Jul
16

Edible Examiner XXX

AB_edible examiner_V4

Americans Are Too Stupid for GMO Labeling, Congressional Panel Says - Michael McAuliff

It’s pretty rare that members of Congress and all the witnesses they’ve called will declare out loud that Americans are just too ignorant to be given a piece of information, but that was a key conclusion of a session of the House Agriculture Committee this week. The issue was genetically modified organisms, or GMOs as they’re often known in the food industry. And members of the subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture, as well as their four experts, agreed that the genetic engineering of food crops has been a thorough success responsible for feeding the hungry, improving nutrition and reducing the use of pesticides. People who oppose GMOs or want them labeled so that consumers can know what they’re eating are alarmists who thrive on fear and ignorance, the panel agreed. Labeling GMO foods would only stoke those fears, and harm a beneficial thing, so it should not be allowed, the lawmakers and witnesses agreed. Certainly, there is misinformation about GMOs, as highlighted in a New York Times feature on a Hawaiian ban of most GMOs. But entirely missing from the hearing was any suggestion that there are real concerns about the impact of genetically engineered food, such as the growth of pesticide-resistant “super weeds,” over-reliance on a single-crop factory farming, decreased biodiversity, and a lack of a consistent approval process. The issue may soon gain fresh relevance on Capitol Hill, where a measure backed by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) to stop states from requiring GMO labeling could get marked up as early as September. The bill also would allow genetically engineered food to be labeled “100 percent natural.”

 

The children are our future (in tea), says Packaged Facts - Maggie Hennessy

Tea isn’t just for grown-ups anymore, as instant and ready to drink (RTD) teas are paving the way for strong positioning among families, children and teens, according to a recent report by market research firm Packaged Facts. According to the report titled “Tea and Ready-to-Drink Tea in the U.S.”, household penetration of tea is at about 77% and growing—up 1.9% between 2008 and 2013. RTD iced tea usage penetration among US adults has grown 5% during 2009 to 2013, reaching 47%–but among those with children age 6-11 and 12-17 in the home, usage penetration has risen more strongly and overall usage penetration is higher, suggesting the influence kids have on their parents’ purchasing decisions, Packaged Facts found. Two-thirds of grocery shoppers with children agree that their kids’ preferences influence which groceries they buy, according to Packaged Facts’ February/March 2013 Food Shopper Insights Survey. To win over the kids, RTD tea varieties are key to leveraging convenience. Currently, Packaged Facts says teas aimed specifically at kids and teens are underrepresented. Despite its formidable size, the kids food and beverage market is a tricky one. For tea marketers this means leveraging tea’s healthful properties to promote it as a healthy alternative to sugary beverages, while appealing to the Millennial penchant for social responsibility. Tea marketers must also harness the internet, social media and the blogosphere when specifically seeking to connect with Millennial moms. One startup manufacturer, Little Me Tea, has positioned itself in the kids’ market as an alternative to sugary juice boxes with its organic, caffeine-free tea sweetened with fruit and vegetable juice with no added sugar. The product is set to roll out nationwide.

 

Artichoke water CEO: How many different types of coconut water can you have? We’re delivering disruptive innovation - Elaine Watson

Plant waters are all the rage—at least that’s what trend watchers keep telling us—but can artichoke water emulate the meteoric success of coconut water? Or is Arty Water—an intriguing mix of artichokes, mint and pandanus leaf sweetened with monk fruit and blue agave—too niche to be a hit in the ultra-competitive beverages aisle? Not surprisingly, its founder and CEO Dr. Howard Ketelson—who has a PhD in chemistry—reckons he is onto a winner with Arty Water, although he acknowledges that overcoming the initial “yuck” factor some consumers associate with a vegetable water will be a challenge. What makes Arty Water special is a patent-pending process of grabbing the good bits from whole artichokes that retains their fiber, antioxidants, vitamins (A, E, C, B1, B2, B3, B6 and B9), sodium potassium, calcium, iron and electrolytes and a host of phytonutrients including quercetin, rutin, gallic acid and cynarin. From a nutritional perspective, artichokes have been linked to myriad health benefits spanning everything from digestive health to tackling inflammation. Because the unique process does not use an extract, getting the manufacturing infrastructure in place was a challenge. Partnering with a company that produces salsa, a custom-made manufacturing line for Arty Water was built, which has taken manufacturing capabilities from 2,000 bottles a month to 12,000 a day.

 

LED tech being developed to grow food on Mars - Ryan Whitwam

We will face considerable technological hurdles designing any sort of manned mission to Mars and beyond, but simply building a ship that can convey astronauts to the outer solar system is only one part of the problem. Making sure they have enough food to eat during the journey is almost as daunting a challenge. A team of researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario is working on LED technology that could allow astronauts to grow food in space at maximum efficiency. The team is working with LEDs because you get a lot of photons for relatively little power and an LED can also be made to produce a very specific wavelength of light for targeting just what a plant needs. The lab is using lettuce as the test crop because it’s easy to grow and it grows quickly. What they learn from lettuce will be used to improve the growth of more nutritionally rich plants like cherry tomatoes and strawberries.

 

Oxford scientist taps jet engine tech to build super-efficient pots and pans - Lee Matthews

Have you ever boiled water using jet engine technology? Probably not, but you may very soon thanks to the work of an Oxford professor and his team of master’s students and their Flare pan. The trademark fins on the outside of Flare pots and pans makes them different. Their purpose is to grab onto heat supplied by the burner on your stove and pull it up the sides. With traditional pots and pans, most of the usable heat remains in or very near the bottom. The fins allow for much more efficient cooking and can reduce energy use by as much as 44% over average cookware. The even heat distribution should also make it easier to whip up your carefully concocted culinary creations with less worry about things burning on the bottom or boiling over the sides.

 

5 Reasons To Drink Coffee Before Your Workout - Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Half of Americans start their day with coffee, and, according to a recent study, working out after downing a cup of java may offer a weight loss advantage. If you’ve always thought of coffee as a vice—one you’re simply not willing to give up—you’ll be happy to know that it’s actually a secret superfood. Here are five more reasons to enjoy it as part of an active lifestyle, along with suggestions for getting your fix healthfully.

  1. Improved Circulation. Recent Japanese research studied the effects of coffee on circulation in people who were not regular coffee drinkers. Those who downed caffeinated coffee experienced a 30 percent increase in blood flow over a 75-minute period, compared to those who drank the decaf version. Better circulation, better workout.
  2. Less Pain. Scientists at the University of Illinois found that consuming the caffeine equivalent of two to three cups of coffee one hour before a 30-minute bout of high-intensity exercise reduced perceived muscle pain. The conclusion: caffeine may help you push just a little bit harder during strength-training workouts.
  3. Better Memory. A study published this year from Johns Hopkins University found that caffeine enhances memory up to 24 hours after it’s consumed. This brain boost may be a real boon during workouts, especially when they entail needing to recall specific exercises or routines.
  4. Muscle Preservation. In an animal study, sports scientists at Coventry University found that caffeine helped offset the loss of muscle strength that occurs with aging. Caffeine may help preserve overall fitness and reduce the risk of age-related injuries.
  5. More Muscle Fuel. A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that a little caffeine post-exercise may also be beneficial, particularly for endurance athletes who perform day after day.

This doesn’t mean you should down as much coffee as possible. Don’t overdo it. The maximum amount of caffeine recommended for enhancing performance with minimal side effects is the equivalent of about 16 ounces of coffee for a 150-pound woman. Also be consistent with your intake so your body can adjust. Keep drinking good old water as your main beverage of choice.

 

5 Label Tricks That Make You Think You’re Eating Healthy - Crystal Collins

Everyday shoppers want to get healthier, so they pick up something from the store that is expensive, but no healthier than what they’ve been purchasing in the past. It’s called clever marketing. If you’re looking to get a little healthier without getting manipulated, here are some labels to watch out for:

  1. “All Natural”. Just because a product says “all natural” does not necessarily mean that it is good for you. “All Natural” labels can still contain a multitude of additives, hormones, genetically modified ingredients, antibiotics, pesticides and more. Look for the “100% USDA Organic” seal or purchase more raw, whole foods.
  2. Green Colors. Thanks to the “green movement”, brands will mix green colors with words and phrases like healthy, natural, good for you, simple, etc. Look at actual certifications, not just the color of the packaging.
  3. “Organic” or “Made with Organic Ingredients”. Unless the product is 100% certified USDA organic, there could be all kinds of stuff in that food. 70-95% of it will be organic, but the rest could be anything.
  4. “Whole Grain” or “Multigrain”. This is one of the most widely used labels on products. There isn’t really a unified standard definition and regulation of what “whole grain” actually is. Many items that contain this label tend to have higher amounts of sugars and calories than foods that don’t have the label. Look for the “100% Whole Grain” stamp or make your own breads at home.
  5. “Free Range” or “Grass-Fed”. These items aren’t regulated, so this label cannot be trusted. Know the company practices of the brand you are buying, and/or purchase from local farmers.

 

5 Things You Might Not Know About San Marzano Tomatoes - Chantal Martineau

If the crust of a pizza is its backbone, the cheese and toppings its face, then the sauce is its lifeblood. Too often overlooked, the right sauce is key to a great pie. Any pizzaiolo worth his salt will tell you the sauce should be made with San Marzano tomatoes. This variety of plum tomato grows in the rich volcanic soil of the Sarno River valley, near Mount Vesuvius, resulting in a sweet flesh with low acidity. Its thick skin makes it easy to peel, plus it’s meatier than Romas and other plums, and has fewer seeds: all good things for making sauce. But some things you might have heard about these world-famous tomatoes aren’t true. So we’re setting the record straight:

  1. No, they don’t grow in Brooklyn. Like French Champagne, San Marzano tomatoes are grown under strict rules designed to protect and promote regional agricultural products. In Italy, D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) rules ensure that only growers within a defined area adhering to specific farming and canning methods can sell tomatoes labeled San Marzano. So while you can grow the San Marzano variety in your backyard, they won’t taste the same as the real McCoy. And you won’t be able to stamp them as D.O.P San Marzanos to sell at your local farmers’ market.
  2. Yes, some San Marzanos are fakes. Official D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes are only sold in cans, peeled whole or cut in half. If your tomatoes come in a jar or are pureed, chopped, diced or even organic, they aren’t the real thing.
  3. Yes, you can make Neapolitan Pizza without them. In Italy, Neapolitans have an official body that governs how pizza must be made before it can be called “real Neapolitan pizza.” While San Marzanos are the preferred tomato, they aren’t the only ones allowed.
  4. No, San Maranos can’t kill you. OK, so maybe this one was debunked a long time ago. When tomatoes were first brought to Europe from the Andes, they were thought to be poisonous. That’s likely because of the plant’s similarity to the deadly nightshade, or belladonna. Gradually, tomatoes went from a purported poison to a supposed aphrodisiac (In France) to simply good eats.
  5. No, San Marzanos don’t come from royalty. Another myth holds that the first San Marzano seeds were a gift from the Viceroyalty of Peru to the King of Naples in 1770. It’s probably untrue considering that the plant was still widely feared in Europe at the time.

 

What’s The Difference Between Cherry and Grape Tomatoes? - Linnea Covington

Despite the abundance of grape tomatoes in the grocery store, the verdict is out: cherry tomatoes trump their oblong brethren. After talking to numerous chefs and farmers, they mostly agree that for a real dose of bright, tomato flavor, go for a cherry. But if cherry tomatoes remain the darling of chefs, why does it appear grape tomatoes have taken over the market? The answer lies in durability. The hardier skins of the grape variety help it travel better. When talking about these two tomatoes, here are a few nuances to keep in mind:

  • Physical Differences. Grape tomatoes have an oblong shape and cherries, which are larger, usually form a perfect orb. You can find cherries in bright shades of yellow and orange, whereas most grape tomatoes exude shades of red. The skins offer a distinct difference. Many chefs prefer the thick-skinned grapes which work better in a sauce, and the delicate cherry either raw or lightly cooked.
  • Growing the Tomatoes. The grow cycle for both these varietals is about the same, though how they produce the fruit varies. Cherry tomatoes come early and in growth spurts throughout the summer. Grape tomatoes come in clusters, a fact that benefits larger growers who are looking for a big yield.
  • Cooking the two. Cherry tomatoes have a better, sweeter taste. They make a light, fresh sauce, which is a great accompaniment to fish. Grapes have thicker skin and are not as sweet. Some chefs say grape tomatoes work better as a garnish for a burger or in a quick, thick sauce on top of pasta.

In truth, it’s how you use the tomato that counts.

 

Square Watermelons Sell For $200 In Vancouver - Huffington Post

Urban Fare in Vancouver Canada is once again featuring square watermelons at the ridiculous price of $199.99 (up from $99.99 10 years ago). The square watermelons are grown in Japan in tempered glass boxes and checked several times a day. They were designed to stack more easily. Because of he labor-intensive process, only a few hundred are produced in Japan annually. Contrary to popular belief, they are not genetically modified. Urban Fare usually sells about 100 square watermelons each year. But here’s the kicker: square watermelons are actually bitter and taste terrible because they’re harvested before they’re ripe.

 

The Crumbs cupcake empire has been iced, but the cupcake rolls on. - Sarah Kaplan

The death of the cupcake? - Maggie Hennessy

Crumbs: From Neighborhood Cupcakery to Failed Chain - Paula Forbes

Divided America Comes Together To Agree A $3 Cupcake Is Ridiculous - Emily Swanson

Crumbs Cupcakes Could Be Saved By Reality TV Host - Kevin Short

The Cupcake Chain Crumbs Will Reopen - Khushbu Shah

After the announcement this month that cupcake chain Crumbs Bake Shop was unceremoniously closing all of its locations, it’s hard to believe they were ever once considered a success story. And yet, at their peak, there were 70 Crumbs locations globally. They were the first publicly traded cupcake company. But rapid expansion and waning interest in the cupcake fad of the early 2000s have brought hard times to Crumbs. According to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted on the heels of this closing 66% of Americans said the most they’d be willing to pay for one excellent cupcake is $2 or less. Nineteen percent were willing to pay $3, 9 percent were willing to pay $4, and 7 percent said they’d pay $5 or more. According to Crumbs website their cupcakes were about $4.50 each. The poll also revealed that Americans aren’t that into cupcakes now. Fifty-eight percent of poll respondents said cupcakes are “somewhere in the middle” of the dessert rankings. Not only are Americans not clamoring to pay for gourmet cupcakes, they also would prefer that new dessert shops sell something different. Crumbs was also fighting market saturation, an issue particularly for shops which depend on one product. Crumbs did make a concerted push into premium coffee beverages and other baked products such as cookies, brownies and muffins, but it appeared to be too little too late, as they had already been established in the consumer mindset as a cupcake shop. Crumbs also couldn’t compete with supermarket price points. As more and more retailers got into the cupcake space, supermarkets entered the fray with significantly lower price points.

Fear not, cupcake fans: Crumbs Bake Shop could live to see another day. According to a press release published late Friday (7/11/14) night, Marcus Lemonis, the owner of Dippin’ Dots and host of CNBC reality show “The Profit”, and Fischer Enterprises L.L.C. formed a joint venture, Lemonis Fischer Acquisition Company, which plans to acquire the shops. Crumbs will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to the Chicago Tribune. Lemonis hopes “to get the stores reopened and people rehired.”

 

Self-Serve Beer Machines Are Here - Khushbu Shah

Minnesota Twins Decide to Allow Fans to Pour Own Beers - Aaron Goldfarb

Sports stadiums are constantly working on new innovations to help you get your beer to you quicker. After all, they only have so much time to get your business before the seventh inning. We are actually in a golden age for stadium beer-serving innovation. Two years ago, Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium was the first to outfit their roaming beer hawkers with Boulevard Wheat-filled beer keg backpacks. Last year saw the release of several smartphone apps to help get beer (and sometimes loaded nachos) to your seat ASAP so you won’t miss any action. Likewise, Dodger Stadium concessionaires now offer frozen beer foam to keep your suds ice-cold.  Earlier this year, Wrigley Field unveiled the Bottoms Up Beer Dispenser, a new technology, which fills beer cups faster by starting at the bottom (the secret: magnets!).

Most recently Minnesota Twins Target Field is the first major-league stadium to feature a new set of self-serve beer machines. According to the Star Tribune, patrons go to a cashier to have their age verified. They are then allowed to purchase “a vending card with either $10 or $20 on it for use” at the Draft Serv machines. Beer can be purchased by the ounce and customers can dispense up to 48 ounces every 15 minutes. A manager told the paper that they sold 200 cards on their first day. To prevent customers from becoming overly intoxicated there is an employee at each station to double check IDs and to make sure the drinker doesn’t appear to have surpassed their limits. Now if only these sports teams could figure out a way to reduce those stadium bathroom lines.

 

Jun
18

How to Slice a Mango

Alton-Brown---how-to-slice-a-mango

This post is part of the AB/TV series on YouTube – watch the video here: http://bit.ly/ABMango

Riddle me this foodists, which is easier to handle: sub-Asian kin of the cashew known as the mango? Or an over-caffeinated weasel with rabies?

Well when compared stitch to stitch the mango is by far the more vicious adversary. For a long time I wouldn’t even eat mangoes because I thought they were just too much of a pain to deal with.

Here’s how to slice one up safely.

First, make sure your mango is good and dead. Not just playing opossum, but dead. Then fetch your thinnest, sharpest boning knife…you want a narrow blade for this. Trim just a sliver off the bottom, that is the bloom end…as in not the end with the stem. Now use a peeler to remove all but a patch of skin on either of the wider sides.

You don’t have to actually mark it, mind you. This is for demonstration purposes only.

Good. Now if you’ve left your patches in the right spots you should be able to hold the mango on the board thusly insuring that you’re now facing the skinny profile of the seed which you want to cut around.
 Your fingers and thumb should be able to securely hold the skin patches. Bring the knife carefully under your hand and slice down around one side of the seed making a slight arc around the seed.

Without removing the cut piece repeat on the other side again being sure not to poke your hand, repeat the careful downward slice on the other broad side of the fruit. The operative word here is careful. We’ve already had enough blood around here today, don’t you think?

Now if you’d like you can trim whatever flesh remains from around the seed or simply wring it out into a glass and drink it. I usually just chew on the darned thing when nobody’s looking. Now, it should be easy enough to trim each of the patches off the filets, which can now be cubed, diced, chopped or julienned for use in a wide range of delicacies.

Jun
11

How to Build a Derrick

Turkey-Derrick

This post is part of the AB/TV series on YouTube, check out the video here: http://bit.ly/ABFryDerrick

ALTON BROWN’s TURKEY DERRICK

WARNING: Failure to follow these instructions could result in fire or explosion, which could cause property damage, personal injury, or death—not to mention ruin a perfectly good turkey.

DERRICK PARTS LIST

1 (8-foot) fiberglass ladder

15 feet of heavy-duty cotton sash cord (not synthetic rope; it can’t take the heat)

2 (2-inch) pulleys, one with swivel top (I have taken to using heavy-duty screw-closure carabiners, which, while more expensive, are multitaskers)

1 (3-inch) quick link or carabiner (a real one, not a key chain that looks like one)

2 (75-pound-test) plastic cable ties (I actually use a 10mm-wide Dynex climbing runner because it’s reusable and strong as all get-out)

1 (6-inch) window shade cleat (or you can use a small boat cleat if you have one laying around)

2 (1-by-.25-inch) bolts

2 (.25-inch) nuts

1 sturdy, high-quality outdoor propane gas burner unit with accessories: burner base should be stable, 4-legged, and welded (not bolted); there should be double rings of gas jets, and an air-flow adjuster

1 heavy-duty outdoor cooker pot with lifter/spindle insert: 30- to 34-quart capacity, at least 15 inches tall

1 thermometer with clip attachment to measure oil temperature

1 instant-read meat thermometer

1 fire extinguisher

1 tank of propane fuel filled to the shoulder of the tank

4 feet of  fuel line

1 (3-foot) piece of aluminum foil

1 heavy wooden coat hanger

Optional but recommended: Spinning emergency beacon (D-battery version) for the top of the ladder, to warn of deep-frying in the vicinity.

 

LOCATION

Large-vessel frying is serious business. It matters a lot where you stage this operation. Be sure you are at least 10 feet—yes, feet—away from any structure like your house, your garden shed, your wooden fence, your deck, carport, or garage.

Also essential is a level surface—but not a wooden deck or a paved or concrete driveway; these will show oil splatters, and kids like to play there. A patch of grass or dirt that is level and free of toys and other obstacles is ideal.

You will also need to keep everyone at a safe distance from your base of operations—10 feet away. This is no place for kids, and no time to start any holiday drinking. Until your bird is done and delivered to the table, no alcohol allowed. Period.

Your base of operations should include a chair (because you are not going to leave this site until your turkey is done and the fire is out), a table containing your heat-resistant gloves, a timer, a stick-type lighter, a meat thermometer, a beverage (remember, nonalcoholic), and, most important of all, your trusty fire extinguisher.

 

CONSTRUCTION

1.      Thoroughly read—and then reread—the instructions that came with your burner unit. Assemble the burner unit as instructed in the manual.

2.      Figure 1, inset D: Bolt the cleat to the right side of the ladder with the 2 bolts and nuts; tighten securely.

3.      Figure 1, inset A: Tie one end of the sash cord to the top rung of the left side of the ladder with a bowline knot (very important knot to know; it cannot come untied).

4.      Figure 1, inset B: Secure a pulley to the top rung of the right side of ladder with 2 cable ties.

5.      Figure 1, inset C: Thread the sash cord through pulley 1 and then pulley 2; feed out enough cord to allow pulley 1 to center over the middle point beneath the ladder, about 4 feet off the ground; secure the cord to the cleat, wrapping in a figure-8 fashion several times and tying it off so it cannot slip.

6.      Figure 1, inset C: Attach the quick link or carabiner to pulley 1.

7.      Wrap the gas supply line with aluminum foil to protect it in case of any overflow.

8.      Place the burner unit under pulley 1, centered beneath the ladder, with the propane tank on the ground as far from the burner unit as possible.


 

Jun
4

Steak on Coals

Alton-Brown's-Skirt-Steak-on-Coals

This recipe is part of the AB/TV series on YouTube, watch the video here: http://bit.ly/ABSteakOnCoals

Skirt Steak Over Coals

 Recipe courtesy Alton Brown 2014

Software:

2 pounds inside skirt steak, cut into three equal pieces

1 teaspoon  kosher salt

 

Procedure:

1. Remove the steak from the fridge and lay over a cooling rack set in a half sheet pan and season the steak liberal

2. Fire up one chimney starter of natural lump charcoal. Once white and ashy, distribute evenly in the lower level of your charcoal grill.

4. Using a blow dryer, blow the charcoal clean of ash.  Immediately lay steaks directly onto the hot coals for 35 to 40 seconds, then flip and repeat. When finished cooking, place the meat onto heavy duty aluminum foil, wrap, and rest for 15 minutes.

6. Remove the meat from the foil, reserving foil and juices. Slice thinly across the grain of the meat. Return to meat  and toss with the juice. Serve immediately.

Jun
3

Edible Examiner XXXVIII

AB_edible examiner_V4

How to Decide Exactly What Type of Gin You Want - David Wondrich

If you order a dry martini today, the gin in your cocktail—unless you order a specific brand—more likely than not will be called something like “Pug” or “Devilchair” and will have been imported not from England or Holland, but from two zip codes away. The manufacturer will not be a third-generation distiller, but rather someone who was writing computer code until a couple of years ago. These craft gins are being made by small independently owned distilleries. Since gin doesn’t normally require aging and nowadays has far more cachet than vodka, it’s often the first thing a new distillery will market. Plus it looks easy: Take your neutral grain-spirit base; add your chosen botanicals—as the various berries, seeds, peels, leaves, fruits, roots, and barks that flavor gin are known; and run it through a still. Bottle. Sell. Easy. As with most things that look easy—it’s not. All too often with these gins, one or more of the botanicals is off. So how to tell the good ones from the bad? It really depends on your cocktail. The martini is pitiless. You want a gin that calls itself “London dry gin” if possible (which can be made anywhere, not just London) and that doesn’t monkey too much with the botanicals or the base spirit: light-bodied and crisp, with lots of piney juniper, some citrusy coriander and earthy angelica or orrisroot for depth. If you see lots of other botanicals listed on the label, be wary. The more ingredients, the harder they are to balance, particularly the exceptionally pungent ones. Cardamom is the prime culprit, although chamomile also really makes itself known. If the distillery makes its own base spirit and tries to showcase its flavor, you may have problems there too. Your dry martini may, for instance, turn into an apple martini. Many of the small batch gins follow different styles such as New Western, Contemporary, or International. They are essentially freestyle. The distiller chooses whatever botanicals he sees fit, throws in some juniper to meet the legal definition, and fires away. If the label talks about innovation or uses words like unique; if it lists botanicals that are unusual, “local”, or “hand-harvested,” odds are you’ve got an International gin. These free style gins can be very pleasant, but are never subtle. These gins might enliven a Tom Collins or even a gimlet, but mixed with vermouth may cause a botanical food fight. The best thing to do is tell your bartender what gin you usually like and see what he or she suggests.

 

America Is the Top Consumer of Wine in the World Khushbu Shah

For The Win(e): US Passes France As World’s Top Wine Consumer - Krishnadev Calamur

We don’t typically pity the French, what with their pantries full of fine cheese, meats and wine. But France is changing quickly. It’s now the No. 2 market for McDonald’s. And, according to a report from the Paris-based Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV), America has officially dethroned France as the number one largest market for wine in the world last year. In 2013 American wine consumption went up .05% while French consumption fell almost 7%. French restaurant and hospitality expert Fred Sirieix blames the downward trend in France to many reasons including the financial crisis, reduced limits for driving under the influence of alcohol and greater interest in health. Still French wine makers are trying to stem the tide. They have even taken to novel approaches to popularize wine drinking among young people, including a red wine flavored with cola. The OIV report did note that while the US may have become the world’s biggest wine market last year, the French still drink six times more wine per capita than Americans. Consumption decreased in the world’s three biggest wine-producing nations—Italy, Spain and France—with France accounting for the biggest decline. French wine exports also fell by 3 percent.

 

‘The Amazon of Booze’ Puts Tomorrow’s Hangover Just A Click Away - Kim Bellware

Thirsty Americans want their booze, and, like everything else, with as little effort and as quickly as possible. Now alcohol delivery services are bubbling up across the nation with the promise of choice libations in less time than it takes to order a pizza. Drizly, a smartphone app that recently launched in Chicago and hits Los Angeles next week, is just one of the services angling to be the “Amazon of booze.” This new crop of drinks-to-your-door companies have cribbed a few pages from other app and web-based services like Uber and GrubHub with cashless payment options and ultra-quick response times. Customers in a designated delivery area place orders via app or website and pay with a stored credit card, then a local distribution partner dispatches a delivery person who verifies the buyer’s age. Owner of QwikerLiquor.com says that the benefits of booze delivery services go beyond convenience. Shopping online gives the purchaser time to do their homework and compare nuanced (and often pricey) items instead of trying to do the same in the store while pressed for time. Founded by University of Central Florida students, DrinkDrivers go so far as to tout their service as a safety alternative. The creators say their booze delivery app is a smarter option for buzzed partiers who may otherwise get behind the wheel for a beer run. Most services do have a policy about cutting off patrons who may be three sheets to the wind or who are found to be under aged at the time of delivery. These customers are hit with a service fee of around $20 and no booze changes hands. Drizly even went so far as to create a proprietary technology to check customer IDs.

 

Lettuce grown in a clean room will be the new diet craze - James Plafke

Though Fukushima, Japan has recently been in the news for having a nuclear reactor melt down, its lettuce –and soon other vegetables—is free of danger. The lettuce is grown in clean rooms. Not rooms that survived an assault of Windex and mops, but ones that were formerly used to manufacture computer chips. Fujitsu has repurposed one of its chip facilities into what is essentially a lettuce farm. The reason isn’t exactly because it’s unsafe to grow food where a nuclear reactor melted down, but because, in theory, growing the food in a clean room allows tighter control of microorganisms and growing conditions. Eating the Kirei Yasai (or Clean Vegetables) won’t come cheap. The lettuce will sell for about $4.90 per 90-gram bag, or $25 per pound. By comparison organic lettuce sells for a little over $3.00 per pound. Fujitsu will initially target medical centers, as people with kidney disease have to limit their potassium intake and the clean lettuce contains only a small amount of potassium. It is very difficult to find low potassium raw veggies. Fujitsu expects its green and clean veggies to quickly become popular and generate around $64 million in sales by April 2017.

 

 

Organic Trade Association: US retail sales of organics grew 11.5% to $35.1bn in 2013 - Elaine Watson

US retail sales of organic products grew 11.5% to $35.1bn in 2013, the strongest growth the industry has seen in five years, according to new data from the Organic Trade Association (OTA), which is predicting even higher growth this year. Given that more than eight out of 10 US families now buy organic products—albeit some more than others—it is now abundantly clear that organic groceries are in the mainstream of food culture. This fact is underscored by Walmart’s recent commitment to enter the market with a new range of products under the Wild Oats brand, at more affordable prices. Although more affluent families have historically been the heaviest buyers of organics, recent data suggests that younger, and comparatively less well-off consumers are starting to buy more organic foods. One of the fastest-growing demographics in terms of purchasing groups is Hispanic families. The price differential between conventional and organic products has continued to narrow in many product categories owing to “scale and efficiency”, although it remains fairly significant in organic meat and dairy owing to high feed costs and availability. It may not be feasible—or even desirable—for organic food to reach price parity with ‘conventional’ food. The market must find a balance between making organics accessible yet ensuring that producers get an adequate return to cover the additional costs. Meanwhile food manufacturers and retailers recognize that in order to secure sustainable supplies of organic ingredients, they need to enter into longer-term supply arrangements with producers. New business models are being developed.

 

Sorry, But There’s No Such Thing As A “Healthy” Sugar - Rebecca Adams

There’s no such thing as a “healthy” sugar. Or even a “less bad” sugar. Your body doesn’t care if it’s “organic” or “unrefined” or “all-natural.” Now let’s delve into the nutritional science behind this. First of all: All sugar is sugar. It’s no secret that consuming sugar in large quantities is detrimental to your health. Studies have linked it to obesity, diabetes and increased risk of heart disease, to name a few. You do need carbohydrates, which include both complex and simple sugars for your body to convert to energy. It’s the added sugars that you need to watch out for. No matter what type of sugar you consume—whether it’s table sugar or maple syrup which is chock full of “vitamins” and “minerals”—your blood sugar goes up. The vitamins and minerals don’t counter calories or hormones. There is no data that suggests that if you consume more calories from honey, you store it differently. To be clear, sugar is a combination of fructose and glucose. The metabolic process begins the minute sugar reaches your mouth, but the majority is ultimately absorbed in the small intestine, where the sugar is metabolized and absorbed into your blood. It spikes your insulin and blood sugar levels, plus it’s absorbed and used up quickly. Fructose, or “fruit sugar,” is metabolized differently since the liver does most of the metabolizing and your insulin levels don’t spike quite as much. But since insulin triggers the hormonal response that tells your brain you’re full, it is much easier to overeat. The problem with calling sugars “healthy” is the health halo effect, which makes people feel better about eating more of it. The real trick when it comes to sugar: just use less of it. When incorporating sugar into your diet, keep in mind that the World Health Organization recommends that added sugars make up no more than 10 percent of your caloric intake. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume less than 100 calories and men consume less than 150 calories of added sugars a day. And it doesn’t matter if it’s organic molasses or plain old Domino sugar—it’s the quantity that makes all the difference.

 

6 ‘Bad’ Carbs that Are Actually Good for You - Leslie Barrie

Thanks to popular low-carb diets, these carb-heavy healthy foods have been unfairly blacklisted. But there’s no need to be scared of spuds or ban bananas.

  • Corn. Corn gets a bad rap because it’s frequently found packaged and processed and void of nutrients. Real, straight-up corn is a good source of fiber, vitamin C and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote healthy vision.
  • Bananas. Nature’s perfect portable snack is a good source of vitamin B6, manganese, potassium and fiber. And when slightly unripe, bananas are a good source of slimming resistant starch. They can even be used as a substitution for fats in baking.
  • Breakfast cereal. Many cereals are made with whole grains these days. Look for a short ingredients list with whole grains at the top and at least 3 grams of fiber and no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving.
  • White potatoes. Somehow potatoes got swept up in the ban on white—bread, rice, and pasta. They are a great source of potassium and vitamin C and have almost 4 grams of fiber with the skin on. Try roasting cubes tossed in olive oil and rosemary instead of the classic sour cream and buttered baked potato.
  • Sourdough bread. Traditional sourdough is made through a process of fermentation, so it contains beneficial bacteria known as probiotics.
  • Green peas. They are higher in carbs and sugar than non-starch vegetables, but peas are a great source of phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. A cup of cooked green peas boasts more than 7 grams of filling fiber.

 

6 Essential Tools for Better Baking - Leena Trivedi-Grenier

There are enough specialty tools and bakeware out there to distract even the most disciplined of cooks. Here are the 6 tools guaranteed to make you a better baker:

  • Stand Mixer. This is an essential investment for most baking especially batters, frostings, and yeasted doughs.
  • Digital Scale. Serious Eats had 10 different people scoop 1 cup of flour. The weights varied from 4 to 6 ounces. Using a scale ensures consistent results.
  • Bench Scraper. This scraper is indispensable for all kinds of dough. It can scrape up bits that seem completely adhered to your counter, turning a possible disaster into a save.
  • Baker’s Parchment. This is an easy way to line your sheet pans and prevent sticking. Cake pans lined before greasing gives extra insurance that everything will literally turn out fine.
  • Decent Cooling Racks. A proper wire cooling rack allows air to circulate all around your just-out-of-the-oven masterpiece, preventing overcooking from residual pan heat. It also helps prevent condensation from forming.
  • Oven Thermometer. Using an oven thermometer ensures even results.

 

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Nutella - Linnea Covington

At this point everyone has heard of Nutella, you know, that creamy brown spread made from chocolate and hazelnuts that came from Italy. But here are 8 things we bet you didn’t know about Nutella.

  • A single person can be credited with creating Nutella. Due to a chocolate shortage in 1940 caused by World War II, pastry maker Pietro Ferrero decided to enhance what little cocoa he had with hazelnuts, which grew abundantly in his native Piedmont region. Italians literally ate it up.
  • Nutella was named after a circus character. Before it was called Nutella, this spread was dubbed “pasta gianduja”—named for a famous Piedmontese carnival character also called Giandoja who started out as a marionette. The name Nutella came about in 1964.
  • Originally Nutella was sold in loaf form. Moms could make a perfect slice to fit on a piece of bread. That incarnation didn’t last but a couple of years then Ferrero made it into a spread.
  • Nutella can be put into anything. Forget smearing it on a piece of toast. Nutella can be found on pizza, in ice cream, donuts, bread pudding, tortellini and cheesecake, not to mention whipped into cupcakes.
  • It took the US 23 years to import Nutella. Unless you had an awesome Italian grandmother or a European connection, Nutella wasn’t available in the States until 1983. It started in specialty shops, but can now be found in most supermarkets.
  • Chefs are feeling it. All over the country chefs use Nutella in their dishes, even some savory ones, such as using it to enhance a Spanish prawn dish.
  • Nutella cafes have started popping up. Technically there are only two Nutella cafes (so far), and both are run by Mario Batali’s Italian superstore Eataly.
  • There are some health benefits. To be honest, there aren’t many healthy merits to this sweet spread but one of the main ingredients, hazelnuts, does provide a good dose of protein. It also has about one gram of fiber, iron and calcium per spoonful.

 

Hack of the Day: Clean Your Grill With Two Things In Your Kitchen Right Now - Jess Kapadia

We are deep into grilling season, so if you haven’t scrubbed the 8-month-old, burned-then-frozen crust off your grates yet, now would be the time. But if you can’t find your grill brush, there are not one but two ways to clean your grill without a brush using what you almost inevitably have on hand in your kitchen. First, heat your grill. Spray a little white vinegar to help loosen the residue. Then scrub firmly with that half an onion you haven’t used yet. If you don’t have half an onion, you can use a simple crumbled ball of aluminum foil. The texture and malleability is exactly right for grill scrubbing and can be tossed out when you’re finished.

 

Sriracha Maker Says Factory Will Remain in California - Karen Grigsby Bates

Sriracha Battle Over: City Council Drops Lawsuit and Public Nuisance Declaration - Hillary Dixler

Huy Fong Foods CEO David Tran says he escaped from Vietnam almost 35 years ago to be free of the communist government and its many intrusions. “Today, I feel almost the same,” he said recently. Irwindale’s city attorney, Fred Galante, says the city loves having the cult condiment factory but must pay attention to the health of residents. “It’s difficult to tell a resident that suffers from asthma or their child that suffers from asthma, ‘Sorry, we do not want to be considered business unfriendly; just keep your child indoors.” Tran has been entertaining offers from almost two-dozen cities, that have urged Tran to relocate. But Tran designed his 600,000 square foot plant to be self-sufficient. The peppers are ground here and stored on-site. The sauce is mixed and bottled on-site. Even the machines are repaired on-site. At long last on Wednesday, May 28, the Irwindale City Council voted to dismiss the public nuisance declaration from April and their ongoing lawsuit initially filed in the Fall. According to the AP, the council vote was unanimous, with one member abstaining. The vote was apparently made after David Tran committed to continuing his efforts to mitigate any odors created during the chili-grinding season. The city council vote presumably puts an end to any moving plans.

 

Merriam-Webster Adds Turducken, Pho, and Poutine - Khushbu Shah

Over 150 new words have been added to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary this year and amongst terms like “selfie” and “hashtag” are a few that are food driven. The Vietnamese soup Pho and Canadian classic Poutine have made the cut. Surprisingly, so has turducken. Also found in the dictionary is freegan, which is defined as “an activist who scavenges for free food (as in waste receptacles at stores and restaurants) as a means of reducing consumption of resources.” Cronut didn’t make the cut this year.

 

Diners Fined for Not Finishing Food at Swiss Restaurant - Khushbu Shah

A restaurant in Switzerland is getting very literal with the concept of the all-you-can-eat buffet. Patrizietta in Losone, Switzerland will now charge diners 5 Francs (USD $5.65) for not finishing their plates. The restaurant runs an unlimited lunch buffet and many customers were taking more than they could finish, resulting in a heavy amount of food waste. The chef wanted to send a strong signal, so customers are forewarned. Patrizietta isn’t the first restaurant to implement such fines. A British restaurant charges customers who do not finish their food a hefty 20 pounds (USD $33.66).