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Archive for Fruits, Nuts & Seeds

FOOD FUN: Jim Beam Caramel Apples (Or Other Favorite Whiskey)

To celebrate its Apple Bourbon—available year-round but especially popular in fall recipes—Jim Beam has stepped beyond cocktails to caramel.

Yes, you can dip your caramel apples into an easy homemade caramel that incorporates a cup of Jim Beam Apple Bourbon.

No time to buy Jim Beam Apple Bourbon? Use what you’ve got on hand (including another whiskey) and pick some up Apple Bourbon when you can. You’ll definitely want to make another batch of these!

RECIPE: BOURBON CARAMEL APPLES

Ingredients For 10 Caramel Apples

  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 6 ounces cold half and half
  • 8 ounces Jim Beam Apple Bourbon
  • 10 Granny Smith apples on thick wooden skewers
  • Optional garnish: 4 cups chopped salted peanuts, honey roasted nuts or other garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in a large pot over medium high heat until a light boil begins. Whisk in the half and half and the bourbon and continue to whisk until the caramel sauce reaches 248°F. Remove from the heat.

    2. DIP each of the apples into the caramel, coating on all sides. Set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If desired, coat apples on all sides with chopped salted peanuts.

    3. ALLOW the caramel to cool before serving.
     
    MORE CANDY APPLE, CHOCOLATE & CARAMEL APPLE RECIPES

  • Classic Red Candy Apples
  • Easter Candy Apples
  • Matcha White Chocolate Granny Smith Apples (for Christmas or St. Pat’s)
  • Modern Art Chocolate Apples
  • Sugar-Free Red Candy Apples
  •  
    You can also host a candy apple party!

     

    Jim Beam Caramel Apples

    Jim Beam Apple Bourbon

    [1] Bourbon caramel apples. The caramel is made with [2] Jim Beam Apple Bourbon (photos courtesy Beam Suntory).

     
    CANDY APPLE HISTORY

    The practice of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates back to ancient times. In addition to tasting good, honey and sugar were used as preserving agents to keep fruit from rotting.

    According to FoodTimeline.org, food historians generally agree that caramel apples (toffee apples) date to the late 19th century. Both toffee and caramel can be traced to the early decades of the 18th century, buy inexpensive toffee and caramels for all became available by the end of the 19th century. Culinary evidence dates soft, chewy caramel coatings from that time.

    Red cinnamon-accented candy apples came later. And, while long associated with Halloween, they were originally Christmas fare, not a Halloween confection.

    According to articles in the Newark Evening News in 1948 and 1964, the red candy apple was invented in 1908 by William W. Kolb, a local confectioner. Experimenting with red cinnamon candies for Christmas, he dipped apples into the mixture and the modern candy apple was born.

    The tasty treat was soon being sold at the Jersey Shore, the circus and then in candy shops nationwide.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Grandma Hoerner’s Apple Pouches

    Grandma Hoerner’s is a company that makes Big Slice Apples, one of our favorite new snacks and toppings.

    Big Slice Apples were first cooked in Grandma Hoerner’s farm kitchen in Kansas in the late 1800s, made from apples straight from the orchard.

    Grandson, Duane McCoy, rcalling the wonderful big slices of cooked apples from his youth, could find no commercial product like it. In 1987, after experimenting to replicate her recipe, he was ready to bring them to the world.

    Big Slice Juicy Cooked Apples may be the best apple “sauce” you can buy. Thick slices of kettle-cooked apples resting in an a sauce made from reduced apple juice.

    It is the way it was originally made with big slices of fresh apples, slow cooked, with only natural ingredients added. These are chunky apples that can be eaten with a fork, although a spoon will do.

    The Big Apple Slices are all natural, non-GMO, HFCS free and slow cooked, using domestic apples—just as Grandma Hoerner made them. They are both a luxurious dessert or topping and a healthful grab-and-go snack—a great source of vitamin C and naturally gluten free.

    The product, originally (and still) sold in 19.5-ounce jars, is now available in grab-and-go pouches—lots of them—in 4.5-ounce portions, 80 to 90 calories depending on flavor, for $2.50. We found 16-packs on Amazon, but not on the Grandma Hoerner’s website.

    Three flavor lines focus on flavor profiles:

  • Pure Line, simply flavored: Apricot, Blueberry Pomegranate, Chai, Cherry Vanilla, Natural, Orange Ginger
  • Fit Line, with added nutrition: Banana, Mango & Hemp Seed; Peach, Green Tea & Aloe; Honey Berry Chia; Pineapple, Passion Fruit & Fiber, Raspberry Hibiscus & Green Coffee Extract
  • Luxe Line, with indulgent additions: Boysenberry Chocolate, Caramel, Cinnamon Candy, Cinnamon French Toast, Peach Bellini
  •  
    The only challenge is where to begin. We received samples of each flavor, and can’t decide what to re-order. We may have to proceed alphabetically!
     
    HOW TO ENJOY GRANDMA HOERNER’S BIG SLICE APPLES

    For starters, here’s how we enjoyed the different Big Slice flavors:

  • Breakfast: with cottage cheese, French toast, omelets, porridge, toast, yogurt, pancakes, waffles
  • Lunch & Dinner: as a condiment or side with fried chicken, ham, pork, turkey
  • Dessert: crêpes, ice cream/sorbet, parfait, pound or angel cake, tartlet shells
  • Snack: straight from the pouch, on a rice cake
  •    

    Grandma Hoerner's Big Slice Apples

    Pancakes With Grandma Hoerner's Apples

    Big Slice On Yogurt

    [1] A great grab-and-go snack. [2] A topping for pancakes and other breakfast foods. [3] A yogurt mix-in or topping (photos courtesy Grandma Hoerner’s).

     

    Apple Tartlets

    [4] Time for dessert or company for tea? Fill tartlet shells for dessert (photo courtesy Grandma Hoerner’s).

     

    WHERE TO FIND BIG SLICE

    The pouches are available at Costco, H -E-B, Hy-Vee. Kowalski’s, Meijer, Price Chopper, Publix, Sprouts, Whole Foods Market, and more than 7,000 food stores nationwide. Here’s a store locator.

    You can buy them online at BigSliceApples.com and in multipacks at Amazon.com.

    A portion of the purchase to the A Sparkle Life, a non-profit organization aiding women in need.

     
    FOR MORE INFORMATION, head to BigSliceApples.com.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Stop Apples, Bananas & Pears From Browning

    Sliced Apple

    Sliced Banana

    Sliced Pears

    Sliced Red Grapefruit

    What do these fruits have in common? Once sliced, they begin to discolor quickly. [1] Sliced apples (photo courtesy US Apple Association). [2] Sliced banana (photo courtesy Baby-Recipes.com). [3] Sliced pears (photo courtesy USA Pears). [4] Squeezing citrus juice on cut fruit is just one of 6 techniques (photo courtesy Texasweet).

     

    Now that we’re into the cooler months and stone fruit and blueberry seasons are over, many people turn to apples, bananas and pears.

    You can eat them whole as hand fruit; or slice them to use them as garnishes, in fruit salads, etc. Or, you may be slicing them to prepare a pie or tart.

    But how do you stop them from turning brown?

    Browning of fruit is caused by the exposure of the flesh to oxygen. Enzymes in certain fruits react quickly with the oxygen in the air to oxidize, which turns the flesh brown. The discoloration doesn’t effect taste, but appearance.

    The solution is to limit that exposure.

    Anyone who has read a pie recipe knows to coat the cut surfaces with lemon juice, the strongest edible acid that can stop the enzyme reaction.

    This may be the best technique, but there are other techniques as well.

    1. FRUIT JUICE STOPS BROWNING

    Lemon juice is the standard in recipes and food articles, but other juices work, too. If you don’t have lemon juice, try:

  • Any other citrus juice—grapefruit, lime, orange, etc.—fresh squeezed, bottled or canned
  • Apple juice
  • Pineapple juice
  •  
    A half cup of juice will sufficiently cover two apples, bananas or pears. We brush the juice onto the sliced fruit with a pastry brush; a friend uses a small spray bottle (the travel-size used for cosmetics).

    You can also toss or immerse the fruit in the juice for a few minutes; but when they soak up the juice, they also soak up the flavor. If you don’t want tart flavor from lemon or lime juice, e.g., you can add some sugar.

    Once they’re coated in fruit juice, the slices will take much longer to turn brown. They will last without refrigeration in a plastic container for a few hours, but are best consumed the same day.
     
    In Fruit Salads

    The way to stop apples, bananas and pears in fruit salads from browning is to mix them with high-acid fruits: grapefruit, mandarins and oranges (the difference), pineapples, tangerines.

    Save the juices from slicing these fruits and add them to the bowl. They’ll stop the sensitive from browning.
     
    2. WRAPPING THE FRUIT

    Lay the cut fruit on a plate or tray. Cut a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper to cover, and press it over the top of the slices, creating a shield from the air. This works best when the slices are roughly the same size.
     
    3. VACUUM STORAGE

    If you have a vacuum storage system—whether a heat-sealing system like InLife or hard a vacuum pump like Food Saver, you can create an air-free storage bag.

    A hack is to put the slices in a storage bag and squeeze out the air. Refrigerate until ready to use. If you have a bit of lemon juice to sprinkle in, so much the better.
     
    4. WATER OR CLUB SODA/SELTZER

    As a last resort, use club soda, seltzer water, soda water (the differences), or just plain water.

     
    Flavored waters can even add a hint of extra flavor.

    Soak the slices in the water/club soda. They don’t add flavor, so you can keep them in a lidded container until ready to use.
     
    5. MAYONNAISE OR OTHER DRESSING

    Apples, bananas and other quick-to-brown fruits can also be coated with mayonnaise or salad dressing. These coatings block out the oxygen, which will also stop the browning process.

    If you’re making this type of recipe, you’re covered.

     
    6. DILUTED CITRIC ACID

    Citric acid is the chemical in citrus juices that keeps cut fruits from browning (and also makes the fruit taste sour).

    It is sold in a purified form as a canning additive, to keep the cut fruits in the cans or jars from discoloring. Check at a health food store or a hardware store.

    However, we mention this as an FYI. It’s easier for home kitchens to use any of the above.

    Powdered vitamin C, used as a cold-fighting supplement, is a similar option. Dissolve it in water according to the package directions, and soak the fruit. You can also grind up a vitamin C tablet.
     
    WHAT IF SLICED FRUIT HAS TURNED BROWN?

    Help is at hand: Immerse the discolored fruit slices in pineapple or grapefruit juice for 10-15 minutes.

    They won’t return to their pristine whiteness, but will lighten and look fresher.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Vertical Pear Salad

    Jessica, from The Novice Chef Blog, isn’t such a novice. She designed this elegant pear salad that is easy in its execution, yet dazzling on the table.

    You can vary the filling, the color of the pear, and/or the vinaigrette.

    If you prefer, you can make candied nuts instead of simply toasting them.

    For more vertical salads, see our vertical veggie ideas.
     
    RECIPE: VERTICAL PEAR SALAD

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 smooth skinned pears)
  • 2-3 cups watercress, arugula or baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup toasted almond, pecan or walnut halves (how to toast nuts)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (substitute blue or goat cheese)
  • Lemon juice
  • Vinaigrette dressing
  • Optional plate garnish: pomegranate arils
  •  
    For The Vinaigrette

     

    Pear & Blue Cheese

    So elegant, so easy: a vertical pear salad from The Novice Chef Blog.

     
    This salad begs for a sweeter vinaigrette. Use champagne, raspberry, sherry or white balsamic vinegars. Walnut oil is heavenly in this type of vinaigrette, but good olive oil is fine.

    Another option is to add a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup (a nice fall touch) to your usual vinaigrette.

    Whichever you choose, choose a ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.

    Here’s the best technique to make a vinaigrette that holds together without separating.
     
    Preparation

    1. SLICE the pears horizontally into 3 or 4 slices depending on the size. Leave the stem on the top piece.

    2. USE a paring knife to remove the cores, creating a “donut hole” in the middle. Brush the cut sides with lemon juice to keep them from browning. When you’re ready to serve…

    3. MOISTEN the watercress, pecans and blue cheese with the vinaigrette and toss to coat.

    4. ASSEMBLE the pears on individual plates, with the watercress salad in between each slice.

    5. DRIZZLE the vinaigrette on the plate around the pear, and serve.
     
     
    Thanks, Jessica: You rock!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Apples With Honey, Fruit Dip With Chutney

    For the Jewish New Year celebration, Rosh Hashanah—which begins Sunday at sunset—apple slices and honey represent wishes for a sweet new and fruitful year.

    This simple combination is so yummy, we wonder why it isn’t a regular snack for everybody.

    The recipe is simple:

  • Sliced apples
  • Small bowl of honey
  • Cocktail napkins to catch honey drips
  • Optional small plates
  •  
    You can make it into a bigger event with spiced tea like Constant Comment or chai; or mulled cider or mulled wine. If the day is warm: iced tea.

    Why apples?

    According to Reform Judiasm, neither the Bible nor the Talmud dictates the minhag, or custom, of dipping apples in honey. It has nothing to do with eating the apple in the Garden of Eden: The Bible never identifies the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:16–17).

    Over the millennia, scholars have variously interpreted the fruit as the apple, carob, citron, datura, fig, grape, pear, pomegranate and quince.

    However, the Midrash, a method of interpreting bible stories, says the Garden of Eden had the scent of an apple orchard. In Kabbalah the Garden Of Eden is called “the holy apple orchard.”
    More likely, apples were selected because in ancient times they became a symbol of the Jewish relationship to God. In just one source, the Zohar (a 13th-century Jewish mystical text), it states that beauty, represented by God, “diffuses itself in the world as an apple.”

    Why is the apple used in all the Garden of Eden paintings?

    It was chosen as the by Western European painters.

    Why honey?

    The customary New Year’s greeting, “Shana Tova Umetukah” (A Good and Sweet Year), has existed at least since the 7th century.

    Honey—whether from bees, dates or figs—was the most prevalent sweetener in the Jewish world. But in the biblical description of Israel as a land flowing with “milk and honey,” the Torah is alluding to a paste made from overripe dates, not honey from bees.

    Why join in on the custom?

    So go forth and acquire apples and honey, and serve this sweet treat at home: at breakfast, for snacking, or as dessert at lunch and dinner.

    Check out the different types of honey, and use the occasion for a tasting.

    Invite friends and family. You don’t have to come from a certain culture to enjoy their food—as most Americans are fortunate to know.

     
    RECIPE #1: CHUTNEY FRUIT DIP

    Not a fan of honey? You can make a fruit dip from chutney, jam or preserves (the differences) with plain yogurt, sour cream or yogurt, or a blend. Add a dab of mayo if you like. Stir in the fruit condiments to taste.

       

    Apples & Honey

    Apples & Honey

    Apples & Honey

    Honey: the original fruit dip? In biblical times, a paste of dates, also called honey, was used. [1] Photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF. [3] Photo courtesy Between The Bread | NYC. [3] An idea from Martha Stewart: hollow out an apple to hold the honey.

     
    You can use any flavor of fruit. This recipe, from B & R Farms (photo #4), uses their Dried Apricot Chutney. The cream cheese makes a thicker dip, and the following proportions make two cups, enough for a group.
     
    Ingredients

  • Fruits of choice: apples but also a mixed platter of bananas, grapes, kiwi, melons, peaches, strawberries, etc.
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces light sour cream
  • ½ cup chutney
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX all ingredients well and refrigerate in a covered dish. When ready to serve, wash and slice the fruit and place as desired on a platter.

    2. Stir the dip and place in a bowl. The dip keeps for a few days; stir well before each use.

     

    Apricot Chutney Dip

    Honey Glazed Apples

    [43] Fruit platter with apricot chutney dip from B&R Farms (use any chutney, jam or preserves). [5] Glazed honey apples from Taste Of Home.

     

    RECIPE #2: GLAZED HONEY-CINNAMON APPLES

    We adapted this recipe from Taste Of Home, substituting honey for table sugar (photo #5).

    Enjoy them plain, perhaps with a sprinkle of raisins or dried cranberries; or with a creamy topping.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 3 hours in a slow cooker. Alternatively, you can sauté the apples.
     
    Ingredients For 7 Servings

  • 6 large tart apples
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Optional garnish: dried cherries, cranberries, raisins
  • Topping: heavy cream, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL, core and cut each apple into eight wedges. Transfer to a 3-quart slow cooker. Drizzle with lemon juice.

    2. COMBINE the brown sugar, honey, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg; sprinkle over the apples. Drizzle with the melted butter.

    3. COVER and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until apples are tender.

     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SWEETENERS:
    SUGAR, MAPLE, SYRUPS & MORE

     

      

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