5 Weird, Useful Fruit and Vegetable Facts

by Amanda Natividad, NatureBox Editor

When learning how to cook, there are a few quirky bits of knowledge you pick up along the way: Blanching certain vegetables like asparagus and green beans softens their bitter flavor. Room-temperature lemons are easier to juice than cold ones are. 

But there’s a whole world of discovery that you might never stumble upon. Here are a couple I’ve learned over time:

Bell peppers are either ‘male’ or ‘female’. In culinary terms, there’s a “male” and “female” bell pepper. Next time you’re at the grocery shopping for these peppers, first flip them over, suggests Alternative Gardening Techniques. The bell peppers with four bumps are female; the ones with three bumps are male. Choose the latter because they’ll have substantially fewer seeds. (Pictured below, left and right, the innards of “male” and “female” bell peppers, from the cutting board of yours truly.)

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Blanching basil preserves its green color. You know how that yummy homemade pesto sauce starts to lose its color overnight? You can preserve the rich, green color by first blanching the basil for 15-30 seconds, says Serious Eats. Raw basil loses its color as its enzymes interact with the air; the blanching deactivates those enzymes.

Sliced fruit and vegetables really do lose nutrients more quickly. This also applies to juiced produce. Nutrients are sensitive and will start to oxidize when separated from the fruit or vegetable. Specifically, nutrients are protected by their cell walls and plant skins, so cutting and juicing exposes them. So when you make fresh juice, make only what you need and drink it as soon as you can. As for the sliced fruits and veggies, their nutrients will keep for about two to three days.

Kiwi tenderizes meat. Kiwi contains an enzyme known as actinidin which dissolves protein. The best part is that a little goes a long way — a scant half-kiwi will work for four to five pounds of meat, says TheKitchn. Just blend it in a food processor or blender, or even mash it with your hands and rub onto meat one hour before cooking. 

You can help prevent potatoes from sprouting. When storing a bag of potatoes, add an apple to the mix. The apple helps extract moisture from the air, preventing sprouting. A sliced apple placed in a bag of potatoes will technically be more effective than a whole apple, but because it will spoil faster you’ll have to change it more often.

Plus, did you know you can grow your own green onions at home? Find out how!

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Amanda really wants to help you cook delicious foods and sustain a healthier lifestyle. When she’s not goofing around on Twitter she’s probably noshing on the pile of NatureBox snacks at her desk.

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Amanda Natividad

Amanda Natividad is the Editor of NatureBox. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu with a journalism background, she likes to whip up easy-to-shop-for recipes in her tiny kitchen and share kitchen tips and tricks. Mostly, she wants to help you sustain a healthier lifestyle. You can follow her on Twitter @amandanat.