One of America’s Favorites – Fudge

October 14, 2013 at 8:23 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 1 Comment
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Chocolate Fudge

Chocolate Fudge

 

Fudge is a type of Western confectionery, which is usually soft, sweet and rich. It is made by mixing sugar, butter, and milk, heating it to the soft-ball stage at 240 °F (116 °C) and then beating the mixture while it cools so that it acquires a smooth, creamy consistency. Many variations with other flavorings are made, such as chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, and maple fudge. Nuts can also be added, such as in the flavor “maple walnut”, and some recipes call for candied fruit.

 

 
American-style fudge (containing chocolate) is found in a letter written by Emelyn Battersby Hartridge, a student at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. She wrote that her schoolmate’s cousin made fudge in Baltimore, Maryland in 1886 and sold it for 40 cents a pound. Hartridge obtained the fudge recipe, and in 1888, made 30 lb (14 kg) of fudge for the Vassar College Senior Auction. This Vassar fudge recipe became quite popular at the school for years to come.
Word of this popular confectionery spread to other women’s colleges. For example, Wellesley and Smith have their own versions of a fudge recipe dating from the late 19th or early 20th century.
In the late 19th century shops on Mackinac Island in Michigan began to produce similar products for sale to summer vacationers. Fudge is still produced in some of the original shops on Mackinac Island and the surrounding area. Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream, a vanilla ice cream with chunks of fudge blended in, is also very common in this region and across the United States.

 

 

Fruit fudge

Fruit fudge

In forming a fondant, it is not easy to keep all vibrations and seed crystals from causing rapid crystallization to large crystals. Consequently, milk fat and corn syrup are often added. Corn syrup contains glucose, fructose (monosaccharides) and maltose (disaccharide). These sugars interact with the sucrose molecules. They help prevent premature crystallization by inhibiting sucrose crystal contact. The fat also helps inhibit rapid crystallization. Controlling the crystallization of the supersaturated sugar solution is the key to smooth fudge. Initiation of crystals before the desired time will result in fudge with fewer, larger sugar grains. The final texture will have a grainy mouthfeel rather than the smooth texture of high quality fudge.
One of the most important attributes of fudge is its texture. The end-point temperature separates hard caramel from fudge. The higher the peak temperature, the more sugar is dissolved and the more water is evaporated, resulting in a higher sugar-to-water ratio. Before the availability of cheap and accurate thermometers, cooks would use the ice water test, also known as the cold water test, to determine the saturation of the confection. Fudge is made at the “soft ball” stage, which varies by altitude and ambient humidity from 235 °F (113 °C) to 240 °F (116 °C).
Some recipes call for making fudge with prepared marshmallows as the sweetener. This allows the finished confection to use the structure of the marshmallow for support instead of relying on the crystallization of the sucrose.

 

 
Hot fudge in the United States and Canada is usually considered to be a chocolate product often used as a topping for ice cream in a heated form, particularly sundaes and parfaits. It may also occasionally be used as a topping for s’mores. It is a thick, chocolate-flavored syrup (flavored with real or artificial flavorings) similar in flavor and texture to chocolate fudge, except less viscous.

 

 

 

2013 U.S. apple crop is up 13 percent

September 22, 2013 at 8:29 AM | Posted in fruits | Leave a comment
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The estimate was given during the association’s annual Apple Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference, held Aug. 22-23 in Chicago.

The 2013 estimate represents a 13 percent increase over 2012’s final crop of 215 million bushels, and a 9 percent increase over the five-year average (224 million bushels). It’s the largest crop since 2004, according to USDA statistics.

This was the first year the association prepared its estimate without the benefit of a parallel USDA survey, which was suspended due to budget constraints.

“This was a challenging task in light of the USDA not conducting its work this year,” said Mark Seetin, USApple’s director of regulatory and industry affairs.

“The national crop is up from last year, on the whole and countrywide, but I don’t think it’s a burdensome crop at all,” said Phil Glaize owner of Glaize Orchards in Winchester, Va. “It’s only the 13th largest crop this country has ever produced.”

East

In the Eastern states, the 2013 estimate is 58 million bushels, 39 percent greater than the 2012 crop and 6 percent greater than the five-year average.

“The big news is New York and North Carolina have come back with their production this year,” Glaize said.

New York is expected to be up 87 percent, with a total crop of 32,000 bushels. North Carolina should increase 339 percent, to 3,500 bushels.

“The production from North Carolina to New England is skewed a little bit more toward fresh this year,” Glaize said. “Any holes in the crops are basically in the processing plants.

“This year, there are no major quality issues do to weather,” Glaize said. “Sizing is good throughout the region. With an abnormal amount of rain, you might have thought apples are extra large, but I don’t really think we have that. There is a spread of sizes, not too many small ones, with mostly medium-size to medium-large apples.”

Midwest

The Midwest estimate is 35 million bushels, 472 percent greater than 2012 and 61 percent above the five-year average.

“My favorite number is the 996 percent increase in Michigan over last year,” said Mike Rothwell, president of BelleHarvest Sales in Belding, Mich.

“Michigan’s 16 million bushels for a five-year average has been influenced by crop failures in 2008, 2010 and 2012,” Rothwell said. “With the crop fluctuations we’ve had, we no longer have normals, just averages.”

Rothwell said marketers began pushing the 2013 crop earlier this year, looking for new markets with deeper penetration and increased exports.

Production and infrastructure improvements, combined with more cooperative weather, are leading to the crop’s recovery.

“The new state bird for the state of Michigan is going to be the frost fan,” he said. “Hopefully, these fluctuations from size will begin to level off. It almost has to.”

West

In the Western states, the 2013 estimate is 149 million bushels, down 11 percent from 2012 but 1 percent greater than the five-year average.

Washington state will be down 10 percent, to 140 million bushels. This follows a record crop of 154 million bushels in 2012.

“Washington has had some heat with some sunburn,” said Dan Kelly, assistant manager of Washington Growers Clearinghouse. “We’ve also had some hail. After a lengthy discussion about fresh and processing, we’ve come up with 140 million. That will be the second-largest apple crop on record.”

Kelly said Idaho has had issues with tight labor, early frost and a lot of heat. That state’s production was adjusted down to 1 million bushels, a 44 percent decrease from last year and 35 percent below the five-year average.

California’s 2013 estimate of 4.8 million bushels is 33 percent less than 2012’s crop, and 32 percent below the 5-year average.

“They are heavily into their harvest, having gone through a lot of Galas already,” Kelly said. “They’ve had 14 days of 100 degrees or higher heat, and they’re also 14 days early.”

– Gary Pullano

 

 

http://fruitgrowersnews.com/index.php/magazine/article/united-fresh-a-fresh-cut-for-the-future

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