Sweet Tooth.

One of my favorite types of candy would be hard candy. I am often one who carries a little tin of mints around to keep my mouth fresh, but there are days I need something other than spearmint, wintergreen or peppermint to flavor my taste buds. What better way to explore the world of hard candy today on National Hard Candy Day!

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Enter Mangini to the playing field. Some of their candies you will know by their iconic fruit wrappers as seen above. I remember being a kid and I’d be visiting family and there might have been random candy dishes out and about. You knew you hit the jackpot and were lucky to snag one of those pretty little fruity labeled candies, because you knew the rest of the hard candy in the dish was junky toffee or coffee flavored something (not the GOOD ONES, the horrible ones), more suited for the “old people who you were visiting! I’m sure karma will hit me in the tush later for making that comment!

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But seriously, if there was a candy dish or jar out and about, I was looking for the wrappers with the fruit on them! The hard shell was tasty and you had to work your way to the soft filled center. It was like waiting for a fun little party to happen on your taste buds once you hit that soft center! You knew you were the cool kid in the room that got the jackpot from the dish! I would glare at my brothers if they found the candy dish first and grabbed out all the “good ones”! I also love these citrus flavored ones (again, pictured above). There’s always something fun and refreshing with a citrus flavored candy: orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit. Nothing like a little zing for your taste buds!

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I also remember going to celebrations at church or maybe it was a birthday party at a friend’s house and sometimes you’d get a little treat bag. I would always scope out the contents of the bag to see what kind of hard candies were inside!

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Mangini keeps its candies true to flavor, as close to the actual flavor you’d get as if you’d picked it straight from nature itself! Mangini also has a range of other hard candy products – and they even have – yes, coffee and cream flavored candies – the ones I would run and hide from! But these taste waaay better than the “other” candies you’d find in the candy dish! If you’re looking for a hard candy to enjoy, look no further than Italy’s own Mangini, making confections for over 35 years! They have quite the product line and flavors and varieties. From fruits, yogurt, coffee, mints, caramel, cola flavored, licorice to candies that are even rhubarb flavored and can aid in digestion, toffee, to some that offer other health benefits and some have vitamins included!

Go out and enjoy National Hard Candy Day today! Please share with us what some of your favorites are!

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We’ve Got Ourselves In a Pickle!

DSC_0001In case you were not aware, it’s National Pickle Appreciation Day! There are a vast variety of pickle facts we’d love to share with you! While our favorite brand at Gourmet International is Hengstenberg, you can see the many different brands of pickles, their origin and company all at the Pickle Packers International website, cutely named: ilovepickles.org.

We are sharing the following facts from that website and what better why to start by talking about the origin of “in a pickle” as stated in our title post today! Shakespeare first introduced that phrase in The Tempest. In the play the quote is read, “How cam’st thou in this pickle?” and “I have been in such a pickle!”

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Consumption: How many Americans consume pickles within one year? Well, that answer is 2.5 billion pounds which is 20 billion pickles!  Even more random fact from the site: If you want to reach the moon, it would take 4 billion pickles. Do the math and the amount of pickles consumed in one year could get us to the moon and back more than 2 times! How crazy is that?

World War II Ties: During the days of the war, the United States Government tagged 40% of all pickle production for the ration kits of the armed forces.

Is it a fruit or a vegetable? The United States Government technically classifies pickles as a “fruit” of the vine – much like a tomato, but most people categorize pickles as a vegetable.

What are the more popular varieties of pickles? Dill is considered the most favored variety of cucumber pickle. Other variations and varieties include Sour/Half Sour and Sweet. Let’s explore these varieties a moment…

  • Dill. Herb dill or dill oil is added to impart a distinctive and refreshing flavor. The different types of dill pickles include:
    • Genuine Dill. These pickles are made by the slow “processed” method. Dill weed is added into the tanks during the last stage of fermentation or to the jar after fermentation. These pickles usually have a higher lactic acid flavor than other varieties.
    • Kosher Dill. True “Kosher” pickles are those that have been manufactured and certified in accordance with Jewish dietary laws, and made with dill and garlic added to the brine. The flavor is very popular, more robust than regular dill pickles, so much so, that the name has stuck and kosher dills are the ultimate accompaniment to an overstuffed deli sandwich.
    • Overnight Dill. Cukes are places fresh into brine (which may include a slight amount of vinegar) for a very short time — one to two days. The entire process takes place under refrigeration, and they stay refrigerated when stored and shipped. They bright green pickles taste like fresh cucumbers accented with dill flavor. They are the kind of pickle you usually find at a deli.
    • Other Dills: Include Polish and German Style.
  • Sour/Half Sour. Fresh cucumbers are first placed into a seasoned brine which doesn’t include vinegar. The containers are then refrigerated, and remain refrigerated when stored and shipped. The longer the cucumbers remain in the brine, the more sour they become. Half-sour pickles are extra crispy and keep their fresh cucumber color.
  • Sweet. Sweet pickles are packed in a sweet mixture of vinegar, sugar and spices. The variations include:
    • Bread & Butter. Sweet, thinly sliced pickles made from cucumbers, onions and chopped green or red peppers. They have a distinct, slightly tangy taste. Available in smooth or waffle cut chips or chunks.
    • Candied. These pickles are packed in an extra-heavily sweetened liquid.
    • No-Salt Sweet. These are a relatively new variety of sweet pickle to which no salt has been added. Usually available as chips.
    • Sweet/Hot. The are a “hot” new kind of pickle. They’re made by adding hot spices and seasonings to pickles for a delightful spark of piquant flavor.

Source: ilovepickles.org

You’re probably learning more about the pickle today than you thought you would! And did you know that pickles are identified as on the favorite vegetables of teens per a consumer study that was conducted for the pickle industry.

 

Now how about you? What’s your favorite type of pickle now that you’ve read through all the varieties? I have to say mine would have to be bread & butter. Nothing like the crunch of a nice crisp, bread & butter pickle! Nibble, nibble!

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Add a Little Fruit Flavor!

So let’s talk about rosehip. I’ve never had it before, it’s something new to me, and I’m here to tell you it’s a little bundle of mild flavor to spread upon your next slice of toast or English muffin. I was honestly a bit afraid to try it, I’m not a huge fan of super crazy new fruit flavors, but I was pleasantly surprised that rosehip is a pretty mellow fellow. I also want to try this rosehip fruit spread on something like a sugar cookie – like one of those cookies with jam or jelly on them? I bet it would taste delicious!

 

So, what am I talking about here? Well, I cracked open a jar of Maintal Rosehip Fruit Spread. Maintal is a brand from Germany that started its journey in 1886. Maintal is one of the oldest and most traditional preserve companies in Germany that has been managed by the fourth generation since 1999. Maintal produces organic preserves, fine jellies and first class preserves. I’ll be writing about Maintal’s organic line in future posts, so be sure to stay tuned for that! Maintal claims to be “Bavaria’s sweetest side of life” where treats such as “Krapfen” (similar to a doughnut that is filled with preserves), croissants, and other desserts all over Bavaria are “refined with Maintal products”. Maintal has a variety of fruit flavors from apricot, cranberry, strawberry, plum, blueberry, quince, elderberry and much more!

I was browsing Maintal’s website and their recipes, there are several great ideas out there, but some of them seem like they may be time-consuming and/or may need some additional prep work. And there’s the whole conversion of the ingredient lists into amounts that I can appropriately measure! But I’ll keep looking in there to find something we can whip up with their products!

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Oh! And what about this rosehip I introduced to you all? Well, I did a little research and this is what I found out:

A rose hip is the fruit of a rose. Also known as rose haw or rose hep. The wild dog rose is the type of rose most often cultivated for their hips. This plant grows up to ten feet tall and bears a white, very fragrant flower. Once the flower has bloomed, and all the petals have fallen off, the hip is picked and used in a variety of preparations.
-Information From Herbwisdom.com

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There are many health benefits from rosehip as well. Rosehip can be beneficial to aid the immune system, act as a diuretic and/or laxative, it has antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and has been known to be helpful with skin ailments. According to Herbwisdom.com, rosehips contain 50% more vitamin C than oranges! No wonder it’s used as an immune booster! I may need to enjoy more rosehip in the form of fruit spread and tea! I never knew this! That’s pretty neat!

 

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So next time you’re at the store and you see Maintal products, look and see if they have rosehip fruit spread! Now that I know some of the potential health benefits of rosehip, I am thinking I may be changing what I put on my toast, bagels or English muffins! As you can see from some of the photos where I hold the fruit spread with the knife, it’s very smooth and luxurious as it leaves the jar. It sounds really weird, I don’t have a better way to describe it, but it spreads so well and the consistency is wonderful. This fruit spread is worthy of Nibble, Nibble!