There’s a piece of equipment that’s slowly been making its way into restaurant kitchens: the blast chiller. It does exactly what it sounds like: cool things down quickly, using fast-moving cold air. This coming summer, LG is going to release a version of their refrigerator for home kitchens that incorporates a small blast chiller for quickly cooling down cans of soda and bottles of wine.
In almost any pantry, pickles are a staple. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are preserved using salt and acid, although the classic cucumber has become ubiquitous enough to earn the simple default name of "pickle." Pickling is a preservation technique that dates back to ancient history. Every culture has its own version of the pickle, ranging from Mexico's pickled jalapeno pepper to Korea's kimchi. Pickles are often used as a flavor accent, garnishing a meal rather than acting as the main focus.
One of the ways that we know for sure that spring has sprung is the appearances of ramps on the trails and at the markets. Ramps, Allium tricoccum, are also known as wild leeks, ramson, and ail de bois. They appear in the springtime in deciduous forest areas from South Carolina to Canada and as far west as Missouri and Minnesota. West Virginia in particular is known for its celebration of this seasonal delicacy. Ramps grow in patches in cool shady areas with moist soil rich in organic materials. They begin to appear in late March and can be found through the end of May.
Two of the main challenges when cooking green vegetables are retaining the verdant hues and emphasizing the fresh flavors on the palate. The battle against browning is often fought by blanching, which has the unfortunate effect of leaching much of the vegetable's flavor into the cooking water. We were looking for a better way.
Agave juice was known to native Mexicans as "honey water." Agave plants tend to be most familiar as the basis for tequila, although agave nectar is gaining ground in home kitchens as a wonderful alternative to traditional sweeteners. Agave nectar is made mainly from the juices extracted from the core of the agave plant, most often from blue agave, agave salimiana, agave americana and agave mapisaga. There are many other wild agaves that can also be utilized. The different species produce nectars of varying flavors.
The title may be a bit of a misnomer: Really the first hydrocolloids that most people use tend to be flour, gelatin, and cornstarch. The difference is that when people first learn to cook, they don't realize how many of the ingredient they use are hydrocolloids, and so they never learn how to utilize them efficiently. Hydrocolloids are ingredients that control water in a recipe, binding with liquids to form gels or sols, colloidal suspensions.
In 1986, the movie Space Camp was released and freeze-dried ice cream became all the rage around the country. These small packages of impossibly light and dry Neapolitan ice cream were everywhere. For many of us, this unusual, crunchy confection was our first introduction to freeze-dried food. Freeze-dried ingredients were originally popular with the military and NASA, and later gained a foothold with camping outfitters as an extremely lightweight way to carry a variety of foods into the wilderness that could be easily prepared with the simple additions of water and heat.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.
s.pageName="popsci|Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot"
s.channel="Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot"