Lost and Forgotten Tips: Produce and Gardening
There are many amazing tips and tricks for produce out there. Some we know, and others we’ve likely never heard of before. Want to be more helpful around the house? Want to make your produce last even longer? Try committing the following time-tested tips to memory and you’ll be on the right track!
- Adding an apple to your potatoes when storing them prevents the potatoes from sprouting. In contrast, if onions are nearby, they may cause potatoes to sprout.
- Is your brown sugar dry and hard? Add a piece of bread to the container. The sugar draws moisture from the bread, returning it to a soft usable texture. You can also use marshmallows and sliced apples to the same effect. Just be sure to take the bread out of the brown sugar within two days to avoid mold risk.
- When boiling eggs, add a pinch of salt to the water to prevent cracking. Adding vinegar will help the shells peel easier. Want to know if your eggs are rotten? Put them in a bowl of cold water. If the egg floats, it’s gone bad. Throw it out!
- Did you know you can preserve eggs in lime water? Put fresh, raw eggs gently in a jar. Add lukewarm tap water and lime powder. Lime refers to calcium hydroxide, a white powder derived from limestone. This has been known to keep eggs for up to a year.
- Don’t leave your apples out on the countertop. Apples prefer dark, humid, cold environments. The crisper drawer works well. In colder climates, apples can be loosely covered in a garage or cold basement.
- Do you have squash bugs on your garden plants? Fold duct tape over your hand and make a loop, sticky side out. Gently press the tape against the bugs, and voila! You’ve removed them. This also works for other small pests, such as aphids.
- If you want to plant early but your beds are frozen, try covering them with black plastic and securing in place with rocks or bricks. In about 3-7 days, the soil will be unthawed!
- Did you forget to soak your beans overnight? That’s okay. You can speed up the process, even if it feels a little like cheating. Preheat your oven to 250F. Spread your beans out on a cookie sheet. Check for rocks, along with misshapen/rotten beans and remove them. Add the rest to a colander and rinse. Then add the beans and some salt to an oven-safe pot and fill with water to about an inch higher than the beans. Bring to a boil on the stove. Once boiled, cover and place them in the oven for 75 minutes. Check about halfway through to make sure there is enough water. Dinner is saved!
- Are fruit flies bugging you? Trap them! Take a jar or glass, fill it halfway with apple cider vinegar, add a teaspoon of dish soap and gently mix (you don’t want bubbles). Set it on the counter and leave it. Fruit flies will be attracted to it and drown. Problem solved.
- Is your bread dough taking too long to rise and proof? Place the dough over a pan of warm water or in a warm oven. Be sure to keep the temperature below 250 and observe carefully. You can also improve proofing by using vinegar. Add ¾ teaspoon apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar for every three cups of flour when mixing. Instead of feeding the yeast with sugar, try using honey instead.
- You can keep citrus fruit fresh and usable for years. Keeping lemons and tangerines in salt can preserve them for later use. They won’t be good for fresh eating, but you can use them for cooking. All you need is a jar, citrus, and sea salt (with no anti-caking agents). Cut the fruit vertically in four equally spaced slits, being sure to keep the core intact. Sprinkle salt on the bottom of the jar, add citrus on top, and shake the jar around a bit. Continue adding layers of salt and fruit until the jar is full and fruit is well coated. Place in a dark place and turn occasionally. Some people report that, by using this method, their citrus fruit is still good up to a year later.
- Soaking meat in buttermilk overnight helps to get rid of any gamey taste and serves to tenderize the meat as well.
- Store onions, garlic, and shallots in a brown paper bag with holes to make them last longer. Use a punch hole to punch out the holes in the bags. This can help them remain fresh for up to three months.
- Want to predict the weather like an expert? Get familiar with nature. Watch the clouds. Cumulonimbus, mammatus, cirrus, altocumulus, cumulus, nimbostratus, cirrocumulus, and low clouds could indicate a storm is coming. A red sky or rainbow in the morning or a ring around the moon at night can indicate this as well. When you smell the earth or flowers more strongly than usual, rain is coming. Cattle in the corner of a field or laying in a group, cats cleaning their ears, louder than normal frogs, and ants making their anthills steeper can also indicate an approaching storm.
- Did you know crickets can help tell you the temperature? Count the number of chirps you hear in 14 seconds, then add 40 to get the current temperature in Fahrenheit.
- One last tip we could all use is how and what we can donate to food banks. Many recipes call for milk; donating boxed milk is great. When donating cans, make sure they are pop tops; adversely, include can openers with your donation. Oils are necessary for many boxed foods. Salt, pepper, and spices are rarely donated and can make a big difference in how food is enjoyed. Tea, coffee, sugar, and flour are all staples that tend to be overlooked. Tuna and crackers make a great meal. There is usually a lot of peanut butter and jelly, but usually not enough bread (consider donating some!). Boxed cakes and frosting make a child’s birthday so much happier. Dishwashing soap and feminine hygiene products are very expensive and rarely donated. And if the food bank allows for such, fresh meat, produce, butter, milk, eggs, and seeds are often greatly appreciated. Contact the food bank nearest to you to find out what specific local needs you might help fulfill.