Had a little epiphany the other day. This is not a bit about the science of cooking or is it? Hmmm. I was thinking about food labelling and the newer requirments for restaurants to make there foods nutritional content public. I believe i wrote something close to this a few years ago at the pro chef network...maybe have a look. Anyway, this is more about food labels on processed foods, and how thet might help us chefs understand food chemistry, and even apply it to some tasks. Basically shortcuts, that may help us to accomplish tasks in a more effecient manner.
In the event you ever get into the branded food game, you may want to check out the requirments for food labelling. it's no small feat getting a product on the shelf. And with good reason, the government doesn't want you to poison anyone. For our purposes we are looking for ideas to understand how food is processed. Things like vegan food items, gluten free products and so forth. How do they do it? And can we gleen some information, just be looking at the label? I think we can.
How to use food labels
Different types of information may be available on food packages. This information can help you make informed choices about healthy and safe foods.
Nutrition facts table: provides information on serving size, calories, certain nutrients and % daily values (% DV). The % DV can be used as a guide to show you if the serving of stated size has a little or a lot of a nutrient.
5% DV or less is a little
15% DV or more is a lot
Ingredient list: lists all of the ingredients in a food product by weight. The list starts with the ingredient that weighs the most and ends with the ingredient that weighs the least.
Nutrition claims: includes nutrient content claims and health claims. All foods with a claim must meet certain criteria but some foods may not have a claim even though they meet the criteria.
Food allergen labelling: provides information to help you avoid specific food allergens or sensitivities.
Date labelling: provides information on how long your unopened food product will last and the safety of certain products. The most common types of dates are “best-before,” “packaged on” and “expiration” dates.
What we are really interested in as Chefs are the ingredients, the amount of each, and through a little critical thinking, how they processed the product to make it. I find this especially helpful with vegan, gluton free and diabetic products. Ask your self this, if you could make a similiar product, better and at a fraction of the cost, why wouldn't you?
Let's do a little case study as an example. I'm going to show you a food label from a leading producer of vegetarian foods. i will then develop and share a recipe with you to make the same product, a superior product, for a fraction of the retail price. Let's Go!!
Water, textured soy protein concentrate, canola oil, onions, soy protein isolate, contains 2% or less of: natural flavors, spices, onion powder, mushroom seasoning (mushroom powder, salt, dehydrated onion, torula yeast, sugar, spices), salt, yeast extract, caramel color, soy sauce (water, soybeans, salt, alcohol), carrageenan, garlic powder, cane sugar, cellulose gum, vitamin & mineral blend (potassium chloride, magnesium chlorides, magnesium sulfates, ferrous fumarate, zinc oxide, niacinaminde, vitamin b12, calcium pantothenate, thiamine hydrochloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin). Contains: soy.
WOW, that's a big list. Don't be discouraged don't understand what half the stuff is? Most of us don't. Doesn't matter, google it...lol. You will likely pay $4-5 dollars or more for this package of 4 mediocre burgers...some are even worse, and more expensive. I'm telling you, make it yourself, use natural ingredients...it's not that difficult. Break free of those chains that bind you! Now for a recipe!
Ripped this one off Jamie Oliver, always a good go to for recipes BTW. Well, that's all folks. Have a great week and see you next time for some more interesting thoughts. Cheers!