Archive for the ‘New Finds!’ Category

Food Trend: Back to Back in Black

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

An online piece from Australian Food News http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2012/01/03/wholegrains-new-grains-fibre-content-all-among-consumer-preferred-trends-in-us.html quoted an article from Food Technology published in December 2011.  It caught my interest in Forbidden Rice or Black Rice, since I’ve never tasted this.   It also made me recall other natural food products I’ve encountered in 2011 that are naturally black.

Black/Forbidden Rice

A few clicks on the net directed my search to a West based company in the US called Lotus Foods, whose expertise is in the distribution of exotic rice.     On the FAQ section of their website, it explains that Forbidden Rice, an heirloom variety is aptly named since it was once reserved only for the emperor and his family in China.

The black colour is natural and is attributed to the outer bran layer.   It might also be due to where it  is grown, in the black hummus soil of the Black Dragon River of the Northeastern provinces of China.  Black rice is also grown in Japan where it is called Kurogome (or black rice),  and in Thailand as a glutinous black rice cooked in pudding with coconut milk.

The dark colour of the forbidden rice relates to the high content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanin that is also responsible for imparting the dark, purplish, bluish hues in fruits and vegetables.   In August 2010, CNN health writer Carina Storrs article “Is Black Rice the New Brown”, black rice is compared to fresh blueberries where she cites that “One spoonful of black-rice bran — or 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice — contains the same amount of anthocyanin as a spoonful of fresh blueberries, according to a new study presented today at the American Chemical Society, in Boston”. She further added that Black rice would be better to consumer since fresh blueberries contain sugar.

In an online post on WHFoods.org titled “Is Purple Rice (referred to as “forbidden rice”) Better for you than Brown Rice?” the nutrient values were directly compared and concluded that based on their nutritive content, they were not significantly different, and in fact almost at the same level.      The author concluded that if price was a deciding factor between the two rice varieties, the Brown rice would be better due to its cost advantage over Black rice.

Taste-wise, I have yet to taste Black rice.    It seems from various posts that both have a nutty flavour.   Black rice however is a short grain rice whereas Brown rice is a long grain rice that absorbs more water and takes longer to cook.

Black Garlic

Black Garlic

Black garlic has its roots in Korea and China.  Blackgarlic.com explains that fresh garlic bulbs are carefully monitored for about 4 weeks in a controlled environment of temperature and humidity where they undergo a fermentation process.  Since garlic contains sugar and amino acids, these elements when fermented produces melanoidin that causes the black colour.      The result is a sticky, black clove that is soft and mushy with a sweet flavour and complex undertones.

Edible Bamboo Charcoal Powder

I had to do a double take when I saw this.   Japan seems to lead all other countries when it comes to unique food ingredients.  The idea is that charcoal has natural absorption properties, so when ingested it helps prevent the body from absorbing harmful chemicals or poisions.    This Japanese site illustrates some product applications for edible charcoal powder :  http://global.rakuten.com/en/store/taketora/item/su00248/.      I’m not too keen on trying this out for the new year.

Black / Beluga Lentil

Black / Beluga Lentils

Black lentils are popularly used in Indian cooking and are the smallest of the lentils.   They are also referred to as Beluga Lentils due to their shiny resemblance to Beluga caviar.
Black Beluga® Lentil is a trademark of Timeless Seeds, Inc., their website mentions that among other lentil varieties, the black lentil has the highest amount of protein.

In the UK, it can also be found in the retail markets in a ready to eat pouch, simmered in stock.

A rose by any other name – would it smell as sweet?

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Ispahan - A smooth rose flavoured biscuit with rose petal cream, fresh raspberries and lychees from Laduree

Isfahan or Isphahan refers to a historical city in Iran which use to be the capital and one of the largest cities in the world.   Iran’s culture has had a long and diverse tradition on the use of flowers in its food, health, trade and design.

Among the many varieties of roses, the Rosa damascena stands out as one of the most prized species in the commercial manufacture of rose oil and rose water due to its intense aroma.   It is widely cultivated and processed in Iran, Bulgaria and in Turkey.  However, studies seem to indicate that this species originated in Iran.

The processing starts with sack full of roses that have been harvested in the cool morning.   The petals are sorted on a concrete floor and allowed to slightly “ferment” then the oils are extracted through hydrodistillation.

Middle Eastern, North African and Indian cuisines have used floral waters extensively in beverage and food preparations.    Gulab Jamon, Zoulbia and bamia are just not the same without rose water added to their syrups.  Malaysia and Singapore has a drink called bandung or rose water mixed with milk, sugar and pink food colour.

In modern times, French chefs and patisseries have used rose water for flavouring macarons, chocolate and delicate cakes.   Successful pairings include tart berries such as raspberries to other floral notes namely lychee.  Dairy and vanilla are effective bases to accentuate the aromatic properties of the rose.

On the savoury side, rose water is added to stews such as safaid murgh gulabi (Chicken and Rose Curry) or Rose Quail Recipe taken from the book “Like Water for Chocolate”.   Sweet or savoury, it is best not to use too much in a recipe.  Used sparingly, the flavour of the rose can be quite intoxicating and definitely worth trying out!

Rose water is available through Ingredient Hotline, Inc.

Purple Corn Drink: The Next Big Superfood

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

We’ve been promoting purple corn drink for some time. What’s known as chicha morada in peru, or simply “chicha”, is an antioxidant-rich drink. Antioxidants are believed to be beneficial since they can inhibit or slow down oxidation through the neutralization of free radicals and hence delay or prevent ageing as well as prevent certain diseases. Antioxidants can be found in the form of phenols and anthocyanins and it is these water soluble anthocyanins that are responsible for the purple-red colour of purple corn.

We’ve noticed that purple corn is starting to get noticed in the mainstream media. KABC, the ABC affiliate in Los Angeles recently ran a segment on chicha where they also point out the health benefits:

The blue corn contains anthocyanins, which is a plant chemical that is known to help fight the challenges of high-blood pressure and cholesterol…Studies on animals taking the extract of purple corn also found it helps regulate blood sugar and fat function as well.

Check out the segment for yourself:

Purple corn drink may be next big superfood

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Dehydrated vs. Freeze Dried Fruit: What You Need To Know

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Swell Dried Apples

Both freeze dried and dehydrated fruits are popular because it extends the life of fruit while allowing for all kinds of interesting applications that would simply not be possible with fresh fruit. However, freeze dried and dehydrated fruit are not created equal! While both start with fresh fruit, the process involved is very different. WiseGeek outlines the processes:

Dehydration involves putting the fruit in a warm environment which causes the water to be removed from the fruit over time. Traditionally this is done by laying cut fruit in the sun or on a warm surface. A more modern technique involves the use of equipment designed to remove the water from the fruit. Crucially no chemicals are added to the fruit nor is it necessary to add sugar. When you take the water out of fruits, the natural sugars become concentrated and the dried fruit will be sweeter than usual. Dehydrated fruits usually have a somewhat pliable texture.

Freeze drying is a more complicated procedure. First the fruit is frozen and put into a vacuum that will gradually extract the water content. Heat is applied such that the frozen fruit thaws quickly while the vacuum extracts the water. Freeze dried fruit retains the taste of fresh fruit but with a crispy texture.

Using unique procedures such as a swell drying process, Ingredient Hotline can provide crispy fruit that is not freeze dried, but instead completely natural: no added oil, acrylamide, fat, salt, sugar or other chemicals.  Contact us if you’d like to learn more about this unique product that allows for new and innovative applications using dried fruit.

We Will Sell No Wine Before Its Time

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Do you remember Orsen Welles plugging Paul Masson’s finest? It’s been a few years (decades!), but as any wine drinker knows, a lot of wine is sold before its time. As the Wine Economist explains:

Immature wine is sort of like the flat-pack furniture they sell at Ikea — all the pieces are there, it is up to the consumer to take them home and complete assembly. Wine buyers are supposed to take immature but age-worthy wine home, stash it under the stairs or in a climate-controlled wine storage appliance, and remember to bring it out when the time is right.

Our question to you is, when laying down that age-worthy wine, why stop at a “climate-controlled wine storage appliance” when you can have a whole climate controlled wine cellar? And that brings us to today’s feature: Genuwine Cellars.

Founded in 1995 by Robb Denomme and Lance Kingma, alumni of the prestigious International Sommeliers Guild, Genuwine Cellars designs and builds truly amazing custom wine cellars. The product lines are extensive with a variety of price-points to meet absolutely any budget: they offer two fully modular product lines, two fully customizable product lines and a product line they call the Architectural Series where the sky is the limit in terms of design possibilities. Each of the product lines achieves a different goal and aesthetic value, so there is something for every taste. Just look at these pictures:

We also like the fundamentals the company is built on, which they aptly describe as the Art & Science of Cellaring. A company built on a passion for great wine,  these guys are into wine cellars! And Canadian no less. Hopefully they won’t have any trouble coming to Toronto to install one in our place! We really encourage you to look into Genuwine Cellars if you are thinking of putting a wine cellar in your home.

We’re always on the look out for unique Canadian products, personalities and companies in the food and beverage industry. If you’d like to suggest a product, company or person that fits this criteria, we’d love to hear about them. And while you’re at it, subscribe to Ingredient Hotline and follow us on twitter and/or facebook. It’s only fitting that we sign off with Orsen:

Purple Corn Juice

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Purple Corn

The clamour for foods rich in antioxidants has propelled foods such as mangosteen, acai, pomegranate, goji, blueberries, enocianin, elderberries, red grapes into the spotlight. Not only are these foods antioxidant-rich – they are also mostly in the blue-purple hue. Antioxidants are active compounds that naturally occur in foods. These compounds are believed to benefit health since they can inhibit or slow down oxidation through the neutralization of free radicals hence, delay or prevent ageing as well as prevent certain diseases from happening. Antioxidants can be found in the form of phenols and anthocyanins.

Anthocyanins are water-soluble blue plant pigments that are responsible for the purple-red colour spectrum in nature. Its high phenolic content means it is well equipped to provide safety against degenerative diseases.

One “purple” which is starting to gain attention is purple corn (choclo morado). One potential application of purple corn is for beverages, and a fine example is the traditional Peruvian drink called chicha morada, also known as purple corn juice. It’s made with ears of purple corn boiled with pineapple rind, cinnamon, and clove. The resulting purple coloured liquid is then mixed with sugar and lemon. Besides being refreshing, it is also healthy since purple corn, like other “purples”, is rich in antioxidants. We provide purple corn extracts for food and beverage applications. If you like, you can try making some homemade purple corn juice yourself. Simply pick up some maiz morado and follow the directions in the video below!

The Unknown Chile Peppers

Monday, June 28th, 2010

jungla de morrones

There’s a lot more to chile peppers than bell peppers, jalapenos and poblanos. If you are living in a place like us (Toronto), finding even a serrano chile at a mainstream grocery store can be a challenge. It’s really unfortunate, because there are other varieties of chiles out there, some of them being extremely versatile in food applications.

Two chiles that we particularly like for their potential are the amarillo and rocoto pepper. The amarillo, a member of the Capsicum baccatum family, is the most widely used chile pepper in Peruvian cooking, and if you’ve ever had Peruvian cuisine, chances are you have tasted it. It’s orange in colour and usually about 10 cm long.  Although not very spicy, this pepper is normally seeded and deveined before it is used in cooking. The dried version of this Amarillo pepper is called Aji Mirasol. It often comes as a paste. The food blog Serious Eats really likes the amarillo:

…aji amarillo is worth seeking out for its unique flavor, which offers a lot of fruitiness for its heat. It’s a different kind of fruitiness from other chiles like poblanos: less sharp and harsh, more full-bodied, and a lot more subtle. If there were a chile to taste like sunshine, this would be it. It may sound odd to use the word “comforting” to describe a hot chile, but for aji amarillo, it seems fitting.

Rocoto (Capsicum prubescens) is another Peruvian pepper worth considering. It’s got a lot more heat than the amarillo. This is a meaty pepper that comes in a variety of vibrant colours, from yellow to red. Made into a sauce, we really like it as a replacement for cayenne pepper based hot sauces. It seems to have a fresher, less strong taste, but with all the heat and spiciness. Try rocoto sauce on chicken wings instead of the usual hot sauces. It is excellent.

If you are a food manufacturer interested in incorporating a new and unique chile pepper into your applications, you might want to consider the amarillo or the rocoto pepper. We can provide samples in paste, dried or powdered format, and would be happy to discuss potential uses. Consumers in North America can find these peppers in various formats at ethnic grocery stores, and online. You might try searching for a Peruvian restaurant in your vicinity so you can sample the many dishes that use these chiles.

Here’s something else worth trying: subscribe and follow Ingredient Hotline so you are always up to date on the latest in innovative, all natural ingredients. We’re even on Facebook!

Creative Commons License photo credit: A6U571N

Thai One On

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Thai One On opened a new location in Pickering this week and we decided to try it out. They also have a few other locations in the Toronto area.

Thai One On

Even though it had only been open for a week, they had a decent amount of people coming in for lunch. While there seems to be a plethora of Thai restaurants in the greater Toronto area, there is only a couple other Thai places that we know of in Pickering, so it’s probably a good location for them. We ordered a shrimp seafood fried rice and a coconut chicken with mango dish. The fried rice was truly cooked in the Thai style and was excellent. The chicken was tasty. Each dish was in the $10 territory which seems typical for most Thai restaurants. For the next little while they are offering 20% off for dine in as part of their grand opening promotion for this location. Overall, a pleasant experience and we’re looking forward to going back again to try some of the other dishes.

Seafood Fried Rice

Coconut Chicken with Mango

Of course, we know a lot about Thai food at Ingredient Hotline: we offer a full line of authentic Thai spices, dehydrated herbs and vegetables for food manufacturers sourced directly from Thailand.

Thai One On on Urbanspoon

6 Great Technical Resources On Yacón

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

YaconThe yacón root is pretty amazing. We’ve already touched on its use as a natural sweetener. With an unbelievably low glycemic index, it has great potential for those dieting, and those with diabetes. Besides its use as a sweetener, there are many other claims of potential health benefits. These benefits include the lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol, weight loss, reduced occurrences of constipation, and healthier bones. The scientific studies underlying these claims are excellently summarized on the Healthy Fellow blog. Today, I’d like to touch on the production, processing and application of yacón.

Native to South America, The yacón plant has been introduced to Japan and is also being grown in the Philippine Cordillera. You can educate yourself on the basics of yacón by checking out the yacón article on wikipedia. For something a little more in depth, here are six technical papers on various aspects of yacón and yacón processing courtesy of the International Potato Center in Lima, Peru:

Yacon Fact Sheet. A two page overview of the yacon plant, including a summary of health benefits and market opportunities.

Yacon by Alfredo Grau and Julio Rea. Consider this one a primer that goes beyond the fact sheet above in providing a general background on the yacon plant.

Yacon Syrup: Principles and Processing by Iván Manrique, Adelmo Párraga and Michael Hermann. The health benefits, broad application and consumer acceptance of yacon syrup suggests a large potential market. This manual outlines in detail the method for producing yacon syrup using simple technologies.

Innovations In Peeling Technology For Yacon by Graham Butler and Denys Rivera. One of the most labour intensive and costly components in the production of yacon syrup is the peeling of the yacon tubers. This paper presents cost effective peeling methods for yacon.

Effects of post-harvest treatments on the carbohydrate composition of yacon roots by S. Graefea, M. Hermannb, I. Manriqueb, S. Golombeka, and A. Buerkerta. This paper discusses the effect of the post harvest handling of yacon on fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) concentrations. FOS’s are the indigestible carbohydrates in yacon that provide the sweet taste and at the same time support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon without any significant impact on blood sugar or insulin levels.

Making Yacon Candy by Caitlin Boon. This research paper outlines the feasibility of making candy from yacon syrup.

The “Rice” and Fall

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

On a cool, crisp autumn day, there’s nothing better than a bowl of steamy rice from my rice cooker.

I remember growing up in South East Asia, when there was a typhoon storm at highest signal level and classes were suspended; my mom would make a tamarind based stew of either pork or seafood with various vegetables and slivers of chili peppers. This was served with steamed rice and with something fried -i.e. spring rolls or fish.  It was a combination of very sour notes from the tamarind, to the saltiness of the fried fish with the creaminess of the steamed jasmine rice.

Rice paddies of Chiang Mai

Rice continues to be an important food item in my father’s household. You have to understand that my father grew up in one of the major rice growing regions in Asia. Rice paddies surround the entire region, with fiestas in every town during harvest time. There is a specific term for every stage and part of the rice plant.

Asia still consumes the highest amount of rice, but it is gaining importance in other parts of the world as well. Allergies to gluten(the protein derived from wheat), the variety of rice available and ease of preparation have all contributed to its appearance in almost every  North American and European household. Its basic taste, makes it a perfect canvas for more flavourful sauces and seasonings.   In addition to savoury products, it has been historically used in desserts such as mochi or rice cakes and fermented into alcoholic beverage such as sake.  At present, it is a popular ingredient in gluten-free and other natural products such as snackfoods, ”rice milk” beverage, pasta, bread and many more.
Just how many varieties of rice are there?
Basically, rice can be divided into two: short grain and long grain rice.