How to Clean Vegetables and Fruits

Have you ever thought about where your fresh produce comes from? It’s sort of engrained in our minds that vegetables and fruits are healthy for us and that we can start cooking with them straight out of the produce bag. But guess what: your fruits and veggies are generally shipped to grocery stores, markets, and other retail outlets covered in agricultural pesticides, waxes, preservatives, soil, and other contaminants that aren’t so healthy to consume. That’s why every foodservice professional needs to understand the importance of cleaning vegetables and fruits. We've provided two quick methods below, so you can continue to serve your customers fresh, healthy, and safe foods!

The Basics to Cleaning Vegetables and Fruits

Some cooks only use warm water to soak and rinse their produce because they either purchase certified organic fruits and vegetables, or they grow their own that contain no chemicals or harmful preservatives. However, other cooks prefer to use a cleaning solution during prep, and if you’re purchasing from a bulk supplier or non-organic source, it’s important to thoroughly clean your produce.

There are two main methods to cleaning your vegetables and fruits, and it depends on what is being washed. Softer produce and leafy greens should be soaked in a cleaning solution, whereas produce with firmer skin can be sprayed with a solution. You can also choose between two cleaning options: vegetable wash and distilled vinegar.

If using a wash like this Regal Veggie wash for fruits and vegetables, use a 1:30 ratio of wash to water (approximately 4-6 oz. of wash to 1 gallon of water). If using vinegar, use a 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water.

Soaking Method Instructions

What You'll Need

Steps

  1. Sanitize sink, wash hands, and clean all areas coming into contact with your fresh produce with soap and water.
  2. Fill sink with either diluted wash or vinegar solution using the ratios above.
  3. Soak vegetables for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Place them in a colander and use hands to rub the produce while rinsing with cold water.
  5. Let produce air dry and enjoy.

Produce We Suggest to Soak

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Grapes
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries

Spray Method Instructions

What You'll Need

Steps

  1. Wash hands and all areas coming into contact with your fresh produce with soap and water.
  2. Fill a spray bottle with your solution and mist the entire surface of each vegetable or fruit.
  3. Let the coated produce sit for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Use your hands or a vegetable cleaning brush to scrub produce and rinse the solution off under cold running water.
  5. Let produce air dry and enjoy.

Produce We Suggest to Spray

  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Melons
  • Lemons
  • Limes

Whether you’re using lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers to make a tossed salad, or you’re blending a smoothie from fresh strawberries and raspberries, these methods will ensure your vegetables and fruits are cleansed from any harmful chemicals, pesticides, or soil. By washing every piece of produce that will be served raw, you’ll greatly reduce the chance of your customers getting a foodborne illness, and you’ll be executing safe food preparation practices in your restaurant, deli, bar, or catering business.

Posted in: Food Safety Supplies | By Ashley Kufera

Cooking with Honey: A Sweet and Savory Guide

Honey has been around for thousands of years and is still commonly used in recipes today. Its sweet, tangy flavor matched with its thick consistency is perfect for toast, tea, and scrumptious desserts. But honey's power reaches far beyond those simple uses! As some of you may already know, this sticky syrup makes amazing cocktails, smoothies, sauces, and glazes. Just how far can you go with your honey? Read on to find out!

Honey Drinks

As a natural sweetener, honey works well in just about anything where you'd add sugar, and you often use less volume compared to sugar to get the same sweetness. Any mixologist will tell you that honey tastes amazing in mixed drinks, and the variety of honey will change the flavor profile depending on the liquors you use. Honey not only sweetens beverages, but it also masks the bitterness of straight liquor. In addition, the mouthfeel of honey cocktails can be interesting for customers who haven't tried them before. You can even try using honey foam, brittle, or honey-dipped fruit as garnishes for your cocktails.

If you're looking for non-alcoholic honey drink recipes, you can use honey to decrease sourness in berries, yogurt, and citrus fruits. This quality makes honey a great additive to smoothies, and it will enhance the smooth, thick consistency of your shakes. Ever heard of honey in coffee? Simply mix the ingredients of this mocha latte recipe together to really wow your customers:

Honey Mocha
Ingredients

Fun fact: The average honey bee will create 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.

Cooking with Honey

The reason chefs prefer to use honey over sugar in so many recipes is because of the complex flavors it imparts on dishes. All honeys are different and can add tangy, citrusy, or musky notes to food, depending on their variety. This complexity makes it an excellent ingredient in savory dishes in addition to sweet ones.

Honey balances salt perception, so anything that involves salty foods can benefit from it! It also complements tangy and spicy foods. Some traditional ways of cooking with honey include pairing it with ham, bacon, and carrots as well as using it in honey mustard, BBQ sauces, vinaigrettes, and Asian sauces.

Fun fact: Did you know that honey is an emulsifier? This means it naturally thickens dressings and sauces.

Honey in Food

If you're looking for more exotic uses for this ingredient (and who isn't?), try drizzling clover honey over goat cheese for a tangy and zesty appetizer, or make coleslaw with alfalfa honey for an especially sweet and creamy side. Use honey as a glaze for anything, like salmon, roast chicken, and teriyaki. Since there are so many varietals, you can alternate the type of honey you use with each protein or vegetable to experiment with flavors. Try buckwheat honey in potato salad to add an earthy, musky flavor, or add it to your favorite cut of pork for a sweet and pungent glaze. You can even make wildflower honey-braised pork cheek empanadas, or add it to this vegetarian chili! For more ideas, check out the recipes from the National Honey Board.

From snacks and sweets to cocktails and entrees, the possibilities are endless! Honey's complex flavor profile and natural sweetening properties make it a star ingredient in any chef's pantry. Try out some of these recipes to add new and interesting items to your menu. By the way, the next time you see a honey bee flying by, take a moment to thank her!

Posted in: Trends | By Melissa Walters

What You Need to Know Before Creating a Gluten-Free Menu

Gluten-free diets and food options have gained popularity and even notoriety. Some people have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, while others are cutting foods containing gluten out of their diet for weight-loss reasons. But what is gluten? What effect does it have on the body? How do you know if a food has gluten in it? With more and more people becoming aware of gluten, it’s important to know what it is, so you can accommodate customers who can’t or don’t eat it.

What is gluten?

What is Gluten

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It’s pretty common in a healthy, balanced diet, but not just in the foods you’d expect like bread, pasta, and baked goods. You’ll also find it in more subtle places like beers and ales, soy sauce, vegetarian meat options, soups, and breaded foods.

Gluten is responsible for the sticky, stretchy quality of uncooked doughs and the flaky, crispy, or chewy texture of finished baked goods. Bakers will often use flours that are high in gluten to achieve these effects. Cutting gluten out of a recipe will make it harder to achieve the same results, so you will need to substitute other ingredients like xanthan gum, eggs, baking soda, and baking powder to get the right consistency. It may take some experimentation to perfect your gluten-free dishes.

Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity

Celiac Disease

About 1% of people suffer from an autoimmune disorder called celiac disease. These people sustain damage to the small intestine every time they consume gluten because their bodies cannot process it properly. There is no cure for celiac disease and the only treatment is to eat a completely gluten-free diet.

There are other people who do not test positively for celiac disease, but still experience some negative symptoms associated with gluten intolerance when they consume foods containing gluten. These people have gluten sensitivity and experience headaches, bloating, stomach pains, and other unpleasant side effects, but do not withstand damage to the small intestine. Like with celiac disease, there is no cure and the only treatment is to not eat gluten.

It’s important to note that it isn’t just foods with gluten that are dangerous to people with celiac disease, though; any food that might have an ingredient with gluten or was prepared with gluten is also off-limits, as it is with any other food allergy. Separate mixing bowls, knives, and other kitchen supplies must be used when preparing food that’s gluten free to avoid cross-contamination.

Gluten-Free Foods

Many foods found in a typical diet contain gluten. However, there are grains and starchy foods that are naturally gluten free and can be used in your gluten-free menu.

  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Potatoes
  • Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Flax
  • Chia
Gluten Free Foods

Does this mean that a gluten-free menu can’t have any bread or pasta? Not necessarily! Many companies manufacture products that are prepared without gluten or with gluten substitutes to accommodate people who avoid it.

You can also take precautions to substitute in gluten-free ingredients in your own cooking! For instance, breads made with rice or almond flour tend to be free of gluten, while those made with wheat are not.


With more attention being drawn to celiac disease and popular diets that cut out wheat, offering gluten-free options is a great way to accommodate customers who are avoiding or cutting out gluten-filled foods. Creating or adapting recipes using naturally gluten-free foods or alternatives allows you to draw in these customers and make their experience more enjoyable.

These items will help you get your gluten-free menu started:


Posted in: Health & Wellness | By Alyssa Burns

What's the Big Deal About BPA?

Whether you’re ordering new plastic containers for your restaurant kitchen or a new water bottle for personal use, you’ve probably seen products that brag, “BPA Free!” But what is BPA, and is it necessary to avoid it? BPA is short for Bisphenol A, a chemical that’s been used to make polycarbonate plastics and resins since the 1950s. The chemical started to get attention in the 1990s when customers began to ask, "Is BPA safe?" Since then, there have been several studies that have attempted to link BPA to health problems, but the FDA has concluded that a low level of BPA exposure is not harmful to humans. Despite this, the U.S. and Canada have banned baby bottles with BPA to prevent potentially negative effects in children, and many companies are voluntarily phasing out adult water bottles with BPA in order to reassure worried consumers.

Although a certain amount of BPA is safe for daily human ingestion, consumers should be aware of which plastics contain BPA and other potentially harmful chemicals. Plastic is categorized by resin codes that tell consumers how to recycle the different types of plastic. The recycling number also corresponds to chemicals that the plastic is actually made with. It can be difficult to keep these numbers straight, so this chart will help you sort out which plastics are safe for use in a variety of different situations.

Plastic Code Used For Contains BPA Recycled Into

Polyethylene Terephthalate
• Disposable Water Bottles
• Clothing (Polyester)
No • Pillow Filling
• Sheet Plastic
• Food Containers

High-Density Polyethylene
• Milk Containers
• Detergent Bottles
• Water Jugs
No • Hair Care Bottles
• Motor Oil Bottles
• Outdoor Fencing
• Recycling Bins

Polyvinyl Chloride
• PVC Piping
• Outdoor Fencing
• Medical Tubing
• Shrink Wrap
No, but when heated this plastic can release other chemicals into food Not Commonly Recycled

Low-Density Polyethylene
• Bread Bags
• Toys
• Squeeze Bottles
• Adhesives
No • Tile
• Paneling
• Trash Cans

Polyproplene
• Yogurt Containers
• Takeout Containers
• Bottle Caps
• Condiment Bottles
No • Brooms
• Car Battery Cases
• Storage Bins
• Trays

Polystyrene
• All Foam Products including Cups, Plates, Bowls, and Packing Peanuts
• Coat Hangers
• Toys
No, but when heated this plastic
can release other chemicals into food
Not Commonly Recycled

Other
• Large Reusable Water Bottles
• Compostable Disposables
• Other
Plastic 7 may contain BPA. If it is not labeled "BPA Free" it probably contains BPA Not Commonly Recycled
Posted in: Features | By Sabrina Bomberger
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