Today: dealing with fruit flies, and storing your onions, and potatoes.
I’m not fond of summer’s gifts, and the summery “gift” of which I am least fond is fruit flies. Morning and evening, I would go around, dishtowel in hand, thwacking the cupboards and walls to rid the house of them. Each time, I’d reduce their numbers to a few but the next morning, the bananas and melons and roses and …everything… would be engulfed in a fresh, new cloud of the little blighters.
Until this weekend.
Fruit fly trap
Take a wide-mouth jar. Put a quarter-inch of apple cider vinegar in the jar. Add a drop of dishwashing soap. Cover with plastic wrap/cling-film, and poke a few holes in the film. Wait 3 hours and a virtually enjoy fruit-fly-free environment.
The flies are attracted to the scent of the vinegar (hey…go figger) and they go through the holes to get to the drink. The drop of soap breaks the surface tension of the vinegar so the little guys can’t stand on the surface and sip; instead, they sink to the bottom.
I’ve tried this with the plastic wrap and without. It works fine without, but better with, as it traps the more clever ones inside. I swear, this eliminated 90% of our fruit fly population within 2 hours. I now keep it next to the bananas, and its siren call keeps our kitchen no-see-um-free.
Storing onions and potatoes
Growing up, we always stored our onions and potatoes together, down in a bottom cabinet. Invariably, every couple of weeks in summer, we’d have to pick through the remainders, separating the still-edible from the unusable. The onions were either moldy or began sprouting green shoots (or both), and the potatoes always started sending sprouts and withering to husks.
Well, it turns out that storing your onions and potatoes together is the worst possible technique, as each one exudes a by-product that encourages the other to sprout.
A handful of months ago, I applied the following two tips to my potato/onion population, and now both stay fresh and edible for two months and more.
Here’s what you do:
For onions, don’t store them in that dank cabinet. Buy them in a bunch, in one of those nylon mesh bags. Attach this bag to a hook or put the onions in some sort of basket. Sunlight doesn’t bother them–it retards their growth, in fact, which makes sense when you think about it (they’re bulbs, after all)–but don’t keep them in direct sunlight. With light and lots of air circulation, they’ll keep still, fresh, and ready to go for months.
For potatoes, keep those bad boys hidden away, because light does encourage them to sprout, as does warmth. Just taking the onions away from the vicinity will help, but to do even more, put an apple in with the potatoes. The gases the apple emits during ripening retard the sprouting of the potatoes. The apple will be a sacrifice, but your potatoes will last for months without turning into shriveled, rubbery mutations.