Collard Greens; How to Select, and Prepare Amazing Greens

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collard greensGreens grow wild in various climates, conditions, and terrains all around the world. Valued as food, and medicine, in various cultures, and traditions, where plant tops are only one aspect of edible plants that offer healing properties through root, stalk, seeds, berries, and other plant features. Common greens cultivated in the US. include collard greens, turnips, rudabega, and mustard greens. Other edible varieties, such as dandelion, watercress, chard, and kale also offer unique nutritional values. Greens seem to catch more attention around the holidays, or in southern cuisine.

Where to Buy Collard Greens

You can buy bunches of greens at grocery stores, farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and mobile vegetable trucks. They are available throughout the southern united states year-round, and enjoyed indiscriminately throughout the population. In northern climates, there is a shorter window for cultivation, with exception to hot-house growers.  They do not have nearly the status, and demand as in the southern region.

Tips on Purchasing, and What to Look forSeaBear Smokehouse

The most tender greens are winter greens, grown in cold temperatures, above 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Grocery stores market greens in varying ways. I have seen collard greens, mustards, and turnips in small bunches, comparable in size to bunches of cilantro, or parsley. This does not do justice to the shoppers visual sensibilities. All stores do not display small bunches, nor do they all display greens such as turnips, removed from roots. They are likely, however to stock prepackaged turnips, or collard greens, cleaned, and cut-up. Road-side stands, mobile retailers, and farmer’s markets are more likely to  sell larger bunches, with roots, due to direct connections to local farms, and retail environments where greens are kept fresher, longer.

Collard Greens are Living Foods

collard greens, and other varieties; photo of rudabega greens

Rudabega greens

Skip the canned greens. The best way to buy greens is by the bunch. Of the four most popular varieties, collard greens stay fresh longer, followed by rudabega, then turnips. Mustards have the shortest shelf life. Collards contain higher concentrations of calcium, as noted by their stronger stalks, and denser leaves. Rudabega greens, also known as northern turnips, also have dense leaves. Their leaves, and shoots are characteristic of both collards, and turnips in appearance. When selecting bunches, briefly look at the center of the bunch, to check for any mold. This is not necessarily a frequent occurrence, though not uncommon. Always select bunches with green leaves.

collard greens, and other varieties

Mustard greens, (curly leaf variety)

The stalk will allow you to keep bunches fresh prior to using them. The stalk of the plant connects the bunch to the root. Try Placing a bunch of collard greens in an up-right position in a 5-gallon bucket of ice water, 1/5 full, and watch the leaves perk up, just as a flower in a vase of water. You can trim the base of the stalk at an angle, as you would the stem of a rose. This will allow for better hydration of the whole plant. On bunches with roots, you can also place them upright, root fibers will absorb the cold water, and deliver it to the leaf.

Cleaning Greens

When fresh from the farm, greens will need a good rinse to remove any traces of dirt, or silt. This can be done easily outside, using a nozzle attachment and hose. Remove the rubber band from the bunch, and use cold water, with a medium force shower setting. You can place the bunch over a bucket, or lay it across a patio table. Wash the bunch from the tops, down. Collard greens are the easiest to clean. For greens with roots, you can use a scrub brush or your hand to rub away stubborn grit that accumulates in crevices, and on the surface of the root. For pre-cleaned greens, as many store-bought bunches are, you can make sure they are free of grit by filling a large bowl, or pan of water, soaking and draining the leaves as you go. Watch that grit settle to the bottom!

Cutting the LeafRSCN5928 - Copy collard greens

To prepare greens for easy eating, one of the best ways is to shred them. You can either remove the stems, or shred greens with the stem. To remove stems, lay one leaf on a cutting board, cut around the stem, then place the it to the side. You can cut, and cook stems, separately, or freeze them, for later use. Fold the leaf in half, then roll it. Slice across in strips, about 1/2 in. to an inch wide. Continue slicing from one end to the other. You can stack 4 leaves at a time. Line them up, de-stem, fold, roll, and shred. After you cut  across, you can go back, and cut them vertically, for bite-size greens.

Nutritious Flavor

collard greens, and other varieties

The key to enjoying food is cooking for your self, and valuing each ingredient. Instead of thinking in terms of flavoring greens, aim to compliment them. What you add to your recipe should not smother, or overwhelm these natural flavors. Rudabega roots are not starchy, or heavy, as baking potatoes are. They contain the similar spicy, bitter, sweet flavor of the tops. If you enjoy turnip greens, rudabega tops are a sublime alternative. Mustards are generally grown, and marketed in two varieties, slick leaf, and curly leaf. The flavor is similar, though curly leaf mustards are even more delicate. Mustards lend a delightful, mildly horseradish like spice, and tanginess. Turnip, and rudabega greens add that bitter, sweet flavor, and their roots pack more flavor punch. Collard greens have a milder flavor. They are botanically closer to the cabbage plant, and can easily blend, and compliment other greens.

Cooking with Pot Liquor

The major benefit of boiling greens in water is that you can re-use that deliciously nutritious flavored water, or (pot liquor), to cook an easy accompaniment such as steel-cut oats, brown rice, barley, or noodles. If you can’t decide on which variety of greens to cook, try more than one. Add 2 sliced jalapeño peppers, and 3-4 small segments of garlic to a pot of greens. You can add *smoked fish after the greens are cooked, such as smoke chub, herring, or salmon. Or you can opt for an organic, tender cut of meat. You don’t have to trim the fat to make a healthy dish. As long as the fat does not steal the show.

collard greens, and other varieties

*Please note, when selecting smoked meats or fish, naturally smoked methods are more harmonious to the human digestive system than chemical processes. Additives used in chemically processed smoked meats, such as nitrates, are also used in the manufacture of fireworks, and explosives. They can create an explosive response in the digestive system, and therefore, promote negative associations about eating greens.

 

Buying Fresh Fish at the Market? How to Select the Best

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Fresh Fish Market. Wikimedia

The fresh fish market is a thrilling stimulation to the senses. The sights, and smells of fresh, and smoked fish, combined with the anticipation of the savory meal can peak the interest of anyone that can appreciate the varied flavors of fish. Moreover the experience can be doubly valued for those that know the pleasures of fishing. Each fish variety has a unique flavor, texture, and exclusive methods of cooking and preparation that can optimize those unique qualities. Weather you are shopping for salmon, trout, catfish, tilapia, or bream, the process of selection is crucial to your enjoyment.

Selection of Fresh Fish

Most fish have the same, or similar anatomical features. If you are selecting whole fish with the head, take note of the eyes and gills. The eyes of freshly caught fish will be clear, bright, and the pupils will appear black. You may notice a bright red lining on the perimeter of the outer edge of the eyeball, and translucent silver within the eye. When you lift the gill cover, fresh fish will reveal bright red gills. Within two days, the gills may begin to transition to a crimson red, then progress to brown, then green. Basically this color change will follow the pattern of blood as it dries. For best results, avoid fish that has green tones within the gills.

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Fish Anatomy. Pearson Benjamin Cummings.

The Body of a Fresh Fish

 

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Stork with fish in mouth. Wikimedia.

When looking at the body of fresh fish, the scales or skin of the fish should appear uniform, bright, and shiny. Fish manufacture slime as one of their defense mechanisms against other predators. Therefore, when fish emerge from their waters, they tend to be slimy. Properly cleaning fish will minimize this factor. Translucent scales are an indicator of freshness. This trait may vary, based on the fish variety, though scales tend to become opaque with the progression of time. For fish in the catfish family, or fish with smooth skin, markings on the body are generally not as visible when freshly caught. The fins and tail on fish should appear whole, and unbroken. When fish is most fresh, the body is more pliable than stiff.

Flesh of fish

The flesh of white fish, when fresh, has a translucent sheen. Fish, such as cod, haddock, or halibut may have a slight whitish, yellow tone. White fish may also appear pink, due to exposed fresh blood content. The texture of the flesh should be firm, and bounce back when you press it, not sink down as if it were mashed.  Fish, such as salmon will have a bright, coral, shiny tone. If you are looking at whole, fish, look for traces of fresh, bright red blood as indicators of freshness. If you are looking at filleted fish, the skin should usually be soft and vibrant, not hard or dried. Lastly, fresh fish, weather whole, filleted, or cut however so, should not give off a “fishy” smell.SeaBear Smokehouse

SELECT FRUITS LIKE A PRO

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Picking Fruits For Best Results(17) (2)[1] FRUITS/ apples

Weather you are selecting fruits individually, or by the case, always inspect them, and make sure they appear fresh. Fresh fruits are firm and generally free from bruising and scars. If you have any questions, address them as you shop. Be mindful of any information regarding the fruit’s origin. After a bulk purchase, make it a priority to go through the case. Check for any smashed, damaged, or rotten fruit at the bottom of the case and discard it appropriately

Knowing how to select fruits at the peak of freshness is an essential aspect of maintaining a healthy diet. The determining factor is your intended use. Generally, as fruits ripen, their sugars become more concentrated. In addition, cooking fruits elevates their sweetness. For baking, produce doesn’t necessarily have to be freshly picked. If you are using a cold-press juicer, however, ultimate freshness is recommended. For cooking such as frying or stir-frying, it may depend on the type of fruit.

Popular Fruits

cantaloupe/fruits selection

When picking cantaloupe, make sure the area of the stem is firm.

Cantaloupe – When shopping for cantaloupe, the degree of  green you see on the surface, and in the area of the stem will determine if it’s ready to eat. If you want a cantaloupe you can eat immediately, look for more of a yellow or golden tint on the surface. As with most fruits, steer clear of bruising. Cantaloupe should generally have a round, smooth surface, and the area of the stem should be firm. If you buy cantaloupe when green, you can accelerate the ripening process by placing the cantaloupe in a paper bag at room temperature, or facing sunlight. The greenest cantaloupes will likely have a storage life of around seven days.

Grapes – Based on location, climate, and terrain, there are a broad range of grape varieties. From thin to dense skinned grapes, and dusky blue to champagne color tones. Seedless, or seeded, grapes generally grow on vines. When selecting, look for grape bunches that are dry and free of mold in, and around vine clusters.

RSCN6779/ fruit/ banana

organic bananas have an enhanced taste and fragrance

Bananas – For immediate consumption, look for bananas that are yellow. If you intend to eat them within a week, (their estimated storage life), select bananas that are green.There are several brands to choose from, as well as organic. Organic bananas tend to have a more enhanced color, flavor, and fragrance.

Mangoes – Rich colors can inform you of the level of a mango’s sweetness. Red and orange tones in mango indicate a sweeter fruit. Hard, firm mangos are good for frying or pickling. For snacking, mangos are good when eaten somewhere between firm and soft. Once soft, tor over-ripe, they can develop a repelling gassy taste or smell.  *Note: This is in reference to the most popular variety found at many grocery stores throughout the U.S.

Citrus Fruits – Oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, mandarins, lemons, and limes. Citrus fruits can sometimes be

Gold tones of a pineapple

deceptive. Before committing to a large purchase, buy a small quantity to taste. Surface markings, particularly on oranges and grapefruits are not uncommon. Mandarins, and tangerines are typically less acidic than oranges, and grapefruits.

Pineapple – For a longer storage life, select pineapple with a greener body.  Golden to dark brown indicates the level of ripeness. If you want a ripe pineapple that you can eat right away, golden tones are a good indicator of a sweet pineapple.

 

 

 

 

 

Discouraged by the Thought of Picking a Watermelon? Read this Article, Instantly Boost your Accuracy Rate!

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fruit

BEST WAYS TO STORE FRUIT; Minimize Waste, Maximize your Nutritional

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Tips on Storing Fruit for Optimal Use

The Key to buying fruit  is knowing how to store it, and for how long. Knowing the fruit’s origin can allow you to anticipate it’s storage life. For instance, plums imported from Chile will have a shorter storage life than local grown plums due to extended exposure to refrigeration in transit. The ripening process is different with each type of fruit. If stored properly, some fruit will keep up to 4 weeks, while fruit such as peaches typically last 5-7 days. If you buy a 40 lb. case of apples  and consume it within 4 weeks, that equates to an average of 1.5 lbs. per day, (or 2 – 3 apples per day). Owning a case of fruit can urge you and your family not only to eat more raw fruits, it can also  inspire  creative culinary uses.
You can store most fruits at room temperature, away from extreme temperatures and direct sunlight. Indeed, refrigeration can adversely impact the storage life of fruits. By diminishing water content, refrigeration can compromise certain fruits’ flavor and degree of sweetness. The best conditions for refrigerated storage of most fruits are to chill just before eating.

Suggested Storage Methods for Specific Fruit

For fruits such as berries, cherries, and fresh figs, refrigeration is advisable. Grapes will withstand either storage method, though must remain dry. If stored at room temperature, they should sit in a dry area where air can circulate to them. If you choose to store them in a refrigerator, first place them in a paper bag. Additionally, any fruit that’s cut or exposed will generally require refrigeration.

For room temperature storage, make sure you remove grapes from plastic bags you may have purchased them in, as they draw out moisture, and can also lead to mold. Line the bottom of a perforated storage container with a sheet of absorbent paper, such as newspaper or paper towels. Then place only the fruit on the paper. Grapes remain fresher on the vine. Citrus fruits, similarly to grapes are susceptible to molding. In view of these factors, a dry area where air can circulate will help to guard against mold’s development.

Many citrus fruits can be stored 2 – 4 weeks. Always store pineapple in a dry area. A dark green pineapple will optimally keep for about 1-2 weeks. They can easily sit on a shelf or countertop. If you buy bananas by the case, always make sure they are green if you don’t anticipate consuming them immediately. You can expect their storage life limited to within one week. Additionally, cold temperatures will turn bananas brown or black, fast. Therefore, room temperature is especially advisable.

Herbal, Eco – Friendly Pest Control

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locally harvested plums

Fruit does not only appeal to people, if you can smell the sweetness of the fruit, so can other animals, insects, and critters. Investing in a few environmentally friendly pest control methods will make it all possible for you to enjoy the fruit you buy.

  • Osage orange fruit or (Hedge-apple): Whether you are familiar with this fruit all depends on the geographics of where you live. This is not a type of citrus fruit, nor is it recommended for human consumption, although it is non-toxic to humans, it is potentially irritating to the skin. C__Data_Users_DefApps_AppData_INTERNETEXPLORER_Temp_Saved Images_Osage Orange 2012 - 6(1)Osage trees generally grow throughout the Midwestern US. The active agent in this strange fruit is it’s essential oil. Several universities have conducted studies on Osage Orange including the University of Minnesota extension, and Iowa State University. According to a study by Iowa State University, the essential oil of Osage Orange is an effective natural repellent to the German cockroach among other parasites.
  • Note* squirrels are known to nibble on these
  • Apple cider vinegar:   Fruit is a living organism that is valuable in every stage of its development. After harvest, fruit continues to evolve or mature. We call this the process of  ripening. As some fruits ripen, they take on different colors and flavors. Peaches turn deeper rose tones, and green apples turn golden sweetening as they ripen. Cold temperatures can  stunt, alter, or delay the natural ripening  process.harvest_apple_ripe

Fermenting fruit is a lure for fruit flies. One way to keep them in check is to utilize apple cider vinegar, or Acv. Apple cider vinegar evolves by way of fermentation, and so, makes an effective fruit fly trap. For this you will need one glass jar with a wide mouth, one sheet of thick paper, and apple cider vinegar. Take the paper and fold it into a funnel. Cut a hole at the tip just big enough for the fruit flies to enter, though not large enough for them to easily exit. Pour the apple cider vinegar in the jar, leaving enough space for the funnel. Place the funnel in the jar, and make sure it is secure.

    • Kness Ketch-all : An effective, chemical free mouse trap. Just set it and go. Don’t forget to check it.
    •  Common house flies: Put one to four pennies in a plastic bag, add white vinegar, tie the bag and hang
      FSCN6320/ fruit / storage (perforated) bin

      Fruits requiring air circulation can be stored in perforated storage bins

      it in the area that needs attention.

    • Plastic storage bins, (perforated): These work well against rodents and are good for fruit that need air circulation. Make sure the perforated holes are around 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch in diameter. Also once you place the lid over the bin be sure to weight it down.

 

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