Showing posts with label food storage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food storage. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Recently, I wrote about my successful experience with growing microgreens, using Hamama Seed Quilts. I thought it would be helpful to also review both the decorative accessories and most helpful extras I use and love for growing these delicious and extremely nutritious microgreens indoors, in the comfort of my living room.

Although the Hamama's bamboo grow tray frame, seed quilt label holder, and other decorative accessories are designed specifically for the company's innovative, patent-pending growing system, the other recommended products I'm reviewing here would be both useful and beneficial to anyone who enjoys gardening, cooking, or both!

Photo of bamboo accessories and other supplies for Hamama micgrogreens growing system, overlaid with title text, "Hamama Seed Quilt Microgreens Growing Accessories"
My favorite accessories and useful supplies for growing microgreens with Hamama's seed quilt growing system
Microgreens are a delicious, nutritious way to add essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes for those of us who try to live a healthy lifestyle. Since health was my primary motivation for losing nearly 60 pounds on a keto diet, my new healthier lifestyle focuses quite a bit on healthy eating, and especially on getting more nutrition from food and relying less on supplements, something that is especially important when following a ketogenic approach to eating.

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Growing System Accessories and Helpful Supplies

As I shared in my previous post, the Hamama microgreens seed quilt growing system is so easy, even this “brown thumb” gardening amateur is successfully growing delicious, healthy, nutrient-dense microgreens throughout the year, even here in New England. Now that my husband and I are no longer are at the mercy of the unpredictable and often scant selection of packaged microgreens at our local stores, we use our fresh, home-grown microgreens for more than just garnishes. In fact, they make up half the dark, leafy greens in our large, nightly dinner salads!

Along with Hamama's seed quilts and grow trays, the core of their unique container gardening system, I've also purchased a few accessories and supplies that have made the process of growing my own fresh, nutritious kale, broccoli, clover, daikon radish, zesty salad mix, and other varieties of microgreens more enjoyable and convenient. 

Hamama's Custom Growing System Accessories

Bamboo Grow Tray Frames and Seed Quilt Label Holders

Photo of two side-by-side Hamama seed quilts with decorative bamboo grow tray frames and seed quilt label holders
I love the way the bamboo grow tray frames and seed quilt label holders dress up my microgreens growing setup by our living room windows
Since counter space in our small kitchen is at a premium, I grow my microgreens in our living room, which has a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows (although Hamama microgreens seed quilts don’t require a lot of light). So, I successfully harvested a few different varieties of microgreens using this unique growing system, I decided to spring for Hamama’s proprietary bamboo frames and seed quilt label holders. The bamboo frames fit either style of the company's grow tray. I started with Hamama's white ceramic tray. See how nice the bamboo frame looks with it?
Photo of microgreens growing in white ceramic Hamama grow tray with bamboo frame
The white ceramic grow tray is thicker (and heavier) than the black plastic tray.
Not long after, I decided to switch to the black plastic grow trays, which weigh very little and are much easier to carry back and forth to the kitchen (on the other end of our house) for cleaning. Although I try to avoid buying plastic for disposable items, these trays are reusable, and I plan to be using them for the foreseeable future. The walls are much thinner, allowing a narrow margin around the seed quilt, so it's much easier to check the water level in relation to the coconut coir mat (and to add a bit more water, if it's evaporating faster than expected). The marked fill line is also thinner than on the white ceramic tray, so it's easier to gauge how much water to add for soaking the seed quilt.

Whether you prefer the black plastic or white ceramic grow tray, the simple, sleek and stylish bamboo frames make them much more attractive and blend well with any style of home décor. There is a Hamama logo in the lower left corner of one side of the frame. Usually, I'm not a fan of displaying brand names, especially on decorative items. But in this case, I think the logo has been done quite tastefully and doesn't detract from the look. However, it can easily be hidden by facing that side of the frame toward the window, if you prefer.

Photo of Hamama microgreens germinated seed quilt in tray with decorative bamboo grow tray frame and seed quilt label holder
The Hamama bamboo grow tray frames and matching seed quilt label holders give my microgreens growing setup a more attractive, "finished" look.
The matching bamboo label holders are great for displaying the coated cardstock labels that come with each seed quilt at an easy-to-read angle. These labels provide a useful reminder of which type of microgreens I’m currently growing, as well as the approximate number of days until the paper cover should be peeled, and the total number of days until harvest. Before I got these label holders, I used to tape the cardstock labels to the grow trays. The tape left a sticky residue and wasn’t very attractive. Now, my bamboo seed quilt label holders coordinate perfectly with my grow tray frames.

Each holder is a nicely finished, rectangular block of bamboo the exact length of a Hamama seed quilt label, with a thin slot for the label. Whenever you start a new seed quilt, simply slide the label that comes with it into the slot, which holds it upright and angled slightly back for easy reading. When you finish harvesting your microgreens crop, just remove and discard the label from the holder, so it’s ready for the label from your next seed quilt.

More Matching Bamboo Accessories

Hamama makes a matching seed quilt holder for storing your extra seed quilts, but since I don’t store mine out where people can see them, I didn’t need one. The company has just announced its brand new bamboo "grow shelf," a gorgeous self-standing, five-shelf, open shelving unit to current customers, who can preorder one now. I expect it to be added to the Shop section of the website soon, so everyone who wants will be able to order one.

Extra Hamama Grow Trays

Once I knew I was going to be using this unique microgreens growing system regularly, I ordered two additional grow trays. As of this writing, the price of two black grow trays is only four dollars more than the price of just one. And, since it’s essential to clean each grow tray thoroughly after harvesting one seed quilt and before starting another, it’s nice to have an extra tray so there’s a clean one standing by to start my next microgreens seed quilt as soon as I harvest the previous one. I can soak, scrub, and disinfect the used tray at my leisure (it’s also safe to clean in the top rack of the dishwasher).

Hamama Microgreens Harvesting Kit

The company offers a convenient set of three tools for harvesting the microgreens grown with their proprietary seed quilts and grow trays. The kit contains:

  • 1 reusable Stasher silicone bag (sandwich size)
  • 1 pair of scissors (with the Hamama logo)
  • 1 bamboo scrub brush with natural fiber bristles (for thoroughly scrubbing your grow tray)

It's a very useful kit, particularly if you prefer to harvest your microgreens by trimming them just above the top of the seed quilt, rather than pulling them out, roots and all. Alternatively, you can purchase a Stasher silicone food storage bag, a pair of sharp, stainless steel scissors, and a bamboo scrub brush with natural fiber bristles (or use equivalent items you may already own) to create your own customized microgreens harvesting kit.

Save Money on Your First Hamama Grow Kit, Seed Quilt, or Accessories Order

Helpful tip: Don't miss my Hamama shopping link and discount code at the end of this article to save 10%!

My Favorite, Practical Products for Growing, Harvesting and Storing Fresh Microgreens

Stasher Silicone Food Storage Bags

You don't have to grow microgreens to fall in love with these fabulous food storage and cooking bags

In August 2019, I wrote a review of my favorite silicone kitchen tools and accessories, including silicone food storage bag. But, after trying the Stasher silicone bag in my Hamama Harvesting Kit, I fell in love with it. I purchased three more in larger sizes, and I definitely plan to add more over time. Although they cost more than other silicone bags, they're totally worth the price!

These Stasher silicone bags are a cinch to open and close, unlike any other brand of silicone food storage bags I've tried. Yet, they're also airtight and watertight. Many people use them for sous-vide cooking, placing the sealed bag of raw food in a pot of boiling water. And since these bags are leakproof, They're also perfect for marinating meats, poultry, seafood, fish, or vegetables to infuse them with extra flavor.

Photo of four Stasher silicone food storage bags
The Stasher silicone food storage bags I have purchased to date

The Stasher bag that came with the Hamama Harvesting Kit is the sandwich size (7.5" x 7.5" x 1"), which has a 15 oz. capacity. (It's the smallest one in the photo of my current Stasher bag collection.) However, since I wrap my harvested microgreens loosely in a paper towel before placing them in the bag to store in my refrigerator, I find that I need a larger size if I want to harvest all (or most) of a seed quilt at one time.

The sizes I use to comfortably contain an entire crop of paper towel-wrapped microgreens from a Hamama seed quilt are the tall Stasher Silicone Reusable 1/2 Gallon Food Storage Bag (10.25” x 8.25” x 1.5” with a 64.2 oz. capacity), and the Stasher Silicone Reusable Stand-Up Food Storage Bag (7.75" x 7" x 3" with a 56 oz. capacity) that, true to its name, stands up on its own for easy filling and removal of the contents.

Dedicated Scissors

If you prefer to harvest your microgreens with scissors, it's a bad idea to use your general-use utility scissors that are also used to cut paper, crafting materials, etc. I highly recommend dedicating a pair of scissors exclusively to harvesting microgreens and herbs, and cleaning the blades scrupulously before each use. They don't need to be fancy kitchen shears, but they should be sharp and comfortable and have stainless steel blades. (Who wants specks of rust in their microgreens or herbs?) 

If I were putting together my own harvesting kit, it would include the Fiskars 01-004761J Softgrip Scissors with 8-inch stainless steel blades (or something similar), which are backed by a lifetime warranty. 

Bamboo and Natural Fiber Bristle Scrub Brush

It's important to clean Hamama grow trays very thoroughly before starting each seed quilt. Although the trays are top-rack dishwasher safe, the top rack or our modestly sized dishwasher is usually filled to capacity with glasses, cups, bowls, long-handled spatulas, cooking tongs, etc. So, I prefer to scrub my grow trays by hand.

It can be challenging to clean between the ridges inside the black grow trays, particularly at the corners and around the perimeter. That's why the Hamama Harvesting Kit includes the small, round, bamboo handled scrub brush with natural fiber bristles, which I find invaluable for this purpose.

When I looked for a similar brush, most of them had either synthetic bristles or components made of plastic or other non-biodegradable components. After considerable searching, I finally found a palm-sized, mildew-resistant round bamboo scrub brush with organic, natural fiber bristles, very similar to the one in the Hamama Harvesting Kit. As a bonus, it comes with soap dish that can also be used to store the scrub brush out on the counter, if desired (just make sure both the brush and the dish are completely dry first). 

This versatile brush has medium-hard bristles that can also be used to clean even non-stick pots and pans, dishes, vegetables, and more.

3% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide and Fine Mist Spray Bottle

Only one of my Hamama seed quilts has ever developed mold, back when I was still a seed quilt "newbie." It was hot and humid in our living room, since we don't have central air conditioning and only turn on each room's A/C unit when we are actively using the room. I made the common rookie mistake of over-watering that one seed quilt, so that the paper covering was wet. When, unsurprisingly, about a third of the sections failed to germinate. I then compounded the problem by covering those water-logged sections with strips of newspaper for two days, after reading a troubleshooting tip for a different problem. (I did say I had a brown thumb!) Of course, when I pulled off the newspaper strips at the end of two days, there were signs of mold, and unfortunately, the seed quilt was unsalvageable at that point.

Before throwing away the moldy seed quilt, I took a couple of photos and shared them in the Hamama Friends group on Facebook and asked how I could prevent a recurrence. The answers were very instructive. One of the best recommendations I got was from a woman who recommended that spraying the surface of the water in the grow tray with food-grade 3% hydrogen peroxide before soaking future seed quilts. She also said she mists the leaves with it after peeling off the paper cover, and hasn't had any mold issues since she started doing that.

I immediately ordered a bottle of food grade 3% hydrogen peroxide. A while ago, I had purchased a dozen small, cobalt blue glass mister bottles. I filled one of them with the 3% hydrogen peroxide and labeled it (since the rest of my cobalt glass misters are also filled with clear liquids), and it now lives next to my Hamama grow trays to remind me to spritz the water before soaking each new seed quilt. And, like the helpful person who suggested I use the 3% hydrogen peroxide for this purpose, I haven't seen a speck of mold since I started following her excellent advice!

I find these pretty and practical cobalt blue glass spritzer bottles useful for many different purposes. They spray a very fine mist, which makes them ideal for evenly and lightly moistening metal clay with distilled water, since this material dries out very quickly when exposed to air while working with it. I keep another filled with isopropyl alcohol for sanitizing makeup brushes, tweezers, manicure implements, etc. in between full soap-and-water cleanings. I also find that they don't leak, so I'm considering keeping another bottle filled with a CDC-approved alcohol-based disinfectant in my purse for when I leave the house. The cobalt glass isn't just pretty; it also helps protect the contents against UV rays.

Save 10% on Your First Hamama Order!

If you haven't ordered directly from the Hamama website before, you can use my Hamama shopping link (or click on the image below), add the products you want to the shopping cart, then use the discount code SUPERGREENS during checkout to get 10% off your product total. And if you're lucky enough to have receive a Hamama grow kit as a gift, you can use this link and discount code to save 10% on the beautiful bamboo accessories made exclusively for the Hamama seed quilt and grow tray system.

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories by Margaret Schindel

Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

My First Year on The Keto Diet


Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas)

My Personal Keto Testimonial

How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating


Read More Reviews About Health and Wellness by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

Read More Gardening Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors






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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

How to Prep and Store Organic Raspberries to Keep Them Fresh Longer

For the past year or more, I've been on a quest to find a way to prolong the time I can refrigerate fresh raspberries before they go bad. A few weeks ago, after extensive research and numerous failed experiments, I finally succeeded! In this review, I’ll share the preparation and storage method I developed that allows me to store fresh berries in the refrigerator successfully for days longer than any other method I tried.
The method I developed for prolonging the storage of ultra-perishable organic raspberries
was a labor of love that took more than a year of research and experimenting!

Organic Raspberries Are Extremely Perishable

Fresh berries are one of nature’s most delicious treats. Unfortunately, they don’t keep long in the refrigerator, especially the ones that you buy in a store rather than from a local farm stand. I try to buy mostly organic produce these days, and organic berries have even shorter lifespans than their conventionally grown counterparts. In fact, during the winter, many of the organic raspberries we get here in Boston are imported from Mexico, and after such a long journey, they rarely last more than a day, if that! That’s a waste of both food and money.

I adore organic raspberries and started eating them every week when I switched to a very low carb / keto lifestyle. That's when my search to find a way to prolong their edible life became a much higher priority.

My extensive online research produced lots of information and advice from reliable sources. Unfortunately, much of it was conflicting. Most sources advised not rinsing fresh raspberries until just before eating them. Some suggested soaking the berries in a vinegar and water solution immediately after buying them, then rinsing, drying and storing them. I remembered and looked up a 2015 article by my friend Grace who, after doing her own online research, developed a similar method for prepping and storing most types of produce that includes a 10-minute soak in a saltwater solution, followed by a 10-minute soak in a vinegar-water bath.

I tried them all. Many, many berries were sacrificed on the alter of my research! Unfortunately, none of the methods I tried succeeded in extending the storage life of my beloved organic raspberries. Nonetheless, I was determined to find a solution that would keep them going bad within a day or two of bringing them home.

Through Trial and Error, I Eventually Worked Out My Own Method for Storing Organic Raspberries Successfully for Several Extra Days

Undaunted (well, sort of), I started combining various aspects of some of the prior experiments. After each new experiment, I analyzed the results and tweaked the process for the next attempt. After a few more months, my stubbornness persistence finally paid off!

The prep work needs to start the minute the raspberries are brought home. After discarding any mushy ones, any remaining berries that have softened a bit are set aside to be eaten the same day. The rest get a brief saltwater bath, followed by a brief vinegar and water bath. The berries stay in each solutions for only 2-3 minutes, a much briefer soak than in any of the other methods I tested.

Next, they are rinsed, drained, and sorted further based on their firmness. Then they are set on a paper towel-covered cooling rack(s) for several hours to dry out thoroughly. As far as I know, mine is the first method to use this multi-hour drying time - an idea that turned out to be a game-changer in my experiments!

The storage method turned out to be as important as the prep process. Lining my storage container with two to three layers of paper towel was a step in the right direction, but not enough to slow down the berries' deterioration significantly.

The last piece of the puzzle fell into place when I stopped layering the berries between paper towels in a sealed storage container before refrigerating them. After another series of experiments and tweaks, eventually I was able to prolong the storage time by another 1-2 days by switching to a large, shallow storage container and storing the berries face down in a single layer, spaced apart so they didn't touch, and letting the lid rest on top of the container instead of sealing it.

Now My Organic Raspberries Remain Good for 5 or 6 Days!

Since I don't drive and I need to ask my husband to replenish my supply each week, my goal was to be able to have him buy me two 6-ounce containers of organic raspberries and keep them fresh for three to four days in the refrigerator. But once I started to make significant progress with my experiments, I raised my sights on a more ambitious goal.

Once I started experimenting with significantly longer drying times, my results improved dramatically! Obviously, how long fresh berries will keep depends on their condition when they are purchased. (Don't you hate not being able to see the berries at the bottom of the container, which are the most likely to be damaged or moldy, because they're hidden by the absorbent pad?)

After another month or two of trial-and-error, I finally achieved my new "stretch" goal: figuring out a way to prep and store three 6-oz. containers (18 ounces) of organic fresh raspberries so they stay fresh for 5 days. In fact, when I've been able to get a container of berries that are very fresh, firm, and unbruised, I've been able to prep them, store them in the refrigerator, and enjoy them for as long as 6 days!

A discovery like this is too good not to share. So, if you want to try my method for yourself, read on.

How to Prep and Store Organic Raspberries So They Stay Fresh Longer: Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Gather your tools and supplies.

Some of the supplies for prepping organic raspberries
to help them last up to 5 days (or even longer) in the refrigerator
Here's what you'll need:
  • Fresh organic raspberries (or any other type of berry, organic or conventionally grown)
  • A small bowl
  • A medium-to-large mixing bowl
  • A large slotted spoon
  • Water
  • Table salt or sea salt
  • A timer (after trying out many different brands and models, this simple, inexpensive, and accurate kitchen timer is definitely my favorite, thanks to the intuitive buttons, a large, easy-to-read display, and a ring loud enough to be heard from another room!)
  • Easy access to the kitchen sink (preferably with a sprayer-type faucet)
  • A roll of paper towels, preferably with closer perforation lines (like these Bounty Quick-Size Paper Towels) that let you tear off only the length you need
  • Shallow food storage containers with lids - one large and one medium sized
  • Optional: Paper clips
  • Optional: FreshPaper Food Saver Sheets
*Heinz All-Natural Distilled White Vinegar is one of the few white vinegars that aren't made with petroleum (yuck!). It's made from grain, which could be GMO, of course, but since it's a choice of that or a petroleum-based product, I'll stick with the former. Since I use a significant amount of it for prepping my raspberries, making my sugar-free pickling brine for my refrigerator pickles, and diluting it 50/50 with water to make a non-toxic kitchen surface cleaner/degreaser spray, I sometimes buy it in the large, 1.32-gallon economy size jug.

Step 2: Pick through the berries.

Carefully transfer them from their containers and spread them out in a single layer.

Pick through the berries, throwing out any that were damaged and setting aside any that need to be eaten that day rather than stored.

Then gently place the remaining berries in the small bowl.

Step 3: Soak them briefly in heavily salted water and rinse.

Fill the mixing bowl partway with enough water to just cover the berries. (You'll quickly learn eyeball the amount of water based on the volume of berries you're prepping.) Add about 3 tablespoons of table salt or sea salt and stir to dissolve.
Preparing the saltwater bath for the berries
Set the timer for 2 minutes, but don't start it yet. Adjust the "arms" of the colander so it rests on the edges of the sink. (Alternatively, place a traditional, small-holed colander over another mixing bowl, resting it on the lip of the bowl to elevate it for better drainage.)

Hold the bowl of raspberries just above the surface of the liquid in the mixing bowl, then tip them into the salty water. Start the timer.

Give them a brief, gentle stir so all sides of every berry come into contact with the saltwater solution, then stir them gently again after a minute.

As soon as the timer alarm goes off, use the large slotted spoon to lift the berries out of the water and place them into the over-the-sink colander so they are spread out over the entire surface of the colander. (Try to avoid piling the berries on top of each other, which can bruise the ones underneath.)

Run the cold water faucet and use the sprayer to quickly and gently rinse the berries in the colander. Leave them to drain while you empty and rinse the mixing bowl.
Keep the water pressure gentle to avoid bruising the berries!
Tip: The less you handle the berries and the more gently you treat them, the longer they'll keep!

Step 4: Repeat, using a vinegar and water solution this time.

Refill the mixing bowl to the same level as before, this time substituting a mixture of roughly 3 parts cold water to 1 part all-natural white vinegar. (As an example, to make 2 cups of the vinegar solution, you would mix 1-1/2 cups of water with 1/2 cup of all-natural white vinegar.)

Gently tip the rinsed and drained raspberries from the colander into the vinegar solution in the bowl, then give them a gentle swish, soak, rinse and drain as you did in Step 3.

Gently spread them out on a double thickness of paper towels to absorb more of the water, turning them so the holes face down so any remaining water inside the berries can drain.

Step 5: Sort the raspberries according to firmness and let them dry for at least 3-4 hours (even overnight, if necessary).

Line the gridded baking rack(s) with three layers of paper toweling. Transfer the berries to the racks, one at a time, keeping them face-down and spacing them slightly apart so they don't touch their neighbors. Sort the berries into two groups as you do this, placing the firmest berries to one side of the rack (or on a different rack) and the softer berries to the other side.
Leave the raspberries on the rack until they are firm and the surface is very dry


Set the racks on the counter and set the timer for 1 hour. When it rings, use the lightest touch and the least amount of pressure possible to slowly and gently roll each berry onto its side and separate it from the paper towel, then return it to the rack. (If you don't do this, or if you wait too long, the berries can stick to the paper towel as they dry, making it difficult to remove them without rupturing the surface at the sticking point. Voice of experience here, lol!) After you roll and lift off each berry, check for any leaked juice stains and, if necessary, move it to another spot where the paper towel is clean and dry.

Leave the racks out on the counter for at least 3 to 4 hours, preferably longer, until the surface of the berries has dried out a bit and they feel firmer than they were prior to their brief saltwater and vinegar solution baths.

Letting the surface of the berries dry out enough before refrigerating them is key to extending their storage time. I've even left them out overnight a couple of times, when they hadn't firmed up sufficiently after 4 hours on the paper towel-topped racks.

Step 6: Prep the storage containers and refrigerate the berries.

The raspberries in the measuring cup were set aside to eat that night.
The ones in the containers are prepped and ready to be stored in the fridge.
Line both food storage containers with a double or triple thickness of paper towel, folding it neatly at the corners so the bottom to create a paper "tray" that fits perfectly flush against the sides and bottom of the container's interior. Holding four corner folds in place with paperclips helps keep the bottom of this liner flat and the sides at a 90-degree angle, which prevents that berries placed along the edges from tipping over and rolling toward the center.

When the berries have dried out sufficiently on the surface and are firmer to the touch than when you brought them home, place the less firm berries into the medium-size container, face down and spaced slightly apart. Then repeat with the remaining berries and the larger container.

Place the filled containers in the refrigerator, then lay the lids lightly on top of them and slightly askew, keeping the berries exposed to a small amount of air during their cold storage to help maintain their firmness. For the same reason, don't place anything on top of the lids.

Prepped raspberries in food storage containers with their lids askew
so the air can continue to circulate throughout the cold storage period 
Note: Moisture is raspberries' sworn enemy. So, before I made my multi-hour surface drying and unsealed lid breakthrough discoveries, I used to place a FreshPaper Food Saver Sheet inside each storage container before sealing the lids. Although the packaging says they can be reused for up to 2 weeks before tossing them, I found that the FreshPaper sheets absorbed so much moisture inside the sealed containers that I had to take them out and let them dry every other day. Now, I use them only when I get a container of out-of-season berries that are too soft to firm up even after leaving them out to dry overnight (although in that situation, being able to store them successfully for more than a day or two is unlikely). If you'd like too try a package, I got mine as part of a Whole Foods Market grocery delivery via Prime Now, a local shopping service that's free for Amazon Prime members.

Step 7: Eating the Raspberries

When you're ready for some fresh berries, simply remove as many as you want from the container and dig in. No need to rinse them again - they're ready-to-eat!

Store-bought, organic raspberries - still tasty (and not mushy)
even after they were stored in the refrigerator for 6 days!
Before you return the uneaten berries to the fridge, check that they are still standing up and spaced apart inside the storage container, then place the lid lightly on top.

Remember to eat the berries in the medium-sized storage container first, before starting in on the large container last.

Future Experiments

Over time, I've been swapping more and more single-use, disposable paper and plastic products for more eco-friendly, reusable alternatives. So, while this method works remarkably well for me, I'm troubled by how many paper towels it requires.

I could (and eventually might) substitute a dedicated set of cloth dish towels for draining and drying out the berries and cutting some to size for lining the storage containers. But since our bathroom towel racks are filled with towels and we have nowhere else to hang hand-laundered items to dry, hand-washing a bunch of berry-stained towels once or twice a week isn't in the cards. I'd be concerned about throwing the berry-stained towels into the washing machine with a regular laundry load because the dried berry juice might tint the water pink and ruin everything else in the washer. Running the machine with just the towels would be a waste of water and electricity.

I tried drying the berries directly on cooling racks with a grid design, but the openings were too large and many of the berries fell through.

I'm still hoping to come up with a way to reduce or eliminate paper towels from my process. At some point, I want to buy a couple of largish sheets of food-grade, stainless steel mesh and fold the edges down to make a drying tray. If I can figure out the right mesh to let the raspberries dry out over a period of hours without sticking to the metal, that might be a good solution.



How to Prep and Store Organic Raspberries to Keep Them Fresh Longer reviewed by:
Margaret Schindel








Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Friday, December 6, 2019

Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container Reviewed

Airtight, Leakproof, Microwavable & Freezer Safe Storage 

 Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container Reviewed
I recently purchased 3 Rubbermaid Food Storage Containers. I needed an airtight container for rolls & crescents so they would last longer. I selected the 9.6 cup size which was perfect for my needs. As it turns out, there are many more uses for these containers than just bread storage. 

During the recent holidays, I discovered these containers will hold liquid or dry food.  Since they are leak-proof due to their tight seal, they will even store leftover homemade soup.  Plus, they are microwavable when it is time to reheat the leftovers.  Therefore, there is no need to transfer leftovers from their storage container to heat.  Less clean-up is always appreciated.

I love my faithful Tupperware, but sadly, if I can't see it, I am likely to forget it.  So much fruit is discarded simply because it is forgotten once it has been stored away.  Because these containers are transparent, it is easy to see at a glance what is stored in which container. 


 Rubbermaid Brillance Food Storage Container Reviewed


Rubbermaid Food Storage Containers


 Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container, Large, 9.6 Cup, Clear 1991158Check PriceNot only are they clear, airtight, leak-proof, microwavable and freezer safe, their flat design makes them stackable in the the refrigerator, freezer, or pantry.   

Since we don't have to worry about the spilling, transporting food from one location to another is easy.  Of course, if you are dropping off food, you might not get these nifty containers back. The recipient will be tempted to forget where they came from originally.

Now that I have had experience with the larger containers, I will definitely be buying the smaller single serve size as well.  That will make lunchtime so much easier! 

To use in the microwave, simply lift the locks for venting.  

The only possible negative that I have found with these containers is that they seal so tightly.  It takes more effort to remove the lids than it does with a snap lid.  But, after a few uses, I knew what to expect.  Now I grip the container with one hand and remove the lid with my other hand.  In my opinion, that is a simple inconvenience to enjoy the airtight storage.

Oh, and did I mention, the price is right!  No wonder they named these containers "Brilliance".








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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Food Storage With Egg Holder Trays Reviewed

Convenient Food Storage Especially For Eggs

Need a place for your Easter Eggs?
With Easter rapidly approaching it might be time to think of food storage ideas that will accommodate those colored eggs you will have around after the "hunt" takes place. Eggs are not the easiest to store with their rolling tendencies. Know what I mean? 

One of the things that I like to do with those eggs that the kids find is to make deviled eggs with several of them. That requires a special kind of storage, too. I have a solution for those storage needs whether it is at Easter time or any time that you have hard boiled eggs or deviled eggs to store in the refrigerator. These little storage units are also useful for other types of foods but I particularly love them for storing my eggs.

Let's see what you think:

There are actually two layers for storing your eggs in! One layer sits comfortably on top of the other and then sit nicely on your refrigerator shelf. So, it acts as a space saver, too. That is really convenient when it is family dinner time and there is a lot of food to be stored.

What I love is that I have options. If I want to store hard boiled eggs to use later for egg salad or a different recipe these storage units work. I can also make my deviled eggs and store them until they are ready to be served. Either way the eggs are safely on the shelf and not taking up a whole lot of room in the fridge.

I've used this little two layered unit for transporting cupcakes too. It just comes in real handy when I have some taller foods that I don't want to get squished during transport. The other nice thing is that when I am not using these little containers in the refrigerator, they do not take up much room on my cabinet shelves.

I love my food storage containers with the egg trays and use them often. They make a great gift for a bridal shower or a house warming gift, too. How about you? Do you think you would use food storage with egg trays much?


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My Experience Using Freshware Food-to-Go Packs to Freeze Soup: A Review

Freshware Helped me Freeze Individual Mug-Size Soup Servings


After a recent bout with the flu, I realized I had not really prepared very well. Everyone knows how important chicken soup is in helping respiratory illnesses, but few people are up to making it from scratch after they get sick. I wasn't, either, and canned soup just isn't as good. If only I'd been able to pull individual servings out of my freezer that were just the right size for my soup mugs! But I couldn't, since there weren't any there. Since then I've stashed many soup servings in my freezer. Here's how.

My Experience Using Freshware Food-to-Go Packs to Freeze Soup: A Review




Fortunately I did have some frozen French onion soup I'd bought at Costco to get me though a couple of days of flu. Each portion was just right to heat in a soup mug. I decided to look for something that would help me freeze my own individual size portions, so I searched Amazon. I was actually looking for molds, but all I could come up with were muffin tins, and they weren't the size I wanted. I finally found these Freshware Food-To-Go Packs.

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I finally decided on the 16-ounce size. As you can see above, I wanted a portion just right for my soup mugs. My mug holds 12 ounces comfortably with a bit of room at the top. If I pour 12 ounces of soup into the Freshwear container, there is room left for expansion at the top.

My Soup Story


When my Freshware Food-To-Go packs arrived from Amazon. I was anxious to try them out. I chose them because they are BPA Free, and I didn't want to put anything hot  into a plastic container that contained BPA. I also liked that they could go from my freezer into my microwave so that I could partially thaw the soup before pouring it into my mug. It can stand temperatures from -40°F to +250°F. I liked that I could pour it straight from my crockpot into the containers without waiting for the soup to  cool.

My Experience Using Freshware Food-to-Go Packs to Freeze Soup: A Review


This is my most recent batch of soup as it simmered in my crockpot. This time I made vegetable soup with just a bit of ground beef for added flavor. Here's how I made the soup you see here: I Made Soup Again Today.

I really like my crockpot. It's an older version of this one, and its shape makes it easier to cook many kinds of meat and poultry that are harder to cook in my round crockpots. I can also program it for specific cook times and temperatures, knowing it will switch to warm if the cook time finishes. I can't do that with my older crockpots.

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Freezing Hot Foods in Freshware


I found the Freshware very easy to work with. It stacks neatly in the cupboard for easy storage. When I need to freeze soup or anything else in a mug-size portion, the containers are easy to fill and stack.

I usually make a crockpot full of soup or another dish. I put about six servings in a casserole dish to store in the refrigerator to cover about three meals for two during that first week after cooking. I freeze what's left in the Freshware containers. Here's how that looked when I froze some beans I had cooked.

Here the containers have been filled and I've put the lids on them. The foods were still hot when I filled the containers.

My Experience Using Freshware Food-to-Go Packs to Freeze Soup: A Review


Below I show them stacked.

My Experience Using Freshware Food-to-Go Packs to Freeze Soup: A Review


Notice how snugly the lids fit and how neatly they stack for storage in the freezer. Because the containers are clear, you can see exactly what's in them.

Thawing My Soup after Freezing in Freshware Containers


I had planned my container size for filling mugs that comfortably held 12-ounce portions of food, mostly liquid. You can see the beans I froze above, before they went into the freezer. Below you see the soup after it came out of the freezer. On top you see the soup still frozen after I removed the lid, which kept its shape well. You can also see that the soup had plenty of headroom for the liquid to expand.

My Experience Using Freshware Food-to-Go Packs to Freeze Soup: A Review

The middle photo shows the soup thawing in the microwave. I thawed it without the lid. When it was almost thawed, I transferred it into the mug, since I prefer handling a mug when the soup is hot. Had I wanted to take this to work as a hot lunch, I could have packed it frozen and heated it in the container at lunchtime and also eaten from the container.

Note: This week I cooked a large batch of lentils. I filled three Freshware containers to freeze and one to put in the fridge. I wanted to be able to easily add cooked lentils to soups and salad during rest of the week. When my husband was removing something else from the fridge, my lentil container fell out and fell on the floor from three feet up. The thin bottom of the container broke, but did not shatter. The top stayed on. I was able to safely remove the contents to a new container without adding any cracked plastic with the lentils. It was a very easy process.

Lunch is Ready


The soup is pretty hearty, with lots of protein and vegetables, so it doesn't need a lot to go with it. I toasted a slice of sourdough bread and peeled a tangerine because I love tangerines with anything savory. I can eat the toast on the side or dip it in the soup.

My Experience Using Freshware Food-to-Go Packs to Freeze Soup: A Review


What do you like with your soup?

Get Freshware Containers to Make Your Life Easier


As you can see, Freshware Food-To-Go Packs make preparing and freezing meals in single portions very easy. Cook a large batch of your favorite lunch, freeze what you want to store for later, and thaw at home or take frozen to work to heat there. The containers are able to be washed in a dishwasher. I didn't try this because my dishwasher isn't working anymore and I'm waiting to replace it. But the containers are easy enough to wash by hand. Why not pick up some Freshware containers today while you're thinking about it?



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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Reviewing Plastic Bag Sealing Clips

 Click to Buy a Set of 38 Plastic Sealing Bag Clips
One of the cheaper, yet indispensable items in my kitchen are my plastic bag clips. We use these without even thinking about it and yet I don't think I've ever seen them reviewed - until now that is!

Have you ever tried them? They usually come in packs, often consisting of different size clips and they are an absolute godsend in my kitchen let me tell you.

I thought everyone used them until one of the young accountants I work with came out holding a small one and asked 'do you know what this is?' Even after telling him what it was used for he looked at me as though I was from another planet - so maybe NOT everyone has them!

Why Do You Need Plastic Bag Sealing Clips?  


To keep your food fresh of course!  Seriously I use these bag clips for lots of different things.  People who know me (or have read some of my posts on kitchen organization) would know that I do like to use containers to store things in, but sometimes that's not always possible.

plastic bag sealing clips
Photo by Lou of Lou's Designs
Let me give you two examples - if you look at the photo you'll see I have a bag of spiral pasta and a bag of brown rice with sealing clips on them.

I usually have dried spaghetti and dried penne at home and I keep them in containers, but I wanted to try a recipe using spiral pasta.  Now I could have found a container and used my favorite pink labelling machine to label it spiral pasta, but I didn't know if I'd be buying another packet so I just used a bag clip.

With the brown rice I had a container with basmati rice in it and one with long grain white rice.  I have just brought a new container to use for the brown rice, but for the last month (the previous brown rice I had came in a resealable bag) I've used a bag clip as you can see.

How to Keep Chips Fresh After Opening The Bag?


You simply grab some bag clips!  I love my bag clips when it comes to corn chips as when making nachos using corn chips I usually have some left in the bag.  Now we used to just snack on them until they were finished, but by saving them (we usually have nachos on the weekend instead of takeout) I find that I'm saving myself one bag of corn chips a month on my grocery bill!

We haven't been having nachos as much lately and I realized that I'd had a bag of corn chips in the pantry (sealed with a clip) for three weeks and you know what - they were still fresh!  Need I say more.

Now chocolate is my downfall, but my husband's weakness is potato chips and it's often cheaper to purchase large bags than smaller ones, but I really don't want him to eat a large bag - I also don't want to waste any.  Since we've found that our bag sealing clips work so well with corn chips we've tested them on potato chips and they keep them fresh too - win/win!

Can You Use Plastic Food Clips in the Freezer?


can you use plastic bag clips in the freezer
Photo by Lou16
Absolutely!  I don't know how you store your packets of frozen peas or frozen sweetcorn once you've opened them, but I use food clips.  I figured if they were plastic they would be fine and I was right!

Are There Other Uses for Plastic Bag Sealing Clips?


Probably, but these are the ones I use them for and I think that is plenty.  Let me know if you have other uses for them in the comments.

For an inexpensive 'gadget' this is one kitchen tool that everyone should have in their kitchens.  I know some people say well I use ziplock bags and I admit I use them too, but seriously if you can use the bag it came in why waste more plastic bags for storage?











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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Best Bento Box for Adults

Best Bento Box for Adults
Featured bento box available on Amazon
I'd like to review bento boxes to try and find the best bento box for adults, but first do you know what a bento box is?

Bento boxes are used in Japanese culture and are basically a single portion meal that people take for their lunch - these can be brought as a takeaway, but are traditionally made at home.

A few years ago when my child was in primary school bento boxes were hailed as the best thing for children's lunches.  This wasn't the basic bento box though, but rather the Kyaraben (character bento), which was basically a way of making your child's lunch box look like a work of art!

The idea behind the bento box is to ensure that you have a well balanced lunch that looks appealing, tastes good and is nutritious - why aren't we all preparing bento boxes?

I've used a few tupperware style containers with different sections in them to take to work in the past, but some of them aren't leakproof and others are just too big so let's have a look at some of the choices on the market today.

Bento Lunch Boxes for Adults

These two options both appear to have conquered one of the biggest problems when looking for bento boxes - they are leakproof!

The first option is actually a set of two bento boxes which means that if you're single you can have a spare which is very handy if like me you routinely leave your container at work!  If you're half of a couple then you can have a lunch box each - simple!

 PlusPoint Leakproof Bento Lunch Box Set -2 in 1
Not only are these lunch boxes leakproof as a whole, but apparently they are also leakproof between containers according to verified purchasers on Amazon.

This is a pet peeve of mine as I absolutely hate getting divided containers and packing your lunch nicely only to get to your destination and finding that everything has mixed together between compartments!

These boxes are also freezer friendly which I love as I do like to cook in bulk so I would love to have a few of these so that I can take something different every day of the week!

The next option has 4 compartments to it instead of 3, but is also the all important leakproof!

 YUMBOX TAPAS Larger Size (Antibes Blue) 4 compartment Leakproof Bento lunch box
This container is designed for lunches that are eaten cold or at room temperature I should note as the container is not designed to be microwaved. This isn't a problem with some people, but is definitely something to think about when choosing your lunch box.


Yum Box certainly seems to attract return customers which means they must be doing something right so as a bento box for an adult this one has to be a contender.



The Stainless Steel Bento Box

When I think of a stainless steel bento box it makes me think of the classic aluminium style bento box that was popular in Japan in Taisho period (1912-1926).

These are definitely not them though!



Bento boxes for adults, healthy & fun!

Best Bento Lunch Box

So which of these boxes do you think is the best bento box for an adult?  It's hard to say as all adults are different in what they like to eat so obviously different boxes would be better for different people. I'd love you to tell me below which you think is the best bento box and I'll let people draw their own conclusions from what I've told them here.


Personally I absolutely love the look of the green (I also love the blue and pink options not pictured by the way), stainless steel bento box, but it's not the one that would suit me the best.

For me the best bento box would be the one that comes in a two pack and I think I need to buy a few of them because being able to fill the largest compartment and then freeze it is perfect for me.  I can pull it out of the freezer the night before and then in the morning add some salad and fruit or yogurt to the box and I'm good to go!




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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

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