Pectin was first isolated from plant material in 1825 by Henri Braconnot, a French chemist who pioneered a number of discoveries in plant and food science. People were, of course, well aware that some fruits gelled much better and faster than others, but Braconnot was the first to explain why. At the peak of the industrial revolution in the 1920s and 1930s, factories were set up specifically to extract the bonding agent. Most of the commercial variety is extracted from citrus peels or from non-marketable apples (e.g. crab apples). It is mostly manufactured in the European Union, with countries like France and Germany supplying the lion’s share of the world market.

Pectin is a semi-essential ingredient in the modern process of making jams, jellies, marmalade, and other preserves. It’s deemed semi-essential because preserves can be made without it, but not in the quantity or consistency that the world market demands. When the polymer is combined with sugar and heated up, it forms a gelatinous semi-liquid that gives jams and jellies their consistencies. In the good old days, people would make their jams through a laborious process, boiling down the fruit for an extended period of time (at least a few hours) to evaporate all the water out of it. Plenty of people still do it the old-fashioned way, but large-scale production depends on pectin to reduce time and cost. Many at-home jelly makers rely on the polymer for this same reason, as it is all natural, safe, easy to use, and inexpensive.

You can purchase pectin in packages in most major supermarkets. It comes in both liquid and powder form, though the powder is by far the most common as it is easier to store and transport. Keep an eye out if you’re buying it at the store, as the regular variety has a very high sugar content. If you don’t like your preserves too sweet, you might want to try the low or no-sugar option. While cooking chopped fruit, simply stir in the powder bit by bit, the same way that you would add flour to fat to make gravy. Once the preserves reach your desired consistency, let them cool, can them, and enjoy!

Dry Fruit and Vegetables

Drying fruit is an interesting way to store part of a summer or autumn harvest. It makes a change from making jam or pickles with your glut.

These sweet, nutritious preserves can be made at home quite easily, stored and added as snacks to packed lunches for school or work. They can last from a few weeks to a few months. They must be totally dehydrated to ensure that no mould can develop.

Crops with a high water content like apples, plums, grapes or tomatoes should be oven-dried but those with a low water content can just be dried indoors. This air-drying method is slower than using an oven but is particularly suited to herbs, chillies and peas and beans that have been removed from their pods. The room needs to be warm and well-ventilated. It could be a spare room or garage. A kitchen will have too much moisture in the air because of the steam from cooking.

The crops can be laid on a wire rack, separated out and left for a few weeks or if possible, like in the case of chillies, strung onto string and hung up in order to save space. It is important that air can circulate around each individual vegetable. Don’t rub your eyes after handling chillies; and wash you hands well.

Some herbs can be dried more easily than others. Bay leaves and sprigs of sage or marjoram are good candidates to be hung in bunches but soft-leaved herbs such as basil and parsley would be better chopped up and packed into ice cube trays to be frozen. These individual portions can be added to stews or home-made soups through the winter and they retain their taste better than if they had been dried.

Otherwise, try drying herbs in a microwave with the setting on high for two minutes. Employing one of these methods ensures that there will be no waste; all your crops can be stored before the first frosts come to claim them.

To prepare fruit for oven-drying, first wash it thoroughly and dry excess moisture from the skin.

Remove stones from plums and cores from apples. Halve plums and tomatoes, slice apples and strawberries and leave other berries whole. You can at this stage dip your fruit into lemon juice to prevent browning.

Lay the pieces of fruit out onto a wire rack individually leaving air to circulate between them. If the berries are too small to sit on a wire rack, use a slightly oiled baking tray instead.

Put your oven on its lowest setting and put the racks and trays inside. Open the door at intervals to lower the temperature and change the air. The purpose of the exercise is to dry the fruit not cook it.

Regularly check on the fruit, and after several hours, when the fruit feels light and dry to the touch, remove the racks from the oven and leave to cool completely.

Fruit Cakes

While, it was considered by the Roman as the food that can bring special luck in the following harvest year, the exactly opposite thing happened around 1800s. Yes, people in some regions started to believe this delicacy to be sinful and they kept away. But, soon after this decline period, people again have started to include it in their celebrations and happy moments. It was once considered as a symbol of hope as well in some part of England. Even, people used to put a small piece of cake under their pillow with the hope that it will bring good dreams about the future loved one.

So, here comes the question what exactly are these eatables made up of. Even though, the ingredients used in the making might differ, they typically include fruits and nuts and even a little brandy or rum is used.

Nowadays, holidays are never getting fulfillment with sponge cakes or at least without plain cakes. Some are opting for the latter alternatives for their birthdays too, just because they can show their creativity in making attractive designs on their own. For instance, couples can get plain cakes for their wedding and can show their creativity in engraving their names together to mark the occasion. Some online stores selling these eatables are also selling decorating supplies

Some people love the spongy texture of sponge cakes and this is why regardless of the occasion, they choose this alternative as against many other alternatives. Nowadays, with the availability of online stores dealing with many different alternatives for the purchasers to choose from. People interested in preparing these eatables on their own home can get the bases required for preparation as well from reliable online store dealing with these supplies. There are base cakes and upon them, the purchasers can make their desired decorations for a party gathering to enthrall their friends.

Royal Jelly

It contains water, sugars, lipids, proteins, minerals and almost all the amino acids essential for human nutrition.

It transforms bee larvae into queen bees. As a result, the queen bees develop into a size double that of the worker bees and have a life span 20 to 30 times of that of the worker bees.

Based on the observation and scientific experiments, it has many great benefits to human beings.

Japanese research shows that it has very strong anti-cancer properties. By taking royal jelly, one can prevent cancer or prolong the proliferation of cancer cells.

Grave’s Disease causes enlarged thyroid and related symptoms such as increased heart beat, muscle weakness, disturbed sleep and bulging eye (exophtalmos). It may reduce the occurrence of these symptoms and thus is beneficial to the patients.

The consumption of royal jelly may maintain the brain health. It is discovered that it is able to stimulate the growth of stem cells in the brain. It can prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. It also stimulates the cognitive function of the brain.

Wrinkles and dry skin are signs of ageing. It possesses nutrients that support skin renewal such as vitamins, hormones and enzymes. It can stimulate production of collagen in the skin and thus improving the skin tone. With its help, skin with radiation damage can heals in a short period of time.

Cholesterol level is the main concern of those in middle age. High cholesterol means you may face danger of high blood pressure. It lowers total serum cholesterol level and hence reducing the risk of facing stroke.

It is anti-inflammatory and can cure wounds in a short time if applied topically.

By analogy, cut apple changes color after it is exposed to the air due to oxidation. Oxidation of cells may lead to cancer and other diseases. Royal jelly contains high amount of anti-oxidants which prevent cancer.

Because royal jelly is rich in amino acids, it can strengthen and boost the immune system of human beings.

It has high content of minerals such as iron and calcium. These materials are important for the health of blood, bone and reproductive system of human being.

Magic of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that boosts the immune system and plays vital roles in human metabolism.

It not only provides your body with the armour-plating to prevent disease, it’s the fuel that can reverse and heal all kinds of health problems.

Practically every cell in your body – from your brain to your bones – contains vitamin D receptors that draw from your body the precious vitamin D3 they need to function properly.

It’s important to your health because it helps in building strong bones and a cast-iron immune system. Its absence could be exposing you to serious health hazards.This stunning new evidence concerns vitamin D’s ability to ward off and even reverse many of the most serious diseases we face.

For example, a recent study by Dr. William Grant – an internationally acclaimed research scientist and vitamin D expert – has found that 30 per cent of cancer deaths each year could be avoided just by having higher levels of vitamin D in your body.

A large scale, randomized placebo controlled study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirmed that you can decrease your risk of getting cancer by MORE THAN HALF simply by INCREASING your vitamin D levels (Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1586-91.)

This was such groundbreaking news at the time that the Canadian Cancer Society now endorses Vitamin D as a cancer prevention therapy.

Similar research published in July 2009 by Dr Frank Garland, Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California in San Diego, found that some 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancer could be prevented each year if only vitamin D levels were increased worldwide.

And it’s little wonder that private doctors, too, have jumped on the bandwagon by prescribing it for their wealthier patients, because they’ve all seen the evidence of these breakthrough medical studies…
Even governments and the medical establishment are beginning to wake up to the miraculous benefits of vitamin D…

The risk of not taking Vitamin D

But here’s the first crucial thing you need to know about vitamin D…

Other research has shown that vitamin D deficiency below 32ng/ml is implicated as a major risk factor in… 17 types of cancer (including lung, prostate, ovarian and skin cancer)… heart disease… stroke… hypertension… diabetes… osteoporosis and osteoarthritis… depression… dementia… gum disease… and more.

For example, a recent study in the American Journal of Cardiology found that patients who were this deficient in vitamin D had an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, and that their overall mortality rate was 165% higher than subjects with high vitamin D levels (American Journal of Cardiology, Vol. 109, No. 3, 2/1/12)

These findings are also backed up by evidence linking vitamin D deficiency with various cancers which has been unearthed by more than 200 epidemiological studies and by over 2,500 laboratory studies conducted by worldwide medical institutions, including Harvard Medical School and Oxford University.

In these days of unemployment,poor health and environmental pollution, one of the products that has answers to these problems is mushrooms. Mushrooms were historically the product consumed by aristocrats only. In our times, mushrooms have become very popular because of their numerous contribution to the well being of humanity. They are good source of food as well as medicine to the human body. Mushrooms help to preserve the environment as well.

Freeze Drying Food

Freeze drying using a freezer

Here you need to place the food on a plate or tray then spread it to prevent it from clumping together. You should then place the tray in the freezer and close. Closing the freezer ensures that the freezing process is not slowed down.

The freeze drying process takes about one week and you should only remove the food from the freezer once all the food has sublimed. To ensure that the food has fully sublimed you should test it.

To test you need to remove food from the freezer then allow it to thaw. If it turns black, the process is not yet complete. Once you have confirmed that the food has completely freeze dried, you should store it in storage bags. You should push air out, seal the bags, and store them either in the freezer or in a pantry.

Freeze drying using dry ice

Here you need to place food in freezer bags. To ensure that the food does not bunch up in one corner, you should lay the bags flat.

Once you have done this you should place the freezer bags in a large cooler then cover the food using dry ice. You should then place the cooler in the freezer then after six hours cover the cooler with a lid.

You should then wait for 24 hours after which you should check inside the cooler and see if the dry ice is still there. If the ice is gone, you can conclude that the food has sublimed and it’s ready for storage.

You should now remove the bags from the cooler and store them in the freezer or in a pantry. You can also store them in emergency preparedness kits.

Bitter-Sweet Biscuits

Given that Russ & I enjoy a biscuit or two with our morning cuppa, and given my dislike of eating numbers in my food and the lack of true vitality in the packet variety, I decided to begin baking my own. Not renown for my biscuits ever before I found that when I racked my mind for a recipe only Anzacs came to the fore (my recipe books are still buried away as we finish building!). So without further ado, or any conscious ado at all, I have purchased the ‘necessary ingredients’ and I find myself adding golden syrup, brown sugar and white flour to the mix. I am not going to lie and say there were not delicious biscuits (isn’t it amazing the transformational power of cooking with love!); however, what was interesting to note was how a default pattern can temporarily erase conscious consideration. While munching on a biscuit in contemplation I considered what I already knew: that golden syrup is a refined sweetener; brown sugar is also refined, albeit with a hint of molasses; and white flour besides refined could be many things – bleached and rancid among them. I was using unbleached stone-ground flour that I had milled myself, so off to a better start than most, yet why not use whole-grain, and why not some bio-dynamic spelt to boot. Then molasses instead of golden syrup – blackstrap molasses is, yes, also refined, but most of the sucrose is removed and unlike refined sugars it contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and iron; which is a similar story for our whole cane rapadura sugar that I replaced the brown sugar with. But I had hit my stride now and further into a new mix went organic pepitas, soaked chia seeds (so you can digest them better) and, if it were legal in Australia as it is in the USA and EU, I would have added some hemp seeds, rich in EFAs (essential fatty acids), smashed with a stone pestle and mortar.

Mixing the ingredients together I suddenly felt, poignantly felt, how rich these ingredients were; how rich I was to be able to sieve them through my hands… Spirals brewing, fire flickering as I stir the molasses into the butter and watch the intensity crescendo as the bicarb is added… Truly it was a moment of diving into the swirls of the universe; feeling so stirred myself in that miniature cauldron on coals; feeling a deep connection to my ancestral lineage of woman who cooked by that flickering light… Perhaps it is worth considering the proposition shared by MD Carole Hungerford that the flickering of the fire induces relaxation in the conscious state, which may explain the achingly raw and unfulfilled hunger that lies under the gaze of those addicted to watching the flickering of their night-time televisions…

I am suddenly touched by a tinge of sadness – was it just a hint of bitter in the blackstrap molasses? Or was it sadness that so many of us won’t ever bake our own biscuits and eat an inferior processed product that ‘costs’ often less than making them; or so we are led to believe. It certainly is worthy of contemplation to consider what we are actually eating and receiving in each case. If you haven’t seen the movies Chocolat or Babette’s Feast, they are poignantly powerful illustrations of what nourishment can be found in the conscious kitchen and perhaps great testimony as to why the monastery cook was required to be a highly evolved being…

Get Good Quality Drinking Water

The main sources of drinking water are rivers, lakes, reservoirs, ground water and the sea. The water from these sources at times could not be consumed right away. It needs to go through water treatment processes before we could consume it. The reason is that it could be contaminated with pollutants like suspended solids, algae, bacteria and viruses.

Water goes through different processes like screening, rapid mixing, sedimentation, flotation, filtration, micro-screening, disinfection, de-chlorination etc. in the treatment plant. After these processes, suspended solids, micro-organisms and bacteria are eliminated according to the required specification. The end result is water that is safe for drinking purposes.

Before we are able to drink water from the treatment plant, it has to be delivered to our houses and offices. During the delivery through the pipe line from the treatment plant or its storage area, the drinking water may be contaminated again with mud and suspended solids due to pipe leakage and repair works, heavy metals from pipe corrosion as well as bacteria and viruses originated from dirty storage tank.

Hence, when the water comes out from the tap, it may be still contaminated with suspended solids, bacteria, viruses and heavy metals like lead and iron which could affect adversely our body.

How to get good quality drinking water?

It is advisable to treat the water from the tap one more time before consumption.

Most of us choose to boil it. Boiling can kill the bacteria. However, it can activate the chemical reaction between chlorine and other pollutants. The more often you boil the tap water, the more intoxicated it becomes.

Herbs vs Spices

Spices and herbs have far less calories when compared to the calories of other food additions such as sauces, gravy, dressings, trimmings, etc. Many are not aware of the differences between herbs and spices. While cooks use the terms interchangeably, there are some distinct differences between the two.

  • The essential difference between herbs and spices is that they are obtained from different parts of a plant. Herbs are obtained from the leaves whereas spices come from the seeds, bark and roots of a tree. In fact, any part of a plant that is not a leaf, and can be used for seasoning, can be regarded as a spice. Certain plants offer both herb and spice. For example,coriander (seeds) and cilantro (leaves) belong to the same plant.
  • Herbs are used dry or fresh. Spices are not generally fresh.
  • While herbs grow abundantly in different parts of the world, spices are more commonly found in the Tropical and Far East countries.
  • Herbs are thought to have more uses than spices. Apart from their usage in cooking, herbs have several medicinal properties and are a common ingredient in a host of cosmetic products.
  • Herbs are classified into different types such as medicinal, sacred, culinary and those that are used for pest control. Spices are primarily used to color and flavor food and some have medicinal properties too.
  • While cooking, you can prevent the flavor of the herb from decreasing by adding it in the last few minutes of your cooking. On the other hand, spices need to be added at the beginning of cooking as moisture and heat are required to release their essential flavor in the dish.
  • Examples of herbs include lavender, rosemary, coriander leaves, thyme, kava, peppermint, oregano, mint, parsley, marjoram, sage, basil, etc. Some examples of spices are coriander, mustard, fenugreek, fennel, mace, cinnamon, saffron, clove, asafoetida, ginger, cumin and turmeric.


How To Shoot A Christmas Cake Video

Delight your fans and family with a demonstration of how to make your famous Christmas cake – and shoot a video of it to spread the joy around the world.

Food blogging has become a serious business, and it is easy to operate a professional food blog complete with text, images, and videos. Now that Christmas is around the corner, you want to try your hand at shooting a Christmas cake video. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done it. Just follow the easy guide we’ve outlined below.

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How to shoot a Christmas cake video

·         Get the ingredients together in glass containers.

Opaque metal vessels don’t allow your viewers to see the ingredients and their proportions clearly. Use glass containers and mixing bowls only. Start by laying out all the ingredients in the order that you will need them in the recipe, close at hand. Switch on the camera only after all the ingredients are in place, your cooktop is cleaned, and you are ready, to begin with, a short introduction.

·         Place two cameras at the right angles.

You will need two cameras – do not record a mobile phone unless it is a high-res one – for the Christmas cake video. Place both cameras on stands. One should point straight at you and show you standing at the cooktop with your ingredients. The other must be pointed on the cooktop directly to record all the action as each ingredient is used. Do test runs so that you get an idea of light, whether there are any echoes if the angles need to be corrected further, etc.

·         Follow a stepwise recipe and recite each step clearly.

Your Christmas cake recipe is an easy one, but your viewers will still need time to understand all the steps correctly. Go over each step slowly, reciting what you are doing, for how long and why, before proceeding to the next step. Give recommendations for which spatulas to use, the oven temperature, ideal mixing times and techniques, etc. Declutter the recipe as much as possible – people are put off by complicated ones that use a lot of ingredients

·         Edit the video to show bullet points and special tips.

Editing the Christmas fruit cake video properly is crucial for perfect presentation. You can edit the video yourself using simple editing tools you can get online. Or you can turn it over to a professional editor. Be sure to add text to the video – bullet points for the ingredients list, a final rundown of the recipe to refresh the viewers’ memory, cutting some scenes, and so on. You can also include any tips you may have for making the cake extra special.

Make your own Christmas cake video at home, armed with a simple recipe from Milkmaid using condensed milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, and dry fruit.