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COOKING DANGERS, POISONS & FACTS
There are a huge number of cooking dangers, foods that we eat that contain poisons & facts involved in the art of home cooking. Below are several of the ones I find to be most important.

BACK TO TOP           POISONOUS DRIED BEANS:

SEE: Recipe - Vegetables - Dan's Favorite Baked Beans.

REMEMBER, some types of Dried Beans are toxic because of a natural insecticide (phytohemagglutinin, or PHA), unless they are soaked in water for 5 Hours, Drained and then briskly boiled in fresh water for at least 10 Minutes. Cooking Dried Beans in a Slow Cooker on low heat can actually INCREASE the toxicity level in the Beans by leaching the toxins into the water you will eventually eat.. Red Kidney Beans have the worst levels of PHA, followed closely by Butter Beans, Lima Beans, Fava Beans, etc. In other words, it's safer for your family to treat ALL beans as though they are toxic. Fresh Green Beans are NOT toxic at all since the “seeds” (beans) are green and have not yet fully developed inside the pods.

BACK TO TOP           POISONOUS APPLE SEEDS:

Apples, along with cherries, peaches, and almonds, are all members of the rose family. The seeds of apples and these other fruits contain natural chemicals that are toxic to some animals. Apple seeds do contain a small amount of cyanide, which is a lethal poison, but you are protected from the toxin by the hard seed coating. If you eat whole apple seeds, they pass through your digestive system relatively untouched. If you chew the seeds thoroughly, you will be exposed to the chemicals inside the seeds, but the dose of toxins in an apple is small enough that your body can easily detoxify it.

Cyanide is deadly at a dose of about 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight. On average, an apple seed contains 0.49 mg of cyanogenic compounds. The number of seeds per apple varies, but an apple with eight seeds, therefore, contains about 3.92 milligrams of cyanide. A person weighing 70 kilograms would need to eat 143 seeds to reach the lethal dose. That's about 18 whole apples.

BACK TO TOP           POISONOUS FRUITS & VEGETABLES:

Cyanogenic compounds are produced by plants to protect them from insects, and so they can resist diseases. Of the stone fruits (apricots, prunes, plums, pears, apples, cherries, peaches), bitter apricot kernels pose the greatest risk. Cassava root and bamboo shoots also contain cyanogenic glycosides, which is why these foods need to be cooked before ingestion. The ackee or achee fruit contains hypoglycin. The only portion of ackee that is edible is the ripe flesh around the black seeds, and then only after the fruit has naturally ripened and opened on the tree.

Potatoes do not contain cyanogenic glycosides, but they do contain the glycoalkaloids solanine and chaconine. Cooking potatoes does not inactivate these toxic compounds. The peel of green potatoes contains the highest level of these compounds.

Eating raw or undercooked fiddleheads can cause diarrhea, nausea, cramping, vomiting, and headaches. The chemical responsible for the symptoms has not yet been identified. Cooking fiddleheads prevents the illness.

While not poisonous, carrots may taste "off" if they are stored with ANY produce that releases ethylene (e.g., apples, melons, tomatoes). The reaction between ethylene and compounds in carrots produces a bitter flavor resembling that of petroleum.

BACK TO TOP           COOKING MYTHS:

1) Searing Meat Seals in the Juices: FALSE 

Searing a steak or a roast doesn’t really seal in juices. In fact some of the moisture is actually lost during the searing process. But it's still the best way to give a steak that tasty, coveted, caramelized exterior.

2) Salting Pasta Water Makes Better Pasta: TRUE 

Dried pasta is essentially impenetrable. The ONLY chance you have to flavor it is during boiling. Once it has cooked, nothing will seep in unless it is cooked al-dente, where things like the piping hot sauce will finish cooking it the rest of the way.

3) Microwaving Food Kills All Bacteria: FALSE

The microwave is no different from any other heat source. Food must be brought up to a certain temperature to kill bacteria, and if it doesn’t reach at least 165 degrees in the microwave, bacteria can still linger.

4) Adding Oil to Pasta Water Keeps the Pasta from Sticking: FALSE 

Pouring oil in with the boiling water doesn’t actually prevent sticking. The oil and water separate, so the oil won’t coat the pasta evenly. To avoid sticking just remember to stir while rinsing!

5) Opening The Oven Will Ruin Whatever You Are Baking: MOSTLY FALSE

Avoiding opening the oven while baking is a good rule to follow to maintain an even oven temperature, but if you absolutely have to peek in, don’t worry! Chances are your cookies, cake, etc. will survive. If you’re making something extremely finicky, like a soufflé, however, opening the oven door could adversely affect your treat.

BACK TO TOP           TRICHINOSIS (FROM PORK):

THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH AS WE NOW KNOW IT:

Many believe they must cook pork until it’s well-done. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), that's now not necessary. The notion that pork must be cooked well-done dates back a few generations when a pathogen called Trichinella spiralis that causes trichinosis was a problem for pig farmers and for consumers. Today, we know that Trichinella spiralis is transmitted to pigs as the end result of poor feeding practices and exposure to other pathogen infected animals. Today's biosecurity measures on US inspected pig farms have become very sophisticated and effective. The widespread adoption of improved feeding practices and high levels of biosecurity and hygiene have virtually eliminated the presence of trichinae in the United States. Because most pigs raised for food today are housed in barns instead of outdoors, facility workers can carefully manage barn biosecurity to help keep out disease causing pathogens. While there is a historical basis for caution regarding trichinosis, it’s no longer a threat that should concern U.S. pork consumers. In fact, the odds of getting trichinosis from eating pork sold at retail stores is only 1 in 154 million. These facts, coupled with properly cooking pork to USDA’s recommended 145° F, a three-minute rest time and proper cold storage techniques, mean that most of the small handful of cases reported each year are usually caused by eating wild game meat and not from eating farm-raised pork.

BACK TO TOP           SMITHFIELD PORK QUESTIONS:

SmithField Meats was recently purchased by a company in China. While SmithField claims that ALL of the pork sold in the United States is raised in the U.S.A., they make no definitive statements concerning where the meat is actually processed at. There are unsubstantiated rumors flying around that while the animals are killed in the U.S., they are then shipped to China for processing and packaging and then ultimately returned to the U.S. for retail sale. BELIEVE WHAT YOU WISH!

BACK TO TOP           YEAST FACTOIDS:

IS MY OLD YEAST STILL "GOOD":

1) Check the expiration date on the package of yeast to ensure that it has not expired - even if it has, it costs nothing but a little time here to check & see if it is still viable.

2) Pour 1/2 cup of warm water into a small bowl or cup. The water should be between 110 and 115 degrees.

3) Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar into the warm water.

4) Add 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast and stir until thoroughly dissolved.

5) Allow it to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

6) Check to see if the yeast mixture is foamy and bubbly. If so, the yeast is indeed active and can still be safely used. If not, throw it away and buy new yeast

BACK TO TOP           DOUGH PROOFING FACTOIDS:

An easy method to "proof" (Raise Dough in a warm place) is to make use of your oven. Remove all but 2 of the baking racks. Place them in the 2 lowest positions. Bring 3 Cups of plain tap water to a rolling boil. Place a metal baking pan on the lowest rack and pour in the boiling water. Close the oven door for 10 minutes. QUICKLY open the oven door and place the Bread Dough in the mixing bowl on the upper rack. Leave to rest until the Dough has risen the called-for amount. If you are quick enough, you can a second time, open the door, remove the bowl, close the door, punch down the risen dough,  open the door put the dough back in, close the door and allow the Dough to rise a second time.

BACK TO TOP           BREAD MAKING TIPS:

1) Use the highest quality All Purpose Flour you can find.

2) Make sure the Eggs are at room temperature before you start the recipe.

3) The Butter should be soft, but not oily.

4) The Dough may look disturbingly soft, but do not be tempted to add more Flour to it. Towards the first 15 minute round of mixing, it will come together and form a smooth, albeit wet, Dough.

5) Do not skimp on the mixing time. Mix for a full 15 minutes.

6) Add no more than a couple of Tablespoons of Butter at a time.

7) If you’re not going to use the Dough right away, you can freeze it after the second rise. Just deflate it, wrap it well in a piece of plastic wrap, put it in a zip lock bag, and freeze up to one month. The frozen Dough can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight and used directly out of the fridge.

BACK TO TOP           MAKING CRUSTY BREADS TIPS:

Is crusty bread your idea of heaven?

If so – the devil IS in the details!

Soft dinner rolls aren’t meant to be crusty; so, don’t force a recipe beyond it's comfort zone, because therein lies MAJOR disappointment.

You, the home baker with average (or even startup) skills can make crusty bread simply by following five simple tips.

1) USE SIMPLE INGREDIENTS:

Crusty breads are usually the simplest ones: flour, water, yeast, and salt, with no eggs, butter, sour cream, sugar, mashed potatoes, or anything else that might turn them into softies. Sure, you might see a crusty bread recipe calling for a teaspoon of sugar, or a tablespoon of dried milk powder; these small amounts of softening agents may keep the loaf’s interior tender, but won’t affect the crispness of the crust.

2) A BIG SURFACE AREA:

A big, fat, round or oval loaf – a boule – doesn’t have as much opportunity to shine in the crisp crust department as does a thin baguette, or individual rolls. While you can certainly make a big loaf with crisp crust (you’ll see a couple of examples below), the ratio of crunchy to tender will be much smaller So if you’re a real fan of crust (as opposed to soft interior), opt for smaller, skinnier, or flatter loaves or rolls.

3) STEAMED CRUST:

While you most likely don’t have access to a French steam injection oven, you can try to replicate steam’s role in creating that crisp crust by making your own homemade steamy oven. Some bakers like to place a sturdy pan (cast iron preferred) on the bottom shelf of the oven as it preheats, then pour 1/2 cup or so hot water into the pan as they’re loading the loaves. The result? Billows of steam trapped in the oven. A second, easier way to re-create steam’s work is to simply spray or brush risen loaves with warm water before placing them into the hot oven. A third way: the French cloche, a stoneware pan with lid that traps moisture from the baking bread, converting it to steam within its little bell-like cave.

And how, exactly, does steam create a crisp crust? Simply put, it has to do with the starch in flour. As bread bakes, its outer layer (crust) eventually reaches 180°F. At that point, the starches on the surface burst, become gel-like, and then harden in the oven’s heat to a crackly consistency. Steam hitting the bread’s surface facilitates this process.

4) HOT BOTTOM:

Many bakers find they can create a decent crisp top crust, but struggle to make their bread’s bottom crusty, as well. The best way to brown and crisp your bread’s bottom crust – as well as enhance its rise – is to bake it on a preheated pizza stone or baking steel. The stone or steel, super-hot from preheating along with your oven’s preheat, delivers a jolt of that heat to the loaf, causing it to rise quickly. At the same time, the bread’s bottom, without the shield of a metal pan – which takes awhile to absorb and then transmit heat – bakes super-quickly, becoming brown and crisp.

5) OVEN COOLING:

This may sound like an oxymoron – cool bread in the oven? – but it works. Once the bread is baked, turn off the oven. Transfer the bread from pan (or stone) to a middle oven rack. Crack the oven door open a couple of inches (a folded potholder works well here), and let it cool right in the cooling oven. How does this help keep bread crusty? As bread cools, any leftover moisture in its interior migrates to the surface. If that moisture reaches the surface and hits cool air – e.g., typical room temperature – it condenses on the loaf’s surface, making it soggy. If it hits warm air (your still-warm oven), it evaporates – leaving the crust crisp.

BACK TO TOP          

 

MAIN
The Recipes and information contained in these pages are for private use only. They are NOT to be used commercially or published.
COOKING DANGERS, POISONS & FACTS
There are a huge number of cooking dangers, foods that we eat that contain poisons & facts involved in the art of home cooking. Below are several of the ones I find to be most important.
640

BACK TO TOP           POISONOUS DRIED BEANS:

SEE: Recipe - Vegetables - Dan's Favorite Baked Beans.

REMEMBER, some types of Dried Beans are toxic because of a natural insecticide (phytohemagglutinin, or PHA), unless they are soaked in water for 5 Hours, Drained and then briskly boiled in fresh water for at least 10 Minutes. Cooking Dried Beans in a Slow Cooker on low heat can actually INCREASE the toxicity level in the Beans by leaching the toxins into the water you will eventually eat.. Red Kidney Beans have the worst levels of PHA, followed closely by Butter Beans, Lima Beans, Fava Beans, etc. In other words, it's safer for your family to treat ALL beans as though they are toxic. Fresh Green Beans are NOT toxic at all since the “seeds” (beans) are green and have not yet fully developed inside the pods.

BACK TO TOP           POISONOUS APPLE SEEDS:

Apples, along with cherries, peaches, and almonds, are all members of the rose family. The seeds of apples and these other fruits contain natural chemicals that are toxic to some animals. Apple seeds do contain a small amount of cyanide, which is a lethal poison, but you are protected from the toxin by the hard seed coating. If you eat whole apple seeds, they pass through your digestive system relatively untouched. If you chew the seeds thoroughly, you will be exposed to the chemicals inside the seeds, but the dose of toxins in an apple is small enough that your body can easily detoxify it.

Cyanide is deadly at a dose of about 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight. On average, an apple seed contains 0.49 mg of cyanogenic compounds. The number of seeds per apple varies, but an apple with eight seeds, therefore, contains about 3.92 milligrams of cyanide. A person weighing 70 kilograms would need to eat 143 seeds to reach the lethal dose. That's about 18 whole apples.

BACK TO TOP           POISONOUS FRUITS & VEGETABLES:

Cyanogenic compounds are produced by plants to protect them from insects, and so they can resist diseases. Of the stone fruits (apricots, prunes, plums, pears, apples, cherries, peaches), bitter apricot kernels pose the greatest risk. Cassava root and bamboo shoots also contain cyanogenic glycosides, which is why these foods need to be cooked before ingestion. The ackee or achee fruit contains hypoglycin. The only portion of ackee that is edible is the ripe flesh around the black seeds, and then only after the fruit has naturally ripened and opened on the tree.

Potatoes do not contain cyanogenic glycosides, but they do contain the glycoalkaloids solanine and chaconine. Cooking potatoes does not inactivate these toxic compounds. The peel of green potatoes contains the highest level of these compounds.

Eating raw or undercooked fiddleheads can cause diarrhea, nausea, cramping, vomiting, and headaches. The chemical responsible for the symptoms has not yet been identified. Cooking fiddleheads prevents the illness.

While not poisonous, carrots may taste "off" if they are stored with ANY produce that releases ethylene (e.g., apples, melons, tomatoes). The reaction between ethylene and compounds in carrots produces a bitter flavor resembling that of petroleum.

BACK TO TOP           COOKING MYTHS:

1) Searing Meat Seals in the Juices: FALSE 

Searing a steak or a roast doesn’t really seal in juices. In fact some of the moisture is actually lost during the searing process. But it's still the best way to give a steak that tasty, coveted, caramelized exterior.

2) Salting Pasta Water Makes Better Pasta: TRUE 

Dried pasta is essentially impenetrable. The ONLY chance you have to flavor it is during boiling. Once it has cooked, nothing will seep in unless it is cooked al-dente, where things like the piping hot sauce will finish cooking it the rest of the way.

3) Microwaving Food Kills All Bacteria: FALSE

The microwave is no different from any other heat source. Food must be brought up to a certain temperature to kill bacteria, and if it doesn’t reach at least 165 degrees in the microwave, bacteria can still linger.

4) Adding Oil to Pasta Water Keeps the Pasta from Sticking: FALSE 

Pouring oil in with the boiling water doesn’t actually prevent sticking. The oil and water separate, so the oil won’t coat the pasta evenly. To avoid sticking just remember to stir while rinsing!

5) Opening The Oven Will Ruin Whatever You Are Baking: MOSTLY FALSE

Avoiding opening the oven while baking is a good rule to follow to maintain an even oven temperature, but if you absolutely have to peek in, don’t worry! Chances are your cookies, cake, etc. will survive. If you’re making something extremely finicky, like a soufflé, however, opening the oven door could adversely affect your treat.

BACK TO TOP           TRICHINOSIS (FROM PORK):

THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH AS WE NOW KNOW IT:

Many believe they must cook pork until it’s well-done. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), that's now not necessary. The notion that pork must be cooked well-done dates back a few generations when a pathogen called Trichinella spiralis that causes trichinosis was a problem for pig farmers and for consumers. Today, we know that Trichinella spiralis is transmitted to pigs as the end result of poor feeding practices and exposure to other pathogen infected animals. Today's biosecurity measures on US inspected pig farms have become very sophisticated and effective. The widespread adoption of improved feeding practices and high levels of biosecurity and hygiene have virtually eliminated the presence of trichinae in the United States. Because most pigs raised for food today are housed in barns instead of outdoors, facility workers can carefully manage barn biosecurity to help keep out disease causing pathogens. While there is a historical basis for caution regarding trichinosis, it’s no longer a threat that should concern U.S. pork consumers. In fact, the odds of getting trichinosis from eating pork sold at retail stores is only 1 in 154 million. These facts, coupled with properly cooking pork to USDA’s recommended 145° F, a three-minute rest time and proper cold storage techniques, mean that most of the small handful of cases reported each year are usually caused by eating wild game meat and not from eating farm-raised pork.

BACK TO TOP           SMITHFIELD PORK QUESTIONS:

SmithField Meats was recently purchased by a company in China. While SmithField claims that ALL of the pork sold in the United States is raised in the U.S.A., they make no definitive statements concerning where the meat is actually processed at. There are unsubstantiated rumors flying around that while the animals are killed in the U.S., they are then shipped to China for processing and packaging and then ultimately returned to the U.S. for retail sale. BELIEVE WHAT YOU WISH!

BACK TO TOP           YEAST FACTOIDS:

IS MY OLD YEAST STILL "GOOD":

1) Check the expiration date on the package of yeast to ensure that it has not expired - even if it has, it costs nothing but a little time here to check & see if it is still viable.

2) Pour 1/2 cup of warm water into a small bowl or cup. The water should be between 110 and 115 degrees.

3) Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar into the warm water.

4) Add 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast and stir until thoroughly dissolved.

5) Allow it to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

6) Check to see if the yeast mixture is foamy and bubbly. If so, the yeast is indeed active and can still be safely used. If not, throw it away and buy new yeast

BACK TO TOP           DOUGH PROOFING FACTOIDS:

An easy method to "proof" (Raise Dough in a warm place) is to make use of your oven. Remove all but 2 of the baking racks. Place them in the 2 lowest positions. Bring 3 Cups of plain tap water to a rolling boil. Place a metal baking pan on the lowest rack and pour in the boiling water. Close the oven door for 10 minutes. QUICKLY open the oven door and place the Bread Dough in the mixing bowl on the upper rack. Leave to rest until the Dough has risen the called-for amount. If you are quick enough, you can a second time, open the door, remove the bowl, close the door, punch down the risen dough,  open the door put the dough back in, close the door and allow the Dough to rise a second time.

BACK TO TOP           BREAD MAKING TIPS:

1) Use the highest quality All Purpose Flour you can find.

2) Make sure the Eggs are at room temperature before you start the recipe.

3) The Butter should be soft, but not oily.

4) The Dough may look disturbingly soft, but do not be tempted to add more Flour to it. Towards the first 15 minute round of mixing, it will come together and form a smooth, albeit wet, Dough.

5) Do not skimp on the mixing time. Mix for a full 15 minutes.

6) Add no more than a couple of Tablespoons of Butter at a time.

7) If you’re not going to use the Dough right away, you can freeze it after the second rise. Just deflate it, wrap it well in a piece of plastic wrap, put it in a zip lock bag, and freeze up to one month. The frozen Dough can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight and used directly out of the fridge.

BACK TO TOP           MAKING CRUSTY BREADS TIPS:

Is crusty bread your idea of heaven?

If so – the devil IS in the details!

Soft dinner rolls aren’t meant to be crusty; so, don’t force a recipe beyond it's comfort zone, because therein lies MAJOR disappointment.

You, the home baker with average (or even startup) skills can make crusty bread simply by following five simple tips.

1) USE SIMPLE INGREDIENTS:

Crusty breads are usually the simplest ones: flour, water, yeast, and salt, with no eggs, butter, sour cream, sugar, mashed potatoes, or anything else that might turn them into softies. Sure, you might see a crusty bread recipe calling for a teaspoon of sugar, or a tablespoon of dried milk powder; these small amounts of softening agents may keep the loaf’s interior tender, but won’t affect the crispness of the crust.

2) A BIG SURFACE AREA:

A big, fat, round or oval loaf – a boule – doesn’t have as much opportunity to shine in the crisp crust department as does a thin baguette, or individual rolls. While you can certainly make a big loaf with crisp crust (you’ll see a couple of examples below), the ratio of crunchy to tender will be much smaller So if you’re a real fan of crust (as opposed to soft interior), opt for smaller, skinnier, or flatter loaves or rolls.

3) STEAMED CRUST:

While you most likely don’t have access to a French steam injection oven, you can try to replicate steam’s role in creating that crisp crust by making your own homemade steamy oven. Some bakers like to place a sturdy pan (cast iron preferred) on the bottom shelf of the oven as it preheats, then pour 1/2 cup or so hot water into the pan as they’re loading the loaves. The result? Billows of steam trapped in the oven. A second, easier way to re-create steam’s work is to simply spray or brush risen loaves with warm water before placing them into the hot oven. A third way: the French cloche, a stoneware pan with lid that traps moisture from the baking bread, converting it to steam within its little bell-like cave.

And how, exactly, does steam create a crisp crust? Simply put, it has to do with the starch in flour. As bread bakes, its outer layer (crust) eventually reaches 180°F. At that point, the starches on the surface burst, become gel-like, and then harden in the oven’s heat to a crackly consistency. Steam hitting the bread’s surface facilitates this process.

4) HOT BOTTOM:

Many bakers find they can create a decent crisp top crust, but struggle to make their bread’s bottom crusty, as well. The best way to brown and crisp your bread’s bottom crust – as well as enhance its rise – is to bake it on a preheated pizza stone or baking steel. The stone or steel, super-hot from preheating along with your oven’s preheat, delivers a jolt of that heat to the loaf, causing it to rise quickly. At the same time, the bread’s bottom, without the shield of a metal pan – which takes awhile to absorb and then transmit heat – bakes super-quickly, becoming brown and crisp.

5) OVEN COOLING:

This may sound like an oxymoron – cool bread in the oven? – but it works. Once the bread is baked, turn off the oven. Transfer the bread from pan (or stone) to a middle oven rack. Crack the oven door open a couple of inches (a folded potholder works well here), and let it cool right in the cooling oven. How does this help keep bread crusty? As bread cools, any leftover moisture in its interior migrates to the surface. If that moisture reaches the surface and hits cool air – e.g., typical room temperature – it condenses on the loaf’s surface, making it soggy. If it hits warm air (your still-warm oven), it evaporates – leaving the crust crisp.

BACK TO TOP        

 

The Recipes and information contained in these pages are for private use only. They are NOT to be used commercially or published.
COOKING DANGERS, POISONS & FACTS
There are a huge number of cooking dangers, foods that we eat that contain poisons & facts involved in the art of home cooking. Below are several of the ones I find to be most important.
MOBILE

BACK TO TOP           POISONOUS DRIED BEANS:

SEE: Recipe - Vegetables - Dan's Favorite Baked Beans.

REMEMBER, some types of Dried Beans are toxic because of a natural insecticide (phytohemagglutinin, or PHA), unless they are soaked in water for 5 Hours, Drained and then briskly boiled in fresh water for at least 10 Minutes. Cooking Dried Beans in a Slow Cooker on low heat can actually INCREASE the toxicity level in the Beans by leaching the toxins into the water you will eventually eat.. Red Kidney Beans have the worst levels of PHA, followed closely by Butter Beans, Lima Beans, Fava Beans, etc. In other words, it's safer for your family to treat ALL beans as though they are toxic. Fresh Green Beans are NOT toxic at all since the “seeds” (beans) are green and have not yet fully developed inside the pods.

BACK TO TOP           POISONOUS APPLE SEEDS:

Apples, along with cherries, peaches, and almonds, are all members of the rose family. The seeds of apples and these other fruits contain natural chemicals that are toxic to some animals. Apple seeds do contain a small amount of cyanide, which is a lethal poison, but you are protected from the toxin by the hard seed coating. If you eat whole apple seeds, they pass through your digestive system relatively untouched. If you chew the seeds thoroughly, you will be exposed to the chemicals inside the seeds, but the dose of toxins in an apple is small enough that your body can easily detoxify it.

Cyanide is deadly at a dose of about 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight. On average, an apple seed contains 0.49 mg of cyanogenic compounds. The number of seeds per apple varies, but an apple with eight seeds, therefore, contains about 3.92 milligrams of cyanide. A person weighing 70 kilograms would need to eat 143 seeds to reach the lethal dose. That's about 18 whole apples.

BACK TO TOP           POISONOUS FRUITS & VEGETABLES:

Cyanogenic compounds are produced by plants to protect them from insects, and so they can resist diseases. Of the stone fruits (apricots, prunes, plums, pears, apples, cherries, peaches), bitter apricot kernels pose the greatest risk. Cassava root and bamboo shoots also contain cyanogenic glycosides, which is why these foods need to be cooked before ingestion. The ackee or achee fruit contains hypoglycin. The only portion of ackee that is edible is the ripe flesh around the black seeds, and then only after the fruit has naturally ripened and opened on the tree.

Potatoes do not contain cyanogenic glycosides, but they do contain the glycoalkaloids solanine and chaconine. Cooking potatoes does not inactivate these toxic compounds. The peel of green potatoes contains the highest level of these compounds.

Eating raw or undercooked fiddleheads can cause diarrhea, nausea, cramping, vomiting, and headaches. The chemical responsible for the symptoms has not yet been identified. Cooking fiddleheads prevents the illness.

While not poisonous, carrots may taste "off" if they are stored with ANY produce that releases ethylene (e.g., apples, melons, tomatoes). The reaction between ethylene and compounds in carrots produces a bitter flavor resembling that of petroleum.

BACK TO TOP           COOKING MYTHS:

1) Searing Meat Seals in the Juices: FALSE 

Searing a steak or a roast doesn’t really seal in juices. In fact some of the moisture is actually lost during the searing process. But it's still the best way to give a steak that tasty, coveted, caramelized exterior.

2) Salting Pasta Water Makes Better Pasta: TRUE 

Dried pasta is essentially impenetrable. The ONLY chance you have to flavor it is during boiling. Once it has cooked, nothing will seep in unless it is cooked al-dente, where things like the piping hot sauce will finish cooking it the rest of the way.

3) Microwaving Food Kills All Bacteria: FALSE

The microwave is no different from any other heat source. Food must be brought up to a certain temperature to kill bacteria, and if it doesn’t reach at least 165 degrees in the microwave, bacteria can still linger.

4) Adding Oil to Pasta Water Keeps the Pasta from Sticking: FALSE 

Pouring oil in with the boiling water doesn’t actually prevent sticking. The oil and water separate, so the oil won’t coat the pasta evenly. To avoid sticking just remember to stir while rinsing!

5) Opening The Oven Will Ruin Whatever You Are Baking: MOSTLY  FALSE

Avoiding opening the oven while baking is a good rule to follow to maintain an even oven temperature, but if you absolutely have to peek in, don’t worry! Chances are your cookies, cake, etc. will survive. If you’re making something extremely finicky, like a soufflé, however, opening the oven door could adversely affect your treat.

BACK TO TOP           TRICHINOSIS (FROM PORK):

THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH AS WE NOW KNOW IT:

Many believe they must cook pork until it’s well-done. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), that's now not necessary. The notion that pork must be cooked well-done dates back a few generations when a pathogen called Trichinella spiralis that causes trichinosis was a problem for pig farmers and for consumers. Today, we know that Trichinella spiralis is transmitted to pigs as the end result of poor feeding practices and exposure to other pathogen infected animals. Today's biosecurity measures on US inspected pig farms have become very sophisticated and effective. The widespread adoption of improved feeding practices and high levels of biosecurity and hygiene have virtually eliminated the presence of trichinae in the United States. Because most pigs raised for food today are housed in barns instead of outdoors, facility workers can carefully manage barn biosecurity to help keep out disease causing pathogens. While there is a historical basis for caution regarding trichinosis, it’s no longer a threat that should concern U.S. pork consumers. In fact, the odds of getting trichinosis from eating pork sold at retail stores is only 1 in 154 million. These facts, coupled with properly cooking pork to USDA’s recommended 145° F, a three-minute rest time and proper cold storage techniques, mean that most of the small handful of cases reported each year are usually caused by eating wild game meat and not from eating farm-raised pork.

BACK TO TOP           SMITHFIELD PORK QUESTIONS:

SmithField Meats was recently purchased by a company in China. While SmithField claims that ALL of the pork sold in the United States is raised in the U.S.A., they make no definitive statements concerning where the meat is actually processed at. There are unsubstantiated rumors flying around that while the animals are killed in the U.S., they are then shipped to China for processing and packaging and then ultimately returned to the U.S. for retail sale. BELIEVE WHAT YOU WISH!

BACK TO TOP           YEAST FACTOIDS:

IS MY OLD YEAST STILL "GOOD":

1) Check the expiration date on the package of yeast to ensure that it has not expired - even if it has, it costs nothing but a little time here to check & see if it is still viable.

2) Pour 1/2 cup of warm water into a small bowl or cup. The water should be between 110 and 115 degrees.

3) Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar into the warm water.

4) Add 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast and stir until thoroughly dissolved.

5) Allow it to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

6) Check to see if the yeast mixture is foamy and bubbly. If so, the yeast is indeed active and can still be safely used. If not, throw it away and buy new yeast

BACK TO TOP           DOUGH PROOFING FACTOIDS:

An easy method to "proof" (Raise Dough in a warm place) is to make use of your oven. Remove all but 2 of the baking racks. Place them in the 2 lowest positions. Bring 3 Cups of plain tap water to a rolling boil. Place a metal baking pan on the lowest rack and pour in the boiling water. Close the oven door for 10 minutes. QUICKLY open the oven door and place the Bread Dough in the mixing bowl on the upper rack. Leave to rest until the Dough has risen the called-for amount. If you are quick enough, you can a second time, open the door, remove the bowl, close the door, punch down the risen dough,  open the door put the dough back in, close the door and allow the Dough to rise a second time.

BACK TO TOP           BREAD MAKING TIPS:

1) Use the highest quality All Purpose Flour you can find.

2) Make sure the Eggs are at room temperature before you start the recipe.

3) The Butter should be soft, but not oily.

4) The Dough may look disturbingly soft, but do not be tempted to add more Flour to it. Towards the first 15 minute round of mixing, it will come together and form a smooth, albeit wet, Dough.

5) Do not skimp on the mixing time. Mix for a full 15 minutes.

6) Add no more than a couple of Tablespoons of Butter at a time.

7) If you’re not going to use the Dough right away, you can freeze it after the second rise. Just deflate it, wrap it well in a piece of plastic wrap, put it in a zip lock bag, and freeze up to one month. The frozen Dough can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight and used directly out of the fridge.

BACK TO TOP           MAKING CRUSTY BREADS TIPS:

Is crusty bread your idea of heaven?

If so – the devil IS in the details!

Soft dinner rolls aren’t meant to be crusty; so, don’t force a recipe beyond it's comfort zone, because therein lies MAJOR disappointment.

You, the home baker with average (or even startup) skills can make crusty bread simply by following five simple tips.

1) USE SIMPLE INGREDIENTS:

Crusty breads are usually the simplest ones: flour, water, yeast, and salt, with no eggs, butter, sour cream, sugar, mashed potatoes, or anything else that might turn them into softies. Sure, you might see a crusty bread recipe calling for a teaspoon of sugar, or a tablespoon of dried milk powder; these small amounts of softening agents may keep the loaf’s interior tender, but won’t affect the crispness of the crust.

2) A BIG SURFACE AREA:

A big, fat, round or oval loaf – a boule – doesn’t have as much opportunity to shine in the crisp crust department as does a thin baguette, or individual rolls. While you can certainly make a big loaf with crisp crust (you’ll see a couple of examples below), the ratio of crunchy to tender will be much smaller So if you’re a real fan of crust (as opposed to soft interior), opt for smaller, skinnier, or flatter loaves or rolls.

3) STEAMED CRUST:

While you most likely don’t have access to a French steam injection oven, you can try to replicate steam’s role in creating that crisp crust by making your own homemade steamy oven. Some bakers like to place a sturdy pan (cast iron preferred) on the bottom shelf of the oven as it preheats, then pour 1/2 cup or so hot water into the pan as they’re loading the loaves. The result? Billows of steam trapped in the oven. A second, easier way to re-create steam’s work is to simply spray or brush risen loaves with warm water before placing them into the hot oven. A third way: the French cloche, a stoneware pan with lid that traps moisture from the baking bread, converting it to steam within its little bell-like cave.

And how, exactly, does steam create a crisp crust? Simply put, it has to do with the starch in flour. As bread bakes, its outer layer (crust) eventually reaches 180°F. At that point, the starches on the surface burst, become gel-like, and then harden in the oven’s heat to a crackly consistency. Steam hitting the bread’s surface facilitates this process.

4) HOT BOTTOM:

Many bakers find they can create a decent crisp top crust, but struggle to make their bread’s bottom crusty, as well. The best way to brown and crisp your bread’s bottom crust – as well as enhance its rise – is to bake it on a preheated pizza stone or baking steel. The stone or steel, super-hot from preheating along with your oven’s preheat, delivers a jolt of that heat to the loaf, causing it to rise quickly. At the same time, the bread’s bottom, without the shield of a metal pan – which takes awhile to absorb and then transmit heat – bakes super-quickly, becoming brown and crisp.

5) OVEN COOLING:

This may sound like an oxymoron – cool bread in the oven? – but it works. Once the bread is baked, turn off the oven. Transfer the bread from pan (or stone) to a middle oven rack. Crack the oven door open a couple of inches (a folded potholder works well here), and let it cool right in the cooling oven. How does this help keep bread crusty? As bread cools, any leftover moisture in its interior migrates to the surface. If that moisture reaches the surface and hits cool air – e.g., typical room temperature – it condenses on the loaf’s surface, making it soggy. If it hits warm air (your still-warm oven), it evaporates – leaving the crust crisp.

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The Recipes and information contained in these pages are for private use only. They are NOT to be used commercially or published.