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Home > Cooking Tips > Tips about various ingredients > P
P - Tips about various ingredients

[ Papaya | Peaches  | Peanuts | Peppers | Preparation | Pineapples | Pomegranates | Potatoes ]

Papaya

  • PapayaUse papayas to make a hot and spicy salsa.
  • Blend papaya with milk, yogurt, or orange juice for a breakfast smoothie.
  • Puree papaya to make a delicious salad dressing or base for ice cream or sorbet.
  • Add papaya slices to honeydew, melon, and strawberries to make a colorful fruit cup or salad.
  • Papayas are a rich source of vitamin A and C. One half of a small papaya can provide 150% of the recommended dietary intake of Vitamin C. It is low in calories, fat free, cholesterol free, and a good source of potassium, folate, and fiber.

Selection of Papaya

  • Look for papayas that are partly or completely yellow in color, depending on variety, that give slightly to pressure, but are not soft at the stem-end. Avoid papayas that are bruised, shriveled, or have soft areas. Papayas that are hard and green are immature and will not ripen properly. Uncut papayas have no smell. Papayas that are cut should smell sweet, not bad or fermented.

Storage of Papaya

  • Slightly green papayas will ripen quickly at room temperature, especially if placed in a paper bag. As the papaya ripens, it will turn from green to yellow. Place ripe papayas in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Papayas will keep for up to a week, but its best to use them within a day or two.

Varieties of Papaya

  • There are two types of papayas, the Hawaiian and Mexican. The Hawaiian varieties also known as Solo papayas, are found most often in supermarkets. These fruits are pear shaped, weigh about a pound each, and have yellow skin when ripe. The flesh is bright orange or pinkish, depending on the variety. The Mexican varieties are not as common but can be found in Latino supermarkets. Mexican papayas are much larger then the Hawaiian types and can weigh up to 20 pounds and be more than 15 inches long. Although the flavor is less intense than the Hawaiian varieties, they are still delicious and enjoyable.

Peaches

  • PeachesPeaches must be picked fully mature, they do not get sweeter after being picked; they will get softer and juicier, but not sweeter.
  • Cling or clingstone peaches have a pit to which the flesh clings; freestone peaches have a pit from which the flesh is easily pulled away.
  • Slice peaches and add to your favorite cereal, or as a topper to pancakes or waffles.
  • Take a peach or a cup of canned peaches to work or school for a lite snack.
  • Include peaches in low fat yogurt or cottage cheese and put on toast.
  • Combine peaches and other fresh fruits into a fruit salad and use as a dessert or appetizer before dinner. Keep it tasty and brightly colored by adding a bit of concentrated orange juice.
  • Make a peach smoothie with yogurt and peaches in a blender for breakfast or a snack.
  • Bake, grill, or broil and serve along with your favorite meat or fish dinners.
  • As a dessert cut it fresh and add to angel food cake or over lowfat frozen yogurt.
  • Freeze a can of peaches in the freezer then open and blend in the blender for a great summer dessert sorbet.

Peanuts

  • PeanutsRaw peanuts in the shell can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to two months. Roasted peanuts in the shell do not keep as well as raw. They can be stored at room temperature, but for no more than one month. 
  • Unshelled peanuts should have clean, unbroken shells and should not rattle when shaken.

Peppers (Chili Peppers)

  • The seeds are NOT the hottest part of peppers. It is at the point where the seed is attached to the white membrane inside the pepper that the highest concentration of capsaicin (the compound giving peppers their pungent flavor) is found.

Availability, Selection, & Storage

  • Chili peppers are available year round and in the United States they are grown in California, New Mexico and Texas. When selecting chilies, look for firm, glossy chilies with taut, unwrinkled skin and fresh green stems. Dried hot peppers should be glossy yet unbroken.
  • Chilies should be stored unwashed and wrapped in paper towels in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Dried chilies should be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for a maximum of four months. To keep dried chilies for more than four months, store them in the refrigerator.

Preparation

  • It is very important not to touch your nose, eyes or mouth after handling or eating hot peppers. If you do, flush with water immediately. The capsaicin in the peppers can be extremely painful to your eyes and can even burn or irritate your skin (especially if you have cuts on your hands). If possible, wear thin rubber gloves while preparing chili peppers. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water when done working with chilies. If the bite is too strong when you eat a chili, chew on bread or another starchy food; water only makes the bite worse as it spreads it.
  • To decrease the heat intensity of chilies, wash them, cut them open and remove the seeds and veins. Also, soaking cut up chilies in salt water for at least an hour will help cool them off. To add a mild pepper flavor to your dish, poke holes in the chili of your choice with a toothpick (or cut slits in it) and add it to a food that is already cooking. When cooking is complete, remove the chili from the dish.
  • Chilies can also be roasted whole over a gas stove, broiler, or on a grill. Use a cooking fork to hold each pepper over flame. Turn frequently until the chili`s skin is blackened. After cooking is complete, place chilies in a paper or plastic bag for 15 minutes. Scrape off skin, cut off stem and pull out core. Scrape any remaining seeds.

Preparing Dried hot Peppers

  • Use a damp cloth to wipe peppers. Grind chilies in a food processor for use as chili powder. To soften their texture and make their flavor more mild, soak chili peppers in water prior to using.

Pineapples

  • PineapplesPineapples, like melons, do not have any starch reserves, so they do not get sweeter after they are picked. They must be harvested after they begin to ripen. The sweetest part of the pineapple is at the base.
  • Pineapples should be ripened at room temperature. Ripe pineapples can be stored at 40degreesF for several weeks. 
  • Drink a glass of pineapple juice in the morning before work or school, eat a slice of pineapple topped with cottage cheese or add to your favorite low fat pizza for a fun treat.
  • Select pineapples with a nice fragrant smell. If possible choose pineapples that have been jet shipped from Hawaii or Central America because they will be the freshest. Avoid those pineapples with sour or fermented odors. It is really ripe if you can easily pull one of the leaves out of the top.
  • Store at room temperature for 1 or 2 days before serving to allow the pineapple to become softer and sweeter. Store in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days or cut pineapple into chunks and store for up to 7 days. Cut up pineapple also freezes well.

Pomegranates

  • PomegranateSELECTION AND STORAGE - Pomegranates are available in the United States from September through December. Select fruit that is heavy for its size with bright, fresh color and blemish-free skin. You can refrigerate whole pomegranates for up to 2 months or store them in a cool, dark place for up to a month. Pomegranate seeds packed in an airtight container and stored in the freezer will keep for up to 3 months.
  • USES & PREPARATION - Pomegranates are a versatile fruit and can be used as a garnish on sweets and savory dishes or pressed to extract the juice. To use a pomegranate, cut it in half and pry out the pulp-encased seeds, removing any of the light-colored membrane that adheres. The juice can stain your clothes so be sure to wear an apron or clothing that you don`t mind getting stained.
  • Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over salads, or desserts.
  • Use pomegranate extract in marinades or as a glaze for poultry.
  • Use pomegranate seeds as a garnish on rice dishes, potatoes, and applesauce.
  • Eat pomegranate seeds by the handful - like tiny berries.
  • Top waffles, pancakes, or ice cream sundaes with pomegranate seeds.

Potatoes

  • PotatoesA diet of potatoes and milk will supply all nutrients the human body needs.
  • Potatoes exposed to bright light develop green patches. This green skin contains the toxin solanine which can cause cramps, headache, diarrhea, and fever. The solution is simple. Don`t eat the green skin - simply remove it - the solanine is only present in the green skin and any discoloration underneath it - the rest of the potato is completely safe to eat.
  • Apples, pears and potatoes dropped in cold, lightly salted water as they are peeled will retain their color.
  • Blackening of Cooked Potatoes
    This type of discoloration sometimes occurs in cooked potatoes and appears as a gray-blue-black area as the cooked potato cools. Any discolored area can simply be cut away. Some potatoes are more susceptible to this discoloration and are influenced by the soil and climate in which the potatoes were grown.
  • Dry mealy potatoes have a high starch content and their cells separate so they make good mashed or baked potatoes. (example: Russet potatoes)
  • Waxy moist potatoes have a lower starch content and higher sugar content, so are stickier and are best for boiling, scalloped, and potato salad. (example: Red skin potatoes)
  • If you are not sure which type you have, put one in a brine of one part salt to 11 parts water (11 fl oz water and 2 TB salt). Waxy potatoes float, mealy potatoes will sink.
  • Potatoes that are stored below 40 degrees F. will become sweeter, but when returned to room temperature, will consume the excess sugar through normal respiration.
  • How to Make a Fluffier Baked Potato
    Pierce potato with a fork several times before baking to allow steam to escape.
    Do not wrap potatoes in aluminum foil, which will give them a steamed texture.
    To serve, use a small knife to cut a cross on top. Push sides and ends gently to fluff.
  • How to Get Softer Skin on a Baked Potato
    Lightly rub potato with oil or softened butter before baking. 
  • How to Make a Faster Baked Potato
    Half-Baked Potato: Split a medium-sized baked potato lengthwise in half and brush cut sides with olive oil. Bake, flat sides down, on well-greased baking sheet in 375F oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until tender and crusty on bottoms.

Types of Potato

  • NEW POTATOES: Most frequently used to describe those freshly harvested and marketed during the late winter or early spring. The name is also widely used in later crop producing areas to designate freshly dug potatoes which are not quite fully matured. Best used for boiling or creaming. They vary widely in size and shape, depending upon variety, but are likely to be affected by skinning or feathering of the outer layer of skin. This skinning usually affects only their appearance. 
  • GENERAL PURPOSE POTATOES: Inludes the great majority of supplies offered for sale in the markets, both round and long types. With the aid of air-cooled storages, they are available year-round. They are used for boiling, frying and baking, although many are not the best for baking.
  • BAKING POTATOES: Both variety and area where grown are important factors affecting baking quality. The Russet Burbank, a long variety with fine, scaly netting on the skin is the most widely grown and is the best known.
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