You are what you eat & drink

fruit

Lemons or Limes? The Battle

During the week I read on a cocktail blog I visit, a recipe for caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink. The recipe calls for lemons, but nearly every blog where I read the recipe makes the mistake of using limes. This cocktail blog, correctly, used lemons. I commented on it, and congratulated the blogger.

Then I saw another on Friday, that used limes! AAArrrggghhh! I left a comment somewhat venting my spleen, after which I felt guilty. However, I received a civilised reply thanking me for the correction, adding that he had heard about our green lemons.

There is a huge difference in the flavour between lemons and limes, lemons are sour whereas limes are almost sweetish.

These are Brazilian lemons, they are NOT limes

These are Brazilian lemons, they are NOT limes

The problem arises with the colour.

Here in Brazil lemons are green, but typically from outside Brazil anyone who sees a Brazilian lemon goes “limes”. and that is totally wrong.

This photo shows the lemons I bought at the supermarket last week.

I know they are lemons, because they are sour, they are so sour that they will invert your nipples and send ripples through your teeth. But they make wonderful caipirinhas.

A traditional Brazilian caipirinha

A traditional Brazilian caipirinha

Reblogged from Life is but a Labyrinth


Jambo is NOT an Elephant

No, that’s jumbo!

Yesterday I was given a fruit that I had never seen before.

Jambo.

Red Jambo, in fact.

Pear shaped, bite through the red skin and you have near white flesh with more texture than flavour and a single pit in the middle.

Syzygium jambos originated in Asia, but it is here in Brazil too. In fact there is a tree growing not 100 metres from my house. I had always dismissed it simply as a big tree, perhaps a mango tree which is so common around here that I never gave it another thought.

Until yesterday. I was having a hot afternoon beer at the botequim (neighbourhood bar) next to home and one of the fregües (regulars) arrived with a bag of something heavy. He pulled out a jambo and told me about them and the tree by the canal.

Most of the images (googlised ones) are of small bushy trees, but the one next door is quite big… several metres, in fact.

Hang on, I’m off to get a photo!

Back, taken, processed, and here for your edification.

Jambotree2

Our local jambo tree

So, even at 60+, I learn something everyday.


Dacryodes edulis

Safou

A native to Africa, sometimes called African or bush pear or plum, Nsafu, bush butter tree, or butterfruit.

safou1

The main use of D. edulis is its fruit, which can be eaten either raw, cooked in salt water or roasted. Cooked flesh of the fruit has a texture similar to butter. The pulp contains 48% oil – Wikipedia


A Chocolate Story

chocolate

We’re all pretty familiar with chocolate.

But do we know where it comes from?

cacao-tree

Or that it even grows on a tree?

How does it get from this to that?

Why is dark chocolate always more bitter than milk chocolate?

On ExploreDreamDiscover this week there’s a small photo essay to give you an idea.


Common Medlar

Mespilus germanica

© Andrew Dunn http://www.andrewdunnphoto.com/

This fruit is eaten fresh picked or made into jelly, wine, pies, tarts, chutney, etc. Before it can be eaten, the fruit must be bletted (ripened until very soft, but not rotten – something like persimmons) so that the acids and tannins are broken down. It has a gritty, mushy texture but a delicious flavor. Something like a spiced apple sauce with a wine overtone. – Wikipedia


Just what is a pluot?

So, I am over at Cuba Fruit one day last week, when Joshna says to me “try one of these”, and tosses me a piece of fruit that I don’t entirely recognise.

It looks a bit like an apricot. But it looks a bit wrong, as well. For starters, the skin has some reddish blotches. And it doesn’t have that soft, lightly furry apricot skin (like the face of a kindly old aunt). It is sort of smooth, and almost shiny.

“They’re quite sour,” she warns me. I don’t mind at all – I like sour things. I like tart apples, and lemony, sour drinks and the like. I bite in.

It does taste quite a bit like an apricot, but the texture is plummy. It’s really nice. The skin is tart, lip-puckeringly sour, but the flesh is sweet and firm. It is delicious, I reckon. I’m hooked.

The pluot, also known as an aprium, apriplum, or plumcot, is a hybrid between a plum and an apricot. There are lot of varieties – a baffling number, in fact.

Logically, you can do anything with a pluot that you could do with a plum, or an apricot – it has many of the best characteristics of both. You could make jam, or chutney. You could have them with icecream, or in a pie, or, you know, whatever. They are also delicious to just eat on their own.

000StuffLogo

Read more


Image

Frozen Cherries

frozencherries


Sometimes….

I post a pic just because I think it’s awesome


Going Bananas

What do you know about bananas?

Oh, you know, it’s yellow fruit…

Is the banana a fruit?

But, did you know that the banana isn’t actually a fruit?

It’s a herb, the biggest variety of herb on the planet.

The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant. The plants are normally tall and fairly sturdy and are often mistaken for trees, but their main or upright stem is actually a pseudostem that grows 6 to 7.6 metres (20 to 24.9 ft) tall, growing from a corm. Each pseudostem can produce a single bunch of bananas. After fruiting, the pseudostem dies, but offshoots may develop from the base of the plant.

From: Wikipedia

So, now you know that banana tress are not banana trees, they are actually a herb called Musa.

The banana that you are most familiar with is the Cavendish (above), which appeared about 1960s after a fungus that attacks the roots appeared and killed off many plantations of Gros Michel (or Big Mike). You see bananas are not supposed to grow in plantations, but man of course doesn’t recognise these little nuances of Mother Nature; you grow bananas in a plantation and it makes it easy for the crop to be wiped out. Bananas are best grown in individual clumps, away from other clumps, this protects them from the spread of disease.

Pity about the Gros Michel, apparently it was a much better tasting banana than the Cavendish.

How many other varieties of bananas exist?

Lots, in fact there are about 1,200 varieties of bananas and some of them aren’t actually bananas. There are ensets, plantains and many different cultivars.

You can check out this useful link on ChowHound to find out about various cultivars and their uses.

 


Cider – Much Under-rated

55 BC and the Romans arrived in Britain to find the people of Kent drinking cider. The invading Romans found the drink to rather pleasant and by the 9th century cider drinking was widely established in Europe.

What is cider?

Simple, cider is made from apples, any apples, but some produce better cider than others.

Cider is one of the drinks that is popular as ‘homemade.’

Many companies make cider.

While cider is popular throught Britain and Europe it was also transported to the USA by early immigrants.

“The flavour of cider varies. Ciders can be classified from dry to sweet. Their appearance ranges from cloudy with sediment to completely clear, and their colour ranges from light yellow through orange to brown.” – Wikipedia.

“Apple based juices with cranberry also make fine ciders; and many other fruit purées or flavourings can be used, such as grape, cherry, and raspberry.” – Wikipedia.

Calvados Reserve

Calvados

Made throughout Normandy, France. It is the double distillation of cider.

Suggestions for Calvados:

– Storage: very long, bottles upright without special precautions.
– As an Aperitif: on its own, over ice, or with a drop or two of water to let it release its aromas.
– For cooking: to flambé, and for sorbets and granités.
– As a digestive: Drinking temperature 20-22°C (68 to 72°F). – Domaine Dupont

Health

Cider, being made from apples has a relatively high concentration of phenolics and is therefore considered to be helpful for preventing heart disease, cancer, and other ailments.

Cooking & Cocktails

Cider can be used instead of wine in recipes and many cocktails contain cider, or are based on cider as well as mulled wine made from cider.

Check here for some cider recipes.

Or here for cocktail & drink recipes.


Roses, More than just Flowers

Rose Hip Syrup

When I was a kid, I had heard about Rose Hip Syrup, but I haven’t heard about it for years. Occasionally, things from the past bubble to the surface and make you wonder. Rose Hips did and sent me off  googling.

Rose Hips are the fruit of the rose bush. Most people don’t know that roses have fruit and seeds because they never see them. The rose bushes are pruned for more pretty flowers.

But I have seen the fruit of rose bushes and I never connected the two.

.

I did find out that Rose Hip Syrup is good because it has lots of Vitamin C.

You can use rose hips in all sorts of things, jams, jellies, sauces, soups and seasonings. Also rose hip tea.

Roses are related to apples, so it’s not surprising that rose hips look like little red apples.

You can find out much more on About.com

.

Rose Hip Jam & Jelly

If you want to have a go at jam or jelly, check out: Simply Recipes there’s a great story, photos and recipes for both.

.

.

.

.

.

And of course the story wouldn’t be complete without knowing that there is also a liqueur made from rose hips.

Licor de Rosa Mosqueta

An interesting rarity. Dark red colour, very pasty. Pleasant taste with a certain sweetness and hardly noticeable alcohol presence (16 vol. %). To drink straight or to mix with sparkling wine.

But you may have to search for it.

Where there’s a liqueur, of course, there’s a cocktail. You can check out a recipe for the Pink Gin Fizz on Mint Demonde blog.

Happy Hipping…


Pineapple

Makes a wonderful indoor plant

We are all familiar with the myriad of things you can do (culinary-wise) with a pineapple. You can use it as a fruit, make a salad, roast it, grill it, make jams and jellies, puddings and cakes. You can even stick it in a hamburger or on a pizza.

But did you know that you can also make a wonderful indoor plant.

Check out Tickled Red and you’ll see a great pineapply post.


Oranges

Oranges, one of nature’s finest foods…

But wait…

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Ingredient In Your Orange Juice

by Iris


“Do you buy orange juice at the store? If you do, I’m sure you’re careful to buy the kind that’s 100% juice and not made from concentrate. After all, that’s the healthier kind, right? The more natural kind? The kind without any additives? The kind that’s sold in the refrigerator section so it must be almost as good as fresh-squeezed orange juice? If I’m describing you, then you’re either going to hate me or love me by the time you’re done reading this post. The truth is, that orange juice you feel so good about buying is probably none of those things. You’ve been making assumptions based on logic. The food industry follows its own logic because of the economies of scale. What works for you in your kitchen when making a glass or two of juice simply won’t work when trying to process thousands upon thousands of gallons of the stuff.

Haven’t you ever wondered why every glass of Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice tastes the same, no matter where in the world you buy it or what time of year you’re drinking it in? Or maybe your brand of choice is Minute Maid or Simply Orange or Florida’s Natural. Either way, I can ask the same question. Why is the taste and flavor so consistent? Why is it that the Minute Maid never tastes like the Tropicana, but always tastes like its own unique beverage?

Generally speaking, beverages that taste consistently the same follow recipes. They’re things like Coca Cola or Pepsi or a Starbucks Frappuccino. When you make orange juice at home, each batch tastes a little different depending on the oranges you made it from. I hope you’re hearing warning bells in your head right about now. The reason your store bought orange juice is so consistently flavorful has more to do with chemistry than nature.

Making OJ should be pretty simple. Pick oranges. Squeeze them. Put the juice in a carton and voilà! But actually, there is an important stage in between that is an open secret in the OJ industry. After the oranges are squeezed, the juice is stored in giant holding tanks and, critically, the oxygen is removed from them. That essentially allows the liquid to keep (for up to a year) without spoiling– but that liquid that we think of as orange juice tastes nothing like the Tropicana OJ that comes out of the carton. In fact, it’s quite flavorless. So, the industry uses “flavor packs” to re-flavor the de-oxygenated orange juice: “When the juice is stripped of oxygen it is also stripped of flavor providing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh. Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature. The packs added to juice earmarked for the North American market tend to contain high amounts of ethyl butyrate, a chemical in the fragrance of fresh squeezed orange juice that, juice companies have discovered, Americans favor. Mexicans and Brazilians have a different palate. Flavor packs fabricated for juice geared to these markets therefore highlight different chemicals, the decanals say, or terpene compounds such as valencine.”
The formulas vary to give a brand’s trademark taste. If you’re discerning you may have noticed Minute Maid has a candy like orange flavor. That’s largely due to the flavor pack Coca-Cola has chosen for it. Some companies have even been known to request a flavor pack that mimics the taste of a popular competitor, creating a “hall of mirrors” of flavor packs. Despite the multiple interpretations of a freshly squeezed orange on the market, most flavor packs have a shared source of inspiration: a Florida Valencia orange in spring.

Why aren’t these flavor packs listed as ingredients? Good question! As with all industrial foods, it’s because of our convoluted labeling laws. You see, these “flavor packs are made from orange by-products — even though these ‘by-products’ are so chemically manipulated that they hardly qualify as ‘by-products’ any more.” (source) Since they’re made from by-products that originated in oranges, they can be added to the orange juice without being considered an “ingredient,” despite the fact that they are chemically altered.

So, what should you do about it? First off, I must ask: Why are you drinking juice? Juice removed from the fruit is just concentrated fructose without any of the naturally-occurring fiber, pectin, and other goodies that make eating a whole fruit good for you. Did you know, for example, that it takes 6-8 medium sized apples to make just 1 cup of apple juice? You probably wouldn’t be able to eat 6-8 medium apples in a single sitting. (I know I can barely eat one!) But you can casually throw back a cup of apple juice, and you would probably be willing to return for seconds. That’s why fruit juice is dangerous. It’s far too easy to consume far too much sugar.

So, my first piece of advice is to get out of the juice habit altogether. It’s expensive, and it’s not worth it. My second piece of advice is to only drink juices that you make yourself, and preferably ones that you’ve turned into a healthy, probiotic beverage (like this naturally-fermented lemonade my own family enjoys). Sally Fallon Morrell’s “Nourishing Traditions” cookbook has several lacto-fermented juice coolers that are pleasant, albeit expensive. (I especially like the Grape Cooler, Raspberry Drink, and Ginger Beer.) Want to make juicing easier? See here for where to buy juicers and Vitamix blenders.

And finally, opt out of the industrial food system as much as you can. If you learn anything at all from this post, it should be that you never know what’s in your food unless you grow it, harvest it, or make it yourself. Second best (and more practical for many, including myself) is to pay somebody I trust to do it — like the farmers at my Farmer’s Market, the cattle rancher I buy my annual grass-fed beef order from, or the chef at my local restaurant who’s willing to transparently answer questions about how he sources ingredients and what goes into the dish I’m ordering.”