STORE: Before refrigerating, separate the beets from the leaves (which leach moisture from the roots), leaving an inch or two of stem at the top. Store the beets and the leaves, unwashed, in separate bags in the refrigerator’s vegetable compartment. The greens will last for only a few days, but the roots stay fresh for up to 3 weeks.
PREP: Beet juice can stain, so protect your countertop when cutting. Keeping the skin on while cooking (it comes off easily afterward) preserves flavor and color.
USE: Small, young beets are tasty grated raw in salads. All types are delicious steamed or boiled, but to best bring out the flavor, roast them at 400º F for 45 minutes, then slip off the skins, slice, and top with goat cheese, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
STORE: Store whole cucumbers, in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 10 days.
PREP: Wash thoroughly before using, peel (if desired) or cut into half moons, rounds or spears.
USE: Eat cucumbers raw, add them to salads, sandwiches, make a Greek tzatziki or pickle them. For a light lunch, make cucumber sandwiches:http://thepauperedchef.com/2006/02/cucumber_sandwi.html! Don’t forget to brew a pot of tea in true English fashion.
STORE: Keep pears in a cool, dark place until ripe. To test for ripeness, gently push on the stem. If it gives a little, your pear is ready to eat. Once ripe, pears may be stored in the refrigerator.
PREP: Wash pears in cold water and keep them whole, slice them or chop them.
USE: Bartlett pears are delicious eaten out of hand, but are also great choices for canning or baking.
Images from flickr.com