food and health

What is macerating?!

What is macerating?!

macerating fruit

We’ve had people try our jams and ask us … whats your secret? Well, we’re going to tell you! There’s no secret really, it’s all about taking our time. We know that time doesn’t come easily these days between our jobs, our families, cleaning, groceries, bills, yard work, never ending house projects … did I miss anything? 😉

Anyway, I guess that’s our secret. We take our time. Which leads us into, what is macerating? Macerating fruit is like marinating meat … except with fruit. It means soaking your fruit in either a sweetener or a liquid, to draw out it’s natural sugars and sweetness. The longer your fruit “marinates”, the richer and more intense the flavor becomes. Additions such as liquor or herbs will enhance the flavor even more. Macerated fruits are often used as dessert toppings (we’ve all had strawberries that are swimming in a sweet syrupy liquid) or added to yogurt or ice cream. The above picture is a batch of our rum raisin apple jam that had macerated overnight in spiced rum and sugar. Look at all those juices!! We macerate all of our fruit for jams for at least 24 hours. We’ve found that we are able to use less sugar and do not have to add any pectin (pectin is usually added to jam to thicken it). Not only does macerating help to release the fruits natural pectin, but we also slow cook our jam until it reduces to the desired consistency. This means that none of the flavor is diluted such as when adding pectin to thicken it. The result? A delicious jam that just cannot be reproduced by doing it the “quick” way.

Here are some strawberries on their way to the refrigerator for a good night’s soaking. Oh, there’s amaretto in there too 🙂

macerating strawberries

And here are the results of a blueberry batch we just finished.

blueberry jam

YUMMM right??! So there you have it, so easy!! Now lets go macerate something!

oh honey

oh honey

1770 mercantile Honey

It’s no secret we’re pretty big fans. I mean, the sweeeeetness! Not to mention how versatile honey is. We use it on almost everything from topping meats, pizza, burgers, ice cream, cake, as a sweetener in tea, veggies, did I mention ice cream?

So we can all agree that honey is super versatile and super sweet. But did you know that it’s also super healthy? Yeahhh it is. Not only does it contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, but also has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. And let’s not forget about it’s antioxidants (our bodies love antioxidants) as well as being a good source of energy and promoting weight loss. For these reasons, honey has often been used as treatments for skin care, wound management, weight loss, and full body immunity. Furthermore, it is actually being used in hospitals to speed up the recovery of cancer patients after surgery. That’s pretty serious!

Honey, however, is one of those you get what you pay for things. Not all honey is equal and the benefits of honey that we get greatly depend on its quality. While there are many factors that affect the quality of honey, to get the most of the health benefits, honey should be purchase raw or unprocessed. Heating honey especially, drastically changes it’s chemical composition thereby removing many of it’s health benefits. Most of the honey that we purchase in supermarkets have been processed to prevent crystallization.

Speaking of crystallization, many people think their honey has gone bad when this happens but that is not the case. It is very natural for honey to crystallize because of it’s high sugar content. The next time this happens to your honey, soak it in a hot water bath until the crystals dissolve. It should stay in liquid form for quite some time depending on the temperature and environment.

One last topic we should mention is organic honey. Many honey sellers will not state their honey as being organic because it’s really difficult to guarantee that honey is organic. Bees can fly miles and miles away from their hives so unless your have a huge radius of only certified organic farming around your bee farm …. you get the idea. But this doesn’t mean (as mentioned above) that some honey is not better than others. We purchase our honey from a local bee farm (and by local I mean, I could ride my bike if I had a bike) that uses no chemicals, antibiotics, or anything artificial on, near, or around their hives. These are some good questions to ask when wondering how “natural” your honey is 😉

it’s official. blueberries rule

it’s official. blueberries rule

1770 mercantile blueberries

Blueberries are (in our opinion) the #1 superfood ever. The amazing health benefits of blueberries will make you want to go out and buy, pick, or steal some blueberries for yourself. And they taste so good!

Packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, blueberries are among the most nutrient dense foods, including potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Gallic acid, Manganese, Lutein, Fiber, and more! If we lost you at Gallic acid, it’s an anti-fungal, antiviral agent and an extremely effective antioxidant. The many health benefits of blueberries include but are no where limited to, whole body antioxidant support (so think cancer, cardiovascular disease, immune system), blood pressure, inflammation (inflammation is at the root of most diseases), improved memory and motor function (blueberries are considered “brain food”), digestion support, weight loss, skin support, diabetes support, eye health, and mood. And that was the short list!

Did you know that most of the power of blueberries lies in their color? That pretty blue – purple is a byproduct of flavonoid – natural compounds that protect the brain from the damaging effects of oxidation and inflammation. And blueberries are one of the best sources of flavonoids you can find. Beautiful and powerful (and they taste good and they’re low in calories).

It’s no secret that we’re a fan of everything organic, but research has actually shown that organically grown blueberries have significantly higher concentrations of total phenol antioxidants and total anthocyanin antioxidants than conventionally grown blueberries, as well as significantly higher total antioxidant capacity. Plus there not covered with chemicals 😉

is green tea a superfood?

is green tea a superfood?

1770 mercantile Green tea

Whether or not green tea is a super food is up for debate. We’ll list a bunch of the health benefits and let you decide!

First, a (very) brief history. Green Tea, made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, originated in China some 5000 years ago. For centuries, all tea was Green Tea, there were no other types of tea. Upon the discovery of Green Tea by the Chinese Emperor Shennong (according to legend), it soon became widespread across China for for its taste and medicinal qualities. It quickly spread to Japan and India as well, but has only recently made it’s way into Western culture.

OK, onto the many reasons to drink green tea (besides that it’s delicious). Whenever we hear green tea, we hear people talk about it’s antioxidants. That is because green tea is richer in antioxidants than any other type of tea. And antioxidants have so many health benefits, that needs to be another whole post. But in a nutshell, Green tea is alleged to boost weight loss, reduce cholesterol, combat cardiovascular disease, and prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Whoa.

How does a tea leaf do all this? For one, antioxidants fight and may even prevent cell damage. They fight the free radicals in our body, which is what is believed to cause the cell damage that can lead to cancer. These free radicals are also known to play a role in aging and all sorts of diseases. In addition, Green Tea has been shown to improve blood flow and lower cholesterol. It has also been found that green tea can help prevent a range of heart-related issues, from high blood pressure to congestive heart failure. Oh, and apparently it also helps with Diabetes as it can help to regulate glucose levels after eating. Double whoa.

While the health benefits of green tea have not been proven scientifically and <disclaimer coming> none of this should be taken as medical advice, studies have had promising outcomes and have certainly caught the attention of nutritionists. And we should keep in mind that the experience based, time tested principles of Traditional Chinese medicine link green tea to many health benefits. The way we see it, it is all natural and mother nature probably knows more than we do 😉

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