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Boiling Water and Microwave Warning

Simply Sourdough by Joan Ross

Cooking at High Altitudes

Refreezing Meat

Quebec, Canada Food Information

Lima Bean Information

Please note:  To the best of our knowledge, information contained in  our "FareShare Educational Segment" at the time of publication is accurate.  However, we cannot guarantee absolute correctness.

Other FareShare Facts and Information about Cooking and Food:

FareShare Fun Facts

Fun Facts:  Herbs and  Spices




Boiling Water

So, you think you know how to boil water?

Well, when it comes to cooking it may be more complicated than you thought.

Recently a TV cook explained that it doesn't matter how high you turn up the heat under a pot of water it will never get hotter than the boiling point therefore, it makes no sense to cook vegetables with the heat turned to maximum so the water bubbles furiously. Your food will cook just as fast at a simmer so once your veggies are heated to the point where the water continues to boil you may as well conserve your fuel and lower the heat to the point where the water is just boiling.

It is easy to see when water reaches the boiling point but just how hot IS that? This is where we delve into the realm of basic physics (now don't you wish you had paid more attention in school). At sea level the boiling point is 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius/Centigrade. Air pressure is an important factor and at 1000 feet (305 meters) ABOVE sea level the boiling point lowers to 210F (99C) so boiling water is cooler by 2F (1C) for every 1000 feet (305 meters) in altitude above sea level. This is why it takes longer to boil an egg when you're camping in the mountains than it does when you are camping on the beach at the ocean. Of course the reverse happens if you are camping in Death Valley which is below sea level which brings us to another interesting point - using a pressure cooker. A pressure cooker traps the steam that rises from the boiling water, thereby increasing the pressure on the water which raises the boiling point. A maximum temperature of 250F (120C) can be obtained in this manner. You can get the same result by doing your cooking in an open pot about 19,000 feet or 5,800 meters BELOW sea level (not tried by me <G>).

OK, let's add another piece to the puzzle. If you add a water-soluble substance, such as salt or sugar, to the water you will raise the boiling point and lower the freezing point, not of the water itself but of the solution. Now isn't this fun! However, don't despair, in the amounts we use in normal cooking the effect is minor enough not to be particularly important. One ounce of salt in a quart of water (about the same as sea water) will only raise the boiling point one degree Fahrenheit so I don't think we need to stay up nights worrying about it but I felt it was worth mentioning. Speaking of the salinity of sea water, you might want to keep in mind that because of the salt it is a really, really bad idea to fall off a cruise ship in the vicinity of either the north or south poles because the water can be several degrees BELOW freezing and still be in liquid form (just a little travel tip <G>). Many people insist that you shouldn't add salt to water before you heat it as it will take longer to reach the boil, however, while this is true and may be important in a laboratory because it does raise the boiling point, the amount of salt you are likely to add to cooking water is so small that any difference in the time it takes a pot of water to reach the boil is insignificant; therefore you can add the salt as soon as you put the water into the pot without worrying about being "salt correct". On the other hand, when you are making candy you DO add a lot of sugar to the water and this solution can become very much hotter than the temperature of boiling water alone which is why people have experienced some very nasty burns. A sugar syrup that is 20 percent sugar by weight boils at about 212F (100C) while a sugar syrup that is 90 percent sugar by weight boils at 250F (125C) at sea level; as you cook the solution it becomes more concentrated so the temperature goes up.

Some foods cook better below the boiling point. Some fish and meats are best cooked at temperatures about 140F (60C) in order to obtain the best texture. If they are cooked at higher temperatures the outside cooks first to the point of overcooking sufficiently to become tough before the inside is cooked. Food will need to be cooked longer at the lower temperature, however. A good temperature in order to cook things gently as well as efficiently, is 180F or 80C (use a thermometer for accuracy), which is a compromise between boiling and cooking at the lower temperature mentioned above.

We haven't discussed the different effects of water hardness (or softness) which are very important factors to every cook but I think we should leave that for another time as I can see your eyes are beginning to glaze over.

FareShare Educational/Household Hints - Microwaving Water Warning.

Microwaving Water!

A description of an accident that has occurred when microwaving water has been circulated around the internet for some time. It usually goes like this:
A 26-year old man decided to have a cup of coffee. He took a cup of water and put it in the microwave to bring the water to a boil (something that he had done numerous times before). When the timer shut the oven off, he removed the cup from the oven. As he looked into the cup, he noted the water was not boiling, but suddenly the water in the cup 'blew up' into his face. All the water had flown out into his face due to the build-up of energy. His whole face got blistered and he had severe burns to his face.

While at the hospital, the doctor who was attending to him stated this was a fairly common occurrence and water (alone) should never be heated in a microwave oven. If water is heated in this manner, something should be placed in the cup to diffuse the energy such as a wooden stir stick, tea bag, etc., (nothing metal).

Apparently, what happens is that the water heats faster than vapor bubbles can form. If the cup is very new, then it is unlikely to have small surface scratches inside it that provide a place for the bubbles to form. As the bubbles cannot form and release some of the heat that has built up, the liquid does not boil, and the liquid continues to heat up well past its boiling point.

What then usually happens is that the liquid is bumped or jarred, which is just enough of a shock to cause the bubbles to rapidly form and expel the hot liquid. The rapid formation of bubbles is also why a carbonated beverage spews when opened after having been shaken.

U. S. Federal Food and Drug Administration Warning:

Risk of Burns from Eruptions of Hot Water Overheated in Microwave Ovens

The FDA has received reports of serious skin burns or scalding injuries around people's hands and faces as a result of hot water erupting out of a cup after it had been over-heated in a microwave oven. Over-heating of water in a cup can result in superheated water (past its boiling temperature) without appearing to boil.

This type of phenomena occurs if water is heated in a clean cup. If foreign materials such as instant coffee or sugar are added before heating, the risk is greatly reduced. If superheating has occurred, a slight disturbance or movement such as picking up the cup, or pouring in a spoon full of instant coffee, may result in a violent eruption with the boiling water exploding out of the cup.

What Can Consumers Do to Avoid Super-Heated Water?

1. Follow the precautions and recommendations found in the microwave oven instruction manuals, specifically the heating time.

2. Do not use excessive amounts of time when heating water or liquids in the microwave oven.

3. Determine the best time setting to heat the water just to the desired temperature and use that time setting regularly.

Contributed to the FareShare Gazette by Art & Tavis; 26 February 2012.

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Simply Sourdough by Joan Ross

Sourdough is the oldest and most original form of leavened bread. The oldest recorded use of sourdough most likely originated during ancient Egyptian civilization. Simply discovered by accident, wild yeasts in the air settled into the flour and water mixture and the processes of fermentation and leavening began.

The natural sugars present in the flour when mixed with water and the wild yeasts converted in lactic and other acids which gave the bread a unique sour flavor. In the fermentation process, alcohol and carbon dioxide were given off. The carbon dioxide bubbles got trapped in the bread structure and caused the bread to rise and give off the characteristic lacy holes many sourdough breads have. Sourdough loves an acidic environment.

Through trial and error during man's civilization, people discovered which cultures produced the best bread with the best flavor. They saved part of the raw bread dough and fed it more flour and water to which we know as the sourdough culture, starter or "the mother".

Historically, cultures have survived this way for generations. Sourdough culture is indeed a true survivor. The trappers, gold miners and cowboys of North America often patched up holes in the walls of their cabins with the sourdough culture. It dried hard as rock, yet could be chiseled off and reconstituted with water to make a viable culture again.

True, 100% sourdough contains no commercial yeast as do other types of fermented doughs. Some sourdough purists feel if yeast is used in the recipe, then it is not an authentic sourdough. Others feel adding a touch of commercial yeast will not change the flavor but produce a more stable rise in the bread. This is an ongoing debate with many sourdough bakers. My personal philosophy is bake bread the way you enjoy it.

The simplest recipes using sourdough cultures (usually excess cultures) are sourdough pancakes, waffles, cakes and biscuits which require little preparation effort, no rising and short cooking and baking times. However to produce a good loaf of true sourdough bread can be a challenge. A good loaf needs one's patience, proper preparation and kneading and especially long (many, many hours) rising times to produce a unique bread with good sour flavor, height and texture.

To start your sourdough adventure; obtain a reliable culture. Sure one can try capturing wild yeasts from the air but it is best to start with a consistent reliable culture in the long run.

I have been using Carl Griffith's Oregon Trail Starter since 1995. This culture produces a wonderful sour flavor and is very reliable. Here is the link to obtain this free culture: (---> This is some of the dried culture - not a recipe. H.)

There you can read about its history, get links to other sourdough bread pages and view bread photographs using The Oregon Trail culture. I am one of many volunteers to help perpetuate the existence of this sourdough culture.

Go to my sourdough web page: to view my sourdough primer which contains all my tips, many wonderful recipes, hints and miscellaneous sourdough information.

Here is a wonderful formula posted from my web page, to help you convert any of your favorite yeast bread recipes into true sourdough recipes.

Sourdough Conversion Formula

This basic method (with some of my changes) comes from Sourdough Jack's Cookery (1959) and is a reliable technique that will turn your favorite bread and roll recipes into a very good sourdough one. You must have a good reliable, active and bubbly starter. Try you favorite one loaf recipe such as white bread, Anadama bread, oatmeal bread or any yeast white flour bread, bun or roll recipe. All come out very well using the conversion technique.

1. Place one cup of your favorite active sourdough starter in a large bowl with about 2/3 of the total flour called for in your bread or roll recipe. Add all the milk or water to make a stirable thick batter. You don't want a dough but a batter.

2. Cover the bowl and set aside the mixture in a warm place for 14 to 16 hours. The longer it stands, the more sour it gets. This sponge mixture will get bubbly and light.

3. Now add all the additional ingredients (such as salt, sugar, oil, eggs etc.) called for in your recipe except the remaining flour. Do not include any yeast or baking soda - omit them! Please trust your sourdough starter. If your starter is bubbly and active, the recipe will turn out okay.

4. Add the remaining flour, mix and knead well by hand, adding additional flour only if necessary to make a soft, pliable, non sticky dough. Dough will be smooth and elastic but just a bit softer than your typical yeast dough recipes.

5. Let the dough rest 10 minutes, covered.

6. Form your dough into a loaf (or loaves) and place dough in the pan(s) or how your recipe instructs.

7. Let the dough rise, to the tops of the pan(s) or until light and puffy in a warm place. Patience - this takes much longer than standard yeast dough recipes - often many, many hours (even 8 to 12 hours or more)!

8. Bake and cool as your recipe instructs. Your bread should have a nice soft interior, a good chewy crust and that special sourdough tang.

9. For tips using sourdough cultures please visit my web page. I have a very specific Sourdough Primer which I hope answers all kinds of questions related to sourdough culture, it's activation, preservation and uses.

Contributed to the Educational/Household Hints segment of the FareShare
Gazette by Joan; 16 April 2008.

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Cooking at High Altitudes

Altitude has a most definite effect on how foods cook. Some foods take longer to cook and others require some adjustment in the ingredients. There are some basic guidelines but often success only comes with experimentation partly because some ingredients, such as flours, vary from brand to brand; partly, in the case of vegetables, because of variation in the size and maturity; partly due to variations in humidity (make sure you keep your flour in air-tight containers so it doesn't dry out too much). There are things that just won't work out at higher altitudes such as some delicate cakes that were developed for conditions at sea level so the only solution is to forget about those recipes and look for others that are of a sturdier composition. In general cookie recipes adapt fairly well to different altitudes but they can often benefit from a little higher baking temperature and some reduction in the amount of baking powder (or baking soda), fat, sugar and/or a little more liquid and flour. In a pamphlet on high-altitude cooking published by the New Mexico State University (Guide E-215), the author A. J. Hendley suggests that since many cookie recipes contain more sugar and fat than necessary a more nutritious cookie with fewer calories can be made by replacing up to 1/4 of the sugar called for with nonfat dry milk powder without any loss in the quality of the resulting cookies.

The time required to hard-cook an egg at 5000 feet is about 25 minutes following this method: place the cold eggs into a saucepan; cover with cool water; cover the pot and set the heat to high; when the water reaches a gentle simmer reduce the heat to a low setting. To cook a "3-minute" egg at 5000 feet will probably take about 5 to 6 minutes.

Some adjustments recommended for cakes and other baked items that require leavening agents are given below. I have given the American measures as well as an exact conversion to the metric measures. However, because different recipes contain different proportions of these ingredients there is no hard and fast rule so some experimentation is always going to be necessary. Make notes of the changes you try and when you have a successful result be sure to keep a record of what you did.

Flour. A higher-gluten all-purpose flour is preferable because it is stronger. Here is a guide for adjusting flour according to altitude; make sure to sift before you measure. The adjustments are per cup of flour.

At altitudes of 3500 to 5000 feet (1066.8 to 1524 meters)
increase the flour by 1 tablespoon (15 mL)
At altitudes of 5000 to 6500 feet (1524 to 1981.2 meters)
increase the flour by 2 tablespoons (30 mL)
At altitudes of 6500 to 8000 feet (1981.2 to 2434.4 meters)
increase the flour by 3 tablespoons (45 mL)
At altitudes of 8000 feet (2434.4 meters) and above
increase the flour by 4 tablespoons (60 mL)

Baking powder, baking soda or both (make the adjustments in each if both are used).
At 3000 feet (914.4 meters) decrease the amount for each teaspoon (5 mL)
by 1/8 teaspoon (0.625 mL)
At 5000 feet (1524 meters) decrease the amount for each teaspoon (5 mL)
by 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon (0.625 to 1 mL)
At 7000 feet (2133.6 meters) decrease the amount for each teaspoon (5 mL)
by 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL)

At 3000 feet (914.4 meters) decrease the amount for each cup (250 mL)
by 0 to 1 tablespoon (0 to 15 mL)
At 5000 feet (1524 meters) decrease the amount for each cup (250 mL)
by 0 to 2 tablespoons (0 to 30 mL)
At 7000 feet (2133.6 meters) decrease the amount for each cup (250 mL)
by 1 to 3 tablespoons (15 to 45 mL)

At 3000 feet (914.4 meters) increase the amount for each cup (250 mL)
by 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons (5 to 30 mL)
At 5000 feet (1524 meters) increase the amount for each cup (250 mL)
by 2 to 4 tablespoons (30 to 60 mL)
At 7000 feet (2133.6 meters) increase the amount for each cup (250 mL)
by 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 mL)

Some notes on making candy. This might be a good time to remind you of the essay on water that appeared in the FareShare Gazette a couple of months ago (and is also on our website thanks to Art) where some information appeared about the boiling points of water at different altitudes since this has very direct implications on candy making. The sooner a liquid reaches the boiling point the sooner loss of that liquid through evaporation occurs, thus since at altitudes above sea level (which is where most candy recipes are developed) the boiling point always occurs at temperatures below 212F (100C), adjustments will have to be made to compensate for this or the sugar levels will become too concentrated. If you are using a candy thermometer the first thing to do is to check the boiling point of water at your location; then you will have to reduce the finish temperature of the candy by the difference between 212F (100C) and your local boiling point. Of course, if you are using the cold-water test it doesn't matter since it only depends on the appearance of the candy in the water. Here are some suggested adjustments for different types of candy.

Creamy candies and filling. Cold-water test: Soft Ball.
Finish temperatures: Sea level (0 meters) - 234-240F (112-115C)
2000 feet (610 meters) - 230-236F (110-113C)
5000 feet (1524 meters) - 224-230F (107-113C)
7000 feet (2134 meters) - 219-225F (104-107C)
Chewy candies. Cold-water test: Firm Ball
Finish temperatures: Sea level (0 meters) - 242-248F (117-120C)
2000 feet (610 meters) - 238-244F (114-118C)
5000 feet (1524 meters) - 232-238F (111-114C)
7000 feet (2134 meters) - 227-233F (108-112C)
Pulled candies, fillings, frostings with egg whites.
Cold-water test: Hard Ball
Finish temperatures: Sea level (0 meters) - 250-268F (121-131C)
2000 feet (610 meters) - 246-264F (119-129C)
5000 feet (1524 meters) - 240-248F (116-120C)
7000 feet (2134 meters) - 235-253F (113-123C)
Toffees. Cold-water test: Soft Crack
Finish temperatures: Sea level (0 meters) - 270-290F (132-143C)
2000 feet (610 meters) - 266-286F (130-141C)
5000 feet (1524 meters) - 260-280F (127-138C)
7000 feet (2134 meters) - 255-275F (124-135C)
Brittles. Cold-water test: Hard Crack
Finish temperatures: Sea level (0 meters) - 300-310F (149-154C)
2000 feet (610 meters) - 296-306F (147-152C)
5000 feet (1524 meters) - 290-300F (143-154C)
7000 feet (2134 meters) - 285-295F (141-146C)

The above information was gathered from several sources. It is a good idea to check with local sources for more or specific information on this topic. Colleges and universities, government agencies, local utility companies are all likely to have information and recipes that will help you.

Thanks to Kate in New Mexico for providing much of the information used here.
May 2008

Additional Information:

I live at 9200 ft. We like to say it's 9200 ft ASL (above stress level). My experience is that for "thicker" items, like biscuits, even muffins, I just use a heavier flour (Bread flour for AP or a mix of AP and whole wheat).  Cookies continue to defy me. If the recipe was developed for about 5000 ft (Denver) I reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup for each 1 cup in the recipe; if they're my old recipes, I'm still experimenting. I have relied on recipes from neighbors and friends.

Bread is my real passion. I have found that for yeast breads, I reduce the yeast by 1/3. At 6000 ft. my friend reduces it by 1/4. Either that or let the bread rise 3 times. (Flavor develops over time as the bread rises; if it rises really quickly, it won't develop proper flavor.) Also, because, generally, it's drier at altitude than sea level, my bread takes less flour than at lower altitudes.

Rice takes longer; pressure cooker things take longer; jams and jellies have to water bath longer.

Colorado State University extension service has resources online for help.

Contributed to the FareShare Gazette by Sue; 17 May 2008.

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Fruit and Vegetable Sprays
It seems all the fresh fruit and veggies we all eat are possibly contaminated with something like waxes, pesticides, bacteria etc.

Some green grocer explained to me that the wax covers the pesticides so not only we have to remove wax and then pesticides.

Reading I found out strawberries as well as grapes have a huge content of pesticides as well as broccoli and some other similar 

I make my own veggie/fruit wash by mixing water in a spray bottle and adding  some vinegar and a bit of dish-washing soap.

I place the veggies in a bowl of water and then liberally spray the water, let veggies soak a few minutes and rinse off with running 

Berries have to be sprayed and rinsed (not soaked) otherwise they get mushy.

Here are a few formulas and suggestions:

Fill a sprayer with 1/2 part vinegar and 1/2 part water. Use to spray then rinse off with running water;

Or fill a sprayer bottle with: 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar, 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 cup water;

Or fill a sprayer bottle with some vinegar, water and a dash of liquid dishwashing soap, shake well.

Then always wash your hands as well as any food preparation surfaces to  avoid contamination.

Use the Net to find other such recipes for fruit and vegetable sprays.

Contributed to the FareShare Gazette by Joan; 7 June 2008.
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General Rules for Cooking Vegetables

Although there is really no new information here I feel that sometimes, with all the fancy dishes we see on television and in magazines, the basic good cooking procedures that can turn a good dish into a great dish tend to get overlooked.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are available most of the year because of modern transportation methods but the best-tasting ones are still those purchased locally when they are in season and they should be used as soon
after harvesting them as possible. If you have access to a farmers' market visit it as regularly as you can; otherwise try to find a grocer with a good reputation. If you can grow some of your own produce, do it; a 5-gallon pail will accommodate the biggest tomato plant and if you tuck a couple of basil plants in with it you have salad and sandwich ingredients just waiting for you. Some leaf lettuce, parsley, cilantro, oregano planted in various containers will not take up much space and even the smallest balcony can usually provide enough room for one 2-gallon pail or pot. No balcony? Put some smaller containers against a sunny window. As a child when I saw a can with a plant in it on a windowsill I always thought a good person must live there. Naive in this day and age I suppose but I still tend to have that feeling when I see somebody is caring for any kind of plant and when I come across a long-abandoned home site during my rural ramblings and see the remains of a rhubarb patch or an ancient peony or lilac bush I usually pause to wonder about the people who lived there.

OK, not many of us have the luxury of only using the freshest produce so obviously when we can't we have to buy. However, get the best quality and freshest looking that you can find and afford. Sometimes that innocent-
looking little soft or darkened spot on the outside is hiding a completely unusable interior. Sometimes trial and error will enable you to make a good choice but sometimes the bad bits hide themselves very well.

Keep vegetables in a cool, dry place and remove all withered or dried leaves and tops before putting them away. I know you will find carrots and some other root vegetables presented in the stores with their full tops left on. My personal experience with carrots is that the sooner you get those tops off or at least cut down to within a couple of centimeters (1 inch) of the vegetable, they are not going to wilt nearly as quickly. All that greenery might look pretty in the stores but it doesn't really contribute anything to the vegetable itself. If your carrots are a bit wilted just pop them into a plastic bag or other container, sprinkle a little water over them and chill them for a while.

Wash the vegetables carefully; pare or scrape if it is necessary to remove the skins. Beets are best cooked in their skins with about 2.5 cm (1 inch) of the stems left on to reduce the "bleeding" of their juices; once they are tender remove them from the liquid, give them a quick shock in cold water then slip the skins off.

Do not prepare vegetables then leave them standing for any length of time in cold water; doing this increases the loss of nutrients.

To cook, have the water at a full, rolling boil (the boiling doesn't stop when you stir). The length of the cooking period affects the loss of vitamins and other nutrients so by starting the cooking in boiling water significantly reduces the cooking time. For the amount of vegetables needed to feed a family of six you only need to add about 5 mL (1 teaspoon) of salt to the cooking water; the salt helps to keep green vegetables green and tends to bring out the flavour of most vegetables. If you can't, for dietary reasons, don't worry about leaving it out.

Drain the vegetables as soon as they are just tender and serve immediately.  Overcooking is responsible for more undesirable flavors and faded, unattractive colours in vegetables than is any other one thing.

Baking or steaming is advised, when possible, as these methods conserve mineral salts.

Buttering - one, admittedly older, cookbook recommends using 1-1/3 tablespoons (20 mL) of butter or its equivalent per 2 cups (500 mL) of cooked vegetables.

Creamed vegetables - allow 1/2 cup (125 mL) of white sauce per 2-cup (500 mL) portion of vegetables except peas, for which 3/4 cup (175 mL) is suggested.

One final note: with the current concerns about the safety of tomatoes a food safety specialist I saw being interviewed on television said that she didn't think people should quit buying them but should pay more attention
to cleaning them and mentioned that there are two main points on the fruit where organisms can enter - the stem end and the blossom end; she said to just remove those after washing by taking a thin slice off the blossom end and, with a pointed paring knife, cut around the stem end to remove it and the bit of core.

I'm sure many of you have your own information about the harvest, storage and cooking of various fruits and vegetables both local to your area and imported. It would be interesting to hear your experiences.

Contributed to the FareShare Gazette informational and educational segment by Hallie; 16 June 2008.





Buttery Facts

 by Art

 I have never been particular about salted vs. unsalted butter when I cook.

Although, I must admit I don't bake much so maybe that is why I have been ambivalent about it. However, in a recent response to a note from a reader, Cook's Illustrated Magazine explained the difference: 

"We advise against cooking with salted butter for three reasons: 

"First, the amount of salt in salted butter varies from brand to brand -- it can range from 1.25 percent to 1.75 percent of the total weight, making it impossible to offer conversion amounts that will work with all brands. 

"Second, because salt masks some of the flavor nuances found in butter, salted butter tastes different from unsalted butter. 

"Finally, salted butter almost always contains more water than unsalted butter. The water in butter ranges from 10 to 18 percent. In baking, butter with a low water content is preferred, since excess water can interfere with the development of gluten. In fact, when we used the same brand of both salted and unsalted butter to make brownies and drop biscuits, tasters noticed that samples made with salted butter were a little mushy and pasty; they preferred the texture of the baked goods made with unsalted butter." 

Upon further research, I found that since salt is a preservative, salted butter can last two to three months longer in the refrigerator than unsalted butter. A good thing, right? Not necessarily so. This actually means that salted butter is often much less fresh than unsalted, and sometimes has been made from cream that is less fresh as well. 

Never one to leave things alone, I decided to look around some more. 

Then I found this on another website:  "Sweet (unsalted) butter and regular salted butter both contain the same amount of butter fat, so unsalted butter has a bit more water, about 1/2 teaspoon per pound, to keep the fat content the same. In general, that amount of water will not make a significant difference." 

WHAT? That's not what I found other places on the net! I also found the following nutritional tables: 


Water content (grams per 100g) 15.87
Calorie content of Food (kcals per 100g/3.5oz) 717
Protein content (grams per 100g) 0.85
Fat content (lipids) (grams per 100g) 81.11
Ash content (grams per 100g) 2.11
Carbohydrate content (grams per 100g) 0.06
Dietary Fiber content (grams per 100g) 0
Sugar content (grams per 100g) 0.06



Water content (grams per 100g) 17.94
Calorie content of Food (kcals per 100g/3.5oz) 717
Protein content (grams per 100g) 0.85
Fat content (lipids) (grams per 100g) 81.11
Ash content (grams per 100g) 0.04
Carbohydrate content (grams per 100g) 0.06
Dietary Fiber content (grams per 100g) 0
Sugar content (grams per 100g) 0.06


 Bottom line, you are better off with unsalted butter. To keep it fresh longer, you can always store it in the freezer.  You will want to replace your butter if it sits in your refrigerator for a long time. Unsalted butter stays fresh for 2-3 months, while the shelf life for salted is about 5 months. You can wrap your butter in plastic and foil and store it in the freezer, as well, which will keep it fresh much longer, up to 6 months.

 But which one really contains more water?

 I remain yours.... and puzzled!

Art Guyer

 Hallie's comments on the "Mellow Yellow":

Of course it isn't really yellow until some food colouring, usually annatto, is added but then you all knew that, right, although the milk produced by cows that graze on fresh pasture has more natural colour than that of cows that don't. Interestingly the butter from these 'free range' cows is also usually softer than that from cows whose feed consists mainly of grain and hay which is why the butter from some dairies is often softer in the summer than in the winter because the fresh pasturage is rich in polyunsaturated fats.

I remember somebody on a television cooking show when commenting about butter said that the main reason they liked to use unsalted butter was so they could control the amount of salt they used in what they were making.

To me that seemed like a pretty good reason but after reading Art's dissertation I decided I would also delve into some of my own reference books to see what else I could find on the subject.

In my copy of 'On Food and Cooking, the science and lore of the kitchen' by Harold McGee, I found a few interesting items about butter that I thought were worth mentioning.

McGee bemoans the fact that so few of us tend to take the time to occasionally make our own butter which is a relatively easy task. Cooks often resorted to making butter when milk or cream started to sour, which in effect produced what is known as cultured butter. However, rather than wait for that to happen we can easily whip some of the cream we have bought for use as a whipped topping for a dessert to the point where it is 'over-whipped' and the fat separates from the liquid. After you strain the liquid off you are left with a lovely product to use to make the flakiest of pastries. Go nuts and try it some time just to see what real basic butter is actually like. If you want to use it as a spread on a fresh bun or croissant you may want to add a little salt but you should try it without first. You might also want to remember this tip if you do sometime accidentally over-whip some cream on a warm day in the kitchen - instead of a disaster you have created something wonderful.

Scientifically speaking (sort of) to make butter you have to get the cream all upset and disturbed to the point where its fat molecules get damaged and all their fat leaks out and globs together. Sounds gross when put like that but what a lucky 'break' for all butter lovers. <G>

There are many kinds of butter, some fairly readily available commercially and some not.

Raw cream butter is rarely available anywhere these days since it is made from unpasteurized cream and for good reasons pertaining to our health this is not easy to find anymore. If you do have a source of it be sure you know personally about the health of the cows and cleanliness of the milking operation. Butter made from raw cream is extremely fragile and won't keep for more than a few days unless it is carefully wrapped and frozen.

Sweet cream butter is readily available in most parts of Europe and North America. It is made from pasteurized fresh cream. U.S. laws state that, as Art's tables show, it must contain at least 80% fat and no more than 16% water.

Salted sweet cream butter contains between 1% and 2% added salt which is the equivalent of 1 to 2 teaspoons per pound or 5 to 10 grams per 500 grams.

Cultured cream butter, which is the most common in Europe, used to be made by fermenting pasteurized cream with a special cream-culture bacteria for 12 to 18 hours before churning it into butter. These days it is more often made commercially by churning the cream into butter before the culture and lactic acid is added. Sometimes lactic acid and flavouring compounds are simply added to sweet cream butter but this is considered to be an artificially flavoured butter and not a cultured butter. In France the minimum fat content of butter is 82%.

European-style butter is an American product. It is a cultured butter with a fat content that is higher than the 80% required for regular sweet cream butter; sometimes the fat content is as high as 85%. As a result these butters can contain much less water, as much as 20% less in some cases, which can result in very flaky pastries.

Whipped butter is regular butter that has been injected with about 1/3 of its volume of nitrogen gas to make it more spreadable because this weakens the structure of the butter. Air can't be used for this because it would cause oxidization and the butter would go rancid.

There are also specialty butters that are made for professional pastry chefs and bakers which are almost pure butterfat.

By the way, don't wrap your butter so that the foil is touching any part of it or it will oxidize, discolour and start to go rancid; make sure to have either parchment or plastic wrap of some sort between the butter and the foil.

As for the water content, Art, those figures do look confusing and to muddy the waters a little more (sorry, couldn't help myself) I notice the difference in the ash contents of the two types seems to be equal to the difference in the water content.

And after all this, guess what - between us, Art and I have only scratched the surface of the world of butter. <G>


Contributed to the FareShare Gazette informational and educational segment by Art and Hallie; 27 March 2009.

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Eggplant Information and Recipe

by Art

Based on articles from the Washington Post, April 15, 2009.

Eggplant: Actually a fruit, but treated as a vegetable. It is what the Italians call "mala insana" (the mad apple).

No need to let eggplant slices swim in oil; a light brushing is enough. Perfectly fried eggplant slices have just enough oil to keep them moist.

The eggplant looks so beautiful in the produce display: purple and shiny, like a new car. It is lovely to touch, too, with smooth, perfect skin that yields ever so slightly to pressure.

However, once it comes home, its true personality emerges. Suddenly it is a greedy sponge shouting out its demand to the cook: "More oil! More oil!"

A recipe that tells you simply to "pan-fry eggplant in oil" plays a cruel joke on a home cook. Most cooks start with a generous amount of oil but the pan would be completely dry after a few seconds. When more oil is added, that disappears, too, leaving a choice of pouring in even more or having some part of the eggplant cooked in a dry pan.

Using only a little oil may result in the eggplant being more burned than cooked, with a bitter taste. A perfectly cooked eggplant, on the other hand, can be a thing of wonder. There is something deep, rich and flavorful, meat-like even, about a successfully grilled or fried slice of eggplant that makes it worth the effort.

Eggplant's ability to drunk up oil is due partly to the spongy texture, of course, but also because it contains compounds called saponins that have a natural affinity for lipids. They love fat, in other words and work as hard as they can to soak up as much of it as possible. Saponins are also responsible for the bitter flavors that in small quantities can be nice but in older or undercooked eggplant can be overwhelming. Saponins are believed to help lower cholesterol and, if not satisfied in their craving for fat, to absorb fats present in our digestive system. However, that has not been scientifically proven.

How can you cook eggplant without using too much oil and still achieve a decent result? Using a brush to apply oil to eggplant slices is the only effective way to prevent overindulgence on one hand and a dry, burned surface on the other. Brush oil on one side and then place the slices, oiled side down, on a grill or in a nonstick skillet. Just before turning them over brush the other side. (If both sides are brushed at the same time, the oil invariably will have been soaked up by the time the slice is flipped.) When the slices come out of the pan crisp outside and soft and creamy inside, they are a small wonder, served in any number of ways.

There are also ways to cook eggplant without fat: Simply place the whole eggplant on a grill or in a hot oven and cook until the skin is slightly burned and the interior is soft. It yields a velvety spread that is used for a variety of dishes, mostly of Middle Eastern origin.

Also the eggplant can be steamed and then dressed with a vinaigrette.

Then there is the salt. Traditional recipes ask the cook to salt eggplant slices before cooking them, supposedly to remove bitterness. But some cooks argue it is not necessary.

Salting does cut down on the fat absorption, but that effect is limited.  Brushing is much more effective.

However, pre-salting is popular for two reasons. The first is that salt collapses the outer layers of the flesh, resulting in a more compact surface after frying or grilling. The second, more important reason is flavor. Salt is a great flavor enhancer, and if you enjoy the combination of smokiness and saltiness, you should pre-salt. If you don't, or if you require a low-sodium approach, don't sweat it.


Now what is our favorite way at the Guyer-Valencia house? We take a different approach.

First, sometimes we salt slices, place them between paper towels, and weigh them down with heavy cutting boards and such. Sometimes we don't! It usually depends on which one of us is cooking. I like that approach but it takes longer to complete the dish.

We all agree, however, that dredging them in seasoned flour, dipping them in an egg wash, then pressing the slices in Panko bread crumbs and baking them on sprayed baking pans at 325F - 350F until they are nice and brown is our favorite method. We turn the slices half way through the process. We can reheat leftovers the same way, only for a shorter time.  We have used these to make great sandwiches, in a casserole with Parmesan cheese, or just on our plates with a dab of tomato sauce on them.  Two years ago, I created a wonderful sandwich and the recipe is at:

Eggplant and Three-Cheese Sandwiches

Here is a similar recipe for the method used in the preceding paragraph, this one baked as a casserole:

Baked Eggplant

Serving Size: 6

2 pounds eggplant
3/4 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
3 tablespoons flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces

Peel eggplant and cut into 1/4-inch rounds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper,
then dredge with flour. Dip in beaten egg, then into the bread crumbs.
Place in a lightly buttered casserole. Dot with butter. Bake at 325F for 1


Tip: How to Store Eggplants

Handle them carefully; they bruise easily. Large, deep-purple ones will keep in the refrigerator for about four days. Asian varieties that are long and thin must be refrigerated, too (up to five days); they are particularly sensitive to cold and should be kept in an area of the fridge that is slightly warmer. Check for signs of shriveling as they age.

Contributed to the FareShare Gazette informational and educational segment by Art; April 18, 2009.

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Refreezing Meat

by Art

Here is a tip from America's Test Kitchen (Cook's):

"HOW TO COOK TIP: Can I Refreeze Meat for Later Use?

"While you can safely refreeze meat that has been properly thawed in the refrigerator," it is not recommended "due to one major drawback: moisture loss. The slow freezing process that occurs in a home freezer causes large ice crystals to form. These crystals rupture the cell walls of the meat, permitting juice to escape during cooking."

Results: Dry meat.

Contributed to the FareShare Gazette by Art; 11 April 2009.

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Lima Bean Information

Here are a couple of interesting tidbits of information about lima beans which I thought I would share with you (in case you're interested and besides, as you all know, I never could keep my mouth shut at times like this <G> ).

Lima beans are a native of Central America and some of the original wild and tropical types contain a cyanide defense system but the common commercial varieties are cyanide free. Apparently they can be rendered safe by prolonged cooking but just in case any of you are in the habit of running around in the wilds there and come across some lima beans I thought you should be made aware of the potential risk. <G>

Lima beans are among the more notorious beans for producing flatulence because one of the carbohydrates it contains really like to tango with the bacteria in our innards and all this frenzied activity produces an amazing quantity of gas because we are not built to be able to cope well with this particular carbohydrate - oligosaccharides. The best cure is to cook the beans long enough to break the carbohydrates down into sugars, which we can digest; this is considered a better method than prolonged soaking which leaches out a lot of the good things.

Contributed to the FareShare Gazette informational and educational segment by Hallie; 27 August 2009.

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