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

Guaranteed Analysis

Last November, we completed the last of the requirements for Guaranteed Analysis of our products. All pet food labels require a guaranteed analysis on the label to advise the purchaser of the product’s nutrient content. The only exception is for products that do not and are not intended to provide protein, fat or fiber (for example, vitamin and mineral supplements), in which case the product is exempt from guarantees for those components. Previously, Washington State had not required this of treat manufacturers. However, we are now proud labelers of our own GA stickers and holder of all the documentation that the independent laboratory produced for us. 140130-GA stciker

Look for this label to know that the moisture, fiber, fat and protein are guaranteed on every Bunny Biscotti you feed your furry one.

Tilbert makes Seattle Met top pet

Tilbert was selected as one of the city’s top pets in Seattle Met Magazine February 2014 issue. Of the hundreds of photos received, he was the only bunny (!) and placed 3rd runner up. The photoshoot was pretty funny, with Violet hopping around getting all nosey, and Tilbert knocking over a glass of port causing the room to smell like a big party.

Tilbert graces the Pets and Vets of Seattle Metropolitan Magazine February 2014
Tilbert graces the Pets and Vets of Seattle Metropolitan Magazine February 2014

Guaranteed Analysis here we come!

Ten pounds of Bunny Biscotti all packaged up and ready to be shipped for Guaranteed Analysis. Soon we’ll be labeling all of our products with Fiber, Fat, Protein and Moisture. Thank the Bunny on the Moon we did not have to actually form each for testing, and could simply send in bulk bags!

Being the only treat on the market made with whole hay and no added sugars, fats, or animal products, we are expecting to knock it out of the ballpark in the Fiber category.

Packed up and ready for guarantee analysis!
Packed up and ready for guarantee analysis!

Bunfectionary now at Pioneer Pet Feed and Supply

UPDATE: No longer available here.

Bunfectionary products are now at Pioneer Pet Feed and Supply in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. Located at 87 & 1/2 South Washington Street, Seattle’s only vintage pet supply store. It may been the first fire-roof building after the Great Seattle Fire.  Proprietor David sources great local and natural products from treats and feed to adorable catnip filled burlap “animals” printed with veggie dyes.

 

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?”

Frosted Biscotti

Our “frosted” biscotti are now available at Bunny Bytes. Banana Bunny Biscotti is frosted with a puree of carrot, beet, or parsley in our new flower shape. Our testers seem to prefer this shape as it is easier to grab and run–talking to you Tilbert, Flower and Buttercup!

 

Mochi Rabbit

At the tea ceremony and Japanese autumnal art lecture, we were told that bunnies would be brought out later in the evening. Imagine our surprise when tea ceremony sweets were passed around, and they came in the shape of bunnies.

Mochi bunny for autumn moon viewing tea ceremony

These little guys are made of mochi (rice flour) with an egg filling ad covered with a freeze-dried rice flakes. The ears are made by placing a hot piece of metal on the confection.

For more on the creator of these treats, see the Tokara webpage.

 

Fennel Sticks

Fennel sticks are fibrous and tasty, and crunchy too. They provide a nice snack, but also a bit of a play toy. Here is one of our favorite pictures of Tilbert and the fennel stick he managed to chew into a stake or shiv.

The meek may inherit the earth, but a smart bunny carries a shiv. 

Wanna trade a pack of cigarettes for that carrot?

 

Fennel returns

Fennel is back!

Fennel Fronds

Did you know that the word fennel comes from the Latin word feniculum or foeniculum, meaning “little hay”? Is it any wonder that bunnies go crazy for it? Fennel can be incredibly sweet as well, especially Sweet Florence Fennel, often found in markets. Flavors range from the ubiquitous licorice or anise with lovely undertones of citrus such as lemon, orange, and tangerine.

Although it is known for stimulating appetite, from ancient time it has been known to help flatulence as found in this Latin phrase “semen foeniculi pellit spiracula culi,” which literally means “the fennel seeds make blow the arsehole” (or at least says Wikipedia).

All parts of the fennel plant are edible, from the big white root bulb to the stalk, fronds, seeds and its highly-sought pollen. Bunfectionary’s tasting team love the sweet anise flavor of the fronds with a light lemony undertone, and the stalks make tasty chew toys.