How green is my papaya?

How green is my papaya?

Let’s talk about ripening Papaya.

Papaya Growing

Papaya Growing

Q: What fruit can be used to tenderise meat or cure stomach complaints?
A: Papaya!

Papaya is an incredibly versatile fruit. It can be eaten by itself, made into jams, chutneys and pickles or used like a vegetable when still green.

The fruit has very delicate flesh so papaya farmers harvest their crop when the fruit shows the first signs of turning from green so that they transport without bruising. Knowing when they will ripen is dependent upon:

  1. The amount of ethlyene gas the fruit is exposed to and sometimes this process might mean it will end up on your kitchen bench completing the ripening cycle.
  2. Characteristics of seasonal changes,
  3. The behavior of the ambient air – the temperature of the fruit while ripening helps to control the process and dictate the speed that the fruit ripens. The heat from the fruit pulp needs to be able to escape so airflow is essential, and degree of fruit maturity

So, how do you ripen them?
It will depend how green they are.

In winter the ripening can take up to two weeks if left to their own devices at room temperature. In summer the ambient heat will mean a ripening of 3 to 4 days.

AIR RIPENING
If you aren’t in a rush you can leave the papaya at room temperature and they will ripen in 3-4 days if sitting on top of apples. Make sure you turn them occasionally so that they ripen evenly. Once their skin turns yellow-orange and they yield to gentle pressure, they are ripe and ready to eat. BUT sit them like they are hanging from the tree otherwise they won’t ripen properly – the stem bit upwards.

SOONER RIPENING
If you want to eat your papaya sooner – then  pop it into a paper bag or wrap in kitchen paper. This will trap the fruit’s ethylene gas* and help it ripen more quickly while still allowing for healthy oxygen exchange through the bag. It’s respiration while ripening decreases the oxygen and emits carbon dioxide so this air flow is important. Keep the paper bag in a dark, cool place as excessive heat will cause the papaya to rot rather than ripen (so definitely not near a heater or stove). Turn occasionally.

INCREASE RIPENING SPEED
If you want to speed up the process even more you can add a pear, banana or an apple to the bag to increase the amount of ethylene gas present. Papayas will not ripen while they are in the fridge.

WHEN RIPE
Once the fruit is ripe you need to either consume it or pop it in the fridge to prevent it becoming overripe.

Papaya Lime Cocktail

Papaya Lime Cocktail

WHAT NEXT?…..  Add lime and more lime…..
Peel, slice and squeeze some lime juice over the top. This transforms Papaya. You’ll feel like your in a hammock on a tropical Island eating papaya newly picked.

Try a Papaya cocktail … just blend a cup of ice, ¼ of a papaya, a dash of orange juice, 30ml Triple Sec and a squeeze of lime juice. You could add 30ml of vodka if you’re after an extra kick! Add some salt to the Rim.

GREEN PAPAYA SALAD
Or if you just can’t wait for your papaya to ripen try this … Green Papaya Salad

*Ethylene is a natural plant hormone that affects the growth, development, ripening, and aging of all plants.

Prawn and papaya lettuce cups
 
This is great with a large green salad and takes total to table 10 minutes.
Author:
Recipe type: Quick meal
Cuisine: Starter or Main
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 small red chilli, finely dice
  • 400g cooked prawns
  • 1 small papaya, clean and cut into squares
  • 1tbs sweet chilli sauce
  • 1tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • juice of one lime
  • cashews & bean shoots to garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine in a bowl and gently mix. In a jug combine chilli sauce,sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Stir and pour over prawn and papaya mixture. Stir to combine.
  2. Remove 4 inner leaves from an iceberg lettuce and divide the prawn and papaya mixture between them. Garnish.

 

 

 

 

*Ethylene is a natural plant hormone that affects the growth, development, ripening, and senescence (aging) of all plants.

Loss Leaders. Why do supermarkets have them?

A Harvest Hub member noticed that Colesworth had new season Menindee grapes on sale this week for $4.98/kg. At Harvest Hub they’re $11.80/kg.  Thank you for giving us the opportunity to discuss this!

Our member’s right – they’re $4.98/kg at Woolworths.  (Coles is selling ‘white seedless grapes’ almost as cheaply for $5.00/kg.) These prices are actually below wholesale cost.  At Harris Farm, they are a more comparable $10-$11/kg

Menindee grapes

Loss Leaders. Why do supermarkets have them?        Every store always has a few ‘loss leaders’ – products they’re prepared to sacrifice profit on to draw in customers. Merchants then make up for these losses by charging handsomely for other goods.

 

Loss leaders are often sold at cost or below cost. In this way Menindee grapes are loss leaders, as are Colesworth branded 2 litres of milk for $2, and many advertised supermarket weekly specials.

In relation to fruit and vegetables, supermarkets often have agreements with individual growers, which removes the price they pay the grower for produce, and the price they sell it for from the usual ups and downs of ‘market pricing’.

As you know market pricing is based on normal demand and supply. For the growers caught in these agreements with Colesworth, this means that price is fixed despite any changes in circumstances.

Harvest Hub doesn’t enter into such agreements because they can disadvantage growers, and our support for growers includes considering a future that benefits both them and our members.

If supply is short, due to bad weather, insect devastation, unripe produce, for instance, the market price will increase. An increased price is fair for the grower who has to bear the brunt of seasonal produce ups and downs.

Our Sydney basin growers, too, have families to feed. We don’t think locking them into pricing is equitable, especially if the price negotiated is so low the grower struggles to produce their crop.

As 95% of Harvest Hub customers are regulars (i.e. they are already in our store), we simply ensure we’re competitive across the board.  We purchase from our growers at a fair price for them, we check our final pricing every Friday night (into the wee hours of Saturday morning) and we establish our prices for the whole week.

We don’t change these prices no matter what happens at the market so that our Hubs supplied at the end of the week are not disadvantaged.  So unlike Colesworth we do not alter the end-user pricing, nor do we adjust our pricing to reflect the different suburban communities our members hail from.  Colesworth charges according to locality.

Whilst we publish and keep our prices constant for the week, each week we do not lock-in the growers to a specific price. They receive what they ask for and that generally is what is fair for keeping them in business.

The result of this is your Harvest Hub basket is competitively priced overall, plus you receive you always receive additional items in the Value Bag and this is the reason we base it on a co-op style divvy.

To give you some examples (all prices per kg, except where otherwise indicated. Note there will be variation between Woolies shops): To see full list expand to 15 items.

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While we’re not the cheapest on every item  we are competitive across a range of goods – especially considering that Colesworth pays the growers on average 10% – 30% less than we do because of their buying power.

Local Produce in Season

Harvest Hub prides itself on supporting local growers, especially Sydney basin growers and providing local produce in season.  One of the reasons Menindee grapes are comparatively expensive now is that we are at the very beginning of the grape season.

That said, Woolworths’ produce is not particularly local – nor is Harris Farm’s.  Whilst we support many Sydney-based growers, we know that Woolworths has virtually no growers across the Sydney Basin, and Harris Farm only has a handful.

And while Coles is becoming aware that Australian shoppers prefer to buy local, of the 27 Australian growers featured on Coles Meet Our Growers Page only three of them are from NSW, and one of those is a wine maker.

That said, we encourage our members to buy the specials in store, if it’s worth the trip – but we also advise them to be careful with filling up their shopping basket with all the other fully priced items. Loss leaders are intended, after all, to get a customer into the store to purchase other goods.

We expect Menindee prices to drop over the next few weeks as the grape season progresses – so it won’t be long before we’re able to match Coles’ and Woolworths’ grape prices.  In the meantime, we offer members locally sourced, in season fruit, vegetables, and artisan bread and award winning dairy that is competitively priced and ethically sourced.

Metella Road Public School Harvest Hub went off with a Bang

Harvest Hub aims to bring family and friends to the dinner table in conversation. A good way to this is eating fresh produce, cooking together, opening discussion on eating healthy, seasonal and fresh.

Crunch & Sip Program Metella Road Public School

Bursting to the Brim. Mettela Road Public School Harvest Hub bags

Metella Road Public School is located in Toongabbie, Sydney, about 15 minutes from Parramatta. It is a school that hums and the Principal, Peter D’Emilio, has a smile on his face and spring in his step. The reason being is that he has an amazing community both inside and outside the school who support each other with the various initiatives.

When you enter the Metella Road Public School the staff, the teachers and the children in the playground have wide smiles and the general hum of happy voices wraps around you. This school has something different.

They had a Spring Fete a few weeks ago and it was a joy to see how many families and community members came to support the fundraiser. But it was the glowing chatter from parents about how the school is making a difference for the children.

First harvest Hub at Metella Road Public School

Colleen and Edwina – Where are those potatoes?

Making a difference teaching practical life skills and now a Harvest Hub which will provide the opportunity to have Local Sydney Basin produce and for families to cook together.

Harvest Hub seasonal Sydney Basin produce

All Aboard Metella Road Public School Harvest Hub starts

In the Blacktown Sun Peter mentions that the Hub will support the Crunch & Sip program where the children have a break to eat fresh fruit & veg. The Harvest Hub program will enable those children coming to school without fruit or veg an opportunity to have a piece.

Colleen and Edwina had fun divvying up the bags and look forward to volunteers helping every week. The school receive $4 for every bag they pack and on their very first week they packed 18 bags. A great fundraiser which will assist in providing funds for school projects.

Harvest Hub seasonal Sydney Basin produce

All Aboard Metella Road Public School Harvest Hub starts

David in the Before/After school care has also taken the opportunity to provide for their group by ordering through the Hub. This way they don;t have to trudge off to the shops and are saving by purchasing this way.

If you have a preschool, school, group, community centre, community garden, church that would like to have a Hub to help with fundraising efforts please contact us  – info@harvesthub.com.au

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Buddha hand has fingers in many pots


A Buddha Hand is a citron fruit like an orange or lemon but the difference is you use the rind. It is known as “fo-shou” in China and “bushukan” in Japan and there is a men’s cologne range called Busjkan. There is debate as to whether it was around 4th century AD, when spices were moving from India to China along the Silk Road and Buddhism was moving from India that the Buddha’s Hand reached China.

Buddh

 

The Buddha hand can be frozen or wrapped in a paper towel and refrigerated up to 2 weeks. There are many  things you can do with it.

AIR FRESHENER
Hang a finger of it and it freshens the air. Or cut a small piece and put in a vase with water and it will freshen the room.

 

 

DRINKS
VODKA see recipes below

WATER FLAVOURING
Put a Buddha Hand finger in a jug of water.

TEA
Wash it, dry it, slice it and simmer in sugar syrup. Use in tea. Or take a finger and seep for 4 minutes with Oolong leaves and crystallized ginger.

COOKING

ASPARAGUS
Cut into thin strips, saute in olive oil with garlic and olive oil. Add some asparagus.

FISH
White fish dust in seasoned flour  and garam masala. Then mince a Buddha finger add to fry pan with olive oil, leek and garlic, add fish and cook. Serve over steamed cauliflower.

MARINATE
In a bowl add thin slices of Buddha Finger, minced garlic, lemon, oregano and olive oil slices add  chicken thighs. Coat then cover with plastic and pop into fridge for 30 minutes. Then grill or BBQ.

Mad Hatter teaparty

Have your own Mad hatter Tea Party – with a Twist of Buddha Hand Scones

 

BAKE
SCONES – Fluffy Buddha Hand
CAKE –
Recipes to come

MARMALADE
CANDIED PEEL
Recipes to come

 

 

Fluffy Buddha Hand Scones
 
These are great in the lunchbox.
Author:
Recipe type: Baking
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour for soft scones)
  • 2 tbs baking powder
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup sunflower oil
  • 1½ cups unsweetened soymilk or milk
  • 3 tsp grated Buddha Hand rind, grated
Instructions
  1. In a bowl sift all the dry ingredients together, then in another bowl put all the wet ingredients together. Combine wet and dry ingredients mixing well - add some soymilk/milk if mix a little dry.
  2. Make a well in the centre. Mix with a knife until mixture comes together.
  3. Turn dough onto a lightly-floured surface. Knead lightly until smooth.
  4. Cut scones into rounds. On a lightly greased tray place fairly close together. Bake for about15 minutes.

 
Buddha Hand Citrus Cake
 
Use the Buddha Hand rind to replace lemon rind.
Author:
Recipe type: Baking
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup Buddha Hand strips of zest and fruit chopped up
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Butter the inside of a Bundt pan.
  3. In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar, and then add the salt. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, and then the baking powder.
  4. Mix in half of the flour, followed by the milk and the other half of the flour. Finally, stir in the Buddha Hand Peel.
  5. Pour the batter into Bundt pan and bake for 55-60 minutes. Test with a skewer inserted in the centre area and ready when it comes out clean.
  6. Let cool then remove from the pan.

 
Buddha Hand Candied Peel
 
It can be eaten like a candy, pop it into your potpourri, into a Fruit Cake or bake that needs a fragrant chewy element.
Author:
Recipe type: Garnish
Ingredients
  • 1 Buddha’s hand peeled and sliced
  • 1½ cups castor sugar
  • 1 cup water
Instructions
  1. In a pot put water and bring to boil.
  2. Put in 1 cup sugar and simmer over a medium flame and stir until the sugar dissolves completely.
  3. Line a baking sheet with foil and pour in the remaining ½ cup of sugar. This will be used to dust the candy.
  4. Once the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup has begun to boil, add the Buddha Hand pieces. Return to a boil and adjust the heat to keep a moderate boil. Stir as needed.
  5. When the volume of the syrup starts to diminish, you will need to stir more often taking about an hour. Avoid burning by stirring. Turn down the heat.
  6. When you mixture is at 230,
  7. Turn off the heat and remove the candied peels.
  8. Drop them onto the lined baking sheet.
  9. The mixture hardens fast so work quickly to separate the peel.

 
Buddha Hand Vodka and Pernot
 
This is a smashing drink. Use a Buddha Hand finger to lightly stir and pop in to present. Great talking point.
Author:
Recipe type: Cocktail
Ingredients
  • 8½ tsp. Buddha’s Hand vodka (Cut off finger and soak in vodka)
  • 6 tsp Pernod
  • 5 basil leaves
  • 6 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tbs simple syrup (see instructions below)
  • ¼ cup club soda
Instructions
  1. In a mixing glass put lemon, simple syrup and basil adding ice, Pernod and vodka. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass filled with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a basil sprig and a Buddha Hand peel.
Notes
Simple Syrup
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs water
In a saucepan bring the water to a boil. Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water, stirring constantly. Then remove the pan from the heat. Cool until it thickens.

 

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Seasonal growing in the Sydney Basin

Earlier this week the Sydney Morning Herald published an article about the amount of produce that is sold at the markets but grown outside a 150km radius of Sydney – so they mean outside the Sydney basin.

The article was reasonably frightening about Sydney’s ability to produce its own food and placed a huge amount of the blame on ‘urban creep’ – our expanding city. While urban creep does exist it is only one part of the explanation as to why some of Sydney’s food is grown interstate. It’s a seasonal based answer.

Seasonal produce

Growing fruit & Veg is seasonal so in Australia this means travelling with the climate.

Currently it’s winter so much of the fruit is grown in the north of Australia!  Often produce availability will travel around Australia. For example, carrots in winter start in Queensland then move to NSW, to VIC , to WA then finish up in Tasmania after Christmas. They do well in coolish but not too cold weather. They absolutely don’t like frost.

Queensland has many micro climates starting in Bowen then moving down to Bundaberg and northern NSW. Basically Australia’s a big place.

The other question that needs to be asked is whether we can meet all of Sydney’s food requirements within the Sydney basin – and the answer is no!  There are times in summer when we, Harvest Hub, will be meeting most of our requirements from the Sydney Basin. The supermarkets, however, will be importing all the time as most often it is case of higher profit margins.

Yes, there is expansion into the growing areas of both housing and industry but one of the most significant factors that drives some farmers to close their operation is ???? Can you guess? Their children don’t want to grow vegetables and fruit. There is no succession so they sell to developers.

On the bright side if we keep focussed and buy Australian then we are making a difference and it’s a like the pebble in the pond. The ripple widens outwards and embraces those farmers who are on the land giving them a good and sustainable living.

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Not all gas is bad…

The word gas tends to conjure a multitude of images ranging from your heater to, well … let’€™s just call them – smells!

In fact, when it comes to ripening fruit and vegetables ethylene gas, a naturally occurring ripening hormone, really is your best friend.

Did you know that no avocados ripen on trees? It is the action of picking that ‘triggers’€™ the process that ripens the fruit. They are sent to the market unripened to assist with transport and to prevent them from bruising.

How then can you turn your unripe avocados into ‘€˜Guacamole’€™?

The thing that helps avocados ripen and in fact lots of other fruits and veg, is ethylene. It is naturally omitted when plants are ripe, damaged or stressed. You know that old saying ‘One bad apple spoils the barrel’€, well that refers to the fact that a rotting apple emits ethylene causing the others to ripen quickly. When we touch a pallet of mangoes they are warm as they are naturally ripening.

Ancient Egyptians and the ancient Chinese both recorded farming techniques that used natural ethylene to ripen fruit such as bananas, mangoes, tomatoes and avocados.

Large supermarket chains use an ‘artificial’€™ ethylene gas to ripen. The reason being is so that they can control their supply chain. Into cold storage and limbo, then out to ethylene chambers to ripen the produce quickly. This is why the fruit and veg doesn’t last very long on the shelf and in the fridge.

Harvest Hub produce has only being picked within days by the Grower which means, sometimes, the fruit might need to be naturally ripened. There is no supply chain – no storage. Just fresh seasonal produce. So go the natural and seasonal way by using nature’€™s ripening tool – just put the avocado in a paper bag with a ripe banana, apple or kiwi fruit and let the naturally occurring ethylene do its thing.

Now. Did someone say ‘Guacamole’?

Guacamole Dome with Tortilla Wedges (a variation on the theme)

Serves 6:

  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 8 corn tortilla, each cut into 12 slim wedges
  • 2-3 ripe avocados
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 -2 Jalapeno peppers, deseeded and finely chopped (replace with red capsicum if not want hot)
  • 1/3 cup of cilantro (basil) or flat leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced

In a fry pan heat oil over medium heat. Fry tortilla wedges in batches until crisp. With a slotted spoon transfer to paper towel and drain.

Cut avocados in half and remove pits. Scoop out avocado and put in a bowl to mash with a fork. Add onion, peppers, coriander or parsley, lime juice and salt. Mix well. Stir in tomato gently -€“ do not muddy colour.

On a platter mound guacamole in the centre with a dome, Place cucumber slices around the edge. Arrange tortilla wedges points up all over the dome in pincushion fashion. Serve.

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My goodness! Valencia oranges are re-greening in warmer weather!

Valenica oranges are ahead of their time. Re-greening in warm weather. Their skin goes a greenish tinge to protect it from the sun.  A built in sunscreen! Sun smart. Far too clever. It’€™s a natural process and the soil quality can also make this happen as well. Read more here.

We assume that green skin on fruit indicates that the fruit isn’t ripe. In the case of Valencia oranges, the juicing orange, the opposite is true – they are protected so that they are sweeter and juicier. Warm temperatures of the season may make the orange skin reabsorb chlorophyll causing it to look partly green.

The process of re-greening happens when an orange is left to completely ripen on the tree. The chlorophyll rises back to the surface of the fruit causing it to take on a greenish tinge. These oranges are really suitable for juicing.

Storing: Room temperature or refrigerator where no moisture gathers ie. the crisper. They will last about two weeks.

Idea for serving: Cut them into ‘smiling’€™ wedges -€“ the kids can make a fruit face.

Valencia orange smoothie: 6 Valencia oranges, 1 cup cold water, 2 tbs Greek Yoghurt (or if not using honey sweet plain yoghurt), 1 tbs honey and 2 cups of ice.  Blend together.

Freeze: Use ice trays to freeze and pop into drinks.

Composting: If adding oranges which are highly acidic just add crushed egg shells (alkaline) to counteract it.

Top tip: Did you know that if you put oranges in a hot oven for two minutes before peeling them no white fibres will be left on them.

 

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Perfect pomegranates

The local pomegranate season is in full swing and these delicious ruby red beauties have never tasted better.

Considered to be the world’s oldest known fruit, the origins of pomegranates can be traced back to northern India and Iran, and records show they first arrived in America in the 1500s.

Pomegranates have a reputation for being super healthy and it is certainly deserved. They are rich in Vitamin C (just what we all need as the cold and flu season approaches), folate (essential for expectant Mums), Vitamin K and potassium.

Plus they are high in polyphenols, the antioxidants linked to the prevention of heart disease and cancer.

Although they are incredibly good for you, trying to get the delicious seeds out of a pomegranate can certainly be bad for your blood pressure.

There are numerous ways you can try, including breaking the fruit apart in a bowl of water so the seeds sink and the bitter pith floats away, but in our opinion Jamie Oliver has got it right… cut the fruit in half horizontally, hold one half over a bowl (seed side down) and wack repeatedly with a wooden spoon until all the hundreds of delicious seeds fall out.

Pomegranates are popular in all kinds of recipes and can be added to salads for extra colour, desserts in lieu of berries, or juiced and mixed with champagne.

Unopened pomegranates can be stored in the fridge for up to two months but we’re betting they don’t last that long!

Sweet or savoury? How to do you use pomegranates?

 

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New season mandarins are finally here

Mandarins are finally in season and we are beyond excited. Easy to peel, tangy and delicious, mandies are a huge favourite around the Harvest Hub office.

To celebrate the start of the season we have searched the web to find the five most interesting and quirky mandarin facts around. Prepare to be amazed!

  1. Mandarins originated in China and were named after the officials of the Imperial court who used them for medicinal purposes.
  2. A single mandarin provides an adult with 190% of their daily Vitamin C intake.
  3. There are more than 2.3 million commercial citrus trees growing mandarins in Australia.
  4.  Last year we consumed over 70,000 tonnes of Australian mandarins* (by we, I mean Australia, not Harvest Hub, although if we keep expanding…)
  5. In traditional Chinese medicine the dried peel of the fruit is used in the regulation of ch€™i, and also used to treat  abdominal distension, to enhance digestion, and to reduce phlegm.

In Australia the mandarin season runs from April to October and Citrus Australia is predicting a bumper crop this year.

What’€™s your favourite mandarin recipe?

* Aussie Mandarins website.

 

How does your food look on the plate?

How your food is set out on the plate is known as ‘€˜plating your food’€™ … Do we feast with our eyes?  Yes. If it looks good and is visually appertising then we’ll want to eat it!

Think about colour combinations.

Salad with a variety of colours.

PORTION CONTROL
Plating‘ our food makes it more desirable and importantly, helps with portion control. We put some time into thinking about what we will put on the plate and how we make it look. Just a bit of creative thought. Save time with your garnishes by preparing them at the beginning of the week or get the kids to help and be involved.
Here are some ideas for ‘plating your food’ or styling it on the plate.
Let’s look at textures, colour, shape of the food we put on the plate, and where we look first? The focal point.
IDEA1
Always use edible things to garnish with. Evoke the season by choosing seasonal colours.
IDEA 2
Arrange your food in clock formation – place the carbohydrate (rice, pasta, bread, etc.) at €œ11 o’clock,€ the protein at 2 o’€™clock,and the vegetables at 6 o’€™clock€ from the diner€™s point of view. This will also help you portion correctly, if you remember that vegetables should cover about half of the plate, carbohydrate one fourth, and protein one forth.

IDEA 3
Playing with the height of food by making some things higher than others, for example

Food styling helps with portion control.

Gado Gado with edible garnishes.

mashed potato or rice highest with meat leaning against it or centre it and vegetables with meat over and around it.
Keep the high items at the back of the plate or make it the centre of the plate with the other produce around it. Stacking- popular where you build the food in a mound in the centre of the plate and garnish.

 

IDEA 4
Thinking about the colour combinations on your plate will make it look appealing. Have something green, orange and red for example.
IDEA 5
If everything is mashed it won’t encourage the family to finish the plate. Mix it up – some steamed, some raw, some fried or look at the shape from dicing, slicing to peels. Mix smooth textures with rough such as smooth meat with crumbled cheese or nuts on top.
IDEA 6
Garnish with kiwi rounds, peach slices, sprinkle herbs – basil, parsley, oregano. Try cucumber balls in your salad, carrot €˜frills using a peeler, or Spinach salsa.

Spinach Salsa

  • ½ bunch spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp pine nuts
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbs parmesan cheese, grated

Put all ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth. Place on the plate and season with salt and pepper. Use Parmesan over it for highlight the green with the yellow. If the dish allows add squares of dry toast or dry dipping biscuits.
IDEA 7
Saucing your plate so that it looks great. With meat put the sauce on the plate first then the meat on top. Alternatively, use a thick sauce with a small brush and sweep the plate, then lay the meat on top. Make swirls like a snail pattern. Using a sauce bottle helps to control the placement of the sauce – re-use that sauce bottle!

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Vegetables breathe too!

How to make your vegetables last

Put your carrots in a sealed bag.

Harvested vegetables ‘breathe’  – yes, after they have been picked and it’s how we store them that determines their longevity. Do they really breathe? They respire, giving off a ripening plant hormone known as ethylene.

Fruit give off lots of ethylene gas and this can cause deterioration in vegetables. That’s why you store your fruit and veggies in different areas of the fridge. Maybe we need to know a little more about which fruits and veggies to put side by side and which ones need to be in different environments. Simply put: keep heavy ‘breathers’ away from ‘light breathers’.

 

Make up several small fruit bowls with high breathers in one and low breathers in another.

To ripen an avocado, for example, pop it into a paper bag with an apple, pear or banana outside of the fridge and in 2 to 4 days it will be ripe.Or pop it on top of the apple bowl. When it is ripe put it into the fridge.

COLD TEMPERATURES
We know that the cold temperature of your refrigerator slows the respiration of fruit and vegetables.

A suggestion – Don’t wash your vegetables before you put them in the fridge. Water sits on the vegetable or fruit and stops them from ‘breathing’ plus it encourages bacteria to activate which will speed up the wilting process. So leave the dirt on and also leave the outer leaves on – they are nature’s packaging. That’s why we leave as much as possible there for you.

So it seems there are four main factors to consider: Light (especially for potatoes; temperature; moisture in the air; air circulation – drying out of the produce.

STORAGE methods for:
BEANS, BROCCOLI & SWEETCORN
Some vegetables need to be kept out of moist environments and beans are one that prefer air circulation. They are known as Medium breathers. Put them in a container but leave one end of the lid up so air can flow in. The beans will last for over a week that way. Both broccoli and sweetcorn  like plenty of air circulation but don’t want to dry out.
CARROTS
On the other hand, some stored vegetables like a moist environment. The refrigerator can dry out the vegetables. Ever wondered why they become flippy floppy in the crisper? Without humidity they will quickly shrivel and lose quality. Place those vegetables in a polyethylene bag and make 1cm holes in the sides of the bag to allow for ventilation.
Carrots like to be in a closed moist environment and will stay firm if you pop them into a bag – not the crisper.
LETTUCE
Lettuce are medium breathers and like a half open/half closed atmosphere.
HERBS
To keep herbs use a ventilated bag with a slightly moistened towel or pop them in a glass of water standing in the fridge.
TOMATOES
Store unripe tomatoes with fruit so that they can ripen – in a paper bag with an apple or banana which releases the ripening agent ethylene gas. Now tomatoes will lose flavour going into the fridge but if the hot weather hits it might be a good idea. Store fruit in the fridge only after they have ripened.
BANANAS
Don’t sit bananas on top of other fruit or that fruit just won’t last the distance.

 

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