THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for March, 2011

TIP OF THE DAY: Removing Orange Peel & Pith

Have trouble peeling oranges? Try thin-
skinned mandarins instead. Photo courtesy
FloridaJuice.com.

 

We recently received a gift of delicious oranges from Harry & David. But boy, it wasn’t easy to remove the peel and the pith.

Then we remembered our Mom’s tip: Roll the orange on a hard surface, pressing down firmly.

We then scored the orange vertically (from top to bottom) into eight segments (first into quarters, then into eighths). We loosened the peel at the stem end and began to peel away.

It works!

If you don’t like to fuss with the peel, go for a mandarin instead of an orange. They’re a different species, and the thin skin is easy to peel with your fingers. Satsumas, clementines and tangerines are also readily available.

Mandarin hybrids have thicker skin but are also easy to peel: the tangor is a cross between the mandarin and the common orange; the tangelo (honeybell) is a cross between a tangerine and either a pomelo or a grapefruit.

 

  

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PRODUCT: Hibiscus Tea, Superflower Power

If you’re looking for a delicious herbal tea, consider hibiscus tea.

Very fragrant and naturally caffeine-free, hibiscus tea is made from the petals of the hibiscus flower. It has a tart, red berry flavor and is drunk hot or cold (we particularly love it iced, where the tartness is extra refreshing).

FOOD TRIVIA: The hibiscus plant is a member of the mallow family, the most famous member of which is the marsh mallow. The sap of the marshmallow root was used in ancient times to make marshmallow confections. Today, gelatin and egg whites are used.

The Republic Of Tea has six flavors of hibiscus tea, in bags and as loose tea: Natural Hibiscus Tea, Blueberry Hibiscus Tea, Key Lime Hibiscus Tea, Pineapple Lychee Hibiscus Tea and Vanilla Apple Hibiscus Tea. We brew them as iced tea year-round.

 

Hibiscus tea is tart, refreshing and good
for you. Photo courtesy Republic Of Tea.

 

Scientific studies suggest that hibiscus is not only rich in vitamin C and minerals, but also significantly effective in maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Research has also found beneficial anti-inflammatory and mild anti-bacterial properties. (Check with your healthcare provider, but the recommendation is three cups a day for these health benefits.)

How To Steep Herbal Tea
Herbal tea requires longer steeping than black tea.
1. Heat fresh water to a rolling boil.
2. Add 1 teaspoon of herbs or 1 tea bag per six-ounce cup (add more for a larger mug).
3. Steep tea for 5 to 7 minutes. Put a lid on the cup to keep the heat in. If the steeped tea is not as hot as you like it, microwave it for 10-20 seconds.
4. For iced tea, double the amount of tea used, steep as above and pour over ice.

  

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COOKING VIDEO: Homemade Marshmallows

 

We apologize for our strong opinion, but we think that supermarket marshmallows are terrible. Hard in texture, cottony in the mouth, they’re the Wonder Bread of marshmallows. If they’re your only frame of reference, we’re not surprised if you don’t particularly like marshmallows.

Here’s a cooking video that shows you how to make good marshmallows from scratch. It’s pretty easy. (The cute kids at the beginning will go away shortly so as to not interfere with the cooking.)

If you decide that you like making marshmallows, you can try other recipes until you’re as good as our favorite artisan marshmallow makers. (Different emulsifiers achieve lighter or heavier textures, for example, and you can make any flavor under the rainbow.)

   

   

Find more of our favorite old-fashioned candies in our Gourmet Candy Section.

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PRODUCT: MiniMate Produce Keeper

Save your produce! Photo courtesy
HealthQuest Technologies.

 

The average family throws out more than $400 per year in spoiled fruits and vegetables. We can attest to that problem.

We’re always looking for a solution, and we may have found it with the MiniMate. A battery-operated appliance that sits in the fridge, it prevents the growth of mildew and kills the bacteria that cause food to spoil. And it claims to eliminate E. Coli and Salmonella, which can survive in the freezer as well as the fridge.

The MiniMate generates activated oxygen, or ozone. This technology is used as an antimicrobial agent in the fresh-cut produce industry. As it makes produce last longer, it saves money in spoilage. We think the MiniMate will earn back its $29.95 cost in just a few months.

 

And at 5″x5″x2.5″, it fits into our seriously packed refrigerator.

We conducted our test-run on the two items that we throw out the most: fresh raspberries and strawberries. Under our observation, the MiniMate doubled their shelf life in our fridge.

Learn more, and purchase, at OrderMiniMate.com.

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Scouting The Produce Aisle

Part of the joy of eating is discovering new ingredients. They don’t have to be exotic (like fiddlehead ferns), just different.

We always walk down the produce aisle looking for something we haven’t tried before. Then, we look at all the ways we can use it to add fun and flair to our dishes.

We love the miniature bell peppers that have gotten broad distribution over the past couple of years (we found them at Costco).

Their tiny size and bright colors—green, orange, red and yellow—bring a smile to our faces. Their flesh is sweet and crisp. They’re so cute, kids will look forward to eating their veggies.

And they’re very versatile. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t chop up something that’s been miniaturized, but check the price tag: The minis can be less expensive per pound than regular bell peppers.

We’ve been using them for:

 

Miniature bell peppers are available year-
round. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

  • Cocktails: A garnish on a savory cocktail, like a Bloody Mary or a Martini.
  • Hors d’Oeuvre: A colorful addition to the crudité platter, or stuffed with pesto, meat and rice (like regular stuffed peppers) or herbed soft cheese. We made a pimento goat cheese mix—wonderful!
  • Salad & Sandwiches: Toss them in a salad, with or without cherry or grape tomatoes. Use a toothpick to “crown” a sandwich.
  • Garnish: These minis add color and charm to just about any plate.
  • Veggie: Skewers, stir-fries or other substitutes for their big brothers.
  •  
    How would you use them?

    What are your favorite produce “discoveries?”

    Find more of our favorite veggies and recipes in our Gourmet Vegetables Section.

      

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