What’s All the Fuss with “Use By” Date, “Best Before” And “Sell By” Dates?

Food dating is not a US federal law, except for infant formula and baby foods. Freshness dating and the terms used are voluntary by manufacturers, except for dairy foods and meat in some states.

The butcher uses a Sell-By date provided by the supplier.

Sell-by dates are on the packaging delivered to the store.

Best-Before dates mean fresh, the product, eaten after the date will be past prime condition.

A Use-By date means DO NOT consume after this date. Rigorous tests by health authorities establish the Use-By date of food sold by butchers.

Culinary Fun Fact —> Eggnog

Eggnog Fun Fact —> While culinary historians debate its exact lineage, most agree eggnog originated from the early medieval Britain “posset,” a hot, milky, ale-like drink. By the 13th century, monks were known to drink a posset with eggs and figs. Milk, eggs, and sherry were foods of the wealthy, so eggnog was often used in toasts to prosperity and good health.

#Eggnog #CulinaryHistory

Southern Biscuits: Soft or Crunchy?

If a soft or crisp exterior is desired selecting the proper baking pan is paramount.  For a soft exterior, use an 8- or 9-inch pan or oven-proof skillet (preferably cast iron) where the biscuits will nestle together snugly, creating the soft exterior while baking.

For a crisp exterior, select a baking sheet where the biscuits can be placed wider apart, allowing air to circulate and creating a crisper exterior, and brush the pan with butter.

Culinary Fun Fact: How To Use Gelatin

Gelatin is a protein that dissolves in hot liquids and gels when cold. It is used to set light custards such as panna cotta among various other uses both sweet and savory.

The natural gelatin contained in meat and bones is what causes cold broth consommé or aspic to set.

Many of home cooks don’t like gelatin because if overused, it makes things rubbery. It’s best used in the smallest amount needed to get a liquid to set, about half the amount specified on the package, which says that one packet will set 1 cup liquid. In fact, one packet will barely set, which generally what you want, 2 cups of liquid.

When using powdered gelatin, soften it in about 3 tablespoons cold water per packet before adding it to hot or warm liquids.

Some recipes call for sheet gelatin, which happens to be the preferred form in Europe. When using sheet gelatin, soak it first in cold water until it becomes soft. It’s difficult to arrive at equivalents between sheet gelatin and powdered gelatin because different brands of sheet gelatin contain different amounts of gelatin per sheet.

Culinary Fun Fact: What is a Moderate Oven?

Oven Temperatures

                                      ºF                     ºC                      Gas Mark
very cool                     250–275           130–140                ½–1
cool                              300                    148                         2
warm                           325                    163                         3
moderate                    350                    177                         4
moderately hot         375–400           190–204               5–6
hot                                425                     218                        7
very hot                      450–475             232–245               8–9

Culinary Fun Fact: How to Wash Lettuce

1. Fill a large bowl with cold water and gently put in the leaves.

2. Stir them around gently and then let them sit a couple of minutes. Transfer them to another bowl.

3. Feel the bottom of the first bowl. If you feel any sand or grit, rinse it out, refill the bowl, and repeat the soaking.

4. Most lettuce requires only one soaking, but some greens, such as arugula or basil, are sandy and require as many as three soakings.

Culinary Fun Fact: How to Polish Copper

Let me stress don’t buy any of the copper polishing products available at your grocery store or specialty food market.

Use the Chef method, a method which is actually much easier than store-bought products.  Make a watery paste of coarse kosher salt and white vinegar and begin rubbing it on the copper. As you apply the paste, the tarnish will just disappear. Rinse off the pan and dry.

Culinary Fun Fact: Should you eat oysters only in months whose names contain the letter R?

The “R” rule may have been true 30 or 40 years ago, but thanks to advances in aquaculture it has fallen by the wayside. It used to be fishermen dug for oysters only in the colder “R” months (September through April) to avoid the spawning season. 

Warm waters (above 60 degrees) encourage spawning, rendering oysters bland, soft-textured, and small. Once the spawning season is complete, oysters are generally plumper and better-tasting, thus commanding a higher price tag.

Today’s oysters are more likely to be farmed than found, with farmers having more control over the conditions in which they are grown, harvested, and stored. This means that oyster cultivators can plant oysters in cold waters, thereby staggering spawning and keeping their product available year-round. So forget the “R” rule—any time is fine for eating oysters.