Cornmeal

Cornmeal–  is ground dried corn. It can be ground to fine, medium and coarse consistencies but never as powdery fine as wheat flour. Cornmeal has an almost gritty mouth feel. It does not contain gluten so whenever we are baking with cornmeal and a bread or cake like structure is desired, an addition of wheat flour is always necessary.
In the USA fine ground cornmeal is referred to as Corn Flour, however in the UK this same word (corn flour) is Cornstarch. Do not confuse the two, since they are both very different ingredients.
Cornmeal in the UK is called Polenta.
I have seen some brands of cornmeal labeled as Polenta here in the USA and this is also fine to use since it is indeed Cornmeal.

Cornmeal – 1 cup =

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Graham Flour

Graham Flour– has about 12% protein. Named after Sylvester Graham in the late 1700’s he did not like to compromise the nutrients such as in the process of milling wheat for flour. The difference with graham flour from other wheat flours is the way it is milled. Rather than grinding the whole grain kernel (which is composed of the bran, germ and endosperm) the bran and the germ are ground separately and then mixed back together. This resulting flour is one of a course texture and is used mainly in making Graham Crackers. This is a rare ingredient for most to find, as many markets do not carry it. For those who cannot find it you can simply combine 2/3 cup white flour, 1/3 cup wheat bran, 1 1/2 teaspoons wheat germ to make 1 cup of graham flour.
**for most of my recipes here though, we are going for the unique taste that graham products impart, so you can substitute graham cracker crumbs if you prefer.

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Wheat Berries

Wheat Berries– are the entire wheat kernel that exists before processing, which before it is milled produces Wheat Flour. Whole wheat berries are used in various culinary applications, such as in salads and in breads to add texture and crunch; but the main application in the bakery though, is for the Italian Easter Wheat Pie

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Buttermilk

Buttermilk-Originally, buttermilk was the liquid left behind during the process of churning butter out of cream. The term buttermilk also refers to a range of fermented milk drinks. This fermented dairy product known as cultured buttermilk is produced from cow’s milk and has a characteristically sour taste caused by lactic acid bacteria. Commercially available cultured buttermilk is milk that has been pasteurized and homogenized and then inoculated with a culture of Streptococcus lactis plus Leuconostoc citrovorum to simulate the naturally occurring bacteria in the old-fashioned product. The tartness of buttermilk is due to acid in the milk.

To make a close resemblance of buttermilk for use in a baking recipe, simply add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar (white or cider) plus enough milk to make 1 cup. (let stand 5-10 minutes) Or substitute 1 cup plain or low fat yogurt or sour cream as a straight up substitute in the recipe. If you buy powdered buttermilk found in most supermarkets, you will add 1 cup water to 1/4 cup buttermilk powder. And lastly if you happen to have Cream of Tartar you can add 1 3/4 teaspoons to 1 cup milk.

1 Cup Buttermilk = 8fl oz

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Agar

Agar- or Agar-Agar is a vegetarian subsitutute for gelatin. The name is derived from Red Algae.
It is white and semi-translucent made from cooked and pressed seaweed, is available flaked, powdered, or in bars. For best results, grind the agar-agar in a coffee grinder or food processor and then cook it.
Similar to gelatin sheets, the flaked or bar for of agar must be broken into pieces and softened by soaking in cold water for about 10-15 minutes.

I will be using powdered Agar as this is more readily available and easier to use in recipes.

1 Tbsp. of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 tsp. of agar-agar powder. So as you can see the powdered form is a more concentrated, powerful gelling agent than the 2 other forms

To set 2 cups of liquid: Use 2 teaspoons of agar-agar powder

Agar does not set at the same temperatures as gelatin, hence people tend to assume it doesn’t work. However, it does if it is handled correctly.
For example, agar agar requires a rapid boil and not a mere simmer in order to activate when added to a recipe requiring heating.
And, agar agar gels at room temperature whereas gelatin requires chilling.

 

*Highly acidic ingredients, such as lemons, strawberries, oranges, and other citrus fruits, may require more agar-agar than the recipe calls for. Also, enzymes in fresh mangoes, papaya, and pineapple break down the gelling ability of the agar-agar so that it will not set. Cooking these fruits before adding them to a recipe, however, neutralizes the enzymes so that the agar-agar can set.

 

Agar
 
2 tablespoons of powder will set 2 cups of liquid to produce a firm jelly.
Author:
Ingredients
  • General Instructions for cooking agar:
  • Bloom agar powder in hot water for 5 minutes (common ratio for blooming is 2Tbs Water or Liquid : ½ teaspoon agar) set aside for 5 minutes
  • Once it has been bloomed bring to a boil & boil for 1 minute to activate
  • Add to hot liquid in the recipe
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Gelatin

gelatinGelatin- is a translucent, colorless, brittle (when dry), flavorless substance, derived from collagen obtained from various animal by-products.

It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food.

Gelatin for cooking and dessert preparations come in the form of sheets or powdered granules.

Typically the household form more commonly used is the powdered granular variety, whereas in the professional kitchen it is more often Sheet Variety.

Since we must BLOOM the gelatin to activate its properties, I use this rule of thumb: If the liquid you are blooming the gelatin in, is intended to go in the recipe, powdered is the more efficient choice since you will bloom it in the liquid called for in the recipe (alcohol, purees, juices etc) melt it all together and add to the recipe as one entity.

But if there is not a liquid to enhance the recipe, sheets can be easily bloomed in ice water, then simply rung out of the excess water, melted and proceed to add to the recipe as called for.

THE RATIO OF POWDERED GELATIN TO SHEETS is:

Powdered-Sprinkle the granules of gelatin over the surface cold water or liquid (sometimes fruit purees are used).

Use 1/4 cup water per envelope OR whatever amount of liquid that the recipe states. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. This is called the “blooming” process. Then gelatin granules are like tiny molecular balloons that fill up with the liquid. Once all the liquid has been absorbed, you are left with a slushy mixture that will need to be heated to dissolve the gelatin to then use in your recipe.

Heat gently on the stove or in the microwave for just about 15 seconds at a time, stirring until dissolved. Do not boil.

Sheets- Gelatin sheets are primarily used in recipes that call for a warm or hot liquid preparation such as Panna Cotta and some mousses but can be used in cold preparations also.

Soak sheets of gelatin submerged in a bowl cold water for 5 to 10 minutes. The quantity of water is not important, as you will discard the water that has not been absorbed.

Once soft, remove sheets from the cold water and wring gently to remove excess water then add to recipe as stated. If adding to a cold mixture, melt the softened sheets in a saucepan or microwave over very low heat, stirring just until melted completely. Then stir in the cold mixture.

Gelatin is graded by “bloom” which is the strength of the gelatin.  Since Knox brand gelatin is the most used brand and it has a 225 bloom, I would recommend the Gold Gelatin Sheets since they have about 200 bloom. This way we are staying within the range listed here as far as interchangeability.

1/4 ounce envelope of plain gelatin = 2 1/2 teaspoons (10g)
1 envelope of gelatin will set 2 cups of liquid in a recipe
1 envelope Or 2 1/2 teaspoons powder =3 sheets

Certain tropical fruits, such as pineapple, kiwifruit, and ginger, have an enzyme (bromelin) that can prevent gelatin from setting. Heating the fruit completely through before using will destroy the enzyme.

**For vegetarian substitutions see Agar

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