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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Jam/Peanut Butter

TIP OF THE DAY: Fig Jam, Fig Chutney & More Figgy Condiments

Figs are hot and dry weather fruit—famously enjoyed for millennia in the Middle East, where it’s hot year-round.

In the U.S., figs grow in zones 8-10 (most of our figs are grown in California. They have two seasons: a shorter season in early summer and a second, main crop that starts in late summer and runs through fall.

Fig trees cannot withstand temperatures much below 20°F, and so are not grown in most of the Midwest and in the Northeast.

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Dalmatia Fig Spread. Photo courtesy
TheKitchn.com. Here’s their review.

 

So depending on your residence, you won’t find fresh figs; but you can console yourself with a jar of fig jam or chutney.

Beyond spreading it on toast, here’s what you can do with it, courtesy of FrenchFarm.com,

  • Use it as a glaze for meats, especially duck and pork.
  • Mix it in with pan juices to make a sauce.
  • Add it to a red wine vinaigrette to make a spectacular salad dressing.
  • Pair it with cheese—our favorites being blue cheese , goat cheese, bleu or camembert on crostini.
  • Use it as the center of humbprint cookies.
  • Spoon it over cheesecake.
  • Add it to cheese and charcuterie plates.
  • Garnish a flatbread pizza made with prosciutto, Gorgonzola cheese and arugula.
  • Use it as a topping for ice cream.
  •  

    You can find Dalmatia Fig Spread (photo above)at many supermarkets, and other fig jams and chutneys at most specialty stores. But The French Farm has the biggest selection of fig condiments we’ve seen, any of which would make a lovely small gift or stocking stuffer for a foodie. The choices include:

     

  • Black Fig Jam (from L’Epicurien), to spread on toast, pastries, waffles, or to enjoy with cheese.
  • Confit of Figs & Black Olives (L’Epicurien), a spread of sweet white figs and savory black olives that can dress up just about anything. Pair with cheese or use as a sandwich spread.
  • Fig & Balsamic Vinegar Confit (L’Epicurien), delicious on a sandwich or on a cracker with goat cheese, or as a condiment with foie gras.
  • Fig & Grape Jam (from L’Epicurien), a delightful balance of juicy grape and earthy fig, spread some on toast or breakfast pastries.
  • Fig & Walnut Confit (from L’Epicurien) is perfect with goat cheese or on a slice of toasted baguette.
  • White Fig Jam (from L’Epicurien), more delicate than the black fig jam, is delicious on top of a slice of toasted baguette, with a slice of Cheddar on a crostini, or on a breakfast pastry.
  •  
    But fig condiments don’t stop at jam. Check out the other options:

     

    fig-mustard-frenchfarm-230

    Mustard with fig. Photo courtesy The French Farm.

     

  • Fig Mustard (from L’Epicurien), can be paired with cured meats, ham, roasted or smoked turkey, cheddar cheese, roast pork or a grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Grape Must Vinegar with Fig (from Il Boschetto) is freshly pressed grape juice that contains the skins, seeds and stems. The mixture is simmered with the addition of vinegar made from Tuscan red wine, into a rich balsamic-like syrup that is stunning over fish, fresh salads, and desserts.
  • Red Wine Vinegar With Fig (from Edmond Fallot), great for salad dressing, marinades, or sauces. Try it on a goat cheese-stuffed chicken breast with braised greens.
  • Spiced Fig Chutney (from L’Epicurien), both sweet and savory and perfect for a cheese board, charcuterie plate or a chicken or turkey sandwich.
  •  
    A BRIEF HISTORY OF FIGS

    The edible fig was one of the first plants to be cultivated by humans. Fossils dating to about 9400–9200 B.C.E. in the Jordan Valley predate the domestication of barley, legumes, rye and wheat, and may thus be the first known instance of agriculture. Some botany historians propose that the figs may have been cultivated one thousand years before the next crops (wheat and rye) were domesticated.

    Much later in time, figs were a common food source for the Romans. Cato the Elder, in his De Agri Cultura, lists several strains of figs: the Mariscan, African, Herculanean, Saguntine and the black Tellanian. In addition to human consumption, figs were used, among other things, to fatten geese for the production of a precursor of foie gras.

    In ancient times, figs were cultivated from Afghanistan to Portugal to India. From the 15th century onwards, they spread to Europe and later, to the New World. [Source]

      

    Comments

    STOCKING STUFFER: Stonewall Kitchen Maple Bacon Jam

    Here’s a spot-on holiday gift for anyone who loves bacon. Bacon jam is a sweet and savory combination that adds a little something extra to most of the foods you eat—breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

    You can spread it on toast or waffles at breakfast, enjoy it on a sandwich, serve it as a condiment with your protein at dinner or mix it into the pan juices to create a delicious sauce. Enjoy it as a cheese condiment.

    For entertaining, use it to make quick canapés with a bit of cheese, meat or poultry.

    While you can make your own bacon jam (a link to our recipe is below), you can also buy it.

    Stonewall Kitchen makes theirs from cane and brown sugars, apples, shallots and yellow onions, vinegar and bacon. We had a taste at a trade show earlier this year and put it on our list of stocking stuffers.

    An 11.75-ounce jar is $7.95 at StonewallKitchen.com.

     

    bacon-maple-onion-jam-stonewallkitchen-230

    A delicious sweet and savory jam. Photo courtesy Stonewall Kitchen.

     

    MAKE YOUR OWN BACON JAM

    Here’s our own recipe for bacon jam.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Chad’s, The Best Raspberry Jam?

    Utah’s Bear Lake is a beauty: a natural freshwater lake on the Utah-Idaho called the “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its turquoise-blue color.

    Although the lake lies relatively near the Oregon Trail, which was traveled by many pioneers between 1836 and the 1850s, it seems that none of traveled south enough to find the lake. It wasn’t until 1863 that Mormons settled in the Bear Lake Valley, home to some Shoshone tribes.

    Fast forward 150 years or so: The area has become famous for its delicious red raspberries. A Raspberry Days festival is held in Garden City to celebrate the harvest of raspberries, generally during the first week of August. The raspberries are sweet and plentiful.

    So we almost kicked ourselves when we found a box of Chad’s Raspberry Kitchen products tucked away, forgotten in a storage area. Boy, are they delicious!

    First up was the Raspberry Jam, the company’s best seller. It’s one of the best raspberry jams we can remember: solid fruit that falls apart into jam during cooking. Chad’s cooks the whole berries with natural fruit pectin and sugar, “the way your grandmother would make it” (or at this point, Chad, our great-grandmother).

     

    chads-raspberry-jam-230

    Great rapsberry jam at a great price. Photo courtesy Chad’s Raspberry Kitchen.

     

    Sustainably farmed located in Laketown, Utah (population 248 at the 2010 census), all natural and preservative free, Chad’s other products include:

  • Raspberry Jalapeño Jam, the classic raspberry spiced up with jalapeño chiles.
  • Seedless Raspberry Jelly.
  • Raspberry Honey, made by bees from the nectar of the raspberry blossoms.
  • Raspberry Syrup, for pancakes, ice cream and other desserts and to make raspberry iced tea or lemonade.
  • Raspberry Salsa, raspberries mixed with a tomato based salsa to create a sweet salsa for dipping or garnishing grilled meats and seafood.
  • Gift box assortments.
  •  

    Everything is very well priced at $4.99 (the honey is $5.99), and they’re more delicious than products selling at twice the price. Chad’s is a great idea for holiday gifting.

    Get yours at ChadsRaspberryKitchen.com.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Jam For Inspector Clouseau

    gift-box-deptofsweetdiversionsFB-230sq

    Jam in covert gift packaging. Photo courtesy Dept. Of Sweet Diversions.

     

    With popular television franchises like CSI, Law & Order and NCIS, detective culture has finally seeped into specialty food.

    The perps (actually, they’re the good guys) moved from Europe to Los Angeles to form their artisan jam agency (“a top secret covert organization”).

    Agent Copperpot hails from France, where she learned the craft of small batch jam making from both of her grandmothers. Chester Pinkerton, born and raised in Switzerland, is a professional illustrator.

    They created the Dept. of Sweet Diversions with a primary objective “to create delicious little diversions so you can treat yourself to something truly special.”

    Otherwise stated, their goal is to elevate the art of preserving to inspire people to try new fruit and flavor combinations.

     

    They source local organic and/or sustainably grown fruit in bountiful southern California, and make jams, jellies, marmalades and fruit butters. (Check out the different types of jam and other spreads.) Most of the ingredients come from farmers markets within a 12 mile radius of their kitchen.

    The jam is made by hand in small batches using traditional techniques. Each flavor features organic ingredients and is completely free of preservatives. Nothing is processed (even the pectin is homemade).

    The pair are quick to note that “Breakfast isn’t the only meal of the day that should feature jam, it’s just the first!”

    Their jams pair exquisitely with fine cheeses, mixed into cocktails and served as a condiment with fish and meat dishes. But don’t stop there: Here are 20 of THE NIBBLE’s favorite ways to use fine jam.

     

    The current line consists of eight choices, available plain or in “covert” gift packaging.

  • The Cocoa Caper: orange jam with dark chocolate. Enjoy it on a crêpe.
  • The Grand Scheme: strawberry jam with Grand Marnier liqueur. Pair it with brioche.
  • Master of Disguise: tomato jam infused with basil. Pair it with burrata cheese.
  • Mr. Bartlett’s Stepchild: pear jam with ginger and acacia honey. Pair it with Cheddar.
  • Operation Peppercorn: strawberry jam with balsamic vinegar & the refined heat of black pepper. Pair it with goat cheese or Brie.
  • The Return of Mr. Bartlett: pear jam with vanilla bean and chestnut honey. Pair it with blue cheese or top French vanilla ice cream.
  • The Sanguine Seduction: blood orange marmalade with vanilla bean. Enjoy it on toast.
  • The Suite Surprise: apple butter sweetened with agave. Enjoy it on a peanut butter sandwich.
  •  

    mr.bartlett-pearjam-vanillabean-chestnuthoney-230

    We devoured the contents with a spoon! Photo courtesy Dept. Of Sweet Diversions.

     
    We received samples of Master of Disguise (tomato jam), Operation Peppercorn (strawberry balsamic), The Return of Mr. Bartlett (pear jam) and The Sanguine Seduction (blood orange). We’ll be ordering more of the delicious blood orange marmalade and tomato jam. We demolished the contents with a spoon!

    And we’ll be trying more flavors, too. A six-ounce jar is $12, or $14 with Top Secret gift wrap.

    Discover more at Dept.OfSweetDiversions.com.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Blake Hill Preserves

    grapefruit-lemon-thyme-marmalade-230

    One of the exquisite marmalades. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Blake Hill Preserves is an artisan chutney, jam and marmalade producer based near historic Grafton Village in Vermont’s Green Mountains. There, a gifted duo traditionally crafts all-natural chutneys, jams and preserves with sophisticated modern, bright, fruit-forward flavors and marvelous textures. You can see the difference, even before you taste it.

    Each small batch is slow-cooked by hand, carefully layering the ingredients to concentrate intense, fresh flavors. All of the ingredients are top quality ingredients, many organic. The line is certified kosher by OU.

    One weekend in 2009, Vicky, a third-generation English preserve maker, turned a bumper crop of wild blackberries growing on Blake Hill Farm into 70 jars of glistening jam. A friend sneaked a jar to the local grocery store and returned an hour later with Vicky’s first jam order; Vicky and Joe Hanglin formed Blake Hill Preserves and have been pleasing demanding palates ever since.

    Joe, who grew up in Gibraltar with British, Spanish and Italian ancestry, brings his culinary heritage to the line of chutneys, some of which are made with fruits, vegetables and spices inspired by Moroccan tagines and the flavors of the Middle East.

     

    We were thrilled with the samples they sent us, and recommend them to all for personal enjoyment and gifting.

    The 200-year-old farm, purchased in 2004, came with meandering old stone walls, beautiful wooded trails and an abundance of wild blackberry and raspberry bushes. Vicky and Joeadded blueberries, gooseberries and blush-pink rhubarb, all of which are use to make the wonderful spreads.

    Since everything is made in small batches, so flavors can sell out. But today, you can purchase this cornucopia of exquisite products:

    CHUTNEYS

  • Apricot & Fresh Orange
  • Cranberry, Apple & Mulling Spices
  • Middle Eastern Date & Red Chile
  • Moroccan Plum & Fennel
  • Rhubarb, Apple & Ginger
  •  

    JAMS

  • Blackberry & Rhubarb
  • Blueberries & Summer Plum
  • Perfectly Plum
  • Raspberry & Hibiscus Flower
  • Strawberry & Rhubarb
  •  
    MARMALADES

  • Fresh Seville Orange
  • Grapefruit & Lemon
  • Lemon, Lime & Aged 100% Agave Tequila
  • Orange & 10-Year Single Malt Whisky
  • Orange, Lime & Ginger
  •  

    The products are completely natural, low sugar, low salt, gluten free and fat free. Beyond spreads, they are delicious with cheese plates, with grilled paninis and other sandwiches, as condiments for everything from barbecue to winter stews, as dessert toppings and much more.

     

    plum-fennel-chutney-230

    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    At $7.49 per jar, these are wonderful gifts—and when you gift yourself with a selection, you’ll be spoiled forever. Say the owners, “It takes up to 13 ounces of fruit and vegetables to fill every 13 ounce jar!”

    Get yours at BlakeHillPreserves.com.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Gakwiyo Provisions Jams & Jellies

    Gakwiyo means “good food” in the Cayuga Indian language. A few years ago the Cayuga Nation, headquartered in Seneca Falls, New York, began an initiative to can and preserve the fruits and vegetables that are grown on its ancestral lands.

    Patti Costello, manager of the initiative, explains that her goal was to make popular foods healthier. “There are approximately 500 members of the Cayuga Nation across the United States,” she notes, “and quite a few of them have problems with weight, diabetes and other heath issues.”

    Plus, members of the Nation “also love getting products that have been grown on their ancestral lands!”

    While they’re not reduced-calorie products per se, the ingredients are excellent. We tasted the samples that Patty sent, and particularly love the conserves, jams and jellies. Be sure to try the “sweet heat”—jams and jellies made with jalapeños.

    We’ve already laid in a supply for Mother’s Day party favors.

    The products include:

  • Conserves
  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Pickled Vegetables & Fruit
  • Salsas & Sauces
  • Jams
  •  

    strawberry-jalapeno-jar-230s

    Fruit and jalapeños combine to make exciting jams and jellies. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Everything we tried was delicious; the Green Tomato Raspberry Jam, an old-fashioned standard that is hard to find these days, is a knockout. We were so sad when the last drop was gone; but we can say the same about the Blueberry Rhubarb Jam, Strawberry Jalapeño Jam, and everything else we tried in the jam-jelly group.

    You can see the full line at GakwiyoProvisions.com.

     

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    It’s delicious on everything from bread to ice
    cream. Here, Habanero Gold Jelly. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    SERVING SUGGESTIONS

    If you need guidance on how to use “hot” jams and jellies, here’s how we enjoy them:

    1. Breads & Crackers. Use them on anything and everything: from toast and bagels to biscuits and muffins to flatbreads and crackers. Hot pairs well with dairy; the jams are terrific with cream cheese.

    2. Breakfast Foods. Dab some on pancakes, waffles and French toast; use as a condiment with eggs or in an omelet; mix into a spicy fruit yogurt.

    3. Sandwiches. Replace your regular jam—including on peanut butter sandwiches.

    4. Hors D’Oeuvres. Top a block of cream cheese or a log of goat cheese and serve with crackers or sliced baguette; top a baked Brie (optional: sprinkle with sliced or chopped toasted almonds).

    5. Savory Sauce Or Marinade. Add to marinade or basting sauce for meats or fish; deglaze the pan by adding jam plus water, stock or wine to make a sweet-and-sizzling sauce.

     

    6. Meat Or Fish Condiments. The jams are a delicious accent to pretty much any grilled or roast meat, poultry or fish. The first night we tasted them, we enjoyed them with a Certified Angus Beef strip steak, grilled outdoors over coals. Delicious!

    7. Dessert Sauce. Serve over ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, cheesecake, or pound cake (with whipped cream).
     

    Gakwiyo makes some 35 different products, and have recently started to sell them online and at farmers markets and festivals, to a great response.

    Try some and you’ll see why!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Arrope

    arrope-beauty-mieldepalma.com-230

    Arrope syrup. There’s also an arrope
    preserve with pumpkin (see photo below).
    Photo courtesy Miel de Palma.

     

    Arrope (ah-ROE-pay), a cooking and condiment syrup, is a product that few of us have in our kitchens. Yet, if you’re a serious cook (or eater), it’s an ingredient you should know about.

    If your parents are serious cooks/eaters, it’s an idea for a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift—so much tastier than another scarf or tie.

    And if no one cooks, there’s a delicious arrope pumpkin preserve, a recipe that derives from the ancient use of arrope to preserve or stew fruits. The pumpkin is cooked in the arrope until it is candied. It’s delicious as a sweet-and-earthy bread spread or a condiment with creamy goat’s or sheep’s milk cheeses (see photo below).

    In fact, when you go to purchase arrope, you need to be specific. Otherwise, you can easily be sold the preserve instead of the syrup, or vice versa. Tip: If the word “pumpkin” appears, it’s the preserve.

    WHAT IS ARROPE

    A reduction of grape must, arrope is a condiment that dates to ancient Rome, where it was called defrutum or sapa. It survives as a gourmet Spanish condiment. The name comes from the Arabic word rubb, syrup.

     
    Arrope is closely related to saba (also called sapa, mosto d’uva cotto and vin cotto). This group comprises ancient precursors to “modern” balsamic vinegar, which appeared in the 11th century.

    So if you’re a balsamic vinegar fan, chances are good that you’ll be happy to discover arrope.

     

    Like honey* and saba, in the days before sugar was widely available arrope was used to add sweetness. Today it is used in everything from drinks to salad dressings to sauces to desserts (try it with fruit salad or drizzled over ice cream). We use it as a glaze for roast poultry and meats. It easily substitutes in cooking for sweet wines such as sherry and marsala.

    As civilization embraced massed-produced foods over artisan products in the latter half of the 20th century, the craft of making arrope—which involves carefully cooking down the must into a syrup over a period of weeks—has almost disappeared. It survives among a handful of artisan producers, carrying on family traditions. (Before modern times, arrope was made by the cook of the family.)

    In Spain, the few remaining artisans produce arrope syrup (grape must reduction) and preserved pumpkin.

    While it’s no leap to combine arrope in Spanish recipes, you can port it over to any cuisine—just as with Italy’s saba and France’s verjus.

     

    arrope-jam-forevercheese-230

    A Spanish cheese plate with typical condiments: fig cake, fresh figs, and in the back, a bowl of arrope preserve with candied pumpkin.

     
    *Honey is sweet and syrupy straight from the hive (or straight from the hive and pasteurized). Arrope and saba are cooked to develop sweet-and-sour flavors including notes of cooked caramel.
     
    HOW ARROPE IS MADE

    It starts with a large quantity of grape must, freshly pressed grape juice that still contains all of the skins and seeds and stems. The must is very flavorful with high levels of sugar.

  • The fresh-pressed grape juice can be strained and sold as verjus, where it is used instead of citrus juice or vinegar.
  • Or, it can be cooked down into arrope or saba.
  • To make arrope, the must is boiled until the volume is reduced by at least 50%, and its viscosity is reduced to a thick syrup. There is no added sugar or pectin.
  • Saba is similarly boiled down into a syrup.
  •  
    Ready to try it? Check at your local specialty food market or order it online:

  • Arrope syrup (grape must reduction)
  • Arrope with pumpkin (preserve)
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Beer & Beer Nuts PB Sandwich

    Beer Nuts and PB Sandwich. Photo by
    Theresa Raffetto | Peanut Butter & Co. Food
    styling by Matt Vohr.

     

    For your St. Patrick’s Day consideration, how about a PB and Beer Nuts sandwich with your beer?

    Beer Nuts is a brand of peanuts with a sweet-and-salty glaze. They don’t contain beer. Rather, they were marketed as a more glamorous accompaniment to beer than the ubiquitous salted peanuts.

    In this concept, Peanut Butter & Co. founder Lee Zalben topped a piece of rustic whole wheat bread with his Smooth Operator creamy premium peanut butter, plus crunchy Beer Nuts.

    We prefer our PB with a kick, so we substituted his The Heat Is On peanut butter, blended with cayenne peppers, chili powder and crushed red peppers.

    The PB & Co. line is certified kosher by OU.

     

    MAKE YOUR OWN BEER NUTS

    Classic beer nuts are sweet and salty, but you can tweak the recipe to add additional flavors: cinnamon for sweetness or cayenne pepper for heat. You can use Beer Nuts on a PB sandwich, ice cream, salad, yogurt, as a soup garnish and in many other ways—including straight snacking, of course.

    Ingredients For 4.5 Cups

  • 4-1/2 cups raw, shelled peanuts
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional spices: cayenne, cinnamon or other favorite
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING peanuts, sugar salt and water to a boil in a saucepan. Continue to boil until all liquid is absorbed, about 25-30 minutes.

    2. PREHEAT oven to 300°F.

    3. SPREAD nuts on lightly greased jelly roll pan; sprinkle with salt and optional spices as desired. Bake 20 minutes.

    4. REMOVE from oven, gently stir and sprinkle with more salt as desired. Bake for 20 more minutes. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mold In Jelly & Jam

    Invader alert: white mold growing in jelly.
    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    A couple of months ago, we noticed two cottony puffs of white mold growing in a jar of Smucker’s Concord Grape Fruit Spread. We wrote to Smucker’s asking if it was safe to eat, and what caused the mold. We got a response back, but it wasn’t to the questions we asked:

    Thank you for contacting The J.M. Smucker Company with your inquiry regarding Smucker’s® Concord Grape Jam. We greatly appreciate and value the input we receive from our consumers and take very seriously any comments pertaining to product quality.

    Your experience has been brought to the attention of our quality assurance department. We want to assure you that our products are made with the best quality ingredients available and by the most carefully controlled procedures known in the food industry.

    We appreciate the time required to share your comments with us. As a thank you, we are in the process of sending you coupons which you should receive in the mail within two to three business weeks. We hope you will use the coupons to again try our products.

    If you should have further questions or need additional information, please visit us at www.smuckers.com or contact us at 888-550-9555, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. eastern time.

    Sincerely,

    Susan
    Consumer Relations Representative
    Ref # 10145794

     
    We responded to Susan’s email with a second request to answer the questions and never heard back (nor, for the record, did we received any coupons).

    This week, mold appeared in a second jar of Smucker’s, the Red Raspberry Spread. So rather than try to re-contact the unhelpful customer service department at Smucker’s, we went online to search for the answers. Here’s an answer from the National Center For Home Food Preservation:

    Q. What do I do if there’s mold on my jellied fruit product?

    A. Discard jams and jellies with mold on them. The mold could be producing a mycotoxin (a poisonous substance that can make you ill). The USDA and microbiologists recommend against scooping out the mold and using the remaining jam or jelly.

    Gee, you’d think Smucker’s might have warned customers against eating jelly with white mold—especially because it may well not have been their “fault” (see the next section). Perhaps they can take the information we found and paste it into a helpful customer service response.

    Aside from the mold—and the lack of help from Smucker’s—the spreads were delish.

     

    HOW TO PREVENT MOLD FROM GROWING ON JELLY
    AND JAM

    Typically, jelly and jam don’t develop mold on their own, because of the high acid of the fruit and the preservative action of the sugar. But mold spores can sometimes enter a jelly jar via contamination from a utensil that was previously used on another foodstuff—the bread for example. A microscopic piece of bread with a mold spore can adhere to the spoon or knife when you spread the jelly on the bread.

    We refrigerate open jars, and we’re especially cautious of cross-contamination, using a separate spoon for the jelly. But it is possible that when we spread the first spoonful of jelly on the bread, it picked up a microscopic mold spore that got introduced to the jar when we went for a second spoonful.

     

    A jar can get mold contamination from a spore of bread. Photo courtesy Peanut Butter & Co.

     

    So today’s tip is: Don’t double dip that spoon or knife. And toss out a jar with mold.

    WHEN YOU CAN KEEP FOODS WITH MOLD

    There are thousands, if not millions, of different types of mold, from beneficial ones like penicillium (which is used to make the mold in blue cheeses) to toxic ones. Experts warn that scooping out the visible mold is not a solution, since the mold shoots microscopic tendrils deep into the foodstuff.

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you can save hard cheeses, firm fruits and vegetables by cutting out at least an inch around and underneath the mold spot. But the organization advises you to toss baked goods, bread, casseroles, grain, jams and jellies, legumes, meat, nuts, pasta, peanut butter, soft cheeses, soft fruits and vegetables, sour cream, yogurt and other foods.

    The list of what you can keep is easy to remember because it’s so brief: hard cheeses, fruits and vegetables. Bid adios to everything else.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Honey & Nuts Spread & Topping

    Homemade honey with nuts. Photo courtesy
    AppleTurnover.tv.

     

    Honey Nuts Cheerios, Chex, Shredded Wheat and Special K; honey nut peanut butter and honey-roasted nuts: Honey and nuts are a natural pairing.

    If you’ve got nuts and honey, you can take the duo one step further:

    Combine them into a delicious bread spread and dessert topping, as people in Greece, Italy and elsewhere in the Mediterranean have been doing for thousands of years.

    You can find jars of honey with nuts at stores that specialize in Greek and Italian foods, or in cheese shops. They are lovely gifts and stocking stuffers.

    RECIPE: NUTS & HONEY

    Ingredients

  • Any honey*
  • Any nuts*
  • Glass jar†
  •  
    *Quantities depend on how much you are making and the capacity of the jar(s). While the photo above is more than half nuts, think of using 2/3 honey to 1/3 nuts—or even 1/4 nuts, if you want just a little. While whole nuts look prettier, they are not as spreadable. So if your goal is to make a bread spread rather than a dessert topping, consider chopping large nuts.

    †If you’re making this for home use, you can recycle an empty jar. If it’s for a gift, look for a prettier jar.

     

    Preparation

    1. TOAST nuts in a hot, dry pan, keeping them moving until the aroma wafts up (how to toast nuts). Cool.

    2. LAYER the nuts and honey in a clean jar. The nuts may migrate to the top of the jar, but you can easily stir them prior to use.
     

    VARIATIONS

    If you like the combination, try different variations: sage honey with walnuts, orange blossom honey with almonds, and so on.

     

    Or buy a jar! Photo courtesy Moon Shine Trading Company.

     

    HOW TO ENJOY HONEY AND NUTS

  • As a bread spread
  • As a cheeses condiment
  • As a dip for pretzels, baby carrots, etc.
  • As a fruit topper
  • On ice cream and loaf cakes
  • On pancakes, waffles and French toast
  • Straight from the jar, on a spoon
  •  
    How would you use honey and nuts?
      

    Comments

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