Washing veggies in hot water helps preserve them?

I admit it: I am still trying to wrap my head around this. How can hot water help preserve the raw veggies on my bunnies’ plates? I hate seeing how much can go to waste if I have to feed the guys a lot more than usual (e.g., leaving the house for more than 18 hours). Lettuce wilts and sticks to the plate, the carrots get mushy, and the fennel browns and hardens. So it was exciting to find this idea at the Modernist Cuisine site.

Food scientists, however, have discovered a remarkably effective way to extend the life of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables by days or even a week. It doesn’t involve the chlorine solutions, irradiation or peroxide baths sometimes used by produce packagers. And it’s easily done in any home by anyone.

This method, called heat-shocking, is 100 percent organic and uses just one ingredient that every cook has handy – hot water.

You may already be familiar with a related technique called blanching, a cooking method in which food is briefly dunked in boiling or very hot water. Blanching can extend the shelf life of broccoli and other plant foods, and it effectively reduces contamination by germs on the surface of the food. But blanching usually ruptures the cell walls of plants, causing color and nutrients to leach out. It also robs delicate produce of its raw taste.

Heat-shocking works differently. When the water is warm but not scalding – temperatures ranging from 105 F to 140 F (about 40 C to 60 C) work well for most fruits and vegetables – a brief plunge won’t rupture the cells. Rather, the right amount of heat alters the biochemistry of the tissue in ways that, for many kinds of produce, firm the flesh, delay browning and fading, slow wilting, and increase mold resistance.

A long list of scientific studies published during the past 15 years report success using heat-shocking to firm potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, and strawberries; to preserve the color of asparagus, broccoli, green beans, kiwi fruits, celery, and lettuce; to fend off overripe flavors in cantaloupe and other melons; and to generally add to the longevity of grapes, plums, bean sprouts and peaches, among others.

The optimum time and temperature combination for the quick dip seems to depend on many factors, but the procedure is quite simple. Just let the water run from your tap until it gets hot, then fill a large pot of water about two-thirds full, and use a thermometer to measure the temperature. It will probably be between 105 F and 140 F; if not, a few minutes on the stove should do the trick. Submerge the produce and hold it there for several minutes (the hotter the water, the less time is needed), then drain, dry and refrigerate as you normally would.

Researchers still are working out the details of how heat-shocking works, but it appears to change the food in several ways at once. Many of the fruits and vegetables you bring home from the store are still alive and respiring; the quick heat treatment tends to slow the rate at which they respire and produce ethylene, a gas that plays a crucial role in the ripening of many kinds of produce. In leafy greens, the shock of the hot water also seems to turn down production of enzymes that cause browning around wounded leaves, and to turn up the production of heat-shock proteins, which can have preservative effects.

For the home cook, the inner workings don’t really matter. The bottom line is that soaking your produce in hot water for a few minutes after you unpack it makes it cheaper and more nutritious because more fruits and veggies will end up in your family rather than in the trash.

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HEAT-SHOCKING GUIDELINES

The optimal time and temperature for heat-shocking fruits and vegetables varies in response to many factors – in particular, whether they were already treated before purchase. Use these as general guidelines.

– Asparagus: 2 to 3 minutes at 131 F (55 C)

– Broccoli: 7 to 8 minutes at 117 F (47 C)

– Cantaloupe (whole): 60 minutes at 122 F (50 C)

– Celery: 90 seconds at 122 F (50 C)

– Grapes: 8 minutes at 113 F (45 C)

– Kiwi fruit: 15 to 20 minutes at 104 F (40 C)

– Lettuce: 1 to 2 minutes at 122 F (50 C)

– Oranges (whole): 40 to 45 minutes at 113 F (45 C)

– Peaches (whole): 40 minutes at 104 F (40 C)

 

A shocking (and hot!) tip for preserving produce

Photo credit: AP Photo/Modernist Cuisine, LLC, Chris Hoover

Rhubarb

Tilbert is named for Seattle Tilth, a once great organization that used to simply promote urban gardening and stewardship. Unfortunately, its priorities shifted as it decided to “grow its mission”, and now it has joined the hipster bandwagon of promoting the raising of animals in your yard as meat. And of course, this includes rabbits because some whack job convinced them that rabbits are low cost and low maintenance, needing just leftovers from a garden. No mention of hay, sociability, companionship, or the fact that many domesticated rabbits can’t survive outside.

Needless to say, we stopped our donations not only to the ST, but to the radio show that featured their outreach member.

But one of the good things we learned from them is that one of the best fertilizers is rabbit poop. It not only can go into the compost bin, but it can actually be spread directly on plants. And guess what plant loves bunny poop? Rhubarb.

So we planted a few plants on our roof deck, and fertilize all year with stray pellets. When Food 52 came produced this group of recipes, we had to share it.

In particular, these two caught our eyes.

Rhubarb and Rose Ramos Gin Fizz

Serves 1

  • 2 ounces London dry gin
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 2 ounces rhubarb syrup
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  • 1 or 2 drops rosewater
  • 1 egg white
  • ice
  • soda water
  1. Combine all ingredients except ice and soda in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Then add ice to shaker and shake a further 30 seconds. Strain into a tall chilled glass and top up with soda.
  2. To make rhubarb syrup, cut a pound of rhubarb stalks into one-inch pieces, wrap them in cheesecloth, and simmer for a half hour in 2 C water and 1 C sugar. Strain into a glass container with a lid and refrigerate.

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Naughty Rhubarb Scones

Serves 12-16 scones

  • 3 stalks rhubarb
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup vanilla sugar
  • 2/3–3/4 cups heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Slice rhubarb stalks 1/4 ” thick. Toss with 3 tablespoons of the sugar.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in large bowl or bowl of food processor.
  4. Cut butter into flour mixture by hand (or whiz with food processor) until butter is the size of small peas.
  5. Blend in 1/4 cup of the sugar.
  6. Blend in sliced rhubarb. (If using the food processor, just pulse — you want the slices left mostly intact.)
  7. Blend in cream until a soft dough forms. (note: you may need to add more than 2/3 cup depending on the weather,etc.)
  8. Transfer dough to floured surface and divide in half. To make triangular scones, flatten into 6-inch disks and cut each circle into 6-8 scones. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
  9. Arrange on ungreased cookie sheet and bake about 20 minutes or until reddish-brown on top.

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Find more here

Petfood manufacturers challenged to eat their own petfood

This article made us laugh–we would never eat our own treats for the very basic reason that omnivorous humans can’t eat grass! In the same manner, we should not be feeding our herbivore, especially the grass eating foliovores, human food like dairy, cereal, eggs, yogurt, sugar, and nuts.

Petfood manufacturers challenged to eat their own petfood

At Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Florida, USA, the team at Pet360, online community for pet owners, put representatives from major petfood manufacturers to the test.

The team challenged 12 petfood companies to eat their company’s petfood live on camera as part of its “Eat Your Food” series. The “Eat Your Food” series also allows petfood companies to promote the nutritional benefits of their food.

“For the longest time, the biggest decision regarding petfood was whether to purchase wet or dry,” said Jon Roska Jr., vice president of merchandising at Pet360. “Now-a-days, pet owners are faced with a multitude of decisions, and there are a variety of gourmet options to choose from. We want to give brands the opportunity to prove that their food is the highest quality option for our customers’ pets, and what better way is there to do that than by consuming the food themselves?”

Radish tops for sick bun, radishes for you

When Marbles was sick, we were told by many bunny experts that radish greens would be the first thing she would eat when she could. Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. What were not prepared for was how many radish tops we would purchase, and what we could do with all the radishes.

So we have begun collecting radish recipes since. From the classic appetizer of sliced radishes on good bread with unsalted butter and a sprinkle of sea salt to famed chef Thomas Keller’s recipe for quick pickled radishes, we have embraced this humble vegetable with a bit of heat.

Today’s Wall Street Journal featured more recipes we can’t wait to try. Here  is the first on To Try list:

Radish and Fennel Salad

Total Time: 15 minutes Serves: 4

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In a large bowl, toss together 8-10 small to medium radishes , thinly shaved1 fennel bulb, thinly shaved½ tablespoon picked fennel fronds, 4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts2 ounces crumbled sheep’s milk fetaand 1½ tablespoons thinly sliced shallot. Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons lemon juice1 tablespoon lemon zest and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Toss salad with enough dressing to coat. Garnish with extra fennel fronds, feta and pine nuts, if desired.

—Adapted from Jenn Louis of Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern, Portland, Ore.

Read more here

Carrot top pesto for people

Needless to say, we often buy carrots with the frilly green tops just for the bunnies. But we have been making a few dishes over the past few years that use the tops for people. Recently, we came across this recipe on NPR for a pesto.

1 cup lightly packed carrot leaves (stems removed)

6 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large garlic clove

1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt

3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (see below)

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano (directions)

Cranberry and Cilantro Salsa for you

Our sister-in-law served this up last year, and we couldn’t stop eating it. Most of our tester bunnies love cranberries and cilantro, so we put those two together for a batch of test treats.  Big fail, in fact, the biggest failure of any treat flavor we tested. Cranberry and  Mint met with much better reception.

However, we still love it. So from our family to yours, here is Christine’s Cranberry and Cilantro Salsa.

  • 1 bag of fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup ( or more, depending on your taste) fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime jiuce
  • 1 bunch ( or more, depending on your taste) chopped green onions, including
  • some of the greens
  • 1 to 2 jalapenos seeded and chopped, more or less depending on your taste
  • salt to taste

Combine all ingredients & serve with tortilla chips.