Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Infusion and Irradiation

We are one-third of the way through this blog challenge. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am. And if any culinary terms confuse you, please list them in comments, and I’ll tackle them as well.

Infusion changes the taste of what is being soaked in from what is being soaked. A simple example is tea. Tea is an infusion of flavor and color from the steeping/soaking of tea leaves.

In the culinary world, sauces flavored with herbs and spices are considered infusions.

To get people to drink more water there have been a spate of recipes for infusing water with steeped fruits and veggies. In this case the infusion also imparts added nutrients along with the change of flavor.

Not being a water drinker by nature, I find that adding citrus or cucumber to my water encourages me to drink more. Water, that is. Not, um, you know, DRINK more! Experiment. If you like the fruit or veggie, you may like the infused water from it.

Here’s are a couple of sites with combo recipes I enjoy using for infused water:

Irradiation gets folks really riled up. Even though irradiation, bombarding food with low-frequency energy, has been approved by the FDA as a way to extend the shelf life of foods by getting rid of destructive microorganisms and insects, some folks remain concerned with the long-term effects.

Any irradiated food must be marked with a special symbol so people know what they are buying. Irradiation can extend shelf life by weeks so it has implications for shipping and storing fresh food.

Interestingly, if an irradiated food is used as an ingredient in another food, it doesn’t have to be identified as irradiated. Did you know that many spices are irradiated before packaging for sale? That pork tenderloin that is already flavored for you? Maybe it contains irradiated spices. Yet one more reason I never buy those. I marinate my own meat.

Some worry that irradiating destroys friendly as well as unfriendly microorganisms and that our guts need the good guys. Whereas, proponents of irradiation liken it to pasteurization that resulted in safer milk.

The jury is still out on the long-term safety of irradiated foods. But odds are good you are getting some of them even if you think you’re avoiding irradiation.

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