I have known for some years that putting mushrooms out in the sun will boost their vitamin D content markedly. In fact, I did a bit of research last year into the magical and fascinating fungus when I posted a recipe for The. Best. Mushroom. Soup. Ever.
What I didn’t know is that there are heaps of easy tips and tricks to getting more goodies out of your food. A lot of it is to do with how you store them.
James Wong, an ethnobotanist in the UK, has published a book called How to Eat Better. Well, he has published a whole heap of books and done a whole heap of other interesting stuff as well. This is what he has to say –
‘As a botanist obsessed with food, I am forever surprised by how simple tweaks can radically alter the chemical compositions of crops, even when they are sitting on your kitchen counter. With just a few ridiculously easy hints and tips you could dramatically improve the nutritional value of everything from fruit and veg to carbs and coffee, thanks to the miracle of kitchen chemistry.’
Here’s a few tips to whet your appetite –
Tomatoes are well known to be rich in the phytonutrient lycopene which is more concentrated in the skin. The smaller the tomato, the more lycopene. Tomatoes continue to ripen after picking. Their lycopene content almost doubles if stored at room temperature for a week or two. You can further boost it by cooking them. Thirty minutes can more than double the amount of bright red lycopene available in the tomato. Heat releases the pigment and transforms it to a more soluble form.
Leafy greens are rich in antioxidants. But did you know that the process of ‘wounding’ – that is, slicing or tearing – causes them to generate more at the site of injury. Prepare your salad the night before and store it in the fridge overnight. The polyphenol content will increase by up to 50%. Then add a slice or two of avocado to enhance the absorption of the phytonutrients.
Apples are good for you. We all know that. But you need to keep the skin on. Half of the antioxidants and vitamins A and C are in the skin. The type of apple matters too. The best are Braeburn, followed by Fuji and Red Delicious. It turns out apples, like mushrooms, react to sunlight after harvesting. Ten days in the sun will double the antioxidant levels and increase vitamin C levels six times.
The humble spud, it turns out, has been hard done by. In fact they are rich in fibre, vitamin C and potassium. Up to 50 % of the phytonutrients come from the skin. The smaller the potato, the more skin. Like tomatoes. Wounding, it turns out, has the same effect on potatoes as leafy greens. Slice them, pop them in the fridge and trigger the doubling of antioxidant content in two days.
Don’t you find all this really interesting ? I do. I gotta get me that book.
© Raili Tanska
Steps for Peace