Organic Fair Trade Bananas

We recently made the decision to raise the price of Organic Bananas to $1.19/pound.

The banana industry is infamous for unfair labor practices, dangerous working conditions, and perpetuation of global inequalities. The Co-op has long rejected being a part of the conventional banana trade. Instead, we only stock Organic Fair Trade bananas from Equal Exchange. Equal Exchange bananas come from three farmer co-ops in Ecuador and Peru where 1,162 small-scale farmers own and farm 5,000 acres of land.

Over the last decade, conventional banana prices have fallen, with increasing costs passed back to plantations and their workers, rather than to consumers or retailers. According to a study by Fair Trade International, about $6.70 per 40-pound wholesale box of conventional bananas is externalized onto smallholder farmers and the employees of banana plantations, as well as onto the land itself.

Unlike the conventional banana trade, Equal Exchange banana farmers earn a reliable income year-round which supports farmer families and creates local employment opportunities. As democratically-run cooperatives, Equal Exchange co-ops use the Fair Trade Premium Fund and vote on how money is used for community development projects. Equal Exchange banana farmers also receive healthcare, women’s entrepreneurship education, and environmental stewardship resources.

“Invisible” costs really aren’t invisible. We won’t be passing those costs back to the farmers who grow our food or to the land that nourishes all of us. Instead, we hope you’ll join us in supporting small farmers growing the food on our tables knowing that you’re strengthening supply chains and relationships that truly benefit people and planet.

More >>

A Brief & Delightfully Weird History of Chartreuse

A Brief & Delightfully Weird History of Chartreuse 

By Sterling Carlton, Beer, Wine & Spirits Specialist 

In 1605, Francois Hannibal d’Estrees discovered an already ancient manuscript that allegedly held the secrets to make the elixir of long life.  He brought the manuscript to monks near Paris and they sent it to La Grande Chartreuse Abbey. The Abbey was founded in 1084 when a Chateau in the Chartreuse mountains north of the city of Grenoble was gifted to the Hermit Saint Bruno by Saint Hugh du Châteauneuf, Bishop of Grenoble. Saint Hugh made this gift to Saint Bruno as a result of a dream he had prior to Saint Bruno’s arrival. After seeing a banner of seven stars in his dream, it seemed like destiny when Bruno and his six friends arrived searching for a home to start their silent order of monks.

After many years trying to decipher the manuscript, the Carthusian monks at the Abbey eventually tested the recipe in 1737. Sixty years in, the monks tweaked the recipe and the liquor we know as Green Chartreuse was born. I can’t vouch for any longevity it may add to your lifespan, but it is quite delicious to be sure. 

After the French Revolution in the late 1700s, the French government nationalized the Abbey, or at least its distillery, as the monks were turning quite a profit on their elixirs. The monks fled, eventually landing in Spain, and produced Chartreuse there for a roughly 86 year period from 1903-1989. The French government tried to replicate the naturally green drink, but never managed the same magic.

The Chartreuse that we have access to in the United States comes in 4 bottlings. Green and Yellow Chartreuse and VEP Green and Yellow Chartreuse. There are several other bottlings such as Elixir de Vegetal, Liqueur du 9° Centenaire and Genepi which are not imported into the United States. The reason being? The powers that be want to know exactly what goes into every bottle of Chartreuse, but the Carthusian order charged with guarding the recipe will not disclose the 130 alpine botanicals, quantities, and maceration times used to create this delicious liquor. As a result we are left with only the 4 base level bottlings. 

Only 2-3 monks in the world know the recipe composed of 130 alpine botanicals at any given time and, being a silent order, they are sworn to secrecy. Many have tried to mimic the beverage and pick it apart in a lab. Alas, some may have been close but no one has truly been able to replicate the recipe that is so closely guarded. 

One of the more interesting aspects of this spirit is its ability to age. It will develop and evolve much like wine can when cellared properly, morphing into something unique and special. One of the ways to determine the age of a bottle of Chartreuse is the 6 digit code on the side of the screw cap. The first three digits will give you the year it was bottled if you add them to the year 1084. The second set of three digits will tell you on which day of that year the Chartreuse was bottled.

Needless to say it’s a unique liquor with a remarkable history. A few of my favorite ways to enjoy Chartreuse is straight up or on the rocks as a sipping beverage, in various cocktails (See the Last Word cocktail recipe below), or drizzled over some vanilla ice cream to end the night. Cheers.

Green and Yellow Chartreuse are on sale now through 5/31/22! Find them in our Beer, Wine, and Spirits Department.

The Last Word 

Chartreuse Day is celebrated on May 16th (05/16) to commemorate the year (1605) the recipe found its way to the Abbey. You can celebrate with this delicious cocktail! 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 ounce gin
  • 3/4 ounce Green Chartreuse
  • 3/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • Garnish: brandied cherry (optional)

Add the gin, Green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice into a shaker with ice and shake until well chilled.

Strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Garnish with a brandied cherry (optional).

More >>

A Week of Co+op Basics Dinners

This blog contains quick and easy weeknight dinner recipes featuring Co+op Basics items. They’ll feed at least 4 and come together in 30 minutes or less – and they’ll be delicious! 

The Co+op Basics Program

The Co+op Basics program highlights everyday low prices on a wide variety of products, food and non-food, at the Co-op. By shopping Co+op Basics items you can save on the essentials that you need with consistently low prices. 

Although there are many brands that are a part of the program, most Field Day products are Co+op Basics. Field Day products are certified organic and are made with high quality, simple ingredients. 

Look for the purple signs in store to find Co+op Basics!

Pantry Basics

First, stock your pantry with Basics! Start with olive oil, salt, and spices – it’s all you really need to take protein and veg to the next level. Having rice, beans, canned tuna, and a couple of frozen or canned veggie options will make last-minute dinners even easier! Bonus: you’ll be less likely to opt for take out, which means you’ve saved even more money. 

Blistered Summer Vegetable Pasta

Ingredients

  • Field Day Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce ($2.99/26 oz.)
  • Field Day Traditional or Brown Rice Fusilli ($1.99/16 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lb. mixed summer squash (such as zucchini, crockneck or straightneck squash), cut into 1/4 inch thick half moons
  • 2 cups packed sturdy greens (spinach, kale, chard, collards), chopped
  • olive oil, salt, pepper

Method

  1. Turn your oven’s broiler on HI. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss cherry tomatoes and squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Broil until the tomatoes burst and everything is looking a little charred, about 7-10 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once a rolling boil is achieved, add pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than the package instructions state. Drain.
  3. Heat sauce in a deep pan until simmering. Add veggies and al dente pasta to the simmering sauce and stir. Cook for at least 2 minutes, check pasta doneness, and serve.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons Field Day Olive Oil ($6.99/16.9 fl. oz.)
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Field Day Chili Powder ($3.49/2 oz.)
  • 4 teaspoons Field Day Ground Cumin ($3.99/1.7 oz.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Field Day Fine Mediterranean Salt ($1.99/26.45 oz.)
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 2 15-ounce cans Field Day Black Beans, drained and rinsed ($1.49/15 oz.)
  • 1 14-ounce can Field Day Diced Tomatoes ($2.39/14.5 oz.)
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, about 4 minutes.

  2. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle and salt and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.

  3. Add water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the sweet potato is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

  4. Add beans, tomatoes and lime juice; increase heat to high and return to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.

  5. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Serve as is or with tortilla chips and sour cream. 

Tuna Cakes with Sriracha Mayo & Avocado

 

Ingredients

  • 3 5-ounce cans Field Day Wild Caught Skipjack Tuna No Salt Added ($1.99/5 oz.)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Field Day Mediterranean Sea Salt ($1.99/26.45 oz.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Field Day Olive Oil ($6.99/16.9 fl. oz.)

Sriracha Mayo

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-4 teaspoons Sriracha sauce or chili garlic paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Field Day Mediterranean Sea Salt ($1.99/26.45 oz.)

For serving

  • avocado slices
  • lemon wedges
  • cooked brown rice (Field Day Organic Brown Rice for $3.99/32 oz.)

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together sriracha mayo ingredients and place, covered, in the fridge.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together all of the tuna cake ingredients, except the olive oil, with a fork, flaking fish as needed, until combined.
  3. Pack tuna mixture into 1/3 cup measuring cup, to form cakes. Gently remove and flatten slightly. Repeat to form 8 cakes.
  4. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add cakes without crowding the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy. Keep warm in a 200 degree oven while you cook the rest.
  5. Serve with Sriracha aioli, avocado slices, and extra chives over cooked brown rice. 

Pumpkin Chorizo Mac and Cheese

 

Ingredients

    • 1-2 box(es) Field Day Deluxe Mild Cheddar Macaroni Shells and Cheese ($3.99/12 oz.)
    • 3/4 lb. traditional or vegetarian chorizo, casings removed
    • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
    • 1/2 cup onion, diced
    • 1/2 cup Field Day Organic Pure Pumpkin ($1.99/15 oz.)

    Method

    1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
    2. In the meantime, sauté chorizo over medium-high heat until cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside. Return the pan to the stove. Add peppers and onions. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chorizo back in with the veggies. Turn heat to low. 
    3. When the shells are cooked, finish according to package instructions. Stir in the pumpkin puree at the same time. When the noodles are sufficiently cheesy and pumpkiny, add them to the pan and stir until chorizo, noodles, and veggies are well mixed. Serve. 

    Smoky Chilaquiles with Eggs

     

    Ingredients

      • 8 small yellow corn tortillas
      • 3 tablespoons Field Day Olive Oil, divided ($6.99/16.9 fl. oz.)
      • 1/2 large white onion, diced
      • 2 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1 15-ounce can Field Day Tomato Sauce ($1.69/15 oz.)
      • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce from can
      • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce also from can
      • 1/2 cup Field Day Chicken or Vegetable Stock ($2.99/32 oz.)
      • 4 eggs
      • For serving: cotija cheese, sliced green onions, avocado slices, lime wedges, sour cream, Field Day California Sliced Ripe California  Balck Olives ($1.79/3.8 oz.)

      Method

      1. Slice tortillas into 2-inch wide strips. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add tortilla strips to hot oil and fry 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Continue until all of the strips have been fried.
      2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add tomato sauce, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, and chicken or veggie stock. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat, and cook for 5 minutes longer. At this point, you can blend for a smooth sauce or use as is. If blending, cool for 15 minutes before attempting to blend. 
      3. Fry up your eggs. 
      4. Return tortilla strips and sauce to the pan. Heat until the strips are coated and the sauce is well heated. Divide among serving bowls and top each chilaquiles mound with a fried egg. Finish with cotija cheese, green onions, avocado, lime, black olive, and/or sour cream. 

      More >>

      Appetizers from Easter to Mother’s Day

      Watermelon Salad

      3 cups cubed watermelon
      2-3 cubed avocados
      2 cubed cucumbers
      1/2 cup minced basil, plus a handful of leaves for garnish
      1/2 cup minced mint
      1/2 cup crumbled feta 
      2 Serrano or Jalapeño Peppers, sliced
      3 tbsp olive or avocado oil 
      1 lime juiced
      1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced 
      salt to taste

      Prep ingredients as directed above. Toss everything except for avocado. Add avocado and gently toss. 

      Prosciutto wRapped Asparagus and Melon 

      1 bunch asparagus
      1 small melon, cantaloupe, honeydew, or similar (not watermelon)
      prosciutto, cut into 1-2 inch thick strips
      olive oil
      salt and pepper

      Heat a skillet with a little oil. Break off ends of asparagus and add to the pan. Cook, flipping at least once for 4-7 minutes until tender. Set aside. 

      Cut melon. Scoop out seeds and slice into 1 in slices. Wrap a few asparagus and a melon slice with a strip of prosciutto. Serve cold or room temp.

      Jammy Eggs with Paprika Aioli

      4 eggs
      2 jarred peperoncini in brine
      4 springs parsley
      1/4 cup mayonnaise
      1 tsp smoked or hot paprika
      salt

      Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Carefully place 4 eggs in the pot and set a timer for 8 mintues. Transfer eggs to an ice bath.

      Strain and chop peperoncini, and place in a small bowl. Finely chop parsley and add to peperoncinis.

      In another small bowl, combine mayonnaise and paprika.

      Cut cooled eggs lengthwise, sprinkle with salt. Top each egg with aioli and peperoncini mix.

      Fried Green Tomatoes

      1 Green tomato per 1-2 people
      Corn Meal
      Flour
      Salt and pepper
      Eggs 
      Oil or butter to pan fry

      Slice green onions about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Whisk the egg on a plate or shallow bowl. Combine 1/2 cup corn meal per 1 cup flour, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet on medium, once hot add oil. Dip tomatoes in egg, one at a time, coating both sides. Then place on flour and flip, coating both sides. Place in the hot skillet. Cook for 4-5 minutes per side, until brown on both sides.

      This recipe works as a ratio. Add more flour and eggs as needed. 

      This recipe can also be done with zucchinni and other veggies!

       

      Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Miso Tahini

      2 small sweet potatoes
      2 tbsp neutral oil
      1/2 tsp salt
      2 tbsp tahini
      2 tbsp white miso
      2 tsp distilled white vinegar

      1 scallion
      1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

      Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Rinse 2 sweet potatoes. Cut potates into quaters lingthwise, then cut each wedge in half crosswise into 2”-long pieces. Toss potatoe, 2 tbsp oil, and 1/2 tsp salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, tossing every 5 minutes for about 10-15 minutes. Check frequesntly!

      In a small bowl, combine tahini, miso, vinegar, and 1 tbsp water witha fork until smooth.

      Trim root end off of one scallion, then thinly slice from bulb to dark green tip.

      Spread tahini sauce on a plater. Arrange potatoes over and top with sesame seeds and scallions.

      Smoked Salmon Dip 

      7 oz smoked salmon (or trout)

      7 oz Philadelphia cream cheese , full fat

      1/4 cup sour cream

      1/4 cup mayonnaise

      1/4 cup fresh dill , roughly chopped

      1/2 garlic clove , minced

      1 1/2 tsp lemon zest (1 lemon)

      1 – 2 tbsp lemon juice

      Pinch of salt and pepper

      Add all ingredients to a food processor, starting with on 1/2 the lemon and less salt. Pulse until fairly smooth, scrapping down the sides as needed. Add more lemon and salt to taste. Serve with crackers, bread and veggies. 

      Artisana Golden Cashew Sauce w/ Roasted Veggies

      1/3cup Artisana Organics Cashew Butter
      1 small shallot, diced
      2 cloves of garlic, smashed/ sliced
      1/3 cup + 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
      1 Medjool date, diced
      2-3 tbsp water
      2 tbsp fresh lime juice
      1 tsp fish sauce
      1 tsp kosher salt

      Sautee the shallot in 1 tbsp olive oil until translucent, add garlic and cook until softened. Transfer all the ingredients into a bullet blender, blend well until smooth, creamy adding a little water depending on your preferred consistency. Store in a airtight container and use to elevate vegetables, meats, as a dressing or a dip.

      We love to drizzle on assorted roasted veggies. Roast hot! Higher temp for less time is your new motto. 450 – 475 F. and acknowledge different veggies roast for different times and either. Start denser veggies first or cut them smaller than the others.

      Mini Mushroom Pies

      1 Pie Crust

      Olive oil
      8 ounces mushrooms , minced
      1 large yello or white onion , minced
      1/4 cup sour cream
      1 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp dried thyme

      Preheat oven to 450°.
      In a skillet over medium high heat, saute the mushroom
      and onion in the butter until tender. Add sour cream,
      salt, thyme and flour and stir to combine. Cook for one
      minute, remove from heat to cool.
      On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4”
      thick. Cut the dough into rounds with a biscuit cutter,
      about 2” in diameter. Fit the dough rounds into muffin
      tins and lightly tamp them into place. Fill the tarts with
      1 teaspoon of mushroom filling. Bake 12-14 minutes.
      Serve immediately.

      Caprese bites

      8-16 oz soft mozzarella cheese, balls or log sliced.
      1-2 cartons of cherry tomatoes
      basil
      salt and pepper
      balsamic glaze
      extra virgin olive oil

      Organize on a plate, toothpicks are optional. If the basil is large enough, it can hold the tomato and mozzarella inside! 

      Drizzle with balsamic glaze and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve cold. 

       

      Baked Coconut Shrimp

      1 tablespoon coconut oil

      1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

      1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

      1 teaspoon garlic powder

      1 teaspoon paprika

      1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

      ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

      1 lb. large shrimp or prawns (16 pieces), peeled and deveined

      ¼ cup all-purpose flour

      2 eggs, beaten

      Preheat the oven to 400 F.

      In a shallow saucepan, heat oil, breadcrumbs, and shredded coconut over medium heat. Stir constantly and toast until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.

      Stir in seasoning garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined and remove from heat. Transfer bread mixture to a shallow plate and allow it to cool down to room temperature.

      To prepare the shrimp, cut through the shell along the back with scissors. Remove the veins and the shells (keep the tails on). Rinse to remove the veins and pat dry each shrimp completely with a paper towel.

      Prepare another shallow plate with flour, and another with the beaten eggs. Dip each shrimp into flour to evenly coat, then dip it into the eggs, and then coat it completely with the coconut breadcrumb mixture. You can gently press the crumbs into shrimp to adhere as much as possible. (The flour sticks to the shrimp, the egg sticks to the flour, and the breadcrumbs stick to the egg).

      Transfer the breaded shrimp onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes until fully cooked through and coating is golden brown. Flip the shrimp once halfway through baking if you want both sides to be crispy.

      Serve immediately with spicy mayo sauce. To make the spicy mayo sauce, combine mayonnaise and hot sauce in a small bowl and stir well to combine.

      More >>

      Winter Shrubs for Spring Drinks

      What is a shrub? “Shrub” can refer to a few things, but for our purposes here, a shrub is a non-alcoholic syrup made with fruit, herbs, spices, sugar, and vinegar. You may have heard shrubs called “drinking vinegar”.

      Shrubs pair well with spirits and sparkling wine and can be used in a wide range of cocktails. For those that don’t tipple, they pair especially well with sparkling water or tonic. Shrubs can also be used as the acid in a marinade or vinaigrette. Thankfully, making shrubs is really easy so having them on hand for all of your fancy pants kitchen adventures will be no problem.

      What You’ll Need

      • 1 cup ripe fruit, washed and cut if large*
      • 1 cup organic granulated sugar
      • 1 cup raw apple cider vinegar with the mother**
      • maceration vessel
      • strainer
      • glass jars & lids
      • optional: herbs & spices
      • patience***

      *When it comes to fruit, you can really use almost anything! Popular shrub fruits include berries, plums, and peaches, but it is February, so we’re using fruit that’s in season: kiwis, yuzus, and pomelos.

      **A 1:1:1 ratio of fruit, sugar, and vinegar will always work so feel free to scale up or down depending on your shrub needs.

      ***Shrubs start with really intense flavors: lots of sweetness from sugar and lots of acidity from vinegar. The longer a shrub sits in your fridge the mellower the flavor becomes. Start checking flavor 4 weeks after your shrub goes in the fridge, but know that some will need up to 8 weeks to reach their perfect balance.

      Step 1: Macerate

      Place your fruit in a glass mixing bowl. Cover with sugar and stir until each piece of fruit is surrounded by sugar (see below). Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge. You can also do this in a reusable zip-top bag for plastic free maceration. 

      Keep in the fridge until the fruit exudes its juice and gets syrupy. Depending on the fruit, this could take a couple of hours or a couple of days. A few extra days in the fridge won’t change your shrub so it’s okay if the maceration is left for an extra day or two. 

      Step 2: Strain

      When your fruit looks nice and syrupy (see photo), gently squeeze or mash to release any extra juices. Remove fruit solids. Transfer syrup into a glass jar, using a strainer if necessary, and scrape any remaining sugar into the jar as well.

      Add spices, herbs, and other flavorings to the jar. We added fresh sage from the Teaching Kitchen’s garden to our pomelo shrub.

       

      Step 3: Add Vinegar

       Add 1 cup (or the amount to maintain the 1:1:1 ratio of fruit, sugar, and vinegar) of raw apple cider vinegar to the glass jar, lid, and shake vigorously. Shake everyday until the sugar has completely dissolved (you may need to do this just once or maybe a few times). Make sure to date and label the jar before you stick it in the fridge. 

      Step 4: Wait

      Your shrub needs to hang out in the fridge for some weeks (the longer you go, the more mellow the vinegar flavor becomes). You can start tasting your shrub as soon as you’d like, although I think they really only become drinkable after a month. I like to keep a notebook with tasting notes as the weeks go by which also helps with reproducing successes.

      Stay tuned for our next installment of this blog: Spring Drinks with Winter Shrubs! We’ll show you all of the (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) drinks you can make with your shrubs. Be on the lookout during the first week of April.

      More >>

      Sweeteners 101

      Welcome to Sweeteners 101! 

      There are a lot of sugars out there – we know, we stock them on our shelves. Despite the name of this blog, sugar, and other products we use to sweeten food and drink, impart a lot more than sweetness in a recipe. Sugars are used in baking to provide structure and texture, in jams and jellies as a preservative, and as a stabilizer in emulsions. In many cases, sugar gives the food we eat the taste and mouthfeel we expect, so make informed substitutions only. Use the information in this blog to know which to use when.

      If you have diabetes or other health concerns around sugar, be sure to check with your doctor before you make substitutions.

      You can find all of the sweeteners mentioned in this blog (except corn syrup) at the Co-op. Most are located on Aisle 11 and many are available in bulk from the Bulk Department.

      Granulated Sweeteners

      White Sugar

      (also called Granulated Sugar and Table Sugar)

      Granulated white sugar, the scientists call it sucrose, comes from refined sugarcane or sugar beet juice crystallized into sugar granules ranging in size from coarse to superfine. You’ve probably heard of glucose and fructose. Sucrose is a 50-50 composition of fructose and glucose.

      White sugar is very versatile with applications in cooking, baking, and basic everyday sweetening. Due to it being highly processed, it contains little nutritional value other than calories and has been linked to cardiovascular disease and other non-communicable diseases so enjoy in moderation. The processing of white sugar can involve animal by-products, so if you’re vegan or vegetarian (or cooking for someone who is) choose organic white sugar or certified vegan white sugar. 

      Best for: baking, pastry

      Powdered Sugar

      (also called Confectioner’s Sugar and Icing Sugar)

      Powdered sugar also comes from refined cane or beet juice. These sugars are ground into a fine powder and mixed with anti-caking agents (usually cornstarch*). Powdered sugar shares the same nutritional value as white sugar, which is to say it should be enjoyed in moderation. Powdered sugar is the finest sugar commercially available and is used differently than coarser sugars, think buttercream frosting or the glaze on a donut. 

      *If you are avoiding corn, the Co-op carries two cornstarch-free options: Wholesome Organic Powdered Sugar and Field Day Organic Powdered Sugar use tapioca starch instead of cornstarch.  

      Best for: baking and pastry, especially for icings, glazes, confections, and finishing

      Brown Sugar

      Brown sugars are composed of refined, granulated sugar and surface molasses syrup, a byproduct of the sugar making process. The addition of the molasses syrup imparts color and flavor. Light brown sugar contains less molasses and is therefore lighter in color and flavor. Light brown sugar is more versatile, but is best used in baking, condiments (BBQ sauce!), and glazes. Dark brown sugar (more molasses = deeper color, richer flavor) can be used in more full-flavored foods, think gingerbread, baked beans with bacon, and butterscotch. 

      The addition of molasses makes this a moist sugar. Brown sugars should always be stored in an airtight container to prevent drying (a dry brown sugar block is almost impossible to use). 

      Best for: baking, pastry, sauces, glazes

      Turbinado Sugar

      (also called Raw Cane Sugar)

      Turbinado sugar is a partially refined sugar retaining some molasses, which gives it a darker color and subtle caramel flavor. Turbinado sugar is often marketed as a “raw” sugar, but it is not: the cane juice is still boiled down and processed. Turbinado sugar usually comes in a larger crystal size than white sugar and holds up to heat better. It is similar to white sugar in nutritional value. 

      Turbinado’s molasses content is similar to light brown sugar (about 3.5%) so you can substitute in a recipe calling for light brown sugar, but using it will result in a slightly crunchier texture. 

      Best for: finishing and garnishing (e.g. sprinkling over scones or snickerdoodles), replacement for light brown sugar

      Panela 

      Panela is an unrefined whole cane sugar popular across Latin America and parts of the Caribbean. Although it has a deeper caramel flavor than white sugar, panela can be used as a 1:1 substitute for white and brown sugars. As an unrefined sugar, it contains more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than chemically processed sugars like white sugar and brown sugar. 

      Panela usually comes in solid blocks, pucks, and cones, but we carry a granulated version that makes substituting very easy!

      Best for: use as you would white or light brown sugar

      Coconut Sugar

      (also called Coconut Palm Sugar)

      Coconut sugar comes from the sap of a variety of palm trees (not from coconuts). It is minimally processed and plant-based, which makes it popular among many vegan and vegetarian eaters. It contains some vitamins, minerals, and fiber and falls lower on the glycemic index than white sugar, but has similar sucrose levels. The taste is subtly caramel-y and makes a great replacement for brown sugar. 

      Best for: vegan and vegetarian baking

      Decorating Sugar

      (also called Coarse Sugar or Sanding Sugar)

      Decorating sugar is typically made from cane or sugar beet juice like white sugar. Its crystals are quite large and very heat resistant making it a popular choice for finishing and decorating baked goods. We carry Watkins decorating sugars which are vegan and made with natural dyes unlike many decorating sugars. 

      Best for: decorating and finishing 

      Maple Sugar

      Maple sugar is formed when liquid is evaporated from pure maple syrup and has a similar nutritional profile as maple syrup (it is an excellent source of manganese and contains a variety of antioxidants). The flavor of maple sugar is very maple-y and should be considered when using in a recipe.

      It is twice as sweet as white sugar, so be careful if you’re substituting it in a recipe that calls for white or brown sugar. Start with a little over half the amount the recipe calls for. Taste and adjust from there. Look for maple sugar with no additives (like the one we carry from Coombs Family Farms). 

      Best for: oatmeal or use as you would white or light brown sugar, but be mindful of extra sweetness and maple flavor

      Liquid Sweeteners

      Honey

      Honey, especially raw and unrefined honey, is a popular sweetener choice as it contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and antioxidants (albeit in very small amounts), and has some antibacterial properties. Honey has a unique taste although it can vary from bottle to bottle. It is a very versatile sweetener with many sweet and savory applications.

      Best for: sweetening drinks (matcha especially) & smoothies, baking, sauces

      Maple Syrup

      Maple syrup (100% pure maple syrup) is the unrefined liquid form of maple sugar and comes in two grades: Grade A and Grade B with Grade B maple syrups boasting the darkest color and richest maple taste. Unlike white sugar, maple syrup contains some vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (especially zinc and manganese). Maple syrup is sweeter than white sugar, so be mindful when substituting – start with around 40% as much maple syrup. 

      Best for: vegan & refined sugar-free baking, sauces, finishing

      Molasses

      (also called Black Treacle)

      Molasses is the thick, richly flavored syrup leftover from sugarcane and sugar beet processing. It comes sulfured and unsulfured, and in light (warm, sweet, and smoky flavor), dark/medium, and blackstrap (spicy, bitter, less sweet flavor) varieties. Molasses, especially blackstrap molasses, contains significant amounts of iron, calcium, and magnesium (even in just 1 tablespoon), amino acids, and antioxidants making it one of the few nutrient-rich sweeteners on this list. 

      Best for: holiday baking and old-fashioned recipes

      Date Syrup

      Date syrup (look for one made with 100% organic dates like the one we carry), unlike so many on this list, is an unrefined, minimally processed whole food product (it’s just dates). It contains potassium, magnesium, and plenty of antioxidants. It tastes like dates. 

      Best for: use as you would maple syrup or honey

      Corn Syrup

      Corn syrup (different from high-fructose corn syrup) is popular amongst bakers and candy-makers for its ability to impart neutral sweetness and structure –  specifically, it is less prone to crystalizing. It is a refined, highly processed sugar made from the glucose in corn starch. It usually comes in light (clear in color, neutral flavor) and dark (molasses added for color and flavor) varieties. However, we do not carry corn syrup at the Co-op. You can use light agave in most recipes calling for light corn syrup and brown rice syrup in most recipes calling for dark.

      Agave Nectar

      Agave is a highly processed sweetener that contains more fructose and calories than white sugar. Its high fructose content makes it similar to high fructose corn syrup in its ability to impart sweetness, shine, and stability. Agave comes in light, amber, blue, and “raw” varieties. The lighter agave syrups are generally more processed and have a neutral flavor. Darker and raw syrups contain more minerals and a richer flavor similar to honey. 

      Best for: as a substitute for light corn syrup

      Brown Rice Syrup

      Brown rice syrup is derived from brown rice with about half of the sweetness as white sugar and a subtle, nutty flavor. Brown rice syrup is basically 100% glucose and rates higher on the glycemic index (98) than every other sweetener on this list (higher glycemic index foods can lead to blood sugar spikes). It can be used as a substitute for corn syrup thanks to its heat-resistance, but has a nuttier flavor than corn syrup. Although it contains some calcium and potassium, these amounts are negligible in a single serving. 

      Best for: as a substitute for corn syrup (especially dark corn syrup), vegan baking

      Alternative Sweeteners

      Stevia

      Stevia products are made with rebaudioside A (Reb-A), a highly refined stevia leaf extract that is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is a nonnutritive sweetener, which means it contains essentially zero calories. Stevia products actually contain very little stevia; sweeteners made with Reb-A are called “novel sweeteners” because they’re blended with different sweeteners, such as erythritol (a sugar alcohol) and dextrose (glucose). You can use stevia as you would white sugar, but you’ll only need a pinch of stevia for every teaspoon of white sugar. Some brands come with conversion charts for baking. 

      Best for: zero calorie sweetening

      Monk Fruit

      Monk fruit sweeteners come from the monk fruit (also called Buddha fruit and luo han guo). While the fruit contains both fructose and glucose, it actually gets its intense sweetness, about 100-250 times that of white sugar, from antioxidants called mogrosides. Because of its intense sweetness, most monk fruit products are mostly erythritol, a sugar alcohol. It is a zero calorie sweetener that does not affect blood sugar. The Co-op carries organic granulated monk fruit sweeteners. 

      Best for: zero calorie sweetening

      Sugar Alcohols

      (the Co-op carries Xylitol & Erythritol)

      Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates – hybrids of sugar molecules and alcohol molecules. Some, like erythritol and sorbitol, are naturally occuring, but most commercially available sugar alcohols are produced industrially. They are considered low calorie sweeteners (not zero calorie sweeteners like stevia products). They’re about 25-100% as sweet as sugar and have fairly low glycemic index scores. 

      Sugar alcohols are considered low digestible carbs because they are not fully absorbed in the small intestine. They travel to the large intestine where the bacteria in our guts ferment them. Some folks report gastrointestinal issues when consuming large amounts of sugar alcohols. (Note for dog owners: Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs.)

      Best for: low calorie sweetening

      More >>

      Make Your Own Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

      Going gluten free, by choice or by necessity, doesn’t have to mean leaving behind the delicious and funky world of sourdough. 

      Although your starter will see you through loaf after loaf of chewy and tangy sourdough bread, pancakes, cakes, muffins, scones, bagels, cookies, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls and more are elevated by sourdough’s complexities too.

      Wait, is sourdough gluten free?

      You may have heard that traditional sourdough is gluten free or that it has “low gluten”. Even with less gluten than other yeasted breads, sourdough is not gluten free. I’ve even seen some folks say sourdough is safe for folks with a gluten intolerance. If you have Celiac disease or a gluten allergy, “low gluten” sourdough is still dangerous and needs to be avoided. 

      Like any other recipe, you’ll have to use 100% gluten free ingredients to make gluten free sourdough, which means your sourdough starter has to be gluten free too.

      What is sourdough? 

      Sourdough is a naturally leavened bread, which means it’s made without the addition of commercial yeast. Instead, the yeasts in sourdough are wild – floating in the air, living in our homes and even on our skin. Unlike their commercial counterparts which are single-strain yeasts cultivated to produce consistent results and flavors, wild yeasts are favored for their “inconsistent” result. These strains, which vary depending on location, season, and more, impart distinct flavor and texture on your final product (when folks praise San Francisco sourdough, really they’re praising the wild yeasts native to the area). 

      Wild yeasts not only bring flavor to your loaves, they also bring sourdough’s signature chewy texture. Once you’ve started making a loaf, the yeasts begin feeding on the sugars in flour and release carbon dioxide which forms air bubbles that push the bread to rise. 

      What is a sourdough starter?

      Since we don’t use any commercial yeast in sourdough, we’ll need to get it from our sourdough starter. A sourdough starter, also called levain, is a fermented dough filled with those wild yeasts and good bacteria. You’ll use this starter when making sourdough anything. 

      Your sourdough starter is alive and will require care to be kept alive. When you’re making the starter or using it regularly, it will require a few minutes of care each day. Once established, your starter can be kept in the fridge or freezer for long periods of time, which will require even less work on your part.

      What you’ll need

      • Buckwheat flour
      • Brown rice flour
      • Sweet white rice flour
      • Room temperature water (tap or filtered is fine)
      • Glass bowl or jar
      • Clean kitchen towel
      • Kitchen scale (recommended, but not necessary)

      After some trial and error, I’ve determined a combination of buckwheat, brown rice, and sweet white rice flours give my recipes the best texture and flavor. I recommend against a gluten free flour blend since any thickening agents (like xanthan gum) can alter your starter or final product unpredictably. Feel free to explore using other gluten free flours too, like sorghum, teff or millet (check ingredient list and avoid all gums). 

      If at any point in your starter’s life you see mold or white/pink/brown/orange slime on top of your starter, compost it and start over. You can usually avoid this by feeding your starter regularly.  

      Day 1: Start the Starter

      • 10 g (1 tablespoon) buckwheat flour
      • 10 g (1 tablespoon) brown rice flour
      • 20 g (2 tablespoons) sweet white rice flour
      • 60 g (¼ cup) water 

      Combine flours and water in a glass bowl or jar. Stir with a fork until a paste forms. 

      Wet your clean kitchen towel and wring out so it’s just damp. Place that over your jar or bowl and set your starter in a warm part of your kitchen. This is most important during the winter when cooler ambient temperatures slow the yeast. Let sit for 24 hours. 

      Day 2: Discard and Feed

      • 10 g (1 tablespoon) buckwheat flour
      • 10 g (1 tablespoon) brown rice flour
      • 20 g (2 tablespoons) sweet white rice flour
      • 60 g (¼ cup) water 

      Discard all but 2 tablespoons of your Day 1 Starter. To the bowl or jar with the remaining Day 1 Starter add Day 2 ingredients. Stir with a fork until a paste forms. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to sit for 24 hours. You may begin to see air bubbles and foaminess or begin to smell something sour (the sour smell comes on strong at first and then mellows out with just a few days of age). These are all good signs your starter is coming to life! 

      If you don’t see any of these things after 2 days, do not worry! Your starter just needs time (up to 7 days or more sometimes).

      Day 3-7ish: Repeat

      Repeat Day 2 procedure until your starter has doubled in size (you can use a rubberband around the jar to track this), is bubbly, and has a pleasantly sour aroma (see photo above of ready-to-use starter). This may take anywhere from 4 to 7 days, depending on the conditions in your kitchen. When it’s doubled in size, your starter is ready to use to make bread! You can make bread right now while it’s doubled or you can stick it in the fridge for storage.

      Feeding and maintaining your starter

      Now you have an established starter, yay! Once your starter is established, you have 2 options: keep your starter on the counter and feed daily or move it into the fridge and plan to feed weekly or at least 12 hours before you plan to make bread. Follow the steps below to “feed” your starter. 

      • 60 g (¼ cup) sourdough starter (“discard” the rest – compost or save for use in recipes)
      • 80 g (⅓ cup) room temperature water
      • 15 g (1 ½ tablespoons) buckwheat flour 
      • 15 g (1 ½ tablespoons) brown rice flour 
      • 30 g (3 tablespoons)  sweet white rice flour 

      In a glass jar, mix well until the flours are hydrated. Return to the counter or fridge in a glass jar with a lid.

      If you’re making a lot of sourdough, you are welcome to leave your starter on the counter. Feed daily to keep your starter happy. You can use the discard to make pancakes, waffles, crackers, cinnamon rolls, muffins, cakes, etc. Only use the starter for bread when it is doubled in size, which happens about 8-12 hours after being fed. If your starter is struggling to double, feed it twice within a 12 hour period. 

      Most folks, myself included, prefer to leave it in the fridge and feed it once a week. To be transparent, I maintain my starter for the discard (rather than for bread making) so I like to take it out of the fridge on Saturdays, set aside the discard I want, feed it, and return to the fridge. If I was making bread, I would leave it on the counter after feeding until doubled, make the bread, and feed it once more before returning to the fridge. I keep my discard in another glass jar in the fridge. Use discard in recipes within 2 weeks of “discarding.” Sourdough discard can be frozen and thawed for later use too. 

      Your starter can go 2 weeks in between feedings in the fridge, but feeding it weekly is best. For longer term storage, freeze. 

      Long term storage

      Freeze your starter if you know you won’t be able to feed it for a few weeks. When you’re ready to use it again, transfer to the fridge to thaw and feed a few times before using. It’s ready again when it has doubled in size.

      What the heck is that liquid?

      Sometimes your starter will pool runny liquid on its surface. It’s called hooch and it is a sign your starter is hungry. You can pour off the hooch or mix it back into your starter before feeding.

      Recipes

      Gluten Free Sourdough Pizza Crust

      Gluten Free Sourdough Pancakes

      Glazed Sourdough Lemon Cake (GF Option!)

      More >>

      Citrus Twist: New Tricks for Familiar Fruits

      Maybe you’ve made limeade, put mandarin oranges in a salad, or whipped up lemon-pepper chicken. You might even have used grapefruit in a vinaigrette, if you were feeling fancy. Original in their own time, these ideas have been around awhile for good reason, they’re simple and tasty. In that spirit, here are some suggestions for fun, easy new ways to use citrus fruit.

      Lime

      Try this quick snack to ward off the after-work munchies. Place each ingredient into separate small bowls or custard cups: a couple handfuls of roasted, salted peanuts; a piece of candied ginger, chopped into smaller bits; and a few very thin slices of organic lime cut into small wedges—about 10-12 wedges per slice, peel and all. Grab several peanuts, a little candied ginger and a lime wedge and pop them into your mouth for a flavor sensation inspired by the culinary traditions of Southeast Asia.

      Grapefruit

      Not your grandparent’s grapefruit, nor the bitter power breakfast fruit of choice in the 80s. No, today’s grapefruit is the greatest grapefruit to date: broiled grapefruit! Slice your grapefruit in half (horizontally, not stem to end) and sprinkle the cut side with a teaspoon of dark brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon (if you like), then put under the broiler for 4 minutes until top is caramelized and warm, and serve! A dollop of crème fraiche, Greek yogurt, or vanilla ice cream means you can enjoy this treat anytime. 

      Orange

      Peel a few oranges with a paring knife, cutting off the white layer of the orange peel, cut the orange in half across the wedges, then cut into 1/4-inch slices and spread on a platter. Scatter some very thinly sliced red onion rings on top along with a handful of whole or sliced kalamata olives. Top with a swirl or two of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes and parsely if you have them. This simple-to-prepare Mediterranean salad looks and tastes gourmet.

      Now, meet your new favorite condiment: mojo sauce. Blend equal parts orange and lime juice with olive oil, plenty of fresh garlic and a pinch each of cumin, salt and pepper. Serve with roasted potatoes, fried plantains, beans and rice, pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, veggies, tofu, etc. etc. 

      Zest

      Did you know that the secret behind such citrus-flavored favorites as lemon ricotta pancakes, key lime pie and lemon parmesan pasta all comes down to one word: zest? Learning to zest your citrus is an easy way to boost flavors naturally in a variety of foods. For instant tropical flair, combine tangerine zest and shredded coconut in a tasty quick bread or muffins. Consider zesting all your citrus and freezing the zest for future use – it will keep in the freezer in an airtight plastic bag for months. 

      5 Ways to Zest

      Microplane

      Hold citrus in one hand and the microplane in the other. Rub the citrus back and forth across the grates while applying very gentle pressure. Rotate as you go so you only get the colorful rind (not the white, bitterly flavored pith). Do this carefully – a microplane has very sharp edges.

      Citrus Zester

      Place the fine, sharp-edged holes on one end of the citrus, following the curvature of the fruit. Apply gentle pressure while you pull the zester down the side of the fruit. Repeat until the entire peel is removed and only the pith remains. This method produces longer strands of zest – ideal for dramatic garnishing. 

      Box Grater

      Rub citrus against the side of the grater that has those small, sharp holes. Pay close attention to the placement of your fingers or you’ll get scraped up. Rotate fruit as you zest until colorful peel is gone or you’ve gotten enough for your recipe. 

      Vegetable Peeler

      Place the sharp edge of the peeler on one end of the citrus and push slightly into the fruit. Pull down to the other end, paying close attention not to cut into the fruit too deep.  You want to remove as little of the white pith. Repeat this process until the entire peel is removed in strips and only the pith remains. Finely chop the peel strips to make lemon zest.

      Knife

      Not our first choice zesting tool, but a paring will work in a pinch. Cut one end off the fruit and place it cut-side down on a cutting board. Now use the knife to cut into the fruit, removing the peel only. Cut away any white pith you accidentally scoop up. Finely chop the pieces of peel until zest-sized. 

      Blog adapted from National Co-op Grocers with permission.

      More >>