Marketing check-list done and you are ready to go!
You and your helper have discussed and planned the week’s menu, looked through what is already sitting in the fridge and freezer, checked your pantry to see what needs replacing, and worked out your marketing check-list. Click here for my article on Marketing Checklist. You have even decided where you are going to get all this done. Perhaps several non-perishable heavy items have been ordered on-line for delivery to your home. Well Done!
The tropical heat that envelopes us daily causes speedy food spoilage. Whip out those thermal bags and frozen liquid cool packs. They keep meat and dairy products cool and fresh. They enable you or your helper to run more errands during that marketing morning. You certainly don’t want to arrive home with warm and bacteria laden tofu, seafood or meats. Whilst they sit in a cool environment upon arrival home, you have time to clean, sort and pack away your purchases.
It is important to emphasize to your helper the need to keep the purchases as cool as possible during transportation. Show her which items must be kept in the thermal bag or styrofoam box. Avoid cross contamination. Teach her that even in the thermal bag, she should keep meats away from perhaps a block of butter, the slices of cooked ham or cheese. They should be in separate plastic bags.
A week’s worth of meats and other groceries. Below is a photo of the packets of meats purchased from the wet market. Don’t panic, there is an order to this “mess”
Sorting out the purchases.
RULE OF THUMB. First things to sort out are those items which require cold temperature to keep fresh.
This is a suggested order of sorting out your market and supermarket purchases:-
1. Minced meats tend to “bleed” the fastest. Start sorting out this type of meat first. Pack into freezer boxes and divide into a few portions. Portions may be of different weight like 2 lots of 200+ gms and 2 lots of 150 gms as shown in photo below. Use marked plastic bags if you run out of space in the freezer box.
In my freezer, I have larger freezer boxes which I use to sort out bags of beef, pork and chicken into different sections.
2. The next lot of fresh items to go into the chiller and other parts of the fridge will be items like fish-balls (a change of water in which the fish-balls were soaking might be needed), varieties of tofu ( if you had bought these from the taugeh lady then tau kwa and tau hu should be soaked in containers with fresh water), freshly grated coconut, cheeses and slices of ham or other cold meats from the supermarket.
Cleaning, washing and packing the other purchases.
Washing the poultry (chicken or duck, whole or parts), different cuts of pork and beef, and seafood. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, snip off the unwanted bits and pieces. Use the sharp points of the scissors to scrape off the blood in the fish belly area to make it less fishy.
- Click here for “Cleaning and Preparing Prawns”
- Click here for “Cleaning and Preparing Squid”
- Click here for “Cleaning Fish”
Photo below shows “scissor work” to part of a chicken.
Place your fish, chicken etc into the bowl part of the colander and bowl set. In the series of photos of below I have set out the steps using pork as an example. Just follow the same steps for fish, chicken etc.
Sprinkle salt onto the pork etc.
STEP 3. Rub the salt all over the pork etc.
STEP 4. Give the pork etc a good wash.
STEP 5. Lift pork etc and drain well in a colander
STEP 6. Even after draining in the colander, you will find that the fish, chicken etc is still wet-ish. Both my helper and I prefer to use muslin to give the fish, chicken etc a real good dry. Use a different piece of muslin for each type of meat or seafood. Good quality paper towels which absorb well and don’t tear easily into small bits are too expensive. “Bounty” is too expensive in Singapore.
Water in the fish, chicken etc becomes icicles in the freezer. The more water, the more icicles. They will break down the fibres in the meat or fish.
STEP 7. Rinse the muslins well using detergent, soak them again in a colander of hot soapy water for a few hours to get ensure proper cleaning of all the fat and blood.
STEP 8. Pack the clean and dry fish, chicken etc into your boxes or properly marked plastic bags. Keep in the correct section of your freezer.
Sorting and packing away the vegetables and then the dry goods and other pantry items.
The photo below shows a week’s worth of a selection of vegetables, mushrooms, herbs and spices for a family of 4 to 5.
My previous method of packing so that the vegetables remain fresh as long as possible is to use old magazines pages, warp each vegetable tightly and mark with a marker on the wrapper. I have also used various types of Tupperware containers designed specially as vegetable keepers but lined with kitchen towels for moisture absorption.
Currently, I have bought a fridge that has a special light which keeps my vegetables fresh much longer without wrapping or a special box. My helper is enjoying the lighter sorting out work. However, even with this new fridge, the only way to store mushrooms is to put them into paper bags, not plastic bags.
BIG HINT: Washing your fridge regularly keep away dirt and bacteria so your foodstuffs remain fresh longer!!
Click here for Refrigerator – Keeping Clean, Organising & Cleaning.
If fruits are not quite ripe yet.
As time is precious, we also buy fruits when we market for the all the other provisions to meet the needs of the family. In order that a variety of fruits can be served at least once a day for the family, we buy not only different types of fruits but also fruits at various stages of ripening. Apples, oranges and pears are the “staples” as they keep fresh for a longer time than bananas, grapes, berries, papayas and mangoes.
If your fruits are still hard and not quite at its peak of ripeness, leave them on your counter for a few days. Alternatively, since bananas placed next to other fruits cause accelerated ripening, put a banana and the unripe fruits into a paper bag but make sure there is a slight ventilation, so that oxygen can get in and carbon dioxide can get out. The ripening is caused by the emission of ethylene.
Bananas accelerates ripening of apples, avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, figs, mangos, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums and tomatoes. They have small effect on ripening of bell peppers, cherries, citruses, pineapples, green beans, strawberries and watermelons.
My bowl of fruits kept on the counter to ripen. Green kiwis and pears always need about 5 to 7 days to ripen. More often than not, Mangos also sit at room temperature for 2 to 4 days to ripen. You will know when a fruit ripens by their sweet fragrance and they have a little give when you press them softly.