Category Archives: Misc

Glass Jars

Glass 101 – Why Switch From Plastic to Glass Food Jars or Containers AND Ways to Use Them

From Plastic to Glass Food Containers
Why Switch, and Ways to Use Them


Why switch to glass food containers?

There is a growing trend with people moving away from using plastic in the kitchen. This includes plastic wrap, plastic bags, plastic utensils, and plastic containers for storing, freezing, heating food, and eating. There are many reasons for this trend including:

* The desire to be more earth-friendly with less waste. Plastic waste is littering the planet in insurmountable amounts. Switching to glass helps to reduce potential plastic waste and is ultimately recyclable, even when broken. Also, the production and reuse of glass products creates less pollution in the environment than does the production of plastics.

* Avoiding chemicals that may be in or released from plastics that could leach into foods. Plastics are made from assorted chemicals, some of which are endocrine disrupting chemicals such as Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates. These chemicals can affect the brain, hormone system, reproductive system, and may also increase the risk of getting cancer. Furthermore, many such chemicals have not been completely tested for their health effects. Research has shown that some of these chemicals can leach into foods and beverages, in addition to possibly contaminating air, creating hazardous dust, and getting onto our hands. Glass does not leach chemicals into food or liquids, nor into the air or surfaces it comes in contact with.

* Durability. Glass lasts longer than plastic, unless of course, it gets broken. Also, plastic containers can melt or get warped when in contact with hot food, whereas most glass can tolerate hot to warm food without being damaged. Also, plastic wears out, becomes scratched or cracked, and breaks down much faster than glass, possibly causing chemicals to leach into the contents of the plastic container.

* Functionality. Glass has more potential uses than plastic containers, and may be reused indefinitely. Plastic containers wear out over time and may develop odors, scratches, a greasy film, and/or cracks.

* Glass is easier to clean. It will not absorb grease nor stain like plastic.

* Odor control.  Glass does not absorb odors, whereas plastic can.

* Glass is microwavable.  Most glass may be used in the microwave, whereas most plastics should not be microwaved. When plastic containers are microwaved, they may soften or melt. Also, the heat from the contents may cause plastic containers to leach chemicals into the contents of the container.

* Oven use. Most glass intended for kitchen use may be used in the oven, whereas plastic may not be used in the oven.

* Flavor. Glass preserves flavor better than plastic and won’t impart its own flavor into food, like plastic can, especially with prolonged storage.

* Glass containers are reusable for a much longer time than plastic containers. When purchasing items like tomato sauce, pickles, jelly, jam, beverages, nut butters, or anything that may be packaged in a glass jar or container, opt for glass packaging rather than plastic, if possible. It will help to reduce waste and the glass containers can be reused at home for many different purposes in the kitchen and around the house.

Uses for Glass Jars and Containers

There are many ways to reuse cleaned out food jars of all sizes and shapes, in addition to using canning mason jars for applications other than preserving food. For instance, glass jars can be used in any of the following creative ways:

* Sort and store assorted hardware such as nuts, bolts, screws and nails in separate jars.

* Store vegetables cut in advance for salads or meal preparation in jars.

* Use a lidded jar as a beverage glass at home or “to go.”

* Use a glass jar for drinking a smoothie at home or “to go.”

* Store small craft or sewing items such as pins, buttons, ribbons, or small tools in a jar.

* Use a jar as a pencil holder. Place pencils, pens, crayons, and/or markers in a jar on a desk.

* Store paper clips in a jar.

* Package your own prepared foods such as a “to-go” lunch in a jar.

* Make (and serve) a layered salad in a jar.

* Store leftover liquid items in a jar in the refrigerator. Examples include soups, sauces, beverages, or baby formula.

* Store leftover foods such as cooked rice, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cooked beans, tuna salad, cut fruit, etc. in a jar.

* Store pre-measured baking ingredients in jars. When you want to measure ingredients in advance to shorten meal prep time, measure baking ingredients in advance and store them in clean, dry food jars.

* Use a jar as a simple vase for cut flowers or a decorative floral arrangement with artificial flowers.

* Use a glass jar as a small vessel for rooting plant cuttings.

* Store extra dried herbs or spices in small glass jars with lids.

* Store extra dry foods such as beans, rice, pasta, flour, nuts, and seeds in jars.

* Store and mix homemade salad dressing in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

* Use a jar as a container for homemade cake, brownie, bar, quick bread, and cookie mixes. Decorate the jar and give it as a gift.

* Make a homemade luminary in a jar.

* Make homemade candles in jars. Decorate and give them as gifts.

* Make a homemade terrarium in a decorative jar.

* Make and store homemade cosmetics in small jars with tight-fitting lids.

* Pack a homemade first-aid kit in a small jar for traveling.

* Store extra matches in a jar for safe keeping.

* Make painted or decorated jars for gift giving.

* Make a decorative, colorful sand art in a jar for your home or gifting.

* Make a decorative holder for a tea light with a pretty jar.

* Make flavored oils or vinegars in jars.

* Make overnight oats in a jar.

* Make a mini planter (such as for one flower bulb) with a decorative jar.

* Make a citronella candle in a jar for keeping mosquitoes away when you’re outside on a summer evening. Simply put the lid on the jar when it’s not being used.

* Store cotton balls and cotton swabs in a jar in the bathroom.

*  Use a glass jar for an easy piggy bank for saving extra change at the end of the day.

* Make a homemade, reusable soap dispenser by putting a pump in the top of a glass jar.

* Freeze food in jars, such as chopped bell peppers or onions, leftover soup in individual servings, or easy to-go lunches made in advance.

* Store extra garden seeds in the freezer in a glass jar.

* Make a decorative table centerpiece with a pretty jar.

* Store extra hair care items such as hair ties, bows, bobby pins and hair barrettes in jars.

* Use a jar as a toothbrush holder in the bathroom.

* Store extra combs in a glass jar.

* Use a small jar as a toothpick holder.

* Decorate a small glass jar to be used as a small planter for succulents.

* Make and serve a parfait in a tall jar.

* Carry “to go” snacks in a jar.

* Store makeup brushes in a jar.

* Store extra granola in a jar so it keeps fresh.

* Make a bug catching jar for children.

* Store extra candy in a jar after the bag/container is opened.

* Organize extra pantry items by placing dry food in jars, especially after the original packaging has been opened.

* Marinate meat in a jar. It would be much easier to clean than a plastic bag, or would save trashing the bag after it was used.

* Store painting supplies in jars. Larger jars can be used for storing paint brushes. Smaller jars can be used to store small amounts of extra paint.

* Display small vacation souvenirs in a jar for a decorative memoir.

The uses for glass jars of any size and shape are only limited to your imagination. So, start saving them when any store-bought food item is finished and you’ll have enough containers for all sorts of uses before you know it!

 

Resources

https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/tempered-vs-borosilicate-glass/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/best-glass-storage-containers-4154183

https://healthy-cookware.com/why-glass-food-storage-containers-are-better-than-plastic/

https://www.amazon.com/Piece-Glass-Food-Storage-Container/dp/B01IU416YG

https://www.walmart.com/ip/1790-Glass-Food-Storage-Containers-with-Lids-Glass-Meal-Prep-Containers-Airtight-Glass-Lunch-Boxes-BPA-Free-FDA-Approved-Leak-Proof/921652275

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076HZFG41?th=1

https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-Oblong-Baking-Dishes-BPA-Free/dp/B08BS692GS/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?dchild=1&keywords=glass+bakeware&qid=1622758294&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyUUFTQ0VYREtRWElaJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNDAyODEyMVpWTFpYQVg4Ujk0NSZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMjQ1MTM0SDVNUUdPUjVXNlo3JndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

https://www.amazon.com/OXO-Grips-Freezer-Oven-Baking/dp/B019FHD0FK/ref=sr_1_12?dchild=1&keywords=glass+bakeware&qid=1622758418&sr=8-12

https://www.nontoxicliving.tips/blog/why-choose-glass-over-plastic

https://www.ruralsprout.com/reuse-glass-jars/

https://www.forgerecycling.co.uk/blog/reuse-glass-jar/

https://www.sonshinekitchen.com/24-ways-to-reuse-glass-jars/

https://mindfulofthehome.com/reuse-glass-jars/

Glass Bakeware

Glass 101 – About the Types of Glass Used in the Kitchen

About the Types of Glass Used in the Kitchen
Soda-Lime vs Tempered vs Borosilicate Glass

There is a growing trend to move away from plastic food containers and metal bakeware, and there are many good reasons for doing so. However, the more we explore this option, the more it can become confusing. There are different types of glassware available. So, the question remains…Which one is best for me? This article explores the different types of glassware available today, so that you can make an informed decision on what type of glassware is best for you.

About the Different Types of Glass for Kitchen Use
Not all glass is created equal. However, each type has its own advantages and potential drawbacks. Which type of glass is best to buy will depend on your intended use for the item itself. The following should help you when shopping for glass items for your kitchen.

Components of Glass. All types of glass contain silicon dioxide, boron trioxide, sodium oxide, and aluminum oxide. However, the proportions of each chemical vary between glass types. The chemical composition affects the strength and melting points of glass. There are three types of glass that can be found in the kitchen: Soda-lime, tempered, and borosilicate glass.

About the Annealing Process. Annealing is a process of heating and cooling glass at a controlled rate during manufacturing. This step improves the glass’ durability and helps to reduce internal stresses that could cause breakage when the glass is heated and cooled during normal use. Annealed glass may be referred to as non-tempered glass or float glass. Annealed glass is not as strong as tempered glass. When annealed glass gets broken, it breaks into sharp, jagged pieces that could hurt someone nearby. When tempered glass gets broken, it breaks into small, smooth, relatively harmless pieces.

Since annealed glass does not go through extensive processing, it is cheaper to make than tempered glass. Annealed glass has optimal versatility for the manufacturer, so it can be crafted in many styles and designs, allowing it to be customized in many ways.

Soda-Lime Glass
Soda-lime glass is the most common type of glass. It may also be referred to as “soda-lime-silica glass” and may also be referred to as “annealed glass” since it is put through the annealing process. This glass is usually used for windowpanes, light bulbs, and glass containers like bottles and jars for beverages, food, and some commodities. Mason jars are made of soda-lime, annealed glass. Because of its chemical makeup, soda-lime glass is not as strong as other types of glass and will break easily when subjected to being bumped, or sudden extreme temperature changes (also known as thermal shock). While any glass can break with extreme sudden temperature changes or mechanical bumps, soda-lime glass will break the easiest under such conditions. It is relatively inexpensive to make, so it would be the preferred glass to manufacture. About ninety percent of manufactured glass is soda-lime glass. Soda-lime glass does not contain as much silicone dioxide (69%) as does borosilicate glass (80.6%).

Soda-lime glass is smooth and nonporous, allowing it to be easily cleaned. It resists chemicals in water solutions, so they will not contaminate the contents nor affect the flavor of anything stored in the glass. However, soda-lime glass does not tolerate very high temperatures, sudden temperature changes, or being bumped mechanically without cracking, chipping or breaking. For example, it can break when exposed to a sudden temperature change, such as when pouring very hot liquid into a cool glass.

Tempered Glass
Tempered glass is soda-lime glass that has been specially treated to make it stronger and more durable. In the manufacturing process, soda-lime glass is subjected to extremely high temperatures, followed by a few seconds of a high-pressure cooling technique called quenching. Tempered glass can also be created through chemical treatment causing the glass to compress. However, the chemical process is expensive and not used very often. When tempered glass shatters, it breaks into small pieces, making it less likely to cause injury than when untempered soda-lime glass shatters.

Tempered glass is very durable and resists smudges, allowing for easy removal of fingerprints. It is much harder and stronger than untempered soda-lime glass, and can tolerate temperatures up to 470°F. However, despite its strength, tempered glass should not be subjected to sudden extreme temperature changes, which could cause it to shatter. An example would be removing a glass bakeware dish with food in it from a 450°F oven and placing it on a cold marble slab or countertop. After removing a hot glass baking dish from the oven, place it on dry hot pads, towels or trivets that will absorb the warmth of the dish rather than shocking it with a much cooler temperature. A lot of glass bakeware is currently made from tempered soda-lime glass.

Borosilicate Glass
In addition to the other components, borosilicate glass contains boron trioxide. This ingredient makes the glass very strong so it is unlikely to crack when exposed to extreme temperature changes. It is also very resistant to chemical corrosion. Therefore, borosilicate glass is harder, stronger, and more durable than soda-lime glass, tempered or not. This type of glass is used in some bakeware since it can tolerate extreme temperature changes far better than tempered soda-lime glass. It is also used in pipelines, sealed-beam headlights, and laboratory equipment. Interestingly, borosilicate glass is more likely to break when dropped than tempered soda-lime glass. When it breaks, it shatters into large sharp pieces that can cause serious injury to anyone nearby.

So, the question remains…Which brand is made of which type of glass, and which type of glassware is best for me?

You will need to be the judge on which type of glass bakeware is best for you, based on your personal needs, applications, and habits. The following information gives insight to some of the common brands of glass bakeware currently on the market.

Pyrex (World Kitchen) Glassware
Many of us own Pyrex glassware. The company was established in 1915 and originally made its glassware products with borosilicate glass. In recent years, corporate changes took place and newer products have since been made with tempered soda-lime glass. As a consumer, you can easily determine which type of glass your glassware is made from by looking at the brand name. If it is spelled in all capital letters (PYREX), it was made with borosilicate glass. If it is spelled in all small letters (pyrex), it was made with tempered soda-lime glass. Any newer borosilicate PYREX glassware is currently being made in Europe.

Anchor Hocking Glassware
This brand of glass bakeware is made of tempered soda-lime glass.

Libby Glassware
Libby glass bakeware is made of tempered soda-lime glass.

1790 Brand Glassware
This brand of glassware is made of borosilicate glass.

Amazon Basics Glass Bakeware
This brand of glassware is made of borosilicate glass.

OXO Glass Bakeware
This brand of glassware is made of borosilicate glass.

How to Minimize the Risk of Breakage
Glass bakeware comes with instructions for use and care. We should all read the paperwork that comes with such things, and follow the instructions carefully. But many times, the paperwork gets tossed aside and never read. So, here are some general tips for the safe use of glass bakeware.

* Avoid extreme changes in temperature, such as taking glassware directly from the freezer to a hot oven, or from a hot oven to the sink. Care should also be used when placing a frozen glassware item into the microwave.

* Do not add liquid to hot glassware. Allow it to cool down first.

* Do not place hot glass bakeware on cold or wet surfaces, countertops, or stovetops. Instead, place them on a dry towel or hot pads, wooden cutting board, cooling rack, or trivets designed for hot glass items.

* Do not put hot glassware into the refrigerator or freezer. Allow it to cool down first.

* Do not use glassware on the stovetop, under a broiler, or in a toaster oven.

* Do not heat empty glassware.

* Always preheat the oven first before placing glassware (WITH FOOD IN IT) in the oven.

* Don’t use glassware to microwave popcorn or heat food that is in browning wrappers.

* When heating cheese, oil, or butter in glassware in the microwave, don’t overheat it. Heat it only for the minimum time needed.

* Allow glass bakeware to cool completely before immersing it in water.

* Use care not to bump, poke, or scratch glass bakeware with utensils of any type.

* Do not use glass bakeware that has any chips, cracks or other damage, which can cause them to suddenly shatter.

* Do not microwave nearly empty glassware. Be sure it has ample food in it to absorb the heat generated by the radiation from the microwave.


Resources

https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/tempered-vs-borosilicate-glass/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/best-glass-storage-containers-4154183

https://healthy-cookware.com/why-glass-food-storage-containers-are-better-than-plastic/

https://icedteapitcher.myshopify.com/blogs/news/how-can-you-tell-if-pyrex-is-borosilicate

https://www.westlab.com/blog/2017/11/02/what-is-the-difference-between-soda-lime-glass-and-borosilicate-glass

https://www.dillmeierglass.com/news/what-is-annealed-glass

https://www.bullseyeglass.com/what-is-annealing-why-is-it-necessary.html

https://www.m3glass.com/blog/tempered-vs-annealed/

https://www.materialshub.com/material/soda-lime-glass/

https://www.lenntech.com/glass.htm

https://www.onedayglass.com/annealed-vs-tempered-glass-difference/

https://gizmodo.com/the-pyrex-glass-controversy-that-just-wont-die-1833040962

https://www.dontwasteyourmoney.com/best-glass-bakeware-set/

https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2011/09/06/consumer-reports-tests-glass-bakeware/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/glass-bakeware-safety-tips-1907162

https://www.amazon.com/Piece-Glass-Food-Storage-Container/dp/B01IU416YG

https://www.walmart.com/ip/1790-Glass-Food-Storage-Containers-with-Lids-Glass-Meal-Prep-Containers-Airtight-Glass-Lunch-Boxes-BPA-Free-FDA-Approved-Leak-Proof/921652275

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076HZFG41?th=1

https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-Oblong-Baking-Dishes-BPA-Free/dp/B08BS692GS/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?dchild=1&keywords=glass+bakeware&qid=1622758294&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyUUFTQ0VYREtRWElaJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNDAyODEyMVpWTFpYQVg4Ujk0NSZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMjQ1MTM0SDVNUUdPUjVXNlo3JndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

https://www.amazon.com/OXO-Grips-Freezer-Oven-Baking/dp/B019FHD0FK/ref=sr_1_12?dchild=1&keywords=glass+bakeware&qid=1622758418&sr=8-12

https://worldofpans.com/can-you-put-pyrex-in-oven/

https://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/68317/why-must-the-oven-be-preheated-for-a-pyrex-glass-pan

https://12tomatoes.com/limitations-pyrex-cookware/

https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/pyrex-dish/

 

Oregano

Oregano 101 – The Basics

 

Oregano 101 – The Basics

About Oregano
Oregano is a perennial herb that grows into a small shrub with multi-branched stems, with small, oval, grayish-green leaves. As the plant matures, it produces small white or pink flowers that are edible.

Oregano is an herb in the mint family. It is a close “cousin” to marjoram. Oregano is native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia. People have used it for thousands of years for both culinary and medicinal uses. Ancient Greeks and Romans associated oregano with joy and happiness, and used it at both weddings and funerals. The couple to be married was adorned with wreaths or garlands of oregano to ensure long years of love and happiness. Graves were planted with oregano to help the deceased find peace and tranquility in the next life.

Ancient Greeks discovered the plant had medicinal properties and used it to treat a variety of ailments. Oregano eventually was taken to China where it was prescribed to relieve fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, and itchy skin. In the middle ages, people used oregano to treat rheumatism, toothache, indigestion, and cough. Later, oregano was consumed throughout Europe and Northern Africa where it was used to flavor meats, fish, and even wine. Oregano was hardly known in the United States before World War II. Soldiers discovered the herb during the Italian Campaign and brought the herb to the United States, with suggested ways to use it. Its popularity in America has grown ever since.

Oregano is very popular in Mediterranean cuisines, especially Greek and Italian foods. The leaves have a distinct aroma with a warm, slightly bitter flavor. The intensity of the flavor of oregano can vary among the different varieties. Also, growing conditions (season, climate, and soil) affect the flavor of oregano, so it can vary from a mild to intense, biting flavor.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Even though we don’t eat a lot of oregano at any one time, the herb has an impressive list of compounds known to have disease prevention and health promoting properties.

Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties. Thymol, one of the noteworthy compounds in oregano is known to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. In a 2019 study, thymol and carvacrol, another important compound found in oregano essential oil, were found to prevent various strains of Staphylococcus aureus from developing in meat and dairy products, suggesting it could be used to deter bacterial growth in food. Researchers tested the antimicrobial effects of oregano oil against an array of microbes and found it to be effective against eleven different strains of bacteria.

Oregano is also an excellent source of Vitamin C, which is well-known for its antioxidant properties and help in warding off infections.

Antioxidants. Oregano is rich in antioxidant compounds, including Vitamin A, carotenes, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin. It has been rated to be a plant among the highest with antioxidant benefits. These compounds protect us from dangerous free radical molecules that play a role in aging and various disease processes. Animal studies suggest that oregano extract may reduce inflammation associated with autoimmune arthritis, allergic asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Promotes Healthy Digestion. Oregano stimulates the release of gastric juices, promoting healthy digestion and movement of intestinal contents.

Source of Important Minerals. Oregano is an excellent source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium, an important electrolyte in cellular and body fluids, is well-known for helping to control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese functions as a co-factor in the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is well-known for helping to prevent anemia, while magnesium and calcium are essential for healthy bones.

How to Select Oregano
Dried oregano is available in just about any grocery store you can name. Fresh oregano is found in the refrigerated produce section of many grocery stores. Many people prefer the flavor of fresh oregano over dried. Also, fresh oregano is richer in essential oils, and vitamins and minerals than its dried counterpart.

When shopping for fresh oregano, select those with a vibrant green color and a firm stem. There should be no mold, discoloration or yellowing.  They should not look wilted.

How to Store Oregano
Do not wash fresh oregano until you are ready to use it. The excess moisture could invite decay.

There are different ways fresh oregano can be stored…

(1) Store fresh oregano in the refrigerator in the original clamshell container it came in. Stored this way, it will keep for a few days.

(2) Store fresh oregano in the refrigerator, in a zip-lock bag. Like the plastic clamshell container, fresh herbs kept this way will have a tendency to dry out and should be used within three days.

(3) Store fresh oregano loosely wrapped, jelly roll style, in a slightly damp paper towel or cloth, placed loosely in a plastic bag, and kept in the refrigerator. When stored this way, it may keep for up to one week.

(4) Fresh oregano may also be kept like fresh cut flowers, standing up, cut side down, in a glass with a little water. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. Change the water every day or two. Try to use oregano kept this way within one week.

Store dried oregano in an airtight container in a cool, dry, place, away from a heat source and light. For best flavor, use it within six months.

How to Freeze Oregano
First, wash and dry your fresh oregano sprigs. Remove the leaves from the stems and place them loosely in a freezer bag. Remove as much air from the bag as you can. Try to place it somewhere in the freezer where the leaves won’t get crushed. Use within one year.

Fresh oregano may also be frozen in ice cubes. Wash and remove the leaves from stems. Place a measured amount of leaves in ice cube trays. Fill with water and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag or container. To use, simply add however many cubes you need to soups, sauces, stews, or marinades. Use your cubes within one year.

How to Dry Oregano
Like storing and freezing fresh oregano, there are different ways it can be dried.

(1) Wash and dry the fresh oregano on the stems. Tie the stems toward the cut side, and hang them upside down to dry in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight. The area should have plenty of ventilation. Once dried, the bundle can be placed in a bag or container and stored away from light and heat. Use within six months for best flavor. To save space, the leaves can easily be removed from the stems before being stored.

(2) Wash and dry the fresh oregano on the stems. Place the oregano, stems and all, in a clean paper bag that is large enough so the stems won’t be overly crowded. Close the paper bag by folding over the top. Lay the bag on its side in a cool, dry place. Two or three times a day, gently shake the bag to keep any branches from sticking together and turn the bag over. Check it periodically for dryness, starting after a week or so. When they are completely dry, remove the leaves from the stems and place them in an airtight container. Store it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Use within six months for best flavor.

(3) Fresh oregano may also be dried in a dehydrator. Wash and pat the stems and leaves dry. Place the stems on a mesh dehydrator sheet and follow the manufacturer’s directions for drying your herbs. The usual temperature for drying herbs is as low as possible, about 95°F. Allow them to dehydrate until they are crispy and completely dry. Remove the leaves from the stems and transfer them to an airtight container. As with the other methods, store it in a cool, dry place away from a heat source and light. Use within six months for best flavor.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Oregano
* Add dried oregano at the beginning of cooking to allow it to rehydrate and the flavor to be released. Add fresh oregano at the end of cooking so the flavor will remain in your food.

* Some varieties of oregano can be spicier than others. Italian oregano is sweeter and milder in flavor. Greek and Mexican oregano is hotter and spicier in flavor.

* If your pizza is lacking that “classic” pizza flavor, sprinkle it with a little dried oregano. Oregano is the herb that makes pizza taste like pizza.

* Try adding oregano to tomato-based pasta dishes, omelets, breads, roasted potatoes, kebabs, chicken, and lentils.

* Add a little sprinkle of dried oregano leaves to a green salad for a spicy flavor.

* If a recipe calls for fresh oregano and all you have is dried (or vice versa), here’s the conversion rate: 1 part of dried oregano = 3 parts of fresh. Example: 1 teaspoon of dried oregano = 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) of fresh oregano.

* If you’re making your own fresh dinner rolls, finely mince a few tablespoons of fresh oregano leaves, and knead it directly in the dough for fresh herb rolls.

* Try adding some fresh, chopped oregano leaves to a pot of beans during the last 15 minutes of cooking for an earthy oregano flavor.

* Make a robust, savory pesto using fresh oregano instead of basil leaves. Serve a little on a green salad, toss it with roasted vegetables, or brush it on your favorite bread.

* For a simple and satisfying salad, sprinkle oregano on sliced tomato and mozzarella cheese. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.

* If you elect to use oregano oil on your skin, be sure to dilute it with a carrier oil.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Oregano
Basil, capers, cayenne, cilantro, cumin, marjoram, pepper (black), salt

Foods That Go Well with Oregano
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (in general), beef, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, fish (and other seafood), lamb, pork, tahini, turkey, veal

Vegetables: Bell peppers, chiles, eggplant, endive, fennel, garlic, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, scallions, squash (summer and winter), tomatoes and tomato sauce, vegetables (roasted, stir-fried), zucchini

Fruits: Citrus (in general), lemons, olives, orange

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, grains (in general), pasta, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (i.e., feta, soft, white)

Other Foods: Mustard (Dijon), oil (esp. olive)

Oregano has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Chili, Greek cuisine, Italian cuisine, kebabs, marinades, Mediterranean cuisines, Mexican cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisines, pasta dishes, pizza, salad dressings, salads (esp. Greek), sauces (esp. pasta, pizza, tomato), soups (esp. minestrone, spinach, tomato, yogurt), Southwest American cuisine, stews, stuffings

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Oregano
Add oregano to any of the following combinations…

Cannellini beans + zucchini
Feta cheese + tomatoes [in salads]
Garlic + lemon [in salad dressings]
Lemon juice + olive oil [in marinades]

Recipe Links
Chimichurri Sauce https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/68003/chimichurri-sauce/

Fast, Fresh Grape Tomato Salad https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/223168/fast-fresh-grape-tomato-salad/

Cajun spice Mix https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/149221/cajun-spice-mix/

Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/242352/greek-lemon-chicken-and-potatoes/

Daddy Eddie’s Roast Pork, Puerto Rican-Style https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/254168/daddy-eddies-roast-pork-pernil-puerto-rican-style/

Homemade Pizza Sauce https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/234536/how-to-make-homemade-pizza-sauce/

Herbs de Provence https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/223272/herbs-de-provence/

Absolutely Fabulous Greek/House Salad https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/36520/absolutely-fabulous-greekhouse-dressing/

Oregano Recipes https://www.foodandwine.com/seasonings/herbs/oregano/oregano-recipes?slide=91503ca7-1673-4fde-b3b1-1f75cdfa0db9#91503ca7-1673-4fde-b3b1-1f75cdfa0db9

Grilled Yellow Squash and Zucchini Pasta Salad https://www.sunset.com/recipe/grilled-yellow-squash-zucchini-pasta-salad

Orange, Radicchio, and Oregano Salad https://www.sunset.com/recipe/orange-radicchio-oregano-salad

Grilled Potato Salad https://www.sunset.com/recipe/grilled-potato-salad

Tagliatelle with Fresh Oregano Pesto https://www.tastymediterraneo.com/tagliatelle-with-fresh-oregano-pesto/

 

Resources
https://www.americanspice.com/blogs/fun-facts-on-oregano/

https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/oregano.html

https://www.thespruceeats.com/oregano-storage-1807785

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/hgen/freezing-herbs.htm

https://www.livingonadime.com/herb-guide/

https://www.spicesinc.com/p-510-what-spices-go-with-what-meat.aspx

https://www.spicesinc.com/p-510-what-spices-go-with-what-meat.aspx

https://www.thekitchn.com/5-ways-to-use-fresh-oregano-from-your-garden-ingredient-spotlight-191094

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266259#benefits

https://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/herbal-history-oregano

http://www.indepthinfo.com/oregano/history.shtml

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266259#risks

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Spearmint

Spearmint (Mint) 101 – The Basics

 

Spearmint 101 – The Basics

About Spearmint
When someone uses the general term, “mint,” they are usually referring to spearmint, Mentha spicata. This same perennial herb has also been called garden mint, lamb’s mint, Our Lady’s mint, spire mint, and sage of Bethlehem.

Spearmint is native to the Mediterranean region, where it has long been a popular herb used as both food and medicine. In ancient times, mint was known as an herb of hospitality. The leaves were used to clean and scent tables and floors. It has been stuffed in pillows and mattresses and scattered on floors to cover odors and deter pests and rodents. Mint was also used with other herbs in tombs as an aromatic. The Romans brought mint to Europe. Mint was carried to America by early English settlers who used it medicinally, to make tea, and as an aromatic for the body and home.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Mint is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and folate, along with the trace minerals manganese and iron. It also contains some calcium and magnesium.

Digestive Upsets. Mint tea has been used to help relieve nausea, cramping, and indigestion.

Respiratory Problems. Inhaling steam scented with mint has been used to help relieve respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis.

Antibacterial Agent. Spearmint is added to many toothpastes and mouthwashes. In addition to freshening the breath, spearmint has been found to contain antimicrobial properties that can help kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. Furthermore, research has shown that spearmint essential oil can help destroy harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and Listeria, that cause foodborne illnesses.

Lowers Blood Sugar. Animal studies have shown that spearmint tea may help to lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. Human studies in this area are lacking, but the animal studies that have been conducted are promising.

Reduces Stress. In many countries, spearmint tea is commonly used to induce relaxation and reduce stress. Animal studies have shown that spearmint tea does, in fact, produce such an effect. The menthol in the leaves may be responsible for this effect. So, if you’re feeling stressed, enjoy a cup of mint tea! Furthermore, mint aromatherapy has been used to help ease mental sluggishness and agitation.

Relieves Arthritis. Animal and human studies have found that spearmint can help relieve arthritis pain. People who drank spearmint tea twice a day for 16 weeks had reduced stiffness, pain, and physical disability from arthritis of the knee.

How to Select Spearmint
Look for fresh mint leaves that are bright green and not wilted. If possible, smell them. Their aroma will clue you into their degree of freshness. If they have no aroma, they’re not fresh. If your bunch of leaves was tied together with a twist tie or rubber band, remove it when you get it home.

How to Store Fresh Spearmint
Fresh spearmint is delicate and can bruise easily. If it was purchased in a closed plastic container, store it dry in the refrigerator, in that same container until you’re ready to use it. Wait to wash it until you’re ready to use it.

If your mint leaves were bundled, they may be stored in a couple different ways. First, you can store them like cut flowers, in the refrigerator. Place the stems, cut side down in a glass or jar with a small amount of water. Cover them loosely with a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. Change the water every day or two.

Another way to store fresh mint leaves would be to spread them out on a SLIGHTLY damp paper towel or cloth. Roll the towel or cloth like a jelly-roll and place that loosely in a plastic bag. Store it in the refrigerator. Try to use your stored fresh mint within a week.

How to Preserve Mint
Freeze. Fresh mint may be washed, removed from stems, chopped, then frozen in ice cube trays with water. Transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag or container and use them when you want to add mint flavor to cold beverages or any cooked dish calling for mint.

Fresh mint may also be washed, dried, then frozen whole in an airtight plastic bag. This mint would be best used in pesto, sauce, or jelly.

Dry. There are several ways that fresh mint leaves can be dried.

(1) Wash the mint leaves while still on the stems. Carefully dry the leaves, then remove the stems. Place the leaves on a baking tray in a single layer. Be sure the leaves are completely dry before proceeding. Place the tray in a warm oven at its lowest temperature or 180°F until the leaves are dry. It may take two hours or longer. Watch them carefully so they do not burn. Allow them to cool completely, then store them in an airtight container. The dried leaves may be left whole or crumbled. If crumbled, sift them through a screen to remove any remaining stems.

(2) Fresh mint leaves may also be dried in a dehydrator. Prepare the leaves as detailed above and lay them in a single layer on a mesh dehydrator tray. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for the recommended temperature and length of time to dry the leaves.

(3) Yet another way to dry fresh spearmint would be to wash and dry the leaves completely. They may be removed from the stems or left on. Place them in a paper bag and close the bag by folding over the top edges. Lay the bag on its side and shake the bag to disburse the leaves so they’re not in a big clump. Place the bag away from a heat source and sunlight. Two or three times a day, shake the bag and turn it over to “toss” the leaves around, then lay it on its side again. Continue to do this until the leaves are completely dry. This may take a week or more. Once dry, remove the leaves from the stems, if not already done and transfer them to an airtight container.

After your dried mint leaves have been placed in their storage container, check the container after a few days to be sure there is no moisture inside. This would indicate that the leaves were not completely dry, and will invite decay. If moisture is found, remove the leaves and dry them again.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Spearmint
* Recipes that call for “mint” generally mean spearmint, so the two terms are usually interchangeable.

* For a quick dessert or snack, combine sliced strawberries, mint leaves, and yogurt.

* Make an easy mint tea by placing 5 to 10 torn mint leaves in a mug. Muddle (smash) them just a bit with a wooden spoon. Pour hot (not boiling) water over the leaves and allow them to steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Removing the leaves is optional. Enjoy!

* To make mint tea using dried leaves, steep 1 teaspoon of dried leaves in a cup of hot water for about three minutes. Strain and enjoy!

* Add 3 or 4 fresh mint leaves to your favorite chocolate or berry smoothie.

* Make a delicious strawberry salad that can be eaten as it is, used as a topping for a green salad, or as a topping for your favorite bread along with some goat or ricotta cheese. Combine 2 cups of sliced strawberries with 10 to 20 chopped fresh mint leaves, an equal number of chopped fresh basil leaves, and 3 to 4 tablespoons of your favorite balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

* Dress up diced watermelon with equal parts of chopped fresh mint and basil leaves, some feta cheese, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

* Add fresh mint leaves to plain or sparkling water for a nice refresher. Better yet, freeze mint leaves with water in ice cube trays. Cool your water with mint ice cubes.

* When ingesting spearmint, use only dried or fresh leaves. Use spearmint essential oil for aromatherapy or dilute it in a carrier oil when massaging it on the body.

* Add fresh mint leaves to a mixed fruit salad to make it extra special.

* Make a simple refreshing sachet by placing some dried mint leaves in a small square of fabric or cheesecloth. Tie the ends together and place it in drawers, closets, shoes, or anywhere you want to freshen with the aroma of mint.

* Here’s a fun activity if you like mint-chocolate. Wash and dry fresh mint leaves. One at a time, dip each leaf in your favorite melted chocolate. Place the leaves on a wax paper-lined dish. When all the leaves have been dipped, place the dish in the refrigerator until the chocolate has hardened. Enjoy!

* Try adding finely chopped mint leaves to your favorite chocolate pudding or ice cream.

* If you only have dried spearmint and need fresh, or vice versa, here’s the conversion rate: 1 part of dried mint = 3 parts of fresh. Example: 1 teaspoon of dried mint is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint.

* When adding fresh spearmint to a cooked dish, add it toward the end of cooking, or when cooking is finished, for best flavor. When adding dried spearmint to a cooked dish, add it early during cooking so it will have time to rehydrate and release its flavor.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Spearmint
Basil, cardamom, cilantro, coriander, dill, lemongrass, lovage, parsley

Foods That Go Well with Spearmint
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (esp. black, green, white), bean shoots, beef, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, lamb, lentils, lima beans, peanuts, peas, pine nuts, pistachios, pork, salmon (and other seafood), turkey, veal

Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chiles, chives, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, garlic, ginger, jicama, kale, lettuce, marinated vegetables, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, radishes, scallions, shallots, spinach, squash (winter and summer), tomatoes, zucchini

Fruits: Apples, berries (esp. blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), citrus fruits (in general), coconut, figs, fruits (in general, dried and fresh), grapefruit, grapes and grape juice, lemon, lime, mangoes (green), melon (esp. honeydew), olives, oranges and orange juice, papaya (esp. green), peaches, pears, pineapple, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, corn, couscous, grains (in general), millet, noodles (Asian, esp. rice), pasta, quinoa, rice, wheat berries

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (i.e., feta, ricotta), coconut milk, cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Bourbon, chocolate, gin, rum, sugar (esp. brown), vinegar (esp. balsamic, white wine)

Spearmint has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Asian cuisines, beverages (juleps, lassis, lemonades, mojitos, teas), cakes, candies, chutneys, curries, desserts, frostings, ice cream, Indian cuisine, jellies and jams, Mediterranean cuisines, Middle Eastern cuisine, Moroccan cuisine, pestos, pies, pilafs, raitas, risotto, salads (bean, fruit, grain, green, Thai, vegetables), salsas, sauces, soups, Southeast Asian cuisines, stuffings, tabbouleh, teas, Vietnamese cuisines

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Spearmint
Add spearmint to any of the following combinations…

Artichokes + chiles
Balsamic vinegar + berries
Balsamic vinegar + peaches + ricotta cheese
Bell peppers + chiles + garlic + papaya + pineapple
Cardamom + ginger + lemon
Chiles + cilantro + garlic + olive oil + vinegar
Chiles + lemon + shallots + sugar
Citrus + zucchini
Cucumber + yogurt
Feta cheese + lentils
Feta cheese + peas + rice
Lemon + strawberries
Olive oil + white beans + white wine vinegar

Recipe Links
20 Recipes That Use Fresh Mint https://www.thekitchn.com/10-recipes-that-use-fresh-mint-kitchn-recipe-roundup-188533

50 Ways to Cook with Fresh, Fragrant Mint https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/get-fresh-with-mint-recipes-gallery

20 Recipes for Mint Lovers https://www.foodandwine.com/seasonings/herbs/mint/mint

14 Recipes That Freshen Up Dinner with Mint https://www.brit.co/dinner-recipes-with-mint/

Thai Ground Beef Recipe with Mint, Carrots, and Peppers https://eatingrichly.com/thai-ground-beef-recipe-with-mint-carrots-and-peppers/

Spiced Beef Stew with Carrots and Mint https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spiced-beef-stew-with-carrots-and-mint-237295

63 Fresh Mint Recipes to Help You Use Up That Bumper Crop https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/fresh-mint-recipes/

Middle Eastern Tomato Salad https://kalynskitchen.com/recipe-favorites-middle-eastern-tomato/

27 Fresh Recipes for Leftover Mint https://www.taste.com.au/quick-easy/galleries/recipes-leftover-mint/0hgpmndk

18 Recipes for Leftover Mint https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/aug/26/18-recipes-for-leftover-mint

Resources
https://www.elizabethrider.com/10-ways-use-fresh-mint/

https://kalynskitchen.com/cooking-with-fresh-mint/

https://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Mint_308.php

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/spices-and-herbs/226/2

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/spearmint#TOC_TITLE_HDR_12

https://www.encyclopedia.com/plants-and-animals/plants/plants/spearmint

https://www.thespruceeats.com/make-your-own-dried-mint-1706225

https://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/10-amazing-things-you-can-do-with-mint/

https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/how-to-buy-and-store-mint-peppermint-spearmint-article

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Banana-Strawberry Nice Cream

Banana-Strawberry Nice Cream

Here’s a simple recipe for a refreshing, healthful dessert. It makes a lot, so it can easily feed two people for a nice, light dessert or snack. To see a video demonstration on how to make this delicious mixture, watch below!

Enjoy!
Judi

Banana-Strawberry Nice Cream
Makes 2 Servings

1 Frozen banana
4 Large strawberries, fresh or frozen
10 Red grapes, fresh or frozen
2 to 4 Tbsp Extra creamy oat milk OR coconut milk

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth, thick and creamy. Add more milk (of choice) to make it softer, if needed. Enjoy!

Tip: If using all frozen fruit, more milk may be needed to help it blend up and become creamy. If using some fresh fruit, less milk can be used to make it a creamy texture. Add more milk, and maybe even some veggies of choice, and make this into a delicious smoothie!

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Baking Soda

The Many Uses of Baking Soda (What It Is and How To Use It)

 

What is baking soda?
Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. It is an alkaline compound that will produce carbon dioxide gas when combined with an acid. It is found in nature in crystalline form, and is ground into a fine powder for culinary and household use.

How is it used in baking?
Baking soda is used as a leavening agent in baked goods that contain an acidic ingredient. When it comes in contact with an acid, such as vinegar, citrus juice, buttermilk, yogurt or cream of tartar, it forms carbon dioxide gas bubbles. The small bubbles get trapped in the food batter, causing it to inflate, or rise. The batter is then baked immediately.

Baking soda is often used in baked goods (such as quick breads, pancakes, muffins, cakes and fried foods) that contain acidic ingredients so it will create the leavening or rise in the finished product. Since the reaction with acid occurs quickly, the leavening time is much shorter than when yeast is used as a leavening agent. When baking soda is used as a leavening agent, the foods are cooked immediately. When the food is heated, the leavening is “fixed” in place so the expansion caused by the gas bubbles becomes set. If the food is not baked immediately, the gas bubbles may deflate and the product may not rise as expected.

Tip: When using baking soda in a baked product, be sure to add it to the dry ingredients before liquid ingredients are added. Stir or whisk the dry ingredients well to combine everything before liquid is added. Otherwise, if the baking soda is not disbursed well, the finished product may have large holes in it.

Is baking soda the same thing as baking powder?
Although baking powder does contain baking soda, the two are not the same thing. Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda, one or more acid salts (usually cream of tartar and sodium aluminum sulfate), and cornstarch (to absorb moisture so a reaction won’t take place until liquid is added to a batter). Baking powder usually causes two reactions at different times. This type of baking powder is often referred to as “double acting baking powder.” The first reaction takes place when liquid is added to the batter. The acid and baking soda in the baking powder react causing bubbles to form in the batter. The second reaction takes place when the batter is placed in the oven. The gas bubbles expand, causing the baked product to expand even further. The heat in the oven causes the expanded batter to “set” maintaining the lift or rise.

Since there are two reactions when baking powder is used, there can be a slight delay (15 to 20 minutes) before the product is baked, and leavening will still occur. Baking powder is typically used in recipes that do not contain acidic ingredients.

Shelf Life of Baking Soda vs Baking Powder
When stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, baking soda has an indefinite shelf life, although some producers recommend buying fresh baking soda every three years.

Baking powder should also be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. It generally has a shelf life of six months to one year. Check the “Best by” date on the canister to determine its age. Discard baking powder when it is no longer active.

How to Test the Activity of Baking Powder
Place ½ teaspoon of baking powder in a bowl. Pour ¼ cup of boiling water over the baking powder. It should immediately bubble up violently. If it does, it’s still good. If it doesn’t bubble up, it is old and should be discarded. To see a demonstration of how this is done, view my video here…

How to Test the Activity of Baking Soda
Mix ¼ teaspoon of baking soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar. The mixture should bubble up immediately. If it does not, the baking soda needs to be replaced. To see a demonstration of how this is done, view my video here…

Are baking soda and baking powder interchangeable in recipes?
No, the two are not interchangeable in recipes.

What happens if you use too much baking soda or baking powder in a recipe?
Too much baking soda added to a recipe may cause a soapy flavor and a coarse, open crumb (very large air bubbles/spaces in the finished product). Baking soda can cause cocoa powder to redden when baked. This is a normal reaction and the origin for the name “Devil’s Food Cake”.

Too much baking powder can cause the product to taste bitter. It can also cause the batter to rise too fast, then collapse, resulting in a flattened baked product. For instance, cakes made with too much baking powder will be sunken in the middle and have a coarse crumb (extra-large cells or air spaces).

What can I do with baking soda besides bake with it?
THIS is where the list gets long. Beside using baking soda as a leavening agent in baked goods, it has MANY other uses in the kitchen and around the house. The following is just a smattering of possibilities, since new uses for baking soda are being found all the time.

In the Kitchen
* Baking soda is well known for its ability to absorb odors. A small bowl or box of baking soda is often placed in refrigerators, freezers, or other enclosed areas to absorb odors. Replace it once a month for best results.

* Rubber gloves in the kitchen can get wet inside and smelly. To keep them fresh, sprinkle a little baking soda inside them. You’ll also find they are easier to slip on and off.

* Loosen baked on grease by sprinkling baking soda in the pan. Add some dish detergent and hot water. Allow the pan to soak for a while. The pan will be easier to clean. [NOTE: Do not use baking soda on aluminum cookware or bakeware. It will react with the aluminum and may discolor the pan.]

* Help to soften dry beans when you cook them and make them less gas-producing, add a little baking soda to the soaking water. This can be especially helpful if the beans are old…the older the are, the drier they get, and the longer it takes to cook them. Shorten the cooking time by adding baking soda to the soaking water. Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per pound of beans in one gallon of water. Rinse them well after being soaked. A little baking soda may also be added to the cooking water. A mere ¼ teaspoon may be added to the cooking water to soften the beans and help them to cook faster. This is due to the alkalizing effect of the baking soda.

* Baking soda is mildly abrasive. This property makes it an effective agent for removing stains from coffee mugs, kitchen counters, microwaves, and kitchen tiles, along with grease stains. Make a paste with a little baking soda and a small amount of water. GENTLY rub it on the stained area with a sponge or cloth. When in doubt, do a test rub in an inconspicuous place. Rinse with plain water and buff the area dry. To see a video demonstration of how to remove stains from a coffee mug, watch this…

* Neutralize trash odors. If your kitchen trash can has an odor, sprinkle some baking soda in it to help neutralize the odors.

* Make fluffy omelets by adding ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to every three eggs used in the omelet. Don’t be tempted to add more baking soda, as it may make the eggs taste bland. Also, don’t oversalt your eggs since baking soda contains sodium.

* Baking soda has been found to remove chemical residues from the surface of conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables. Soak the food in a solution of 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 1 to 2 cups of water for 12 to 15 minutes. Rinse the food well, pat it dry, then store it and use it as usual. Note that this removes chemical residues from the surface. It will not remove chemicals that have soaked into the food. [This is a procedure I use on a regular basis and I can say from personal experience that it works. Here’s a video I have on this topic…

* Baking soda has been used to remove tarnish from silverware. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to the foil-lined pan. SLOWLY pour in ½ cup of white vinegar. (Yes, there will be a reaction!) Pour in one cup of boiling water, then place your tarnished silver in the pan. The tarnish should begin to disappear almost immediately. Most of the silverware can be removed within 30 seconds. Heavily stained silverware may take up to one minute to be cleaned. Rinse your cleaned silverware in plain water and wash as usual. The tarnish will be left as a residue at the bottom of the baking pan. Discard it and the foil, then wash the pan.

* Another way to clean tarnished silverware is to gently rub a paste of three parts of baking soda to one part of water onto the silverware with a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse and dry.

* Make a paste of baking soda and water and rub it on plastic containers to remove stains.

* Try baking soda as a natural oven cleaner. [Note that this should be used only on conventional ovens, not self-cleaning ovens.]  Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the oven, while avoiding getting it on the heating element. Spray with a water bottle to dampen the baking soda. The sides can be cleaned by spreading on a paste made of 3 parts of baking soda with 1 part of water. Allow it to sit overnight. Scrub it off in the morning. Rinse thoroughly.

* Use baking soda and vinegar to remove burned on milk from a [NON-ALUMINUM] pot. This is a trick that I learned a long time ago and it has worked many times for me and my video viewers as well. Simply sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the burned milk in the pot. Add enough water to the pot to cover the burned area by about one inch. Add a generous portion of white vinegar to the pot. (Notice there are no specific measurements here…that’s deliberate!) The mixture will bubble vigorously. Turn the stove on high and bring the mixture to a boil. (Monitor it carefully because the baking soda and vinegar will quickly bubble up and raise within the pot. If it gets too high, lift the pot off the stove briefly and the bubbles will go back down.) Allow the mixture to boil for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to sit on the burner until the mixture cools completely. The pot is ready to be washed. The burned area should lift off easily with little scrubbing. Here’s a video where I demonstrated this technique …

* For an effective homemade cleaning solution for your refrigerator, simply mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a quart of warm water. Use the solution to wipe off the refrigerator, inside and out.

* To deodorize and clean your garbage disposal, pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain while simultaneously running warm water. Then run your disposal for one minute, while running warm water, until all the baking soda is gone. This will help keep the grinding mechanism free of grease.

* To remove odors from plastic containers, first wash the container well. Then add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and fill the container with hot water. Place the lid on the container and shake well to dissolve the baking soda. Allow it to soak for 2 hours up to overnight (especially with strong odors). Wash the container well. This method can also work with juice pitchers, thermal bottles, lunch boxes, and any glass or plastic food container.

* To remove odors from your hands after preparing foods like garlic, onions or fish, wet your hands, sprinkle on some baking soda. Rub your hands together well, then rinse and dry.

* If the inside of your microwave is REALLY dirty with a lot of baked-on splattered food, baking soda can come to the rescue. Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Let this solution boil in the microwave on high for a few minutes, so that moisture collects on the inside walls of the microwave. Remove the bowl, then use paper towels to wipe down the inside of the microwave, including the door, and door seal. Then wipe it all down again with a damp sponge or cloth.

* To deodorize a wood cutting board, apply a paste of 3 parts of baking soda to 1 part of water. Leave the paste on for about 10 minutes. Rinse well, then dry.

* Remove black heel marks from kitchen linoleum or vinyl flooring with baking soda and a damp sponge or nylon scrubber. Rinse and dry the area.

* If you’re baking and a recipe calls for baking powder and you don’t have any, use ½ teaspoon of baking soda plus 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar in place of 2 teaspoons of baking powder. Since this is not a “double-acting” baking powder substitute, bake the item immediately after the liquid and dry ingredients are mixed together.

Personal Care
* Baking soda has been used to relieve heartburn or acid reflux. Dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink the mixture slowly. Note that baking soda is high in sodium. If you need to restrict your sodium intake, this tactic may not be recommended for you. Check with your healthcare practitioner first. Also, do not drink this on a regular basis as it may cause metabolic alkalosis if ingested too often.

* Some people have used a baking soda solution as a mouthwash. Add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to a half glass of warm water. Swish around your mouth as usual. This will increase the pH of your mouth, which can inhibit the growth of bacteria. It also has been found to freshen the breath.

* Baking soda has been found to soothe canker sores inside the mouth. Rinse your mouth with baking soda mouthwash (as in the previous bullet point…1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in half a glass of warm water) once a day until the sore heals.

* Toothpaste with baking soda has been found to whiten teeth and remove dental plaque more effectively than toothpaste without baking soda. This is believed to be due to the mild abrasiveness and antimicrobial properties of baking soda.

* Some people use baking soda as an effective deodorant. Patting your armpits with a little baking soda can help to neutralize the acidic waste products of bacteria that cause the odor.

* A baking soda bath is often recommended to soothe itchy skin from insect bites and bee stings. Add 1 to 2 cups of baking soda to a tub of warm water. Soak in the tub for 10 to 40 minutes. Rinse with fresh water afterwards and drink plenty of water. If you don’t want to bother with a bath, just make a paste of baking soda and a little water. Apply the paste to the affected area and allow it to sit for a little while until the itching or stinging sensation stops. Rinse the paste off with cool water.

* For sunburn relief, add a few heaping tablespoons of baking soda to a bath tub along with a cup of oats. Fill the tub with cool water and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not scrub the skin. Dab yourself dry with a towel afterwards.

* Sooth the irritation from vaginal yeast infections with a baking soda bath. A 2014 study found that baking soda killed Candida cells that led to yeast infections. Furthermore, baking soda has been found to have antifungal affects.

* Help sooth diaper rash by soaking the baby’s bottom in a baking soda bath for 10 minutes, three times a day. Use 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a tub of water. Pat the baby dry (do not rub the skin).

* Make a soothing foot bath by soaking feet for 10 minutes in a solution of 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of baking soda in 4 cups of warm water. This will relieve tired feet, soften calluses, and soothe athlete’s foot.

* To keep hair combs and brushes clean and free of oils, soak them overnight in a solution of 1 teaspoon of baking soda in one cup of water. In the morning, rinse them off and you’re ready to start your day!

* A baking soda bath can help relieve the itching and redness from eczema. Add ¼ cup baking soda to the bath water. Soak in the tub for 10 to 15 minutes. Pat the skin with a towel to remove excess water, and apply moisturizer to the skin afterwards, while the skin is still damp.

* Irritation from poison ivy and poison oak can be relieved with a baking soda bath. Dissolve ½ cup of baking soda in a tub of warm water. Soak up to 30 minutes.

* Urinary tract infections can be relieved with a baking soda bath. Add ¼ cup of baking soda to the bath water. Adults, soak up to 30 minutes. Young children should soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this twice a day.

* Baking soda can be used to remove odors from shoes. Put two tablespoons of baking soda in the center of a thin cloth. Gather the corners of the cloth and secure the edges with a rubber band or string. Place a sachet inside each smelly shoe. Remove the sachet when you’re ready to wear the shoe.

Safety of Baking Soda Baths. Generally, baking soda baths are considered to be safe and well-tolerated by most people. However, do not take a baking soda bath if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have high blood pressure, have diabetes, have open wounds or serious infections, or are prone to fainting.

Around the House
* If you enjoy air fresheners in your home, try a homemade baking soda air freshener. Place 1/3 cup of baking soda in a small jar. Add 10 to 15 drops of your favorite essential oil. Cover the jar opening with a clean cloth and secure it with a string, ribbon or rubber band. When the scent starts to fade, gently shake the jar a few times. Add more essential oil as needed.

* Use baking soda to help whiten your laundry. Add ½ cup of baking soda to your washer along with your usual laundry detergent. The baking soda can help to remove stains from your clothes. Also, it will soften the water, so you may be able to use less laundry detergent.

* Baking soda can act as a multi-purpose cleaner in the bathroom. Make a paste with baking soda and a little water. The paste can be used to clean bathroom sinks, tiles, bathtubs, and showers. Use a sponge to apply the paste to scrub the area you want to clean. Allow it to sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Wipe the area down with a damp cloth afterwards.

* To clean your toilet bowl, routinely sprinkle some baking soda in the bowl and scrub with a toilet brush. For stained bowls, pour in ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of white vinegar. Scrub with a toilet brush, then flush. Be careful when doing this in case the bubbling action splashes upward!

* To remove perspiration stains from clothing, make a paste of baking soda and a little water. Rub the paste into the stained area and let it sit for one hour, then launder as usual.

* Did you accidentally spill a little gasoline on your clothes? Remove the odor by sprinkling the stained area with some baking soda. Place your clothes in a trash bag and seal it up. Let them sit there for a few days, then launder as usual.

* Is it winter and you’ve run out of ice melt? Sprinkle a little baking soda on the ice on your steps. It will provide some traction and melt the ice. Unlike rock salt, it won’t damage indoor or outdoor surfaces.

* For a safe way to clean your toothbrush, let it soak in a baking soda and water solution overnight.

* Do you have clogged bathroom drains? For a simple drain cleaner, start by pouring a cup of boiling water down the drain to help loosen things up. Mix one cup of baking soda with 1 cup of salt.  Place ½ cup to 1 cup of white vinegar in a separate measuring cup. Alternately spoon the baking soda and salt mixture into the drain, flushing it with a little white vinegar to help the dry mixture go down to the clog. Be careful, as it will bubble up! Once all the dry mixture and vinegar have been placed in the drain, cover with the drain plug and wait for 15 minutes. Then pour a large pot of boiling water down the drain. This will clear most clogs.

* Mop your tile floors clean with a solution of ½ cup of baking soda in a bucket of warm water.

* Make cloth diapers easier to clean by first soaking them in a solution of ½ cup of baking soda in 2 quarts of warm water. They should come out cleaner when laundered.

* Help keep cut flowers longer by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the water in the vase.

* Help to keep your kitty’s litter box smelling fresh by sprinkling the bottom of the box with baking soda before adding litter. Use about one cup of baking soda to three pounds of litter. If you need to clean the box but are short on time, sprinkle some baking soda on top and give it a light stir. This will help keep odors in check for a short while until you can change the litter.

Resources
https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-baking-soda-p2-1328637

https://www.joyofbaking.com/bakingsoda.html

https://www.davidlebovitz.com/how-to-tell-if-baking-powder-is-still-good/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/baking-soda-benefits-uses#2.-Mouthwash

https://www.healthline.com/health/baking-soda-bath

https://pmaonline.com/posts/adult-primary-care/8-ways-to-treat-sunburn-at-home/

https://www.almanac.com/content/best-baking-soda-uses

https://www.liquidplumr.com/diy-plumbing-tip/how-baking-soda-and-vinegar-cleans-drains/

https://www.thankyourbody.com/uses-for-baking-soda/

https://www.networx.com/article/6-ways-not-to-use-baking-soda

https://www.readersdigest.ca/home-garden/tips/5-things-do-baking-soda/

https://www.cooksillustrated.com/articles/1745-can-baking-soda-make-beans-cook-faster

http://www.eatingwell.com/article/292167/the-weird-reason-you-should-be-adding-baking-soda-to-your-beans/

https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/degassing-beans/

https://nutritionfacts.org/questions/does-adding-baking-soda-to-soaking-beans-reduce-raffinose/

https://skillet.lifehacker.com/make-extra-tender-beans-with-a-little-baking-soda-1842156539

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-baking-powder-substitutes#TOC_TITLE_HDR_5

https://www.armandhammer.com/

Baker, Jerry. (2006) Grandma Putt’s Old-Time Vinegar, Garlic, Baking Soda, and 101 More Problem Solvers. USA: American Master Products, Inc.

Ciullo, Peter A. (1995) Baking Soda Bonanza. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Peppercorns

Peppercorns 101 – The Basics

 

Peppercorns 101 – The Basics

About Peppercorns
Pepper is native to India and has been a prized spice since ancient times. Ancient Greeks not only used pepper as a spice, but also as currency and a sacred offering used to honor the gods. It was also used to pay taxes and ransoms. In the Middle Ages, a man’s stockpile of peppercorns was indicative of his wealth.

In ancient times, pepper was also valued because it had some important culinary uses. Not only did it season otherwise bland food, but its spiciness could also mask the flavor of stale or spoiled food. Since there was little way to preserve food, its spoilage was a problem they continually dealt with.

The value of pepper sparked the development of the spice trade, which led to the exploration of undeveloped lands, and also the development of major merchant cities in Europe and the Middle East. Today, the major commercial producers of pepper are India and Indonesia.

Black, green, and white peppercorns are all berries from the same plant, Piper nigrum. The plant is a perennial climbing vine. The different colors reflect different stages of berry development and processing methods. Black peppercorns are picked when they are only half ripe and are about to turn red (as they ripen). They are dried, which causes them to shrivel and turn dark. Green peppercorns are picked when they are still green, before they begin to ripen. After being picked, they are either dried or steeped in brine. White peppercorns are picked when they are very ripe, and are then soaked in a brine to remove their outer shell, leaving just the inner seed. Black peppercorns are the most flavorful and pungent of all the peppercorns. They are available whole or ground.

Pink peppercorns are from a completely different plant, Schinus mole, which is related to ragweed. They are sometimes referred to as false peppercorns since they come from a different plant species. Other “false” peppercorns include the Szechuan, Negro, and Long peppercorns.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Peppercorns are rich in a variety of nutrients, including Vitamins A (in the form of beta-carotene) and K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus. It also has antioxidant and antibacterial properties.

Pepper has been used to help alleviate the following ailments: abdominal pain from digestive problems (such as heartburn, indigestion, constipation, and inadequate stomach acids), cold, diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery, flu, fluid retention, mental exhaustion, nicotine cravings, obesity (by stimulating the breakdown of fat cells), pain, poor memory, depression, respiratory mucus, runny nose, sprains, tumors, ulcers, flatulence, nausea, and weakness from coma or vertigo.

Caution: Dosages and applications would vary by ailment and individual characteristics like current medications, age, and weight, so it is advisable to follow the advice of a medical practitioner when using pepper for any medicinal purposes.

When pepper is ingested above usual culinary amounts, it is known to interact with the following drugs: Coumadin, Inderal, Advil, Naprosyn, Tylenol, Neodur, and smoking cessation aids.

Types of Peppercorns
Black Peppercorns.  Black peppercorns come from the same plant as white peppercorns, Piper nigrum. They are harvested before they start to ripen. They are then dried, which causes them to shrivel and turn black. Their flavor is strong and biting, but not necessarily “hot.” The flavor of pepper is primarily due to its content of the compound piperine.

Suggested uses for black peppercorns: Use whole black peppercorns when pickling and making stock. Use cracked black peppercorns on meats and salads. Use ground black peppercorns for everything else.

White Peppercorns. White peppercorns come from the same plant as black peppercorns, Piper nigrum. They are harvested in the middle of the season and first soaked to remove the outer layer, then dried. Removing the outer husk prevents them from turning dark and preserves their light color. The flavor of white pepper is sharper and brighter than that of black pepper. When shopping for white peppercorns, choose ones that are creamy white (but not bleached white). They should be relatively uniform in size and have no specks of gray or black. White pepper will add a little “heat” to whatever food you flavor it with. White pepper goes especially well in soups, stews, marinades, and stir-fries. White peppercorns are sold both whole and ground.

Suggested uses for white peppercorns: Use white peppercorns when cooking white sauces, cream soups, fish, poultry, and grilled meats.

Green Peppercorns. Green peppercorns are the green berries, picked long before they are ripe. They are usually freeze-dried to preserve their smooth skin and green color. They may also be pickled. Green peppercorns have a very tart flavor that does not last long in the mouth.

Suggested uses for green peppercorns: Use green peppercorns when cooking meat sauces, poultry, vegetables, and seafood.

Red Peppercorns. Red peppercorns are also the fruit of the Piper nigrum plant. However, red peppercorns are fully ripened on the vine. They have a sweet, mellow flavor when compared with their black counterparts. True red peppercorns are rarely found in the United States. Most recipes calling for red peppers are referring to ground cayenne or red chiles.

Pink (Preserved Red) Peppercorns. Preserved red peppercorns are rarely found in the United States. They are red peppercorns of the Piper nigrum plant that were preserved in a brine. They are soft, so they are typically put in recipes whole. They are sometimes used in egg dishes and salads.

Blends and Combinations of Peppercorns. When black and green peppercorns are combined, they will add more of a “bite” to a dish. When black and white peppercorns are combined, the flavor of pepper will linger longer.

Lemon Pepper. Sometimes pepper is combined with other ingredients to lend specific flavors to foods. Lemon pepper is one example that is often added to chicken or fish.

The following are considered to be “false peppers” since they aren’t harvested from the Piper nigrum vine, and their flavors are a little different than traditional pepper.

Sichuan or Szechuan Pepper. This pepper is made from the berries of a prickly Ash tree native to China. They are commonly used in many Chinese and Japanese dishes. They are spicier than pepper from the Piper nigum vine.

Negro Pepper. This type of pepper is grown in Ghana and Malawi (Africa). Like black pepper, the fruit is dried in the sun. It has a strong flavor but leaves a bitter aftertaste, so it is not usually substituted for black pepper.

Long Pepper. Long pepper, Piper longum, has fruit about one inch long with a lot of tiny black and gray seeds. The flavor is that of a mild pepper and ginger combination. It is used in sweet hot dishes where the flavor of ginger is accented. This pepper is sometimes used on fresh fruit, coleslaw, and other fresh foods since cooking dilutes the flavor. It is not considered to be a good substitute for black pepper.

Pink Peppercorns (Shinus molle). These peppercorns are harvested from a different plant than traditional pepper, so they are not considered to be a true pepper. When eaten, these peppercorns have a peppery flavor that turns sweet. It is not a good substitute for traditional pepper. However, in Madagascar, Mexico, and Australia, where it is grown, it is commonly used to flavor vegetables and seafood. Importantly, this type of pepper can cause allergic reactions, especially in children. So, use it with caution if you’re not sure about potential reactions.

How to Select Pepper
Pepper is available whole, cracked, ground, and brined. For the best flavor when using dried pepper, opt for whole peppercorns and grind it yourself as needed with a pepper mill or spice grinder.  

How to Store
Store pepper in a tightly sealed container, preferably glass. Keep it in a cool, dry, dark place. Whole peppercorns will stay fresh for about 4 years, but will keep almost indefinitely even though their flavor may diminish over time. Ground pepper will stay fresh for about three months. Although not necessary, peppercorns may be stored in the freezer, but bear in mind that its flavor will be more pronounced after being frozen.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Pepper
* The flavor of ground pepper will diminish after being cooked for a long time. So, for best flavor, add pepper toward the end of cooking time.

* For fresh pepper flavor, keep a pepper mill on the table so it can be added directly to your plate.

* For a simple salad dressing, combine olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground pepper.

* Pepper has been used as an insecticide. Sprinkle pepper around non-garden areas to keep insects out. You could also mix a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper with one quart of warm water. Spray it on plants to kill ants, potato bugs, and silverfish.

* To tell if peppercorns are fresh, simply smell them. If they have lost their aroma, they are stale and won’t have a strong flavor. You could also crush a couple peppercorns and taste them. If they have lost their zest, they can still be used, but won’t provide a lot of flavor.

* About 1/8 teaspoon of ground pepper is equivalent to five turns on a typical pepper grinder.

* Add a few peppercorns to your ground pepper shaker to help keep it from clogging up.

* Freezing peppercorns enhances its flavor.

* Ground pepper will hold its flavor for about 3 months. It will dwindle thereafter. The flavor of whole peppercorns will last almost indefinitely.

* For the best pepper flavor, buy whole peppercorns and grind it as needed.

* Whole peppercorns can add flavor to marinades, poached fish, and boiled meats. Suggested amounts are: 10 to 12 whole peppercorns in marinades, 4 to 6 whole peppercorns in poaching liquid, 1 to 2 whole peppercorns when poaching fish, and 8 to 10 whole peppercorns when boiling meat.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Pepper
Allspice, basil, bay leaf, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, ginger, lemongrass, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, sage, salt, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Pepper
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Bacon, beans, beef, chicken, duck, eggs, fish and other seafood, ham, lamb, lentils, nuts (in general), peanuts, peas, pine nuts, pork, sausage, sesame, venison, tofu, turkey, veal

Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, onions, pickles, potatoes, shallots, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, vegetables (in general)

Fruits: Apples, apricots, berries, cherries, fruit (in general), grapefruit, grapes, lemon, lime, olives, orange, pineapple, pumpkin, strawberries

Grains and Grain Products: Bread, pasta, rice, tortillas

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese, coconut milk, cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Beer, brandy, oil (esp. olive), sugar, vinegar, wine

Pepper has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
North American cuisine, baked goods (i.e. spice cakes), Cajun cuisine, Creole cuisine, European cuisines, gravies, Indian cuisine, marinades, pickles, salad dressings, salads, sauces, soups, Southeast Asian cuisine, Southern U.S. cuisine, stocks

Recipe Links
Peppercorn Steak https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/peppercorn_steak/

Steak with Creamy Peppercorn Sauce https://www.recipetineats.com/peppercorn-sauce/

Black Pepper, Tofu and Asparagus https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/black-pepper-tofu-and-asparagus

Classic Carbonara https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/traditional-carbonara

Farro-Vegetable Hash with Chermoula https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/farro-vegetable-hash-with-chermoula

Crispy Turmeric and Pepper Spiced Chicken Wings https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/crispy-turmeric-and-pepper-spiced-chicken-wings

Boiled Chicken https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/20455/boiled-chicken/?internalSource=hub%20recipe&referringId=1157&referringContentType=Recipe%20Hub&clickId=cardslot%2013

Fried Steak with Peppercorn Gravy https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/68596/fried-steak-with-peppercorn-gravy-sauce/?internalSource=recipe%20hub&referringId=1157&referringContentType=Recipe%20Hub&clickId=cardslot%2054

Cauliflower Steak with Green Peppercorn Sauce https://mypureplants.com/cauliflower-steak-peppercorn-sauce

10 Black Pepper-Based Vegan Recipes to Spice Up Your Night https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/10-black-pepper-based-vegan-recipes-to-spice-up-your-night/

Resources
https://whatscookingamerica.net/Information/Pepper.htm

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=74#descr

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/white-pepper

https://www.britannica.com/plant/black-pepper-plant

https://www.encyclopedia.com/plants-and-animals/plants/plants/pepper

https://thekitchenprofessor.com/blog/how-long-does-peppercorn-last

https://www.ilikeitalianfood.com/blogs/news/the-king-of-spices-pepper-varieties-and-colours

https://thespiceacademy.com/flavor-combinations-peppercorn-blend/

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg 101 – The Basics

 

Nutmeg 101 – The Basics

About Nutmeg
Nutmeg is a spice that is made from the seed of the tree, Myristica fragrans. The tree is native to Indonesia and is an evergreen tree. The tree actually is the source of two spices, nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is the inner seed, whereas mace is the red, lacy-type substance that surrounds the seed.

There is historical evidence dating nutmeg back to the first century, A.D. It was a treasured spice and commanded a high price. Nutmeg was even the cause of war, when the Dutch took over the Banda islands to monopolize the nutmeg trade. This ultimately gave birth to the Dutch East India Company, a conglomeration of several Dutch trading companies.

To make nutmeg, the seeds are slowly dried in the sun over six to eight weeks. As they dry, the seed shrinks away from its coating. The seeds are ready to be harvested when they rattle in their shells when shaken. Nutmeg seeds are then separated from their outer coating, which is then sold as mace. The inner seed is sold whole or ground up as powdered nutmeg.

Nutmeg has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor with a distinct aroma. It is an intense spice with a distinct flavor, so a little goes a long way. Nutmeg is synonymous with fall since it is often used in fall and holiday desserts and beverages. It is also used in savory dishes such as butternut squash soup. Nutmeg is also known to pair well with cream- or cheese-based dishes. Eggnog is typically flavored with nutmeg.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Although we don’t consume a lot of nutmeg at any one time, there is an impressive list of nutrients supplied by this spice. Nutmeg contains a lot of manganese, copper, magnesium and fiber. It also supplies potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, zinc, folate, thiamin and even omega-6 fatty acids.

The leaves and other parts of the nutmeg tree are used for extracting nutmeg essential oil. The oil contains a variety of compounds that have medicinal properties and has been used in traditional medicine to relieve a variety of ailments.

Pain Relief. Nutmeg essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for pain relief. Just a few drops of the essential oil applied to the affected area has been used to treat inflammation, swelling, joint pain, muscle pain and sores.

Helps Treat Insomnia. Nutmeg seems to have a calming effect and has been used since antiquity for calming and inducing sleep. Enjoy a warm glass of milk with a pinch of ground nutmeg before bedtime and it will help you to relax and fall asleep easier.

Helps Digestion. Nutmeg has been shown to help relieve intestinal gas, diarrhea, and constipation. Add a pinch to soups and stews. That small amount will help to promote the secretion of enzymes, thereby helping with digestion. The fiber in nutmeg will help keep things moving in the digestive tract, relieving gas and preventing constipation.

Brain Health. Nutmeg has been shown to stimulate nerves in the brain. It was commonly used as a brain tonic by ancient Greeks and Romans. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety, calming emotional stress. The essential oils in nutmeg have been found to work as “adaptogens” by acting both as a stimulant and sedative, depending upon the needs of the body at the time. When we’re stressed, it can help to lower blood pressure. If we’re down, it can help to lift the mood, acting as a stimulant.

Promotes Detoxification. The compounds in nutmeg have been found to help clear toxins from the body via the liver and kidneys. The essential oils in nutmeg have anti-bacterial properties. Some toothpastes have nutmeg essential oils in them to help control harmful bacteria in the mouth that can lead to bad breath. Also, the essential oil in nutmeg contains eugenol, which is known to help relieve toothache.

Promotes Healthy Skin. Not only does nutmeg have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, but it also has been found to remove blackheads, and treat acne and clogged pores. An easy home remedy is to mix equal parts of ground nutmeg and honey into a paste. Apply it to pimples, leave it on for 20 minutes, then wash it off with cool water.

A paste can also be made with ground nutmeg and a few drops of milk. Mix into a paste and massage it into the skin, then rinse with cool water.

Nutmeg may also be added to facial scrubs with oatmeal, orange peel, etc.

Blood Pressure and Circulation. The minerals in nutmeg make it a wonderful ingredient for helping to regulate blood pressure and circulation. The stress-reducing properties help blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and aiding in cardiovascular function.

Caution! Nutmeg should be used sparingly and limited to any amount you would normally use in a food. When used in high doses (well beyond what you would normally use in any food), nutmeg has hallucinogenic properties. It can also cause nausea and palpitations. Such high dosages can be very toxic, and in rare cases, even deadly. In the case of accidental overdose, especially with children, seek medical attention immediately.

How to Select Nutmeg
Nutmeg may be purchased as a whole seed or ground up. Either version will be available in the spice isle of the grocery store. Some stores do not carry whole nutmeg, but most will carry the ground spice.

Many chefs prefer the whole spice and grind it as needed. The flavor of the freshly ground nutmeg will be more intense than the pre-ground powder.

How to Store Nutmeg
Store whichever type of nutmeg you have (whole or ground) in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place such as your pantry. It should be kept away from heat sources and sunlight.

The whole spice will keep fresh and maintain its flavor longer than the pre-ground powdered nutmeg.  Whole nutmeg seeds will maintain their freshness for about 4 years. Ground nutmeg will stay fresh and flavorful for at least six months, and up to two years. As long as nutmeg is stored properly, it will be edible beyond that, but the flavor may dwindle over time.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Nutmeg
* When grating whole nutmeg, avoid doing it over a hot pot or one with steaming liquid. This will make the seed moist which can cause it to spoil. The heat can cause it to age fast. So, it’s better to grate it onto a plate or small bowl on the counter rather than directly over hot food.

* When you use nutmeg, if you notice it has little aroma, it may be getting old. Feel free to taste it if there’s no sign of mold or decay. If it has little flavor, it’s past time to replace it. It’s still safe to consume, but won’t give the flavor you’re expecting.

* Nutmeg has a strong, distinct flavor. Use it sparingly. You can always add more, but it would be hard to counteract the flavor if too much is added.

* Try a sprinkle of nutmeg as a garnish on eggnog or cappuccino.

* If you don’t have nutmeg on hand and a recipe calls for it, the best substitute is mace. Since it’s part of the seed itself, the flavor is close. Otherwise, the flavor outcome will be different, but you could use a touch of pumpkin pie spice, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, or ground cloves.

* Nutmeg goes well with baked or stewed fruit, so try it as a garnish when you cook fruit.

* Sprinkle nutmeg on custard for added flavor and a nice garnish.

* Add a sprinkle of nutmeg to milk-based sauces.

* Try a sprinkle of nutmeg on steamed, stir-steamed, or sautéed spinach or a spinach soufflé.

* One whole nutmeg seed yields 2 to 3 teaspoons of ground nutmeg.

* Add nutmeg to fillings for cannelloni, ravioli or tortellini.

* Add a pinch of nutmeg to mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Nutmeg
Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, lemongrass, mace

Foods That Go Well with Nutmeg
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beef, chicken, eggs, ham, meat (in general), pecans, pork, sausage

Vegetables: Carrots, greens (dark leafy), mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, squash (winter), sweet potatoes, yams

Fruits: Apples, bananas, fruit (in general; fresh and dried), lemon, pumpkin

Grains and Grain Products: Rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (cheddar, Gruyere, pecorino, ricotta), coconut milk, cream, milk

Other Foods: Chocolate, vanilla

Nutmeg has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (biscuits, cakes, cookies, pastries, pies), cereals (hot, breakfast), cheese dishes (fondues, soufflés), desserts (cheesecake, custards, puddings, drinks (esp. cream or milk-based, i.e. eggnog), egg dishes (quiches), French cuisine, ice cream, Indian cuisine, Italian cuisine, noodle dishes (i.e. macaroni and cheese), pastas, puddings (i.e. rice), sauces (barbecue, béchamel, cheese, cream, pasta, tomato), soups (i.e. cream based), stews (vegetable)

Recipe Links
Classic Custard Pie with Nutmeg https://www.thespruceeats.com/classic-custard-pie-with-nutmeg-3052755

Quick and Easy Drop Cookies with Nutmeg https://www.thespruceeats.com/quick-and-easy-drop-cookies-3059058

Spiced Apple Juice with Cinnamon and Nutmeg https://www.thespruceeats.com/fall-spiced-apple-juice-3051541

Easy Spiced Peach Cobbler https://www.thespruceeats.com/easy-spiced-peach-cobbler-3058942

Garam Masala Spice Mix https://www.thespruceeats.com/garam-masala-spice-mix-recipe-1809291

Pumpkin Banana Bread https://www.thespruceeats.com/pumpkin-banana-bread-recipe-1806113

Carrot Cake with Pineapple https://www.thespruceeats.com/carrot-cake-with-pineapple-3052454

Deep-Dish Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato and Chicken Curry https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-deep-dish-shepherds-pie-with-sweet-potato-and-chicken-curry-228115

Make-Ahead Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-make-ahead-ham-and-cheese-breakfast-casserole-43364

Super-Soft Snickerdoodle Cookies https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-super-soft-snickerdoodl-115237

My Favorite Spice Rub (Amazing on Meat and Seafood) https://www.thegarlicdiaries.com/my-favorite-spice-rub-amazing-on-meat-and-seafood/#tasty-recipes-6003

20 Ways to Cook with Nutmeg https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/our-best-nutmeg-recipes-cake-bread-desserts-spice-gallery

 

Resources
https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-nutmeg-1328522

https://www.doesitgobad.com/nutmeg-go-bad/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/nutmeg-recipes-and-cooking-tips-1809314

https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/7-incredible-nutmeg-benefits-from-inducing-sleep-to-relieving-pain-1464121

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/spices-and-herbs/195/2

https://www.thekitchn.com/inside-the-spice-cabinet-nutmeg-69844

https://www.saveur.com/article/Techniques/Seven-Things-to-Do-with-Nutmeg/

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Whole Dried Peas vs. Split Peas

Dried Green Peas – Whole vs. Split: A Comparison

If you’re wondering what the difference is between split peas and whole dried peas, the following article should help! It covers what they are and their differences in soaking needs, preparation methods, cooking times, texture when cooked, and whether they will sprout. Below is a video covering this topic. The written article is below the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Split Green Peas vs Whole Dried Peas: A Comparison

About Dried Peas
Dried green peas are in the same plant family as beans and lentils, but are usually grouped separately since their preparation is different. Whole dried peas and green split peas are from the same plant. Although we usually associate dried peas with being green, there is also a yellow colored variety. The yellow variety has a milder flavor than the green peas.

Researchers have discovered that dried peas have been eaten since prehistoric times. Peas were even mentioned in the Bible. They were prized in ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. It appears that the Chinese were the first to eat both the seeds and pods as vegetables. Peas were brought to the United States soon after the colonists arrived. Today, the largest producers of peas are Russia, France, China and Denmark.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Peas
Dried peas are small, but mighty when considering their nutritional value. They are rich in fiber, including soluble fiber, which is known to lower cardiovascular disease risks by removing bile (and thereby cholesterol) from the body. They also contain a lot of molybdenum, B-vitamins (folate, Vitamin B1, and pantothenic acid), copper, manganese, protein, phosphorus, and potassium.

In addition to helping to remove cholesterol from the body, the fiber in dried peas helps to prevent constipation, and bowel disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.

The soluble fiber in peas also helps to stabilize blood sugar. This is especially helpful to people with insulin resistance, hypoglycemia, or diabetes. Legumes like dried peas can help to balance blood sugar levels while providing a steady flow of energy. Studies have shown that diabetics who consumed high fiber diets (of about 50 grams of fiber a day) had lower blood glucose and insulin levels, along with lower levels of blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). These factors help to improve overall health along with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

What is a split pea?
Split green peas are a field pea variety that is grown specifically for being dried and split. These are different from “garden peas” that are grown to be eaten fresh. Dried peas are used mostly in soups, stews, and casseroles.

Some people wonder if split peas are the same thing as lentils. Even though split peas and lentils are very similar in size and shape, they are not the same thing. They are different varieties of legumes. Split peas are a field pea, grown specifically for drying. Lentils are the dried seed of a different plant. They are not interchangeable legumes.

Split green peas are the same plant as whole dried green peas. The whole peas were not peeled and split before being sold, like the split peas.

Should peas be soaked?
Split Peas. Split peas can be soaked before being cooked, but it’s not mandatory. Most resources don’t suggest soaking split peas.

Whole Dried Peas. Whole dried peas need to be soaked for at least 8 hours or overnight before being cooked.

How to Prepare Peas
Split Peas. To prepare dried split peas, simply sort through the peas to remove any debris. Then rinse them in a colander and transfer them to the cooking pot. Follow your recipe from there. To cook them alone, place your rinsed peas in a pot and cover them with cold water. The usual ratio is 1 cup of peas to 2 or 3 cups of water. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer, cover the pot, and allow them to cook for about 30 to 45 minutes, until they are tender. Note that many recipes for split pea soup will require a longer cooking time, making the peas mushy so the soup can have a creamy texture.

Whole Dried Peas. To prepare whole dried peas, first sort through them and remove any debris. Then rinse and drain them. Please them in a large bowl or pot and cover them with enough water to allow them to expand and still remain submerged. After soaking, drain the water and cover them with fresh water for cooking in a pot with a lid. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat, cock the lid on the pot, and simmer the peas until they are tender. This usually takes about one hour, but can take longer depending upon how old the peas are and how soft you want them to be.

About the Foam. White foam can form on the top of your water when cooking dried peas and beans. It can simply be skimmed off and discarded. Of, if preferred, it can be left alone and it will eventually dissolve and be incorporated back into the cooking water. There is no harm either way you go…discarding it or leaving it in the water. The choice is yours!

Texture When Cooked
Split Peas. Split peas will usually become mushy and disintegrate when cooked completely. With this, they will provide the rich creamy texture characteristic of pea soup. If you prefer, split peas can be cooked until they are just tender so they will somewhat maintain their shape.

Whole Peas. When completely cooked, whole dried peas will remain intact. However, if you want to use them for pea soup, simply take an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor, and blend them up to make a creamy foundation for any soup.

Will They Sprout?
Split green peas will not sprout since the whole seed is not intact. Whole, dried peas will sprout. They can be jar sprouted in only 2 or 3 days. They can also be tray sprouted and grown into microgreens. There are many resources on the internet that give details on how to jar sprout or tray sprout whole dried green peas.

Resources
https://www.aaaai.org/ask-the-expert/relationship-split-pea-green-pea

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=56

https://www.camelliabrand.com/about-the-bean/about-green-split-peas/

https://www.cooksinfo.com/split-green-peas

https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/cooking-cookware/cooking-with-legumes-dried-peas/

https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-split-peas-and-lentils-word-of-mouth-214986

http://sprouting.com/product/549/Peas%2C-Green.html

https://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes/how-to-make/basic-preparation-instructions-for-green-split-peas/

https://startcooking.com/how-to-beans-split-peas-and-lentils

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Orange Cream Beverage

Orange Cream Beverage (Non-Alcoholic!)

If you strive to eat the healthiest options you can find, yet you sometimes miss the flavors of “yester-year,” this fast and REALLY simple beverage recipe may help you out. The first sip instantly reminds me of a Creamsicle popsicle I used to enjoy in my youth. Although I haven’t had one for countless years, it’s a flavor I haven’t forgotten. When I think of those popsicles, many fun memories come to mind. Well I recently recreated the easiest and healthiest version of that flavor that I could possibly concoct. TWO ingredients! That’s it.

Below is a video demonstration of how to make this delicious beverage. The written recipe is below the video.

Enjoy!
Judi


Orange Cream Beverage
(Non-Alcoholic!)

2 parts orange juice
1 part extra creamy oat milk

Add ingredients to a glass, stir, and enjoy!

Tip: To make this even more creamy, a scoop of vanilla ice cream or yogurt may also be added. Coconut milk or any milk desired may be used in place of the oat milk, but the flavor will change.