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Sep 01, 2014
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Fact or Fiction

Fact or Fiction: The heat is in the seeds

Monday, September 13th, 2010

091310_pepperWelcome to Fact or Fiction, a new online column in which we dive into the truth behind some well-accepted foodie wives’ tales – and reveal whether they’re fact or fiction.

Fact or Fiction: Most of the heat in peppers is in the seeds

Fiction. The majority of the capsaicin (the active component that gives chile peppers their heat) is in the pepper’s internal membranes – the white flesh often referred to as the veins. In fact, the seeds of the pepper do not produce any capsaicin. However, when you cut a pepper open, the capsaicin is released onto the seeds. Therefore, to effectively remove the heat from a chile pepper when cooking it, it is best to eradicate both the seeds and the white fleshy membrane from the produce.

Fact or Fiction: All alcohol burns off when cooking

Monday, August 30th, 2010

083010_flambeWelcome to Fact or Fiction, a new online column in which we dive into the truth behind some well-accepted foodie wives’ tales – and reveal whether they’re fact or fiction.

All alcohol burns off when cooking

Fiction: While professionals can’t agree on whether all the alcohol truly burns off when boiling or simmering a sauce, most studies have shown that at least some alcohol remains in food after cooking. Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, so it’s commonly assumed that the alcohol will begin to evaporate before the water does. This much is true. However, even after boiling or simmering a sauce, some alcohol can still remain – the amount, though, can differ. It all depends on how long you cook it, at what temperature and the concentration of the cooking method.

According to a 2003 study by the USDA, the amount of alcohol remaining in food after it’s cooked can range greatly – from 5 percent to 85 percent. The most affective method of removing alcohol from a sauce, according to the study, is to bake or simmer it for several hours. The least affective? Adding it to a boiling liquid, quickly flambéing it and then removing it from the heat.

Fact or Fiction: Oil in pasta water prevents sticking

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

082310_OliveOilWelcome to Fact or Fiction, a new online column in which we dive into the truth behind some well-accepted foodie wives’ tales – and reveal whether they’re fact or fiction.

Adding oil to pasta water prevents the noodles from sticking together.

Fiction: When you add oil to pasta water, most of the oil will float to the top. And while a small amount of the oil will actually stick to the pasta, this only creates a slick texture on the noodle and makes it more difficult for sauce to adhere to the pasta – an essential element of any good pasta dish. The best way to make sure pasta noodles don’t stick together is to cook them in a large pot using plenty of water (a good rule here is four to six quarts of water per every pound of pasta), so the noodles have room to move around. Also, make sure you stir the pasta regularly, especially in the first one to three minutes of cooking, as that’s when the noodles are at their stickiest.

Fact or Fiction: Don’t put tomatoes in the fridge

Monday, August 16th, 2010

081610_tomatoesWelcome to Fact or Fiction, a new online column in which we dive into the truth behind some well-accepted foodie wives’ tales – and reveal whether they’re fact or fiction.

You shouldn’t store fresh tomatoes in the refrigerator.

Fact. Refrigerating a tomato can result in a fruit that is less flavorful, crisp and aromatic when you take it out. In order for your heirloom tomatoes to truly shine this season, keep them in a paper bag until they ripen. Once they ripen (you’ll know they’re ready when they’re bright in color and slightly soft), store them at room temperature – around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, stem up and not stacked on top of one another (which can cause bruising). In this scorching heat, that means they need to be in air conditioning. If you cut a few too many for that caprese salad, however, sliced tomatoes will need to be kept in the fridge. Just wrap them in plastic wrap, and they’ll stay good in there for a few days – much longer and they, too, will lose their flavor.

Looking for some fresh ways to use your heirlooms this season? Check out our Flawless Flavor feature from the August issue for a few tasty ideas.

Fact or Fiction: Cheese is made of mold

Monday, August 9th, 2010

080910_bluecheeseWelcome to Fact or Fiction, a new online column in which we dive into the truth behind some well-accepted foodie wives’ tales – and reveal whether they’re fact or fiction.

Cheese is made of mold.

Fact and Fiction. For this one, we consulted Simon Lehrer, cheesemonger at The Wine Merchant, and a human encyclopedia of all things cheese.

His answer: Sort of. “The cheese is made from milk, but then mold can set up either on the outside (like on any of the white cheeses that you see such as Brie or Camembert, that blooming white rind is mold) or on the inside (when you see the little bits of blue in blue cheese, that’s mold as well). However, most cheeses don’t have mold, and of those that do, it’s less than 10% of the cheese.”

For more cheesy insight from Lehrer, check out what artisan cheeses he recommends for spicing up your sandwiches at home in The Art of the Sandwich: A better slice.

Fact or Fiction: Does alcohol freeze?

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

080210_shiverWelcome to Fact or Fiction, a new online column in which we dive into the truth behind some well-accepted foodie wives’ tales – and reveal whether they’re fact or fiction.

Alcohol does not freeze.

Fiction: Actually, alcohol does freeze; its freezing point is simply far below that of water. For instance, water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, while ethanol (or pure grain alcohol such as Everclear) freezes at -173.2 degrees Fahrenheit. So why can you put a bottle of your favorite liquor in the freezer without it ever solidifying? That’s because most home freezers don’t reach temperatures anywhere near -173.2 degrees and, therefore, a bottle of vodka or rum is usually just chilled in these conditions – not frozen. Not all alcohol is the same, however, and the freezing point will depend on the proof of the alcohol – the lower the proof, the warmer the freezing point; the higher the proof, the colder the freezing point. This is why lower-proof alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine coolers and even some liquors such as Malibu rum will freeze in a freezer. Mixing alcohol with other liquids such as sodas and fruit juices also raises the freezing temperature of the drink and could result in part of the drink turning into slush.

Got ya in the mood for a frothy cocktail? Check out this month’s St. Louis Scene, in which Sauce writer Matt Berkley reveals the chilly details behind downtown’s new ice-inspired vodka bar, Shiver.

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