A good way of gauging efficiency in the kitchen is by how little food was thrown away. Here are some tips on storing your greens.
Before refrigerating a head of lettuce you brought home from the market, separate it into individual leaves and wash them thoroughly in cold, running water. After drying the leaves, alternate them between sheets of paper toweling, and store the entire bundle in a clear plastic bag, closed with a clip or twist tie, your refrigerator’s vegetable keeper. It will last twice as long without wilting.
When you bring home a full stalk of celery, trim off the leafy tops but don’t throw them away. Store them in a plastic container in your freezer. The next tine you make soups or stews, nobody will ever know they had been frozen.
The main stalks of celery should be separated and washed clean. Store them in a large, tall jar or plastic container that you have filled with water. Keep it capped, and celery will stay crisp and fresh for up to two weeks. Treat carrots the same way. A recycled cardboard milk carton is another handy container to keep these low-calorie snacks handy and ready to munch.
You can keep fresh parsley for two or three weeks by following this method: pack parsley sprigs into a glass jar and sprinkle with salt –1 teaspoon salt to 1 cup of parsley. Cover jar and shake to distribute salt evenly, then add cold water to fill jar. Shake again and store in refrigerator. When you need parsley, rinse off before using.
To chop parsley very finely, use scissors instead of a knife. Put parsley into a small glass tumbler. Then snip with repeated chops of scissors while inside the glass.
To store radishes, first trim off the tops. Then store in a glass of water to which you have added sugar, honey, or even corn syrup – ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon for every 2 cups of water.
If you intend to store leftover onions, don’t just warp it up in plastic wrap and put it back in the refrigerator; it will go weird. Dice the entire onion and store the unused portion in a glass jar, plastic bag, or container in your freezer. You can not only put it into soups or stews, but you can also sauté frozen chopped onion just as if it were fresh. If you don’t think this works, check the frozen vegetable section at your supermarket. You’ll find chopped, frozen onions there now, selling for about three to four times the cost of doing it yourself.
You can save canned tomato paste the same way. When the recipe calls for one or two tablespoons, don’t throw away the remaining two-thirds of a can. Put the remaining paste in a little plastic container in your freezer. The next time you need a little more, just scoop out a tablespoonful or two or frozen tomato paste, right into your saucepan or frying pan.
When you have one or two slices of tomato left over from making B.L.T. sandwiches, save the remains in your freezer. A few chunks of frozen tomato, when added to the can or jar of commercial spaghetti sauce you’re heating up, will fool your friends into thinking you’ve been slaving all day over a hot saucepan.
Leftover red and green bell peppers can also be frozen. As a matter of fact, the bell pepper is the vegetable that suffers most from freezing, but when used in sauces or stews, you’ll hardly notice the difference.
A quick trick when you’re cooking cabbage rolls is to separate the cabbage leaves, stack them on paper towels, put them in a pan and freeze them for an hour or two. When you take them out and they thaw, they’ll be wilted and pliable for wrapping around your favorite meat-and-tomato mixture, to turn into classic Hungarian or Ukrainian cabbage rolls.