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I am transferring all food tech related articles from foodrecap.net here. Please help me spot and correct any weird stuff that may occur.

Apple Pie and The Carton Flavor

I took a bite of this apple pie and quickly got the impression that it tasted like carton. Actually, it was not. The carton natural odor was fast enough getting into my senses while taking a bite. It was what made me thought that it was … I threw away the carton and continue eating. The disagreeable smell gone away. Though it happened indirectly, it was still an incident of packaging substance migrating to food. If enough time is allowed, paper flavor will be absorbed. Notice the expiration date printed on PET water bottles. It could mean several things. The microorganisms present might have grown to dangerous level. Sanitary procedures are not perfect, there is no such thing as equal to perfection. It might have caught contaminant by that time due to bad transport, handling and storage. PET molecules might have migrated to water. Remember, most plastic packaging are single use. We defy this and use it over and over again until the water it holds tastes like plastic.

apple pie

Biodegradable paper packaging and disposables are becoming the norm today. A move to battle the huge problem with plastic waste pollution. Plastic often suffice protecting the food before reaching consumer palate but incredibly failed in protecting the environment. Papers are fine. Degrade when thrown to open area with thin plastic layer remaining. It maybe a carton but plastic layer is necessary to prevent food from touching and degrading the paper too early. In the end, plastic pollution is reduced but not totally prevented. It is like delaying the inevitable.

In the early days of paper cups. I experienced using the waxed version instead of plastic laminated. There was one great downside though. The hot coffee caused the wax to partially melt and became part of coffee. I clearly remembered the feeling of wax on my tongue. It was not pleasant.

Going back to apple pie packaging. It was the only time I experienced it. The same smell present in elementary writing pads and corrugated boxes. It was not present in paper lunchboxes and cups I have encountered before. Need to investigate more on this.

Tried Identifying Herbs with PlantSnap and PlantNet

I accidentally found an android app that might be useful for you and me. PlantSnap. It identifies unknown plant by taking image and comparing it to database. I bet it needs an active internet connection to do its job. I never tried with no data. However, I can’t figure out how can they fit the data down to 85 MB. It needs huge resource to do its job properly.

How can it be useful? When buying herb, not sure of its identity and want to make verification. The case of ginger and wild ginger. The turmeric and the look-a-alike. They have the same leaves and stems except for the white fleshy root of the fake. Biologist, foresters and enthusiast wanting/needing to identify unknown plant before them. For the sake of study or curiosity.

If unknown plant is at hand. One can simply ask a person who knows it. Lucky you if the plant of concern is a local. There is a very high chance that anyone in the area can tell what is it, including the details. In case not, you have to find an expert. A tedius way is comparing it to every biology book you can find. Is it worth it? If you are paid, then it is! Otherwise, you are wasting time for the sake of science.

Yes, I downloaded and installed the app despite of lots of bad reviews. There are lots of bads and still the average is four stars. In general, it is said the app cannot identify common plants and yet the developer’s claim of accuracy is 95%.

I tried it on several plants and it never identified correctly. It was giving wrong identification including several choices in case the first one was wrong.
It brings back the memories of me using Google Image Search. It works by uploading the image in question instead of typing keywords. It was failing miserably so I stopped using it. Posting it in social media is a very effective way. Why do we need unreliable app?

plant snap wrong identifications

Premium subscription removes the ads and offers some perks. I am not sure if it improves identification accuracy.

Tried another app the day after. There were several choices to choose from the store.  I decided to get the one that is community based and not flagged with ads. Yes, the previous one I tested bombarded me with ads. Few ads are just fine but too many gets very annoying.

It was Pl@ntNet.  I did 11 identification trials and it got two correct answers.  Was it bad? Yes it was.  However, the good thing. It often presents many images to compare for better accuracy.  It never cover images with ads while  I was comparing images. Flashing unrelated items over the images of concern tend to make someone annoyed and loose focus. I get to decide whether  upload my images or not in hope to identify it and help others.  Not sure if the unidentified images is going to get its identity later. Good if it is.

Plant identification apps might not be accurate at the time being. But it helps narrow the choices and reduce effort.

Chilled Taho

I first heard of packaged taho from UP Los Baños. It was not known for its packaging, rather, for its different flavors. I tried one for myself. It was a sealed cup nearly filled with… There was a small spacer near the top which contain the syrup. It was self service. I had to popped the plastic myself and added the syrup. I cannot recall what the flavor was. What I was sure of… the curd was strong enough to hold the plastic of syrup. The one I am seeing from taho vendor has very fragile surface. The man has to scoop it carefully to prevent breaking it apart. The customer must do it instead. Firm taho might have gelatine or other ingredients with the same purpose.

Meeting it again. Chilled Taho. I cannot expect to get it hot because it was packaged to last for several days. It must to be chilled right after production inside the plant. Requires chilled storage during transport and store displays. For sure you know what gonna happen if not. Taho vendors have to make tofu out of their leftovers. The same can be done to chilled taho but it will incur great cost.

kyla's chilled taho

I ate it several times already, but this is the only time I am jotting down my observations.

We brought home several times already. Our kids love it. There was one time that it almost gone to waste. The MRT inspector stopped us. She said it was not permitted inside the train. What was wrong with her? We were carrying sealed and safe products. Not explosive and non flammable.

It was packed in a cup and induction sealed, Zagu style. There was a small space on top to accommodate the syrup which came in a separate PE bag. For health conscious. It is made from non-GMO soya beans. You don’t have to worry about the speculated consequences. The included syrup is light. It barely has effect on blood sugar levels. Enjoy it guilt free.

We brought home several packs during our last trip. We had no special box to hold it. Like the carton fast food chains are giving to hold the softdrinks. We placed them in our backpacks and hand carry bags. As you expected, they tumbled around during the trip and experienced pressures of sorts. It was good the cups and seals were strong. The taho was disrupted. The curds and clear liquid became evident. It was not pleasant. However, the good thing is… it has no firming agent added.

The product was still good despite of disturbed appearance. They were all gone before I knew it.

To Extract or To Blend

Perhaps the next juice on your hand is like a carefully processed sapphire. A clear see through liquid with a light tint. Maybe red, blue, orange, brown or yellow. There are two reasons for this. The fruit of concern was extracted down to clarity. Second, the juice is water tinted with laboratory prepared coloring and flavorings.  Our favorite low cost juice that is later taxed higher ( due to sugar tax under TRAIN Law) and banned in  public schools.

This appearance is natural for wine, bandy, whisky and other spirits. Wine is either forced clarified or thru natural process by aging. For other alcohols, distillation process is a sure way to get rid of impurities, unless it is added back after. However, pulp is a necessary component of fermentation. Grapes, the primary wine ingredient, is crushed, not extracted.

We are accustomed to this that we want to extract juice from our favorite fruit. Even if we know that it is better to blend it with the pulp, perhaps additional water and sugar if we want to. Better yet, eat it unaltered. It is boring though and not always possible. Like if we want to transfer it to distant location or eat later. Refrigeration and freezing are expensive solutions. Processing techniques are often cheaper and effective alternative. Reducing the juice into instant powder is one of the best way. Customers can later reconstitute it to fiberless and sapphire like juice.

When buying a juicer, there are two choices. First is a device that separate juice from pulp. It could either be a screw press type ( the one use for pressing oil ). Or, the centrifugal. Spinning at high speed to throw away the juice first then pulp into separate bin. One container for juice and one for pulp. The second are blenders. A cylindrical container with spinning blade in bottom. High speed that some brands can go up to 20,000 plus rpm. It never separates juice from pulp. It mixes it to homogeneity. Some manufacturers are using it as marketing tool. Emphasizing fibers are essential part. It shouldn’t be thrown away. Other high speed blenders claim that their brands can release nutrients. Making them readily available for absorption.

On my point of view, getting the juice and throwing away the pulp is kind of waste. Like what we did in project study the last time. We made dragon fruit jelly. Guess what we did with the pulp? We threw it away. Now I am thinking, it shouldn’t be the case. We should have made dragon fruit jam instead. Or, developed other useful products with the remaining pulp, like fruit leather, pastillas, candy and polvoron. For home preparation, go for blends (puree) instead of clear juice. You and I might not be a nutritionist but we both know that fibers are good for us.

Soapy Margarine

This margarine taste a bit soapy. Well. I am not surprised.

opened margarine

Margarine. Base on wikipedia and youtube, it is emulsion of water in oil. Eighty percent of which is fat, 16 % water and the rest are others that perhaps added to prolong shelf life and make it taste better. Basic formula as it suggest, taste bland. The tasty and popular brand you know might be less or healthier than your favorite cooking oil. Maybe more dangerous.

Margarine and soap share the same key ingredient. It is not surprising for an oil refinery to produce margarine and soap. In other cases, a margarine manufacturer making soap as alternative income source and vice versa. The two products, clearly, need separate processing plants. However, they may choose do it with minimal walling. Separate buildings but in proximity. Then same truck for logistics. Strict protocols are needed to prevent margarine getting soapy taste and odor. Soap on the other hand, getting some margarine attributes may not be a big deal.

I actually saw a company making both at the same time. So the scenario above is not based on science and speculations.

Even if that is not the case, a not well protected and handled product may get undesirable flavor whenever given opportunity. Speaking of margarine, they are usually plain wrapped with wax paper and seen in chilled section of groceries. In any case the logistic, grocery owner or the consumer do the forbidden thing, it gonna have the unpleasant soap taste.

From the website canitgobad.net, one of margarine signs of spoilage is the soapy taste.  Soap is made from oil through saponification process. Random presence of alkali and heat  is likely to trigger this process.