Over the years, Dave and I have enjoyed using of several unique products that can cause confusion for people who have never used them in the kitchen before. Whenever we talk about them, inevitably, people have questions. Today we have put together a list of 4 items that we personally use frequently, explaining what they are and how to use them.
Clear Jel is a refined cornstarch that reacts better for freezing and canning recipes in particular; cornstarch tends to go cloudy in these situations. Clear Jel is used in the same proportion of cornstarch (1:1) in baking recipes. Like traditional cornstarch and the health store alternatives – arrowroot and potato powder, etc. – this product needs to be combined with the sugar (or flour) called for in the recipe prior to adding to any other ingredients in order to reduce clumps from forming.
Sea salt is healthier than regular table salt; the fact that it requires less processing means it also has a smaller ecological impact. It is a natural source of iodine, which, along with other nutrients, is essential for a healthy sex life. A local herbal consultant once told us that sea salt can also be used in place of Epsom salts in your bathwater.
Tamari is considered to be less salty than soy sauce and is often stocked in health food stores. You can find low-salt versions of both tamari and soy sauce. Tamari sauce, however, has enzymes that aid digestion and promote healthy intestinal bacteria.
Orange Zest, citrus zest or citrus powder are all terms referring to a similar product – to simplify we personally call it ‘citrus zest’. It is used to bring out other flavors and to condition flour. Chop lemon, orange or lime peel and allow to dry (or use a dehydrator) – turn this into a powder using a blender or grinder, and store in the cupboard as you would any spice or herb. 1 Tbsp of fresh zest is equal to 1 tsp. of dried; while 1 Tbsp of fresh zest is equal to 6 Tbsp. juice. As such, this one ingredient in the cupboard offers more ways of reducing grocery costs.
Making your own citrus zest at home is a fantastic way to move toward a more frugal kitchen, while reusing “waste” (the peels). Reducing salt, chemicals and preservatives from your diet, will certainly improve your health too. Hopefully, knowing more about these items will give you the confidence to use them in your kitchen.
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