An Interesting Question.. Ampalaya for Chocolate Making?

Most people like chocolate not because it is bitter. It is because of too much sugar added to it. I am not sure if we are born with a sweet tooth or we are trained to have it. Some people eat roasted cacao, the nibs. Others prefer 100% pure chocolate. I am making 70% bean-to-bar chocolate but my two kids never eat it. They love sari-sari store bought chocolates instead.

If majority love sweet things, then why add another bitter ingredient to an already bitter one? Is it just because of possible benefits to health and not for flavor development?

If you are used to commercial mass produced chocolates. The kind of very sweet and less chocolaty taste. Then you’ll reject the artisinal bean-to-bar the first time you try it. What more if bitter ampalaya is added.

If the question is ampalaya for chocolate making. Then the answer is a straight no. Cocoa beans has typical cocoa butter content of 50%, while the other has nothing at all. Amplaya coffee is possible because the only thing needed is roast it to near charcoal state. People tend to add the “coffee” word to anything roasted these days. Corn coffee, rice coffee, soya coffee etc…

If the question is ampalaya for adding to chocolate. Then, it can be. Chili can be mixed to chocolate. The hot and spicy.. Why not try the bitter ampalaya. Healthy plus another healthy partner is double the benefits. Slice ampalaya, dry, and use as chocolate toppings. For bean-to-bar makers, dried veggie could be added during the grinding phase.

For me it is not worth a try. But, who knows? The combination might become a big hit.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Tortang Ampalaya with Mashed Squash

Ingredients:
1/4 kilo ampalaya, sliced
1/2 cup mashed squash
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 bulb onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 beaten eggs
salt and ground pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:
Wash and clean ampalaya. Saute garlic and onion until golden brown. Add tomato and salt and pepper to taste. Stir ocassionally. Mix ampalaya and mashed squash. Cover the pan and heat for two minutes. Add beaten egg, wait until it curds. Serve hot.

torta kalabasa ampalaya

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Postharvest Practices of Some Crops in Our Local

This post is an excerpt from one of my masteral subject requirements. It deals with the existing postharvest practices of five major crops in our small barrio.

Patola

Patola are harvested when they are long and big but the wedges are still soft to touch. Harvesting is done any time of the day, rain or shine. The stalk is cleanly cut with a sharp bolo to prevent damage to vine. The preferred harvesting days are Fridays and Tuesdays to coincide with the next day market. This scheme causes some fruits to become over-mature and allow to grow as source of seeds.

If the commodity is not sold for 1 to 2 days, a small portion of the stalk is cut off to make it look fresh again.

For farms more than one kilometer from the road, hauling is done by horse. Patola are carefully arranged in two big metal baskets. These often result to breakage in which the severity depends on horse behavior and skill of horse handler.

Patola is a delicate commodity, easily broken when dropped or bent. To prevent damage, a group of 35 are wrapped together in banana bracts. It serves as a good protection but not good enough to resist fall or rough handling of transporters.  Non straights are packed separately and command a lower price.

Ampalaya (Bitter Gourd)

There are no exact criteria for maturity indices of bitter gourd. The following are the rough basis.  It should not be too big or too small depending on varieties. The wrinkle spaces should not be too wide and should not have any cracks.

They are packed in large polyethylene bags with a capacity of five to ten kilograms. Non straights and too small are packed separately and commands a lower price. Bag is closed only during transport to prevent accumulation and condensation of moisture.

Patani (Lima Beans)

Harvested when he beans are plumbed with the tip still soft to touch.  Those with skin damages are harvested but separated and checked if the beans inside are still fit for consumption. Four bean-pods are separated as it commands higher price. Two-bean pods and three-bean pods are sold for lower price. One-bean pods, over matured and those with skin damages are not sold. They are destined for home consumption.

Santunis

Harvested in its green ripe stage or the “manibalang” in Tagalog. Fruits with 10% or more yellow skin are left behind. They are likely to break and rot during transport, handling and storage. Harvesting time is done about past 9:00 am. Harvesting too early in the morning results in skin browning. The reason behind it is scientifically explained but very few farmers know it.

The harvested santunis are packed in sacks. Horses are used to transport it from farm to nearest road. Two sacks are secured on horse side using ropes and one on horseback, for a total of three sacks per transport.  This mode of transport causes an obvious damage to some fruits.

Santol

The fruit is harvested when it is yellow with slight traces of green color. The full ripeness of orange color has the best taste but the latter is preferable. It is still hard enough to resist transport vibrations and has longer shelf life for transport, storage and marketing.

Harvesting is done by climbing the tree and getting the fruits one by one with the use a small basket attached to a long bamboo pole. The harvester has a large bamboo basket (kaing) nearby as partial fruit container, attached to a long rope to facilitate the careful down transport.

harvesting santol fruits

Dropping fruits from tree during harvesting are still whole, looks good for market but are not included for packing and selling.  Some of the dropped fruits are overripe and almost all will have internal browning after few days.

The fruits are packed and transported in the same manner as santunis.  However, santol leaves are placed in sack bottom and top to serve as cushion.

Santol has relatively thick rind. It can be placed under the heat of sun for prolonged period without visible evidence of wilt.   The practice of leaving it under the heat of sun is common.

Mode of Transport

One mode of transportation was already mentioned above, horses which are trained to carry goods.  They are very common as many farms are far from road side and inaccessible to four-wheeled vehicles. Even if the farms are accessible, horses are still preferred during the rainy seasons.  These horses can cause some damage to commodities depending on their behavior. It can ruin the whole batch if gone wild and the owner is unable to control.

The cheapest way to transport good is by human means. Goods are packed in bayong or bamboo baskets and carry on shoulder or head. Carrying is usually done in a way most comfortable to carrier without taking consideration the effect on the commodity. Damage is likely.

Small time vehicular transport to market is fine but much harvest is jeopardized if done by the wholesale buyers. Mixed commodities are arranged in such a way the vehicle can carry the maximum commodity weight and not the way which is more conducive to harvest. Handlers (kargadors) are stepping on the goods during loading, transport and unloading.

Time of transport is usually done very early in the morning. Colder temperature is favorable but it is not the real reason for early transport. Buyers and sellers meet very early to avoid heavy traffic.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

9 Uses of Salt in Food Preparation

Summarizing what salt can do’s, experience based.

1) First and the foremost, for flavoring purposes, the salty taste. A plain bland tasting rice could be a satisfying meal when sprinkled with right amount of salt. It is among my choices during my childhood years (rice with salt, sugar or coffee).

2) As preservative. Salt solution is forced to egg not to enhance its flavor, but to make its storage life longer. Salty condition is a limiting factor for most spoilage organisms.

3) I was thinking, salt is sprinkled all over the fish to add flavor and unintentionally increase the oil flying power during frying. It turned out the other way. Salt extracts excess water from fish flesh, thus, reducing the tendency of oil to fly during frying. Water is the thing responsible for oil jumping off the pan, not the salt.

4) Make the sour guyabano sweet. I mentioned it several times already. Dipping sour guyabano pulp on rock salt makes it sweet.

5) Counteract to much chilli hotness. These was our previous practice. Add more chilli to vinegar dip until our lips were burning hot. Then add some salt to vinegar when we couldn’t bear it.

6) Extract bitterness from ampalaya. Mashing ampalaya slices with salt removes some bitterness. Thanks to this method. I can eat ampalaya to some extent.

7) Extract astringent taste of puso ng saging. A method similar to ampalaya slices. Mashing banana heart slices with salt and squeezing it after removes astringent taste.

8) Remove coffee bitterness and make it taste better. Many says it works but I couldn’t notice the difference.

9) Remove the repulsive taste of raw garlic. I’ve heard of it recently. I’m going to find out if it is true or not.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Pineapple Can Reduce Ampalaya Bitterness?

Pineapple can reduce or eliminate the bitterness of ampalaya. I’m  not sure about it. It’s just a hearsay. No scientific basis.

Ampalaya is bitter because of a certain substance, as stated here, “Ampalaya is Bitter Because of Alkaloid Momordicine“.

I setup a simple experiment without reading related articles from the world wide web. I never bought the two commodities just for the sake of test. I waited patiently for this rare opportunity. The availability of both amplaya and pineapple in house.

How can pineapple reduce or eliminate the bitterness of ampalaya? Maybe the first has some sort of enzymes that react to momordicine, the likes of papain that can soften tough meats.

I grabbed a piece of ampalaya while my wife was preparing a meal for lunch. I sliced it thinly then soaked in pineapple juice. I waited one hour and had a taste. The taste became slightly less bitter. Waited more hours but it never became significantly less bitter.

ampalaya slices in pineapple juice
The verdict. Pineapple cannot remove ampalaya bitterness. The principle is similar to adding sugar and other spices to ampalaya dish. Ampalaya when eaten with pineapple slices, the sweet and sour taste tend to mask the bitterness. It can mask but cannot remove the bitter substance completely.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.