A little about Chicken Eggs

November 17, 2013 at 10:32 AM | Posted in Eggs | Leave a comment
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Medium white eggs in carton

Medium white eggs in carton

Chicken eggs are graded by size, for the purpose of sales. The United States Department of Agriculture sizing is based by weight per dozen. The most common US size of chicken egg is ‘Large’ and is the egg size commonly referred to for recipes. The following egg masses have been calculated on the basis of the USDA sizing:

 

Modern Sizes (USA)
Size Mass per egg Cooking Yield (Volume)

Jumbo Greater than 2.5 oz. or 71 g
Very Large or Extra-Large (XL) Greater than 2.25 oz. or 64 g 56 mL (4 tbsp)
Large (L) Greater than 2 oz. or 57 g 46 mL (3.25 tbsp)
Medium (M) Greater than 1.75 oz. or 50 g 43 mL (3 tbsp)
Small (S) Greater than 1.5 oz. or 43 g
Peewee Greater than 1.25 oz. or 35 g

(According to WIKI)

 

 

 
Interesting Facts About Chicken Eggs – Very good site with a lot of facts about Eggs.

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/interesting-facts-about-chicken-eggs

 

 

 

Did you have eggs for breakfast this morning? There are endless recipes for great tasting dishes with eggs, so there’s no reason you can’t enjoy them for breakfast every day.

Eggs are all-natural and packed with a number of nutrients. One egg has 13 essential vitamins and minerals in varying amounts, high-quality protein, unsaturated fats and antioxidants, all for 70 calories.

Eggs’ nutrients can help you with weight management, muscle strength, eye health, brain function and having a healthy pregnancy. Particularly important for aiding healthy brain function and pregnancy is choline (pronounced KOH-leen), which is amply present in eggs.

Eggs are the perfect choice for breakfast. The protein in eggs provides steady and sustained energy that starts your day off right. Now, what’s for breakfast tomorrow?

http://www.incredibleegg.org/

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

September 30, 2013 at 9:02 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints | Leave a comment
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A wonderful and – dare we say it? – fun way to make your fruits and veggies last longer is to try home canning. You may think canning is just for country folk, but it’s becoming more and more popular as a way to save money and make sure you’re eating foods with the least amount of preservatives possible. Buy foods when they are in season, or better yet, grow your own and can to save later. The biggest trick in canning is to make sure that no air (which contains bacteria) gets into your jars; this is achieved with a pressure canner or boiling – water canner. Find out what these contraptions are and how safely fruit, vegetables, pickles, meat, poultry, seafood, salsas, pie filling, jams, and more from the USDA‘s extensive free Guide to Home Canning, available at: http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html.

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

16 MyPlate-Inspired Recipes for Fall

September 12, 2013 at 9:25 AM | Posted in Delish | Leave a comment
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Fall Recipes from the Delish web site. 16 recipes and great ideas and tips. The link is at the bottom of the page.

 

 

Delish
16 MyPlate-Inspired Recipes for Fall
MyPlate is the U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s (USDA) current food guide, which empowers consumers to learn about and maintain diets rich in the five necessary food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. Here we take a look at MyPlate-inspired recipes for hearty, comforting dishes featuring fall’s best flavors.

Delish is working with the Partnership for a Healthier America and USDA’s MyPlate to give anyone looking for healthier options access to thousands of recipes that will help them create healthy, tasty plates. For more information about creating a healthy plate, visit choosemyplate.gov. Find recipes at pinterest.com/MyPlateRecipes.

 

Lasagna with Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Slow-roasting the tomatoes gives the tomato sauce for this lasagna recipe an intense depth of flavor, which is then enhanced by the umami in onions, Parmesan, and spinach. The lasagna noodles are layered into the lasagna uncooked; the moisture from the fresh spinach cooks them perfectly as the lasagna bakes in the oven….

 
Turkey Chili

By using ground turkey or 95 percent lean beef, you’ll save at least 7 grams of fat and 59 calories per serving. Plus the beans offer lots of fiber. This chili will please everyone at your next tailgate party…..

 

 

 

* To get these and many more Fall Recipes click the link below *

 

 

http://www.delish.com/recipes/cooking-recipes/fall-myplate-inspired-recipes?src=nl&mag=del&list=nl_dnl_fot_non_091113_fall-myplate#slide-1

One of America’s Favorites – Honey

July 29, 2013 at 8:18 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 1 Comment
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Honey /ˈhʌni/ is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one

A jar of honey with honey dipper

A jar of honey with honey dipper

most commonly referred to, as it is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans. Honey produced by other bees and insects has distinctly different properties.
Honey bees transform nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation and evaporation. They store it as a primary food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive.
Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharides fructose and glucose, and has approximately the same relative sweetness as that of granulated sugar.[1][2] It has attractive chemical properties for baking and a distinctive flavor that leads some people to prefer it over sugar and other sweeteners. Most microorganisms do not grow in honey because of its low water activity of 0.6. However, honey sometimes contains dormant endospores of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which can be dangerous to infants, as the endospores can transform into toxin-producing bacteria in infants’ immature intestinal tracts, leading to illness and even death.
Honey has a long history of human consumption, and is used in various foods and beverages as a sweetener and flavoring. It also has a role in religion and symbolism. Flavors of honey vary based on the nectar source, and various types and grades of honey are available. It is also used in various medicinal traditions to treat ailments. The study of pollens and spores in raw honey (melissopalynology) can determine floral sources of honey. Bees carry an electrostatic charge whereby they attract other particles in addition to pollen, which become incorporated into their honey; the honey can be analysed by the techniques of melissopalynology in area environmental studies of radioactive particles, dust and particulate pollution.

 

 

 

Honey’s natural sugars are dehydrated, which prevents fermentation, with added enzymes to modify and transform their chemical composition and pH. Invertases and digestive acids hydrolyze sucrose to give the monosaccharides glucose and fructose. The invertase is one of these enzymes synthesized by the body of the insect.
Honey bees transform saccharides into honey by a process of regurgitation, a number of times, until it is partially digested. The bees do the regurgitation and digestion as a group. After the last regurgitation, the aqueous solution is still high in water, so the process continues by evaporation of much of the water and enzymatic transformation.
Honey is produced by bees as a food source. In cold weather or when fresh food sources are scarce, bees use their stored honey as their source of energy. By contriving for bee swarms to nest in artificial hives, people have been able to semidomesticate the insects, and harvest excess honey. In the hive (or in a wild nest), there are three types of bees:
* a single female queen bee
* a seasonally variable number of male drone bees to fertilize new queens
* some 20,000 to 40,000 female worker bees.
The worker bees raise larvae and collect the nectar that will become honey in the hive. Leaving the hive, they collect sugar-rich flower nectar and return.
In the hive, the bees use their “honey stomachs” to ingest and regurgitate the nectar a number of times until it is partially digested. Invertase synthesized by the bees and digestive acids hydrolyze sucrose to give the same mixture of glucose and fructose. The bees work together as a group with the regurgitation and digestion until the product reaches a desired quality. It is then stored in honeycomb cells. After the final regurgitation, the honeycomb is left unsealed. However, the nectar is still high in both water content and natural yeasts, which, unchecked, would cause the sugars in the nectar to ferment. The process continues as bees inside the hive fan their wings, creating a strong draft across the honeycomb, which enhances evaporation of much of the water from the nectar. This reduction in water content raises the sugar concentration and prevents fermentation. Ripe honey, as removed from the hive by a beekeeper, has a long shelf life, and will not ferment if properly sealed.

 

A honey bee on calyx of goldenrod

A honey bee on calyx of goldenrod

 

Honey is collected from wild bee colonies, or from domesticated beehives. Wild bee nests are sometimes located by following a honeyguide bird. Collecting honey is typically achieved by using smoke from a bee smoker to pacify the bees; this causes the bees to attempt to save the resources of the hive from a possible forest fire, and makes them far less aggressive. The honeycomb is removed from the hive and the honey is extracted from that, often using a honey extractor. The honey is then filtered.

 

 

 

The main uses of honey are in cooking, baking, as a spread on bread, and as an addition to various beverages, such as tea, and as a sweetener in some commercial beverages. According to the The National Honey Board (a USDA-overseen organization), “honey stipulates a pure product that does not allow for the addition of any other substance…this includes, but is not limited to, water or other sweeteners”. Honey barbecue and honey mustard are common and popular sauce flavors.
Honey is the main ingredient in the alcoholic beverage mead, which is also known as “honey wine” or “honey beer”. Historically, the ferment for mead was honey’s naturally occurring yeast. Honey is also used as an adjunct in some beers.
Honey wine, or mead, is typically (modern era) made with a honey and water mixture with a pack of yeast added for fermentation. Primary fermentation usually takes 40 days, after which the must needs to be racked into a secondary fermentation vessel and left to sit about 35–40 more days. If done properly, fermentation will be finished by this point (though if a sparkling mead is desired, fermentation can be restarted after bottling by the addition of a small amount of sugar), but most meads require aging for 6–9 months or more in order to be palatable.

 

 

 

Classification

A variety of honey flavors and container sizes and styles from the 2008 Texas State Fair

A variety of honey flavors and container sizes and styles from the 2008 Texas State Fair

Honey is classified by its floral source, and there are also divisions according to the packaging and processing used. There are also regional honeys. Honey is also graded on its color and optical density by USDA standards, graded on a scale called the Pfund scale, which ranges from 0 for “water white” honey to more than 114 for “dark amber” honey.
* Floral source
Generally, honey is classified by the floral source of the nectar from which it was made. Honeys can be from specific types of flower nectars or can be blended after collection. The pollen in honey is traceable to floral source and therefore region of origin. The rheological & mellisopalynological properties of honey can be used to identify the major plant nectar source used in its production.
* Blended
Most commercially available honey is blended, meaning it is a mixture of two or more honeys differing in floral source, color, flavor, density or geographic origin.
* Polyfloral
Polyfloral honey, also known as wildflower honey, is derived from the nectar of many types of flowers.
The taste may vary from year to year, and the aroma and the flavor can be more or less intense, depending on which bloomings are prevalent.
* Monofloral
Monofloral honey is made primarily from the nectar of one type of flower. Different monofloral honeys have a distinctive flavor and color because of differences between their principal nectar sources. To produce monofloral honey, beekeepers keep beehives in an area where the bees have access to only one type of flower. In practice, because of the difficulties in containing bees, a small proportion of any honey will be from additional nectar from other flower types. Typical examples of North American monofloral honeys are clover, orange blossom, blueberry, sage, tupelo, buckwheat, fireweed, mesquite and sourwood. Some typical European examples include thyme, thistle, heather, acacia, dandelion, sunflower, honeysuckle, and varieties from lime and chestnut trees.[citation needed] In North Africa (e.g. Egypt) examples include clover, cotton, and citrus (mainly orange blossoms).
* Honeydew honey
Instead of taking nectar, bees can take honeydew, the sweet secretions of aphids or other plant sap-sucking insects. Honeydew honey is very dark brown in color, with a rich fragrance of stewed fruit or fig jam, and is not as sweet as nectar honeys. Germany’s Black Forest is a well known source of honeydew-based honeys, as well as some regions in Bulgaria, Tara (mountain) in Serbia and Northern California in the United States. In Greece, pine honey (a type of honeydew honey) constitutes 60–65% of the annual honey production. Honeydew honey is popular in some areas, but in other areas beekeepers have difficulty selling the stronger flavored product.
The production of honeydew honey has some complications and dangers. The honey has a much larger proportion of indigestibles than light floral honeys, thus causing dysentery to the bees, resulting in the death of colonies in areas with cold winters. Good beekeeping management requires the removal of honeydew prior to winter in colder areas. Bees collecting this resource also have to be fed protein supplements, as honeydew lacks the protein-rich pollen accompaniment gathered from flowers.

 

 

 

To find out all about Honey along with tips and recipes check out the National Honey Board web site!

 
http://www.honey.com/

 

Naturally Raised vs Organic (Wild Idea Buffalo)

July 19, 2013 at 11:13 AM | Posted in bison, Wild Idea Buffalo | 1 Comment
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Naturally Raised vs OrganicWild Idea Buffalo Buffalo-Grass
By: Henry Palmer

 

Now days when we peruse the aisles of our local grocery store we are hit by an onslaught of labels and tags. Two of these labels, which are appearing more and more frequently, are “Naturally Raised” and “Organic.” Both of these terms sound very appealing and should help steer the consumer towards a better product, but what do these terms really mean? A deeper look at these buzzwords is no doubt merited.

Naturally Raised

In 2009 the USDA defined the term Naturally Raised with respect to animals in the following way:1) No Growth Hormones 2) No Antibiotics –other than to prevent parasitism- and 3) no animal by products can be fed to the animals. USDA “Naturally Raised” Definition

What the USDA has chosen to include in their definition of Naturally Raised is great; however, there is a problem with what’s left out of the definition. The standard leaves out discussions of confinement and what the animals are fed – it seems everything goes as long as it’s not animal byproduct. So while this standard is certainly a step in the right direction and has closed a lot of doors that prevent producers from using certain practices, it has unfortunately still left a few windows wide open.

Organic

The definition of Organic, as it pertains to animal products, covers many of the same issues that Naturally Raised does, but once again doesn’t complete the full spectrum of animal health/best practices. According to the standard, four items must be met: 1) producers meet health and welfare standards 2) hormones and antibiotics are not used, 3) all feed must be 100% Organic, 4) animals must have access to the outdoors. USDA “Organic” Definition

Certainly the organic seal is a step in the correct direction for the food we consume, but once again it is what’s left out, or the grey areas, that present a problem. It’s great that our animals are being fed a 100% Organic diet, but is it the diet they would have chosen themselves and evolved to consume? Also, access to the outdoors is an awfully vague phrase; how often to the animals have access, what are their living conditions indoors, what type of space outdoors do they have access to? So here once again with the term Organic, we are presented with a term that doesn’t necessarily mean what we all hope it would.

At Wild Idea Buffalo Co. we are often asked about how are animals are raised and whether or not we slap such labels on our product. We do not currently label our products this way because, truth be told, we go beyond these requirements and hold ourselves to our own standards. Our buffalo is always 100% Grass-fed, 100% Free-Roaming on the land and grasses they evolved to graze 5 million years ago, 100% Hormone and Antibiotic Free, and 100% Humanely Field Harvested. We strive to treat our animals with the dignity and respect they deserve as a result end up with a exquisitely delicious and healthy meat you can enjoy with a clear conscious.

 

http://wildideabuffalo.com/2013/naturally-raised-vs-organic/

One of America’s Favorites – T-Bone Steak

May 27, 2013 at 9:21 AM | Posted in BEEF, One of America's Favorites | 2 Comments
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The T-bone and porterhouse are steaks of beef cut from the short loin. Both steaks include a “T-shaped” bone with meat on each side.

A T-bone steak being cooked on a grill

A T-bone steak being cooked on a grill

Porterhouse steaks are cut from the rear end of the short loin and thus include more tenderloin steak, along with (on the other side of the bone) a large strip steak. T-bone steaks are cut closer to the front, and contain a smaller section of tenderloin.
There is little agreement among experts on how large the tenderloin must be to differentiate a T-bone steak from porterhouse. The U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications state that the tenderloin of a porterhouse must be at least 1.25 inches (32 mm) thick at its widest, while that of a T-bone must be at least 0.5 inches (13 mm). However steaks with a large tenderloin are often called a “T-bone” in restaurants and steakhouses despite technically being porterhouse.
Due to their large size and the fact that they contain meat from two of the most prized cuts of beef (the short loin and the tenderloin), T-bone steaks are generally considered one of the highest quality steaks, and prices at steakhouses are accordingly high. Porterhouse steaks are even more highly valued due to their larger tenderloin.
In the United States, the T-bone has the meat-cutting classification IMPS 1174; the porterhouse is IMPS 1173.
In British usage, followed in Commonwealth countries, porterhouse refers to the strip steak side of a T-bone steak, while the tenderloin side is called the fillet.

 
The origin of the term “porterhouse” is surprisingly contentious, with several cities and establishments claiming to have coined it. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the etymology from proprietor Martin Morrison serving large T-bones in his Pearl Street, Manhattan “Porter House” around 1914, while noting the lack of contemporary evidence to support the tale. This origin story gained traction in the late 19th century, but others contend a Cambridge, Massachusetts, hotel and restaurant proprietor named Zachariah B. Porter lent his name to the cut of beef, and others claim the steak takes its name from various 19th Century U.S. hotels or restaurants called Porter House, such as the popular Porter House Hotel in Flowery Branch, Georgia. There is no known contemporary evidence that any particular establishment is related to the steak.

 
To cut a T-bone from butchered cattle, a lumbar vertebra is sawn in half through the vertebral column. The downward prong of the ‘T’

Beef cut:Short Loin + Tenderloin Steak type:	T-bone steak

Beef cut: Short Loin + Tenderloin
Steak type: T-bone steak

is a transverse process of the vertebra, and the flesh surrounding it is the spinal muscles. The small semicircle at the top of the ‘T’ is half of the vertebral foramen.

 
T-bone and porterhouse steaks are suited to fast, dry heat cooking methods, such as grilling or broiling. Due to their relative lack of collagen, longer cooking times are not necessary to tenderize the meat.
The bone also conducts heat within the meat so that it cooks more evenly and prevents meat drying out and shrinking during cooking. The meat near the bone will cook more slowly than the rest of the steak, and the tenderloin will tend to reach the desired level of doneness before the strip.

 
Bistecca alla fiorentina, or ‘beefsteak Florentine style’, consists of a T-bone traditionally sourced from either the Chianina or Maremmana breeds of cattle. A favorite of Tuscan cuisine, the steak is grilled over a wood or charcoal fire, seasoned with salt, (sometimes with black pepper), and olive oil, applied immediately after the meat is retired from the heat. Thickly cut and very large, “Bisteca” are often shared between two or more persons, and traditionally served very rare, sometimes garnished with lemon wedges, (if not accompanied by red wine), and accompanied by Tuscan beans as a side dish. An early recipe dictates: 1/1,5 kg, 3 fingers thick, 3-5 minutes grilling per side (flipping it only once) and 5-7 minutes vertically standing on its bone so as to make the blood drain out. The same cut of meat, but from the calf, is used in the famous dish Cutlet of Veal in the Milan Style, for which carefully chosen 1.5 cm-thick cuts are battered in fresh breadcrumbs and gently fried (sautéed) in abundant clarified butter with salt. This is a favored dish in Italy.

MyPlate-Inspired: Our Best Dinner Recipes

March 22, 2013 at 9:34 AM | Posted in cooking | 4 Comments
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It’s all about the MyPlate-Inspired Dinner Recipes. Some healthy and great dinner ideas and recipes from http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/ To read the entire article and see some healthy dinner ideas just click the link at the end of the post. Have a good weekend everyone!

 

MyPlate-Inspired: Our Best Dinner Recipes
By Caitlyn Diimig

 

 

Diabetic Living is working with the Partnership for a Healthier America and USDA‘s MyPlate to give anyone looking for healthier Diabetic living logooptions access to delicious recipes that will help them create healthy, tasty plates. For more information about creating a healthy plate, visit choosemyplate.gov. Find recipes at Pinterest.com/MyPlateRecipes.

 

 

MyPlate-Inspired Recipes
Finding healthy recipes for dinner your family will love can be a challenge. That’s why Diabetic Living has teamed up with the Partnership for a Healthier America and the USDA’s MyPlate program to offer families delicious options for healthier eating. From takeout-inspired recipes to easy sandwiches to whip up on a busy weeknight, all of your favorites are here!

 

 

Kung Pao Chicken
Bok choy and red chile peppers get upgraded with the tangy flavors of low-sodium soy sauce, fresh ginger, and toasted sesame oil. This meal is a great way to sneak in veggies, while enjoying your favorite takeout without the added calories, fat, and sodium.
http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/diabetic-recipes/popular/myplate-dinner-recipes/?sssdmh=dm17.657467&esrc=nwdlo031913

One of America’s Favorites – The Sweet Potato

December 27, 2012 at 1:01 PM | Posted in potatoes | 1 Comment
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The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-

Sweet potato in flower

Sweet potato in flower

tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of Convolvulaceae, I. batatas is the only crop plant of major importance—some others are used locally, but many are actually poisonous. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum).
Although the soft, orange sweet potato is often mislabeled a “yam” in parts of North America, the sweet potato is botanically very distinct from a genuine yam, which is native to Africa and Asia and belongs to the monocot family Dioscoreaceae. To prevent confusion, the United States Department of Agriculture requires sweet potatoes labeled as “yams” to also be labeled as “sweet potatoes”.
The genus Ipomoea that contains the sweet potato also includes several garden flowers called morning glories, though that term is not usually extended to Ipomoea batatas. Some cultivars of Ipomoea batatas are grown as ornamental plants; the name “tuberous morning glory” may be used in a horticultural context.
The plant is a herbaceous perennial vine, bearing alternate heart-shaped or palmately lobed leaves and medium-sized sympetalous flowers. The edible tuberous root is long and tapered, with a smooth skin whose color ranges between yellow, orange, red, brown, purple, and beige. Its flesh ranges from beige through white, red, pink, violet, yellow, orange, and purple. Sweet potato varieties with white or pale yellow flesh are less sweet and moist than those with red, pink or orange flesh.
In certain parts of the world, sweet potatoes are locally known by other names, including: camote, kamote, goguma, man thet, ubi jalar, ubi keledek, shakarkand, satsuma imo, batata or el boniato. In New Zealand English, the Māori term kūmara is commonly used.
The center of origin and domestication of sweet potato is thought to be either in Central America or South America.[6] In Central America, sweet potatoes were domesticated at least 5,000 years ago.
In South America, Peruvian sweet potato remnants dating as far back as 8000 BC have been found.
Austin (1988) postulated that the center of origin of I. batatas was between the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico and the mouth of the Orinoco River in Venezuela. The ‘cultigen’ had most likely been spread by local people to the Caribbean and South America by 2500 BC. Zhang et al. (1998) provided strong supporting evidence that the geographical zone postulated by Austin is the primary center of diversity. The much lower molecular diversity found in Peru–Ecuador suggests this region should be considered as secondary center of sweet potato diversity.
The sweet potato was also grown before western exploration in Polynesia. Sweet potato has been radiocarbon-dated in the Cook

Sweet potato roots

Sweet potato roots

Islands to 1000 AD, and current thinking is that it was brought to central Polynesia around 700 AD, possibly by Polynesians who had traveled to South America and back, and spread across Polynesia to Hawaii and New Zealand from there. It is possible, however, that South Americans brought it to the Pacific, although this is unlikely as it was the Polynesians who had a strong maritime tradition and not the native South Americans. The theory that the plant could spread by floating seeds across the ocean is not supported by evidence. Another point is that the sweet potato in Polynesia is the cultivated Ipomoea batatas, which is generally spread by vine cuttings and not by seeds.
Sweet potatoes are now cultivated throughout tropical and warm temperate regions wherever there is sufficient water to support their growth.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics, world production in 2004 was 127 million tonnes. The majority comes from China, with a production of 105 million tonnes from 49,000 km2. About half of the Chinese crop is used for livestock feed.
Per capita production is greatest in countries where sweet potatoes are a staple of human consumption, led by Papua New Guinea at about 500 kg per person per year, the Solomon Islands at 160 kg, Burundi and Rwanda at 130 kg and Uganda at 100 kg.
About 20,000 tonnes (20,000,000 kg) of sweet potatoes are produced annually in New Zealand, where sweet potato is known by its Māori name, kūmara. It was a staple food for Māori before European contact.
In the U.S., North Carolina, the leading state in sweet potato production, provided 38.5% of the 2007 U.S. production of sweet potatoes. In 2007, California produced 23%, Louisiana 15.9%, and Mississippi 19% of the U.S. total.
The town of Opelousas, Louisiana‘s “Yambilee” has been celebrated every October since 1946. The Frenchmen who established the first settlement at Opelousas in 1760 discovered the native Atakapa, Alabama, Choctaw, and Appalousa tribes eating sweet potatoes. The sweet potato became a favorite food item of the French and Spanish settlers and thus continued a long history of cultivation in Louisiana.
Mississippi has about 150 farmers growing sweet potatoes on about 8,200 acres (30 km2), contributing $19 million dollars to the state’s economy. Mississippi’s top five sweet potato producing counties are Calhoun, Chickasaw, Pontotoc, Yalobusha, and Panola. The National Sweet Potato Festival is held annually the entire first week in November in Vardaman (Calhoun County), which proclaims itself as “The Sweet Potato Capital”.
The town of Benton, Kentucky, celebrates the sweet potato annually with its Tater Day Festival on the first Monday of April. The town

The softer, orange-fleshed variety of sweet potato

The softer, orange-fleshed variety of sweet potato

of Gleason, Tennessee, celebrates the sweet potato on Labor Day weekend with its Tater Town Special.
The plant does not tolerate frost. It grows best at an average temperature of 24 °C (75 °F), abundant sunshine and warm nights. Annual rainfalls of 750–1,000 mm (30–39 in) are considered most suitable, with a minimum of 500 mm (20 in) in the growing season. The crop is sensitive to drought at the tuber initiation stage 50–60 days after planting, and it is not tolerant to water-logging, as it may cause tuber rots and reduce growth of storage roots if aeration is poor.
Depending on the cultivar and conditions, tuberous roots mature in two to nine months. With care, early-maturing cultivars can be grown as an annual summer crop in temperate areas, such as the northern United States. Sweet potatoes rarely flower when the daylight is longer than 11 hours, as is normal outside of the tropics. They are mostly propagated by stem or root cuttings or by adventitious roots called “slips” that grow out from the tuberous roots during storage. True seeds are used for breeding only.
They grow well in many farming conditions and have few natural enemies; pesticides are rarely needed. Sweet potatoes are grown on a variety of soils, but well-drained, light- and medium-textured soils with a pH range of 4.5-7.0 are more favorable for the plant. They can be grown in poor soils with little fertilizer. However, sweet potatoes are very sensitive to aluminum toxicity and will die about six weeks after planting if lime is not applied at planting in this type of soil. Because they are sown by vine cuttings rather than seeds, sweet potatoes are relatively easy to plant. Because the rapidly growing vines shade out weeds, little weeding is needed. In the tropics, the crop can be maintained in the ground and harvested as needed for market or home consumption. In temperate regions, sweet potatoes are most often grown on larger farms and are harvested before first frosts.

Sweet potatoes very early became popular in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, spreading from Polynesia to Japan and the Philippines. One reason is that they were a reliable crop in cases of crop failure of other staple foods because of typhoon flooding. They are featured in many favorite dishes in Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and other island nations. Indonesia, Vietnam, India, and some other Asian countries are also large sweet potato growers. Sweet potato, also known as kelang in Tulu is part of Udupi cusine. Uganda (the third largest grower after Indonesia), Rwanda, and some other African countries also grow a large crop which is an important part of their peoples’ diets. North and South America, the original home of the sweet potato, together grow less than three percent of the world’s supply. Europe has only a very small sweet potato production, mostly in Portugal. In the Caribbean, a variety of the sweet potato called the boniato is popular. The flesh of the boniato is cream-colored, unlike the more popular orange hue seen in other varieties. Boniatos are not as sweet and moist as other sweet potatoes, but many people prefer their fluffier consistency and more delicate flavor.

Sweet potatoes have been an important part of the diet in the United States for most of its history, especially in the Southeast. From the middle of the 20th century, however, they have become less popular. The average per capita consumption of sweet potatoes in the United States is only about 1.5–2 kg (3.3–4.4 lb) per year, down from 13 kg (29 lb) in 1920. Southerner Kent Wrench writes: “The Sweet Potato became associated with hard times in the minds of our ancestors and when they became affluent enough to change their menu, the potato was served less often.”
New Zealanders grow enough kūmara to provide each person with 7 kg (15 lb) per year, and they also import substantially more than this from China.
In the Southeastern United States, sweet potatoes are traditionally cured to improve storage, flavor, and nutrition, and to allow wounds on the periderm of the harvested root to heal. Proper curing requires drying the freshly dug roots on the ground for two to three hours, then storage at 85–90 °F (29–32 °C) with 90 to 95% relative humidity from five to fourteen days. Cured sweet potatoes can keep for thirteen months when stored at 55–59 °F (13–15 °C) with >90% relative humidity. Colder temperatures injure the roots.
Electronic sizing of sweet potatoes was first introduced to the industry by Wayne E. Bailey Produce Company of Chadbourn, North Carolina in 1990.
In 2010, the world average annual yield for sweet potato crop was 13.2 tonnes per hectare. The most productive farms of sweet potato breeds were in Senegal, where the nationwide average annual yield was 33.3 tonnes per hectare. Yields as high as 80 metric tonnes per hectare have been reported from farms of Israel.
Besides simple starches, sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta-carotene (a provitamin A carotenoid), vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese and potassium. Pink, yellow and green varieties are also high in beta-carotene.[citation needed]
In 1992, the Center for Science in the Public Interest compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to other vegetables. Considering fiber content, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium, the sweet potato ranked highest in nutritional value. According to these criteria, sweet potatoes earned 184 points, 100 points over the next on the list, the common potato. Despite the name “sweet”, it may be a beneficial food for diabetics, as preliminary studies on animals have revealed it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and to lower insulin resistance.
Sweet potato varieties with dark orange flesh have more beta carotene than those with light-colored flesh, and their increased cultivation is being encouraged in Africa, where vitamin A deficiency is a serious health problem. A 2012 study of 10,000 households in Uganda found that 50% of children who ate normal sweet potatoes suffered from vitamin A deficiency compared with only 10% of those on the high beta carotene variety.
Although the leaves and shoots are also edible, the starchy tuberous roots are by far the most important product. In some tropical areas, they are a staple food crop.
Candied sweet potatoes are a side dish consisting mainly of sweet potatoes prepared with brown sugar, marshmallows, maple syrup, molasses, orange juice, marron glacé, or other sweet ingredients. Often served in America on Thanksgiving, this dish represents traditional American cooking and of that prepared with the indigenous peoples of the Americas when European American settlers first arrived. Sweet potato casserole is a side dish of mashed sweet potatoes in a casserole dish, topped with a brown sugar and pecan topping. Sweet potato pie is also a traditional favorite dish in Southern U.S. cuisine. Sweet potato slices are fried in bacon drippings and eaten with the bacon on toast. Sweet potato fries or chips are another common preparation, and are made by julienning and deep frying sweet potatoes, in the fashion of French fried potatoes. Baked sweet potatoes are sometimes offered in restaurants as an alternative to baked potatoes. They are often topped with brown sugar and butter. Sweet potato butter can be cooked into a gourmet spread. Sweet potato mash is served as a side dish, often at Thanksgiving dinner or with barbecue. There is even a spicy condiment – Cackalacky Classic Condiment – that is made with sweet potatoes.
In South America, the juice of red sweet potatoes is combined with lime juice to make a dye for cloth. By varying the proportions of the juices, every shade from pink to black can be obtained.
All parts of the plant are used for animal fodder.
Sweet potatoes or camotes are often found in Moche ceramics.
Several selections are cultivated in gardens as ornamental plants for their attractive foliage, including the dark-leafed cultivars ‘Blackie’ and ‘Ace of Spades’ and the chartreuse-foliaged ‘Margarita’.
Cuttings of sweet potato vine, either edible or ornamental varieties, will rapidly form roots in water and will grow in it, indefinitely, in good lighting with a steady supply of nutrients. For this reason, sweet potato vine is ideal for use in home aquariums, trailing out of the water with its roots submerged, as its rapid growth is fueled by toxic ammonia and nitrates, a waste product of aquatic life, which it removes from the water. This improves the living conditions for fish, which also find refuge in the vast root systems.
Researchers at North Carolina State University are breeding sweet potato varieties that would be grown primarily for biofuel production.

 

 
What is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?

Although yams and sweet potatoes are both angiosperms (flowering plants), they are not related botanically. Yams are a monocot (a plant having one embryonic seed leaf) and from the Dioscoreaceae or Yam family. Sweet Potatoes, often called ‘yams’, are a dicot (a plant having two embryonic seed leaves) and are from the Convolvulacea or morning glory family.

Yams
Yams are closely related to lilies and grasses. Native to Africa and Asia, yams vary in size from that of a small potato to a record 130 pounds (as of 1999). There are over 600 varieties of yams and 95% of these crops are grown in Africa. Compared to sweet potatoes, yams are starchier and drier.

Sweet Potatoes
The many varieties of sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are members of the morning glory family, Convolvulacea. The skin color can range from white to yellow, red, purple or brown. The flesh also ranges in color from white to yellow, orange, or orange-red. Sweet potato varieties are classified as either ‘firm’ or ‘soft’. When cooked, those in the ‘firm’ category remain firm, while ‘soft’ varieties become soft and moist. It is the ‘soft’ varieties that are often labeled as yams in the United States.
Why the confusion?
In the United States, firm varieties of sweet potatoes were produced before soft varieties. When soft varieties were first grown commercially, there was a need to differentiate between the two. African slaves had already been calling the ‘soft’ sweet potatoes ‘yams’ because they resembled the yams in Africa. Thus, ‘soft’ sweet potatoes were referred to as ‘yams’ to distinguish them from the ‘firm’ varieties.

Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Unless you specifically search for yams, which are usually found in an international market, you are probably eating sweet potatoes!

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

December 26, 2012 at 10:35 AM | Posted in baking, cooking | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Don’t have a roasting chart nearby? Then follow this rule of thumb: Beef roasts will take about 20 minutes for the first pound and about 15 minutes for every pound thereafter. The USDA recommends cooking beef to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees.

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