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Capers are the flower buds of Capparis spinosa pickled in vinegar.
Salt is of universal use, and it has been known from the earliest times. It is found in a solid, rocklike form in many countries. Salt springs are not uncommon, and on the coast the evaporation of sea water gives sea salt.
Rock salt is mined in Austria and at Northwick, near Liverpool, in England. A mine is now worked in Louisiana. Much salt is made in New York, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia by evaporating the water of salt springs. Salt is nearly pure sodium chloride, but it almost always contains small quantities of chloride of magnesium, which causes the salt to become moist in damp air, and which gives it the bitter taste often noticed.
A little cornstarch may be mixed with salt to keep it dry. If this is done by the manufacturer it should be so stated on the label.
There is a difference of opinion as to the healthfulness of salt when taken with food. Habit, rather than common sense, seems to govern the amount used.
These have had, periodically, highly sensational stories told about them. In the two or three dozen samples examined in the laboratory no harmful ingredient was found. There was a great deal of difference in the strength of the different brands.
Most of the “pure fruit flavors" on the market should be sold for what they are — artificial essences.
Since it is, in many cases, impossible to keep the true fruit flavor in extracts from the fruits themselves, certain compounds are mixed to imitate the fruits as nearly
be. Raspberry, peach, and orange essences are most complex in composition when artificially prepared, raspberry being made up of fourteen ethers and acids in glycerin added to alcohol.
In lemon extract a large proportion of alcohol is required to hold in solution the valuable oil of lemon, which is insoluble in water. The temptation, therefore, is to use weak alcohol, which does not dissolve the oil, or to substitute artificial acids and flavors. Methyl alcohol has been known to be used.
The flavor of the cheap extracts is enhanced by citral, oil of citronella, and of lemon grass in minute quantities. The extracts of standard quality are colored with lemon peel, but as this coloring does not last coal tar dyes and turmeric are used extensively.
In 1903–04, of fifty-three examined by the New Hampshire State Board thirty-four were adulterated.
A convenient test by which the consumer may get some idea of the quality of a sample of an extract of lemon is the addition of about three times as much water. If the liquid becomes turbid on account of the separation of the oil of lemon, the sample contains a fair amount of this oil; but if it does not become cloudy on the addition of water, the extract is of a very poor grade.
VANILLA The source of vanilla extract is the vanilla bean, the fruit of the Vanilla planifolia, which is an epiphyte belonging to the Orchidacea. It is a native of Mexico, but is cultivated in tropical regions.
The flavoring principle, vanillin, is found in fine crystals on the surface of the bean. It occurs in from I to 2.75 per cent, according to the variety of the bean. Curiously enough, it is least in the most valued grades.
The following analysis of Tiemann and Harmann shows :
Per cent vanillin
2.48 Java beans
2.75 Vanilla is abundantly adulterated by artificial or synthetic vanillin and coumarin and with tonka bean extract. The latter is the seed of Coumarouna odorata and some other varieties. The flavoring principle is coumarin, the same as found in sweet grass, vernal grass, and in sweet clover.
Prune juice is also used to increase the bulk and give flavor to vanilla.
Almond oil, according to the United States Pharmacopoeia, has the following composition :
Oil of bitter almonds .
1,000 c.c. The oil of almonds is obtained by the distillation of crushed bitter almonds or apricot seeds. Most of the commercial oil is from apricot and peach seeds, which give practically the same product.
Since prussic acid, which exists in the unpurified oil of bitter almonds, is known to be highly poisonous, its presence in almond extract should be considered a harmful adulteration.
Nitrobenzol, or oil of mirbane, is a heavy yellow liquid that is used as a substitute for the almond extract. CHAPTER XII
OTHER MATERIALS USED IN COOKING
, tant articles of diet, and since in the United States such bread is largely made in homes, and not in bakeries, as is the case in Europe, the substances which produce this digestible food deserve consideration.
Yeast is a cryptogamous plant, a simple cell which grows by multiplication or budding in a slightly sweetened liquid, converting the sugar into carbonic acid gas and alcohol, at the same time that it acts upon starch, converting it into dextrin and then into starch sugar. The process is technically called alcoholic fermentation, and yeast a ferment. Different kinds of fermentation are distinguished by the name of the principal product to which they give rise, as alcoholic or yeast fermentation, acetic or vinegar fermentation, lactic, butyric, etc.
It is because of the evolution of carbonic acid gas, which is held in the sponge in little bubbles by the tenacity of the gluten of the wheat, that yeast is used in the preparation of bread. Wild yeast germs are floating in the air, and the leaven of olden times owed its efficiency to the cells which fell into the open vessel. The objection to this spontaneous fermentation is that