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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Scrub Daddy Sponge

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Scrub Daddy, our new kitchen essential. Photos by Faith Tomases | THE NIBBLE.

 

In the beginning, there was the sea sponge, one of the simplest animal organisms, believed to have evolved at least 700 million years ago. With no specialized organs and no locomotion, they attached to rocks on the sea bed, where they eat microscopic plants in the sea water.

Under the skin is a simple skeleton made of a soft, porous material called spongin. Sponges have been harvested since ancient times and used for cleaning.

In the 1940s, artificial sponges were developed by DuPont company, made from cellulose. Soon, cellulose sponges replaced natural sponges in America’s household. Today’s synthetic sponges can also be made from foamed plastic polymers.

But as everyone who uses these sponges knows, they fall apart and worse, collect odors and bacteria—including salmonella and E.coli wiped from cutting boards and kitchen counters. The moist environment of a conventional sponge—wild or artificial—is conducive to bacterial growth.

We are advised to regularly clean our sponges: in the dishwasher, microwave or washing machine; or by soaking in a solution of ammonia, bleach or vinegar.

 
ENTER SCRUB DADDY

Every so often, someone does create a better mousetrap. In this case, it was Aaron Krause, who created Scrub Daddy: a heavy-duty, scratch-free sponge. It is a champ at scrubbing off just about anything you want scrubbed.

And it welcomes you with a smiling face, the mouth of which can be used to scrub utensils.

Krause was washing and waxing cars for a living when he scratched a car. In response, he went home and invented a line of buffing and polishing pads, including the Scrub Daddy sponge.

His business was bought out by 3M, which didn’t want Scrub Daddy because they had Scotch-Brite (not nearly as effective).

He tried marketing Scrub Daddy himself, with minimal success ($100,000 in sales in 18 months). Then, he got an investment and assistance via Shark Tank that has generated $18 million in sales in 18 months.

 
Scrub Daddy is made of a high-tech polymer texture that changes texture with the water temperature: It’s hard in cold water, for cleaning pots and grills; and soft in hot water for dishes.

It’s safe to use (non-scratch) on just about every household surface. Like other sponges, it’s flexible to get to the bottom of coffee pots, mugs, vases, etc.

We are thrilled—THRILLED!—with the cute little guy, who is made in happy colors: blue, green orange and yellow. There’s also a lemon-scented yellow version and a larger rectangle (no face). The company has also released Sponge Daddy, in the size of a conventional kitchen sponge (we haven’t tried it).

We’ve used ours for a few months and it makes for happy scrubbing. Independent lab test showed it remains odor-free for up to two months. Beyond the kitchen, use it for:

  • Other household cleaning. Scrub Daddy adds fun to any chore.
  • Outdoor cleaning, from grills and swings to pool surfaces and decks.
  • Personal care, from handwashing (kids may like the face enough to use it more often) to exfoliating.
  • Auto care, the use that inspired it in the first place. Use it on your car or boat to clean dashboards, upholstery, wheels, windows, whatever.
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    Scrub Daddy is sold in Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, SuperValu and Wal-Mart, with other retailers coming on board. There’s also a website, ScrubDaddy.com, but we hate to send you there because it needs work!

    You can also buy it on Amazon.com.

     

    PEACHY CLEAN, A PEACH-SCENTED SPONGE

    According to the manufacturers of Peachy Clean, the bacteria on a conventional sponge double every 20 minutes A scrubbing sponge is the #1 cross contaminator of food borne illnesses in the kitchen.

    So they created Peachy Clean Silicone Scrubbers, incorporating a new technology that is anti-microbial and anti-odor, resisting most odors caused by bacteria, mold and mildew.

    These scrubbers are specially designed to be fast drying to help reduce the bacteria, mold, and mildew growth facilitated by a moist environment.

    Also non-scratch, they last on average 3-6 months (they are the only scrubbers on the market that come with a 3 month warranty). Instead of a smiling face, the sponges smell like peaches.

    You can buy them on Amazon.com, and visit the company website, GetPeachyClean.com

     

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    Peachy clean has a subtle peach aroma. Photo by Julia Tomases | THE NIBBLE.

     

    NOTE: Both of these sponges are scrubbers, as opposed to liquid picker-uppers. While they will wipe a counter, for major spills you’ll need a conventional sponge or paper towel.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Store Fruits & Vegetables

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    Berries are fragile. Don’t buy them unless
    you plan to eat them within two days. Photo
    courtesy California Strawberry Commission.

     

    We adapted this article from the original on Vegetarian Times because we’re guilty of throwing out a lot of spoiled produce.

    But we’re no different from the rest of America. Back in 2002, researchers at the University of Arizona, working with the United States Department of Agriculture, spent a year tracking families’ food-use habits.

    What they discovered: The average family tossed out 470 pounds of spoiled food per year, about $600 worth, representing some 14% of the food brought into the home. Nationally, we dump $43 billion worth of food every year.

    It seems that intentions were good, because families bought lots of fresh fruit and produce. But every day, researches discovered, these households discarded more than half a pound of fruits and vegetables that had gone bad. The spoiled food represented a staggering one-fourth of all the produce purchased.

    So how can you waste less produce, and equally as importantly, consume the nourishment that gets tossed along with the money spent?

    For starters, you could buy only what you need for a day or so, and then be sure to eat it. Put it front and center on the refrigerator shelf.

    But many of us are too busy to shop that often, so Plan B is: Take better care when you buy and store produce. Here’s what to do:

     

    BE AWARE OF ETHYLENE

    Be aware that more than a few fruits give off high levels of ethylene gas, an odorless, colorless gas that speeds the ripening and decay of other, ethylene-sensitive, produce. That’s why you can quickly ripen ethylene-sensitive fruits, like stone fruits, by enclosing them in a paper bag with an ethylene-generating fruit like an apple or a banana. Here’s how to divide and conquer:

  • Ethylene Generators/Refrigerate The Produce: apples, apricots, cantaloupe, figs, honeydew, kiwi, mangoes
  • Ethylene Generators/Don’t Refrigerate The Produce: avocados, bananas (unripe), nectarines, papaya, peaches, pears, plums, tomatoes
  • Ethylene Sensitive/Keep Away From Ethylene Generators: asparagus, bananas (ripe), berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce/leafy greens, parsley, peas, peppers, squash, summer squash, sweet potatoes, watermelon
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    For longer life:

  • Keep the ethylene-producing fruits apart from ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep the produce whole; don’t even remove the stem of an apple until you’re ready to eat it. As soon as you damage the integrity of the fruit or vegetable, create an environment where microorganisms start to grow.
  • Never refrigerate potatoes, onions, winter squash or garlic. Keep them in a cool, dark, place, but separate them so their flavors and smells don’t migrate. They can keep up to a month or more.
  • Store cold-sensitive fruits and vegetables on the counter; they’ll lose flavor and moisture in the fridge. These include garlic, onions, potatoes and tomatoes. The first three should be stored in cool, dark places.
  • The worst thing to do is to seal fruits and vegetables in an airtight bag. It stops their respiration—yes, produce does breathe—suffocating them and speeding up decay.
  • Check the vegetable bins for mold and decay. Mold proliferates rapidly and will contaminate other produce.
  • Consider an ozone-generator like BerryBreeze, which reduces the ethylene.
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    Apples have great staying power, especially when refrigerated. Stock up; but if the apples are turning soft, turn them into baked apples or compote. Photo courtesy USA Apple.

     
    We use a Berry Breeze in the fridge, and also place an ethylene gas guardian (E.E.G., also called an ethylene gas absorber) in the produce crisper drawers. These products actually absorb ethylene. Check out Bluapple and ExtraLife.

    There are also produce bags are also on the market, such as those by Debbie Meyer Evert-Fresh Green Bags and BioFresh, which absorb ethylene and support respiration.
     
    SHOPPING TIPS

  • If you’ll be making several stops between the market and kitchen, get a cooler for your car. When you get home, put the produce into the fridge as soon as possible.
  • Shop farmers markets early in the day. Just-harvested greens wilt rapidly once they’ve been in the sun for a few hours.
     
    EATING TIPS

  • Eat more perishable items first: Berries last only a few days, oranges can last for months. Cucumbers will remain fresh longer than leafy greens. Before you put the item in your shopping cart, think of its longevity and when you will consume it.
  • If your produce has peaked and you still haven’t eaten it, quickly cook it. Make fruit compote or soup, and toss it into the freezer.
  • Produce with the best staying power: apples, beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, garlic, onions, potatoes, winter squash.
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    PRODUCT: Chocolate Covered Beer Berries

    What the heck are beer berries, one might logically ask. Better yet, what are chocolate-covered beer berries?

    Invented by Moonstruck Chocolate of Portland, Oregon, this innovative treat starts with German roasted malted wheat berries, which are typically used in the brewing process to make dark beers like Guinness and other stouts.

    Moonstruck tumbles the wheat berries in delicious dark chocolate. You don’t have to be a beer lover to enjoy the crunchy texture and coffee (from the roasting) and chocolate flavors.

    But, chocolate-covered beer berries are delightful surprise for those who do enjoy their brewskis. They’re a great gift or party favor; and at $5.00 per bag, very affordable.

    There isn’t anything alcoholic in beer berries—just great flavor and fun. The concept was invented by Moonstruck’s master chocolatier after visiting a brewery and discovering the unique flavors of the beer berries.

    And yes, you can nibble on them while enjoying a glass of stout or other beer.
     
    Get yours at MoonstruckChocolate.com.

     

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    Moonstruck’s delicious Beer Berries. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

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    GIFT: Pretzel Perfection Gluten Free Treats

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    Delicious, fun, affordable holiday treats. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    One of the tastiest new things we’ve tried this holiday season are the chocolate-covered pretzel clusters from Pretzel Perfection.

    The pretzels are gluten free, and made by a company that specializes in gluten-free flavored pretzel sticks—Chipotle BBQ, Garlic Herb, Lemon Toffee, Stoneground Mustard and Tomato Basil—and delicious for everyone.

    The sweet variations are seasonal specialties, delightful pretzel stick and chocolate clusters in:

  • Eggnog Holiday Clusters, covered in eggnog-infused white chocolate and finished with white chocolate chips, and dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Peppermint Clusters, covered in mint-infused white chocolate and finished with white chocolate chips and organic peppermint candy pieces.
  • Salted Caramel Clusters, covered in semisweet chocolate and handcrafted caramel, topped with dark chocolate chips and finished with a sprinkling of sea salt.
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    At just $6.99 for a handsome container, there’s still time to order a slew of them for last-minute holiday gifting.

    Get yours at PretzelPerfection.com.

     

     
      

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    It’s Been A Week Of Tech Hell

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    It’s time to get back to business. Photo
    courtesy blog.securestate.com.

     

    It’s been Hell Week at THE NIBBLE.

    Starting last Monday, the server at TheNibble.com was hacked. No website was “served” for three days; just the message, “server not found.”

    Then, it was our blog’s turn to go crazy. It’s hosted on a separate WordPress server.

    The blog “disappeared” on Friday, with Blog.TheNibble.com yielding only the message “server not found” or a totally blank page.

    As of ten minutes ago, it’s back.

    We’re sorry for the inconvenience; thanks to all for your patience. After a tall cup of coffee—and a well-deserved cheese danish—we’ll get back to writing and publishing everything we’ve been unable to do since last Friday.

     

     
      

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