When Is A Blueberry Really An Apple?

Posted: August 05, 1987

Q. I baked blueberry muffins with Jiffy Muffin Mix and they were good, but on the box it says "imitation blueberries." What in the world are imitation blueberries?

Mary Solek

Tuckerton, N.J.

A. Ruth Stone of the Chelsea Milling Company's customer relations department tells us that the blueberries in the mix are actually little bits of apples which are flavored and colored to look and taste like blueberries.

Why does Jiffy do this? Two reasons are given. "An apple," says Stone, ''is a very nutritious and healthful food, and we chose that from which to make our blueberries for that reason. Also, natural blueberries have very little flavor."

If apples are substituted for blueberries because Jiffy thinks they're more nutritious, they can stop doing so right now because they're not. As for the second reason, if natural blueberries have little flavor, why are the bits of apples flavored and colored to look and taste like blueberries?

Stone informs us that muffin mixes containing actual blueberries always contain artificial flavoring and usually coloring to "beef up" the taste of the blueberries.

In making a choice, then, between beefed-up blueberries and apple bits, Jiffy chose apple bits, probably because it's financially advantageous to do so.

Q. Since Vidalia onions are seasonal, how can I preserve them for future use? I tried freezing them once but they became watery and had to be discarded.

Bernard Fellman

Coconut Creek, Fla.

A. A paper written by William Hurst, Ph.D., with the extension service at the University of Georgia, entitled "Cold Storage of Vidalia Onions," states that "no sprouting occurred in these onions when stored at 40 degrees F until three months after storage; however, between the three- to six-month period sprouting was the major cause of loss. The best shelf life was found when the onions were stored at 34 degrees. At this temperature the onions appeared to be dormant and no obvious sprouting was observed."

Since refrigerator temperatures are usually 40 degrees, if you store your sweet onions there they will last about three months before sprouting. To freeze them, cut them in strips. If they are to be used in cooking, blanch them for a few minutes before packaging in the freezer.

Q. Some Teflon-coated pots and pans run into real money. Can they be recoated or repaired by the manufacturer?

George Goyer

Clearwater, Fla.

A. While it's technically possible to recoat cookware, it's not economical to do so. Richard Westerman, a technical manager with du Pont, advises us that such an operation would be highly customized, requiring removal of the handles and accessories plus the old non-stick coating. The major cookware manufacturers are highly automated and not prepared for such an undertaking.

If you have a special piece you would like to have repaired, however, there are some small companies that will quote you a price. One of them is R.J. Chase Co., Inc., P.O. Box 248, 400 Tara Court, Union City, Calif. 94587.

Q. When I was growing up in India, I used to have a glass of buttermilk with my lunch every day. It was homemade and was a thin, watery liquid. Every day homemade yogurt was churned and the butter was taken out. Left over was the buttermilk. It was considered very healthy to drink. The buttermilk I find here is thick and different. How is it made, and what is its nutritional value?

Zarina Punja

Troutdale, Ore.

A. The old way of making real buttermilk was to take cream, agitate it, and remove the semi-solid mass of butter that formed. What remained was buttermilk, a liquid that varied from thin to thick.

Most cultured buttermilk you buy in the store today is not a by-product of butter making, nor does it even have actual contact with butter. What they do instead is inject bacteria into skim or sometimes whole milk, which produces a buttery flavor. It is then churned, at which time it's often sprayed with tiny droplets of milk fat so the end product will look like classic buttermilk.

Have a question for Sonja Heinze? Write to her in care of the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Phila., Pa., 19101.

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