Harvest as late as possible before consumption
Nothing tastes as good as vegetables and fruits that were just harvested. Most fruits and vegetables begin to deteriorate as soon as they are severed from the mother plant or taken out from the ground. This is one of the reasons why it is so beneficial to have your own garden.
When i work in my garden, always the latest i do at any day before i finish the work is harvesting. That guarantees that all the fruits that i bring home are as fresh as possible.
Fruits and vegetables continue to breathe after they were picked. This breathing is also called respiration and the process breaks down carbohydrates, proteins and fats and it leads to a loss of food value. Warm and dry air can speed up this process so in most cases you want to keep your products cool and moist. When i bring home my harvest for the day, i usually put most of them in a bucket with cold water for one or two hours.
Enzymes in plants also cause loss of nutrients and color. When you cut an apple and expose it to air, it turns brown or oxidizes. This is due to activity by enzymes and is a sign that the nutrient value is dropping.
Some fruits can be picked before full ripeness, for example tomatoes. But also in that case, the fruit will not attain the same nutrient levels compared to a fully ripened one. For example, vitamin C has been shown to be higher for tomatoes picked ripe from the plant.
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