Fruit & Vegetables

Fruit & vegetable cooking tips

Bananas

Don’t throw away overripe bananas; peel them, break into chunks and put in the freezer in a container or freezer bag. The frozen chunks are great added to smoothies, or you can churn them in a blender or food processor to make a healthy ice cream. (Overripe bananas are also perfect candidates for banana bread or banana muffins.)

Alternatively, if you want to ripen bananas, pop them on a tray in a pre-heated oven at 150 degrees celsius for about 30 minutes. If you’re in less of a rush, put bananas in a brown paper bag and close it. This will speed up the ripening process, especially if you also put a pear or apple in there too.

Oranges

To make it easier to peel an orange, place it on a flat surface, gently press your palm down on top (not enough to squash it!) and roll it back and forward for about 15 seconds. This should loosen the skin so you don’t need as much effort to get it off.

Lemons

Extend the life of lemons by storing them in a sealed bag or container in the fridge (though try and find BPA-free plastic if you can!).

To maximise the amount of juice you squeeze, pop lemons in the microwave for 20 secs. Leave them to cool for about a minute and then squeeze as normal.

Strawberries

Strawberries are best served at room temperature or even a little warm; eating them cold from the fridge hides some of the flavour.

You can intensify the flavour even further by macerating your strawberries. Simply cover with a good sprinkle of sugar (use something like coconut sugar if you’re looking for a slightly healthier option) and leave for about an hour. This will also draw out liquid so you’ll get a lovely sweet sauce with your berries.

Tomatoes

Don’t store tomatoes in the fridge as it can kill the flavour. They’re best kept at room temperature or a even bit warm if you want to keep them on a sunny window sill.

If you have a glut of tomatoes, they freeze well. You can either puree tomatoes first or freeze them whole (put in a container or freezer bag) and the skin will come off easily after they defrost.

Lettuce & salad leaves

To keep lettuce fresh, tear off the leaves, give them a good wash in cold water, dry and then pop into a lidded container. You can go the extra mile and line the container with paper towels. This should keep leaves fresh for at least a week (and also works for bagged salad leaves).

Another option to quickly separate lettuce leaves is to slam down the head of lettuce on a chopping board, with the base facing down (not too hard though as you don’t want to destroy the lettuce!). Turn the lettuce over to pull out the loosened core and the leaves can then be separated.

Potatoes

If you’re making chips (or roast potatoes), add a little vinegar to the water when you boil them. This will help keep the potatoes fluffy inside by ‘sealing’ them before they go in the oven.