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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 

Tips for Spring Produce

From an excerpt in "Fields of Plenty," by Michael Ableman.

ASPARAGUS: Look for compact tips and smooth green stems that are uniform in color down the length of the stem. Check the cut stem end for any signs of drying and always avoid withered spears. Trim the stems and stand them in a glass with 1-2 inches of water. Cover with a plastic bag and refrigerate up to three days.

BROCCOLI: Store, unwashed, in loose or perforated plastic bags in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. Broccoli left unrefrigerated quickly becomes fibrous and woody. Wet broccoli gets limp and moldy in the refrigerator, so wash it just before using. Store fresh broccoli in the refrigerator three to five days.

RHUBARB: The deeper the red, the more flavorful the stalks are likely to be. Medium-size stalks are generally more tender than large ones, which may be stringy. For storage, first trim and discard the leaves. Freshly harvested stalks can be kept in the refrigerator, unwashed and wrapped tightly in plastic, for up to three weeks.

STRAWBERRIES: Use strawberries as soon after purchasing as possible. Berries should not be left at room temperature for more than a few hours. Store unwashed berries loosely covered with plastic wrap in the coldest part of your refrigerator for two to three days at most. Do not wash berries until ready to use. Do not allow berries to sit in water -- they will lose color and flavor.

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