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THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Beetology Flavored Beet Juice


[1] Beet + Lemon + Ginger, one of five Beetology flavors. (all photos © Beetology).


[2] How about a Beetarita? Here’s the recipe.


[3] Make a beet iced tea.


[4] A beet and orange slush. Add yogurt for a smoothie.


[5] The sugar beet looks like a parsnip (photo © Lusicar | Panther Media).

 

The formal name of beets is beetroot; they are roots of a plant.

In the U.K., they’re still known as beetroot. In the U.S., we’ve shortened it to beets.

We love beets, consuming at least two packages of Beetology’s ready-to-eat beets each week.

But you also can drink your beets!

In addition to their nutrient-dense, numerous health benefits, beet juice is the equally delicious version of a meaty beet.

Ready-to-drink beet juice has been available, probably, since juice-in-a-jar found its way to grocers’ shelves.

Beetology wants to make it more accessible, by combining plain beet juice with other juices, for more layered flavoring:

  • Beet + Berry
  • Beet + Cherry
  • Beet + Lemon + Ginger
  • Beet + Tropical Fruit
  • Beet + Veggie
  •  
    Beetology juices are:

  • 100% organic
  • Cold pressed, not from concentrate
  • All natural and GMO free
  •  
     
    HOW TO ENJOY BEETOLOGY BEET JUICE

    In addition to a chilled glass of beet juice, you can enjoy beetology in:

  • Cocktails, mocktails and spritzers (with club soda, plain or flavored)
  • Hot drinks (drink it alone or mixed with sour cream or yogurt)
  • Ice cream, ice pops, sorbet, slush
  • Fish: poach char, trout or salmon (increases the hue and flavor)
  • Smoothies, lemonade
  • Soups
  •  
    Check out the recipes on Beetology.com.

    Here’s a store locator.
     

    THE HISTORY OF BEETS

    Beets are members of the Amaranthaceae or amaranth family, a group of flowering plants. The common beet is known botanically as Beta vulgaris.

    Other family members include chard, lamb’s quarters, quinoa, spinach, other edibles, and plants used for medicinal purposes.

    Wild beets, also called sea beets (Beta maritima), originated along the coasts of Eurasia. They were domesticated in the Middle East, grown by the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.

    At the beginning, beets were grown primarily for their greens, which were eaten and used medicinally.

    The fleshy red taproot* underground, which we eat today, was not on the menu. It was fed to animals.

    The ancient Romans also used the beet medicinally, but were the first to cultivate the plant for its fleshy, red root.

    How about an aphrodisiac?

  • The Romans believed that beets and beet juice promoted amorous feelings. Frescoes of beets decorate the walls of the Lupanare brothel in Pompeii.
  • In Greek mythology, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, ate beets to enhance her appeal.
  •  
    This folklore actually has a basis in reality.

  • Beets are a natural source of tryptophan and betaine, substances that promote a feeling of well-being.
  • They also contain high amounts of boron, a trace mineral which increases the level of sex hormones in the human body [source].
  •  
    The Shape & Color Of Beets

    The earliest cultivated beet was longer rather than wider; it more closely resembled a parsnip (photo #5), like the modern sugar beet (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris); sometimes a cylinder known as the Mangel-wurzel. Today’s familiar bulbous shape began appearing near the end of the 1500s.

    You can still find heirloom seeds for the longer style, including this cylindrical variety in yellow.

    Beyond red beets, over time, mutations and hybrids led to a rainbow of beets, most commonly in orange, pink, yellow, white, and striped (chioggia).
     
    Beet Sugar Arrives

    Sugar became perhaps the most valuable use of beets.

    In 1747 Andreas Sigismund Marggraf, a chemist from Berlin, discovered a way to produce sucrose from beets. His student, Franz Achard, perfected thw method for extracting sugar.

    The King of Prussia was convinced to subsidize a sugar beet industry, enabling the first processing plant to be built in what is now western Poland.

    It turned out to be a solid investment!

     
    Today, around 20% of the world’s sugar comes from sugar beets instead of sugar cane. Since beet sugar production uses four times less water than sugar cane production, it’s better for growing sugar in arid countries like Egypt, as well as in water-restricted areas of Europe.

    ________________

    *A taproot is a large, central, very thick and dominant root from which other roots sprout laterally. It tapers in shape, and grows downward. In modern times, the root itself is the main food, while the stems and greens, that grow above ground, may also be eaten. Popular taproots in our diet include beets, burdock, carrots, radishes and turnips.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Schnapsicles, Ice Pops With Liqueur, Spirits & Wine

    Last summer, we extolled the fun of Rainbow Sangria, with a rainbow of fruit ice cubes.

    Today, it’s Schnapsicles: ice pops with wine and schnaps (see below).

    If you’re in the D.C. area, you can head to Stable D.C.’s Swiss-American restaurant for some Schnapsicles.

    Executive Chef David Fritsche adds fun to his menu with ice pops that bring out the kid in us all—except that these are specifically for adults.

    He combines fruit purée, wine and schnaps in a selection of vibrant flavors. You can have:

  • The Original (photo #1)
  • A Schnapsicle Spritz (photo #2): a Schnapsicle in a glass of sparkling rosé.
  •  
    Chef Fritsche uses disposable ice pop bags, but you can use ice pop molds or whatever you have.

    Schnapsicles are available for a limited time only, but you can make a version at home anytime.

    Use a conventional ice pop mold, or ice sticks like these, made with Frozip Ice Pop Bags.
     
     
    HOW TO MAKE SCHNAPSICLES

    1. PURÉE your fruit(s) of choice. Combine with a matching schnaps and red or white wine (including sweet/dessert wine), depending on the color of the fruit.

    2. TEST-BLEND the pureé plus one tablespoon each of wine and schnaps per pop mold or bag.

  • Based on the proof of the spirit and the volume of the pop mold, at a certain percentage of alcohol, the pop won’t freeze. If you experiment in a Frozip or ice pop mold, you’ll at least have a slush!
  • Wine is about 12% to 14% alcohol by volume or A.B.V. (depending on grape variety, heat of season, etc.). Liqueurs range from about 15% to 30% alcohol by volume.
  • You double the A.B.V. to get the proof. The lower the proof, the better the Schnapsicle freezes.
  •  
    3. COMPLETE the batch with your favorite proportions.
     

    CORDIAL, EAU DE VIE, LIQUEUR & SCHNAPS:
    THE DIFFERENCE

  • Schnaps/schnapps, a generic German word for liquor or any alcoholic beverage, is more specific in English, where it refers to clear brandies distilled from fermented fruits. The English added a second “p,” spelling the word as schnapps.
  • True schnaps has no sugar added, but products sold in the U.S. as schnapps may indeed be sweetened.
  • As one expert commented, “German Schnaps is to American schnapps as German beer is to American Budweiser.”
  • Eau de vie is the French term for Schnaps. American-made brands labeled eau de vie (“water of life”) are often heavily sweetened, and have added glycerine for thickening.
  • Liqueur is an already distilled alcohol made from grain which has already been fermented, into which fruits are steeped. It is sweeter and more syrupy than a European eau de vie or schnapps.
  • Cordial, in the U.S., almost always refers to a syrupy, sweet alcoholic beverage, a synonym for liqueur.
  • In the U.K., it refers to a non-alcoholic, sweet, syrupy drink or the syrup used to make such a drink. Rose’s Lime Cordial, a British brand, is called Rose’s Lime Juice in the U.S. so Americans don’t think it’s alcoholic.
  •  

    Schnapsicles
    [1] Schnapsicles: frozen fruit ice with wine and schnaps.

    Schnapsicle Cocktail
    [2] A Schnapsicle Spritz, with a glass of sparkling rosé and a raspberry garnish (photos #1 and #2 © Stable D.C.).

    Grand Marnier
    [3] Grand Marnier is one of our favorite schnapsicles (photo © Grand Marnier).

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Eat More Vegetables? Grill Them On Skewers!

    If you have vegetable-resistant family members, here’s an easy way to make eating veggies fun: Put them on skewers.

    Food on a stick is always a palate pleaser.

    Get the 10″ skewers to add more veggies. Bamboo skewers are inexpensive—here are 100 thick ones for $7.55.

    Soak them for at least 20 minutes in warm water, to make them less flammable.

    You can even reuse bamboo skewers with simple washing, if they aren’t too charred. The thicker the stick, the less likely the charring.

    A fun tip: soak the skewers in wine or juice to add an extra touch of flavor. It’s a good use for that forgotten half-bottle of wine in the back of the fridge.
     
     
    HOW ABOUT A DIP?

    To prod resistant vegetable eaters, add a dip on the side:

  • Dijon vinaigrette
  • Seasoned yogurt dip (curry, garlic, etc.)
  • Other favorite
  •  
     
    WHICH VEGETABLES TO GRILL

    Go for a mix color and eye appeal.

    You can thread different veggies on a skewer, or make single-veggie skewers as in photo #1.

    That way, if someone truly won’t eat tomatoes or mushrooms, for example, they won’t be wasted.

    Consider these ingredients:

    Ingredients For Skewers

  • Baby beets
  • Button mushrooms*
  • Bell peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Optional fun: cantaloupe, peaches pineapple†
  • Red onion quarters or wedges, scallion tips‡, whole shallots
  • Zucchini and yellow squash
  • Seasoned olive oil for basting (salt, pepper, basil, oregano) with optional balsamic vinegar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SOAK the skewers and lightly oil the grate. Preheat the grill to medium heat.

    2. THREAD the vegetables. Alternately thread zucchini slices, yellow squash slices, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, pineapple, and bell pepper onto the skewers.

    3. WHISK the olive oil, balsamic and seasonings, and brush over the vegetables.

    4. GRILL the skewers until vegetables are tender, occasionally turning and basting with the olive oil, 10 to 15 minutes.
    ________________

    *Mushrooms don’t add color, so whole small mushrooms have more eye appeal than pieces of larger mushrooms.

    †Bananas are delicious here, but they get softer, quicker.

    ‡Save the rest of the green shoots for omelets, salads, etc.

     


    [1] Serve vegetable skewers with grilled fish, steak or other protein (photo © Sun Basket).


    [2] Summer squash is a favorite for grilling (photo © Good Eggs).


    [3] Look for cherry tomatoes in mixed colors (photo © Love Food Art | Pexels).

     

      

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    FOOD FUN: Limburger Cheese & Other Washed Rind Cheeses


    [1] Limburger, a washed-rind cow’s milk cheese, has a pungent aroma but is mild on the palate. You can get it from Chalet Cheese Cooperative (photo © The Wisconsin Cheeseman).


    [2] While many fans enjoy a limburger sandwich, it is also popular as a table cheese with beer and pretzels (photo © America’s Dairyland | Facebook).


    [3] Époisses, the world’s stinkiest (and delicious) cheese, is made in the Burgundy region of France. It’s available at DiBruno Bros (photo © DiBruno Bros).


    [4] Taleggio, a DOP cheese from Italy, is washed with seawater. Get it at iGourmet (photos #4 and #5 © iGourmet).


    [5] A taleggio made in Italy from buffalo milk instead of the standard cow’s milk. Get it at iGourmet (photo © iGourmet).


    [6] Livarot, made in Normandy, is washed in brine with some annatto added for color (photo © Artisanal Cheese).


    [7] Pont-l’Évêque cheese is made in the Calvados département of Normandy. It is probably the oldest Norman cheese still in production (photo © Isigny Sainte-Mère | Amazon).


    [8] Robiola di bosco is a cow’s milk washed-rind cheese from the Lombardy region of Italy. It’s similar to taleggio, though more intense (photo © Forever Cheese).


    [9] Eligo, a goat’s milk washed-rind cheese newly created by Jasper Hill Farm. Get it here (photos #6 and #7 © Jasper Hill Farm).


    [10] Here’s what unaged Eligo cheese looks like, ready to be washed and aged.

     

    Limburger: It’s a soft cow’s milk cheese, a washed rind cheese with a pungent aroma that has been the butt of jokes for decades.

    The Wisconsin Cheeseman calls it “Limburger: The Cheese That Nose No Equal.”

    Infamous for its alleged “stinky feet” aroma, the cheese gets a bad rap. The aroma is more earthy in character.

    The paste (the cheese under the rind) has a creamy texture and a buttery, mild flavor.

    Don’t pass buy the opportunity to taste it.

    In 2019, People Magazine named the Limburger Sandwich at Baumgartner’s Cheese Tavern the best sandwich in Wisconsin [source].

    You can make your own version with the ingredients listed below.
     
     
    THE AROMA OF WASHED RIND CHEESES

    Full disclosure: We love washed-rind cheeses.

    Washed rind cheeses are very aromatic. And they’re popular!

    Beyond the European cheeses from Austria, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, there are dozens of artisan limburgers made in the U.S. alone. Just search for “washed rind cheese” on the Murray’s Cheese website. Cheese connoisseurs want them.

    We know that most Americans prefer a more bland type of aroma and taste.

    Trust us: Limburger’s aroma and flavor pale in comparison to those of truly pungent washed-rind cheeses, like Époisses (ay-PWAZ), from the Burgundy region of France, and Stinky Bishop, made in Gloucestershire, in western England.

  • Époisses is the most armoma-infamous of the washed rind group. It is washed in brandy-washed, and is a French classic (photo #3).
  • Other washed ring examples include Livarot, Morbier, Munster (German, not American), Pont L’Eveque, Prattigau, Raclette, Saint Nectaire and Taleggio.
  • Two of our favorite American washed rind cheeses are Red Hawk from Cowgirl Creamery in Marin County, California, and Eligo from Jasper Hill Farms in Vermont.
  • Brick cheese from Wisconsin is also a washed rind, washed in whey and water. As a result, the aroma is more mild than other washed rinds.
     
    Whether from Europe or the U.S., we can’t get enough.

    So here’s an idea:

    If you think you might love them too, gather three or more types, a lot of good beer, and have a stinky cheese tasting (call it a washed rind cheese tasting if your crowd is more elegant).

    Use the opportunity to taste different types of beer with them: lager, IPA, porter and stout, for example.

    If you can find them, include some brett beers and sour beers.

    Add bread (pumpernickel, raisin, rye—we like them toasted), cured meats, apples and pears, grapes, hazelnuts or marcona almonds, and dried fruits including raisins or sultanas (golden raisins).

    Add some crisp white wines for the non-beer drinkers, and you’ve got a party!

    Just don’t party outside in hot weather: The aroma attracts mosquitoes!

    Note: Don’t worry about white or blue mold on the cheese: It’s often part of longer-aged washed rind cheeses.

    Sandwich Tip:

    Limburger sandwiches are the most popular way to eat limburger cheese.

    Our father’s parents, who came from the “old country,” ate limburger on pumpernickel with raw red onion, often adding lettuce and tomato.

    Our mother, a foodie, caramelized the onions and used brown mustard mixed with horseradish for her sandwich.

    But Dad remained old-school, preferring raw red or yellow onions. (He chewed on parsley afterwards.)

  • These days if you want raw onions, you may want to substitute a sweet onion.
  • To add a touch of sweetness to the strong flavors, consider a sweet gherkin or two, which our parents and grandparents often served in a snack of limburger, hard-boiled eggs, crackers and pimento-stuffed olives.
  • Make a spread by mixing 8 ounces each of limburger and cream cheese (both at room temperature) with 1 tablespoon of garlic powder (more if desired) and 2 tablespoons of room temperature butter. Optionally add minced chives and/or parsley.
  •  
     
    WHAT ARE WASHED RIND CHEESES?

    Known for their powerful aromas, washed rind cheeses are surface-ripened by washing and brushing the cheese throughout the ripening/aging process.

    These processes cause the cheeses to age more rapidly. They are ripened from the outside in, instead of from the inside out, because the washing liquid helps to break down the proteins and fats inside.

    Washed rind cheeses also are called red surface bacteria cheeses. Some rinds are indeed reddish or orange, although the colors of a particular cheese can range beyond those, from light pink to brown.

    Washing is also called brushing and smearing. Different techniques for washing include bathing, where the cheese is dunked into the liquid, or spraying the liquid onto the cheese.

    The rind color is from the bacteria Brevibacterium linens, abbreviated B. linens, which covers the cheese. But the color also can be enhanced with annatto.

    But more than the color, B. linens impacts the flavor and acidity of the cheese, and creates a bolder tang and aroma. It’s due to sulfur-containing compounds known as S-methyl thioesters.

    The washing agent can be beer, brandy, brine, seawater, whey, wine, a mixture of these ingredients, or any other interesting liquid that will impart flavor and create a different chemical balance for the growth of the bacteria.
     

    THE HISTORY OF LIMBURGER CHEESE

    While cheesemaking goes back thousands of years, the oldest-known cheese that is still made today is gorgonzola, in 879 C.E. (here are more oldies).

    Limburger is a relative newcomer.

    First made in the early 1800s in the Limburg region of Belgium, by 1830 it was so popular that cheesemakers in the Allgäu region of Germany began making their own.

    Limburger originated in the Duchy of Limburg, now in the French-speaking Belgian province of Liège.

    It was first made by Trappist monks near the city of Liège. It no doubt went well with the great Trappist beers they brewed.

    In Belgium, it is called fromage de Herve cheese, since it originated in the Herve area of the historical Duchy.

    The cheese became popular and was soon produced across Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and The Netherlands.

    Like other stinky cheeses (the washed rind cheese group), people either love it or hate it.

    The longer the cheeses are left to ripen, the stronger the aroma, which is the inspiration behind the phrase, “It is not cheese that smells of feet, it is feet that smell of cheese.”

    If the cheese has little aroma, it is not ripe.

    Most of the washed rind cheeses will ripen into soft, pungent cheeses. After 3 months of aging the cheese becomes spreadable. There are a few that ripen into semi-hard cheeses.

    Today, most of the Europe’s Limburger is made in Germany.
     
     
    LIMBURGER COMES TO THE U.S.

    Commercial cheese-making in the U.S. began in Green County, Wisconsin around 1840, when Swiss immigrants with cheese-making skills began to arrive in the area. (Today, Wisconsin is the country’s largest-volume cheese-producing state.)

    Limburger was first produced there in 1867, in the city of Monroe.

    Cheese maker Rudolph Benkerts, considered Wisconsin’s first cheesemaker, used milk from his flock of cows (here’s more about it).

    It must have been a crowd pleaser, because a few years later, 25 factories in Green County were producing limburger.

    By 1930, more than a hundred companies were producing it [source 1, source 2].

    In this epicenter of America’s swiss-style cheesemaking, limburger outpaced swiss cheese in annual production by the 1920s.

    Beyond Wisconsin, the German-speaking populations of Cincinnati and New York, among others, were big limburger consumers.

    A limburger sandwich with raw onions and mustard was a favorite workingman’s lunch: cheap and washed down with a glass of beer.

    Apparently it was nearly unthinkable to eat limburger without a beer. The arrival of Prohibition began to curtail production in most American cheese factories [source].

    As opposed to the 1920s and 1930s, when the production of limburger exceeded swiss cheese in Wisconsin, thanks to the large German and Swiss populations,

    Today, the only U.S. limburger producer is the Chalet Cheese Cooperative (in Monroe, Wisconsin).

    You can buy blocks of limburger cheese, and limburger cheese spread, directly from them.

    Limburger is also manufactured in Canada by the Oak Grove Cheese Company in New Hamburg, Ontario.
     
     
    > CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHEESE IN OUR CHEESE GLOSSARY
     
     
    ________________

    *Époisses, a “barnyardy”-smelling cheese style, was developed in the early 16th century by French Cistercian monks at L’Abbaye de Citeaux, outside the village of Époisses in Burgundy. One of the cheese-making monks discovered that brushing the rind of a young cheese with brandy encouraged the growth of orange bacteria (B. linens), which added body and aroma to the cheese. The cheese came to be called Époisses de Bourgogne, Époisses for short. It became very popular, although today, when people are more concerned with odors, it is illegal to carry an Époisses on the public railways. (Similarly, it is illegal to carry an Asian durian fruit on an airline).

     

     
      

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    PRODUCT: No Spill, No Bugs Drink Cover

    Necessity is the mother of invention, said Plato*.

    We’re thrilled that Gosili, a producer of reusable silicone cups, lids, sandwich bags, straws and more, added this item to their drinkware line:

    The Universal Straw Lid, a silicon top with a straw, that stretches over any drinkware top and creates a spill-proof, bug-proof seal.

    From everyday cups, glasses, travel mugs, tumblers and wine glasses to brandy snifters and mason jars, we finally have a solution to:

  • Al fresco dining (we hate bugs swarming our food and drink).
  • Having a drink on the sofa, in bed, at the pool or in a car (we’re a champion spiller).
  •  
    One size fits all; the silicone top, made from 100% European-grade silicone, creates a virtually spill resistant seal.

    The tops are easy to wash, go into the dishwasher, and can boiled if you want to sterilize them.

    And it’s easily portable: Both the top and the straw fold up into the travel case (as small as an Altoids box—photo #2).

    Environmentally friendly, the lids are available in two colors, Cobalt and Mint, for $6.50.

    Ready to put a lid on it?

    Get your Universal Straw Lid at GoSili.com.

    ________________

    *Plato allegedly wrote, Mater artium necessitas: The mother of invention is necessity. But scholars say that this is a mis-attribution, and the actual author is not known.

     


    [1] Just a sample of drinkware that create a secure, spill-proof lid (both photos © GoSili).


    [2] The flexible components fold into a pocket-size travel case.

     

      

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