Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shiver me vegetables!

The refrigerator is a wonderful appliance. It keeps our milk from spoiling, our meat from turning gray, our leftovers to live another day. But did you realize that not all your purchased produce belongs in there?

It's been years since I've thrown a tomato into cold storage for more than day, because there's no faster way to get one to become mealy and tasteless before its time. But according to food science writer Harold McGee, other vegetables prefer to be at least 10 degrees warmer than they would be in a refrigerator and are better left out on the kitchen counter until they are used. These include:

  • Citrus
  • Cucumbers
  • Squash
  • Beans
  • Melons
  • Eggplants
  • Bananas

A few herbs, too, do better at room temperature. I usually wrap my basil, cilantro and parsley in slightly damp paper towels, put them back in their plastic bags and leave them on the counter. They seem to last slightly longer and don't turn to slime like they do in the produce drawer in the fridge.

If you are serious about cooking, you need McGee's "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen." It's a thick book, but well-written and packed full of good tips and information.

He also has a blog, Curious Cook, which is worth checking out. His latest post is on caramel.