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The Umami-Synergy in and Nutritional Resource that is Yeast, Marmite & Vegemite

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Yeasts are some of the most versatile cooking ingredients in the food industry. This single-cell fungus with a round shape serves a wide variety of uses. 

Some of the earliest documented scientific research into the nutritional value of yeast was published in Volume 88 of the American Journal of Pharmacy in 1916. 

The researcher, Atherton Seidell who was based at the Hygienic Laboratory found that he could alleviate malnourishment in pigeons by administering spent yeast that he got from breweries. The Hygienic Laboratory is now the National Institute of Health. 

In contrast, when the pigeons were feeding exclusively on polished rice, they were malnourished to the point of paralysis. The yeast provided the missing vitamins and minerals. 

The remarkable results showed how a cheap waste product could be repurposed as a source of valuable nutrients. 

Tove Danovich published an excellent article on NPR that explores the history of yeast as a nutritional powerhouse. 

Food products that contain yeast come in two varieties. Nutritional yeast is a dry, yellow powder made up of dead brewer’s yeast. This is yeast that has been killed using heat.

Nutritional yeast is great for adding a cheesy taste to your dairy free food recipes like crackers, cheese dips, savory cookies, and lasagna. You can make a cheese free cheese dip with the addition of a tablespoon of nutritional yeast and a little corn starch to some nut milk.

Yeast extract is used in commercial food products like Vegemite and Marmite yeast paste. Yeast extract is a dark and thick liquid or it may be dehydrated so that it is sold as a powder. 

The yeast cells are shrunk by adding salt or broken by steaming to make yeast extract. Yeast extracts are nutrient rich: containing B complex vitamins as well as iron. When Australia’s supply of British yeast extract Marmite was interrupted during WWI, Australians created their own Vegemite which also includes celery, onion, and other vegetables. 

Whether you opt for yeast extracts or nutritional yeast, you will end up with a meal enriched with umami substances like glutamates and ribonucleotides that make for a rich savory experience. The synergy between the two is known as umami synergism. 

The combination of both enhances the umami taste. The condiment also has a bitter note that might come off as intense or bitter, depending on your sensitivity. Yeast pastes add flavor to toast, pastas, soups, savory pastries, and meat marinades. Use them any time you want to make a savory dish more intense. 

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Sending shockwaves to Measure the Ripeness of Fruit

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Researchers in Japan have achieved a breakthrough that will make farms more efficient and curb food wastage throughout the value chains.

The team that is based at Tokyo’s Shibaura Institute of Technology in Tokyo will be working with Laser-induced Plasma shockwaves which create vibrations on a fruits surface. 

These vibrations are what the scientists ate using to tell the ripeness of fruit.

This technology can potentially help to make agriculture more efficient right from the farm.

With a more accurate measure of ripeness, growers can now pack fruit that is just ripe enough to the picked. Neither too rope nor too unripe.

Farmers will be able to time their harvests perfectly.

Retailers will not purchase overripe or unripe fruit. 

When consumers buy unripe fruit or underripe fruit, this equally results in wastage.

Farmers, retailers, and consumers use different methods to check ripeness of fruit.

Most of the time, this involves putting pressure on the fruit either using hands or a hammer or some type of instrument. 

These methods register varying degrees of success, depending on what fruit they are applied on. 

Mechanical techniques are most popular, even though some professionals use optical as well as biomedical techniques.

Mechanical methods assess the firmness of the fruit and this measure can be used to deduce the ripeness of the fruit 

It doesn’t suit softer fruit that easily suffers mechanical damage.

The new method does not require any form of mechanical pressure or contact. 

It uses LIP (Laser Induced Plasma) instead of force to assess the ripeness of fruit. LIP is so much better because it does not damage the fruit. 

LIP works better with hard fruits for whom mechanical pressure may not work. In a plasma state, atoms are already stripped of electrons and they now have an electric charge. 

When a high energy laser beam is focused onto a small pocket of air, it produces a similar effect of inducing an electrical charge.

The plasma bubble expands and emits shockwaves faster than the speed of sound. 

Researchers have experimented with shockwaves before, generating them near the skin of a fruit and observing the resultant vibration which they dubbed ‘football mode vibration’ because of the way spherical bodies deform to create a shape that resembles a football. 

The researchers checked that the vibrations had a frequency that reflected how firm the skin of the fruit was. 

The scientists used Rayleigh waves which appear on the fruit’s surface because fruits don’t show this kind of vibration. 

The technique was first demonstrated using Kent mangoes to prove that the speed of the Rayleigh waves can be used to tell how ripe the fruit is, even without touching the fruit or applying any pressure to it. 

Mangoes have large seeds that change the way surface waves are propagated and this makes the measurements harder to read. The researchers found that they could measure rayleigh waves along the mango’s equator line for consistent results instead of using the prime meridian line.

Besides large seeds, deformities like cavities and decay have the capacity to alter the measurements of rayleigh waves. 

With time, the scientists came up with a set of best practices to guide them in measuring the ripeness of soft fruit using rayleigh waves. According to Professor Naoko Hosoya, the system has enabled contact free ways of measuring the firmness of a fruit: “Our system is suitable for non-contact and non-destructive firmness assessment in mangoes and potentially other soft fruits that do not exhibit the usual [football mode] vibrations.” 

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Why Mother Grains by Roxana Jullapat is the Cookbook of the Season

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All-purpose flour will always have a place in our kitchens, but Jullapat has made it easier than ever to cook with ancient grains. 

Roxana Jullapat’s buckwheat, sorghum, and spelt creations are not just delicious – they are quite easy to make. 

Roxana Jullapat co-owns Friends & Family, an L.A. bakery and her passion for brains is contagious.

Her insights about barley and buckwheat are nothing short of a revelation, and her enthusiasm is exciting. 

So, it was not surprising that I soon found myself rushing to the nearest bulk foods store to buy items like spelt flour, sorghum flour, and buckwheat. 

I even gave considerable thought to choosing between normal rye flour and dark rye flour. Ended up going home with both. Of course, cornmeal was on the menu.

Armed with my copy of Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolutionand my stash of whole grains, it was now time to get down to some cooking. 

Jullapat’s recipes were amazing and I loved preparing them. I was about to become a self-appointed ancient sorghum flour aficionado. 

Jullapat has successfully made ancient grains not only relevant to current food lovers, but also positively exciting. The fact that they have stayed the same for centuries only makes them charming. 

The cookbook Mother Grains is centred around eight kinds of whole grain. All of which you can find anywhere in the US. These grains are:

  • Barley
  • Corn
  • Buckwheat
  • Rye
  • Wheat
  • Sorghum, and
  • Oat

Jullapat’s recipes cover a surprising variety of uses for the grains. Imagine indulging in a cup of toasted barley tea, or some sorghum syrup. 

I was more interested in her ancient grain baked goods. They offered me a new twist to trusted recipes. The whole grains tended to give the end result a distinctly nutty flavour. 

It was a pleasure to make low gluten blueberry muffins with spelt flour. The flavour and nutrition were amazing. Even the streusel topping was more nutritious. 

Spelt made for better texture, deeper flavours, and all-round more interesting end results. This particular recipe was good enough to warrant making multiple batches of blueberry muffins. One batch was not enough. 

Some of the interesting recipes in Mother’s Grain include blondies made with barley flour. The resultant flavour is very malty and resembles cereal milk. 

The shortbread made from einkorn makes for easy cooking. The granola scones are more than worth the effort. The pound cake made from ricotta-cornmeal is positively heavenly. The recipes incorporate ingredients like cashews, sweet sorghum flour, health bits, and coconut such as in the Trouble Cookies. They kept me going during a camping trip. 

Ancient, whole grain flours need special care. Store them in the fridge to keep them from going rancid. Zip lock bags, or cambro can do. 

In Roxana’s own words: “You have all these spices. You have two, three options of breakfast cereals. Yogurts, you might have two or three flavours. It’s the same with grains. And with more raw material, there’s more potential.” 

While it may seem daunting to work with spelt flour, the truth is that these grains offer lots of versatility, health, flavour, nutrition, and of course fibre. 

Mother Grains is exciting to work with, but it offers a valuable education in food and empowers cooks to access a wider variety of grains.

Only a tiny number of wheat varieties is mass distributed to consumers, and Jullapat takes readers through the history of wheat as well as its environmental and nutritional aspects.

Buying heritage grains from smaller producers gives you an opportunity to not only support the economy but also support biodiversity and sustainable farming. It is an investment in the future. 

One of these producers is Skowhegan, Maine’s Maine Grains which sells milled organic grains and heritage grains. The grains they mill are all grown rotationally with complementary crops that help to balance soil nutrients. 

Buckwheat is one of the crops suitable for planting on nutrient depleted soil. It helps to restore the fertility of the soil.

Jullapat includes a buckwheat chocolate cake recipe. You will be enjoying a delicious confection as you contribute to a healthier environment. 

Sorghum on the other hand, is a hardy crop that grows even in dryer, hotter conditions and consumes less moisture. It also makes more efficient use of space than other crops.

Using sorghum contributes towards restoring grain farming in more arid areas and bringing back more sustainable agricultural practices. 

Perhaps the best reason to bake with these ancient grains is that they taste amazing. “Just buy a bag of flour. We’ll help you figure out what to do with it” says Jullapat.

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World Nutella Day Rebranding

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Ferrari marked World Nutella Day in a special way – by launching a new brand campaign globally and giving The Moodie Davitt Report homepage a makeover.

World Nutella Day is February 5th.

Nutella-obsessed blogger Sara Rosso first came up with World Nutella Day in 2007 to celebrate her favorite spread.

Every year since, Nutella lovers have marked the day exchanging Nutella-themed messages.

Anyone can join in the fun with the hashtag #WorldNutellaDay. Twitters can tag @NutellaDay.

World Nutella Day also has a Facebook page.

The unique, fan-driven event has spread to Nutella users worldwide.

Ferrari has dedicated recent years to reimagining their brand experience and extending it to on-the-go offerings.

Ferrero announced a new Nutella platform dedicated to travel and retail. 

Ferrero will be working to make their brand more exclusive, innovative, value laden, and engaging.

Ferrero wants to delight fans across the world with more value.

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