Keep 'em fresh, eat 'em fresh


With health freaks turning vegan, there is a lot being written and spoken about how to retain the natural vitamins, iron and minerals in them. While several views exist as to how best they are to be eaten, there are a few universal truths about vegetable preservation. Here’s a fact file.

- Chop veggies only after washing them thoroughly. A lot of vitamins get lost along with the water if they are chopped and then washed.

- Put in vegetables only after the water has boiled. This gives them taste and helps prevent mineral and vitamin loss.

- Cook vegetables with the skin on as all the nutrients are packed in the skin or the peel.

- A teaspoon of sugar to vegetables while cooking will prevent loss of colour and taste.


- Chop vegetables only just before they are to be cooked to prevent vitamin loss.

- A bit of salt in the boiling water will help retain the natural colour of vegetables.

- Steam vegetables to prevent loss of vitamins and minerals. This saves a lot of oil and fuel.

- Dip vegetables in cold water for an hour to retain their freshness. Squeeze in the juice of a lemon into the water.

- While cooking smelly veggies like cabbage and onions, leave them open initially; cover and cook later.


- While cooking spinach (cheera), sprinkle a bit of salt solution on them to prevent loss of colour.

- Grated beetroot juice added to tomato puree not only enhances its colour, but also adds to the nutrient value.

- A bit of lime extract added to bitter gourd, will take the sting out of the bitterness.

Pavakka varathathu

- The white filmy skin within bitter gourd if removed completely will make it less bitter.

- Cut and chop Vitamin D-rich cabbage only just before it’s to be cooked. Never chop and leave the leafy vegetable around.

- Cook cabbage along with a bit of bread crumbs to keep the putrid smell away. A bit of lemon extract would also do the trick. Don’t throw cabbage leaves away. They are rich in vitamins and nutrients.

Green peas

- Remove peas from their pods, wrap peas in plastic packs and leave in the freezer. They turn easier to cook.

- A few drops of vinegar while cooking peas will help retain their colour.

- Rub a bit of oil onto green peas before adding them to pulav. This will keep their colour.

- Onion, cauliflower and radish leaves too can be chopped finely and cooked.

- To clean cauliflower of pests and worms, dip it a warm solution of salt and vinegar for some time.

- Two dessert spoons of milk to cauliflower on the stove will keep it as white as ever.

- A spoon of sugar or a few pieces of lemon while cooking cauliflower will leave them looking white and fresh.

- To check whether mushrooms are poisonous or not, boil them along with a few cloves of garlic. If the water turns sooty, the mushrooms are poisonous.

Cream of mushroom soup

- Finely chopped celery is the best bet for fried rice if mushrooms or bamboo shoots can’t be got.

- Cauliflower stems can be boiled and steamed and used in fried rice instead of bamboo shoots. Mushroom stalks are equally tasty. It can be added to soups and sauces.

- Dip mushrooms in a solution of boiled water and salt. Keep for just a minute. Drain out the water and when cool, store them in an airtight container.

- To keep the slime away from okra, add a dessert spoon of curds or buttermilk and fry them.

- To keep brinjal and raw bananas from turning dark, leave the chopped pieces in water and pour in a few spoons of curds or lime extract.

- Oil smeared over potatoes will keep them from splitting while being baked.

- Boil potatoes along with a spoon of vinegar to keep them fresh and white.

Cooking potatoes

- Remove potato and sweet potato skin only after they are boiled.

- Keep potatoes dipped in a solution of turmeric and salt before frying them. Dry and fry them. The potatoes will look as good as gold and will taste crisp.

- Never store onions with potatoes. This will save the potatoes from turning bad.

- Never mash or chop potatoes while hot to prevent them from turning watery when onions and salt are mixed in.

- Leave Chinese potatoes (koorka) in water for some time and tie them up in a gunny sack before thrashing them on a rough surface. This will get the skin off them.

Koorkka olarthu

- Chop raw bananas and plantain shoots and leave them in water for 10 minutes before washing with turmeric or buttermilk.

- Cook beetroots along with the skin to retain their taste and nutrients.

- Remove chilly stalks and store them in plastic packs in the fridge. They will stay fresh for long.

- Give green chillies fork pricks instead of splitting them to prevent them from spluttering.

- Garlic keeps for long, if cloves are separated and spread over a flat surface.

- Fry onions after keeping them soaked in milk for a while for fine flavour and taste.

- While sauteing, throw in onions and curry leaves first and when all the water dries up, heat the oil and add mustard seeds to prevent them from spluttering all over.  

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