How not to run a kitchen part 1

Recently I was reading a blog entry on making chocolate covered strawberries, it’s scary how often they get it wrong, not just a little bit wrong but put someone in the hospital wrong.

And it’s not just a blogs, I was reading a candy making book in the “for dummies” line and it was the worst of all.

The culprits? Washing and drying the strawberries. One candy shop owner actually said not to wash them. A blog entry said to just wipe them down.

 Both are really bad advice for the same reason: strawberries are grown outside… outside with the birds, wild animals and bugs. Strawberries are not grown in an hermetically sealed environments. They are gown in fields, in dirt, with chemicals (natural or man-made) to control the bugs, with birds dropping things on them from above.

I’ve washed and inspected pallets of strawberries, and I’ve seen what gets washed off of them. The amount of just dirt in unbelievable, but everything that is grown outside is visited by things that live outside and sometimes those things (the little ones) hitch a ride on the strawberries.

Does organic make a difference? Only as far as some of the pesticides go, birds, bugs and dirt are still the same.

Strawberries must be washed thoroughly and then dried completely. Washing them under cold running water for several minutes will do the job. (don’t spray too hard.. you don’t want to pulverize them, and hot water will cook them). Make sure you flip the berries to get complete coverage and rinse out under the leaves.

Drying the berries is important since any water in your chocolate will cause it to seize (get clumpy). When I’m doing a lot of berries at home I line a cookie sheet with a clean towel, or lots of paper towels, and put the freshly washed berries on the sheet. Then I put another layer of towels on top of the berries, lightly pushing down the towels between the berries. I then take the whole tray, towels and all, and put it the fridge for at least a half hour.

Just before I start dipping (while the chocolate is being tempered) I remove and hand dry each berry, with a paper towel,  putting them on a separate tray. Swap your paper towel with a  dry one as needed. Make sure there is no moisture hiding under/in the leaves as it can ruin your day.

If you look at the older posts you’ll see how to temper chocolate at home.. with this info and a little practice you’ll be dipping line a pro.

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