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The Ultimate Salt Smackdown!

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Ever wonder about the differences between the many varieties of salts?

There’s table salt, kosher salt, sea salt, Himalayan Pink, Cyprus Black Lava… it can feel like the options are endless.

All the salts out there can be confusing, but here’s a sweet secret: as far as chemical composition goes, all salts are virtually identical.

Scientifically, salt is always sodium chloride, or NaCl. Although different varieties of salt may also include additives or trace amounts of minerals, the chemical makeup of salt is always the same.

For culinary purposes, though, it’s the size and shape of salt that can make the difference in a dish.

Here’s a rundown of the 3 most common salts, and when to use them:

TABLE SALT

What It Is: The most commonly-used salt, table salt is the finely-processed salt you’ll find in salt shakers.

Pros: Easily measurable, consistently-sized, and the most common.

Cons: Table salt is the most processed salt, and contains additives. Some say the flavor is not as pure as other salts, especially if iodine is added. Also, due to the ultra-fine crystals, there is a higher chance of accidentally oversalting your food.

Best for:  Baking. Also works great in soups and stews.

Additives: Yes. To prevent clumping, anticaking agents are added (examples are sodium aluminosilicate or magnesium carbonate). Also, iodine — an essential mineral that many people do not get sufficient amounts of in their daily diet — is often added for nutritional purposes.

Measurement Details: Because of the tiny, finely-packed crystals, one teaspoon of table salt does not equal one teaspoon of other salts; table salt can actually be as twice as dense as other salt varieties — that means if you use kosher salt instead of table salt, you may need twice as much in a recipe! Always be cautious before making any salt substitutions.

KOSHER SALT

What It Is: With its large, irregular surface area, kosher salt has been used historically in the kashering process to draw blood out of meat (hence, the name “kosher” salt).

Pros: Kosher salt is a favorite of chefs. Since the coarse granules are easy to sprinkle and large enough to see, kosher salt gives you greater control over seasoning. And since there is no added iodine, kosher salt has a completely pure flavor. It also has a crunchy mouthfeel, which works well as a finishing salt.

Cons: Doesn’t dissolve as easily as table salt, and can give an uneven, sporadic saltiness to foods, especially baked goods.

Best for: Brining, curing, pickling, as a finishing salt, and any time you need a controlled sprinkle of salt.

Additives: Most often, no. (Some brands may contain anti-caking agents. To be sure of purity, check the ingredient panel; it should have SALT as the only ingredient.)

Measurement Details: Kosher salt comes in different shapes, which can affect the way it measures out. Diamond Crystal, the preferred brand of chefs, has a pyramidal structure, while the granules in Morton are flatter. Measure salts by weight (instead of volume) to get the most consistent result. Always be cautious before making any salt substitutions.

SEA SALT

What It Is: An unprocessed, coarse salt that is collected from evaporated sea water.

Pros: The craggy granules lend a salty and surprising flavor explosion to foods (think: sea salt caramels). Because of its natural source, sea salt contains trace minerals that may add a unique flavor to foods depending on where it has been harvested from.

Cons: Not the best for baking or in any recipe which requires a consistently salty flavor throughout.

Best for: Use in a salt grinder, and as a finishing salt to add a final burst of flavor to foods such as meats, fish, vegetables, and desserts.

Additives: No. However, specialty sea salts can be smoked, flavored, and colored with added ingredients.

Measurement Details: Sea salt comes in many grain sizes (from powder-fine to extra-coarse), each size useful for a different application. Always be cautious before making any salt substitutions.

Written by Lubicom for Kosher.com

Refrigerator Do’s and Don’ts

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It was getting late and once again I was left with the usual dilemma; wanting to go to bed but having a pot of hot soup waiting for the fridge. They say a watched pot never boils, but in my case, it was the opposite. The watched pot just wasn’t cooling down. I finally ran out of patience, stuck it in the fridge and ran to bed.

How many of you just cringed? Everyone knows not to put hot food in the fridge.

But was I actually wrong? What’s the worst that can happen?

You don’t have to worry about overheating your fridge and causing the food to spoil. Your fridge can handle hot temperatures (It’s stronger than it looks.) The issue is with your food sitting at the wrong temperature for too long. Things can get dangerous. Bacteria tend to grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

So the real question is: Will your food cool down quickly enough to reach a safe temperature in the fridge?

Below are some TIPS to help your food cool faster and stay fresher in the fridge.

  1. Divide the food into a bunch of small containers to speed up the cooling process.
    I know this sounds inconvenient. Who wants to wash extra dishes? But if you will have to waste time waiting for your huge pot to cool, the few minutes of washing dishes is worth your while. Using wide, shallow containers will be the most efficient.
  2. Stick it in an ice-water bath.
    This sounds like too much effort, but it works. Your hot food will cool much faster, enabling you to get on with your life. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes and place the containers of food inside.
  3. Cooked food should only sit out for around two hours.
    After that, you should transfer it to its new home (aka the fridge). Don’t let it sit on the counter for longer than that or the bacteria can grow.
  4. Once you refrigerate it, make sure it’s covered.
    Sounds obvious, but make sure the lid to the container is secure or the foil is wrapped tightly. You don’t want fridge-flavored soup, do you? And besides, spills can be easily prevented if things were covered properly in the first place.

Okay so my food is finally cooled, and refrigerated, I can forget about it now. Right?

Not exactly. Food can’t last in the fridge forever. (That’s what freezers are for.)

The food should only be placed in the fridge if you’ll be eating it within the next few days. If it won’t be eaten within the next 3-4 days, then into the freezer it goes. Each food has a different shelf life, as I’m sure you’re aware. Here’s a sampling of the fridge life of some items:

  • Raw ground meats and stew meat and poultry and fish: 1-2 days
  • Cooked meat, poultry, fish, pizza: 3-4 days
  • Raw meat roasts, steak, opened deli meat: 5 days
  • Hot dogs, yogurts and other processed foods have a much longer refrigeration life. They can last more than a week.

When in doubt, throw it out. That leftover slice of pie that’s looking suspiciously green, even if it’s only two days old, can be dumped. Trust your instincts.

You should constantly check your fridge so you can catch those leftovers before their time is up. It’s such a shame to throw out food that was perfectly fine the day before.

For those leftovers that you quickly have to get rid of, Kosher.com has recipes you can use to turn them into a fresh, delicious dish.

 

Bimbo Bakery- What’s Really Going On?

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By Menachem Lubinsky, Lubicom CEO

 

We all know Bimbo Bakery products; we all love Bimbo Bakery Products, so what is going on and why are there so many rumors?

You know their brands: Thomas, Levy’s, Arnold’s, Sara Lee and Freihofer, among others.

The announcement in November that the kosher certification would be dropped on all Bimbo bread products created quite a firestorm in the kosher community. Like with most issues in 2018, people took to social media with hundreds of comments online, heated discussion on Facebook, and people demanding answers from the rabbis.

I had the same thoughts. Isn’t it ironic that in the year 2018 when approximately 2,000 new kosher certifications were awarded, that a company with a long-standing tradition of kosher certification should be one of the few companies in the last two decades to remove their kosher certification? This lack of sensitivity to an extremely loyal base is unprecedented.

When reviewing the complaints, I discovered that many protests were coming from customers who rely on the special low calorie and whole-grain breads. Others were upset customers who live in smaller markets where breads like Arnold’s are their only option for kosher bread.

Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of the Kashrus Division of the Orthodox Union, was optimistic that the OU kosher certification would continue on most products. He said that the company was undergoing some internal reviews of its baking sources and that the OU was working with them to adapt to some of these changes.

What most people don’t know is that in a few days, officials of Bimbo Bakeries and the Orthodox Union (OU) will meet once again to discuss the kosher status of many of the brands that Bimbo owns. Following the first meeting, Bimbo and the OU issued the following statement: “Bimbo Bakeries USA & the Orthodox Union had a productive meeting on December 13, 2018. We are confident that working together we can meet the bread and buns needs of kosher consumers.  Bimbo Bakeries and the OU have identified several possible solutions and aim to finalize a plan in January 2019. Bimbo Bakeries continues to offer kosher certified breakfast and sweet baked goods products under the Thomas’ and Entenmann’s brands.”

The US story of Bimbo Bakeries began in 1994 when Grupo Bimbo – Mexico’s largest baking company with operations in 21 countries – purchased La Hacienda, a California-based tortilla company. Bimbo Bakeries USA then entered the U.S. bread market in 1997. It now owns most of the baking brands in the US including Entenmann’s, Thomas’ and Boboli. In 2009, Grupo Bimbo purchased the remaining U.S. fresh baked goods business of George Weston Ltd., adding brands such as Arnold, Brown Berry, Freihofer’s and Stroehmann. It also owns Sara Lee’s bread business.

Written by Lubicom for Kosher.com

The 21-Year-Old Chef Conquering Jerusalem

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By Menachem Lubinsky, Lubicom CEO

At 21, Avi Katz can do much more than flip omelets.

When I think of a successful chef, a few images come to mind. I picture a crisp, white chef’s hat worn by a middle-aged man, matched with an equally ironed out white apron. Pair that with shocking amounts of coffee, lots of late nights, and of course some unhealthy habits that I associate with the life of a restaurant chef.

Well, imagine my surprise that the guy flipping my onion omelet at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem is only 21 and cooking for 18 years? Yep, he’s been cooking since he was 3 and actually had his own catering business at 12 specializing in exotic soups. With his smart chef’s uniform, he looks every bit the chef you would expect at a 5-Star hotel.

From the moment I met Avi, my chef standards changed. No more do I associate quality food and impeccable plating with older chefs. Instead, I have come to the realization that the millennial generation has changed today’s restaurant standards. With social media being the prominent source for culinary ideas, they have really taken food to the next level, and it’s hard to compete.

Flashback two years earlier, Avi was the winner of the first-ever Kosher Masters Competition at Kosherfest, hosted by Joy of Kosher’s Jamie Geller. With hundreds of onlookers and thousands watching via livestream, Avi tackled a mystery box to create: Herb-Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb with Ribboned Vegetables Rendered in Beef Bone Marrow, and Kielbasa Sausages with Orange Gastrique. I was really out of breath when he went through the ingredients and more so when I tasted his dishes.

Now a master in his own homemade Facon sausages and handmade dried beef jerkies, Avi explained that even simple chicken has to be massaged and treated, much like a human is treated in an expensive sauna.

Quite a resume for a yeshiva boy who hails from Memphis, learned in Miami, went to Lev Hatorah in Israel and in between worked in Pesach programs and even as a sous chef for the Achva West travel program. Here and there he was hired to be a private chef and even got to do a few high-end anniversary dinners. Mentors? Sure, Shelly Ostrow, the well-known chef from Holy Cow in Memphis.  No wonder investors are banging down his door to open a restaurant. But he and his wife are in no hurry.

So what’s next? In the meantime, the Katzes are truly happy in Jerusalem but don’t be surprised if this rising up-and-comer turns up somewhere near you.

Written by Lubicom for Kosher.com

How To Avoid Catastrophe When Grocery Shopping with Kids

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Have you ever come across a mom gliding happily across the supermarket aisles with her brilliantly behaved kids?

This supermom might have a baby in a kangaroo wrap, another in the front seat of the shopping cart, and possibly a third (and very quiet) toddler sitting in the cart itself, surrounded by piles of canned goods.

I have seen moms like that. And if you’re one of them you can stop reading this. Like right now. You will learn nothing here.

But if you are not like that supermom, and you experience a mild panic attack at the thought of towing your kids along with you to the grocery store, check out the ideas below. Some of them might just make shopping with your kids a less hazardous activity than you expect.

  1. Make a list
    Or better yet, make two.To avoid thoughtless purchases and impulse buys (much more likely when you’re busy making sure your toddler doesn’t bolt), make a thorough list of what you need before you leave.
    And for your child, check out these cutesy tootsy grocery list printables that feature photos of common food items you might need. Hand your kid a pencil and one of these printables. Best case: he’ll be so busy on this supermarket scavenger hunt, he’ll forget how badly he needs that “breakfast cereal” — I mean, those tiny cookies that are disguised as breakfast cereal.
  2. Feed your kids. And yourself.
    Eating before shopping is a must.
    It will head off crankiness (for kids and adults), impede the over-purchasing of food you actually don’t need, and prevent impulse purchases of stuff that isn’t even food!
    Yup. One study found that hungry shoppers actually bought more binder clips than non-hungry shoppers (binder clips! really!). Apparently, our mind translates those dratted “I am hungry” signals into “gimme gimme gimme!”. And yes, this also goes for kids and adults.
  3. Plan for snack attacks
    Bring along baggies of snacks that can keep hunger at bay, and keep little fingers occupied.
    Worst snacks: Anything especially greasy, sticky, or that has a very likely possibility of spillage.
    Best snacks: Finger foods that take time and/or fine motor skills to eat. The busier you can keep those pudgy hands, the easier the shopping trip will be.
  4. Avoid the crowds
    The last thing you want when shopping with kids is to be met with disapproving looks from strangers after your kid steers the shopping cart straight into that teetering stack of yogurts. And waiting in a long line after an exhausting shopping trip is not going to be pleasant.
    For kosher grocery shopping, the worst times are Thursday, Friday, and before any yom tov.
    For the large supermarkets, you’ll want to bypass the weekends altogether, as well as those after-work rush hours (usually from 4-6 pm).
    As a general rule, any early weekday hours will have the least crowds. Plus, if you have little kids, shopping in the morning hours that precede naptime will be your best chance of having a smooth trip.
  5. Make it a learning experience
    Get in touch with your inner teacher!
    The grocery store is packed with potential educational experiences that can actually be fun.
    Give these games a try: Supermarket I Spy, ABC or Color Hunts, guessing produce weights and learning to use the scale, reading food labels and store signs.
  6. Don’t forget the fun!
    Food shopping may be a chore, but you can still find ways to make exciting. Especially when you have a kid tagging along.Ways to amp up the entertainment:
  • Download a new game on your phone to be used exclusively while you’re shopping. (Search “kids shopping games” for a bunch of cute and educational shopping/cash register games.)
  • Let each child pick one treat of her own choosing. (Don’t panic! You can guide them with rules on nutrition and price, but try as much as possible to have them feel freedom of choice.)
  • What could be more fun than shopping with a doppelgänger! Invest in a kid-size shopping cart, like this one from Melissa & Doug, and enjoy shopping with your mini-me. (Tread carefully with this one, though. You’ll have to be sure your child has enough patience to stick with the game and follow you around for the duration of the shopping trip, otherwise you might be stuck lugging around a toy cart and a screaming kid.)

And if all else fails, get a babysitter.

Written by Lubicom for Kosher.com

Kosher People of the Google

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By Menachem Lubinsky

We are often referred to as “People of the Book!” It describes our total allegiance to that book, the Torah. So, are we now the “People of the Click?” How else can you explain that in a recent 12-month period, searches for kosher on Google surged by 13.5%, well beyond other food categories and even other non-food searches.

There was a lot more in the presentation by Yarden Horwitz, a former trendspotting expert at Google and co-founder of SPATE. Speaking at the opening session of Kosherfest on Tuesday November 13th, Ms. Horwitz revealed that Google searches before Pesach are through the roof. But growth by 13.5% between August 2017 and August 2018? Wow!

And that’s not all. We are searching for all the kosher versions of the latest trends. We are into Keto foods which are high carbohydrate – low protein foods that are now available in many categories including snacks and even pizza. There has been a 98% growth in Keto snacks. Kosher consumers appear to be searching for the “superfoods” and “food makeovers.” One makeover category is the fascination with “bowl foods” including ACU, Poke, Playa, Buddha, and even egg rolls.

Says Yarden: “More and more consumers are turning to superfoods as a way of dealing with increased anxiety.” Experts define superfoods as popular must have foods in today’s diet. Some examples include dark leafy greens, berries, green tea and legume

So, the news that we use the internet to enhance our kosher way of life is out. It is no wonder that sites like kosher.com are doing so well. It has done wonders for kashrus. The ability to search for an item and to determine the identity of the certification agency or rabbi is a gamechanger. Most of the kashrus agencies nowadays have apps that allow us to instantly search for a product. I have seen women consult the apps while shopping in a supermarket.

Remember the old days, when you either had to consult with your local rabbi or call a hotline to ask your question, sometimes taking days. It got even more complicated before Pesach when you are in the kitchen and need instant answers.

“Rabbi Google” to the rescue! In many cases, even if you have a more complicated question on kashrus, you might find the answer with a Google search. At least you might find out which rabbi says what. Technology is definitely playing a big role in kashrus education, but according to Ms. Horwitz, people from all walks of life are searching for kosher food products, recipes, eateries, caterers, travel and much more. And not just Jews. A non-Jewish acquaintance told me that she searches for kosher Chanukah gifts for colleagues on-line. The world of kosher has become so vast that it has spilled over to the internet.

A developing facet of the internet is on-line shopping that now includes many kosher supermarkets. People are doing entire orders on-line for delivery to their doorsteps or doing on-line orders for pick-up, saving them valuable time negotiating the aisles of the supermarket. To quote one supermarket executive: “The internet has become like another branch of my store without the overhead.”

Ms. Horwitz’s work as a trendspotter is an enormous asset to the kosher food industry. Manufacturers can produce the products that kosher consumers want. Retailers can stock the items that are “hot” and perhaps use merchandising to flag their being up-to-date with products that are “in.” It can even be beneficial to restaurants and caterers who can plan menus accordingly. Anyone for kosher gnocchi? Had it three times in the last two weeks at simchas.

According to Yarden, there is a flip side. Remember when Kale was the hottest trend in foods? Apparently, it is not so hot anymore. This means that trendspotting can equally predict foods that are on the decline and perhaps have trended and are out. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the popularity of foods is also on a cycle with some lasting longer than others. Nor should it be a surprise that in kosher as well, there are ups and downs.

Finally, what you learn from a trendspotter like Yarden Horwitz is that one size does not fit all. The Millennials have brought back many foods that were considered passé. Even herring had a resurgence that only 20 years ago seemed on the decline. Today, herring is a category with many applications that go well beyond the schmaltz. Or take cholent and kugel that has emerged as kind of “superfood” in kosher that goes well beyond being the traditional hot food on Shabbos. Imagine Googling for the best cholent in a given neighborhood.

You might say that Google has by far replaced the “word of mouth” that was the customary way of transmitting information on your favorite kosher food. If Ms. Horwitz has her way, we will be able to predict what new kosher foods you will enjoy and which foods you no longer care for. Wow, that’s progress!

Written by Lubicom for Kosher.com