Storage, Preparation, and Cooking!
- Most fresh vegetables should be stored in the fridge. Exceptions are winter squash, potatoes, onions, and garlic, which should be stored in a dry area at room temperature.
- Tip: Green leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach, will stay fresh longer when stored away from tomatoes, bananas, apples, and melons.
- Store frozen vegetables in the freezer. If they thaw, use them as soon as possible. Do not refreeze after thawing or cooking.
- Store canned vegetables on a shelf. If you use only part of a can, store the remainder in the fridge in a Tupperware container, NOT in the opened can. Bulging cans should be discarded, as this can be a sign of bacterial growth.
- To get vegetables ready for cooking: remove stems and other undesirable parts of the vegetables. Cut into uniform pieces to facilitate uniform cooking.
- Vegetables most often store vitamins just under their skin, so peel them thinly, if at all. For example, you can make mashed potatoes with the skins left on. Wash them thoroughly and prepare as usual. This helps to retain vitamins and is delicious!
- Vegetables can also lose vitamins when cut and then exposed to air or liquids. Use minimal liquids when preparing and limit air exposure by serving as soon after preparation as possible.
Fresh Vegetables: Any cooking method can be applied to fresh vegetables.
Frozen Vegetables: Many frozen vegetables are available to steam in the microwave right inside their packaging. These are so fast and so easy! Frozen vegetables can also be steamed in a pot on the stove.
Canned Vegetables: Simply warm in a pan and you are ready to go! You can also warm canned vegetables in the microwave. Just be sure to transfer to a microwave safe container!
- Vegetables are done when they have reached a desired tenderness but still retain a bright color.
- Add vegetables according to cooking times. This will help avoid overcooking of vegetables with shorter cooking times. Remember that most vegetables can be eaten raw, so under-cooking is less of a concern.
- Search on the internet for recipes, ideas, general cooking times and temperatures.
- Steaming: Place a half inch to an inch of water in the bottom of a pot. Bring water to a boil. Add either fresh or frozen vegetables. Put a lid on the pot, turn the heat down to medium, and let the steam cook the vegetables. Check them often because vegetables cook quickly with steam and overcooking is common.
- Boiling: Boiling vegetables can be useful, but vitamins may be leached into the liquid, so use sparingly. Boil enough liquid to cover desired amount of vegetables. Water alone can be used, but things like stock can be added to enhance flavor. Once the water is boiling, add the vegetables. When done, remove vegetables with a slotted spoon or drain using a colander.
- Grilling: Large or medium sized vegetables can be cut into thin, broad pieces and placed directly on the grill to cook. Small vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes or pearl onions can be put on skewers for ease. If the skewers are wood or bamboo, soak them in cold water for 15 - 25 minutes prior to use to avoid burning.Vegetables may be seasoned to taste, or marinated before going on the grill. Vegetables are done when they are slightly browned, some charring is normal
- Broiling: Broiling is used to cook soft vegetables, such as tomatoes, that would not do as well on the grill. You can also use broiling to crisp already cooked vegetables, or melt cheese onto them. Simply cut the tomato, or other vegetable into slices, season, and stick in the oven on the broil setting. There is no need to preheat the oven when broiling. Be sure to watch closely. Broilers cook very quickly and your vegetables could easily burn.
- Roasting/Baking: Baking vegetables is a great way to bring out their natural sweetness while preserving nutritional value. Prepare vegetables as desired, leave whole or chop into uniform pieces. Place a small amount of oil in the bottom of a 9x13 pan or other casserole dish. Brush a bit more oil on top of the vegetables and season as desired. Bake at about 350 F until done.
- Sauteing: Cover the bottom of a frying pan or wok with cooking oil. Heat the oil and keep it hot throughout cooking but don’t let it smoke. Add desired spices and flavors. Add vegetables with high water content, such as tomatoes, last. Toss vegetables intermittently
Next time: Incorporating vegetables into meals, and lots of recipes!
Textbook: On Cooking—A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals