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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.

Why Do Meat Turn Sour (Lumpiang Shanghai) ?

I think I encountered it thrice already. The first and the second were grocery bought lumpiang shanghai. The third one was home made.

Why do meat turns sour? There are probably two reasons. The first is intentional and the second is accidental.

We love vinegar that we usually put it to our cooking. Paksiw, sinigang and even pinangat na tulingan. If we got bored of the taste, replacing it with other souring agent works well. Tamarind fruit, young tamarind leaves, green mango and santol fruit during its season. For fried meat and fish, it is usually dip in vinegar concoction (vinegar and soysauce is common). Sometimes marinated before frying. For this reason, some creative entreprenuers are selling them marinated, dinaing na bangus and tapa.

Note: Santol rind can be sun dried and use later souring agent. I find it good, though some are saying it has astringent taste.

It was a little weird when the shanghai rolls I’ve tasted was sour. The seller might have soaked the thing in vinegar before sale. It was okay. I feel it more enjoyable doing the dipping myself though.

The next incident happened when we made the rolls ourselves using the pre-mixed ground meat. The taste was normal during the first frying. The rest was stored in refrigerator for the next day. Then, the sour thing manifested again. I was sure something was not right. The accidental souring probably caused by lactic acid bacteria. We considered it spoiled but maybe not harmful. Spoiled because we do not intended making sour rolls. May still be safe because our stomach were pefectly fine after taking a few. However, please don’t do what we just did.

Firelog With Fried Chicken Smell

I am not interested in buying the firelogs. Not unless it becomes available in KFC restaurant near our area. I find it overboard importing a firelog when it is readily available locally. The norm is getting it free if ready to stretch muscles and shed sweat.

How can a firelog get a fried chicken smell? If one is to store regular firelog ( madre de cacao in our case) directly above the roastery, or somewhere inside the roasting room. It will eventually absorb the pleasant roasted chicken smell. This method of flavor transfer is popular in coffee an cacao. As a matter of personal experience. I already got hold of cacao which tasted like cashew nuts and another batch with hint of barako coffee. Well, resorting to this method, their production expected low and the log price will be high. Not very fitting for affordable model of the fast food chain.

Oh.. it is KFC, as in Kentucky Fried Chicken. They are frying their chicken, not roasting. Kenny Roger Roasters have the in-restaurant equipment to this kind of thing. On other hand, used oil taste like fried chicken. Logs can be treated with it. Because it has oil, it will have more vigorous flame. It will emit a nice fried chicken smell if my assumption is right. Else, the smell of burnt oil. A nicer way of recycling used oil.

The next thing in line. Treating the woods with artificial flavor. Flavoring technique similar to roasted coffee. Liquid flavor is sprayed as the freshly roasted cools. Then sealed to preserve. The same can be done with wood. It can be sprayed with artificial liquid flavor then sealed. The customer can sense the smell even before firing it. It gets stronger as soon as it is ignited.

Do not want to bother yourself with these stuffs? Just get a fried chicken and your good to go.

Coffee and Bugs

If a bug drowns in your coffee, should you still drink it? This post from thewhirlygirl struck me. My quick answer is, certainly not. Not in my wildest dream. In desperate situation maybe. The natural course of actions is throw it away and get a replacement. Plus, cursing of the poor bug several times. We never considered that it never did anything wrong. Its the coffee that was in its way.

coffee and plastic drinking cup

How can anyone stomach it. The usual insect accidentally fall into our beloved coffee, tea or whatever it maybe is “housefly”. It is considered one of the dirtiest insect because of its tendency to alight to virtually anything. It is likely to carry a lot of microorganisms including E. coli. If it is a housefly, the outright choice is not. For other bugs, such as small beetle, we usually consider the removal and continue drinking. For large beetles, moth, butterfly and if so unlucky, cockroach. The action is discontinue.

Just a small side note. We usually don’t mind if insects land to our solid food. Driving them away repeatedly often suffice.

Let’s go back to my professor’s lesson. He said, we should be thankful if we found a live crawling worm in our freshly bought leafy vegetables. It signifies commodity safety. If the tiny creature lives in it then perhaps it is safe to eat. It was not sprayed with harmful chemicals during the growth period. I am not telling it is okay to throw a handful of bugs in your coffee. Instead, it is not as bad as we think.

Food buying decision is base on the following. Is it delicious? Is it healthy? Is it safe? Is it clean? Could it be stored longer? Well, if you highly prioritize cleanliness, think again. Food regulatory authorities never set zero tolerance on any contaminants.

For example, canned juice may contain up to 5 fly eggs per 250 ml. Cacao bean may have up to 4% mold count. Less than 10% insect and insect filth in coffee beans is fine and yet we immediately throw away the hot coffee with drowned fly. There are more of these thing at USFDA defect levels handbook. Our local regulatory has its own version. However, it is harder to find. And in case you do, there is no guarantee it is the latest.

To depth of my knowledge, cleanest production plants are semiconductor manufacturing. Strictly zero contaminants allowed. Products that are obviously not edible.

Instant, Finely Ground Brewed Coffee

I first thought it was ground coffee. As in green coffee beans roasted and ground. Not the usual commercial instant coffee which gone through brewing and crystallization process. Its elegant gold packaging was suggestive of the former. Gold is an expensive element and so any piece of jewelry made of it or has it is also expensive. Any object covered with gold inherits a premium look.

On the back label written “instant coffee finely ground roasted coffee”. I could not clearly see if the “instant coffee” is separated from the rest with a comma. Perhaps it is. It makes it two ingredient product with two same ingredients but passed through different process. Same coffee batch, divided, processed differently and mixed to certain ratio may result to a unique flavor. This time, their purpose was to add a natural brewed taste which is rather unique to instant coffee scene. I once said instant coffee taste was flat and boring. You too may say the same thing if you are a black coffee drinker.

On the other hand, it could be just one. Finely ground roasted coffee. Ground to fineness to point imperceptible to human tongue and remain suspended in plain hot water. In this case one heaping tablespoon per cup is not practical. It will be too strong and all the undesirable flavor will be into the cup. For enthusiasts, coffee preparation is a very delicate thing. Extreme care is taken to exclude unwanted flavor extraction. The product offset this problem by recommending only two grams ground per 100 ml hot water.

The product has hint of naturally brewed coffee. No visible signs of solid powder. Whatever the case maybe, solid is solid. It will settle to bottom after a while. Not unless they added minimal amount of finely ground.

Currently, preparing own brewed coffee is getting easier. There are cheap espresso machines out there. Espresso shots that can be done quickly with even cheaper machines. Filter drip brewer and table top grinders are even cheaper. Grinding can be done with regular blender or bullet type. There are growing numbers of small coffee processors. So fresh coffee grounds are accessible. Roasting coffee at home are become possible with small capacity roasters and diy setup. Huge companies have to do something with current trend.

Taste Like Vinegar and Wine….

Cacao beans should be fermented after taking out of the pod. Not the usual wash-and-dry technique. Otherwise, it is not fit for chocolate making. However, cacao growers should not worry to much about it. There is still market for non-fermented beans. It can still be turned to tabliya. It hurts my ear every time I hear that kind of reasoning. It is like a good song that was awfully rendered. There was a time when a merchant was offering me washed-and-dried beans. I replied, I wanted it fermented. He answered no, fermented beans are for export while the non-fermented are for tabliya making. What was wrong with them?

I used to buy the non-fermented. I stopped when I established reliable suppliers of good beans. It is fact, fermentation is requirement for good tasting chocolate. Others often taste boring and most of the time have inherent soil taste. Is that what they call “earthy”? Perhaps, but what I am referring to is strong soil flavor. It is not pleasant.

Like what others do, I can buy separate set of washed-and-dried beans and save couple of pesos per kilogram. Then get rid of the minor problem I will mention later. However, the bigger problem lies with the storage. It is very attractive to weevils. A 50 kilogram sack often never last for two weeks. It becomes unfit for roasting after the said period. Weevils quickly get to unmanageable numbers which the customers are sure to return the product to us. We don’t like that incident to happen. So if we found unusable unfermented batch, it is automatically rejected and profit loss,  with portion of the capital.

Here is the minor problem. It maybe huge as there is very small portion of customer pool brave enough to complain. They said, why our tabliya tasted like wine and vinegar. Yes, if the one buying is accustomed to regular grocery cocoa powder. He is sure has a big question mark in his head right after sipping the first cup. The same is true for baking purposes, as the alkalized and non-alkalized cocoa mass should be used differently.

We are always explaining. We are using good fermented beans and never adding any except some sugar for our 70% bars (and other higher concentration bars). Our 100% bars and pure tabliya are nothing but cacao. We never claim it is minimally processed and hand made though. The processing from bean to bar or to tabliya requires several machinery and lasts for few days. It is never artisinal. By definition, it means “by hand”. Purely by hand is not impossible but highly inefficient.

There are several ways get rid of winey and vinegary taste. First is the choice of unfermented beans. Second. Roast it longer, refine longer and conch longer. Lengthy processing times remove most of the undesirable flavors but also bring the good with it. You’ll probably end up with flat and boring product. Third is alkalization. It is as simple as adding the nibs or mass with alkaline substance to get a neutral pH and getting rid of acid taste. Then, it allows greater extraction of butter and the remaining mass dissolves better in water.

Third. I think it is the most significant. Commercial makers and some micro to small scale processors are adding too much ingredients. To extent, cacao become a very small fraction of a whole. We love the concoction and often rejects the pure thing.