Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Apple Picking

posted in Fruits by Kathy Maister

There are a gazillion different varieties of apples. When traveling overseas, I am often at a loss choosing apples as the varieties available in Europe and Australia are often very different from those sold here in the States.

Apples like Granny Smiths and Braeburns are usually available worldwide, but many other varieties are only available locally.

Different kinds of apples vary in taste and texture, which determine what they are used for. Apples are basically divided into three categories:

  1. Eating
  2. Cooking
  3. Cooking and / or Eating

Many stores have signs telling you how best to use the apples.

If you are unsure which ones to buy ask the Produce Person for help.

When cooking things like apple pie or apple crisp (video) the apples should end up being tender and soft to the bite, but still retain their shape. If you choose to cook with apples that are described just as *eating* apples, the recipe probably won’t come out that great. The apples may turn to a watery mush.

Apples used for cooking versus apples that you eat for a snack, vary considerably in how sweet or tart they are.

Granny Smiths are too tart for me to eat but I love cooking with them. Braeburns are both tart and sweet and crisp and are great for eating and cooking.

Cooking apples, like Bramley, Newton Wonder, and Grenadier (English varieties) are very sour and basically used just for cooking.

Tips for Working with Apples

  • Buy apples that are smooth and free of bruises.
  • If you are adding apples to fruit salad be sure to coat them with lemon or orange juice to prevent them from turning brown.
  • Apples will last longer if you store them in the refrigerator rather then leaving them on the counter top.
  • Put an apple in a paper bag with an avocado to help ripen the avocado.
  • A vegetable peeler works really well for peeling an apple.

How to Core an Apple

(In my Apple Crisp Video I demonstrate all the various ways one can core an apple.)

There are many ways to core an apple. You could slice around the core with a large knife.

Or you could use a melon baler to scoop out the core.

Or you could use an official apple corer. This odd looking utensil gets pushed down into the apple. (Be sure to leave the apple on the cutting board or you might end up coring the palm of your hand!)

Then you just pull out the core.

While people have preferences for different kinds, everybody loves apples!

Cheers!

If you are new to startcooking, or are a regular visitor here, please consider subscribing for free.

How to Cut a Pineapple

posted in Fruits by Kathy Maister

You can buy either whole pineapples or pre-cut fresh pineapples in the produce section of the grocery store. In my grocery store it costs almost $2 more to buy the precut pineapple.

The mighty pineapple is really easy to slice, as long as you have a big sharp knife.

Start by removing the top

Then the bottom

With the pineapple sitting firmly on the cutting board, start slicing off the outer layer of skin.

Then cut it into slices.

Trim out the very center as it tends to be very tough to chew.

The juicy, sweet, and tangy flavor makes it a great addition to fruit salads or fruit kabobs.

If you are making a gelatin fruit salad (Jell-O!) you have to use canned pineapple. The natural enzymes in fresh (and frozen) pineapple do not allow the gelatin to set.

Be sure to buy pineapples that have crisp green leaves and feels uniformly soft to the touch. Specific soft spots means the pineapple has started to go off.

Pineapples do not continue to ripen, or get any sweeter off the vine. Uncut, kept at room temperature, the acidity levels will decrease.

Be sure to wrap up leftovers tightly in plastic wrap. They should last about 3 days in the refrigerator.

If you are new to startcooking, or are a regular visitor here, please consider subscribing for free.

How to: Strawberries

posted in Fruits by Kathy Maister

Strawberries, once just a summertime treat, are now available year round. Especially tasty are the locally grown ones that are now showing up at farmers’ markets.

Always choose strawberries that are plump, firm and glossy.

Wash them just before using them.

I always wash my supermarket strawberries, in a colander, under a gentle spray of running water. Or you can swish the strawberries around in a bowl with cool tap water.

(Actually my old friend Roger never washed strawberries. He felt it washed away the flavor. But then again he lived in the south of France and only bought them from the local farmer who grew them organically.)

Once washed, spread the strawberries out on a clean dish towel to dry.

To “hull” a strawberry means to remove the green leafy top and the tiny stalk. If you plan on hulling tons of strawberries, you may want to buy a strawberry huller. But a small paring knife works very well for hulling a quart or two.

Start by grasping the green top…

…and just trim out that tiny stem.

Or you could just slice off the whole top with a small paring knife.

Just pulling off the green leafy top (as shown below) is NOT enough. You need to remove that tiny bit of white, hard stem as well.

To store strawberries, place them in a single layer in a moisture-proof plastic container that has a tight fitting lid.

Lay a paper towel on top of the strawberries and then put the lid on the container. When you put them in the refrigerator, store them with the lid side down in the refrigerator.

Stored this way they should stay fresh for at least 2-3 days.

************

Recipes to die for:

Strawberries dipped in Chocolate from startcooking.com

Strawberries Romanoff –Strawberries soaked in orange juice/curacao/cointreau and served with Whipped Cream

Strawberry Short Cake – a classic that everybody loves!

If you are new to startcooking, or are a regular visitor here, please consider subscribing for free.