Kitchen Tips

Asparagus Preparation

Green asparagus is quickly cooked.  The asparagus must not be peeled and can be cooked in five to eight minutes. If the asparagus spears are thick, simply peel the base of the spear so that it shall not be tough when cooking is done. Sometimes the base ends are also woody, so it’s advisable to cut off a few centimetres.

Cucumber

To core a cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise, then scrape out the seeds. This forms a clean groove in the cut half.
Shopping Tip: The firmer the cucumber and its skin is, the fresher the cucumber. Cucumbers should be stored in the refrigerator. Cucumbers will not dry out if wrapped in plastic. Cucumbers are sensitive to cold, therefore are not intended for freezing. Cucumbers get mushy and rubbery at low temperatures.

Depending on the recipe used, you should not peel cucumbers, since most of the vitamins are contained in the skin. However, wash cucumbers thoroughly before using, due to possible pesticide residue, unless you have purchased organic cucumbers.

Citrus fruit filleting

Slice a little off the top and bottom of the fruit; that is, like cutting off a capped lid on both sides. Place the fruit in a large, shallow dish, to use as a stable cutting surface. Peel away the skin in strips, as close as you can get to the pulpy fruit without breaking it. Continue to gently turn the fruit as you peel, until the entire skin has been removed. Keep the knife as close to the white-colored pith as possible, which encloses each individual fruit segment, then cut diagonally. Turn the knife’s blade and remove each Segment.

Chinese Cabbage

When purchasing  Chinese cabbage be sure that the leaves are crisp and firm and the stock is not browning or discolored. Store Chinese cabbage in plastic wrap and it shall stay fresh for up to 10 days. A large Chinese cabbage can weigh up to one kilogram. If you don’t need the whole cabbage at once, the rest can be used for warm dishes, too. Chinese cabbage is the ideal choice as an ingredient for soups, wok and stir-fried dishes. Cabbage head leftovers can be briefly blanched and then frozen for up to about four months.

Pomegranate

Depending on the technique used, it is not always easy to remove seeds from the pomegranate. However, here’s a way to remove the seeds without having pomegranate juice splashing all over you.

Cut a pomegranate in half lengthwise and then fill a large bowl with water. Put the fruit halves under water while breaking the fruit apart to remove the berries. The berries shall sink to the bottom of the bowl while the separated white segments float on the water’s surface. You can easily remove the floating segments. Then carefully drain the water. The pomegranate seeds remain in the bowl.

Curly Kale (Borecole)

Curly kale is a robust type of collard greens that has hard leaves and a tart taste, depending on the variety. A first frost assures sweeter tasting curly kale. The leaves can be plucked off from the stalk just before cooking. It is easier to cut the kale leaves once they have been blanched first. Curly kale contains 105 mg Vitamin C per 100 g; which is twice as much Vitamin C as in oranges. Also, raw curly kale leaves can be mixed into smoothies.

Spring Onions

Spring onions are often available for purchase in a small bundle. They should be freshly prepared. Their freshness can be determined by the onion greens: the crunchier the onion greens, the fresher the onions. Store spring onions in the refrigerator to maintain their freshness two or three days longer. If spring onions aren’t readily available, some leeks can be substituted in a recipe, for example, cooked in a soup.  Chives, cut into small rings, are also a tasty food decoration.

Ginger

When ginger roots are fresh, their thin brown skin can be used, as well.  Older ginger root tubers can be peeled with a potato peeler. If you have some ginger root left over, it can be frozen. When you need to use it again, you can grate off the desired amount then return the rest to the freezer. If you’d like, you can also add some ginger to your tea for a delicious warm, spicy flavor.

Tomato

Tomatoes taste really good when they are ripe. Ideally, tomatoes should ripen red on the bush or vine. Harvested, unripened greenhouse tomatoes do become soft and red; however, many of these varieties do not develop a stronger aroma when they are fully ripened.
Tomatoes do not do well in refrigerators, since they lose their flavor in the cold. The best way to store tomatoes is in an airy place. The ideal storage temperature is between 12 to 18 degrees Celsius.