Vegetables are perhaps the most important part of our diets, but often times they're an absolute pain to prepare. Cleaning every fleck of dirt off of dozens of leafy greens takes ages, and eliminating the more fibrous parts of certain veggies can be extremely tedious.
But when you head to the pre-washed, precut produce section, suddenly this staple in your diet has doubled—even tripled in price! Apparently, you can put a price on convenience... and it's expensive.
Thankfully, we'll show you the most efficient ways to clean and prep certain produce—thus saving you both time and money!
Leeks are notoriously dirty. The compact layers trap a ton of sandy flecks in every nook and cranny. But instead of individually scrubbing each layer, just follow these simple steps to strip the leeks of everything except their delicious flavors!
- Top and tail the leeks. (Save the tips for making vegetable stock in the future.)
- Cut the leeks in half length-wise.
- Peel off the outermost layer as it tends to be quite tough and often damaged.
- Chop the leeks into half moons and mix with your hands in a bowlful of clean water.
- The leeks will float while the sand sinks to the bottom. Simply remove the leeks from the top with a spoon, give a quick rinse to clean off the murky water, and proceed as you like.
Asparagus is most commonly sold in bunches like the one below. And while it is fairly common knowledge that the bottom of each stalk is fibrous, a lesser known fact is that all stalks in the same bunch have the same length of fibrous material. This is because the stalks packaged together also grow next to each other on the same plot of land. Therefore, the fibrous ends, or the parts that are underground, are all the same length.
The bottom line: there's no need to snap each asparagus stalk individually!
- Take one asparagus stalk and bend it closer to the fibrous end, letting it break off naturally.
- Line up all of the stalks on your cutting board based on how the first stalk naturally snapped off.
- Chop the ends off each stalk in the same place in a line. Simple as that!
In the age of grab 'n' go salads, spinach egg white omelets, and kale smoothies, leafy greens are a wonderful and healthy ingredient at any time of day. If you skip the pre-packaged stuff and prep and wash your greens on your own, you not only save money... you also guarantee that your greens aren't hiding any harmful bacteria or contamination.
Not all greens require deveining; for those that do, we have a quick and efficient way of doing so. For this example, we'll be using kale.
- Fold the kale leaf in half and hold it firmly in your palm.
- Pull the stem from the bottom and drag it along the leaf until it detaches.
- Discard of the fibrous stalks and prepare those gorgeous leafy greens in any way you'd like!
To keep garlic from sticking to our hands and knife, you can spray your blade with cooking spray or use coarse salt as an abrasive.
You can also quickly remove skins from garlic cloves without tediously peeling by microwaving them!
Cutting tomatoes can be a juicy mess. To cut tomatoes without the mess, use a serrated knife and the proper angles (a more detailed explanation can be found in the above link).
Onions are a staple in most savory dishes, but they create tons of problems for at-home chefs. To save some tears and cut your onions without crying, make sure to remove the root before you begin to chop.
However, if your eyes aren't overly sensitive to a cut onion root, then check out this hack for the easiest and fastest way to dice onions.
Raw onions are very healthy for you... but they can also be pungent to the point of off-putting. So, to reduce the raw onion's overpowering taste and smell, you can soak it in ice water, coat it in salt, or microwave it in water and vinegar.
You'll never be tempted to head to the pre-prepared section again with these handy tips: now your wallet can breathe a sigh of relief! And you'll find yourself more efficient than ever in the kitchen, as well... there really is no downside to prepping your ingredients yourself.
We've got more vegetable guides for the discerning shopper: check out our article on picking veggies at the peak of their freshness and flavor. We also have tips for making your veggies taste better if you're stuck in a rut. Lastly, peeling is quite a pain: learn how to peel veggies & other fruit at lightning-fast speeds.
Got any prepping tips to share with us that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.