Taking Sour to Sweetness… What Is The Miracle Berry

Can it be? A little berry powerhouse that can change a flavor of an off tasting food and make it palatable? Why yes! This is miraculin, otherwise known as “the miracle berry.” According to Mintel, despite the exciting science and story behind the miracle berry as a sugar replacement, it has not achieved significant growth in commercial use. Contributing to this are some highly regulated restrictions on use. Currently, there are only four food products listed with it in Mintel’s Global GNPD as the berry has been more often used in fine-dining restaurants to provide a “flavor-tripping” experience. Newly Weds Foods will continue to monitor application and growth of this unique ingredient and share our insights into the latest and greatest opportunities for this berry.

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The Evolution of Snacking

It’s no surprise that snacking is taking over the traditional “three square meals a day” routine. Busy lifestyles, tight schedules and dietary restrictions all lend themselves to eating on the go. Snacking has evolved to not only satiate the hunger pangs and give a burst of energy to keep moving but, to give us an indulgent and memorable reward when need be.

Newly Weds Foods recognizes the opportunities in this snacking trend and has developed market reviews and actionable approaches to take advantage of them. This library of information covers all snacks, from salty, to sweet, to savory. Perhaps you are working on a new product to add to your portfolio, or maybe you are reworking an existing line. See how Newly Weds Foods can assist you with strong and relevant data to support a rationalized and strategic direction.

Please contact your Newly Weds Foods sales representative to inquire about this valuable resource. Other categories covered in our library consist of Global BBQ, Chicken, Red Meat, Seafood and Prepared Foods.

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Spiced Banana and Pumpkin Bread

Our chefs came up with this as an example of how to stimulate that trigeminal nerve of yours.  It’s a simple, classic treat we think you will love to try out at home.

Yield: 1 Loaf

Ingredients:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
½ cup roasted pumpkin puree
3 to 4 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne
⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
¾ cup cashews

Method of Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  • Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and slightly pale in color.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping the bowl as needed. Add the pumpkin, bananas and vanilla extract and mix well at medium speed.
  • In a separate medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, and cardamom.
  • Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients over low speed until well combined. Add in the cashews and mix well.
  • Pour the mixture evenly into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before removing from loaf pan and slicing.

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Kokumi – The Sixth Taste?

For all our sophistication in the kitchen, the scientific understanding of how we taste food could still use some time in the oven. Dating back to ancient Greece and China, the sensation of taste has historically been described as the combination of a handful of distinct perceptions. Western food research has long been dominated by the four “basic tastes” of sweet, bitter, sour and salty.

Western science now recognizes the East’s umami (savory) as a basic taste. But even the age-old concept of basic tastes is starting to unravel, as current belief is that there is no accepted definition of basic taste, and that the rules are changing as we speak.

Our ability to sense the five accepted categories comes from receptors on our taste buds. These tiny sensory organs appear mostly on the tongue, the roof of the mouth and in the back of the throat. In the mouth itself, though food scientists continue to discover new receptors and new pathways for gustatory impressions to reach our brain, and there are some new taste sensations vying for a place at the table as a sixth basic taste.

The latest “sixth taste candidate,” kokumi, a taste impression identified in an amino acid that interacts with our tongue’s calcium receptors. Widely accepted in Japan since 2010, it’s beginning to gain traction in the Western hemisphere as well. It has been the subject of scientific inquiry in Japan since the 1980s, recently propagated by researchers from the same Japanese food company, Ajinomoto, who helped convince the taste world of the fifth basic taste, umami, a decade ago.

Best described as “rich” and “taste” or “mouthfulness” and “heartiness”; it is almost as much a feeling as a taste. This results in enhancement of flavors already in the mouth, providing a sensation of richness. Braised, aged or slowcooked foods supposedly contain greater natural levels of kokumi, as do foods like garlic, onions, and scallops.

As a contender for “the sixth taste” it is ahead of other concepts, but the verdict is still out — for now it remains a concept in its infancy that is worth exploring.

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The Five Basic Tastes

When someone asks you how something tastes, your answer could be “good” or “delicious.” But if you really want to get specific, that answer could be broken down in a number of ways: five in fact. There are five universally accepted basic tastes that stimulate and are perceived by our taste buds: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. Let’s take a closer look at each of these tastes, and how they can help make your holiday recipes even more memorable.

Sweet

You probably have or know someone who has a “sweet tooth.” It has a nicer ring to it than sweet tongue, doesn’t it? Sweetness is often described as the pleasure taste, signaling the presence of sugar, which is a core source of energy and hence, desirable to the human body. It is no wonder that this is a taste that even babies gravitate to.

Furthermore, when used in a combination, sweet complements well with the other basic tastes. Adding sweetness such as a drizzle of sweet balsamic glaze to a traditionally salty vegetable dish like roasted brussel sprouts would take it to the next level.

Salty

The simplest taste receptor in the mouth is the sodium chloride receptor. Salt is a necessary component to the human diet and enhances the flavor of foods. However, the average American tends to consume way more than needed (about 2-3 times above the FDA’s recommended daily limit), and our palates adapt to crave more salt. Interestingly enough, when people cut back on salt in their diets, taste buds can adjust again and adapt to be satisfied with less.

As a flavor enhancer, adding salt to traditionally sweet dishes is necessary to amplify the sweet notes. A pinch of salt is core to most baked dessert recipes. Even if it is not listed in the ingredients, sprinkling some sea salt flakes or smoked salt over holiday ginger bread cookies brings out the sweetness of the sugar and enhances the ginger flavor.

Sour

Sourness is a taste that detects acidity. These taste buds detect hydrogen ions from organic acids found in foods. The mouth puckering sensation is common in citric fruits such as lemons and oranges, as well as tamarind and some leafy greens. The sour taste can also be obtained from foods soured through fermentation such as sauerkraut and yogurt, or through the addition of vinegar.

Many salad dressings feature vinegar as a key ingredient, which is a perfect way to add sour notes. You could also try adding lemon or orange zest to vinegar or even cream based dressings. Or, simply zest the top of your salad to help drive this craveable flavor sensation.

Bitter

Bitter is the most sensitive of the five tastes. A large number of bitter compounds are known to be toxic, which is why many perceive bitter
flavors to be unpleasant. Hundreds of substances, mostly found in plants, taste bitter. However, a little bitterness can make food more interesting and have become beloved, like the hoppy taste in beer. Furthermore, there are cases where some bitterness could be healthy. Antioxidants, which aid in metabolism, account for the bitter taste in dark chocolate and coffee.

Dark chocolate shavings on top of your favorite holiday dessert could be a great addition to create a fun bitter flavor party.

Umami

Umami is an appetitive taste, sometimes described as savory or meaty. It is the most recently identified and accepted of the basic tastes. In the early part of the 20th century, a Japanese chemist named Kikunae Ikeda attempted to identify this taste common to asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat. But, not one of the four well-known tastes could describe it adequately. What he pinpointed was the presence of glutamic acid, which he renamed “umami”, Japanese for “good flavor”. Though one of the core flavors of Eastern cuisine imparted by soy sauce and MSG (monosodium glutamate), it wasn’t accepted as a basic taste in the West until 1985.

Why not add some savory umami flavors to your traditional holiday stuffing recipe this year by adding mushrooms into the mix?

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A Bakery Tour of Paris

Kathleen Harsh is a Chicago based bakery scientist. On her trip to Paris, she visited a handful of bakeries and reported back on what she found. Paris is considered to be the home of innovation for the bakery scene so it was a great educational experience for her as well as invaluable for the company. What follows are her words on what she saw.

On a recent trip to Paris with friends, I made sure to take a tour of my favorite part of the “City of Lights”- bakeries! Paris is world renowned as the epicenter of baked goods, with a history that includes the creation of pastry classics such as the baguette and the croissant. Many bakeries in Paris have also embraced new trends and flavors to draw in the modern consumer and to cement their footing as the leading bakery city in the world. Here are some highlights from bakeries, patisseries, and cafés in the second and the tenth arrondissements (districts) that I had the great pleasure of experiencing on my trip.

Turmeric Bread from Eric Kayser

In the second arrondissement, I explored Marche Montorgueil, a market street tucked away amongst busy metro lined streets. One could spend multiple days on this street alone pretending to be a local strolling amongst the abundant cheese shops, florists, bakeries, fruit stands, and cafes. My destination was Eric Kayser, a bakery chain with a reputation as a leader in French bakery innovation. I purchased their turmeric bread, a crusty artisan style sandwich loaf made from sweet enriched dough laced with turmeric, walnuts, and hazelnuts. Turmeric is an on-trend spice being used in many different food categories in North America, with its health benefits and unique taste lending itself well to both the sweet and the savory realm. This is the first application I have seen in a bread loaf, and it worked tremendously well.

Also on Marche Montorgueil, I stopped in L’éclair de Genie, a storefront that only sells gourmet éclairs. This is a new trend in Paris, as the éclair is the ideal traditional vehicle to test untraditional flavor and texture combinations. Each éclair is truly a work of art and with prices ranging from 4.50-6.00 € per éclair, they are meant to be enjoyed as a high-end treat. Some impressive flavors I sampled were citrus and yuzu, a shimmery deep red raspberry éclair filled with chocolate cream, and a buttery caramel filled éclair topped with gold flake and Guérande salt. This store’s concept reminded me of the cupcake trend in the United States, and it demonstrates how focusing on one pastry vessel to present unique flavor combinations can be a niche market to capitalize upon.

L’escargot chocolat pistache from Du Pain et Des Idees

I made a point to stay one night in the tenth arrondissement, mostly for the purpose of exploring the food scene. The number one bakery on my list was Du Pain et Des Idees. This bakery has received their notoriety via Bon Appétit mentions and their Instagram- ready pastries such as the L’escargot chocolat pistache. This pastry is a laminated Danish swirl with a pistachio and chocolate chip filling. Calling the pastry “l’escargot” is a clever pun that pays homage to France’s affinity for snails. Du Pain et Des Idees also sells several versions of this pastry with different fillings- fresh currants, rum and raisin, praline, and lemon nougat. A couple other fascinating pastries I saw at Du Pain et Des Idees were Niflettes, a small puff pastry square featuring a dollop of orange water pastry cream in the center, as well as a banana chocolate croissant highlighted by fresh mashed banana and chocolate sticks in the center. With all the visually stunning and tasty pastries, Du Pain et Des Idees is a feast for the senses!

Liberté Patisserie Boulangerie

Also in the tenth arrondissement, I swung by Liberté Patisserie Boulangerie and Holybelly. Liberté Patisserie Boulangerie is an airy and modern take on the classic French bakery, with the production being visible behind a marble counter juxtaposed with antique looking ceilings and stripped down walls. This nicely demonstrated their simultaneous commitment to old world quality and modern transparency. Even in a city with a café on every corner, it is the type of restaurant that grabs your attention as you are walking down the street. Here I got some bread to bring back with me to Chicago-a cereal based loaf studded with an assortment of seeds and grains that held up shockingly well over the 12 hour travel time. Another stop I made in the tenth was at Holybelly, a restaurant specializing in American and Australian style brunch dishes. Eggs are typically served for lunch or dinner in France, where a croissant on the go is more common than the American multi-product brunch. Holybelly served Du Pain et Des Idees bread and a unique twist on the Hash brown patty featuring soaked spelt grains dispersed throughout shredded potatoes.

A bakery tour of Paris can never disappoint, but despite my high expectations the pastry game in Paris continues to blow me away. Many of the innovations happening across the pond can easily translate into trendy offerings here in the states, from the use of unique spices in an unexpected bread application, to stores selling multiple variations on one type of food product, to attention grabbing takes on a classic pastries, and storefronts that combine the modern aesthetic with an industrial chic backdrop. This trip to Paris provided a plethora of trend exploration, and I cannot wait to return and learn more!

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Szechuan Lemonade

Using the Szechuan pepper flowers in a unique way, our chefs created this interesting drink that’s sure to tingle your tongue.

Yield: ½ Gallon

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
4 cups water
1 cup superfine sugar
8 each Szechuan pepper flowers (Buzz Buds), finely chopped

Method of Preparation:

In a large pitcher mix all of the ingredients and let flavors marry overnight. Serve in a large glass with ice

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Student Food Choices Are Grade A

When it comes to eating, college students have a wide variety of options to choose from. They can buy groceries to cook their own meals, go out to eat, select pre-made food and snacks, or use meal programs available through the school. There are a lot of observations worth noting as students continue to reshape their eating habits. One of the biggest influences is the increase in food-related social media.

On social media hubs like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest there are many different groups that make video tutorials on how to create meals or snacks. These videos are short and very thorough in showing how to cook these dishes including the ingredients needed to make them. Students find these tutorials easy to follow and practical as it allows people without much knowledge to try their hand in cooking. The presence of these videos in social media has definitely increased the amount of cooking done by college students on a regular basis.

The younger element of millennials in college right now and they continue to mirror the trend of eating out on a regular basis. This stems from the perception of dining out as a social event to many of them and who are willing to pay more for the experience of eating out with friends. Incorporating phone apps like GrubHub with college-town bars and restaurants allows students to find weekly deals at establishments, encouraging people to venture out even more.

Another big trend with college students can be seen with the rising popularity in prepared foods. Students can be pressed for time with classes spread out during the day so many have been purchasing these products more regularly. Prepared foods for students makes sense because it is fast, and it allows for students without many cooking skills to still enjoy homemade-like meals. These foods are not just in c-stores and supermarkets, but also in regular food service stores like Starbucks where packaged snacks and sandwiches are offered.

Food service programs through schools have also seen some change recently. There are meal programs available to students (sometimes at a discounted rate), where students can eat at any of the dining halls using their meal program card. Many schools have been renovating their dining halls to more closely match the trending food themes like healthy, fresh, and variety. Some of the dining halls resemble the layouts and food options available in a Whole Foods food court or a Mariano’s. As more schools are changing the landscape of their food service programs for the better, more students might be influenced to continue to purchase meal plans as long as they match the growing trends of fresh, healthy, and fast.

Newly Weds Foods has the knowledge and capabilities to assist in the development of food products that address today’s trends as well that meet the requirements of distribution, through supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants and even school food service programs.

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Electric Old Fashioned

Get that trigem experience with this great drink idea direct from our chefs at Newly Weds Foods. Easy on the Szechuan pepper, it will numb your whole mouth!

Yield: 1 Cocktail

Ingredients:

2 oz. bourbon
¼ oz. ginger Szechuan pepper flower (Buzz Buds) syrup*
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dash plum bitters
1 each orange curl

In a mixing glass with ice, add bourbon, then syrup, then bitters. Stir for approximately 30 seconds, and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with orange curl.

*Syrup Preparation

½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1½ inch ginger root, crushed
4 each Szechuan pepper flowers (Buzz Buds)

In a small pot, bring water and sugar to boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add ginger and Szechuan pepper flowers, then turn off heat. Set aside and allow to cool completely and then strain.

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Pumpkin Blondies From Our Bakery Team

Chewy, sweet bars full of pumpkin spice flavor. Our bakery team has made an easy to use blend that just needs vegetable oil, egg and water and a few minutes in your oven to make these delicious baked treats.

Preparation:

4 cups NWF Pumpkin Blonde Mix (A83970-1)
1 egg
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup water

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 8×8 baking pan. Place parchment paper in the pan so there is 1 inch overhang on all sides. Grease parchment paper and set tin aside. Combine egg, vegetable oil, and water in small bowl. Add  A83970-1 and stir until smooth. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 34 minutes. Cool completely before removing product.

Ingredients A83970-1: SUGAR, BROWN SUGAR, BLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR, PUMPKIN, SOYBEAN OIL, DRIED WHOLE EGGS, SPICE, SALT, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SODIUM BICARBONATE.

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