Episode #125 of the Stack Overflow podcast is here. We talk Tilde Club and mechanical keyboards. Listen now

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55

A few years ago I had the rare chance to take a look behind the scenes of the largest manufacturer of fruit sorting, labeling and packaging equipment in the Pacific Northwest and it was impressive to see how much effort and planning goes into designing everything in a way that damage to fruit is avoided at all costs. We talked about how the business evolved ...


44

There is no real black and white definition of that difference, because where the line is drawn varies from crowd to crowd. Botanically speaking, a fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant, whereas vegetables are all other plant parts, such as roots, leaves and stems. By those standards, seedy outgrowths such as ...


41

Non-native and out of season fruits and vegetables that are available in northern countries (e.g. UK, Canada) need to be shipped from far away and will be picked before they are naturally ripe (under the normal sun and heat and getting nutrients from the soil). They will ripen in controlled environments (UV lights, maybe controlled atmosphere and ...


37

It is a combination of many factors. To sell you one perfect apple, one perfect bunch of bananas, or one perfect half-pint of berries requires: the land to grow on workers to plant, tend, weed, and pick transportation to market loss allowance for fruit that's bruised or spoils in transit loss allowance for fruit that spoils while at the store and people won'...


36

In addition to Max's answer, much UK supermarket fruits and vegetables are from varieties grown to have tough skins (so they don't damage in transit), have a long shelf life (so they can be transported long distances and won't go off in the shop), and don't easily bruise / spoil. UK consumers (at least according to supermarkets) care more about cosmetic ...


28

This coating, which wipes right off and is indeed harmless, is called the "bloom" of the grape or sometime the "blush". As described here, (the wiki for Fermentation in winemaking), it contains trace amounts of natural yeast, though thought to be the result of ambient yeast rather than the result of growth process proper. Here we find a more thorough answer,...


25

The same phenomenon occurs with tomato sauce on pizza, or vegetables in a casserole: the moist filling feels much, much hotter than surrounding crust or noodles. In short, this phenomenon is caused by differing thermal properties of the materials involved. The quoted excerpts below (from PhysLink.com) provide some explanation of the physics involved, and I'...


20

Dust the fruit with a little flour before adding to the cake. It will act like a glue and prevent the fruit from sinking.


20

There's a variety of reasons I can imagine: They're more delicate than most other fruits, so shipping without damaging is harder. Loss due to crushing is expected. They go bad quickly, which can limit the area they can be delivered to and the method of delivery (planes are more expensive than trucks) but also gives them significantly shorter shelf life in ...


18

The crisper provides a somewhat enclosed environment, which prevents moisture from escaping as rapidly. Vegetables keep best at a certain humidity, higher than that typically found in the rest of the fridge, but not so high that condensation starts accumulating on them. Vegetables kept in too-dry air in the rest of the fridge will tend to dry out and shrivel ...


17

The ideal tool depends on what you're trying to do with it. If you want something nice and fine, which will release as much flavor as possible, avoid getting any of the pith, and not add distracting texture to a dish, use a fine rasp grater (sometimes known by the brand name microplane): (There are also coarse rasp graters. That won't be any better than a ...


17

The first step is to only pick up items you're likely to buy. Then you should only have to put down items that have an actual problem already. For some things you want to check for ripeness, but under-ripe items are more robust, so it should be possible to pick them up gently without damage and put them down again. After all, it's handled by people and ...


16

Some quick research indicates there are enzymes in freshly-squeezed juice that will degrade it fairly rapidly, and that they can be deactivated by heat. Of course, that also changes the flavor (especially since you're not going to be able to quickly heat and cool it, as it apparently only takes 30 seconds, but any method doable in a home kitchen will keep it ...


16

Some of the terms may be regional but they do generally describe variations on a theme. My general understanding of the differences are as follows: Cobbler - A cobbler is generally a thickened fruit mixture with scone or biscuit-like top crust. Cobbler crusts, notably "Texas cobblers" can also be made with thinner batters that soak into the filling more ...


16

All of your observations are correct - both the distinguishing factors and the fact that there are foods whose belonging to a category is unclear. The reason behind this has nothing to do with cooking and everything to do with human cognition. Humans organize the information in their world in categories, which together build "folk taxonomies". For some ...


15

One thing to add to the answers above - as bananas ripen, the starch in the flesh is converted into sugar. This continues until the starch that was providing the firmness and structure for the banana has, for the most part, been converted to sugar, which is also partly why the insides continue to get mushier as the banana ripens. So more time converting ...


15

Most commercial fruit is picked before being completely ripened because once it is ripened it has a very limited shelf life, and strawberries are no exception. Strawberries ripen from the tip to the stem and a good indicator that a strawberry is unripe is a white ring around the stem area. Some fruits can be artificially ripened by exposing them to ...


15

As the instructions on the box say, you shouldn't put fresh pineapple (or kiwi-fruit) in the Jell-O. Apparently pineapple has an enzyme called bromelain that breaks up the gelatin into its component amino acids. You can use canned pineapple instead as the pineapple is cooked during the canning process and this denatures the bromelain.


14

Don't eat it as-is. It contains cyanide. Bitter almonds are the definitely poisonous thing you've probably heard of; they contain enough cyanide that just a few could kill a small child (according to On Food and Cooking). The poison is released when the kernels are broken, as defensive mechanism. The variety we eat is a "sweet" safe version which doesn't ...


14

The wikipedia article distinguishes between botanical fruits and culinary fruits. (Interestingly, both German ("Obst" vs. "Frucht") and Spanish ("Fruta" vs. "Fruto") have distinct terms for these.) To quote: In culinary terminology, a fruit is usually any sweet-tasting plant part, especially a botanical fruit; a...); and a vegetable is any savory or ...


12

Fruits that are high in pectin are not necessarily sour and sour fruits are not necessarily high in pectin. However, pectin is typically found in high concentrations in firm fleshed fruit such as apples and in the skins of citrus. Unripe fruit has even more than the ripe. So- I can see why you would come to that conclusion. It is easy enough to find charts ...


12

It's not about chemicals on the outside of the fruit; washing the fruit well should take care of that. Whether we eat the skin of any given fruit basically boils down to whether it a) tastes good and b) has a pleasant texture. For example, some people eat the skin of the kiwi, despite it having a hairy texture that many people find unpleasant. Many people do ...


12

In professional smoothie/frozen youghurt/fruit shake shops, you'll usually see the fruit frozen in small pieces for easy portioning. So raspberrys and blueberrys are fine, but you'd wnat to quarter strawberrys and cube mangoes or apples or kiwis or whatever before freezing them. The freezing process itself is important to the strucutral integrity of the ...


12

While many pictures show them deep red (perhaps for the dramatic effect?), even orange flesh wih only some red tinge is normal. Even the wikipedia link you gave in the question states: The Moro is a "deep blood orange" meaning that the flesh ranges from orange-veined with ruby coloration, to vermilion, to vivid crimson, to nearly black. The color of ...


11

In Northern India, we eat Musk Melon and Water Melon seeds. In fact they are used like nuts. We make sweet dish too. The de-kernelling process is done by hand at home, which is quite lengthy. We deseed melon. Put the seeds to dry for approximatively 2 days; with fingers or tweezers, break the kernel and get the yummy seed. Of course, it can be stored for ...


11

Most avocado's are the Hass variety, which will go very dark when ripe It look like you have bought a Reed or maybe Gwen variety. They are perfectly fine. Their skin colour will not significantly change as they ripen, so to check, gently squeeze near the point, and if it is soft it is ripe. If not a few days by the window at room temperature will fix it


11

Corn (Maize) is clearly a cereal grain, and not any of the other things you mention. Even the farmers and agricultural agencies consider it a grain - it's one of the "official grains of Canada" and regulated by the Canadian grain commission. I'm not sure when or why it started being called a vegetable, but as far as the culinary definition goes, it has far ...


11

You have fallen to false believe that fruits from Spain are grown on the fields. Where they are planted in soil by Jose and they go through full vegetation cycle under the Spanish sky. In fact, those tasteless fruits are probably from Almeria greenhouses. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=4508 The seedlings are imported from other ...


11

There's a bit of confusion here because there are two senses of the word "fruit": the botanical sense with a more precise definition (plant parts with seeds), and the common everyday culinary usage with no precise definition (mostly sweet plant things). In a culinary sense, i.e. talking about food, among chefs or just in common speech, there is no strict ...


11

I think you just need to dehydrate them some more to get that effect. I assume granola and muesli tend to use drier raisins because they will keep longer, and not affect the rest of the cereal with extra moisture. The amount of moisture left in raisins can be variable, it depends on how they're made and for what purpose - the moister ones are more ...


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