THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods


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REVIEW: Superfruit Pomegranate Juice

The pomegranate is an ancient fruit, originating in Persia. It has been cultivated in the Mediterranean region for several thousand years. Remains dating back to 1000 B.C.E. have been found in Armenia. Yet, five years ago, the pom was an oddity in the U.S. It was an exotic fruit enjoyed largely by immigrants and Americans who learned to enjoy them abroad—until the debut of POM Wonderful juice, and the subsequent announcement of high antioxidant values and potential anti-carcinogenic properties. Suddenly, everyone wanted pomegranate, and the flavor has appeared in everything from ice cream to salad dressing. In juice, brand after brand has proliferated to meet America’s desire for healthy, high-antioxidant food. Our intrepid taster drank all she could get her hands on—more than 50 juices, although only the top 19 have been recommended to NIBBLE readers. They include 100% pure pom juices plus blends with other juices (blueberry, cranberry, etc.), as well as brands that are certified kosher or organic. Read the full review and get juiced in the Juices & Ades Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.   Pomegranate Juice
Pretty in purple: 100% pure pomegranate juice. While pom juices are wonderful blended with the right quality companions, watch out for juices “flavored” with pomegranate that are largely composed of less expensive apple or grape juice.
 

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PRODUCT WATCH: Daregal Frozen Herbs

Daregal Frozen HerbsIn the freezer, ready to thaw.
  Having fresh herbs in one’s kitchen at all times is a nice fantasy, but in reality, those pricey herbs often wither away before they are put to use (or, before the three-quarters of them that remain after you’ve used the first few tablespoons’ worth are used). Daregal Gourmet has solved our fresh herb woes with herbs that are pre-chopped, frozen and packed in space-saving boxes. Take out the amount you need, let it thaw, and it tastes almost as good as fresh herbs—and a whole lot better than dried herbs. They jazz up bland pasta, meat or fish dishes and also serve as lovely plate garnishes (see our article, Garnish Glamour for additional tips). They work well with vegetables too. Our favorites are the individual herbs (basil, cilantro and parsley) but people who enjoy spice blends can opt for Grilling, Italian and Original. Find a store locater on the website, DaregalGourmet.com. Find more of our favorite spices in the Salts & Seasonings Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
 

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Chocolate Fondue Day

The best way to celebrate National Chocolate Fondue Day is not with a traditional chocolate fondue. Nope. It’s by thinking outside the box and making this Spicy Truffle Melt. Check out the concept plus a party plan. If you want the traditional chocolate fondue recipe, of course we’ll oblige.
– Don’t dip rubbery supermarket marshmallows into a fine fondue. Gourmet marshmallows are the way to go.
  Hot Chocolate and Spices
You can add the same spices to chocolate fondue and hot chocolate. Try allspice, cardamom, chili, cinnamon-nutmeg, coconut-curry, ginger, and paprika. Photo courtesy of Recchiuti Chocolate.
 

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NEWS: Carbonated Soda Sales Fizzle

Soda CanFewer tops are flipping as consumers switch from carbonated soda to water, juice and tea drinks.   Consumers in both the U.S. and the U.K. are turning away from carbonated soft drinks and opting for healthier beverages, according to a new report by independent market analyst Datamonitor. Are you one of them? Our own personal drinking patterns have changed significantly over the last five years. Whereas we used to keep a supply of sugar-free sodas for “diet days,” now we’re only into water and tea—fresh brewed or bottled (thank goodness Teas’ Tea came up with the more affordable jumbo sizes of their bottled teas). When we want something special, we’ll have a Fizzy Lizzy sparkling juice—and this is what we offer guests instead of Coca Cola. It looks like were not the only ones. In the U.S. and Europe overall, carbonated beverages are expected to decline from 50% of overall soft drink consumption in 2006, to 45% in 2011, and from 61% to 50% by 2011 in the U.K. In contrast, Datamonitor forecasts juices to grow from 16% to 22%, while bottled water is forecast to increase from 19% to 24% over the same period.
Greater consumer knowledge on the importance of hydration, maintaining a healthy diet and an awareness of nutritional needs, along with a growth in skepticism toward sugared carbonates are all contributing to a dynamic soft drink market. If you’re a giant soft drink manufacturer, you don’t like to see billions of dollars of sales float away. Mega-mass-marketers are responding by purchasing popular “specialty” juice, water and bottled tea companies. In the last year alone, among other deals, Pepsico acquired Izze sparkling juice and Naked Juice, Cocoa-Cola’s purchased Odwalla juice, Glaceau (makers of Vitaminwater) and took a 40% stake in Honest Tea. Read more about these products in the Beverages Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Cocoa vs. Hot Chocolate

We have addressed this topic before, but it has surfaced as the Tip Of The Day on TheNibble.com (so we hope you enjoy it again). Yes, Virginia, there is a difference between cocoa and hot chocolate. Cocoa is made from cocoa powder and hot chocolate is made from shaved chocolate bars or other bits of whole chocolate. Hot chocolate is much richer because of the higher cocoa butter content of the solid chocolate. Both cocoa and hot chocolate can be made with either milk or water; milk, of course, makes it richer. You can’t make cocoa powder at home (unless you have a hydraulic press). However, you can make shaved chocolate. It is often marketed as “drinking chocolate,” but you can save money by shaving your own from your favorite chocolate bars—dark, milk, white or flavored. Shaving is a relative term; you can use anything from knife to a chocolate curler or grater to a pulsing food processor.   Burdick Hot Chocolate
Our favorite, from Burdick Chocolate, shows that glamour can live inside plain packaging. (Alternatively, glamorous packaging does not guarantee a great-tasting product.)
The better quality of the bar, the better quality of the hot chocolate. That’s why some of the finest brands are $25 a box (our favorite from Burdick Chocolate, shown at the left, is $14.00 for 12 ounces and $35.00 for two pounds). Read our review of more than 65 hot chocolate and cocoa brands in THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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