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    Posted on October 8th, 2010 Pam No comments

    Stems are on vegetables for a reason. They provide a source for the plant to get nutrients and water into the vegetable. So it makes sense for many fruits and vegetables to be picked with the stem still intact. In my humble opinion, it is best to leave stems on ‘almost’ all fruit and vegetables you pick. According to Ryan Bennett (age 10), there are tiny air holes in the fruit or vegetable where the stem once was. So if the stem is gone from the fruit, bacteria may enter and the decaying process begins.

    I have learned this year, that cantaloupe or watermelon will not ripen after they have been picked. They will decay though. After picking the cantaloupe from the vine, the taste and goodness escapes from where the stem was. When picking cantaloupe from your garden, make sure it is ripe before picking and eat within one day, or the flavor will diminish. Just as missing stems on squash and pumpkins will cause the inside to decay. You may not be able to see it on the outside, but the inside is decaying just the same.

    Make sure tomatoes are fully ripe first before putting them in the refrigerator, for better flavor serve at room temperature. The Florida Tomato Committee recommends storing tomatoes stem side up. The shoulder of the tomato is the most tender spot, if you put stem side down bruising of the shoulder will occur there first.

    Tomatoes also will keep longer with the stems intact, but be careful, stems on tomatoes can puncture other tomatoes. I suggest only storing one layer of tomatoes in a container. I use the purple dividers used to separate apples. I set the tomatoes on the purple dividers only one layer per box. You can get the dividers at grocery stores. This way they are separated from one another and keep much better.

    Also, keep potatoes, squash, pumpkins and tomatoes in a cool dry place–not in the refrigerator. It is true they will keep longer in the refrigerator but they will taste better out of the refrigerator.

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