The Banana and the “Clearly Fresh Bag” Experiment

August 26, 2012 By: Megabeth Category: Article, Product Review

As a vegetarian household, we naturally tend to keep around a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables around the kitchen. I’ll admit, though, I’ve been known to be wooed by the selection at the farmers market and then not get around to using the produce before it goes bad. I truly need the help to extend the life of vegetables so it doesn’t all go to waste. Apparently, I’m not alone. It has recently been reported that up to 40% of food is wasted and thrown away by Americans.

I have really been working on my produce over-purchasing habits so I don’t buy too much. (I think sometimes I have more motivation to cook when I’m at the store, but then life gets in the way.)  Of course, the folks in the “storage technology field” have put their heads together and figured out ways to extend the life of vegetables sitting on your counter or in your fridge. So, I have used everything from the little disks that you put in your vegetable to the life extending zip-top bags. And, from what I can tell, they do work.

Several months ago, I received some samples of these produce extending bags from the kind folks at Clearly Fresh Bags.

These bags have some sort of “BreatheWay” technology that pushes the carbon dioxide out while keeping the right level of oxygen in. That balance helps fruits and veggies last a little longer.

Armed with these bags, I wanted to figure out if they really worked. So, I channeled my inner 7th grader and came up with the classic science project to test the bags: “Will a Banana Last Longer in a Clearly Fresh Bag or Outside of It?”

I selected two bananas of the same ripeness. Placed one in the bag and one was just left to the elements next to the bag. I used the gallon sized bag which could comfortably fit a bunch of bananas and not just one.

And then I let the march of time go on…

And, on…

You can see the difference, even starting at day four, that the banana in the bag had fewer brown spots on the outside. By day seven, that became even more noticeable.

But, what you can’t see in the picture above is that the bagged banana grew a little fuzzy hairdo on the top of the stem. Um, ew. Fortunately, it didn’t make it down to the fruity part, so, luckily, the taste test could go on as planned. (I am nothing but brave for my dear readers, but not going to chance it with fuzzy fuzzy mold bits…)

I peeled the skin and noticed that the insides looked almost the same. Both had slight discoloring and were a little mushy to the touch in a few areas. But, after biting into each, the biggest different was that the bagged banana did taste a lot fresher than the un-bagged banana.

Do these bags work better than other brands? I can’t really say. But, in this particular experiment, they did work to keep the banana fresher than the banana that stayed outside the bag. I’ve been able to keep lettuce, beans, strawberrys and broccoli a little longer in unscientific experiments using the bags. So, I can say that at $3.99 for 10 re-useable bags, they really are not much of an investment to keep your fruit and veg around a little longer. And, perhaps, with products like these, we all can work towards throwing out less food.



Gardein: New Meat-free Products are Worth a Try

March 09, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Article, Main Dishes, Product Review

gardein chick'n scallopini

Several months ago, I noticed a new crop of meat-substitute products from gardein that appeared in the produce section of our supermarket. Now, these products have taken on a life of their own as they’ve been featured both on the Oprah and Ellen shows in cooking demonstrations. I can see why, at least from the few products I’ve tasted, gardein is pretty good. According to it’s website, gardein products are made with made from soy, wheat and pea proteins and formed into a dough which is precooked to create it’s unique texture.

The line of gardein products includes BBQ Skewers, Chick’n Filets, BBQ Shreds, Santa Fe Good Stuff, various stir fry flavors and more. I picked up the gardein chick’n piccatta and decided to use a recipe that was on the back of the package for my inaugural try of this product.

The patties had a nice “bite” to them – not rubbery or dry. They sauteed well and had a little bit of a crust on them which soaked up the lemon sauce used in the recipe. This recipe only uses one pan so that’s a bonus and was pretty much done in about 10 minutes. I served the chick’n with some spinach with vegan cheesy sauce. A fast and easy “gourmet” dinner is always something I’m looking for…

Strangely, the recipe on the back of the packet did not provide measurements for the ingredients so I judged by eye. These measurements are what I used to make the suggested sauce.

Gardein Chik’n Scallopini

– 2 gardein™ chick’n piccatta patties
– flour
– 1 cup white wine or vegetable broth
– 1 Tablespoon capers
– 1 Tablespoon butter or soy margarine
– 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
– 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (parsley, oregano or basil)

Lightly dust scallopini with flour and saute in a little olive oil until browned on each side. About 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat. Remove from pan. (The package warns not to overcook.)

Add capers or vegetable stock into cooking pan. Reduce by half.

Turn off heat. Whisk in butter and lemon juice and add fresh herbs. Return scallopini to pan with sauce to coat. Serve.

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