Fruit and Vegetable Storage

Placing your fruits and vegetables in proper storage is the primary key to keeping produce fresh. We all know the look of a sorry bin of wasted strawberries, all sunken, dark and fuzzy.

Some of our produce preservation comes down to planning. It doesn’t pay to purchase produce you can’t use or preserve within a reasonable time.

Separate them!

Certain types of fruits and vegetables do not mix well in storage, as some emit ethylene, a gaseous hormone emitted by plants. Certain foods don’t do well with ethylene around and can spoil faster when stored near your ethylene-producing fruits and veggies inside the same compartment.

Your highest ethylene producers are apricots, cantaloupe, figs, honeydew, bananas, tomatoes, avocadoes, nectarines, peaches, pears and plums.

Store these fruits & veggies in the fridge

Layered
In the fruit compartment you can safely store apples, apricots, cantaloupe, figs and honeydew melon.

Unlayered
You should spread your blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries out into single layers to keep them from rotting at contact points where moisture gathers. For the same reason, do not wash them until ready for consumption.

Some of your vegetables will keep best in separate plastic bags. These include broccoli, lettuce, peas, cauliflower, carrots, peas, radishes and corn. Even green onions like to be stored cool and separate in the fridge.

Store this produce in a paper bag

Mushrooms and okra like their own space in paper bags. So do artichokes, asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cherries, grapes, green beans, lima beans, leeks, plums, spinach, summer squash, yellow squash and zucchini. Herbs collected fresh from the garden or purchased at the store are also best stored in paper bags.

Countertop warriors

Thanks to their hardier constitutions and external structure, some fruits and veggies stay fresh on the countertop. These include basil, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger, grapefruit, jicama, lemons, limes, mangoes, oranges, papayas, peppers, persimmon, pineapple, plantains, pomegranates and watermelon.

Squash and potatoes

Keep acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkins, spaghetti squash, and winter squash in a cool, dry environment. Same goes for potatoes and sweet potatoes. Always keep onions and potatoes away from each other! They produce gases that make each other spoil.

A special case for apples…

Keep apples out of direct sunlight. They can be stored on the countertop, in an uncovered bowl or inside a bag with air holes. Many people like to store them in the refrigerator so that they stay cold and crisp.

Depending on timing…

Keep avocadoes, nectarines, peaches, pears and plums either on the counter or in the fridge depending on ripeness. Kiwi can be stored in both places as well.

More about ethylene

Understand that ethylene is, by itself, not harmful to your health. It is odorless and tasteless and has no adverse side effects on your body. But it does work as a food ripener and therefore works against keeping produce fresh. When you want food to ripen quicker, you can actually use ethylene to your advantage by pairing ethylene-producing foods with foods that need to ripen.

Keeping produce fresh is more than a convenience for consumption. It is also an important money saver. It is estimated by the United States Department of Agriculture that an American family tosses out about 470 pounds (over 200kg) of food per year. That’s nearly 15 percent of all the food brought into the home, about $600 worth. That’s largely because so much food “goes bad” from neglect or improper storage. If you total it all up, Americans dump about $3 billion worth of food every year.

 
About the author:
Chris Bekermeier is Vice President, Sales & Marketing of PacMoore in Hammond, IN. PacMoore is a contract manufacturer focused on processing dry ingredients for the food & pharmaceutical industries. Capabilities include blending, spray drying, re-packaging, sifting, & consumer packaging.

Stefano Lubiana Wines Granton Vineyard Pinot Noir budburst

Stefano Lubiana Wines Granton Vineyard Pinot Noir budburst by stefano lubiana wines, on Flickr

You’d be forgiven for thinking that most wine sold is very much a processed product. But don’t make the mistake of putting all vinous treats under this umbrella, because it is perfectly possible to source wine that is made with more natural ethics in mind. There are a growing number of winemakers using sustainable methods to make their products, with an increasing awareness that this is a very important consideration for a lot of drinkers. However, it’s all very well saying ‘sustainable’ but if you’re a wine drinker with a conscience, you might want to know exactly what this means. So what terms should we be looking out for on wine labels?

Well, you’re probably familiar with ‘organic’ wine, but did you also know that there are many different legal definitions of organic wine, depending on where the grapes come from, and that they often refer only to the grapes used rather than the wine made? The grapes must be grown using no, or very little chemical intervention, but there are many winemakers out there who follow organic practices but chose not to be certified.

Another aspect of this more ecologically-minded wine movement that gets a lot of attention is biodynamic wine. This takes the organic way of thinking a bit further by treating the land used as a living thing that deserves respect and the best conditions possible in which to thrive. Although the philosophy is based on more spiritual thinking that advocates adding preparations to the soil that are influenced by lunar movements, is it very respected in the wine world. There are a growing number of world class winemakers that many argue make superior wines using biodynamic methods, and it, too, requires official certification.

There is also much talk about a ‘natural’ wine movement, in which some winemakers might not necessarily be classed as organic or biodynamic, but they ferment their wine using natural yeast present in the winery and strive to use minimal sulphur dioxide in the process (for preserving the wine and preventing the growth of bacteria). A sustainable winery is a broader term still and it refers to more general working practices rather than just focusing on the finished product. So, using compost, encouraging wildlife into the vineyard, saving money and reducing the carbon footprint are all important considerations.

So what’s the proof of its success? Well, Felton Road is widely considered to be the best wine estate in New Zealand and they have used biodynamic methods in their vineyards since 2000. For them, producing the very best wines they possibly can means showing a respect for the earth and having a positive impact on their land. On the other side of the world, Juan Antonio Poncé from Bodegas Poncé strives to make the best representation of his local Spanish Bobal grape variety by adhering to biodynamic practices. And in the traditional region of Beaujolais in France, the wines of Jean Paul Thevenet are made using the natural yeasts mentioned above and no sulphur dioxide. All these winemakers are not only successful in their sustainable approach, but are very much considered to be among the best in their field – proof that making wine in a natural and sustainable way benefits the land, the environment and the wine lover.

Author:
Carlo Pandian is an Italian expat based in London who loves wine and gardening. He is glad to contribute to with a post aimed at raising awareness on wine and sustainable making techniques. Connect with him @carlopandian.

 

It’s 2013, the holidays are over and the call of the local farmers market is right around the corner.  Before you load up on organic produce, just knowing what is coming ahead in the seasons ahead will help you make the most of your budget and recipes organically, seasonally, and locally.

According to The Examiner, organic vegetable gardening is the hottest gardening trend of 2013, so it’s the perfect time to brush up on green thumb habits and buy seeds.  The growing concern over GMOs (genetically modified foods) has loomed large in past years, and organic, local farming offers the safest alternative to processed, corn-syrup infused, mass-produced foods.

Here’s a breakdown of the best seasons to buy the most popular organic veggies at their peak:

Spring

Artichokes, Asparagus, Broccoli, Chives, Collard Greens, Corn, Fava beans, Fennel, Green Beans, Mustard Greens, Peas, Radicchio, Red Leaf Lettuce, Snow Peas, Spinach, Spring Baby Lettuce, Vidalia Onions, Watercress

Summer

Beets, Bell Peppers, Chinese Long Beans, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Garlic, Green Beans, Jalapeno Peppers, Lima Beans, Okra, Radishes, Tomatoes, Zucchini

Autumn

Acorn Squash, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Cauliflower, Endive, Garlic, Ginger, Pumpkin, Turnips, Winter Squash

Winter

Brussel Sprouts, Collard Greens, Delicata Squash, Kale, Leeks, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, Winter Squash

All Year Round

Arrowroot, Banana Squash, Bell Peppers, Black Eyed Peas, Bok Choy, Broccoflower, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes, Leek, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Olives, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes

Be patient and browse before you buy.  Often there are surprises at every corner of a farmer’s market, so take your time.

Why buying local is better:

  • First, buying local establishes a sense of community.  You get to know your neighbors and see first-hand what kinds of produce is available near you.  You might even swap recipes.  Learning what kinds of foods your neighbors are growing in their own back yards is a good incentive to start that turnip garden of your own to trade for fresh produce like squash and green beans.  Don’t be too shy to ask questions; you’ll learn more about food, your neighbors, and yourself in the process.
  • Buying local ensures the freshest ingredients.  Strawberries you buy during the wintertime are less flavoursome than those picked in-season.  With over 7,000 farmers’ markets across the U.S. to choose from, chances are (if you’re early enough) you can get the drop on the freshest greens and crispest produce.
  • Buying local sustains small-scale farmers and pesticide free food options.  Your local growers will be thankful for the business, and your gut will be thankful for the organic, toxic treated crops.  Also, you’re promoting local crop diversity over large-scale growers of staple crops like corn or soybeans.
  • Buying local at a farmer’s market gives you bigger options than most large-chain retailers like Wal-Mart and Albertsons (although some branches are now integrating local options into their businesses).
  • Buying local can be cheaper.  Farmer’s markets yield higher quality produce at less cost per pound because they aren’t middle managed or filled with preservatives.  Buying in season will also produce fresher goods at cheaper prices because of their abundance.

A pro tip in saving big is to freeze your purchases.  Tomatoes taste better in August, but buy in bulk and save big by freezing your pickings.  But beware—buying too much at once without a game-plan could also mean wasting money and spoiled fruits and veggies on the counter.

Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a site dedicated to helping consumers find the best credit cards to save on organic produce and other earth friendly products!

The fact that chocolate is one of the most beloved food items on the planet is well known, as are certain chocolate products that are made through the use of excellent ingredients, including cacao powder. Food items like chocolate cakes, cookies and brownies are created using cacao powder, and the better the quality the better the taste. However, it is also a fact that most brands are considered to cause some major health issues which offsets their benefits. With the Organic Cacao Powder however, this problem is adequately addressed.

Cacao Powder Details

In general, cacao powders are simply the product of roasting and grinding cacao beans from the cacao fruit. This method of converting cacao beans into tasty foods has been going on since the days of the ancient civilizations of Central America where the people thought that it was food worthy of their gods.
Nowadays, the process has been refined to grind the beans into finer and cleaner powder for the use of many baking needs. The versatility is only limited to the imagination as it can be used for beverages, pastries, toppings, and even some culinary recipes that require a hint of chocolate taste.

Cacao Powder Health Details

As tasty as the many varied chocolate recipes may be however, one of the biggest concerns that people who are conscious with their health have about is with regards to the many health problems it could cause. If taken excessively, cacao powder products can heighten blood pressure levels, contribute in obesity and could even cause people to have diabetes. The last two are not necessarily caused by cacao itself though, but cacao products will invariably contain sugar which is.
On the other hand, what is not often mentioned regarding the health effects of chocolate are the many health advantages that it possesses. Cacao products have a tremendous amount of antioxidants which fights off free radicals. It also contains a variety of essential nutrients including magnesium which is needed for optimum functioning of the body. But the most sought after effect of cacao products though, is the energizing result of the combination of caffeine and Theobromine.

Why Organic Cacao Powder

As already mentioned earlier, using Organic Cacao Powder addresses the many issues that people have against cacao related products. For one thing, the organic version of the powder significantly reduces the chance of diseases occurring by being easily absorbed and broken down. Organic Cacao Powder also has significantly more nutrients than conventional powders owing to the fewer number of processes.
As it stands, the usual method of creating cacao powder involves the application of high heat. Now while this may seem like a logical move, it nonetheless strips cacao of its former abundance of nutrients which were substantial. So when eating regular chocolate or cacao items, the nutrients you are getting are nothing compared to what they used to be.
In comparison, Raw Organic Cacao Powder undergoes less processing methods which allows it to retain the majority of the nutrients present in cacao. And considering that cacao is one of the richest, most nutritious substances on the planet, that amount cannot be discounted.

Raw Food Diet

As more and more people are turning to more organic lifestyles and trying to improve their health through adopting better eating habits, there are also many people going one step further and enjoying the health benefits of a raw food diet. In this article I am going to firstly look at; why so many people are choosing raw foods over cooked, what the benefits are, and give you tips on how to start eating a mainly raw food diet.

In my experience people who are “raw foodists” mainly eat 75% raw foods and their reason for doing so are, when foods are raw they are in their most natural state and how nature designed them, thus meaning they are biocompatible with our bodies and are easier for us to digest. This is because when we cook food this creates new compounds in foods which our bodies can?t always process, therefore adding to our toxic load and making it harder for our immune system to work efficiently. Our immune systems are affected because when foods that are cooked enter our bodies it leads to our white blood cells becoming more active which means that the food is seen as an invader in the body.

Furthermore raw foods maintain their enzymes and because enzymes are our life force and our bodies need them in order to absorb vitamins and minerals. When food is heated over a certain temperature the enzymes die and it becomes harder for our bodies to assimilate the nutrition from foods.

A major benefit for many is the fact that raw foods replenish our enzymes store and help us to remain healthy and slow down the aging process whereas cooked foods speed up the aging process as they deplete our bodies of enzymes.

However many people are put off eating a raw food diet as they imagine they’ll just be eating salads all day long and what they do not realise is that in fact they can have a whole variety of grains, nuts, seeds, and a vast array of delicious products.

It is always wise to start with a few simple steps and slowly increase your raw food intake for example start by adding salads to all your meals, even if you are eating pizza having salad with it will help your digestion. Breakfast is a great place to start, by having a raw food smoothie, with fresh fruit, nut milk and adding in chia seeds and spirulina this gets your day off to an excellent start.

When swapping to a raw food diet it is a good idea to swap any sugar you have for raw agave or coconut sugar as they are less processed and have more nutrients than normal white sugar. Once you are starting to get into the swing of raw foods it is hugely beneficial to add in fresh raw vegetable juices as this helps to flood your body with nutrients. The classic super foods range is also an easy way to get tasty raw foods into your daily diet.

When following a raw food diet, you can add in many nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. In the case of legumes and grains they can be eaten raw after being sprouted, the process of sprouting makes them edible and easier for the body to digest.

Finally as I mentioned at the beginning most raw foodists eat 75% raw food so you can still enjoy some of your favourite cooked foods, adding raw food into your diet allows you to experience a huge increase in health and vitality and even having 50 % raw will vastly increase your level of health. People on raw food diets report many positive effects such as having;

*a stronger immune system, so less illnesses.
*increased energy levels (need less sleep at night).
* better clarity of mind and increased ability to focus.
*their complexion becomes clearer.
*they often are able to shed excess kilos
*they enjoy the real flavour of nature’s foods without any artificial flavourings and msg.

So whether or not you are ready to go fully raw or just add in more raw food diet to your diet remember the importance of using organic produce so you do not add in toxins to your body and you can experience a true sense of well-being.

 

Raw Cacao

Cacao (pronounced ka-kow) is an ancient superfood. In Mayan culture (300-900 AD) it was known as the drink of the gods and Mayan kings drank up to 30 cups a day to maintain their vigour.

You may be wondering what is the difference between raw cacao and the normal cocoa powder you buy in the supermarket (remember the one your mum made chocolate crackles out of?). This type of cocoa powder is processed via the “Dutch method” meaning heat extracted up to 150°C which destroys most of the nutrients and antioxidants.

Raw cacao is never heated above 40 degrees which ensures all the goodness, nutrients and antioxidants are in tact, so when compared to the other stuff, raw cacao has 360% more antioxidants.

 

Organic BreakfastHow do you start your day? Breakfast is the best meal of the day, especially if you get to eat it in a more leisurely way. In our house, most days I am eating breakfast while making school lunches, which is not ideal. So I enjoy the more organised mornings where I can sit, eat and enjoy the brief time with my family before the day starts.

Here are a few breakfast options I enjoy to help me start the day.

Green smoothie – filtered water, banana, baby spinach, Loving Earth cacao powder, sweetened with Loving Earth agave syrup. Usually add some extras psyllium husk, flaxseed. The kids enjoy this too!

Quick bircher muesli – Ceres muesli, grated pear, chopped banana, chopped nuts mixed in natural yoghurt. Can sweeten with honey if you like.

Elderslie Organic Eggs – A quick scrambled or poached egg with fresh spinach. On the more leisurely days, lightly sauteed kale, mushrooms and tomatoes, enjoyed with a Jasper coffee.

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