Thursday, March 13, 2014

back tracking a bit

At the doctors office for something routine today, i could not help but notice all the magazines on food, most as the primary component.
I thought about this blog and thought, "just what the heck am i thinking?"  A billion or so cooks, a million or so chefs and all these magazines...who am I to think i can add anything to such a wealth of knowledge?
But i can, if i stick to what i know and what is, well, me!
What is that?
Born of a French Father and a Greek mother - those foods should not collide and be mixed, but each is special.
Growing up in Texas - very unique, yet there is much German influence in the smoked meats (my dad was Alsatian, very similar)
and then i have a long time exposure to some really old school Italian families, some friends who are Hispanic and some who are Indian.
I do not mix, but there is something to be learned and shared from each.

Then there is my professional calling, as a chemist, one i did well for over 36 years and that truly makes me unique.  So with no further ado, i bring you my next post.

Citrus zest
specifically Orange

Listening to Alton Brown talking about the origins of punch the other day, he talked of some of the flavors from the orange zest being alcohol soluble and a light went off in my head.
I know that the dry zest i use has about a 6 month shelf life before it becomes, well, meh.
I know that freezing dehydrates things even quicker and so looses these essences even faster, but i also know that some of the flavors in a citrus zest are also water soluble.  Since most grain alcohol is at best only 95% alcohol and 5% water (yes i worked with the pure stuff in the lab, but do not have access to that now), alcohol will extract most of the flavor, but not all. 
There still is a significant of non-soluble oils left, but they do not "pop" like the other flavors.
The dry zest i make adds a burst of citrus at a single small point, which is absolutely a wonderful sensation, without overpowering a dish with the citrus flavor.
The alcohol extract would create the flavor, well everywhere and should mix well with the dry zest in special creations.
Knowing all of this, i also proceeded to dry some zest with sugar, which will trap the alcohol and water soluble flavor and provide still another use.

That is what i have been doing and enjoying with zest!