Storing Broccoli

Storing Broccoli

Washing before storing broccoli may lead to bacterial head rot. Broccoli that is not refrigerated becomes fibrous and woody.

Store unwashed heads of broccoli in the crisper section of the refrigerator in an open or perforated plastic bag.

If it is fresh, broccoli can be stored for up to 2 weeks.  Still, it is best to try and use it within 3-5 days.

Older broccoli may develop strong undesirable flavors.  It will also have lower nutrient levels.

Broccoli Stems:

Don’t throw away the broccoli stems.  Once the outer fiberous and woody skins have been peeled away (using a vegetable peeler or paring knife), the stalks are actually very good.  I’ve even heard them called the poor man’s asparagus.

Freezing Broccoli:

If you cannot use the broccoli while it is at it’s best, consider freezing it. This isn’t always the best option because freezing can actually magnify undesirable qualities such as woody stems. For best results, freeze the broccoli as soon as possible after harvesting. To freeze the broccoli, perform the following steps:

  1. Wash and trim (cut off leaves and woody stems) the broccoli.
  2. Split the florets and stalks into bite size pieces.
  3. Blanch the broccoli by putting it into boiling water for 3 minutes and then quickly chill by dropping it into ice water.
  4. Drain off as much water as possible.
  5. Put the broccoli into plastic freezer bags and freeze immediately.

If you found this post useful, or if you have any tips for storing broccoli, please leave a comment.

Posted in Food Storage, Fresh Food

How Do You Like Your Apple Pie?

picture of an apple pie slice

“But I, when I undress me Each night upon my knees Will ask the Lord to bless me, With apple pie and cheese”

– Eugene Field

A bit a of silly post today.

When fall comes, and apples are ready to be picked, it’s always fun to visit an apple orchard.  We had planned on spending Saturday at the apple orchard yesterday.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t really co-operate and we had to stay in to avoid the rain.  But, since apples were on our mind, we made an Apple and Pear Pie.

The pie was really good and everybody had different ideas on how to eat it.  There are a lot of possibilities I suppose.  Here are a few standards…

  1. Just plain apple pie
  2. Apple pie with a scoop of ice cream
  3. Apple pie with slice of old cheddar cheese
  4. Apple pie drizzled with maple syrup (my favourite)
  5. Apple pie with whipped cream

On top of all these choices, you also have to decide whether you want it warm or cold.  (Warm is the correct answer.)

Do you have a favourite way to eat your apple pie?  Please leave a comment and let us know.

picture of an apple pie slice

Apple and Pear Pie

Posted in Baking, Fun

Agar Agar

Purpose:

As a food additive, agar-agar (or just agar) is used as a gelling agent. It is also used to thicken and/or stabilize various foods.

Agar is used to form dental impressions. It is also the preferred medium used to grow cultures in Petrie dishes.

Description:

Also known by its Japanese name, kanten, agar-agar is widely used in Asian desserts. It is a gelling agent derived from a red algae called Gracilaria. Because it is made from algae, it can be vegetarian substitute for gelatin.

Unlike gelatin which requires refrigeration to set, agar-agar will set at room temperature after about an hour. However, you will still want to store dishes gelled with agar agar in the fridge since it is a high protein food.

Containing about 80% fiber, agar-agar can act a mild laxative.

Agar-agar is traditionally produced by cooking and pressing the algae and then naturally freeze-drying the residue to form bars which are then powdered or flaked for easier packageing and transport.

Common Foods Containing Agar-Agar:

Agar-agar is commonly used in processed foods such as doughnuts, marmalade & jam, jelly candy, cheese, puddings, gelatin fruit desserts, meat products, bakery fillings and icings, dry and canned soups and ice cream.

Side Effects / Health Issues:

Agar-agar is sometimes taken as a weight-loss aid. After being ingested, agar-agar absorbs water and can triple in size. This makes you feel fuller.

As long as it is taken with at least one 8-ounce glass of water, agar-agar is probably safe for most adults to take in this manner. If it is not taken with enough water, it can swell and block the esophagus or bowel. If this happens, immediate medical attention is necessary. Symptom may include chest pain, vomiting, or difficulty swallowing or breathing.

If you have a bowel obstruction, agar-agar might make it worse especially if it isn’t taken with enough water or other liquid. If you have a bowel obstruction, consult your doctor.

When agar-agar is used as an ingredient in other foods, it is probably always safe.

Using Agar-Agar at Home

You can usually find agar-agar in either flaked or powdered form. Most recipes do not specify which is being called for, but you can use the following guidelines.

  • Powdered agar can be substituted for the same quantity of unflavored gelatin in recipes.
  • One teaspoon agar powder = One tablespoon agar flakes.
  • Typical usage level is 1/2 percent agar in water.

The amount of agar-agar required will vary depending on the ingredients it is mixed with. Foods that are more acidic (citrus fruits) will require more agar.

Just like with gelatin, some foods like pineapple, mango and peaches, contain enzymes that will prevent the agar-agar from gelling.

E Number:

The E number of agar-agar is 406.

Posted in Food Additives, Ingredients, Thickeners and Gelling Agents

Mono and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids

Mono and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids

Purpose:

Mono and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids are generally used as emulsifiers.  Basically, that means they can be used to combine oil and water.  Often this is very useful in food applications.

Description:

picture of ingredient list containing Mono and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids

Ingredients

An acetylated monoglyceride is an emulsifier in which acetic acid is bound with monoglyceride.  Although there is little emulsifying activity, there are many characteristics and applications:

The combination of liquid acetylated monoglyceride and hydrogenated fats can improve the quality of fats, for example, margarine characterized with small temperature changes and wide plasticizing range, can be produced with them.

Acetylated monoglyceride can be used as protective coating for meat products, nuts and fruits to improve their appearance, texture and shelf life.

Foods Containing Mono and Diglycerides:

Processed foods (especially baked goods) are the main source of mono and diglycerides.  Bread, crackers, flour tortillas and other baked items often contain them.   Other products include peanut butter, and ice cream . Basically, any food product that combines water and oil and sells for less than others.

They are also found in dry-mix whipped topping and coffee creamers.

Side Effects / Health Issues:

I have not been able to find any research that indicates there might be health issues from consuming mono- or di-glycerides.

However, some manufacturing processes may use animal fat to produce these additives.  Therefore, some vegetarians may want to avoid them.

E Number:

There is actually a family of E numbers associated with these additives:

  • 472a acetic acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids
  • 472b lactic acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids
  • 472c citric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids
  • 472d tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids
  • 472e diacetyltartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids
  • 472f mixed acetic and tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids
Posted in Food Additives

Storing Turnips and Rutabagas

Storing Turnips and Rutabagas

What is the best method of storing turnips and rutabagas?

Turnips and rutabagas are often confused with one another. If you have trouble telling the difference, these tips may help.

Turnips have white skin and purplish top. It is sometimes called white turnip.

Rutabagas have a thin, pale yellow skin with smooth, waxy leaves. Rutabagas can be called everything from “yellow turnip” to “swede” to “neep”. It is also sometimes even referred to as just a “turnip”.
turnip
Photo credit: @HTO3
 

Fresh Turnips and Rutabagas

If you happen to have turnips or rutabagas with the tops still attached, they can be stored in a cold (32°F or 0°C) humid environment.  They need to be stored on shelves or in baskets so that there is good air circulation around them.

These turnips can be stored for 4 to 6 months.

Turnips and rutabagas with the tops removed can be stored in the refrigerator.  

 

Waxed Turnips and Rutabagas

Often stores will sell rutabagas that have been coated with wax.  This is done to prevent moisture loss.  If they are not coated with wax, wrap them tightly in plastic.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

If you found this post useful, or if you have any tips for storing rutabagas or turnips, please leave a comment.

Posted in Food Storage, Fresh Food

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