Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Preparing Veggies Ahead of Time--Help?




megwini
12-04-2010, 08:45 PM
I am NOTORIOUSLY slow at peeling and chopping fruits and veggies, one thing which makes me not want to eat them sometimes because it can literally take me an hour just to do a bowl of carrots or something (not even starting the cooking yet).

I have a few questions. For people who are slow at this, what is the best way to get better?

And second, I know a lot of people say it's best to get fresh food and not rely on frozen food: does this apply to freezing your own veggies too? I was thinking I might be able to tolerate it more if I didn't have to do it every day, like preparing a whole bunch of veggies at once (still raw) and then freezing them. Or do you need to cook them first if you're going to freeze them.

I wasn't sure how this would affect nutrients and taste, since I've never done it. Just I know that frozen veggies don't usually taste that great to me, so I wasn't sure if it'd be different if it were your own fresh veggies you froze, and if you cooked them within 2 weeks.

So yeah. The thing that would help me most is how to be speedier at preparing the veggies though! I am SOOOO slow.


nelie
12-04-2010, 08:58 PM
Actually frozen veggies may have more nutrients than fresh since they are frozen close to being picked. So if frozen veggies work for you, I'd say go for it. You could also freeze them yourself, no real issue other than the texture usually changes but if you are cooking them anyway, it may not be a big deal.

katy trail
12-04-2010, 09:01 PM
well peeling veggies just takes practice. not all veggies need to be peeled and if it's in a flavorful sauce you don't notice the peel such as carrots in curry. just wash it well. i had my fill of peeling potatoes as a child, so i peel those once in a blue moon. the rest of the time i chop them up and roast them with olive oil and seasonings like garlic and rosemary. or just bake it. also, the yellow...i forget what it's called. the skin is slightly yellow. they are easier to peel, if you boil them, say for potato salad. and they require less seasonings to taste good than russets.

i'm not sure what's not to like about frozen veggies? i hate most canned veg., but frozen are great. and sometimes frozen have more vit. than fresh because the fresh sit on the shelf and in the truck for awhile. unless you can buy at a farmers market or grow your own.


vdander24
12-04-2010, 09:04 PM
I am not the answer you are looking for, but for Thanksgiving, I did ALL the chopping and peeling the vegetables the night before and I put them in ziploc bags and labeled them for the recipe I needed them in. I think it would be fine to chop ahead and either freeze or refrigerate. If you are using them in the same week, you should be able to refrigerate them without too much trouble.

The fruits, I am not as sure about due to the oxidation. I am looking forward to getting some ideas too.

megwini
12-04-2010, 09:10 PM
i'm not sure what's not to like about frozen veggies? i hate most canned veg., but frozen are great. and sometimes frozen have more vit. than fresh because the fresh sit on the shelf and in the truck for awhile. unless you can buy at a farmers market or grow your own.

Maybe I'm not buying the right brand, but when I cook fresh carrots, they end up sweet (nothing added to them). When I cooked frozen carrots the same way, they ended up tasting like paper. =( I don't like bland food, which is actually why I prefer my veggies cooked. I guess the sweetness from the caramelization makes them more palatable to me (though I still make an effort to eat half of them raw, for health's sake).

katy trail
12-04-2010, 09:27 PM
well as long as you're not over cooking-boiling in water for long periods. cooking like they did in the 50's i think eating cooked veggies are good or better than raw. it depends on what kind it is, some are better for us when they are cooked. i wouldn't worry too much about that. just eating any kind of fruits and veggies is good for us.

try sweet potatoes, winter squash, just wash and roast in the oven. totally yummy all carmelized. no peeling involved, i eat it right out of the shell/peel. i'm sure either would freeze or refrigerate well too. you can also buy frozen winter squash, just make sure to stir it alot. just microwave it right in the bowl.

i think i would just sprinkle on some seasonings if the carrots are a little bland. curry seasoning, garlic, whatever you like.

megwini
12-04-2010, 09:37 PM
try sweet potatoes, winter squash, just wash and roast in the oven. totally yummy all carmelized. no peeling involved, i eat it right out of the shell/peel. i'm sure either would freeze or refrigerate well too. you can also buy frozen winter squash, just make sure to stir it alot. just microwave it right in the bowl.

Thanks for the advice about the sweet potatoes and squash. I love both those foods so I'll have to try it.

i think i would just sprinkle on some seasonings if the carrots are a little bland. curry seasoning, garlic, whatever you like.

Aaah maybe I'm just a vegetable snob then. :D I only really like veggies that taste so darn good I don't even need to put seasonings on them. I devoured so much sweet corn this summer, and all I had to do was cook it in the microwave and eat it, no seasonings needed, since it tasted so good on its own. But sometimes we have corn at my school cafeteria, and I can't even stomach it, because it tastes like paper. :( I'd rather have the good corn without seasonings than have the bland corn with some seasonings to make it palatable.

Can freezing your own vegetables lock in this flavor? Is it actually possible to buy store-bought frozen veggies that taste this good when cooked? Are there any good brands?

:dizzy: Sorry I'm so picky about my veggies! It's just a thing with me, I guess.

Lots of veggies can be cleaned and prepped a few days in advance and kept in the fridge till ready to cook. You can also cook a few days worth of veggies at a time and have it on hand.
As slow as you may be, it's still worth the time and effort as there's a big pay off.
Practice, practice, practice.

Thank you for all that advice about the different foods! I'll have to try that! For peeling, I was mainly thinking of carrots. I love carrots. I think you HAVE to peel those, right? Now come to think of it, I was making enough carrots for 4 people always. Maybe when I'm cooking for one it'll still take 10-15 minutes to prepare them for a meal, but that's not quite as intolerable as an hour. Getting faster would be the most ideal though! I just can't live without good veggies now! They're like candy to me. :) Also, yes, soup is always delicious. When at school, I eat soup every day, preferably not cream soup though as it's too rich for me now.

HalfPint71
12-04-2010, 09:40 PM
I have been washing and chopping up veggies for 11 months now and I'm no better or faster at it. I really put it off - the hubby has done his share about 2% of the time. When he does prepare our veggies, they taste fastastic, mostly because I didn't have to prepare them. I guess it's a mind-over-matter thing? So glad to hear I'm not the only one. Thank you.

seagirl
12-04-2010, 09:50 PM
I buy organic carrots and don't peel them, either if I'm cooking or eating raw. They are fine. You don't need to peel them.

vdander24
12-04-2010, 10:22 PM
I would think carrots would not need to be peeled as long as they are washed. The skin on some things like cucumbers are more difficult to digest for some, but you would already probably know if that was you.

Heather
12-04-2010, 10:27 PM
For people who are slow at this, what is the best way to get better?

I took a knife skills class and it really helped to speed up my chopping skills!! You can find classes lots of places -- I took a class at a Sur la Table.

WebRover
12-04-2010, 10:38 PM
The "baby carrots" already have the peel removed. Why not use those?

Make sure you have a good peeler and you know how to use it. Some peelers work better depending on whether you're peeling toward or away from your body. Make sure the blade is sharp and hasn't gotten rusty.

vdander24
12-04-2010, 10:54 PM
I have a question to add:

Will the roasted vegetables keep for the week in the fridge/freezer?
Do you add just a bit of olive oil to it, or just roast them plain?

WebRover - For me, the reason is budget. A bag of baby carrots is about 3.49 where I live, and 1.29 for a pound of carrots.
Also, the "baby" carrots have gotten pretty big and fat, so my niece and nephew have a harder time chewing them. I cut up the larger carrots into thinner sticks and put them in snack bags for the week.
I absolutely agree that getting a really good cutting knife, and a good peeler makes a HUGE difference.

AnnieDrews
12-06-2010, 01:09 PM
I take time every Sunday evening to cut up veggies for my salads for the week. I store them in individual plastic containers and just throw whatever into a ziploc bag w/ the lettuce. It takes hardly any time to do this. The only thing I use that needs partial peeling is cucumbers....and if you use English Cucumber, there is no peeling required at all.

You could peel all of your veg (except potatoes) on one night of the week and have it ready to go.

Practice makes perfect with the chopping....that and having a good, sharp knife. I have gotten some good pointers about knife usage by watching Food Network. I just Googled "chopping vegetables" and there are lots of how-to videos to be seen.

I also buy the prepackaged items in steamer bags. Fresh brocolli and green beans usually. I know they are expensive, but so worth the extra money for me.

I don't really care for frozen veg either myself. I do buy frozen, unsweetened fruit, though. Easy to toss into oatmeal.

Good luck!!

Heather
12-06-2010, 01:45 PM
Oh, videos on chopping veggies is a great idea! I've learned from watching cooking shows too, but vids sound like they could be more time effective.

And yes! Sharp knives are very important!

timkerbelle
12-06-2010, 03:41 PM
You can don't have to peel carrots; I recall reading some where that you can just scrub them with a brush...

Yes, absolutely. I prefer scrubbed over peeled as it keeps some of the skins on there.
You can also "scrub" them with a special pair of gloves made for root vegetables. They look just like the body scrub mitts you can buy to exfoliate your legs, but they are scrubbier. My dad swears by these :) (He looks a bit funny using them, but hey whatever works right?)

Nola Celeste
12-06-2010, 05:52 PM
My husband does that insane chef thing of cutting up things impossibly quickly. According to him, the only prerequisites for being able to do the same are really sharp knives and time spent practicing.

Most vegetables don't actually need to be peeled, as other folks have said. Just give 'em a good scrub with mitts or a vegetable brush, especially if they're organically grown (think about what organic fertilizer is and you'll definitely want to wash those carrots well ;) ). In a lot of cases, peels contain fiber, so eating them is actually a good thing.

Commercially flash-frozen vegetables are excellent sources of nutrition and, as others noted, may even be more nutrient-rich than a fresh veggie that's sat around the store until it's old enough to collect a pension. I find that some things freeze better than others, though. I dislike the texture of most frozen root vegetables and find they get mushy, so I always prepare those fresh. Frozen peas, on the other hand, work just fine for me. YMMV, but give frozen veggies a try from time to time; they're a great option to have in your freezer.

megwini
12-24-2010, 04:50 AM
My husband does that insane chef thing of cutting up things impossibly quickly. According to him, the only prerequisites for being able to do the same are really sharp knives and time spent practicing.

I guess I'll just have to practice then, and try to get a decent knife. All the knives we have at my house are serrated except a small 4" knife, so I either have to chop with the serrated ones or the very small one. I'm the only person in my family who has an interest outside of anything like casseroles, so if I really want a new knife, I'll have to buy one myself. (Poor college student here XD)