THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.

Archive for Food Facts – Food History

TIP OF THE DAY: When Life Gives You Limes, Make Limeade

Summer is lemonade season. But what about limeade, it’s oft-ignored sister?

You can easily make a quart of limeade with a can of frozen concentrate. Limeade is a refreshing base for a cocktail. Fill a rocks or highball glass with limeade and ice; then add gin, tequila or vodka to taste.

While frozen concentrate is slightly easier, this limeade recipe can be made in 15 minutes. Give it a try: Friends and family will find it more special, since its so much more rarely served than lemonade.

RECIPE: LIMEADE

We adapted this recipe from one by Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes. Prep time is just 15 minutes, plus chilling (or if you can’t wait, add ice cubes).

As with any cold drink, it’s easier to make simple syrup rather than trying to get straight sugar to completely dissolve. It takes only as much time as the water to boil. If for whatever reason you don’t want to make simple syrup, superfine sugar is a second choice.

For a more exciting lime flavor, the simple syrup is infused with lime zest. Grate extra lime zest for a glass rimmer.

The proportion of sugar is a guideline. You can use less if you like your drink less sweet. Also, limes can have different levels* of tartness. If you want to hedge your bets, use only 3/4 of the simple syrup, taste the finished limeade, and decide if you want to add the rest.

Ingredients For 1 Quart

  • 1 tablespoon grated zest (from 1 lime)
  • 1 cup lime juice (from about 4-6 Persian/Tahitian limes)
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • Fresh mint sprigs
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, one cup of water and the lime zest, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve any remaining sugar granules, remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool.
    The amount of sugar is a guideline, it depends on how sweet you like your limeade and how tart your particular limes are.

    2. STRAIN out the lime zest: Place a strainer over a bowl or serving pitcher and pour the sugar syrup through it, straining out the zest.

    3. ADD the lime juice and 2 cups of water and taste. If it’s too sweet, add a bit more lime juice. Add several sprigs of fresh mint.

    4. CHILL or serve immediately over ice.

    Variations

  • Berry lemonade: Mix in berry purée (recipe). The limeade in photo #3 is deep purple from a cup of blueberries. Raspberry limeade is also terrific.
  • Cucumber lemonade: Peel and dice 1 large cucumber and purée in a blender with the simple syrup and lime juice [photo #4]. Garnish with a cucumber wheel. Add some gin or vodka!
  • Fizzy lemonade: Substitute sparkling water for one or both cups of the tap water.
  • Glass rim: Mix equal amounts of zest and coarse sugar in a shallow bowl. Dip the rims of the glasses 1/4 inch into a bowl of water, then twist in the zest-sugar blend [photo #2].
  • More intense flavor: Muddle mint leaves or cucumber slices in the pitcher for more mint/cucumber flavor.
  • Patriotic lemonade: For Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day festivities, set out three pitchers: raspberry lemonade (red), plain lemonade (white) and blackberry lemonade (blue).
  • ________________

    *Limes have a slightly higher acid content: On average, it’s about 6% for limes and 4.5% for lemons. Lemons have more fructose (fruit sugar): 2% for lemons, and between 0.5% and 0.75% for limes. Sugar has a suppressive effect on the perception of sourness, so lemon juice will appear to taste a bit less sour than lime juice. The composition of acids in the two also differ. The acid in lemon juice is almost entirely citric acid, which also makes up most of the acid in limes. However, limes include about 10% each of succinic acid and malic acid which have an effect on their flavor. Source: Craft Cocktails at Home by Kevin Liu.

     

    Limeade Recipe
    [1] Mint is a delicious complement to limeade (photo Elise Bauer | Simply Recipes).

    Limemade Lime Zest Rim
    [2] Make a lime zest and sugar rim (photo courtesy Saint Marc Pub-Cafe | Huntington Beach, CA.

    Blueberry Limeade
    [3] Blueberry limeade, Here’s the recipe from Ciao Florentina.

    Cucumber Lemonade

    [4] Cucumber limeade: Just add sliced cucumbers. Here’s a recipe from Saveur.

     
    THE HISTORY OF LIMES

    It is believed that lemons derived from limes. In fact, if limes are left on the tree to fully ripen, they turn yellow and are indistinguishable from lemons. They’re harvested when green to prevent confusion at the market.

  • Persian lime. The principal supermarket lime, the Persian/Tahitian lime, originated somewhere in the Pacific Rim but more than that is unknown. It is believed to be a hybrid of the Key/Mexican/Bearss lime and citron, a variety of lemon. It may or may not have been hybridized in Persia; the Key/Mexican lime appears to have arrived in the Middle East and Africa, via Arab traders, by 1000 C.E. Crusaders brought it to Western Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries; however, mosaics of lemon and lime trees have been found in remains of Roman villas. The lime was first grown in large quantities in Persia (Iran) and Babylonia (Iraq).
  • Key lime. The Key lime/Mexican lime lime (small, round, yellow flesh) arose in South East Asia, in the Indo-Malayan region.
  • The names lemon and lime are derived from the same Arabic word, limun.
  •  
    The first known mention of limes in Western literature is Sir Thomas Herbert’s Travels, published in 1677. He speaks of finding “oranges, lemons, and limes” on the island of Mohelia off Mozambique.

    Here’s a full lime history, the difference between Persian/Tahitian and Key/Mexican limes, and a photo glossary of the different types of limes the world over.

    Our favorite example: The blood lime of Australia is red inside and out!

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: A New Manual Coffee Grinder

    Everything is cyclical, even mundane household appliances like the coffee grinder.

    In centuries past, coffee beans were ground manually. Depending on your age, your great-grandmother ground beans in a rectangular wood or metal mill (or combination)
    with a ceramic burr. The grains fell into a drawer underneath the mechanism.

    But technology marches on: first to pre-ground coffee from supermarket brands, and then, by having your beans freshly ground at the market.

    By the early 1970s, the movement to buying premium beans from different terroirs around the world had begun. Shops sprang up* that sold only beans. A cup of coffee was no longer just a cup of coffee.

    The first electric grinder was invented in 1930, but was cumbersome and shortly discontinued. In the 1950s and 1960s, a new generation of engineers took up the challenge [source]. Slowly, they made their way across Europe, and then across the pond.

    By the 1980s, most households that ground their beans at home had moved on to the new, small electric grinders that ground the beans with stainless steel blades. The result was quicker ground coffee with little or no no effort.

    But purists complained that the friction and waste heat from the motor impacted the flavor. Some of them stuck with the manual mill and ceramic burr, which has never gone out of style. And commercial use grinders use only ceramic burrs, never metal blades.

    There’s more coffee grinder history below. But since everything old is new again, we’d like to present old-school grinding technology with a new-school upgrade.

    THE NEW BIALETTI HAND-GRINDER WITH A CERAMIC BURR

    The Bialetti Manual Coffee Grinder (photo #1) incorporates an easy-to-adjust ceramic burr grinder designed to utilize less effort, while creating more output (46%-165% depending on the coarseness of the grind).

    A conical ceramic burr grinder crushes whole coffee beans into the desired coarseness, achieved with an easy-to-adjust wheel.

  • There are measurement markings on the bottom chamber that indicate the amount of grounds needed for a coarse, medium, fine, and ultra-fine, and for use in a coffee press, pour over, moka pot and ibrik (Turkish brew pot).
  • The grinder also has a silicone grip for secure handling.
     
    If you’re a coffee purist—or you need to buy a gift for one—Bialetti’s Manual Coffee Grinder is available at Target stores nationwide for an MSRP of $39.99; and at Amazon for $35.57.

     
    COFFEE GRINDER HISTORY

    In Ethiopia, people have been consuming coffee since around 800 C.E. Today, almost half of Ethiopians the people work in the trade; most coffee grown by small farmers.

    The legend has that around 800 C.E., an Ethiopian goatherd, Kaldi, noticed his goats dancing with energy after nibbling the red fruit from plants they found on the slopes where he took them to graze.

  •  

    Bialetti Manual Coffee Grinder
    [1] The new manual Bialetti coffee grinder (photo Bialetti).

    Old Coffee Grinder

    [2] A Turkish coffee grinder (photo Turkish Coffee World).

    Old Coffee Grinder

    [3] An old wood and brass grinder (photo © Kean Eng Chan | Flickr).

     
    We don’t know if there was a Kaldi; but someone first gathered the beans and brought them back to his village, where the people were equally enthusiastic. A trade in coffee beans began and spread throughout Ethiopia.

    Eating The Coffee Beans

    The beans—actually they’re cherries with the beans inside—were first chewed for energy.

    Some time later, when monks got hold of beans, they began experimenting with them, first creating a coffee-derived wine.

    In fact, the word coffee derives from the Arabic qahwah, a type of wine, which became kahve in Turkish, then koffie in Dutch. “Coffee” entered the English language in 1582, via Dutch.

    Long before there was anything we’d recognize as a cup of hot coffee, Ethiopians would crush up the fresh berries and wrap them with fat, possibly as an energy food.

    The cherry fruit was eaten fresh or dried; but while looking for other uses, the seeds (what we know as the coffee beans) were pulverized in a mortar and pestle of stone or wood, then cooked or roasted.

    By the 14th century, coffee beans reached the city of Harrar, the center of trade for Ethiopia. From there it traveled to Mocca, the trading port of Yemen in the 14th century, then up through the Ottoman Empire and on to Europe.

    In the 17th an 18th centuries, Dutch, French and British traders introduced coffee throughout the world.

    The First Coffee Grinders

    The first grinding technique for coffee comprised pulverizing the beans with a mortar and pestle made of stone or wood.

    The mill itself is much older than the coffee trade. It was developed by the Greeks around 1350 B.C.E., to crush a substance (grains, e.g.) down into a fine powder.

    It took a while, but he first spice grinder was invented in the 15th century in Persia or Turkey. Like a tall, slender brass pepper mill, it also was used to grind coffee beans [source].
     
     
    ARE YOU A COFFEE LOVER?

    Take a look at our:

  • Coffee Glossary
  • Espresso Glossary
  • ________________

    *If coffee connoisseurs were lucky, they lived in a town with a specialty coffee shop, with loose beans and packaged coffee from around the world. We were lucky: We lived in New York City, which had McNulty’s Tea & Coffee, established in 1895. It’s still located at 109 Christopher Street in the West Village (and still not open on Sundays).

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Frosé, Frozen Rosé Wine For Cocktails Or Dessert

    Frose Granita

    Frose Dessert With Ice Cream

    [1] Frosé granita. [2] Frosé with ice cream (both photos courtesy Kim Crawford).

      Call it a cocktail or call it dessert: We have long enjoyed a frozen rosé cocktail by scooping some sherbet in a glass and topping it off with sparkling wine or still or sparkling rosé.

    A couple of years ago, some rosé marketer came up with a new term: frosé! Some winemakers even named bottles of sweet-style rose, frosé.

    Here are two frosé recipes courtesy of Kim Crawford Wines from New Zealand. He sent these for National Rosé Day, June 10th.

    (Mr. Crawford must have a sweet tooth: A few years ago, he proposed rosé ice pops. Just add the wine to ice pop molds, with optional berries.)

    For a cocktail, use a drier-style rosé. For dessert, top sorbet or ice cream with a sweeter rosé: a zinfandel rosé from California, or anything labeled frosé (a relatively new term taking advantage of the trend). Or ask the clerk for guidance.
     
     
    RECIPE #1: FROSÉ GRANITA

    This recipe is a rosé granita, a word that means granular in Italian (granité/granitée is the French word, meaning granite-like).

    Granita is a rustic version of sorbet, made without an ice cream machine. The ingredients are frozen in a pan. As the crystals on the top freeze, they are scraped into a grainy, coarse cousin of sorbet.

    Granita, made from sugar, water and flavorings, originated in Sicily. The preferred texture and flavor varies from town to town, where residents variously preferred (and still do) almond, black mulberry, chocolate, coffee, jasmine, lemon, mandarin orange, mint, pistachio and strawberry flavors.

    But the concept of water ices goes back to China in the fourth century B.C.E. The recipe, as it were, arrived in Persia via traders.

    Persians enjoyed what we might now call snow cones: snow flavored with syrups. Called sharbat (the origin of sherbet and sorbetto), it was made at least from the middle of the third century B.C.E.

    Alexander The Great brought the concept back to Greece after he conquered Persia in 330 B.C.E. Gelato, the first type of ice cream, took a while. It is believed to date to Florence, Italy in the late 16th century.

    Here’s the history of ice cream. And now, back to the frosé, in photo #1.

     
    Ingredients For 5 Servings

  • 1 bottle Kim Crawford Frosé or substitute
  • Garnish: lemon twists or berries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR the wine into ice cube trays, a baking pan, or what-have-you and pop it into the freezer. As ice crystals begin to form, scrape them to the front of the pan until frozen solid. You can do this in advance. To serve…

    2. USE a hand blender or food processor to process the frozen wine until smooth. Serve directly or freeze again for up to 1 week, covered. Garnish and serve with a spoon and/or straw.

    Note: We weren’t at home so couldn’t occasionally stir and scrape. So we simply froze the rosé as ice cubes. We then placed the frozen cubes into the blender. The result was a crunchy granita. If we had continued to blend, we might have ended up with something finer, but we liked the crunchiness!
     
     
    RECIPE #2: DRINKABLE FROSÉ SUNDAE

    Ingredients For 5 Servings

  • 1 bottle Kim Crawford Frosé or substitute, well chilled
  • 3 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar*
  • Club soda
  • 1 carton vanilla ice cream
  • Garnish: edible flowers or more berries
  • ________________

    *Use less sugar or omit it entirely if the strawberries are very ripe.
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the strawberries and sugar in a bowl, cover and let sit for 30 to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    2. DIVIDE the strawberries and any juices among 5 rocks glasses. Add the wine and a splash of club soda. Top with a scoop of ice cream and garnish (photo #2).

     
     
    CHECK OUT THE OTHER TYPES OF FROZEN DESSERTS.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Best Foods To Pair With Rosé Wines

    June 10th is National Rosé Day.

    Unlike Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and the other grape varietals, there is no “rosé grape.” Rosé (French for pink) wine can be made from any variety of red grape.

    As a result, the styles and flavors from different wine-making regions vary widely.

    The pink color occurs is when the red grape skins are briefly left in contact with the pressed juice: for only a few hours, as opposed to the few weeks of skin contact when making red wine.

    Even within a wine region—New Zealand, Northern California, Provence, South Africa, etc.—rosé wines are made in a variety of styles: drier, sweeter, lighter, fuller, pale in color, deep in color. See the chart below.

    IT’S MORE POPULAR THAN WHITE WINE

    Dry rosé wine is the all-occasion wine in the south of France—no surprise, since Provence is the world base of dry rosé production. There, vin rosé is paired with all the foods, all year around.

    In fact, dry French rosé outsells white wine in France!

    The dry rosés from Provence can be substituted any time you need dry wine. When you can’t decide between red or white wine, reach for the rosé.

    America rosés can be dry or sweet. Many, especially on the lower end are like blush wines, contain nearly seven times as much residual sugar as a Provençal rosé. Ask the wine store staff for guidance, or do research online.

    Sweetness in rosés can be very welcome. They’re great for dessert and for casual sipping, instead of a sweet cocktail.

    One of our favorite summer desserts or snacks is a scoop of sorbet in a wine glass, topped off with a sweeter rosé.

    You can also blend sorbet and rose into a “frozen” cocktail. Here’s a recipe for “frosé.”

    Better yet, have a rose wine tasting. It’s a great summer party idea.
     
     
    ROSÉ FOOD & WINE PAIRINGS

    With Drier Rosés

    Here’s how we like to pair dry rosé wines:

  • American appetizer fare: bruschetta, deviled eggs, cheese balls, chicken wings, crudités, stuffed mushrooms, etc.
  • Cheeses: fresh (goat, mozzarella) and semisoft (brie, camembert, gorgonzola, gruyère, havarti, young gouda, Monterey jack and provolone).
  • Egg dishes: breakfast eggs, frittata, quiche.
  • Cheese dishes: Caprese salad, crostini, fondue, grilled cheese and other sandwiches, soufflés.
  • Fish and shellfish: baked, poached, grilled, raw (chirashi, crudo, sashimi, sushi, tartare, tiradito), smoked< ./li>
  • Grain salads and other grain dishes: barley, couscous, farro, quinoa, rice, etc.
  • Green salads, plain or with chicken and seafood.
  • Pasta: lighter hot dishes and pasta salads.
  • Spicy cuisines: Indian, Mexican, Szechuan, Thai.
  • Summer soups: corn chowder, gazpacho.
  • White pizza and flatbread.
  •  
    With Sweeter Rosés

  • Cocktails, sangria, punch and casual sipping
  • Fruit and fruit salad.
  • Desserts.
  • Fresh cheeses.
  •  
     
    MORE WAYS TO ENJOY ROSÉ

    Have A Rosé Tasting

    Rosé Sangria

    Affordable Sparkling Rosé

    Frozen Rosé Cocktails

    Rosé Milkshakes
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF ROSÉ WINE

    Provence, the warm and sunny southeastern part of France, is where the France’s wine grapes were first cultivated 2,600 years ago. The ancient Greeks brought grapevines to southern France around 600 B.C.E., when they founded the city of Marseille.

     

    Rose Wine Glass & Bottle

    Rose Champagne With Dessert

    Rose Wine With Oysters

    Tartine With Rose Wine

    Shades Of Rose Wine

    Photo credits from the top: Herringbone Eats, Ruinart, 100 Layer Cakes, Kitchen Aid, Jacksonville Magazine.

     
    In the time of the Greeks, all wines were generally pale in color—the color of today’s rosés. By the time the Romans arrived in 125 B.C.E. (and named the area Provincia Romana, hence Provence), the rosé wine produced there was known throughout the Mediterranean for its high quality. Even when the Romans introduced their preferred red wines to the area, the locals continued to prefer the rosés.

    After the fall of the Roman Empire, invading tribes came and went, imposing their own preferences. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that wine-making in Provence saw growth again—thanks to the efforts of the monks in local abbeys. Rosé wines were an important revenue source for the monasteries.

    Beginning in the 14th century, the nobility and military leaders acquired many Provençal vineyards, and laid the foundation for modern viticulture. Rosé became prestigious, the wine of kings and aristocrats [source].

    So when you take a sip, think of history: the Greeks to the Romans to the French nobility to you!
     
     
    Styles Of Rose Wine

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Strawberry-Rhubarb Bars With Cream Cheese Frosting

    Strawberry Rhubarb Bars
    Strawberry rhubarb bars, ready for dessert or a cup of tea (photo courtesy Adore Foods).

    Strawberries &  Rhubarb

    Strawberry and rhubarb, spring produce for a spring food holiday (photo courtesy Dessert First Girl).

     

    June 10th is National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day.

    This year, instead of a strawberry rhubarb pie, how about bar cookies?

    Food Trivia: Bars, from brownies and lemon and oatmeal bars to Rice Krispie Treats, are cookies, not cake. The dividing line is finger food vs. something that must be eaten with a fork.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB BARS

    There’s also National Rhubarb Pie Day, on January 23rd. While fresh rhubarb is available only in the spring months, frozen rhubarb can be found year-round (the history of rhubarb is below); here’s the history of strawberries).

    As to why people persist in creating holidays of foods that are out-of-season, we have no idea.

    For this recipe, prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 45 minutes. The recipe is from Adore Foods, adapted from Southern Living.

    Ingredient For 20 Bars

    For The Crust

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ stick butter, melted, plus more to grease the pan
  • 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
  •  
    For The Strawberry-Rhubarb Filling

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 3 rhubarb sticks, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
  • 15 fresh strawberries, cut into ½-inch-thick pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    For The Cream Cheese Batter

  • 1 package cream cheese (8 ounces), room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Optional garnish: powdered sugar* or a strawberry slice
  •  
    *Frankly, we can’t understand why people garnish baked goods with powdered sugar. It just flies off and lands on one’s clothing. Centuries ago, it might have been a decorative element before icing, or a garnish for an un-iced cake like a bundt. But today we have better garnishes: year-round strawberries, mascarpone, whipped cream, etc. In this recipe, the cream cheese topping is enough. Need a garnish? Add a slice of strawberry.
     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the crust. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and almonds. Add the melted butter and stir into a crumbly mixture. Press it onto the bottom of a greased pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until ready to use (keep the oven on).

    2. PREPARE the pie filling. Stir together the sugar, cornstarch and chopped rhubarb and strawberry pieces in a medium saucepan. Let it stand 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the filling starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

    3. MAKE the cream cheese batter. Beat the cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the egg and beat just until blended. Add the lemon zest and juice, beating well.

    4. ASSEMBLE: Spread a thick layer of strawberry-rhubarb filling over the cooled crust. Gently spread the cream cheese batter over the filling. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack for an hour. Refrigerate, uncovered, for about 4 hours or overnight. Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving and cut into bars while still cold. Garnish as desired.
     
    RHUBARB HISTORY

    Rhubarb is an ancient plant, cultivated in China since 2700 B.C.E. for medicinal purposes (it was a highly-valued laxative; other species don’t have the same properties).

    Much later (at the end of the 12th century), Marco Polo wrote about it at length in the accounts of his travels in China, suggesting that the plant had not yet made it to southern Europe.

    Different strains of rhubarb grew wild elsewhere, including in Russia. Its genus name, Rheum, is said to be derived from Rha, the ancient name of the Volga River, on whose banks the plants grew.

    Record show that rhubarb was cultivated in Italy in 1608, 20 to 30 years later in northern Europe.

    A 1778 record refers to rhubarb as a food plant. The earliest known usage of rhubarb as a food appeared as a filling for tarts and pies.

    The earliest records of rhubarb in America concern a gardener in Maine, who obtained seed or root stock from Europe sometime between 1790 and 1800. He introduced it to growers in Massachusetts where its popularity spread…and today we celebrate it on National Rhubarb Pie Day and National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day. [source]

    Here’s more about rhubarb, including why rhubarb is a vegetable and not a fruit.

      

    Comments



    © Copyright 2005-2017 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.