Posted March `12, 2020
Saffron & The Parsley Porch
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world and by weight is 20% of the value of gold. Culinary uses of saffron go back to the Bronze Age (1500 BC) and it was celebrated in many cultures across the known world. Saffron comes Crocus sativum and the 3 red stigmas in the female portion of each flower. Gathering saffron is extremely labor intensive as it takes 167 flowers to produce 1 gram and there are 80,000 threads in one pound. Since it is so expensive it is the most “pirated” spice in the world as dishonest purveyors will add floral waste to increase the weight. International law (ISO-3632) has lab tests for saffron quality. The content of safranal, which gives the aroma and picrocrocin which gives the flavor and color results in ungraded, saffron 3, saffron 2 and saffron 1 which is the highest grade. The Parsley Porch sells ONLY saffron 1. Picrocrocin readings of over 200 are necessary for this rating and we have sold saffron that measures 230+ on the ISO 3632 scale. Having a Master’s +60 in biology, and having taught 41 years, I get this. But what my customers care about is the coloring and taste. Since saffron has been around for 3000+ years, TASTE is how many experts determine quality. Similarly, we can express hot peppers in Scoville heat units but we know how a hot pepper is when we TASTE it. If Parsley Porch saffron were not of the highest quality, our sales would not be what they are. We have over 200 products at The Parsley Porch and saffron sales makes up about 10% our total business income. Saffron 1 is commonly sold for about $11 /gram. If you buy the “blister packs” at the checkout you pay $3+ for 3 grains. While grains and grams are both units of weight, there are >15 grains = 1 gram and thus you pay $15 for a gram at the grocery store. Parsley Porch saffron is $6.50 for 1 g and $12 for a 2 g vial. We stand by our “catchphrase”…”The BEST Spices at GREAT Prices”. Bon appetit!
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Vanilla Beans & Pure Vanilla Extract
Vanilla beans are actually pods (like peas) of the growing form of climbing orchids of the genus Vanilla. The Parsley Porch sells the 2 most common species of vanilla beans. Vanilla planifolia beans are sometimes called “Madagascar” beans because that is where many are grown. They are the most common vanilla beans used by the corporate sources for vanilla extract. Thus, their flavor is easily recognized by most people. Vanilla tahitiensis which are grown in Tahiti and other Pacific islands are wider with superb aroma and bouquet prized by pastry chefs. BOTH species are terrific and The Parsley Porch uses BOTH in making our pure vanilla extract, which is one product that our loyal customers rave about. Like saffron, vanilla beans are labor intensive making them the 2nd most expensive spice, right behind saffron. In the USA, vanilla flavor is not prized among the average person because we grow up with so much ARTIFICIAL vanilla flavoring in cheap vanilla ice cream and soft serve, which we cover with chocolate, cherries and a variety of other toppings. Gourmet chefs in the finest restaurants and people who make homemade vanilla ice cream know that vanilla beans provide an exquisite flavor opportunity that is absolutely top shelf.
Since it is a lot of work to separate the seeds inside the vanilla pods and since vanillin, the chemical with the flavor, dissolves in alcohol most people turn to pure vanilla extract. There is a LEGAL formula and recipe that one must follow in order to call it PURE VANILLA EXTRACT. Customers often ask me “How many vanilla beans should I buy to make extract?” I tell them it is not a number because vanilla beans can vary greatly in size. 10 big beans can WEIGH more than 2x as much 10 small beans. Thus, the most consistent way measure vanilla beans is by WEIGHT. The recipe: 13.35 oz. vanilla beans in 1 gallon 35% ethyl alcohol for a minimum of 60 days = PURE vanilla extract. The Parsley Porch uses 80 proof vodka = 40% ethyl alcohol and our beans percolate in the vodka for AT LEAST 6 months and up to a year. We go beyond the minimum that the law requires. National brands make good extract. The Parsley Porch makes BETTER pure vanilla extract. We put a bean in every bottle of vanilla that we sell. We put TWO beans in every bottle of TWO FOLD. TWICE the weight (26.7 oz) per gallon of 35% ethyl alcohol means it is TWICE as strong so you use ½ as much.
$14 / 5 oz. bottle of Parsley Porch Pure Vanilla Extract is a top shelf bargain…$19 / 5 oz. of TWO FOLD just may be our “Best Buy”.
SALT, LOW SALT & NO SALT BLOG
The Parsley Porch has MANY options when it comes to the above. We have many salt blends such as garlic salt, onion salt, celery salt, hickory smoke salt, and Season All (season salt). We have many TYPES of salt, including FINE Sea Salt, “Kosher” MEDIUM Salt, COARSE Sea Salt, and Himalayan Pink Salt.
All Parsley Porch RUBS and other Parsley Porch blends are “low salt” meaning < 10% salt.
Found ONLY at The Parsley Porch are NO SALT Blends:
No salt blends are a bargain as you are getting ALL quality spices blended and at a weight not adulterated by salt. Salt is “dirt cheap” which is why SO many competitors add it to greatly enhance the weight of a blend. FEW people don’t add salt to their food, but we believe how much you add should be YOUR choice.
ENOUGH from the Spice Purveyor.
Time for a mini-lecture from the Biochemistry teacher and the Anatomy & Physiology teacher.
EVERYONE needs salt in their diet to live a healthy lifestyle. In the USA, salt is overabundant in our diet. Unless you working for a paving/ road crew, install roofing, or have a similar occupation where profuse sweating is part of the job…You probably get plenty of salt in your diet. MANY of us have TOO much salt in our diet resulting in hypertension (aka high blood pressure). Salt ATTRACTS water. Think how to kill slugs on vegetation. Putting salt on these pests draws out water and kills them.
Eating salty foods, potato chips, pretzels, corn chips, popcorn, etc. makes your thirsty because it draws water from your body cells and osmoreceptors in your hypothalamus say “I’m thirsty!”. After your beverage of choice, the salt is absorbed into your blood stream and salt WITH the water it attracts is like putting more pressure on your plumbing system (blood vessels). Just like any plumbing system with too much pressure, pipes can burst. Aneurisms (ballooning of a blood vessel) or strokes (bursting of a vessel in the brain) can result. High blood pressure makes the pipes stretch and weaken particularly as we age and can make us prone to cardiovascular accidents.
Flavor and seasonings are personal choices and preferences. With 200+ products let The Parsley Porch help you accomplish your culinary goals in not only in a flavorful but also healthy way. Bon appetit!
ALL ABOUT “HOT PEPPERS”
What are hot peppers? What makes them hot? Can we measure the different levels of heat? Why do we like them? Are there health benefits? What peppers are available at The Parsley Porch? This blog will answer these questions.
The Parsley Porch has dozens of peppers and spice blends that contain pepper. While all peppers have some degree of spiciness or at least a flavor profile there are some chemical differences. In a previous blog, pepper in the form of peppercorns which are usually ground contain a chemical called piperine which provides a different type of “heat” which is flavorful but much more temporary. This blog is about the different chili peppers, many of which are listed below in the illustration. There can be many different names for the same chili pepper based on language, culture, preparation and geography. Chili peppers with the exception of Sweet Bell Peppers which have no heat, have varying amounts of a chemical compound called . It is the amount of capsaicin that a chili pepper has that determines how hot it is. The heat a pepper has can be scientifically quantified using “Scoville Heat Units” aka SHU. (Allow me to change to a lab coat and the former biochemistry teacher will explain this precise method.)
To determine the # of Scoville Heat Units, an alcohol extract of capsaicin oil from a dried pepper is mixed with a solution of water and sugar to the point where a panel of human taste-testers can't detect the heat of the pepper. (Taking the lab coat off) Simply put, the bigger the number, the hotter the pepper. The letter “K” is often a prefix in front of the number which stands for “kilo” meaning 1000X. Cayenne pepper is a staple of the spice cabinet for many people that like cooking. Most grocery store cayenne is around 30 KHU, adding heat in a pleasant way. I have seen brownie recipes with small amounts of cayenne adding a “bite” to the chocolate brownie recipe. However there can be many heat levels for cayenne peppers. At The Parsley Porch, we have 3 different levels of heat for a cayenne pepper. In other words, the SAME flavor with very different levels of heat. For example, our Parsley Porch Mombasa has on the label 90 KHU which means 90,000 Scoville Heat Units. Translation: it’s pretty hot! But looking at the illustration below, it is only about 70% up the illustrated pepper in terms of heat. Another cayenne we offer is African Bird, having the classic cayenne flavor but with a Scoville rating of 160 KHU! THAT’S HOT! It is over 5x the heat level of our basic cayenne which most people consider hot.
Our customers like hot peppers because they add a certain satisfaction and flavor experience that is beyond normal sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Hot peppers can offer a maximum taste bud stimulation for a minimum calorie consumption. Fiery peppers pack major health perks. In terms of vitamin C, they beat oranges 3 to 1. They're also stuffed with vitamins A, B, and E. Some studies suggest capsaicin acts as an antioxidant to protect your cells and helps tamp down inflammation. Researchers have shown that capsaicin can improve heart health, prevent diabetes, and prevent cancer. Hot peppers can even lower blood pressure and make you feel less hungry.
Besides, the 3 types of Cayenne, The Parsley Porch has MANY other types of peppers and offers dozens of spice blends that have varying amount of hot peppers in the recipes. As every one of our valued customers have unique palates, I always recommend adding small amounts of peppers and then taste and sample…Adding more as you see fit.
Here are some of the other peppers and blends offered at The Parsley Porch for your enjoyment. Don’t over look our 3 delicious Mexican blends… FAJITA…SANTA FE….TACO…while all having some similarities are all deliciously different!
Chili Powder, including the HOT blend
Ancho Chili Powder
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