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How to ripen your tomatoes and store eggplant.

The end of July is when tomatoes really start kickin' in. In your share this week, you should receive at least one big tomato for your enjoyment. If you happen to find a less than red tomato in your bag, it's not bad! It's moments away from being perfect.

To properly ripen a tomato, leave out on counter in an air-conditioned or cool place, out of direct sunlight. The tomato should be flipped, onto its "shoulders" so all you see is the bottom of the tomato. The top of the tomato is where you see the scar from the fruit attached to the vine; the bottom has no scar and is smooth.

"Do nots" for storing tomatoes are:

  1. Do not store in refrigerator unless you cut into the fruit. Ex. I want have of my tomato for a sandwich, I'll store the remainder of the tomato in a tupperware in my fridge. All whole tomatoes should be kept on the counter.

  2. Do not keep in sun. They will prune up and be gross.

  3. Do not keep in a hot environment. The ideal ripening temperature is 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. So, that means keeping them inside your house as temps around here are 95+!

  4. Do not wash until you are ready to eat. There is protective stuff on the skin that keep the tomato from rotting quickly. It's like sunscreen for tomatoes.

  5. Do not kneed or squeeze tomatoes. This is the bane of farmers' existence at farmers markets, when customers squeeze all the tomatoes to see which ones are ripe. This is not how you determine ripeness. All it does is bruise the fruits, rendering them mostly unmarketable. To find out if your tomato is ripe, look at the color. Is it a deep silky hue? Yes? Then it's ripe. Does it smell amazing, like a perfectly fresh tomato? Yes? Then it's ripe. You can also determine the ripeness by holding the tomato in your hand. If it feels like a rock, it's not ready. If there's a bit of give to the skin, it's ready.

Eggplants are groovin' as well. The various shades of purple are stunning - you could probably place them on your table as a centerpiece decoration! When a eggplant is removed from the plant, it is either ripe or not ripe. Unlike tomatoes (or for example, bananas, fruits that can ripen once removed from vine or tree), eggplants are at the end of the ripening road when harvested.

Have you ever placed an eggplant in the fridge only to go back a couple days later to find it shriveled with brown spots? That's probably because eggplant do not like cold moist environments, like your fridge, and do not last long. To keep these gems in good shape, you might be surprised to learn the best ways to store eggplant...

The best way to store eggplant:

  1. To store for one-three days:

    1. Keep them out of direct sunlight in a cool spot, like on your kitchen counter or low on the floor in your pantry.

    2. Let them breathe, by keeping in a mesh bag or bowl (like a colander or wooden bowl) that is not covered.

  2. To store longer than three days (be warned, eggplant do not last very long so it is best to consume earlier):

    1. The ideal temperature to store eggplant is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If your fridge has a drawer with adjustable temperatures, that's great, you can keep the eggplant in there, at 50 degrees.

    2. Keep in the chiller drawer of your fridge, wrapped in a paper towel, in a plastic bag with perforations.

Eggplant is extremely delicate so if you cut into the fruit, be sure to consume all of it then, as the fruit will start to decompose once cut apart.

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