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Handy Hints and useful tips for Fresh Fruit, Vegetables & Herbs

Keeping Celery Fresh
  Most vegies last well in the fridge, as does celery. One time when we were camped in the bush without power and not even a bag of ice to keep things cool, we stumbled across a way to help a half-bunch of celery survive for quite a long while. The idea was simple enough - placing the root base in water, just like cut flowers. As it happened, our half-bunch lasted a lot longer than the other half that our friends kept in their caravan fridge; and as a bonus, new leaves began growing on ours from the centre.
  More recently and back in civilisation, we used the same method, mainly because the fridge was already chock-a-block. A small amount of water in a bucket was all that was required, and this was kept on the floor of the pantry for a while. That was when we noticed roots sprouting from the base, so we transferred the bucket outside.
  This bunch of celery seemed to last for ages, diminishing as we cut stalks when required. The water was topped up occasionally, but it was discovered that it was best to keep the level just covering the roots, and not so far up the stalks that they started to rot at the base. Later, we even put what was left of the bunch in some potting mix and it continued to grow. The stalks, however, were pretty skinny and only useful for stir fries and salads. Still, it was a worthwhile exercise.

Chopping Parsley
  You've seen the TV chefs choppity-chopping stuff on a board with a huge knife. It looks impressive, and maybe it's necessary in their opinion, but for my money I don't see the point if there's an easier way. With this in mind, we bought a gizmo like a mini-mincer for cutting parsley and even that was a pain.
  One day I was in a rush. I pinched some sprigs off the parsley plant and took them to the kitchen. Then it was onto the cutting board, gather up the leaf-heads in the fingers of one hand and a quick slice across with a sharp knife until the bunch was reduced to a pile of parsley bits. I didn't bin the mincer because it cost good money, but I won't bother using it for parsley in future!

Cutting fruit & vegetables
  It sounds easy, and it is; but it can also be very dangerous. Firstly, always use a knife that is big enough to do the job so that multiple cuts to get through the thickness are unnecessary.
  Pumpkin has a tough skin and the knife used must be up to the job. And, of course, keep your knives clean and sharp.
  When tackling items that are rounded, after peeling, slice off a portion to produce a flat side. Turn this onto the cutting surface and continue slicing, cubing, etc as desired. Onions in particular can roll and slip while being cut. Unless you really want perfect rings, cut the onion in half, turn onto the flat side, then slice. Remember: half rings are better than half a finger!

Keeping lettuce and cabbage longer
  Always buy whole lettuce and cabbage - not those cut in half. Take off any outside leaves that are damaged or on the turn, then put the head in a plastic bag. Exclude the air, secure the opening with a twist-tie and place in the vegetable drawer at the bottom of the fridge.
  Unless you need the lot in one go, don't cut or shred - this will reduce the life-span of whatever's left: simply take enough leaves from the outside, then replace the remaining lettuce or cabbage in the bag and refrigerate as before. Kept like this, both can last up to a month.

Half an Onion
  When you don't need a whole onion, place what's left in a glass jar with a dessert-spoon of cold water, screw on the cap and refrigerate.  This will keep for at least a week and won't taint the fridge.
  Unused portions of other prepared, uncooked vegetables like potatoes, pumpkin and carrots can be kept similarly. Odour is not an issue, so plastic containers can be used, but the contents will need to be covered with water and they should be used sooner.

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