Chances are if you are wondering about something, so is someone else. Here's your chance to ask me directly about something and I'll answer it! Email questions directly to me, post them on my Facebook page, or ask them in the comments section!
You have pondered....
Q: "What is the proper way to store bell peppers, carrots, celery, onions, etc. so they last forever? I always seem to get them for something but end up throwing away extras, and I hate wasting!"
A: The way I do it is I always put my veggies in individual ziplock bags. If there's any greenery attached (like with radishes or beets) and I'm not using them right away or saving for presentation, then I trim off the greenery and place the veggies in the bag. Other greens like swiss chard, kale, green onions can go in untrimmed. Peppers, carrots, celery, etc. can go in untrimmed also in their own separate bags. Another trick I do is if I have left over like half a red bell pepper from cooking, I'll slice it up and place it in a sandwich baggie. For me it's an appetizing and obvious quick snack I can grab and go on my way out or snack on at home w/out having to bother cutting, plating, then cleaning. Make sense?
Q: Regarding the posting on mulling cider...
"In your professional opinion, could one use a Crockpot or slow cooker to do this? On the "low" or "warm" setting?"
A: "I guess so, but why bother? You can use a simple pot or saucepan for this. It's a hell of a lot easier b/c you're only simmering the beverage for 10 minutes. I think using a crockpot or slow cooker will end up taking a lot longer to make, and mulling is actually a lot faster than most people think. A lot of people have the impression the wine or cider needs to sit there for an hour. Absolutely not -- unless you want to make a syrup which like I said in the post, is great to keep for salad dressings later. But for an actual mulled cider, just use a pot or saucepan right on the stove so you can really control that heat too. Hope this helps!"
Q: "Can you explain the difference between apple juice and cider?"
A: The short answer is this: apple juice is filtered, apple cider is not. The process goes something like this:
1. Pick the apples and wash them well.
2. Smash the apples in a big vat, leaving a consistency similar to raw apple sauce
3. That juice goes through a strainer -- bottled as apple cider.
4. That juice goes through a strainer, then another finer strainer, then pasturized and if not organic, additional sugars, water, and preservatives are added to ensure a longer shelf life.
So the apple cider is going to have some fine apple sediment (i.e. teeny tiny apple particles) still in it. This helps give the cider is more golden color because it most likely has some of the apple peel in there too, as well as a stronger apple taste. Apple juice is going to be lighter because all of that stuff has been filtered and heated out through the pasturization process as well as the additional water which is going to dilute it a bit. This also means that cider has a considerably less shelf life, which is why you only see it seasonaly (Oct-Dec usually). Since it's not pasturized, and the particles still live in there, bacteria can grow eventually. We're talking if you keep a gallon of cider unopened through July here. But it's perfectly fine to drink unpasturized after you buy it, well into January frankly. Just make sure you pay attention to that expiration date!
I've seen some ciders pasturized, so all that means is they've taken that unfiltered apple juice and heated it really fast to get rid of any bacteria. But the sediments are still there. Frankly my favorite is local farmed, organic, just-made-this-past-weekend apple cider. Frankly you can make it yourself at home too if you have an apple tree and a lot of time on your hands! ;)
Hope this helps!