How to Add Healthy Apricots to Foodservice Menus

Last updated on February 16th, 2020

Enjoy apricot cooking and baking tips, apricot recipes, apricot history, and more.

Whether you eat them raw, dried, or canned, there are countless ways to enjoy the healthy, tasty apricot. In fact, apricots are used to prepare a wide array of savory side dishes, sauces, oils, jams, and desserts. If you are a gourmet chef, professional baker, or own a restaurant or catering service, this blog will give you the 411 on cooking and baking with apricots. In addition, as we shine a sweet spotlight on this tart fruit, you will enjoy a myriad of new recipes to add to your menu while your customers enjoy being pampered by your new delightful apricot offerings.

Apricot Basics

Scientifically known as Prunus armeniaca, the apricot fruit has a thin, fuzzy, yellow or orange exterior with a tangy flesh and inedible pit inside. Less juicy – and hence less messy – than their peach, plum, and nectarine counterparts, they are perfect as a healthy snack and can be easily added to numerous recipes. Apricot oil can also be extracted from its kernel (seed) and like the fruit itself, it is packed with healthy benefits.

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Unique Fall and Winter Vegetables to Add to Your Restaurant’s Menu

Last updated on January 30th, 2020

Add these unique and largely unfamiliar fall and winter vegetables to your menu

With the fall vegetable season still in full bloom and the winter vegetable season looming, now is the perfect time for your restaurant, catering service, or other eatery to cash in on the plethora of delicious, nutritious vegetables currently available. To help your menu really stand out from the crowd, we have created a list of some the most unique fall and winter vegetables on the market, guaranteed to tweak your customers’ culinary curiosity, please their palates, and keep them coming back for more.

The selections – including shiso, fennel bulbs, crosnes, fiddleheads, celeriac, and many more – are some the most unusual, head-turning vegetables you have ever heard of. Add these veggies to your restaurant’s menu, combine them with some savvy business-boosting marketing techniques (think Pinterest and Instagram…), and what you have is a recipe for winter recipe success.

And that’s not all. If your chefs feel like they have exhausted their repertoire of recipe ideas for dishes made from run-of-the-mill potatoes, onions, squash, and other staples, it’s time to step out of the culinary box and sink your teeth into the likes of blue potatoes, tree onions, Hakerei turnips, delicata squash, Chinese water spinach, Chinese artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, dragon carrots, black radishes, white asparagus – and the list goes on.

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Trash Fish Dining on the Rise as Chefs Embrace Sustainable Seafood

Last updated on January 27th, 2020

Learn why chefs are adding delicious, sustainable seafood, known as trash fish, to their menus.

If you work in foodservice, you are more than likely know that ‘trash fish’ and ‘sustainable seafood’ are the talk of the town in the food industry. They are also the most prolific catchphrases among fish providers, ecologists, and oceanographers these days. But do you really know what the phrases mean and what relevance they have to you and your customers?

For many, the answers to these questions still lie at the bottom of the sea Moreover, what is being labeled as trash fish (aka ‘garbage fish’ and ‘rough fish’) is probably NOT what you think it is! In fact, the term is a misnomer. So, let’s take a dive into the waters to separate the facts from the fiction and to get schooled on the latest buzz in the ‘biz.

Bycatch in the Seafood Industry

Did you know that over half of all U.S. seafood consumption comes from only three fish types – tuna, salmon, and shrimp – which are imported from outside of the United States and which are highly overfished? At the same time, hundreds of sustainable fish species swimming off local U.S. shores are being discarded by fishermen as part of their ‘bycatch’ – another trending term in the industry today. Bycatch refers to fish that are perfectly edible but that are being discarded as seafood caught ‘by mistake’ while fishermen target more in-demand varieties.

How Local Fish Are Becoming High-End Restaurant Dishes

In response, seafood providers and foodservice professionals have begun to collaborate by taking less-known, locally caught fish and turning them into high-end gourmet dishes. Leading these efforts is the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) – a global nonprofit organization established to protect wild seafood, to educate the public about the value of different fish, and to end the trajectory of labeling entire schools of fish undesirable.

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Your Guide to Working with Different Types of Pastry Dough

Last updated on December 24th, 2019

Discover the fine art of pastry making with this easy-to-read pastry dough guide.

If the perfect pastry is what your customers are craving, you have come to the right place! In fact, if you work anywhere in foodservice, and especially if you own a bakery, patisserie, or café, the following guide on how to make the perfect pastry is your recipe for success.

At their essence, all pastries are doughs made from fat (usually butter), flour, and water (with the occasional egg). Remarkably, it is from these few simple ingredients that some of the globe’s most decadent and beloved desserts are born including pies, tarts, croissants, eclairs, strudels and more. Similarly, on the pastry menu, are favorite foods such as baguettes, quiches, meat and mince pies, (just in time for the holidays), souffles – and so on.
So, let’s set out to explore the wonderful world of pastry and learn the art of making crusts and crafting recipes that pamper the palate with their buttery flavor and crumbly, flaky texture. On the way we will sink our teeth into the different types of pastries, learn about the history of pastry dough, learn about less familiar pastry doughs and share some secret tricks of the trade…

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Guide to Demerara and Brown Sugar Varieties

Last updated on January 27th, 2020

Discover why you should be adding demerara and other brown sugars to recipes.

If you work in the bakery business or run a coffee shop, there is a good chance that one of your star ingredients is demerara sugar. Not only is its distinctive toffee-caramel flavor ideal for baking cakes and pastries but it has become a favorite among coffee and tea lovers who prefer its taste over other hot beverage sweeteners. The larger and grainier texture of demerara sugar crystals have also made it a popular pick among bartenders who use it to adorn the rims of cocktail glasses and as an accompaniment to brown liquors such as dark rum, bourbon, and whiskey.

We discussed maple syrup, and birch and walnut syrups as natural sweeteners in previous blogs, also rising in the popularity charts are natural brown sugar varieties such as molasses, muscovado, and evaporated sugar cane. With white processed sugars continuing to fall out of favor with consumers, now is a great time to get the full scoop on demerara sugar and its counterparts and learn how you can add them to your foodservice menus.

What Is Demerara Sugar?

Demerara sugar is made by pressing sugar cane to extract sugarcane juice. The juice is then boiled until the water has evaporated, thickening first into a syrup and then cooling and hardening. Retaining about 1%-2% of the natural cane molasses, the sugar is light brown in color and boasts a uniquely large and crunchy crystal which lends itself well for many dessert recipes and toppings.

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Why Okra Should Appear on Your Foodservice Menu

Nutritious and delicious okra, okra seeds, and okra water appearing on menus

If Okra, Okra seeds, and Okra dishes are not part of your restaurant’s current offerings or something your catering service provides, it’s time for you and your chefs to learn why okra should appear on your menu and how you and your customers can benefit from its many nutritious and tasty properties.

Let’s begin with the basics: What is Okra? A longtime favorite in Southern cooking and originally brought to the U.S. by Ethiopian slaves, Okra is a vegetable that comes from the same plant family as cotton and hibiscus. Also known as “ladies fingers” due to its unique finger shape, it has earned a reputation as a health food and has even been recommended as a way to help manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

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How to Cater to Your (Sugar-Reducing) Baby Boomer Customers

Restaurants cater to Baby Boomers interested in lowering their sugar intake.

Attention all foodservice providers: Did you know that over 53% of baby boomers plan to significantly reduce their sugar intake this year and are committed to selecting products and menu items with no sugar added? Moreover, did you know that baby boomers have more purchasing power than any other age group in the U.S.? The demographic (aka “the 50-plus crowd”, born 1946-1964) also eats out more and travels more than any other generation.

This may surprise you, given that the millennial population has captured much of the limelight in recent food industry news. However, while the latter are considered the industry’s future big spenders, it is baby boomers who still constitute the largest group of buyers – and when it comes to food choices, health concerns are a major factor in their decisions. Specifically, according to C+R Research and nationwide surveys, baby boomers are most likely to “respond positively to health related products” and especially prefer foods that are free from sugar, fat, and sodium.

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Naturally Sweeten up your Menu with In-Demand Maple Flavors

Last updated on October 27th, 2019

Add maple flavors to your recipes and get a sweet increase in revenues.

Maple season is back and with the falling of the leaves comes a great opportunity for your catering service, bakery, or restaurant to add maple’s sweet flavor to your customers’ favorite dishes. And if your current use of maple still falls within the ‘maple-syrup-on-pancakes-waffles-and-French toast’ paradigm, it’s time to update your recipe repertoire to maximize maple’s full palate-pleasing potential.

Maple Beyond the Pancakes

With maple’s popularity on the rise, global markets are soaring with new products such as organic maple waters that are being used as flavoring agents in foods or as a replacement for liquids called for in recipes. Meanwhile, chefs around the world are dabbling in adding the natural sweetener to sauces, toppings, desserts (think maple pecan coffee cake smothered in vanilla ice cream drizzled with maple syrup…), baked goods, energy drinks, and even cocktails.

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Beyond Maple Syrup: Discover Birch and Walnut

Discover the latest in syrups: birch and walnut, and how to add your menu.

Did you know that there are multiple varieties of syrup beyond maple that you can offer your customers the next time they order pancakes, waffles, or French toast? Although sales of maple syrup are booming, also rising to the top of the popularity charts are a diverse menu of alternatives. Birch syrup and walnut syrup, for example, are made from sap tapped directly from the tree (just like maple), while other trees that can be tapped are elder, box elder, hickory, basswood, sycamore, beechnut, butternut, and more. Thanks to technological advancements, there are also syrup hybrids such as earthy tasting maple-walnut and nutty flavored maple-birch.

To treat your customers to an expanding menu of syrups teeming with taste and nutrients, enjoy the following guide to the birch and walnut types. As you will discover, although they are made using the same tools for tapping as sugar maples, each variety boasts many unique characteristics and can be used in cooking and baking to create novel dishes and add a savory twist to your customers’ favorite recipes.

Tapping the Value of Walnut and Birch Trees

For the past decade, teams of organic tree sap specialists (such as those at the Cornell Maple Program), alongside food technologists and manufacturers, have been researching the commercial potential of tapping walnut and birch for syrup. Among their key objectives has been determining the best tapping methods (i.e. the old-school bucket-hung-on-a-tree method where gravity pulls the sap from the tree vs. the more modern vacuum tube method where tubes are hooked up to the trees with a pump); the best times of year and climate conditions; the expected sap flow and yield; the comparative sugar levels; and the value of blending sap varieties. Last on the list: Taste tests to determine the potential of the new food products. In the words of Michael Farrell, co-founder of New Leaf Tree Syrups: “Part of the fun is seeing how people like it. Everybody loves maple, and we’ll have to see how they like these.”

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New Water Beverages Compete for the Top Spot

New, improved, and pioneering water beverages are in high demand.

If you thought you were up to speed with what’s new in the water beverage industry – think again! The oldest and most natural drink in the world has been given a modern-day facelift – and not just a makeover. In recent years, water has been experiencing a seemingly endless stream of modifications, additions, enhancements, and embellishments.

Competition in the water industry is on the rise. On one end of the spectrum, food-and-beverage moguls are busy trying to one-up each other in the realm of innovation, while smaller, local foodservice operators are stocking their refrigerators and updating their menus with a plethora of diverse water offerings.

No matter what type of restaurant, catering service, bakery, coffee shop, pizzeria, ice cream parlor, food truck, bar, fast-food joint, or other eatery you operate, staying competitive in the biz means keeping abreast of what H2O varieties your customers are craving and what ingredients and flavors your chefs can add to take your offerings to a new level.

A Waterfall of Varieties

Attributed in large part to the health-and-wellness movement and consumers’ shunning of artificial, synthetic, and sugar-laden products, the functional beverage sector (i.e. drinks that offer benefits beyond quenching your thirst) has experienced unprecedented growth and expansion. Walk down any supermarket drink aisle or scan a 2019 beverage menu and the choices are continually expanding. From bottled to canned, flavored, sparkling, collagen-infused, vitamin-infused, mineral-infused, protein-infused, alkaline-infused, carbonated, sweetened, and even chemically altered to increase the oxygen or hydrogen content, it is clear that the recent title wave of activity is more than just a trickling fad.

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