Tag Archives: tip

Experiment: Can You Slow the Ripening of Bananas?

22 Sep

Various sources on the internet claim to have the answer to making bananas last longer. Whether it be to separate each banana or to cover their stems in plastic wrap, I have tested these claims and, unfortunately, found them to be false…at least in my case. Perhaps a difference in air quality or temperature would change the results, however, I am not convinced.

What I have found is that the above suggestions have the same result: bananas will ripen in the same amount of time.

Bananas - Day 1

Bananas – Day 1

Bananas - Day 5

Bananas – Day 5

Bananas are considered to be climacteric fruits, meaning they have a high respiration rate and continue to ripen once picked (source). These fruits emit ethylene, a natural plant hormone, which accelerates the ripening process (source). The existence of ethylene then initiates the production of pectinase, an enzyme which causes bananas to soften as they ripen (source).

According to my experiment, separating bananas and even wrapping their stems in plastic wrap don’t slow the ripening process. While I do not have the magic answer for making bananas last longer, I recommend peeling and wrapping each banana in plastic wrap and storing in the freezer until ready to use, should you not plan on using your bananas within a couple of days. Keep in mind, however, that once frozen then thawed, bananas cannot be consumed like a banana fresh out of the peel due to having a mushy consistency. These types of bananas, however, are excellent in smoothies!

Removing Stains from Cutting Boards: Did You Know?

30 Aug

Stained cutting boards can be an eyesore. How do you fix this problem?

Lemons! Lemons have long been toted as a natural cleanser, thanks to their high citric acid content and antibacterial properties. Not only do they cut through dirt, grease and stains, lemons also have natural bleaching properties.

To refresh your plastic cutting board, simply cut a lemon in half, setting one of the halves aside for another use. Using the remaining half, squeeze juice onto the cutting board and rub with the cut side of the lemon. Allow cutting board to sit for 1-2 hours (depending on the severity of the stains) and rinse thoroughly. The stain will have faded, if not disappeared completely, resulting in a disinfected and odor-free cutting board.

Cutting Board Before Lemon Cutting Board After Lemon

For an even more powerful cleaner: sprinkle salt on the cut side of the lemon for improved scrubbing power.

How to Cut a Mango: Did You Know?

2 Jun

The common mango, mangifera indica, can range in color from green to yellow to red, and has a somewhat oblong shape with sweet orange flesh. This fruit can be difficult to slice, thanks to its large pit. Because of this, there has been some confusion as to how to slice a mango. Follow these instructions and you should be good to go (please forgive my choosing of an overripe mango):

1. Holding the mango so that the stem is pointing up and the widest part of the mango is pointing towards you, slice straight down, approximately 1/2 inch away from the stem on both sides.

Cutting a mango - Step 1

2. After slicing, you should have two pieces that look similar in size to the piece below. If cubing the mango, cut a crisscross pattern into each piece, and if slicing, cut into strips being careful both times not to slice through the skin.

Cutting a mango - Step 2

3. Using both hands, carefully turn each piece inside out and pull the mango flesh away from its skin.

Cutting a mango - Step 3

Freezing Tofu: Did You Know?

17 Mar
Frozen & Fresh Tofu

Frozen (left) and fresh (right) tofu

Did you know that you can freeze tofu?

When tofu is frozen, ice crystals form which create air pockets when thawed. Partly due to this, frozen tofu has various benefits:

  • Longer shelf life
    Tofu can be stored in your freezer for up to 5 months.
  • Shorter bake time
    Due to the air pockets in thawed tofu, it takes less time to bake.
  • Better absorption
    Thawed tofu is spongy so it more readily absorbs marinades and sauces.
  • Chewy texture
    After being frozen, tofu has more of a chewy texture, much more appropriate for those recipes being made to imitate meat.

Ready to make some kickass tofu? Try my tofaken recipe. If using frozen tofu, simply reduce the cooking time to 60-75 minutes, depending on your preferred level of crispness.

Freezing Ginger: Did You Know?

24 Feb

Ginger

Did you know that you can freeze ginger?

No longer do you have to worry about your beloved ginger shriveling up and drying out before you can use all of it. Frozen ginger lasts much longer and it is easier to grate too — bonus!

Simply place the unpeeled ginger in a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer for up to 6 months (source).

Another interesting tidbit about ginger is that you can peel it with the edge of a spoon. I learned this from the queen of vegan cookbooks herself, Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Black Salt: Did You Know?

18 Feb

Black Salt (Kala Namak)

Did you know that black salt tastes like eggs?

Black salt, also known as kala namak or black indian salt, is an excellent addition to any dish you want to have an egg-like flavor. Though actually pinkish-gray in color, black salt smells and tastes eerily similar to eggs, largely due to its sulfur content.

Truth be told, it has been over 4 years since I’ve actually eaten an egg, but that flavor is one that I have not forgotten. When I first tried black salt, I automatically wondered, “Is this salt made from actual eggs?” Thankfully it isn’t. Black salt is commonly produced through a synthetic process by combining sodium chloride, sodium sulphate, sodium bisulphate and ferric sulphate, which are placed in a furnace and reduced, then ground into a powder (source).

Easy Vegetable Broth: Did You Know?

2 Dec

Ever wondered what to do with the vegetable pieces that you don’t use?

Vegetable Broth

Make vegetable broth!

Not only is vegetable broth easy to make, it is also inexpensive and can be healthier than the store-bought varieties. Instead of throwing away the typically discarded ends, leaves, and other pieces of vegetables, add them to a large pot along with plenty of water and the seasonings of your choice. Boil for an hour, drain and discard the solid pieces. Voila! You’ve got homemade vegetable broth!

The cool thing about this is that you can use nearly any vegetables* of your choosing. Furthermore, you can add nutritional value to your broth by adding 1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, and for more flavor, a little salt. Garlic and onion can also be used.

*Use vegetable pieces that are fresh with no signs of decay or rot, and avoid those with strong, overpowering flavors such as cabbage.

Kiwi and Vitamin C: Did You Know?

5 Nov

Kiwi

Kiwifruit have more Vitamin C than oranges.

It’s true! 1 cup raw kiwi provides 273% of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin C (source), whereas 1 cup raw orange segments provides just 160% (source). So the next time you feel a pesky cold coming on, grab yourself a kiwi and enjoy!

Baking Less than 12 Cupcakes: Did You Know?

1 Sep

Baking muffins and cupcakes using the ice cube trick

Have you ever made a batch of cupcakes and found that you did not have enough batter to fill an entire 12-cup pan? Not having a full cupcake pan can result in uneven baking as the empty cups heat up faster than those which are filled with batter. To remedy this, either place an ice cube or 2-3 tablespoons water in each empty cup, then bake your cupcakes as directed. The ice/water-filled cups will heat up as quickly as the batter-filled cups, resulting in evenly baked cupcakes.

NOTE: This works for muffins too!

Herbs vs. Spices: Did You Know?

29 Jul

Did you know that herbs and spices are actually different?

Herbs and Spices

We often use the words herbs and spices interchangeably. This is likely due to the fact that both are used to add flavor to food. These flavorings, however, are slightly different. In culinary use, herbs are the leaves of plants (source) whereas spices are the bark, fruit, roots or seeds (source). Below is a list of the most common herbs and spices.

Herbs:
Basil
Bay leaf
Chervil
Chicory
Chives
Cilantro
Coriander (leaves)
Curry (leaves)
Dill (weeds)
Fenugreek (leaves)
Lavender
Lemongrass
Marjoram
Mint
Oregano
Parsley
Peppermint
Rosemary
Sage
Savory
Spearmint
Tarragon
Thyme
Wintergreen
Spices:
Allspice
Anise
Black pepper
Caraway
Cardamom
Cayenne pepper
Celery seed
Chili powder
Cinnamon
Cloves
Coriander (seeds)
Cumin
Curry powder
Dill (seeds)
Fennel
Fenugreek (seeds)
Ginger
Licorice root
Mace
Masala
Mustard
Nutmeg
Paprika
Saffron
Sumac
Turmeric
Vanilla
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