I wrote a blog post in March 2012 entitled “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet,” and there have been a lot of comments left on the post. So many comments, in fact, I feel it’s appropriate to respond.
As you can see in the blog post, several friends asked me whether or not it was a good idea to wash their strawberries in a water and vinegar solution in order to prevent mold. I had never heard of that method, so I contacted a respected colleague who has worked in the strawberry industry for decades. He had never heard of this method either.
What I did NOT do, and what I should have done, was some additional, online research about mold prevention on strawberries. So, now I have done my research.
This particular article was insightful. Along the lines of what I often write about fruits and vegetables, I have found that it is best to only purchase enough fruits and vegetables to consume within 3-4 days and to NOT wash them until I am ready to consume or cook them. Once you wash a produce item, you have introduced moisture, which will often times hasten the onset of mold.
And, by the way, I always wash my produce. Always. I even wash bananas before I peel them.
With regards to the original question about a vinegar wash for strawberries, one person who commented on my blog post shared an article from National Public Radio (NPR) about the best way to clean your produce. The article is an easy read and, most importantly, it emphasizes the importance of thoroughly washing your fresh produce before you eat or cook with it.
This reaction to my blog reminded me of the importance of thoroughly researching topics before sharing my opinion. I sincerely appreciate the several people who commented on my post.
But, to be clear, although washing with a vinegar solution helps clean your produce, I am not sure it will prevent mold. But, then again, I eat my produce so fast, I do not often see mold on my produce.
I grew up in a small town in Orange County called Los Alamitos. My parents purchased their first house there, 55 years ago, and my mom Frieda still lives in the same two-story home today.
Coincidentally, when our company outgrew our downtown Los Angeles warehouse, the best location we found was right here in my hometown! So, 19 years ago this week, we moved Frieda’s, Inc. to Los Alamitos, California.
Tomorrow, Los Alamitos will be hosting the first ever Orange County Sugar Beet Festival. As it turns out, Los Alamitos was formed after the sugar beet boom, as it was the epicenter of the sugar beet industry! One of my fellow high school alumni, Larry Strawthers, has been the impetus behind creating the Orange County Sugar Beet Festival.
You have probably never seen a real sugar beet. Well, in preparation for the festival, over two tons of fresh sugar beets arrived at our warehouse last week, along with cameras and the local press to capture the arrival! The beets were harvested in the Imperial Valley of California, and then transported to Los Alamitos. From these photos, you can see it was quite an experience to unload them into storage.
|My mom Frieda and a sugar beet|
Frieda’s is very community and family oriented, so we decided to sponsor this historic, community event. A small team of Frieda’s employees volunteered to work the Frieda’s booth at the festival. And, I have to say it has been fun to watch the team from the sidelines and what they come up with!
As you may know, some of the exotic produce that we sell looks kind of unusual. So, the Frieda’s Sugar Beet Festival team came up with the idea of a “petting zoo.” No, there will not be any animals at our booth, but visitors will be able to pick up and touch our crazy looking produce. Isn’t that a fun idea?!
And here is the backdrop for our booth. As you can see, we have a rich history…and we have a lot of fun at Frieda’s!
What lesson did I learn from the planning process of the Sugar Beet Festival? I learned it is often times a good idea to take a chance and let non-managers in an organization have fun creating an idea or working on a project. I originally learned this idea from reading Daniel Pink’s book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.”
You should try it!
This past weekend, I invited a few of my long-time girlfriends over for dinner. One of my friends doesn’t eat fish, so instead of figuring out which protein to use, I decided to skip the protein and make a vegetarian dinner.
Everyone ended up loving it! Try these easy recipes for 4th of July, or any time you are entertaining this summer.
First, I made Caprese Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes. I thickly sliced the tomatoes and layered them between thick slices of BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella and fresh basil leaves. Then, I lightly drizzled Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glaze, thyme-infused olive oil, pink Himalayan salt and freshly ground pepper over the salad. Serving the salad at room temperature is the secret!
Next up were the following….
Baby Spinach and Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato Salad
The night before dinner, I cooked two medium-sized purple sweet potatoes (rubbed them with olive oil, wrapped in heavy foil and baked them at 350° for 90 minutes). They went into the refrigerator overnight, which makes them super sweet and moist. The next day, I peeled the potatoes and cubed them into ½ inch chunks.
For the salad, I put a whole bag of baby spinach in a large wooden salad bowl, along with the cubed potatoes, 2 oz. of crumbled feta cheese, ¼ cup pumpkin seeds and ¼ cup sliced almonds. Then, I poured homemade vinaigrette over the salad and added salt and pepper to taste. Finally, I tossed everything together and served. The purple sweet potatoes soaked up the dressing and the nuts added the perfect crunch.
Super Fresh Jicama Coleslaw
Even though there were only four of us for dinner, I decided to make a huge bowl of chopped salad so I could eat leftovers for lunch for a few days. If you don’t want to make this much salad, here is a link to where I first shared this recipe last June. I recommend making the dressing before chopping the salad.
Fresh Lime Juice Vinaigrette:
1 cup fresh lime juice (5 large limes)
½ cup olive oil
2 tsp quality salt (I use Himalayan)
1-2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs cilantro, finely chopped
1 packet Stevia (I use Truvia), or 2 tsp of sugar
Mix dressing ingredients in a shaker jar. Let the dressing sit for at least 2 hours, at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
8 cups green cabbage, coarsely chopped (¾ of a large head of cabbage)
4 cups jicama, peeled and cubed (one medium sized jicama)
3 cups hothouse cucumbers with peel, cubed (1 whole cucumber)
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced, then quartered (10 red radishes)
4 celery stalks, diced
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped (about ¾ of a large bunch)
Toss all ingredients into a large bowl. Be sure to mix well.
Pour the dressing onto the salad (it’s your choice if you want to use it all). Toss and mix well. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. Toss the salad one more time before serving. This really doesn’t take that long to make, and it’s a nice change of pace instead of regular coleslaw or green salad.
Here is a photo of both salads on a plate.
For our main course, I made vegetarian lasagna. Instead of using pasta, I thinly sliced zucchini, lengthwise, using my Mandolin Slicer.
I layered in some ricotta and Parmesan cheese, coarsely chopped fresh basil, a little cayenne pepper for some zing, sliced Roma tomatoes, pasta sauce, sautéed onions, garlic and sliced mushrooms. I baked it at 350° for about an hour. You can see how yummy it was!
Since we were also celebrating two birthdays, you can see we enjoyed some Sprinkles Cupcakes.
|My good friends Vivian, Shirley and Kari.|
So, next time you are entertaining, don’t be afraid to go vegetarian. It gives you more options for flavors and textures. And try my Super Fresh Jicama Coleslaw for your July 4th barbecue. It’s a winner!
Happy Independence Day!