Traditional recipes

Frozen Yogurt Inside Edible Packaging Released

Frozen Yogurt Inside Edible Packaging Released

Pop one of these frozen balls of yogurt in your mouth (peach flavor pictured here), and you don't have to throw out the packaging!

Have you ever looked at your frozen yogurt’s plastic or cardboard packaging and thought, “I’m still a little hungry, I wish I could eat the box”? Well even if you haven’t, Stonyfield Farm is making edible food packaging a reality with their “yogurt pearls” which contain portions of frozen yogurt inside edible skins instead of cardboard cartons. The completely sanitary and nutritious pearls can be placed directly into shopping carts, according to Stonyfield, making it a completely plastic-free treat. That’s plus one for the environment.

“We’ve long dreamed of the day that after you eat the yogurt, you eat the cup too,” Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield co-founder and chairman, said in a statement. “Frozen yogurt pearls are the next step in a revolution. No spoon needed, just a delicious bite of beautifully-crafted organic frozen yogurt served without any container. Re-imagine all the ways you can eat your favorite organic dessert.”

In case you’re wondering, the skin on yogurt pearls, called “WikiPearl,” is made from organic fruit materials, and was developed by WikiFoods. The skin is designed to protect the yogurt inside, and can be carried, washed and thrown (OK, maybe not thrown), without affecting the product inside. For now, the pearls can be found at various grocery stores in the Boston/Cambridge area inside small, biodegradable cellulose bags located in the freezer section.

Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi.


Best Honeysuckle Recipes You Need to Try this Season

Yes, you can eat the beautifully scented honeysuckle flower! Here are some delicious honeysuckle recipes to use this fragrant edible and medicinal flower this season. Here’s what to know about honeysuckle benefits and some amazing uses for honeysuckle!

This is a guest post from a veteran forager and apprentice herbalist I’ve long admired, Michelle Van Doren of Seeking Joyful Simplicity. She has a fabulous honeysuckle recipe for you to add to your stock of foraged treats and homemade medicines. Be sure to check out her site for more great ideas for homemade, homegrown foods and herbal remedies!


The Side Effects of Consumerism

LONDON — British supermarkets are selling beer in glass bottles that are a third lighter than they were a few years ago. Unilever, which makes products like Dove cleansers and Sure deodorant, has pledged to reduce its packaging by a third by 2020. Dell is cushioning computers and server parts with wheat straw and a compostable, mushroom-based material, instead of Styrofoam.

Across the business world, more companies, mindful of the environment and their bottom lines, are scrutinizing their packaging and cutting the excess. Less packaging means fewer raw materials to buy and lower shipping costs. The changes can also add up to fewer climate-warming carbon emissions and less garbage in landfills.

“It’s good for Cisco, it’s good for our customers and it’s good for the environment,” said Kathleen Shaver, director of sustainability, risk and compliance at Cisco Systems, which says it has eliminated 1.9 million pounds of packaging this year. “Costs are reduced, not just with material you’re not buying, but with the material you’re not shipping and the material you’re not disposing of.”

The volume of packaging is still vast and growing. Globally, consumer goods are encased in about 207 million tons of packaging each year, worth $384 billion, estimated a 2013 report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, using analysis by McKinsey & Co. consultants. Packaging could increase 47 percent by 2025, driven by increasingly wasteful practices and the worldwide growth of middle classes with rising purchasing power, the report predicted.

In the United States, packaging makes up about 30 percent of all municipal solid waste, down from 36 percent in 1970, said Susan Selke, interim director of Michigan State University’s School of Packaging. The overall amount of municipal waste, though, has more than doubled in that time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says. “Industry is paying attention, but not enough attention yet,” Ms. Selke said.

The environmental impact of a product’s packaging is usually less than the footprint of the goods within, Ms. Selke said. But the visibility of packaging gives it a special status in the world of waste.

“It’s almost a kind of archetypal image of consumer goods products, the pack on the shelf,” said Sandy Rodger, of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which seeks to promote an approach to material reuse known as the circular economy. “It has visibility everywhere: visibility for companies, visibility as a waste issue, visibility of plastic in oceans.”

Generally, the environmental impact of producing packaging is greater than the impact of getting rid of it, because of the resources used, whether paper or petrochemicals, and the energy involved in manufacturing, Ms. Selke said.

Packaging serves a positive role, companies and experts said, protecting products and preventing food from going bad. “If we’re not protecting the product, we’re actually wasting all the resources that went into the manufacture of the product,” said Richard Swannell, waste prevention director at WRAP, a waste reduction group backed by the British government.

Efforts to reduce excess packaging range from the immediate and incremental to long-term visions of a waste-free world where goods and their wrappers are designed to be reclaimed, reused or composted, becoming a resource instead of a problem.

In addition to its wheat straw and mushroom-based packaging, Dell is working with Newlight Technologies on a plastic that the companies say sequesters carbon dioxide.

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In Britain, major supermarket chains and food and beverage producers signed on in 2005 to the voluntarily Courtauld Commitment, an ambitious waste-reduction effort. Between 2009 and 2012, the companies cut both the volume of packaging and the associated greenhouse gases by 10 percent, reports WRAP, which oversees the effort.

Manufacturers have redesigned glass and plastic bottles so they use less material to hold the same amount of liquid, Mr. Swannell said. “We targeted high-volume lines, like milk, like wine, like beer, and try to get them to shift to more resource-efficient designs,” he said.

Sellers realized, for example, that tall, thin beer bottles use less glass than short, wide ones, he said. “In a supermarket now, you pretty much see only tall, thin bottles,” Mr. Swannell said.

The home improvement sector is also on board. DIY stores pledged to cut packaging 15 percent by 2012, then delivered a 25 percent cut, partly through innovations like shipping sofas in bags that delivery workers remove and reuse, instead of disposable cardboard and plastic, Mr. Swannell said.

Unilever has pledged to halve the greenhouse gas emissions created by its products and the waste associated with their disposal by 2020. Paul Howells, vice president for packaging research and development, says this requires not just reducing the amount of material, but rethinking the way things are made. “For us as packaging designers and packaging developers, at the outset of an innovation,” he said, it is critical “to ask ourselves the question ‘How can we design this so that the materials that we use will have more than one life?’ ”

In Britain, Unilever has started selling a compressed version of its Sure, Dove and Vaseline spray deodorants, shrinking the size of cans by half, a change that cuts the aluminum content by a quarter and requires 35 percent fewer trucks for shipping, the company said.

Unilever is also using a new type of plastic, starting in bottles of some Dove skin care, in which embedded air bubbles reduce the amount and weight of the material by 15 percent.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is trying to coordinate such efforts, working with McKinsey and the World Economic Forum on an effort known as Project MainStream.

The project is trying to bring companies and cities together to coordinate the design of packaging and arrangements for its disposal. The group hopes to come up with a way to standardize the ingredients in plastic packaging, so any company or municipality can easily become part of one process of reusing and recycling packaging.

“It’s integrating what it takes to design the packaging and what it takes to design the system that captures the packaging after use,” said Mr. Rodger, co-director of Project MainStream.

Others are promoting smaller-scale changes billed as “disruptive innovations” — new ideas with the potential to shake up an established industry. David Edwards, a Harvard University engineering professor, said fruit skin was the inspiration for the edible packaging on the frozen yogurt balls that his company, WikiFoods, designed for Stonyfield Organic. The snack, called WikiPearl, is not entirely free of packaging. The balls are wrapped in a layer of paper.

Changes to something as central to modern life as packaging may not come unless companies are pushed to do things differently, Mr. Edwards said. “The industry is going to have to have amazing leadership, given the investment and the way things are done now, the complexity of it,” he said. “It’s not going to be an easy path.”


A Continuous Cycle

Often working together, designers, engineers, biologists, investors, and recyclers are now striving to develop packaging that falls within the mandates of what’s known as the circular economy.

It’s a design framework that eschews the linear “take, make, waste” model that leads from oil well to refinery, manufacturing plant to supermarket, consumer to landfill. Instead, it envisions supply chains that continuously cycle old materials back into high-value products—with an emphasis on long-lasting design, remanufacturing, and reuse—and business models that favor sharing and leasing (washing machines, cars), rather than ownership. In the circular economy, material goods cycle in two separate loops. One recovers technical nutrients—like metals, minerals, and polymers—for reuse, and the other returns biological materials—fiber, wood—to nature through composting programs, or it converts them, through anaerobic digestion, to carbon-neutral energy.

To imagine the packages of the future, many designers are looking to the past for inspiration. RISE, a Swedish research institute, has prototyped a nearly flat cellulose-based container that soup makers, for example, could fill with freeze-dried vegetables and spices. As diners add hot water, the container’s origami folds stretch into a full-fledged, and fully compostable, bowl. The Pratt students shaped a bowl from mycelium, which grows in a week and composts in less than a month.

Harvard University’s Wyss Institute created “shrilk,” a low-cost, clear plastic that’s completely compostable. Made of chitosan, derived from shrimp shells, and a silk protein derived from insects, shrilk can be used to make film or rigid shapes. But it hasn’t yet found its way into food packaging, alas, because it requires manufacturers to tweak their machines.

Of course, a compostable future depends upon universal access to—and consumer participation in—municipal compost systems, which collect organic materials for their conversion to fertilizer or energy. Hundreds of municipalities in the EU, Canada, and the U.S. are moving in this direction, but setting up a system can present a chicken-and-egg problem. In New York City, for example, the volume of available material far exceeds the capacity of nearby processors. But without a guarantee of that stream, investors are reluctant to build facilities.

And then there’s the problem of human nature. Fred Skeberg, a Swedish product developer and founder of the food and design website Ateriet, once found himself at a music festival where vendors served food on “edible” corn starch-based plates, meant to be tossed into compost bins. But people assumed their bowls and plates would disappear in nature, Skeberg says, “and they threw it everywhere. So that backfired.” As the United Nations soberly noted in a report, “Labelling a product as biodegradable may be seen as a technical fix that removes responsibility from the individual.”

Until systems and people are in sync, a great deal of compostable packaging will end up in landfills, where it can generate greenhouse gases. If compostables mistakenly land in recycling plants—many plant-based plastics resemble their oil-based cousins—they’re considered a contaminant. And if they drift into the ocean? Compostable plastics are designed to degrade at temperatures around 135°F and with exposure to ultraviolet light. Since degradables are heavier than oil-based plastics, they are likely to sink and linger for many years.


2019 State of the Industry: Ice cream and frozen novelties are hot and cold

The “one armed bandit” brought some good news and some bad news to the ice cream and frozen novelty segment in the past year. The good news? Frozen novelties saw a pretty payout, with dollar sales rising 4.2% to $4,906.3 million during the 52 weeks ending Aug. 11, 2019, according to data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI. Unit sales increased 1.2%.

The bad news? Ice cream failed to hit it big. Dollar sales for the subcategory (excluding frozen yogurt/tofu, ice milk/frozen dairy desserts and sherbet/sorbet/ices) fell 1.4% to $6,063.8 million. Unit sales dropped 1.9%.

Bonus multiplier for indulgence

Indulgence is one “trend” that appears to have traction in the ice cream and frozen novelty space.

“If there is one thing everyone in the world can agree upon, it’s that ice cream is supposed to be indulgent,” George Denman, vice president of sales for Cincinnati-based Graeter’s Inc., pointed out, adding that it is intended to be a treat consumed in moderation.

But with consumers increasingly concerned about the sugar content in their foods, ice cream manufacturers have been introducing lower-sugar products and other formulations deemed as more healthful. Taste, however, remains paramount.

“Consumers are realizing that many of the ‘health halo’ products just don’t meet their needs on taste and are beginning to indulge more responsibly,” said Lindsey Meuser, assistant category manager for Tillamook County Creamery Association, Tillamook, Ore. “This has opened up the door for a lot of products that offer indulgence consumers can feel good about.”

Sometimes “indulging more responsibly” means opting for portion control in the form of a taste-tantalizing frozen novelty. Keith Schroeder, CEO of Marietta, Ga.-based High Road Craft Brands, noted that Europe is providing some inspiration in this space.

“Companies like Sammontana out of Italy are doing fabulously high-quality novelties at very accessible price points,” he said. “In the U.S., the local craft producers are leading the charge with restaurant-quality ice cream sandwiches.”

Meuser pointed to Tillamook’s Chocolate Mudslide ice cream sandwich as a decadent new novelty offering. Sandwiching the company’s Mudslide ice cream with waffle-cone-inspired cookies, the product took first place in the “Most Innovative Ice Cream Novelty” category during the International Dairy Foods Association’s (IDFA) 2019 Innovative Ice Cream Flavor Competition.

And My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream, Los Angeles, also brought product indulgence to the frozen novelty segment with the recent introduction of its triple-layer frozen treats. They feature the company’s traditional mochi dough exterior wrapped around premium ice cream, but also boast a new taste-tantalizing center layer. The line comes in Chocolate Sundae, Vanilla Blueberry, S’mores and Dulce de Leche varieties.

Meanwhile, Nestlé USA Inc., Arlington, Va., aimed to tempt the taste buds of more health-conscious consumers with the introduction of Outshine Half Dipped Bars. Noelle Perillo, manager, brand public relations for Nestlé USA Inc., calls the bars — available in Creamy Coconut, Raspberry and Banana — “really innovative, bringing a little indulgence from 70% cacao dark chocolate in this more traditional refreshing, healthier segment.”

On the ice cream side, the indulgence factor “doubled” with Häagen-Dazs’ (Nestlé USA) introduction of its Spirits Collection earlier this year. The collection offers five spirit-infused ice creams, including Irish Cream Brownie and Bourbon Vanilla Bean Truffle.

According to Perillo, the Häagen-Dazs Spirits Collection plays on “consumers’ desires for unique flavors within ice cream and combines two very indulgent categories.”

Meanwhile, Lotus Bakeries, Lembeke, Belgium, expanded beyond baked goods with its first line of superpremium ice cream. The family-owned company said it developed Lotus Biscoff ice cream by marrying dairy cream with its crunchy Biscoff cookies and its original cookie butter. The ice cream launched in U.S. stores in pints in July 2019 (and in bars in October).

And ice cream’s silky and decadent cousin, gelato, became even more indulgent with the spring release of Talenti Gelato Layers. Talenti, part of Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based Unilever USA, said the new line of jars features “indulgent, hand-crafted recipes.” Each jar contains five layers consisting of gelato, cookie and/or candy pieces and various sauces. The line comes in seven varieties, including Vanilla Fudge Cookie, Salted Caramel Truffle and Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake.

Jackpot for flavor variety

Variety in terms of flavors also is an ongoing trend.

“Consumers are savvy — they want great-tasting ice cream in fun textures, flavors and forms,” Perillo pointed out.

Matt Thornicroft, assistant marketing and communications manager for Pierre’s Ice Cream Co., Cleveland, said dreaming up new imaginative flavors and products that are reflective of what the company’s fans are seeking is the most exciting part of the business for his company. Some of that flavor imagination can be found in recent additions to Pierre’s ice cream sandwich line.

The new flavors include Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Sea Salt Caramel and Peppermint — a limited-edition offering for the holidays, Thornicroft said.

“The ice cream sandwich is and will always be a favorite novelty choice,” he noted. “We began thinking about what other ice cream flavors … would pair deliciously with chocolate ice cream sandwich wafers. In addition to offering variety to a popular novelty, they’re ideal portion-control treats and contain 150 calories per sandwich they make a cool snack.”

For its part, Alden’s Organic, Eugene, Ore., also got creative in the flavors arena, debuting eight new ice cream varieties this past spring. Available in pints, the new flavors include Road Trip Dark Chocolate Almond, Sasquatch Tracks, Caramel Macchiato and Midnight Cherry Chip.

“Ice cream consumers are curious and always looking for new flavors to pique their interest, yet they habitually buy the same core flavors,” Meuser noted. “Tillamook is focused on ensuring we offer the best of the classic products that they purchase all the time while still offering new seasonal flavors to keep them interested.”

Free spins for on-trend formulations

But in the ice cream and frozen novelties space, the trend toward variety means more than an abundance of creative flavors. Today’s consumers want formulations that fit their lifestyles and eating habits, too, Perillo said.

The “hottest fad” here are ketogenic diet-friendly formulations, Denman maintained.

“Leading the growth in keto are brands that offer a low-carb ice cream flavored with monk fruit and [containing] 5 to 8 grams of carbs, replacing sugar as the energy source and introducing healthy fats,” he explained.

Probiotics also boast appeal. In late 2018, Unilever debuted the Culture Republick line of probiotics-containing light ice cream. The brand said it is “on a mission to support culture both inside and out.” It collaborated with emerging artists to design each pint 10% of the brand’s profits will support the art in local communities. Flavors include Milk & Honey, Turmeric Chai & Cinnamon, Cold Brew & Chocolate Chip, and more.

Perry’s Ice Cream Company Inc., Akron, N.Y., also added probiotics to its lineup with this year’s introduction of Yo Buddies bars. The offerings combine probiotic-packed frozen yogurt with natural fruit and vegetable juices for a healthier take on frozen treats, the company said. The six-packs of single-serve Yo Buddie Bars come in Raspberry Watermelon and Berry Grape flavors.

“Yo Buddies are a convenient, single-serve way for consumers to consume fruit and vegetable juices along with probiotics,” said Marissa Wilson, communications manager for Perry’s Ice Cream.

Pierre’s ventured into probiotics territory, too, with the recent addition of probiotic frozen yogurt pints to its Signature Collection. Products in the line have 130 to 190 calories per serving, Thornicroft said, and are made with the probiotic culture Ganeden BC30. Flavors include Chocolate Chocolate Chunk, Moose Tracks, Sea Salt Caramel Pecan and Vanilla Bean.

The absence of artificial colors, flavors and high-fructose corn syrup also is important to many consumers. And Tillamook’s Dairy Done Right standards don’t allow for any of those ingredients, Meuser said.

“Our Birthday Cake ice cream, released earlier this year to celebrate Tillamook’s 110th birthday, is a great example of a classic flavor done right,” she added.

Don’t gamble on quality

Looking ahead, whether they’re introducing a new flavor, a new format or a new formulation, ice cream and frozen novelty processors do face a few challenges. For one thing, the ability to meet consumers’ desire for quality will continue be critical to ice cream processors’ success, Schroeder suggested. Processors might enhance their efforts here by paying attention to a new subset of consumers.

“We’ve seen a number of hobbyist ice cream influencers who’ve amassed a near-professional level of knowledge about ice cream formulation and manufacturing,” he said. “They’ll leave detailed reviews on product quality and execution, and for the most part, their assessments are accurate. I think it’s incumbent upon us as food-makers, manufacturers and marketers to listen very carefully to what these super-enthusiasts are saying — it’s free feedback.”

And ice cream processors will continue to be challenged in finding ways to minimize the “co-product” — the product-, ingredient- and packaging-related costs and waste, noted Danielle Quist, senior director, regulatory affairs and counsel, IDFA.

“Separated from the final product, the co-product contains nutritious fats and proteins, but the industry trend is to use the co-product for animal feed to avoid the landfill,” she said.

But new research could help here.

“IDFA secured $1.5 million in congressional fiscal-year 2019 funding for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, bringing hope that researchers can identify novel industrywide applications for the co-product,” she said.


How To Handle Freezer Burn Shrimps

If you are struggling with the idea that you have ruined your dear shrimps by storing them in the freezer for too long and now they are freezer burnt, just know that all is not lost. You can still eat your freezer burnt shrimps. Although, it will taste a bit different from the usuals as it has now lost its color, texture as well as some of its flavors over time.

The thing you should pay most attention to is its odor and texture. If your shrimp doesn’t have any dark spot over its surface, it means you can still cook. But if you’re noticing any kind of dark spots or any type of pungent smell of chlorine or ammonia coming from it, then eating such freezer burnt shrimp is probably not a good idea. You should definitely discard them as they might cause food poisoning at this stage.

Tips For Cooking Freezer Burnt Shrimp

If you’re planning to cook freezer burn shrimps as they still ae in good shape, you should definitely try cooking them using a few cooking hacks. These include using a variety of ingredients so that you can enhance the flavor of your shrimp dish and make it more delicious as compared to the usual bad taste.

You can try using the all-time-favorite fish chowder recipe to cook your freezer burnt shrimps. This will impact the stale taste and your dis would taste ten times better. You can also make a shrimp paste that can be used to prepare ground pork. Another recipe that you can try is shrimp fried rice. Or you can also try marinating the shrimps with soy sauce, garlic, red pepper, and oil. Then, simply steam them with bay or prepare the shrimp scampi recipe.

Basically, having Freezer burn shrimps is not the end. You can still try out a number of recipes if your shrimps are not that stale to cause any harm.


Best DIY Frozen Dog Treats

When I was a child, I never ate an ice cream cone without giving the final bite to my dog. He loved sharing my cold treats, but I didn’t realize it wasn’t the best choice for his health. Ice cream can be hard for dogs to digest because milk and cream are the base of most ice cream recipes. And for some dogs, the lactose in dairy can cause stomach upset and other digestive issues like gas or diarrhea. Not to mention that too many sweet treats can lead to weight gain.

But, that doesn’t mean your dog has to be left out of your icy, sweet treat. Instead of leaving your dog out of the frozen fun at the dinner table, family picnic or trip to the beach, here are some recipes for ice cream alternatives that your dog is sure to lap up with joy. Feed these treats in moderation, adjust your dog’s everyday food calories accordingly, and feel free to modify the recipes with other dog-safe foods.

Hide and Seek Ice Cubes

Any dog-safe tasty liquid can be turned into a frozen treat. Simply pour into an ice cube tray and freeze so your dog can have a cube or two whenever you like. Consider your dog’s taste buds and try something meat-flavored like no-salt-added beef or chicken broth. For an extra-special indulgence, create hide and seek treats. First, only fill the trays halfway before freezing the liquid. Once frozen, place a small treat like a blueberry or piece of freeze-dried liver in the middle of the cube then fill the rest of the tray with the remaining liquid. Once the entire cube is frozen, there will be a tasty surprise waiting inside when your dog licks or chomps the ice.

For a longer-lasting treat, consider filling your dog’s hollow rubber toy. (Just be sure to block all the openings but one before pouring in the liquid. You can use a hard treat like a cookie as a cork or plug holes with peanut butter.) After filling, stand the toy upright in the freezer until the liquid is ice. Not only will the chilly toy cool down your dog on a hot day, but the work it takes to get every last drop of broth will keep your dog occupied for longer than other types of treats, plus provide welcome mental stimulation.

Soft Serve Treats

For an ice cream alternative with the same texture and consistency as the real thing, try blending frozen fruit with plain, unsweetened yogurt. Watermelon is safe for dogs and most love it, so it makes a perfect choice for this recipe. Cantaloupe chunks are another excellent option. Be sure to remove the rind from either melon, and always feed sweet fruit treats in moderation, taking the calories they provide into account with your dog’s regular diet.

First, cut the fruit into bite-size chunks, removing any seeds as you go. Then place the fruit in the freezer for at least four hours until frozen. If you spread out the chunks on a cookie sheet or in a freezer bag it will prevent them from freezing into a single clump. Once the fruit is frozen, place it in a food processor or blender with about ¼ cup of plain, unsweetened yogurt for every 2 cups of fruit. Blend until smooth, tweaking the amount of fruit and yogurt until you have the thickness you would like. Place in a bowl, on top of your dog’s dinner, or stuff in a hollow rubber toy and serve right away. (For more of a challenge, stuff this mixture inside a hollow rubber toy, then pop it back in the freezer to solidify.)

Feeding frozen yogurt may seem no different than feeding your dog ice cream. However, unless they suffer from lactose intolerance, plain yogurt is safe to eat for most dogs. It’s usually better tolerated than ice cream, plus the bacterial cultures in yogurt are great for intestinal health. Just be sure to choose plain yogurt without any added flavors, fruit, sugars, natural sweeteners, or artificial sweeteners. Read the label carefully to be sure the product does not contain toxic Xylitol. If your dog doesn’t handle yogurt well, consider other options like lactose-free, dairy-based yogurt or dairy-free yogurt made from plant products. Coconut milk can also be used if liquid is needed to thin out a recipe. Always read the label to avoid any unsafe additives or ingredients.

Frozen Pupsicles on a Stick

For a frozen fruit smoothie on a stick, make bananas the foundation of your dog’s treat. Slice a few bananas then freeze the pieces for several hours. Next, mix the fruit with a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt in a food processor until you have a smooth base with the thickness of a milkshake. Now you can blend in whatever mix-ins your dog would love. Consider bacon bits for a meaty treat, frozen strawberries and blueberries for a red, white, and blue celebration, pumpkin puree, or even water-packed tuna for some surfside fun. When all the ingredients are blended together, pour into ice pop molds or paper cups, insert a “stick” in the middle and freeze.

To release the pupsicles from the molds, let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes or run warm water over the mold for a few seconds. If you use paper cups, simply peel the paper off before serving. If you have a toy breed, try mini water cups instead of full-size drinking cups.

For the pupsicle sticks, you have many options. You can use bone-shaped dog biscuits, salmon skin rolls, bully sticks, or any other stick-shaped, edible chew. For a safe yet non-edible stick, consider nylon chew bones. The stick will give your dog something to hold on to while licking and chewing the pupsicle. Plus, chewing the stick will provide even more fun for your dog when the smoothie is gone.

Cold and Sticky

Peanut butter is safe for dogs and unsalted, no-sugar-added varieties are a great addition to frozen dog treats, so long as you read the label to confirm there’s no Xylitol listed. The stickiness of the peanut butter gives recipes a thick, ice-cream-like texture. Mix a small amount with plain yogurt and fruit, or blend it with mashed bananas to add extra flavor and density to the final treat. If the peanut butter is too thick for the blender, warm it first or add some liquid such as meat broth to the mix.

You can also make peanut butter the star ingredient. Simply layer peanut butter in the bottom half of ice cube trays, ice pop molds, or paper cups. Then top off with a layer of yogurt or meat broth and freeze. Pop the layered frozen treat out of the tray or mold or peel off the paper cup before serving. For fun icy treats, consider using silicone baking molds in exciting shapes like dog bones or dinosaurs. The peanut butter should slide right out of the mold once it’s frozen, and your dog will love cooling down with a cold and sticky treat.


Homemade Yogurt in Mason Jars

My personal yogurt consumption goes up and down. I’ll go for weeks eating it every day and then suddenly, I’ll stop and a month will go by before I have it again. I have no good explanation for this. It’s just the way things happen in my edible world.

I’m currently is a very pro-yogurt phase. I’ve been eating more than a quart a week and started feeling guilt about consuming so many plastic containers. It was time to restart my homemade yogurt habit.

Truly, making yogurt at home couldn’t be easier. I stop doing it out of laziness, but once I force myself back into the routine of it, I’m always glad (sounds like so many things in life, doesn’t it?).

The first step is to heat the milk to 190-200 degrees F. You can use any milk you’d like. I made this batch using six cups of whole, un-homogenized milk (because it’s not homogenized, the cream will rise to the top, leaving me with a gorgeous, rich upper layer).

Once it reaches that temperature (take care not to let it boil), you want to cool the milk down to 120 degrees F. I do this by filling my sink with cold water and placing the pot in. The water helps reduce the temperature quite rapidly, so don’t walk away during this step.

Once it has cooled to 120 degrees F, whisk two tablespoons of yogurt into the milk. Over the years, I’ve tried using various amounts of yogurt to start my batches and I’ve actually found that the smaller amounts work better than larger amounts. A tablespoon for every 3-4 cups of milk just seems to work perfectly.

There was also a time during which I stirred some dry milk into each batch of yogurt I made. I’d heard it made for a thicker yogurt. In the end, I decided it had no discernable positive impact on the finished product and, if anything, left me with lumpy yogurt.

Once you’ve stirred the yogurt in, pour the inoculated milk into your jars. You’ll see that my jars aren’t entirely full. There’s no reason why you can’t fill them up to the top. I just didn’t have enough milk in the fridge to make a full batch. However, I filled the jars evenly because I wanted to ensure that they’d process at the same rate.

A note about the starter yogurt you use: Make sure to use a yogurt that you like. There are a number of different yogurt bacterias out there and they all turn out slightly different yogurts. Splurge on the starter in order to make something you’re happy with.

There are a number of ways you can keep your yogurt warm during it’s process. Some people have little machines. Others pop the jars in the oven with the light on. I’ve even heard that you can use a slow cooker or hot pads.

After trying all those methods, I’ve come to prefer using a cooler for this step (hat tip to the Frugal Girl for introducing me to this method). This Little Playmate holds two quart jars perfectly. I got it at a thrift store several years ago for a couple dollars, which has always pleased me.

Place your filled jars into the cooler and add hot tap water until they’re submerged, but not floating. You want the water to be around 120-125 degrees F. I’ve found that this is exactly how hot my hottest tap water is, so I use that. Makes life easy, too.

Once the jars are in the cooler and it’s filled with water, close it and tuck it out of the way for 6-7 hours. You can go as long as 8-9 hours, but keep in mind that the longer it sits, the more pronounced its tang will be. When I was working, I’d often start a batch of yogurt just before I left the house in the morning and let it process all day. It made for a tart yogurt, but I loved the simplicity of it.

When the time is up, remove the jars from the cooler and place them in the fridge. Use your homemade yogurt like you would any other kind of yogurt. If you’re interested in transforming your yogurt into a thicker product (along the lines of greek yogurt), all you do is strain it. Well Preserved has a good post on that, as well as suggestions for using up the resulting whey.

For those of you who regularly make yogurt, do you have any tips to share?


Wikipearls: Bite-Sized Foods Wrapped in Edible Packaging

Food packaging is an understandably contentious issue -- not only does it end up in our oceans and landfills, languishing for decades, it can also be harbouring unwanted toxins like BPA in the case of canned food. In attempts to lessen the impact of packaging, we've seen initiatives in supermarkets to completely eliminate food packaging, or to devise some kind of packaging that's edible too so it doesn’t end up in the environment.

Two years ago, we wrote about WikiCells, a form of edible packaging developed by Harvard professor David Edwards, designer François Azambourg and biologist Don Ingber, modelled after the way nature "deliciously designs" the exterior "packaging" of cells, fruits and vegetables.

After years of research, development and raising funds, the culmination is the WikiPearl, a bite-sized morsel of food that is wrapped in a plastic-free packaging that protects the food, but is also edible and biodegradable. Made of a "protective electrostatic gel formed by harnessing interactions between natural food particles, nutritive ions and a polysaccharide," this skin is water- and oxygen-impenetrable, and is inspired by nature itself, as the creators explain:

The science behind WikiPearl is also balanced with a good dose of gastronomy foods like ice cream, cheese, frozen yogurt, vegetables, cocktails, soups and even water are being paired with different, nutritional and tasty packaging to form controlled portions, which can be held in the hand without melting.

If you want to try the future of food for yourself, WikiPearls are now being sold in select Whole Foods locations in Massachussetts, and ice cream connoisseurs will be delighted to hear that a WikiBar might be opening up in Cambridge, Massachussetts in July, 2014.


Ground Beef Turns Brown In Freezer

Why frozen ground beef change color?

Your pack of ground beef contains a pigment called Myoglobin. The Myoglobin, when exposed to oxygen, gives your meat a pinkish-red color. This is why your superstores’ meat packaging always has a hole in it.

It’s also the reason why your fresh ground beef loses a little bit of its pinkish-red color when fully sealed for an hour or two.

Is brown meat bad?

For your ground meat to remain edible you should not have done a few things before freezing.

  1. Ground beef stored at room temperature for more than two hours activates the harmful bacteria. So it’s extremely essential to place your ground beef inside a fridge or a freezer before the two-hour time limit.
  2. Refrigerating ground beef for more than 2 days is also a health hazard. Only by transferring it into a freezer before the 48-hour time limit will deem it safe for later consumption.

If your frozen ground beef meets these conditions, then it’s safe to say that your meat is not rotten. Because freezing your ground beef below 0 degrees Celsius inactivates the harmful bacteria. As a result, frozen foods are not susceptible to spoilage even after a long storing period.

But if you’re not completely sure about your frozen ground meat meeting all the safety requirements, there are three ways to check if it’s edible or not.

  1. If your frozen ground meat is 100 percent brown with not a single speck of red, then you must perform a thorough check before cooking it on temperatures higher than 90 degrees Celsius.
  2. The next step after noticing a thorough brown color is smelling. Even though food bacteria like Salmonella and E Coli are odorless. Smelling your meat is still a viable way to tell if it’s spoiled or not because there are still a ton of other bacteria and microorganisms that will make your ground meat smell fishy.
  3. Touching your ground meat after defrosting will also act as an indicator. A good unspoiled raw ground meat should have a grainy texture. Whereas spoilt ground meat will have an unpleasantly slimy texture.
  4. If your ground meat fails all of the above tests, then it’s best to throw it away.

How to freeze your meat properly

Aside from freezing your ground meat in time, you also need to follow proper USDA approved procedures if you want your ground meat to taste good for longer periods.