How to Make Strawberry Nectar

Strawberry nectar is a versatile ingredient that you can use in smoothies, baked goods, and even cocktails. Making nectar is a great alternative to juicing if you want an end product with a smoother texture. The secret to making this nectar is to use a vacuum sealer instead of a traditional juicer. Keep reading to learn more about strawberry nectar, how it is different than strawberry juice, and how to make it using a vacuum sealer.

What Is Strawberry Nectar?

Strawberry nectar is a beverage made from strawberries that have been pureed or juiced, and it may contain additions like sweeteners. Generally, strawberry nectar has a thicker texture and is less translucent than traditional strawberry juice.

Nectar vs. Juice

Pure fruit juice must be composed of 100% juice with no additives, but nectar can be made from fruit juice or puree that has been diluted with water, sweeteners, other flavorings, and even preservatives.

Strawberry Nectar Recipe

  1. Cut off the stems of your strawberries and then pour the berries into a vacuum sealing bag. Make sure that the bag is no more than 1/3 full.
  2. Add a splash of lime cordial to enhance the strawberries' flavor.
  3. Vacuum seal the bag according to your unit's instructions.
  4. Once it is fully sealed, press down on the bag to crush the berries into a pulp and then freeze them overnight.
  5. Once it is frozen, cut open the bag and break up the frozen berry pulp.
  6. Place the frozen pulp in a chinois over a large pot and let it strain for 3 hours.

1 lb. of strawberries makes approximately 10 oz. of nectar.

How to Serve Strawberry Nectar

If you love the sound of strawberry nectar but you aren’t sure how to serve it, check out our suggestions below.

  • Use this recipe as a base for cocktails at your outdoor catered event.
  • Freeze your nectar in an ice cube tray and pair it with lemonade for a unique twist on a classic drink.
  • Incorporate it into your batters to create baked goods with a naturally strong strawberry flavor.
  • Add rosemary to the strawberries before vacuum sealing. Then, use the nectar to create a reduction that is great for drizzling over salads or entrees.

To easily make strawberry nectar, vacuum seal strawberries with a bit of added sweetener. Keep a container of fresh strawberry nectar at your bar to create unique seasonal drinks, or try using it in your baked goods to achieve a prominent strawberry flavor without using extract. Now that you know the difference between strawberry juice and strawberry nectar, you can incorporate this ingredient into several parts of your menu.

Posted in: Recipes | Menu Tips | Bars & Breweries | By Christine Potts

How to Clean and Organize a Commercial Fridge


Over time, things like old containers of dressing, boxes of fruit that are past their expiration date, or wrapped pieces of mystery meat can collect in your walk-in fridge or commercial freezer, which take up space and can harbor bacteria. In foodservice establishments that depend on cleanliness, a cluttered, disorganized, and dirty fridge can be a major problem. Not only can a dirty fridge cause bacteria to grow, but it can also cause your fridge to use more electricity and shorten its lifespan.

Although National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day isn't until November 15th, it's always a good time to clean out and organize your commercial fridge, walk-in, or freezer. Follow this simple step-by-step guide to ensure that your refrigerators and freezers are as clean as the day you installed them.

Eight Steps to Clean and Organize Your Fridge

Cleaning out and organizing your commercial fridge can seem daunting, but you can get your fridge cleaned and under control in eight simple steps. Here are the steps to clean out and organize your fridge:

1. Unplug Your Refrigeration Units

To eliminate the possibility of electrocution, the first thing you should do is unplug your refrigerator or freezer. It’s a quick and easy step, but it’s also vitally important to preventing work-related injuries.

2. Empty Each Shelf of All Items

The second step should be to remove all of the products in your fridge or freezer. Make sure to actually remove the containers, don't just move them to the other side of the fridge. A good time to clean your fridge is before you receive a new shipment of food, because your fridge should be mostly clear. If you have food that you are sure you want to save, move it to another container. You can also utilize coolers for temporary storage.

3. Throw Away All Expired and Moldy Food

Perishables can easily get lost in the mix by being pushed to the back or concealed behind other items in a large refrigerator. Don’t save anything you suspect of being spoiled – it’s not worth the risk of making a customer sick. Already-opened cans and jars are other offenders to consider throwing in the trash (unless they’ve been properly labeled with the date and time of their opening). Live by the mantra, “When in doubt, throw it out.” Any other food or ingredients you haven’t used for months (or that you don't plan on using in the next few weeks) should also be tossed into a trash can or a recycling bin.

4. Completely Wipe Down the Interior of the Refrigerator or Freezer

cleaning a commercial fridge

Get a bucket with warm, soapy water and your choice of sponge to thoroughly clean your commercial fridge or freezer. Highly absorbent microfiber cloths and mitts are perfect for scrubbing down every inch inside your fridge and removing messes that have accumulated since the last cleaning. If you're having trouble getting to grime or stuck-on stains in tight corners, try using a simple toothbrush because the bristles are flexible and strong, helping to get into small spots and then scrub away the dirt. After you've thoroughly scrubbed down the interior of your fridge and freezer, rinse with clean water.

5. Disinfect with a Sanitizer

Bacteria and mold can accumulate in a fridge over time, so it’s important to disinfect surfaces with a sanitizer. Be sure to use a food-safe sanitizer, as you’ll eventually be placing items back into the refrigeration units. Since you’ve already washed inside, you don’t have to go overboard with sanitizing. A little goes a long way.

6. Vacuum the Condenser and Coils

Dust and debris saps the power being generated in your refrigeration unit's condenser and refrigeration coils by clogging air intake. Over time, dust and debris can collect on your refrigerator, which can end up clogging the air intake. As a result, your condenser and refrigerator coils will need to use more energy to take in air and keep your refrigerator cool, resulting in a less-efficient fridge and a higher utility bill. You can solve this problem by regularly cleaning away the dust on your refrigerator coils. Start by removing the protective grill that is found either on the top or bottom of your unit. Brush the coils and the fan unit to free up dirt and dust. Use a vacuum to suck up all the debris, and reinstall the grill.

7. Clean Underneath and On Top of the Refrigerator or Freezer

Keeping the area around your refrigeration units clean can be just as important as cleaning the units themselves. Thoroughly mop the floor under and around the fridge or freezer. If your units have casters, be sure to pull them away from the wall to reach the walls and floor behind and beneath the unit. Don’t forget to dust the top of the unit, as well.

8. Restock Shelves the Proper Way

Once your refrigeration units are completely clean, it’s time to plug them back in and place food on the shelves. When placing food back in your commercial fridge, make sure that you're using proper food placement procedures. In a properly stocked fridge, ready-to-eat foods, like produce, butter, and condiments, go on the top shelf. Next should be any seafood, followed by whole cuts of raw meat. Beneath the raw meat should be ground meat in proper containers. Raw poultry like chicken and turkey should be on the bottom shelf. This order prevents any juices or bacteria from dripping down and contaminating the food below it.

There are also some helpful things you can do to organize your refrigerator and freezer and make it easier to find what you're looking for:

  • Add labels to any opened products. Adding labels helps you track the freshness of your food, so you can dispose of it when it expires.
  • Use color-coded bins. Using colored bins for different products makes them easy to differentiate, helping your staff find what they're looking for quickly.
  • Implement the "First In, First Out" method. First In, First Out, also known as FIFO, is an inventory management method that ensures that you use the freshest food first and prevents food from staying in your fridge for too long.

For a visual representation on how you should stock your fridge and freezer, check out this handy guide:

Click here to print out this useful guide and leave it in your walk-in fridge to ensure your employees are using the proper procedure when organizing your fridge.

Download PDF

Now that your refrigerators and freezers are clean and organized, you can start to see the benefits of keeping tidy units by limiting waste and saving money. Organizing and cleaning your fridge will cut down on food costs, ensure that you use your food more efficiently, cut down on food waste, and prevent bacteria from growing and spreading.

Posted in: Cleaning Tips | Food Safety | Infographics | By Richard Traylor

How to Use a Whipped Cream Dispenser

Whipped cream siphons are versatile pieces of equipment that are most commonly used for creating fresh whipped cream. But, these siphons have a variety of uses in foodservice that many chefs may not know about. Keep reading to learn about what whipped cream dispensers are, how they work, and three unique ways that you can use them in your bar or restaurant.

What Is a Whipped Cream Dispenser?

How to Use a Whipped Cream Charger

A whipped cream dispenser is a handheld piece of kitchen equipment that uses nitrous oxide gas to whip ingredients, which gives them a soft and pillowy texture. Whipped cream siphons work by incorporating nitrous oxide gas into the product, which then creates lots of tiny bubbles and gives it a light and whipped texture.

While many foodservice professionals refer to these products as whipped cream dispensers or siphons, they can be used for many tasks other than making whipped cream. Many dispensers also come with several different tips and accessories, which you can use to decorate baked goods or to create a beautiful presentation for your customers.

Three Unique Ways to Use Your Whipper

Whippers are best known for creating whipped cream, but they are versatile tools that you can use to create a variety of dishes. Here are three unique foods that you can make using a whipper:

1. Espumas

You may have never heard the word ‘espuma,’ but if you’ve eaten at a gastropub or fine-dining establishment, chances are you’ve eaten espuma before. Espuma is a Spanish word that means foam or froth, and, in cooking, it refers to warm edible foam. Espumas are made my combining vegetable purees, soup, or stock with a thickening agent and nitrous oxide, creating an airy, edible foam. When plating your dishes and espumas, you can use different attachments to create an attractive presentation.

2. Batters

Another unique use for your whipper is creating bubbly and airy batters for pancakes, waffles, or deep frying. Occasionally, pancake and waffle batter can end up thick, resulting in a product that is too dense. One way to ensure that your batter turns out light is to use a whipper. Adding the nitrous oxide to your batter creates light and pillowy pancakes and waffles. Additionally, you can use whipped cream chargers to lighten your fry batter, resulting in crisp fried food that isn't too heavy or oily.

What are whipped cream chargers

3. Cocktails

Although cream whippers are mainly used in kitchens for food preparation, you can use them to make a variety of cocktails and beverages. Additionally, you can make multiple kinds of cocktails in whippers, ranging from drinks that are fizzy and bubbly to others that are thick and creamy. Even if you're looking to make non-alcoholic drinks, injecting your cocktails with nitrous oxide can give them an effervescent texture and refreshing taste.

Cream dispensers and whippers have a variety of uses outside of just making fresh whipped cream. You can use them to create airy foams, delicate batters, and even bubbly cocktails. Plus, there are several types of attachments and accessories that you can outfit your whipped cream dispenser with, increasing their capabilities. As a result, whippers and dispensers are the perfect multi-purpose tool for any style of foodservice establishment.

Posted in: Product Spotlights | Kitchen & Cooking Tips | Bakeries | By Richard Traylor

Hyper-Local Restaurants: Growing Produce in Your Own Backyard

As one of the newest trends, hyper-local sourcing is taking the food service industry by storm. Local food restaurants are taking the idea of buying nearby, sustainably-sourced foods to the next level by growing produce right in their own backyards. If you’re interested in hyper-local sourcing, read below to learn more about opening or transitioning your business into a hyper-local restaurant.

What Is a Hyper-Local Restaurant?

Essentially, a hyper-local restaurant is a foodservice business that grows produce on their own property, usually in the form of a backyard or rooftop garden.

The concept of hyper-local food sourcing grows from the desire for vertical integration, which is achieved when a business controls the raw material, production, and sale of a product from start to finish.

What Is Hyper-Local Farming?

The development of hyper-local restaurants was influenced by hyper-local farming, which refers to small-scale subsistence agriculture. In this type of farming, individuals produce only enough produce for themselves without the use of fossil fuel machines or the addition of preservatives or pesticides. By employing similar tactics, restaurants have less waste and spend less money on produce, leading to increased revenue.

How Do You Become a Hyper-Local Restaurant?

Hyper-local restaurants generally use soil-less gardens, although some employ traditional gardening methods as well. Many also use hydroponic or aquaponic cultivation, which incorporates mineral nutrient solutions in water without the use of soil and is great for areas without the land or climate required for traditional farming and gardening techniques.

For city dwellers, rooftop gardens can be the perfect place to grow and cultivate herbs, produce, and vegetables. Restaurants with more space can experiment with backyard gardens as well. Here are a few tips for utilizing these spaces.

  • Ensure Your Roof Is Structurally Sound
  • This often overlooked step is an important part of setting up a rooftop garden. If you plan on using soil, it can be heavier than you think. This could lead to sagging, dents, or cause the roof to collapse when paired with high-volume foot traffic. Before you plant anything, have a structural engineer check your building for any red flags.

  • Create a Schedule and Plan Ahead
  • Whether it’s monthly or quarterly, it’s important to plan ahead what you’d like to see in your garden. All produce takes different amounts of time to grow while thriving in different seasons. This may take some experimenting and research, but should get easier year after year.

  • Be Patient and Experiment
  • If you’re new to gardening, whether on the roof or in the backyard, it can be hard to have patience. For rooftop gardens, it’s important to do some research and learn what produce grows best in shallow containers with full sun. Give yourself a summer of trial and error to learn what flourishes and what should be avoided in the future.

  • Hire or Partner with Experts
  • If you’re running a restaurant, you may not have the time or know-how to create a garden from scratch. Save yourself the guesswork and partner with a third party company or local expert. Alternatively, hire a chef with similar, hyper-local ideals who has experience planting and cultivating their own fresh ingredients. Whether they're in charge of maintenance or not, it is important to keep your chefs involved with what’s being grown and how they can incorporate these items into their menu.

  • Incorporate Fresh Ingredients in Cocktails and Tasting Menus First
  • Chances are, most rooftop gardens won’t initially yield enough produce to make these fresh ingredients the star of the show. This is especially true if you’re just beginning to transition to hyper-local sourcing. Instead of creating a menu based entirely around your garden, utilize your fresh herbs in cocktails, and add plants or produce to small tasting dishes or incorporate them as garnishes on entrees.

  • Produce Expensive Plants
  • If possible, plant produce that you’re otherwise paying a premium for. If it grows well in your garden, you can keep your sourcing hyper-local while saving big bucks on garnishes, fruits, and vegetables.

Origins of Hyper-Local Restaurants

The term “locavore,” coined in 2007 by locals in the San Francisco Bay Area, refers to a diet consisting of foods grown or cultivated within 100 miles. With the rise of this lifestyle came the idea of hyper-local restaurants looking to appease consumers.

The growth and expansion of hyper-local restaurants was fueled by a desire among customers for fresher and more sustainable foods. As more establishments looked to incorporate principles of sustainable development, which stresses the equal importance of economic growth and environmental responsibility, they found that hyper-local restaurants fit the bill.

Hyper-Local vs. Buying Local

While buying local is an environmentally and socially responsible choice, you should always keep in mind that not all local food is created equal.

Governing local foods can be tough, seeing as it must be sourced within 400 miles to qualify as “local.” Because “local” produce can come from several states away, it’s likely your fruits and vegetables could still have been treated with pesticides or chemicals to preserve freshness.

As a restaurateur, it is your responsibility to know the origins, treatment, and freshness of the food you serve. One of the largest benefits of hyper-local farming is that it guarantees you and your staff will be able to accurately answer food-related questions from customers. Additionally, your chef will be able to create more unique and delicious dishes due to an expert understanding of each ingredient and where it came from.

While opening or transitioning into a hyper-local restaurant might not be the right choice for every foodservice establishment, any movement towards sustainably and responsibly sourced foods is always a step in the right direction. With a little patience and experimentation, you can transform unused space into a functional and money-saving endeavor resulting in fresh foods locavores will love.

Posted in: Eco-Friendly Tips | Management & Operation | By Rachel Jenkins
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