April 10th, 2017

Chef Tip: Saving Wilted Vegetables

Posted in Grocery, Healthy, Tips

How To Save Wilted Vegetables

It’s happened to all of us. As we rummage through the crisper we find that bunch of wilted vegetables or herbs we forgot all about.

As enlightened culinarians, we are swept by an initial feeling of regret over the neglect of these cruciferous crusaders and the resentment of having to put them in the compost. But fear not friends, there a chance we can revive that poor produce with a simple soaking method.

Cold Soak

Vegetables lose their perkiness first and foremost due to evaporation. Water is stored in the cellulose structure of the plant’s cell wall. As the plant ages and/or is exposed to heat the wall begins to weaken due to enzymatic activity and water is released to the atmosphere.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the best way to perk up sad vegetables is to soak them in an ice water bath. This slows enzymatic reactions and replaces lost water in the cell walls, leading to happy, revitalized produce. For most vegetables and herbs a soaking period of 15 – 60 minutes is adequate.

Wilted Vegetables

Image courtesy of Whole Foods Market

Now, it’s safe to say this won’t work with every bit of produce that has lost it’s way. Some will be too far gone, especially those that have succumbed to rot and decay. Cold water can’t heal them.

This trick also works great for simply maximizing the appeal of fresh produce. Soaking greens and herbs before serving in a salad or as garnish will give them extra vibrancy and crispiness. Fennel and carrots take to this method very well.

So experiment away and let us know what works and what doesn’t. Until next time…

 

Cheers!

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February 13th, 2017

Good Eggs: More Than A Name

Posted in Consumer Trends, food tours, Food Trends, Grocery, Locally Grown, Organic, Recipes, Retail, Trends

Research Chefs

Good Eggs: More Than A Name

Founded in the summer of 2011, Good Eggs is an online market that delivers local, organic, sustainable foods and groceries to the San Francisco Bay area. With same day and next day delivery options, Good Eggs aims to connect people who love food directly with the people who make it.

One mission of Good Eggs, as my guide Angelica described during my site tour, is “to grow and sustain local food systems worldwide in order to change the supply chain from the ground up, making it better for everyone.” This noble and ambitious mission shines throughout the operation.

Chef Consultants

Unlike its online competitors (think Instacart, Amazon Fresh), Good Eggs receives their products straight from farmers and suppliers, rather than tapping into an existing market chain. They have established direct relationships with their producers and in turn have created a very efficient, mutually beneficial system of operation.

This direct relationship between producers and customers also puts Good Eggs in a unique position to see culinary trends develop in real-time. Angelica noted the popularity of local foods, especially produce, Korean ribs, ramen, the return of pasta, and bone broths in 2016 and sees no slowing down going into 2017.

Additionally, they’ve seen a push for easy weeknight meal solutions for busy families, especially those with young children. Dinners that can be prepared relatively quickly and without much fuss that still maintain healthful, natural, and craveable qualities are ideal. You can even get inspiration from unique, easy to follow chef developed recipes that are found on their website.

Restaurant Consultants

Good Eggs is working hard to drive away the misconception that natural markets are only within reach of those of a higher socioeconomic class by offering competitively priced groceries and a spectrum of comparable products. They’re also aiming to ensure that EBT and WIC benefits will eventually be allowed for use in their market.

In asking what one thing Angelica wished shoppers recognized about Good Eggs, she replied “We want customers to understand that Good Eggs is the simplest way to get groceries every week. That we’re priced the same as major markets, but we source directly so it’s as fresh as if you were getting them from a farmer’s market.”

Seem too good to be true? You be the judge.

Corporate chefs

If you’re in the San Francisco area give Good Eggs a try to see for yourself if they stack up. I can tell you first hand that after visiting their facility, I’m impressed not only with their food, but with their people. They truly believe in what they do and are determined to change the world.

Plus, where else are you going to find a whole pig’s head?

I can’t wait to see what they do next…

Culinary Consultants

 

Cheers!

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February 24th, 2015

The Rise of Savory

Posted in Grocery, Healthy, New Foods and Flavors, Retail, Trends

One of the most interesting recent trends in the food industry is the use of savory ingredients in products that we traditionally consider to be sweet.  The reality is that consumers are craving traditional flavors delivered in new and interesting ways. For foodservice establishments, this new direction could drive business to the portion of the population that prefers savory and salty food items over sweet ones. Here are some trending products to fuel your imagination:

Greek Yogurt

One of the breakout stars of recent years, Greek yogurt now dominates the grocery store shelves. With its healthy reputation and convenience, it is easy to see why it is so popular. So let’s check out a few concepts/products that are capitalizing on this trend:

  1. Blue Hill Farms – specializing in a line of high quality savory yogurts for retail made with 100% grass-fed milk and local produce, with the motto “Know Thy Farmer”, they have managed to carve out a special niche on the grocery store shelves (but don’t expect that to last very long). Flavors include parsnip, carrot, sweet potato, and beet, and are sold at Whole Foods and other select gourmet retailers.
  2. Go Greek Yogurt – featuring Greek yogurt that is actually flown in from Greece, this Los Angeles based yogurt features a variety of savory yogurt toppings that are traditional in Greece, but appear novel to the American consumer. Among the more interesting flavors are the Greek Salad Yogurt (with cucumber, tomato, Kalamata olives, olive oil, oregano, sea salt, and crushed black pepper), Diokles (fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil, sea salt, crushed black pepper), and the Kosmas (Kalamata olives, basil, olive oil, sea salt, crushed black pepper). All are served with pita for dipping. In addition, their yogurt to-go is packaged in biodegradable clay pot (yes, you heard that right) also sourced from Greece. They state you can throw it in the compost if you like and it will completely breakdown.
  3. Stonyfield – while this product isn’t yogurt technically, it sits on the shelf next to all of the Greek iterations. Made with milk and cheese cultures instead of the traditional yogurt cultures, the product is a completely new product category. Released during Fashion week in 2014 with the hashtag #CheatOnGreek, the flavor is more similar to fromage blanc. It’s less chalky, creamier, and has a mild and fresh flavor, and is attempting to go after yogurt lovers who do not like the chalky taste of Greek yogurt.

Savory Beverages

Another category to get a recent makeover is the beverage category. Consumers are asking for savory and healthy options, and several companies are catering to that demand:

  1. Numi Organics – their line of savory teas includes broccoli-cilantro, carrot-curry, and beet-cabbage. They just released a new line of superfood savory teas containing turmeric as the primary ingredient. Golden tonic features added lemon verbena and dried lime, while Three Roots features added ginger and sweet licorice. Look for more interesting flavors from Numi in the coming year….I am sure they won’t disappoint.
  2. Rus’mmm – this company’s products are based on a secret family recipe. The South Indian beverage features toor dal (yellow pigeon peas), tapioca, coriander, cumin, and turmeric among its ingredients. In original and tomato, it’s an interesting thickened beverage that is sure to satisfy when soup isn’t handy.
  3. Tio – a newcomer to retail the brand focuses on all natural, preservative-free cold gazpachos. Currently in a limited market in Miami, the 3 flavors (Gazpacho Clasico, Gazpacho Verde, and Gazpacho del Sol) are flying off the shelves. The use of HPP technology is used to extend the products shelf life while maintaining the fresh flavor.
  4. Nuwi – the first of its kind quinoa product, Nuwi quinoa drinkable snack features carrot-ginger, split pea, and tomato flavors under its savory umbrella.

Savory Snack Bars

For those consumers looking for convenient fueling options, snack bars are a no-brainer. With the multitude of sweet versions lost to the masses, it was only a matter of time before savory varieties hit the grocery shelves.

  1. Strong and Kind Bars – a recently launched savory line of nutrition bars, and boasting 10g of protein, these bars are a sweet and savory mash-up of flavors. With hickory smoked, honey smoked BBQ, Thai sweet chili, roasted jalapeno, and honey mustard among the offered flavors, there is one for everyone.
  2. Journey Bar – with flavors like coconut curry, sesame ginger, pizza marinara, and rosemary, these bars appear to be taking the global flavor route, all in a vegan-friendly format with 15 grams of whole grains.
  3. Epic – appealing to the paleo diet crowd, these bars made with 100% grass fed buffalo, uncured bacon, and tart cranberries, they contain 11g of protein.
  4. Slow – featuring Moroccan (Pistachio, Currants, Carrots, Ginger), California (Almond, Kale, Pomegranate, Quinoa), Thai (Peanut, Chili, Brown Rice, Bell Pepper), and Indian (Cashew, Cumin, Cauliflower, Coconut) flavors, these bars not only have interesting flavors, but a kale or cauliflower based bar seems intriguing and sure to appeal to the holistic food consumer.
  5. Tanka – featuring prairie raised buffalo, and based on a traditional Lakota Indian recipe for wasna, they are a powerhouse of nutrition, with 14g of protein per 140g bar.

 

Keep a lookout for these and other niche products on the grocery store shelves and let them inspire your culinary development.