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by Jackie Carroll
Commercial vegetable growers, wholesalers and
retailers are experts at determining the optimum
harvest time and storage conditions to ensure that
the vegetables you find in the grocery store will
have the longest possible shelf life. They do an
excellent job of ensuring that the grocery store
produce department is continually stocked with the
freshest vegetables possible, even when the grower
is thousands of miles from the consumer. The only
problem with the system is that the optimum harvest
time for a long shelf life is not always the
optimum time for the best flavor.
Some people swear that once the bloom falls off the
end of the squash, it's past it's prime. These
infant squash aren't available at the grocery store
because at this stage they bruise easily and have a
shorter shelf life than squash left on the vines
until the skin toughens. Some vegetables (such as
tomatoes) are picked long before their prime and
ripen in storage facilities rather than on the
The only way to experience vegetables at their
prime is to grow them yourself. For best results,
harvest your vegetables the day you plan to eat
them, preferably early in the morning. Sprinkle
them lightly with water and store them in a cool
place until you're ready to prepare them.
Some vegetables, such as parsnips, carrots and
potatoes, keep well in the ground until needed.
Others have a short harvest window and should be
picked promptly when ripe. Invest in a good kitchen
garden cookbook with a variety of recipes for each
vegetable to prevent monotony when you find
yourself harvesting the same vegetables for several
sure exactly when to harvest? We've posted a
chart on recommended harvest times here:
before you can feel the outline of the
individual beans. If left too long, shell
the beans and discard the pod.
greens, harvest the inner leaves while
young and tender. Roots should be
harvested when no larger than a
broccoli while the head is still tight.
Once the buds begin to spread it will soon
ready to harvest when they are firm and
heavy. If left too long they will split.
Split heads are edible, but difficult to
deal with in the kitchen.
can be harvested any time. Small carrots
are the sweetest, but it's best to leave
them in the ground until you need them so
they won't dry out.
kernels turn a golden color they are
getting too old, and by the time a dent
appears in the end of the kernels they are
before the seeds inside swell.
when the fruit is small and glossy. Once
they loose their shine they are too
lettuce is a gourmet treat. Harvest the
leaves as needed from the outside. Once
the stems begin to lengthen and the leaves
begin to grow up, the plant is getting
ready to bolt and will be bitter.
the melon. If the vine falls off it's
be harvested at any stage. When the tops
fall over they should be dug and dried for
a day, then braided or stored in a net
before the individual peas begin to touch
inside the pods. They become starchy and
tasteless if left too long.
any time, depending on individual
begin to form when the plant blooms. Soon
thereafter you can harvest small new
potatoes, or wait until the plants begin
to die back for large potatoes.
younger the better. Squash left on the
vine too long inhibits the production of
winter squash should be left on the vine
until the bottom is a different color from
the top, and the skin is hard.
to wait until the tomato is ready to eat.
A tomato that is picked when is is showing
any orange or red color will be superior
to a supermarket tomato.
About the Author:
- A growing resource for
Let's Get Cooking!
While there are many reasons for teaching kids to cook -- less expensive than eating out, preserves family heritage, etc, the most important
reason is that by teaching your child to cook, you're giving him a better chance to be a healthy grown-up. Enabling your child with the ability
to appreciate freshness and to transform ingredients into tasty foods opens their eyes to making wiser choices about what to eat...