Everyone knows in theory that the fresher the vegetables, the better they are. But I think that many of us fall into the habit of buying a bit too many vegetables, storing them in the fridge, and using them as long as they haven’t rotted away or become science experiments in some form. You know, things like carrots and celery, apples and other rather indestructible produce.
But once you see how produce does deteriorate, you start to wonder. Case in point I had some rhubarb stalks left over, and stored in the fridge for about a week after I bought them. (Normally I cook rhubarb right away, but it was cheap at the market so we’d bought more than we needed.) So, yesterday I took them out - they looked crisp and perfectly fine - and turned them into rhubarb crumble pie .
It was tasteless and terrible! It was like eating a rather stringy, bland mush. I’ve never had such a bad rhubarb, and I love rhubarb. We had a couple of mouthfuls and threw the rest away - it was that bad.
So now I’m looking all all those long-lifers in the fridge with a skeptical eye. Sure, carrots and celery may not change that much in taste…but they are surely leeching away nutrients and flavor day by day. And what about those stored apples that come out in the stores mysteriously in the middle of February? Okay, perhaps this is too obvious to even write about. But that awful, bland rhubarb really was an eyeopener…or is that a tastebud-opener…for me.
I guess that I’ve been judging ‘freshness’ with my eyes primarily. I’ve also gotten into the typical habit of shopping once or twice a week. That’s the American way, after all. But in Japan for instance most people - well, most housewives - shop daily, or at least several times a day, and only buy what they need. Here in Switzerland in particular and Europe in general people used to shop like that but the advent of supermarkets and hypermarkets is changing that pattern.
It’s really hard to shop every day, especially when you have to work. I’m going to at least try to keep the vegetable bins a bit less full and shop in smaller amounts though. No more huge economy-size bags of carrots anyway.
Happy Memorial Day to everyone in the USA, and Happy Whitsun / Pfingsten to many people in Europe!