove husks before storing fresh corn….The husks help retain freshness.

 

Corn freezes well on or off the cob, but for best results it must be blanched and frozen soon after harvesting. To blanch sweet corn on the cob, use a large stockpot partially filled with water, enough to cover several ears at a time. Bring the water to a rolling boil, then place the corn in the boiling water. Begin timing as soon as you immerse the corn in the boiling water. Cover the pot and boil on high temperature… small ears for 7 minutes, medium sized ears for 9 minutes, and large ears for 11 minutes. You may use the same boiling water two or three times. After boiling, cool the corn immediately in ice water for the same amount of time as it was boiled. Drain the corn thoroughly.

To freeze whole kernel corn, blanch the corn on the cob for about 5 minutes. Cool thoroughly in ice water for 5 minutes. Cut the corn from the cob and package in freezer containers or good quality freezer bags. Frozen sweet corn (at 0° F or lower) can be stored for a maximum of 12 to 18 months.”

ALLLSSSOOO: have you ever heard of milking corn cobs? My friend and fellow Core group member David taught me about it. Once you cut the corn off the cob, run your knife over the cob vigorously several times, pulling the starchy liquid out of it and any of the little bits of kernels that are still left. It creates a white milky substance that is great tossed into a pasta dish or into soups–it adds sweet starchy awesomeness. Give it a try!

 

Storing Stone Fruits & Trapping Fruit Flies

Stone fruits include peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, apricots and cherries.

Here’s some basics:
You’ll know your stone fruit is ripe if it easily dents when you gently press your fingertip near the stem of the fruit.

If it is hard near the stem when pressed, then it could stand to ripen just a bit more. Leave them at room temperature for 1-2 days. A little sunshine will expedite the process.

Once they’re ripe they can be stored uncovered in your fridge’s crisper drawer where they’ll stay clean and dry. They can hang out there for a good 4-7 days.

Trapping Fruit Flies:
I don’t know about ya’ll, but I’ve got a serious fruit fly invasion going on in my home. It’s making it hard for me to keep my tomatoes out on the counter rather than in the fridge. This causes me much anguish and gnashing of teeth.

But did you know you can trap those little suckers with just some old wine, some tape, and a plastic bottle?

Here’s how:
Find a plastic bottle that has a screw top- a smaller bottle is better in my experience because it gets the hole closer to the wine, thereby more easily attracting the flies.
Chop the top off. Put a couple of inches of old wine, beer, vinegar or grape juice in the bottom part.
Turn the top part upside down so that it looks like a funnel, and then nest it inside the bottom part. Tape it off around the edges.
The concept is that the flies are attracted to the wine. They can climb down into the funnel, but can’t fly back out. So they drown in wine…. just like I probably will one day… if I’m lucky.

LIKE THIS:

Storage Tips: Keeping your onions in pantyhose

You heard me. Your onions, much like Tim Curry circa 1975, will look and feel their best in a pair of pantyhose. Here’s how.

 

Inline image 1
 

Get some clean (preferably new) pantyhose or thigh highs. Place one onion in the foot and tie a knot. Put another onion in, tie another knot. Continue that process until all your onions are stored. Hang the pantyhose in a cool (@ 50 degrees), dark place. If you have a basement, great. If not, then maybe try hanging them in your fridge, as long as it’s not too moist.
When you want an onion, simply cut a slit in the pantyhose and remove it.

 

This helps them get proper air circulation and should help them last as long as 6 months!

 

Storage Tips: Tender Little Berries

Berries are delicious. They’re also fragile, fickle, little pricks. Really the best advice I can give you on this one is to eat em up, quick like. Alternately, go ahead and freeze them or turn them into a righteous compote that you can pour over everything: pancakes, ice cream, styrofoam packing peanuts, etc…

But because we all like to try and deny the inevitable necrosis of all things, here’s how to make ‘em last their longest, Death Becomes Her Style.

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THE HUGE ETERNAL DEBATE ABOUT BERRIES: TWO SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT
There’s two prevailing schools of thought on this subject, as per my titular hyperbole and ten minutes of internet research.

SCHOOL OF THOUGHT ONE
The first school of thought says DO NOT WASH YOUR BERRIES UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO PUT THEM DIRECTLY INTO YOUR MOUTH.

But DO sort through them and get rid of any berries that are smooshed, moldy, or just look a little bit iffy. Prioritize consuming the ones that look the ripest first and place those at the top with the least ripe at the bottom.
Place them all in an air tight glass container with a paper towel along the bottom. The less you have to stack em within the container the better because it means less bruising.

SCHOOL OF THOUGHT TWO
The other school of thought recommends washing berries in a water and vinegar solution prior to storing them. They say this helps kill off the mold spores and bacteria that are already taking hold, thereby keeping them vital longer.If you want to continue my Death Becomes Her metaphor (as I do) then think of this like the amazing, death destroying serum Ms Rossellini is dispensing.  BUT BE WARNED: much like the movie’s heroinesyou still have to take good care of your berries if you do this. Dry them diligently with a towel, maybe even spin them gently in a salad spinner. Package them in an air tight container in your refrigerator, preferably with a lining of paper towels, as per above. 

Using one of these two methods, blueberries can last ya nearly 2 weeks. Strawberries the same. Raspberries probably 4-5 days. Crunch Berries will last past the next ice age.

ONE LAST THOUGHT:

I know those ceramic berry containers they sell at the bougie home goods stores are freaking adorable, but they are the OPPOSITE of what is going to make your berries last the longest. They’re the Banana Boat Tanning Oil ™ of berry storage, so as Andre 3K would say, “Don’t do it! Think it through! Reconsider!” 

THE END.