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Answers for Your Culinary Questions
Updated: 1 day 6 hours ago

What’s the conversion ratio from fresh to frozen mushrooms?

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 15:47

While they might vary if you’ve cooked the mushrooms prior to freezing them, raw frozen mushrooms should be pretty much the same (quantity-wise) as their fresh brethren. No recipe conversions should be necessary.

Keep in mind that mushrooms that have been frozen will be much softer than fresh once thawed & can be hard to caramelize. This may make them unsuitable for some recipes where you want to serve them as a prominent side dish, but they’re great for use as an ingredient in sauces, soups, baked dishes, etc.

– Question Submitted by Lynn

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How many threads/pinches of saffron in 1 gram?

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 11:10

1 gram is a fairly large amount of saffron (relatively speaking, it’s light & potent stuff!). Depending on the quality of your saffron, that could be as many as 32 servings!

We estimate (roughly) that there are about 560 threads in a gram – you can see our math here.

I assume you don’t want to count out individual saffron threads though. If you don’t want to buy a gram scale, here’s what I’d do. A lot of consumer packs of saffron come in between 1/2 gram and 1 gram (we sell ours in 0.8 gram packs). It might be easier to get a new package (or packages) and guesstimate the quantity by taking a portion of their listed weight.

– Question Submitted by Susie J.

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How much saffron to use in buns recipe?

Mon, 11/21/2016 - 09:13

I have an old recipe from around 1950. It calls for one box of saffron for 9 lbs of flour for making buns. How much was in a box?! I am guessing at 1 ounce or 2. I heard if you put too much saffron in a recipe it will taste like metal. Is this true and if so why?! Thank you!

Thanks for visiting us & asking your saffron questions. It’s one of my favorite spices, so I’m always happy to talk about it.

Unfortunately I have no idea if there was a standard measure for saffron boxes back then. Even for 9lbs of flour, 1 or 2 ounces of saffron sounds like massive overkill. Saffron is extremely potent, but also expensive. I happen to think our saffron price is quite good, and 1-2oz would cost you hundreds of dollars!

We typically see saffron sold in packages containing somewhere around a gram, though it can vary a fair amount between producers & forms (powder vs threads). I scanned some saffron bun recipes online, and I’m seeing quantities around a gram in recipes calling for that amount of flour. I’d definitely err on the side of being conservative with your first batch, then adjust from there.

Too much saffron can very definitely be a problem (and remember, this is coming from someone who loves it). As I said before, it’s extremely potent. Though its flavor is quite different from other floral spices, I’d say the same rule of caution applies as for lavender, rose & orange blossom – too much and it’ll overpower the dish & your taste buds.

I’ve never heard the flavor overabundance of saffron flavor being referred to as “metallic”. To me it more evokes “musty attic”. Not what you want!

Question Submitted by Marvel

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How do you clean fresh truffles?

Mon, 11/07/2016 - 12:40

We recommend you clean fresh truffles by gently rubbing them with a damp cloth.

Because this introduces moisture that can cause the truffle to grow mold, we recommend only cleaning them right before you’re going to use them (and only cleaning the portion you’re going to use), to protect their shelf life.

More tips for using fresh truffles

– Question Submitted by Kay B.

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Can I freeze sweetbreads?

Tue, 06/14/2016 - 10:00

Absolutely! In fact, you probably should. Sweetbreads, like other offal cuts, are very perishable and should be cooked or frozen ASAP. We actually sell our veal sweetbreads frozen & recommend using them within a day of thawing.

- Question Submitted by Tom

Related Posts:

How to Prepare Sweetbreads

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Should I use grass-fed wagyu or grain-finished wagyu in burgers?

Wed, 04/06/2016 - 10:18

It’s a matter of personal preference. Here’s the criteria that I’d use to decide:

Fat Content: As a general rule of thumb, ground beef that is 20% fat is considered by chefs to be ideal for burgers & other formed meat applications (meatloaf, meatballs, etc). Fat content this high will help keep the meat together and prevent it drying out.

Of course, the wagyu breed is predisposed to higher marbling, so both of our grass-fed ground wagyu beef and grain-finished ground wagyu beef products are a bit above that, so you’re fine there.

Taste: I think you’ll see a little less of a distinction because we’re talking about ground beef, but in general, grass-fed beef tends to have a beefier flavor that’s “cleaner” on the palate (for example, I use our grass-fed angus in burgers because I find I can taste all the condiments and toppings much more while getting plenty of bold beef flavor).

Grain-finished wagyu tends to have a luxurious creamier, “buttery-er” flavor.

Health Benefits: The wagyu breed’s marbling tends to be lower in saturated fat than other breeds, but this is especially true of grass-fed wagyu. Grass-fed beef is also higher in healthy omega 3s, CLA & vitamins.

You’ll get great burgers either way, it’s just a question of what kind of burger you want!

- Question Submitted by Eric

Related Content:

Burger Recipes

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What’s the difference between your crystallized & fresh edible flowers?

Fri, 03/18/2016 - 16:30

What’s the difference between your crystallized & fresh edible flowers?

We get asked about the differences between our crystallized flowers
and  fresh edible flowers a lot.

Here’s the basic breakdown:

  Fresh Crystalized



Stiff & Brittle


Varies with Variety




Can Be More Muted

In Drinks


Become Soggy

Shelf Life

Typically About a Week Max, Depending
on Variety

6 Months to 1 Year


And here are some visual comparisons – crystallized flowers on the left, fresh on the right:

The post What’s the difference between your crystallized & fresh edible flowers? appeared first on Ask Marx Foods.

Can I store live oysters on dry ice?

Mon, 01/04/2016 - 09:50

I would strongly recommend not storing live oysters on or under dry ice. Dry ice is significantly colder than conventional ice and will very likely kill them (quite possibly by freezing them). In addition, as dry ice melts (sublimates) it turns into carbon dioxide gas, which may asphyxiate them.

Your concern about conventional ice melting into fresh water and drowning the oysters is valid, but the best solution is to set up a simple storage system where the shellfish are kept above any collecting water. Check out our blog post on how to store live shellfish for an example.

- Question Submitted by Nelson F.

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Gelatin Bloom Strength Questions

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 10:59

Q: How much 240 bloom gelatin would I need to set 100ml (or if easier 1L) of water?

A: Technically bloom strength is a measure of the firmness of the resulting gel of equivalent blends of water and gelatin. In other words, 240 bloom gelatin will set firmer than 120 bloom gelatin. However, bloom potency also has an effect on the amount of gelatin you need to gel the same amount of water to an equivalent firmness.

This page on Chef Steps states that a sheet (1.7g) of Platinum strength gelatin (235-265 bloom strength) is sufficient to gel 100ml of liquid to a soft, but turn-able texture. Increasing the liquid or reducing the liquid will result in a softer or firmer set respectively. For example, they suggest that increasing the liquid to 125ml will result in a set too soft to be served as self-supporting pieces.

I also found a bloom strength conversion chart that will allow you to switch between gelatin varieties of different bloom strengths.

Q: Will the same amount of gelatin set a 50/50 blend of vodka and water? Is there a alcohol percentage where it will fail to set?

A: Alcohol will actually increase the resulting gel strength, up to a certain point. According to food science expert Harold McGee in “On Food & Cooking” – at somewhere beyond 30%-50% alcohol in the gelling mixture gelatin will precipitate out of the solution into solid particles, spoiling the clarity of your gel (or worse, ruining the texture/set).

Working with alcohol and gelatin is a little more complicated than it first appears for two reasons:

1) Like many other gelling agents/hydrocolloids, gelatin is affected by acid. Acids below pH 4 (like wine) will weaken the gel strength. While we’re on the subject, in case it’s helpful, here’s a food pH chart for reference.

2) It’s unlikely that you’ll be working with 100% alcohol, so you’ll need to take your spirit’s actual strength into account when figuring out what percentage you can get away with. The bottle will generally be labelled with a percent alcohol by volume (AbV) and/or a Proof # (which is twice the alcohol percent).

- Questions Submitted by Youtube User D4NNYT92

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What is the largest part of the grain kernel?

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 10:32

The largest part of the typical grain kernel is called the “endosperm” – it’s the energy storage capsule – providing the food a nascent plant needs to grow from the seed.

The endosperm is the part of a wheat grain that is milled to produce white flour. Whole wheat flour, on the other hand, contains the other parts of the grain (the germ and the bran) which contain added fiber and nutrients. Because the germ is also where the grain’s fat is located, whole wheat flour is also more prone to spoilage than white flour.

- Question Submitted by Zora

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Do you contract grow or do your own your own farms?

Mon, 10/05/2015 - 16:15

I assume you’re asking about our produce offerings?

We don’t own our own farms, but instead work with farmers, foragers & produce trading markets across the country to build our collection of specialty fruits, vegetables & edible flowers. Some items come directly from microgreen & flower farmers in California, Washington or New York, our wild mushrooms are hand-foraged in the Pacific Northwest (along with a lot of our other wild produce), our heirloom potatoes are grown on a small family farm in Washington, etc.

Some of our other exotic produce is sourced from the country’s central produce markets (where farmers bring their produce from the fields or into the country for purchase by major companies & restaurants).

Because our produce is from much closer to the source than most stores, we can offer higher quality & better prices.

- Question Submitted by Doreen

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What is torchon?

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 11:36

Torchon is foie gras that’s been formed into a cylinder shape, wrapped in cloth and very gently poached in stock, goose fat or duck fat.  It’s then chilled to set, unwrapped, and sliced – typically for use as an hors d’oeuvre.  The preparation is similar to foie gras terrine, with the primary differences being the shape (cylindrical rather than loaf shaped), the enclosure, and the cooking liquid.

Torchon is a good preparation for lower grade foie gras or utilizing pieces and bits of foie that can’t be seared (chefs try to utilize every bit of foie to balance out its significant cost).

The post What is torchon? appeared first on Ask Marx Foods.

How many pounds of fresh elderberries for a 9″ pie?

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 09:58

We haven’t made elderberry pie in the test kitchen yet, but from looking at a variety of different recipes online it looks like you’re going to want between 3 1/2 and 4 cups of fresh elderberries for a pie.

According to this site, there are approximately 5.11oz of huckleberries in a cup, so you’re looking at 17.8 oz (1.1lbs) to 20.4oz (1.3lbs) of fresh elderberries.

Good luck with the pie!

Question Submitted by Beverly W.

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Why did my frozen grass-fed beef arrive past its expiration date?

Thu, 08/27/2015 - 10:19

Don’t worry, it’s ok!

That is actually a use or freeze by date, so the actual use-by date for frozen product is up to two years after the fresh use-by date.

Because of the immaculate cleanliness of their processing operations, Silver Fern Farms beef (Grass-Fed Angus Beef, Reserve Beef) naturally has a much, much longer shelf life than conventional meats. Cuts are always shipped to the US fresh, and have a fresh use-by date printed on the packaging. They are then either sold fresh or are frozen for longer shelf life.

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What is guar gum?

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 15:43

You’ve probably wondered this while looking at the ingredients list of a carton of ice cream, because that’s where most Americans will encounter this substance.  It also shows up in baked goods (especially gluten free ones) & beverages.

Guar gum is the powdered endosperm (energy storage portion) of the guar bean (cyamopsis tetragonolobus I).  It’s a natural substance that’s a remarkably powerful thickener.  In ice cream it’s used to help keep ice crystals small, resulting in a smoother consistency and helping to prevent the ice cream from growing ice crystals in your freezer (as homemade ice creams will often do over time).

In baked goods its thickening power helps keep items from spreading out too far before they set (a particular problem with gluten free items).

The post What is guar gum? appeared first on Ask Marx Foods.

What are Pressure Processed (HPP) Lobsters?

Tue, 06/30/2015 - 16:41

Live Maine lobsters are loaded into a high pressure processing machine, which uses pressure at or above 40,000 psi (pounds per inch) to kill the lobsters almost instantaneously. This process also separates the meat from the shell inside the lobster, making it exceedingly easy to shuck while still raw. Because the pressure is equal from all sides and no heat is involved, the taste and texture of the lobster’s meat is not harmed.

After this first trip to the HPP machine, the claw, tail and knuckle meat is expertly removed from the shell by hand (except for HPP processed shell-on lobsters), then effectively “cold pasteurized” via a second trip to the HPP machine.

The post What are Pressure Processed (HPP) Lobsters? appeared first on Ask Marx Foods.

What are Certified Maine Lobsters?

Tue, 06/30/2015 - 16:41

Certified Maine Lobsters have been caught in Maine. Because “Maine lobster” is the name of the species (which is found up & down the East coast of the US & Canada), not all Maine lobsters are actually caught in Maine. Lobsters that are certified as coming from Maine are.

Purchasing certified Maine lobsters doesn’t just mean that you’re purchasing delicious, sweet lobster meat. You are also supporting the labor of Maine lobstermen & women who follow Maine lobster conservation practices.

The post What are Certified Maine Lobsters? appeared first on Ask Marx Foods.

What’s the best way to preserve fresh piri piri chilies?

Mon, 06/15/2015 - 12:08

While you can pickle or freeze chilies, with a small, very hot pepper like the piri piri, we’d recommend drying/dehydrating.

A dehydrator will probably give you the best results (drying without cooking as an oven would). While you can dehydrate them whole, splitting or slicing them will speed up the process and may give you more consistent results.

We haven’t dehydrated chilies in our test kitchen to come up with baseline times, but I’m reading between 8-12 hours at around 130 degrees online.

The dried piri piri chilies can be rehydrated later, crushed to make chile flakes, used in hot sauces or ground into chile powder.

- Question Submitted by James

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How would you prepare fresh porcinis?

Tue, 06/09/2015 - 10:21

My favorite application for fresh porcini mushrooms is probably simply grilling them and then finishing them with a spritz of lemon juice.  Slice them and put them over pasta or risotto with parmigiano reggiano cheese – heaven!  Of course, you can also cube or slice them and saute them in butter.

We also have a collection of tasty recipes using fresh porcinis, here are some links:

Simple Porcinis & Green Vegetable Side Dish
Porcini Mushrooms a La Plancha
Pasta with Fresh Porcinis, Sausage & Truffle Butter
Italian Roasted Porcini Soup
Roasted Porcini Salad with Lemon & Salsa Verde

- Question Submitted by Mary R.

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What is Oleo Saccharum?

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 16:32

Don’t let the name intimidate you, Oleo Saccharum isn’t some sort of chemical laden preservative or artificial colorant.  It’s a classic (and classy) bartending ingredient/technique with a highfalutin’ Latin name (which translates to a less intimidating “sugared oil”).

Oleo Saccharum is made by muddling citrus zest (typically lemon) with superfine sugar until its flavorful, aromatic oils begin to seep out.  The mixture is left to sit for some time, so the oil has a chance to combine with the sugar to create a rich, flavorful syrup.  Then the zest is removed.

The finished product is a prized punch & cocktail ingredient.

Related Posts:
Cocktail & Mixology Questions
Beverage & Cocktail Recipes Collection

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