When I go to the grocery store to buy veggies, I remember the things I learned from my mother about how to buy the best vegetables. My mother always knew what she was talking about so I always listened to what she told me, especially when it came to cooking.
These are just a few things I want to share with you until I think of more.
When I buy heads of iceberg lettuce, I buy the heaviest ones I can find. The heavier they are, the more dense, so there is more lettuce in them.
When I buy cucumbers, I choose cucumbers that are nice and green and are long and thin. Thicker cucs might make you think you are getting more but the thicker they are the more seeds they have in them. When I cut them for salads or for dipping, I take the seeds out and throw them away. So buy long thin cucs and you will use the whole cucumber without any waste.
In Sicilian recipes you can use plum tomatoes, Beefsteak tomatoes which are large, round and red, and tomatoes on the vine. All of these work well and you can find them in any grocery store. Choose nice red ones that are not soft.
My family had a large vegetable garden. In the evenings, my mother, my aunt Francesca, and my grandmother would work in the garden together pulling weeds and watering the plants. I can still see the long green hose going across our long driveway to the garden which was way back behind the backyard lawn and next to the garage. I really don’t know why I so vividly remember them watering the garden but it really sticks out in my mind. These ladies worked together, usually wearing their aprons, and they got wet, dirty and sweaty. When I was a little girl, all of the women in my family wore dresses. They gardened in their dresses! They grew enough vegetables for all of us for the summer and into the fall when everything was ripe and ready to pick.
My brother shared something he remembers. My mother grew basil on the side of the garage. It was not in the garden area, just basil and some flowers in a very narrow area!
Now back to grocery shopping hints. Choose broccoli that is firm and dark green. If the florets are starting to turn yellow, they are starting to get old. If after you buy broccoli it starts turning yellow, cook it right away. I use the entire broccoli plant including the thick stem. I cut it in slices and cook it with the florets. The stems are my favorite part.
When buying any kind of melon, I look for a melon that has a flat white area on it. This flat white area is where it sat on the ground while it ripened on the vine. If it doesn’t have a flat white spot, it probably was picked before it was ripe. If it was picked before it was fully ripe, just leave it out on your counter for a couple days so it can ripen before you cut it.
If you buy peaches, nectarines, mangoes, or avocados and they are hard, leave them out for a couple days for them to ripen. I usually buy a couple of soft ones to eat right away and a couple firm ones to eat a couple of days later so I don’t have to go to the store every day.
If you buy bananas that are a little green and you want them to ripen fast, put them in a brown paper bag with an apple and close the top of the bag. The ethylene gas in the apples ripens bananas quickly as well as peaches, mangoes and avocados. If you keep apples away from these fruits in your refrigerator, the ripening process will slow down and they will stay fresh longer. You can also separate fruit in separate ziploc bags to keep them crisp.
These are just a few thoughts. I don’t go into scientific explanations because I don’t know them. I am just sharing what I learned from my mother. I still learn something new every day from the people around me!
I am sure that all of you have helpful hints to share with me and my blog readers. Please write them in my comment section and I will put them on here for everyone to read! If everyone shares just one idea, just think how much we will learn that we didn’t know before!!! I would really like to hear from you! Thanks!