Fruits are a great candidate for food storage if done correctly. The most important part about storing the food is picking the right fruit.
The freshest apples are available from September through November, although most varieties are available year-round. Purchase well-colored apples that are firm, with a fresh fragrance.
Skins should be smooth, with no bruises or gouges. You may notice some apples with dry, tan or brown-colored areas on the skin.
This is known as "scald," and it usually has no effect on the flavor of the apple. Be sure to choose the right type of apple for your specific dish.
Before consuming, lightly scrub apples in cool water to remove the light wax coating and any potential leftover insecticides. You can also buy the more expensive organically-grown apples if you are queasy about such things.
Once cut, apples will discolor if left open to the air. To avoid discoloration, dip in an ascorbic juice or powder.
Golden Delicious apples tend to resist browning after cutting, so they are a good choice for garnishes and appetizer trays. In general, store apples in a cool, dark place.
If you are lacking a cold cellar, place the apples in a plastic bag and store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. As you've probably noticed in the marketplace, bananas are picked and shipped green.
They are the only fruit that actually develop better color, texture, aroma, and sweetness when ripened after harvest. They ripen quickly after being harvested and will also hasten ripening of other fruits in their vicinity.
It's the tiny seeds within the fruit that release a ripening hormone, a mixture of ethylene gas and carbon dioxide. While selecting bananas, think about your usage time frame.
You may wish to choose some already ripe for immediate use and some still slightly but not overly green to ripen for later use. Select bananas that are bright in color, full and plump, avoiding those with bruises.
A dull, gray color indicates they have been chilled or overheated during storage. Ripe bananas show no trace of green skin. Fullest flavor is derived when they begin to develop tiny dark specks.
If you are unable to easily break the stem to peel the banana, it is not yet ripe. If the skin is difficult to separate from the fruit, it is most likely too starchy and bitter to eat without cooking and could cause digestion distress and/or constipation if eaten raw.
You can speed up the ripening process by placing them in an open paper bag on the counter. Bananas are best stored on the counter, away from direct heat and sunlight.
Bananas can be refrigerated for several days to stunt ripening. Although the skins of refrigerated bananas will turn brown, the fruit itself will be fine.
Allow the refrigerated fruit to come to room temperature before consuming for full flavor. Peeled bananas should be eaten immediately lest they discolor due to exposure to the air.
Bananas can be frozen whole, but don't expect the same texture when thawed. Freeze them in their skin and save for later use in sauces, baked goods, or blended drinks.
Fresh blueberries are in their prime from June through August. Select berries that are completely blue, with no tinge of red.
That natural shimmery silver coating you see on blueberries is desirable as it is a natural protectant. Blueberries must be ripe when purchased, as they do not continue to ripen after harvesting. Avoid soft, watery or moldy blueberries.
Stained or leaking containers are an indication of fruit past its prime. They should last up to two weeks if they are freshly-picked.
Water on fresh blueberries hastens deterioration, so do not wash before refrigerating, and avoid those at your grocer's that are exposed to those mist sprayers used to keep greens fresh.
Blueberries are an excellent candidate for freezing. After thawing, they are only slightly less bright and juicy as in their original harvest state.
Do not wash them before freezing as the water will cause the skins to become tough. Rinse after thawing and before eating.
Frozen blueberries will keep for a year at 0 degrees F. Blueberries are also easily canned or dried at home.