Flavoring basics

Natural foods range from one end of the taste spectrum to the other unflavored or mild foods on one end, like cereal grains, most meats, fish, poultry and milk moderately flavored, such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and on the highly flavored end garlic, onion, herbs, spices, coffee and cocoa. In most cases natural organic compounds called aromatic essential oils that occur in food plants give flavorful foods their powerful taste impact. Just put a light dusting of cinnamon on your...

The stages of mushroom growing

In a commercial operation, mushroom cultivation is in temperature and humidity-controlled windowless greenhouses, tunnels or caves. There are five major steps to readying a mushroom for your pot. 1. Substrate preparation. Substrate is the organic material that the mushroom uses as its food source. Carefully preparing this determines both the size and quantity of the crop. Different cultivated species flourish in different substrate. All substrates are high in cellulose, which the mushroom...

Tastings Example of Essential Oils in Rosemary

Although its impact can be powerful, the essential oil is a very small part of the plant, often making up only 0.2 to 1 percent of the total weight. The essential oils are within the cell walls. To release the oils, you have to break the cell walls. Crushing an herb or grinding a spice does exactly that. Heat intensifies the flavor and aroma as it drives more of the oils out of the cell walls. Nearly all herbs and spices need this application of heat before they fully release their aromatic...

Chocolate and cocoa storage

Cocoa butter (the fat in cocoa beans) has a remarkably long shelf life. Among its numerous ingredients, chocolate beans include potent natural anti-oxidants (polyphenolic compounds) that protect the cocoa fats from rancidity. You may store chocolate and cocoa for years (some say indefinitely) without any deterioration in quality. Hershey's scientists claim that after two or more years baking chocolate loses some of its flavor and may even have some rancid flavor notes. To be on the safe side,...

Baking the Bread What Heat does

Baking seems simple to us put the well-risen, proofed dough in the hot oven and take it out when it is fully baked. If all went well (and there is no reason why it shouldn't), we place a still-steaming, irresistibly-perfumed, brown-crusted, mouth-wateringly beautiful loaf of bread on a wire rack, and we are ready to cut into it after a short cooling period. But the baking process is anything but simple. There is a series of very complex chemical reactions and physical processes that happen...

Tastings How to make pure gluten

Even to experienced bread bakers gluten has the aura of a mysterious substance that forms like magic in kneaded bread dough. But gluten is a physical substance, nothing mystical. You can make gluten, see what it looks like and feel it in your hand. Prepare and knead a bread dough using bread flour until it is soft and supple, indicating that you have fully developed the gluten. Now continue manipulating the dough under running water. The water washes the starch out of the dough, and when it...

Hot chocolate and hot cocoa

There is a tremendous variation of recipes for such simple preparations as hot chocolate and hot cocoa. Neither cookbook authors, nor manufacturers agree on a single and simple best recipe. Obviously, people have different ideas about what best is. I looked through a number of old and new cookbooks, and the variety of methods and proportions are endless. The older the cookbook, the more complicated the method for preparation. Even the three major brands of American cocoa manufacturers...

Salads

It all began with tender greens topped with a light dressing of oil and vinegar. This basic theme got more and more elaborate, first with the addition of other raw and cooked vegetables, then fish, poultry, meats and cheeses. Today anything can, and does, go into a salad bowl. The dressings on the salad also became intricate with spices and herbs, condiments, exotic oils and vinegars. Now you hardly, if ever, see a simple salad recipe in a new cookbook or in...

Neither fish nor fowl

It is hard to believe that the mushroom, a prized ingredient in many elegant dishes, is a simple fungus. Although it usually appears in the vegetable section of cookbooks, mushrooms are actually the fruit of underground fungi. To propagate the species, these fungi produce spore-bearing mushrooms which push up through the earth. Mushrooms mature fast, produce and disperse their spores, and just as quickly die. A mushroom's life, like that of fresh fish, is measured in days. Unlike almost all...

Types of cookies

According to the method you make them, cookies may be the following types 1. Rolled cookies are made from a chilled dough that is very low in moisture. Roll out the dough thin as you can, cut the cookies with a cookie cutter and place them on a baking sheet ready to bake. You can decorate them either before or after baking. Rolled cookies are time-consuming to make at home but commercially machines make them by the millions in minutes. An example for rolled cookie is the traditional holiday...

Cultured milk products

All cultured (also called fermented) milk products have varying amounts of lactic acid, which gives them their pleasingly tart, slightly tangy flavor. There's a difference between milk product fermentation and yeast fermentation that some people confuse. Milk product fermentation is by bacteria that produce lactic acid, while yeast (a completely different microorganism) convert sugar to alcohol in such things as bread dough, brewing beer and wine. Two different cultures of lactic acid-producing...