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Home > Cooking Tips > Tips about various ingredients > M
M - Tips about various ingredients
[ Mango | Melons | Marinating Foods | Milk | Mushrooms ]

Mango

  • MangoNever buy completely green mangoes, as they may never ripen. Under ripe mangoes can have an unpleasant chemical taste if eaten raw. When buying, no fragrant aroma most likely means no flavor.
  • Mangos should be stored at 35 degrees F after being ripened at room temperature.
  • Never burn mango leaves or branches, the toxic fumes can cause serious irritation to the eyes and lungs.
  • Be very careful of the stem end of mangos if any part of the branch or leaf is attached, as the sap can cause allergic reactions.
  • Include mango in your favorite fruit shake or smoothie for a tropical taste.
  • Keep cut up mango chunks in the refrigerator to add to any fruit salad or yogurt.
  • There is no trick to getting the flesh off a mango easily - it can be very messy. Peel and then cut the flesh off around the pit as best you can. The pit is flat, so try to cut the flesh off along the flat side of the pit. Then just nibble the rest off the pit. Its messy, but absolutely delicious.
    OR - Get a MANGO SPLITTER

Selection of Mangoes

  • Avoid mangoes with bruised or dry and shriveled skin. The ripeness of mangos can be determined by either smelling or squeezing. A ripe mango will have a full, fruity aroma emitting from the stem end. Mangos can be considered ready to eat when slightly soft to the touch and yield to gentle pressure. The best-flavored fruit have a yellow tinge when ripe; however, color may be red, yellow, orange, green, or any combination.   

Storage of Mangoes

  • Store mangoes at room temperature and out of the sun, until ripened. The ideal storage temperature for mangoes is 55 degrees F. When stored properly a mango should have a shelf life of 1 to 2 weeks. While the mango will not ripen in the refrigerator, it can be kept chilled there once ripe. Store cut mangos in a plastic bag for no more than 3 days.

Here is a detailed description of how to cut a mango before peeling it
1. Hold the unpeeled mango upright with the stem end balanced on your cutting board. Twist the mango so that one of the short, rounded sides points toward you.

2. Place the blade of a long, sharp knife at the top center of the mango. Move it about ¾ of an inch to the right (left if you are left handed) and slice straight down. The idea is to cut alongside the flat part of the mango seed-if your knife hits the seed, move right a bit more.

3. Turn the mango 180 degrees and repeat step 2, cutting off the flesh from the other flat side.

4. Pick up one of the mango halves. With a small knife, carefully score the flesh from top to bottom with cuts about ¾ of an inch apart. You want to cut through the flesh but leave the skin intact. Then score the flesh with perpendicular cuts, so that it looks like a mango checkerboard.

5. Press on the center of the mango skin while holding the edges to pop the scored mango half inside out. The ready-cut cubes of mango can be nibbled off the skin or easily cut away with a knife.

6. There will still be some fruit left on the sides of the seed. Peel away the skin and lay the seed flat on your cutting board. Press the seed down to keep it from slipping and slice away from you to cut off the flesh, or just eat that part of the mango right off the seed

Melons

  • MelonsMelons are one of the very few fruits that are never cooked.
  • Melons have no starch reserves to convert to sugar before they ripen, so they will not get any sweeter after they are picked (their texture will soften though). The sugar content actually decreases rapidly after they are picked, so they should be left on the vine as long as possible to sweeten.
  • Melons are a good source of vitamin C and potassium. They have high water content are relatively low in calories, and also fat and cholesterol free.

Selection of Melons

  • In general, melons should be shaped according to their variety. For example, cantaloupes should be round, etc. In addition, melons should not have cracks, soft spots, or dark bruises. You should look for a clean and smooth break at the stem
    and for most mature melons have a fruity fragrance (if not chilled).

Storage of Melons

  • Keep uncut melons at room temperature for two to four days or until fully ripe, then refrigerate for up to 5 days. Refrigerate cut up melon in a covered container up to 3 days. Remember that cut melons are aromatic and their smell will penetrate other foods.

Preparation of Melons

  • Melon preparation is easy! Always wash melons in warm soapy water before cutting to get rid of any impurity on the rind that might be carried from the knife blade to the flesh. Simply cut the melon in half and scoop out the seeds and strings. Most melons will benefit from a squeeze of lemon or limejuice to enhance the flavor and served at room temperature.
  • Melons make a great addition to fruit salads. 
  • Stir in melon in your cold fruit soups. 
  • Sliced melons make an attractive edible garnish. 
  • Make melon boats - scoop out melon balls then refill shell. 
  • For appetizers, wrap melon wedges or cubes with thinly sliced prosciutto ham. 
  • Season melon with lemon or limejuice or cayenne pepper.
  • For dessert, serve melon with vanilla ice cream. Drizzle melon cubes with non-alcoholic syrups like hazelnut or orange. 
  • Dice up melons make great fruit salsas. 
  • Mix melons with chicken or seafood salad. 
  • Make quick melon kebobs!

Marinating Foods

  • Do not marinate foos at room temperature. The bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature, so for food safety purposes, food should always be refrigerated while marinating. (Refrigeration slows bacterial growth.) Marinade that has been used on raw meat, poultry, and seafood contains raw juices. These juices may contain bacteria that, if eaten, could make you sick. The acid in marinade doesn`t kill bacteria, it merely slows or stops bacterial growth.

Milk

  • MilkSkim milk contains more calcium than whole milk
  • A gallon of milk weighs 8.59 lbs
  • Most people that are allergic to cow milk products or who are lactose intolerant can use goat and sheep milk products. The lactose or protein in the milk is what usually causes the allergic reaction or intolerance. Goat & sheep milk both have lactose and protein but it is of a different make up that doesn`t bother most people.
  • The proteins in cows milk are huge, fit for an animal that will one day weigh in over 500 lbs. The proteins in humans, sheep, and goats, are very short, which is why babies (the infirm, and arthritics) will often thrive on goat`s milk, and raw goat`s milk also is loaded with the enzymes that enable the metabolizing of the calcium.

Here are some facts and tips on using cream or milk in hot dishes.
1) The lower the butterfat (milkfat) content, the more likely cream is to separate.
Half & Half is at least 10.5% butterfat (milkfat)
Light Cream is between 18% and 30% butterfat
Light Whipping Cream is 30% to 36% butterfat
Heavy Cream (Heavy Whipping Cream) is 36% to 40% butterfat

2) The hotter the liquid, the more likely cream is to curdle (separate). Cream should never be added to a boiling liquid.

When adding cream or milk, it is best to heat it up a bit before adding it to another hot liquid. It is partly the difference in temperature that causes milk or cream to curdle

Mushrooms

  • MushroomsSaute mushrooms on low to medium heat for the best flavor; sauté on high heat for the best texture. Short cooking time yields a more delicate texture.
  • One pound of mushrooms yields a little more than 5 cups of sliced mushrooms, which in turn yields 2 cups sauteed.
  • Add sliced mushrooms to your salad, soups, and pasta.
  • Mushrooms make an attractive addition to your vegetable platters.
  • Have a veggie burger by grilling portabello mushrooms and adding lettuce and tomato to your whole-wheat bun.
  • Include sliced mushrooms to your stir-frys.
  • Making homemade pizza? Why not try a white pizza combo with low fat mozzarella toped with different kinds of mushrooms. 
  • Like to grill? Include mushrooms onto your skewers in addition to the bell peppers, squash, and pineapple.
  • Mushrooms are brimming with protein, B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic), and minerals (selenium, potassium, and copper). They`re low in calories and may have antibacterial substances to help the body. Cooked fresh mushrooms offer the most nutritional benefit versus the canned version that may have more sodium.
  • Its best to buy your mushrooms from a reputable grower or grocer instead of hunting them yourself, as there are many poisonous mushrooms. Incorrectly identifying them can lead to symptoms of sweating, cramps, diarrhea, confusion, convulsions, and potentially result in liver damage, or even death.
  • Clean mushrooms only when you are ready to use them. Remove any bits of the debris on the surface, rinse with cold running water or gently wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth, paper towel, or soft brush.
  • Dried mushrooms are intensely concentrated in flavor and should be treated more like a seasoning than a vegetable. You`ll need to soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for 20-30 minutes, rinse, then chop, and use. Saving the soaking water and adding it to your sauces or soups will intensify the mushroom flavor.
  • Mushrooms are available all year long and although there are many different varieties, selecting any kind of mushrooms are easy. You should look for firm, moisture-free (not dry), unblemished caps, and free of mold. Place purchased loose mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator. Airtight plastic bags tend to retain moisture and will accelerate spoilage. Properly stored mushrooms will last for approximate five days.
  • Mushrooms can be frozen but they must be cleaned, cooked, and placed in a ½ cup or 1 cup container to freeze. Don`t forget to mark the date on the container, frozen mushrooms will last several months.
  • Mushrooms are versatile and may be eaten raw or cooked whole, sliced or chopped. Certain varieties like shiitake and portabella must have their stems discarded or used as a flavoring agent, as they are often tough.
  • Preparation Hint: Squeeze a small amount of lemon juice on the mushrooms to retain the color.
  • Doctors in Germany have reported that some people may show an allergic skin reaction to shiitake mushrooms. The reaction is a lash-like reddening of the skin that may be worsened by exposure to sunlight (ultraviolet light). 
  • The edible inky cap mushroom contains a disulfirame-like (antabuse) substance that interferes with normal metabolism of alcohol. Reaction occurs when consuming alcohol within 72 hours after eating these mushrooms. Symptoms last 2 to 3 hours, and include flushing, palpitation, hyperventilation, nausea, vomiting, and burning or ting ling sensation of the extremities.

How to test the freshness of mushrooms?

  • Ensure that they are firm to touch, have no foul smell and are clean to look at, and do not have too many brown patches on the surface.
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