Friday, December 26, 2008

kitchen questions

My friend Helene had a couple of questions for me:

1.  "My cookies require fresh ginger....the last root I bought turned out to be very fibrous.....little strings and after the cookies were made they look like they are full of cat hair. taste delicious...look unappealing....on the Food Channel I noticed them mincing ginger and there were no hairs at can I tell if the ginger I am about to buy will be smooth?"

I too have frequently had a problem with fibrous shredded ginger.  But since all ginger is fibrous the answer lies not in finding one that has no fiber but in finding the right tool to shred your ginger.  I used to use a box grater but it wasn't great.  The best is a rasp-type file.  The story is that a woman who was frustrated by her inefficient lemon zester one day grabbed her husbands' microplane rasp and found that it did an excellent job.  

My local Sur la Table has one very reasonably priced at $10 but I'm sure you can find them at any upscale cookware store.

2.  "Potatoes and squash are on sale this week...I have 3 bags of potatoes, a cold basement, lots of boxes and newspaper....could you discuss cold storage for produce for those of us in NE climate?"

It's much easier to store foods for long harvest in colder climates.  The process is known as cold storage, or root cellaring.  According to my favorite source book Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables, "Second-crop potatoes are best for storing...they should be cured before storing to give them a chance to heal surface nicks and toughen their skins.  Spread them out in a protected place where the temperature is 60-75 degrees F.  They should not be exposed to rain, sun or wind during curing.  After a one-week to two-week curing period, potatoes are ready for storage...for winter keeping, put your potatoes ina  cold damp spot...[they] keep best at 36-40 degrees F with high humidity, around 90 percent."

Squash also need to be cured (except for acorn squashes) and recommended storage is warmer and drier than for potatoes, an unheated side room or attic can be ideal.

I highly recommend the Root Cellaring book as well as Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long. Both of these books have a lot of excellent information, presented in an easy-to-read-and-understand format. I believe that they are very good resource books for anyone interested in food storage.

If you have any questions about food, nutrition or holistic health just let me know...the answers may appear here on the blog.

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