Sugar Palm Fruit Makes You Feel Itchy !

My father used to harvest half-ripe sugar palm fruits. Immediately after picking, they were boiling the fruits to give it a soft jelly-like consistency. It is then pricked out with a short sharp stick. Soaked and washed in several changes of water for few days. The jelly-like flesh called “kaong” was ready for market. It is use for sweet delicacies.

However, that’s not the main issue . Then process mentioned above always make my body very itchy. They told me to stop talking while the process is on-going. Talking makes me feel itchy? I guessed not.

Half-ripe sugar palm fruits contains high levels of irritating oxalate crystals, calcium oxalate. It is a chemical compound that forms needle-shaped structures. It plays an important role in development of kidney stones.  Some oxalate containing foods are sweet potatoes, black indian tea, okra, chocolate, soybean crackers, peanuts, swiss chard, wheat germ, spinach, beets and rhubarb.

Oxalate crystals is poisonous when ingested. Even small doses of oxalate toxin is enough to cause intense sensations of burning in the mouth and throat, swelling, and choking.  Larger doses cause severe digestive upset, breathing difficulties,  convulsions, coma and death. Recovery from severe oxalate poisoning is possible, but permanent liver and kidney damage is irreversible.

You don’t have to worry . Oxalate crystals reside only on walls and stalk of fruits. The processed “kaong” is  safe to eat. Itching can be prevented by wearing gloves and long sleeves while processing.


updated: May 2017 has clearer explanation regarding calcium oxalate. It is a water insoluble salt that forms a bundle of needle-like crystals called raphides. Contact with moisture causes plant cells to eject these raphides, which may come contact with skin or mucosal surfaces. Raphides longer than 180 micros are believed to be more potent. Upon skin contact, they allow entry of other irritant such as proteases, saponins etc.

So calcium oxalate is like a bunch of tiny thousand arrow traps dabbed with toxin. Water serves as trigger. Piercing effect hurts. Added toxins magnifies pain several times.

How to Prevent Onion Tears?

Mother asked me to prepare meat and vegetables for cooking.  I washed meat and sliced it in cubes. Wash vegetables and chop it. Peeled few pieces of garlic and chopped it very finely.

The last part was really hard for me. It was the peeling and slicing of onions.  My eyes got irritated and tears began falling. The feeling was really uncomfortable. I need to wipe my teary red eyes very open. I used to wear sunglasses to protect my eyes from onions fumes.  I thought that was a good idea like wearing a helmet when you’re driving a motorcycle.  But my tears keep on falling even if I have shades to protect my precious eyes. Hmmm!

Onions produce the chemical irritant known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide. It stimulates the eyes’ lachrymal glands so they release tears. The process goes as follows:

  1. Lachrymatory-factor synthase is released into the air when we cut an onion.
  2. The synthase enzyme converts the sulfoxides (amino acids) of the onion into sulfenic acid.
  3. The unstable sulfenic acid rearranges itself into syn-ropanethial-S-oxide.
  4. Syn-propanethial-S-oxide gets into the air and comes in contact with our eyes. The lachrymal glands become irritated and produces the tears!

There are ways to prevent crying when dealing with onions.

  1. cut the root off last;
  2. refrigerate before cutting;
  3. peel them under cold water;
  4. have a fan behind you or alongside to blow the vapors away;
  5. place a piece of bread on the knife tip to absorb the fumes;
  6. chew gum while peeling and slicing onions.
  7. hold you breath and cut them as quick as you can
  8. have someone else cut them for you! But be ready to get some words of anger !


Difference Between Orange Juice and Orange Juice Drink ?

How many of us know the difference between Orange Juice and Orange Juice Drink? They are basically the same in layman’s term. But technically, differences exist. Some difference are obvious.
The first difference is the price. Orange Juice is prized much higher than Orange Juice Drink. You can buy the first for 35 pesos or higher, while the latter cost only seven pesos or less. I used to choose the cheaper . Now, I only buy Orange juice drink when my wallet cannot afford the expensive one.
The second is the taste.  Orange Juice tastes fruitier than Orange juice drink. Tastes like real orange fruit. The latter possess a watery taste.
The third difference is the packaging. You will notice that Orange juice often packed elegantly. Mostly in easy to open cans . Its counterpart is mostly pack in aluminum pouch.
The fourth and the last. Juice is the liquid part that can be extracted from plant or animal tissue by squeezing or cooking. A label Orange Juice means 100 percent juice or pure fruit extract. Yummy ! While Orange Juice drink is 30% juice and 70 percent water. Correct me if I am wrong ! This explains the price, taste and packaging differences of the two.
Come on ! Buy your drink!

Dangers in Plastic Bottles

Our ancestors uses coconut shells and bamboo stems as containers. They also use it to preserve some food stuffs.
With the advent of technology , glass containers was invented . Glass is really inert . It provide excellent protection for food from oxygen and microbial contamination.  It is also recyclable .
The drawback of  glass bottles is the weight and fragility which lead to wide acceptance of plastic containers as replacements. It is light weight and resistant to breakage.
Human are really created smart. We even preserved the water we drink.  We attempted to preserved  goods for our safety. But the plastic bottles we use to preserved foods might pose greater danger to our health.
We often recycle plastic of bottled water  by filling them repeatedly with tap water.  PET bottles or Plastic No. 1 is recommended safe for single use. According to study , repeated use might leach some carcinogenic compounds.
Bisphenol A ( BPA) is beleived to leach from polycarbonate bottles. The popular hard drinking plastic bottles and baby feeding bottles.  BPA is one of many man-made chemicals classified as endocrine disruptors, which alter the function of the endocrine system by mimicking the role of the body’s natural hormones. Hormones are secreted through endocrine glands and serve different functions throughout the body.

update as of June 19, 2016:
Low level BPA exposure is safe according to FDA. See “FDA Approved Number 7 Juice Bottle ?”

Manufacture of this containers requires enermous  amount of energy .  The fumes from factory adds to environmental pollution.  Although these plastics are easy to recycle. Most of us are not responsible and many of these used bottles go to landfills.
Are you a fan of plastic containers ? Think twice !

How to Use Papaya as Meat Tenderizer

Are you having a hard time making your meat soft. You can use pressure cooker for doing so. In fact it is the most common practice to tender meats.
Before proceeding, remember that pressure cooking uses very high temperatures which might destroys nutrients and flavors. If you do not want losing your meat nutrients and flavors , you might consider using papaya as tenderizer.
Papaya contains papain – an enzyme  that breakdown of proteins by hydrolysis (addition of a water molecule).
Papain maybe used in
1. analysis of proteins
2. preparations of various remedies for indigestion
3. tenderizing meat
4. and in enzyme-action cleansing agents for soft contact lenses.
As meat tenderizer, you can follow the following methods:
Peel off the green skin of raw papaya . Skin is what you need. For every two tablespoon of skin, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Then grind until it turn into a paste. Your meat tenderizer is ready . It can be stored in a refrigerator for later use.
General guidelines for using papaya meat tenderizer:
1. Tenderizer is effective only in pH near neutral. pH 6-7 . As an example tenderize meat firsts before adding fruits like pineapple. Fruits will render the meat acidic making the enzyme inactive.
2. Active temperature range from 140oF to 160oF .Optimal temperature is 149oF. Too hot solution will inactivate papain.
3. Use 2 teaspoons of solution for every pound of meat. Tenderizing time may take from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on type of meat, age and cut.
Begin experimenting and share your experience!