Preparing Food: Vegetables
Pull, break off, and discard many layers of the woody outer leaves keeping only the lighter, more compact, and firmer inside ones. Cut and discard the top 3 cm of the bulb. Using a spoon, scrape away the choke. If the stem is still present, cut it off and peel the tough outer fibers, since it is good to eat.
Note: To reduce the discolouration of the cut parts, rinse them all with lemon juice. Much of the artichoke is not used: don’t be surprised if after the cleaning you keep less than one half of the original.
Wash thoroughly to eliminate any sand. For the most common green varieties, hold the spears in both hands near the thick end and bend until they snap. The spears will break naturally at the point where they begin to be tender. Thicker white or violet variety spears will need to be cut with a knife: cut off 3 cm or so of the «woody» portion off the bottom of the spears. If the skin around the base of the spears still appears to be tough and fibrous, use a vegetable peeler to peel off some of the exterior portion.
It used to be advisable, for large aubergines (500 g or more), to reduce their bitterness by covering with coarse salt for 30-45 min to allow some of the bitter juices to drain out. The newer varieties are less bitter and this is therefore not necessary anymore. However, if you have time, you may do it to remove the excess water content. In such case, wash and pat dry. Peel if recipe requires it.
Note: Since aubergines darken quickly when cut, prepare them only when ready to cook or sprinkle with lemon juice if you must wait.
Cut off most of the stem, root tip, and leaves, if present. Since leaves are good to eat, wash and cook in very little water like spinach. Wash the root and scrub gently. After cooking, the skin will slip off easily.
It is not necessary to wash the endive, just clean the outside with a wet towel. Never soak it because it gets bitter. Prepare right before use to avoid discolouration. To reduce the bitterness, cut off a small cone of about 2,5 cm from the bottom.
Wash briefly just before use.
Remove or peel any tough and fibrous stalks, as well as any old leaves, keeping only the young tender ones. Separate the florets from the stalks and wash well. Since the stalks need a little more cooking time than the florets, add them to the pot/pan a bit sooner.
Remove any tough portion of the stalks. Cut up the remaining stalks lengthwise so that they will cook at the same rate as the florets. Wash well.
Cut off the bottoms. Wash.
Remove the outer tough leaves and wash.
Wash or scrub gently. Peel the carrot only if it is old and is spotted. Remove any green part because it is bitter (due to exposure to light).
Discard the stem and the outer leaves. Cut off the florets and wash well.
Wash and peel if eaten raw. Otherwise peel after cooking. To avoid discolouration when cut, sprinkle with vinaigrette or lemon juice right away, or cook without delay.
Cut off the bottom. Wash the stalks in running water. If necessary, the fibrous strings can be removed by slicing a thin layer at the base or from the top and just pulling the strings.
The flavour of corn fades rapidly after harvesting. Therefore, it is important to use soon after being picked. Remove the husk and silk right before cooking.
Peel if waxed; otherwise just wash. Cut in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Sprinkle with salt and let excess and possibly bitter liquids drain off.
Remove the stalks and feathery leaves. Cut off the top and bottom of the bulb. Wash.
Rub under running water to remove the scales. Trim the end. Soak 20-30 min to reduce bitterness.
Separate a clove from the bulb and gently crush it with the broad side of a knife blade to make the dry outside skin easier to remove. If passed through a garlic press, the cloves do not need to be peeled. Discard the green inside germ to make the garlic more digestible.
Cut off the bottom. Discard most of the green part and the outer layer.
Green Beans (French)
Wash just before cooking. Trim both ends. Should a fibrous string show up, it can removed by pulling it off. Wash.
Discard the stems, wash the bulb then peel it.
Lettuce / Greens
Discard the outer leaves and any tough parts. Wash the individual leaves carefully in plenty of water, changing it if needed. Gently shake the leaves and spin-dry them thoroughly with a salad spin-dryer or blot dry with a towel. Some types, such as curly leaf and endive, need meticulous cleaning.
Discard most of the green parts and the outer layer. Cut off the bottom. Make sure you rinse it very well, since they are grown in a sandy soil which can hide in-between the leaves.
Rinse briefly only if very dirty. It is better to brush lightly or use a wet towel to clean. Don’t soak them in water or they will absorb a lot of liquid and become waterlogged. Trim off the ends of the stems.
Cut off the top and the bottom. Peel.
To reduce eye irritation due to the sulphur compounds released while cutting, you can try the following suggestions:
- Before using the onion, cool it in the fridge for one hour or in the freezer for 15 minutes (the production of the irritant is slowed down).
- Protect your eyes so that they are not in direct contact with the irritant (ski or swimming goggles are ideal!).
- Peel and cut under running water (the sulphur compounds are water-soluble).
Brush and wash if not waxed; peel otherwise. If unpeeled, its thin skin can be easily removed after cooking. Since it darkens quickly when cut, cook right away.
Their flavour fades rapidly after harvesting. Hence, it is important to unshell them as soon as possible and keep them in a cool place until cooking. Before unshelling, wash them briefly. Break the upper part of the pod and pull down and discard the fibrous string. Separate the pods, take out the peas, and discard the pods. The peas do not need to be washed.
Wash them, remove the stem, cut in half, and remove seeds before slicing or chopping. Their skin is easily removed after roasting and placing in a paper bag. Peel with a knife when cool.
Prolonged light exposure can produce green coloured areas which are not edible. Discard any excessively “greenish” potatoes (more than half). Brush well if they will be cooked with the peel on, remove the eyes and any green spots. Wash. New potatoes do not need peeling. Brush and wash them. To prevent darkening, cook as soon as possible after cutting or keep them in cold water until ready to cook.
Peeling is not necessary, but you may wish to do it to reduce their hotness. Cut off the root tips and leaves, rinse and drain.
Separate the leaves. Take out any brownish areas. Wash and pat dry.
Peel and wash. Eliminate the core if dark.
Peel the dry skins with your hands.
Snow pea / Sugar snap pea
Remove stalks and fibrous strings. Wash.
Spinach / Baby Spinach
Discard the larger stems and roots if present; wash the leaves thoroughly since they can retain some of the sandy soil. Use a bowl large enough to cover the spinach with water and shake the leaves gently. Change water a few times if necessary. Wash just before using. Rinse also when bought prewashed.
Squash / Pumpkin
Wash. Cut off top and bottom. After cooking, the skin will slip off easily.
Sunchoke / Jerusalem artichoke
Wash. Peel easily when cooked.
Peel. To avoid darkening, cook quickly after being cut or cover with water until ready to cook.
Wash carefully since some of the sandy soil can hide in the leaves. Remove any tough and fibrous stalks. Trim the bottom edge, if necessary, and pull the fibrous strings. Since the stalks need a little more cooking time than the leaves, slice them off where the stems meet the leaves, and add them to the pot/pan a bit sooner.
If you wish to peel them, dip 15-30 seconds using a colander in plenty of boiling water until the skin begins to split (not any longer so as to avoid cooking or soaking them). Cool them down under cold running water and the skin will slip right off. When the tomatoes are ripe, they can be peeled easily by making a few cuts on the skin and pulling.
If you wish to remove the seeds, cut the tomato in half and press it to extract the juice and seeds.
Just brush if very fresh, small, and not waxed. Otherwise, peel and wash right before cooking to prevent discolouration.