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How to revive old Wasabi powder

Posted in food, food connoisseur, howto by commorancy on October 30, 2018

You bought some powdered Wasabi 3 years ago in a can and forgot all about it. You’ve let it sit in your pantry all that time. You need wasabi and you remember that you have some powder. When you try to mix it up, it tastes bitter and not at all like Wasabi. There is a fix. Let’s explore.

Genuine Wasabi Japonica vs Horseradish

I’d be remiss by not leading with this. Genuine Wasabi comes from the Wasabi Japonica plant. This plant is notoriously difficult to grow and is extremely persnickety when it comes to where in the world it wants to grow. Obviously, it grows well in parts of Japan. It also grows in parts of New Zealand. It looks like this when growing:

Wasabia_japonica_2

Photo courtesy of Qwert1234

Wasabi Japonica also has a long tapered cylindrical root that when grated or ground becomes the signature garnish we’ve come to know and love. The roots look like this:wasabi-root

Photo courtesy of hfordsa via Flickr

This is Wasabi Japonica.

The difficulty with this green garnish is that it can be readily mimicked by horseradish, hot mustard and green food coloring when dried into a powder. Some people call this “fake” Wasabi. I simply call it “wasabi” with a lower case ‘W’.

This ‘wasabi’ version is most often the powdered form that you’ll find in supermarkets and is what is most often served at Sushi restaurants in the U.S. (read the label or ask your sushi chef). If you live in North America,  “wasabi” (horseradish) is typically what you’ll find 99% of the time. The 1% of the time where you find genuine Wasabi Japonica is a rarity and it means the Sushi restaurant understands the subtle, important difference in flavor between the genuine article and the horseradish version. I’ve even found fresh cut Wasabi Japonica at one sushi restaurant. That was a treat!

The most often cited reason for using horseradish over genuine Wasabi Japonica is cost. While that may be mostly true, the truth is that it’s actually much more difficult to get genuine Wasabi in the US simply because it’s notoriously difficult to grow. This, of course, raises the price because you have to import it.

This means importing Wasabi Japonica from places like Japan or New Zealand and there is a monetary cost to importing produce. However, the flavor profile between the horseradish version and genuine Wasabi Japonica is markedly different. Even though they both produce the signature nose heat we know and love, Wasabi Japonica simply tastes different.

Powdered Wasabi

Dried and powdered wasabi, whether genuine or horseradish must be rehydrated to be useful in all of its green pasty glory. The difficulty with its powdered form is that, depending on the powder’s age, it takes longer and longer to hydrate fully to bring back its signature heat. This is called blooming.

For example, if you hydrate wasabi powder and immediately taste it, you’ll notice no heat at all. It’ll only taste bitter. This means that the wasabi has not yet bloomed. You must wait a period of time before the wasabi has fully bloomed back into its signature hot flavor and lost that bitterness.

How long that bloom takes depends entirely on the ….

Age of Powdered Wasabi

Let’s get back to that old powder you have sitting in your cupboard. The longer the wasabi sits in a zippered bag, can or jar, the slower it takes to rehydrate. As I said above, it will take time to bloom back into its signature flavor. How long it takes depends on how old your wasabi powder is. So, don’t throw your powder away if you rehydrate the powder and it still tastes bitter 10 minutes later. You might be thinking that because it’s bitter it’s bad. It isn’t bad. It’s just super dry.

Sure, fresh powder hydrates to full strength in about 8-10 minutes. If you need some wasabi quick, getting fresh powder from the store may be your best answer. If you can plan ahead a little, your aged wasabi powder may take up to 24 hours to reach full flavor.

For several year old powder, simply mix it up, place it into a closed container and let it finish blooming in the fridge. I personally have some aged wasabi powder that now takes up to 24 hours to bloom. This is a horseradish + hot mustard version. I keep a small amount ready in the fridge as a condiment. When it gets low, I hydrate more and let it bloom overnight. I do have some genuine Wasabi Japonica powder which blooms fully in about 8 minutes. But, I only use that for special occasions or if I need some quick. I use the horseradish version when I’m mixing it into ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard or for any other recipe purposes.

Don’t throw out your older powder thinking it’s bad because it appears to remain bitter. You just need to wait longer to let the flavor work its way back out. The fix to old powder is that might take up to 24 hours in the fridge to fully bloom! However, it also means you need to plan ahead when using older wasabi powder.

Heating Wasabi Powder

You might be thinking you can heat the hydrating bitter wasabi and make it hydrate faster. Never do this. It doesn’t work. It will make the wasabi gluey and useless. It will become bad and you will have to toss it. Do not heat wasabi powder when hydrating it. Instead, mix it up with water and let it rehydrate in the fridge overnight.

Rehydrating wasabi Powder

If you’re new to wasabi and you’re wondering how to rehydrate it, it’s simple. Grab a small container and put a teaspoon of powder in the container. Now, fill your teaspoon with water and pour about half in and begin mixing. If the powder is still too dry and thick, add a little more water to bring it to a paste consistency you like. If you like being able to shape it into a ball with your fingers, then you’ll want it a little dryer. If you like it a little more runny, then add more water.

The consistency of the paste doesn’t play a part in blooming speed. The water does need to be mixed in thoroughly, though. The paste simply needs to sit to fully bloom and that takes time. Speaking of hot mustard, this problem also applies to cans of hot mustard powder as well.

Itadakimasu!


As always, if you have found this Randocity article useful and it helped you revive some old wasabi powder, please leave a comment below.

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Recipe: Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Posted in baking, food, recipes by commorancy on September 4, 2018

Cinnamon Bread_1I don’t often discuss baking, but in this case, who wants to pay $6-9 for a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread? Anyone? To make this loaf, you can either do it by hand or in a bread machine. I prefer using a bread machine. Skip to the recipe. This recipe makes use of butter, if you want a healthier fat, skip to oil replacement and read before getting started. Let’s explore.

Prices and Specialty Loaves

While commercially baked white bread can offer some of the lowest prices at $1-2 a loaf, the specialty flavored breads can have some of the highest prices… with cinnamon raisin breads fetching between $6-9 a loaf at the store! Wow, that’s a big costly difference.

Cinnamon raisin bread is one of my favorite breads, by far. But, I’m not paying $6 for a loaf of it. I also like straight up cinnamon bread as well… just leave out the raisins. This recipe is quite yummy and no fuss. It’s nearly as simple as making plain white bread. It just takes some time. With a bread machine, this does all the work. You spend maybe 15 minutes or less prepping the ingredients.

Many cinnamon breads require you to roll the dough flat, then sprinkle cinnamon on one side and roll up the dough into a log. This gives that stripy swirled appearance. You can do that with this recipe if you like, but I’m not explaining how to do that here. With this recipe, the cinnamon is fully incorporated into the dough like all other ingredients, which gives the loaf an attractive uniform brown color.

Making your own cinnamon bread can save you a lot of money… and this recipe turns out a very tasty single cinnamon raisin loaf.

Time to Completion

You’ll want to make sure you understand that bread baking is somewhat time consuming. The timing of fresh baked bread is limited by the yeasty critters. All told, start to finish, it’ll take about 3 hours to complete a loaf of bread.

With rises, the colder the temp, the longer the rise takes. You can rise bread in the refrigerator, but it could take 6 hours in a fridge. Many bakers like the rise to take a long time because it adds to the flavor of the bread. If you’re time crunched and need your bread fast (relatively speaking), rising your dough in a warm environment is perfectly fine.

The timing breaks out like so:

  • Ingredient prep: 10 minutes
  • Mixing / Kneading: 8-10 minutes
  • First Rise: 1 hour (or until dough has doubled in size at 100-120ºF temp)
  • Punch down & Knead: 2 minutes
  • Second Rise: 30 minutes (or until dough has doubled in size at 100-120ºF temp)
  • Baking: 20-30 minutes (or until done)
  • Cooling: 30 minutes

Total Time: ~3 hours

Bread Machine

This bread is by far easiest baked in a bread machine, particularly if you don’t want to spend time kneading and waiting for the bread to rise. I have an older Breadman bread machine. It’s functional and works well, but it’s not new. The newer Breadman machines now have fold down paddles to prevent that annoying hole in the bread after baking. Of course, you can avoid that hole if you use your bread machine to create dough, then transfer the dough into a bread pan and bake it in a conventional oven.

Personally, I prefer the convenience of having the bread machine do all of the work including the baking. I’m willing to live with that hole. While this recipe does require yeast, it is a no-proof recipe. This means you don’t need to foam up the yeast. If you have old yeast lying around, you’ll want to proof a small amount to make sure it’s still good or go buy some fresh yeast.

The ingredients are listed in the order you will pour them into the bread machine pan.

Ingredients

1 ¼ Cups lukewarm water (120ºF/48.9ºC is a good temp)
3 Tablespoons Butter minced up
¼ Teaspoon Salt
½ Cup Rolled Oats
¼ Cup Brown Sugar
3 Cups of Unbleached Flour (do not use self-rising)
3 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Dry Creamer or Low Fat Dry Milk
1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon (less or more as you prefer)
2 ¼ Teaspoons Rapid Rise or Bread Machine Yeast (i.e., Fleishmann’s)
½ Cup Raisins

Directions

Notes

➡ Directions for Bread Machine Baking

Pour in water, butter, salt, oats, brown sugar, flour and creamer into the bread machine pan, in this order. Next, pour a ring of cinnamon around the outside of the flour leaving the center without cinnamon. Make a shallow indent in the center of the flour and pour the yeast into this small indent. You’ll add the raisins a bit later.

To bake this recipe in the bread machine, set the bread machine to 1.5 Pound Rapid and press Start. Let the bread machine work until the dough is a solid ball. My Breadman has an ingredient notification timer. The machine will stop and beep. This is the time to drop in additional ingredients like nuts, raisins, dates or any other solid type ingredients.

In reality, you can drop the raisins in as soon as the bread machine has incorporated all of the ingredients into a solid ball of dough. No need to wait on an ingredient notification beep.

Because my bread machine isn’t always perfect at paddling the dough, I grab a plastic rice spoon (so the dough doesn’t stick) and press it on top of the dough lightly so the paddle works a bit more effectively to incorporate the raisins more quickly and evenly. After the raisins have incorporated, I close the lid and let the machine finish the cycle on its own.

The 1.5 Pound Rapid cycle on my machine takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete, including baking. You can also run it on the 2 Pound Rapid cycle if you prefer. I prefer the way the bread comes out with the 1.5 Pound Rapid cycle.

➡ Bread Machine Kneading / Rising + Baking in an Oven

For this preparation method, follow the same instructions as the bread machine baking instructions above. Select the Dough or Bread Dough cycle on your bread machine. This cycle will knead the dough and rise it only, no baking. After the cycle is complete, you’ll punch the dough down removing the air, shape it into whatever your pan shape is and leave it for a final rise of about 20-30 minutes. You only need to punch the dough down to remove the air bubbles from the first rise, maybe 2-6 minutes at most. You’ll want to grease, butter or oil your pan before placing the dough into it, unless you’re using a high heat silicone baking mold.

Bake using the cold oven or hot oven method, your choice.

Because a bread machine also acts as a proof box by running the heating element at a low temperature during the rise cycle, this allows for consistent rising of the dough no matter the ambient temperature of your room. If you have a bread machine, this is the best way rise the dough consistently. It’s also hands off in that the machine does all of the kneading so you don’t have to. This is particularly useful if you have arthritis or carpal tunnel in your hands, thus making this kind of hand activity problematic.

➡ Kneading By Hand + Baking in the Oven

For this method, add the ingredients into a bowl all except for the raisins. Mix until you have a solid dough ball. You can do this with your hands or with a mixer. Once you have a solid dough ball, remove the dough from the bowl and begin kneading the dough on a flat and lightly floured work surface and incorporating the raisins while you knead. You’ll continue to knead the dough for about 10-12 minutes or until it has a solid and stretchy consistency. It’s more important that the dough has created solid glutenous bonds and has the proper elastic consistency. This is what will give the bread its proper spongy texture and preventing the slices from crumbling apart. Work the dough until the dough has this consistency. This part might take some practice to spot.

At this point, place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl to keep the dough from sticking and let it begin its first rise. This first rise will take about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Make sure the bowl is big enough to handle the dough double its size. You can do this rise in a proofing cabinet if you have one or you can let it sit out on the counter (covered with a towel) if you don’t. If the room is cool, it may take quite a bit longer. If the room is extra warm, it might be faster. You’ll need to watch and determine when the dough has doubled in size.

Once the dough has doubled, take it out of the bowl and knead it down again to remove the air pockets. You’ll only knead the dough for as long as it takes to remove the air pockets from the first rise, maybe 2-6 minutes at most. Form the dough into a log shape that will fit into your baking pan. Grease, butter or oil your pan. Next, place the log into the pan and let it begin the second rise. This rise takes about 30 minutes.

Bake using the cold oven or hot oven method, your preference.

Notes

Cold Oven Baking

If you start from a cold oven, the warming of the oven to the proper baking temperature will allow the dough to perform its final rise right before it begins baking. To bake, set the oven temperature to 350ºF/177ºC and turn it on. Then, put the pan into the oven with the oven still cold. Let it remain in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the bottom of the loaf thumps hollow and is golden brown. You can begin checking the loaf at around 25 minutes in. You’ll need to use oven mitts to handle the loaf and test for hollowness.

Hot Oven Baking

If you start from a preheated 350ºF/177ºC hot oven, you’ll need to rise the dough on the counter covered with a towel for 20-30 minutes before placing it into the oven. Once in the oven, bake for 30-35 minutes or until the bottom of the loaf thumps hollow and is golden brown, along with the sides and top.

Water Temp

I prefer the water temperature at 120ºF/48.9ºC because this is what the yeast package states is best. I use a microwave to heat the water to this temperature. It takes about 1 minute 30 seconds, but you’ll need to use a thermometer to check. Then, pop it in for 30 second intervals to raise it to that temp. If you don’t have a thermometer, just make sure the water is warmer than your skin and this will also work.

I prefer 120ºF/48.9ºC because pouring the water into the bread machine’s pan (or bowl) will cool it down just a bit. You still want the water warm so that yeast will rise the dough properly. I find this starting temperature gives a great rise in combination with the bread machine. It’s also the temperature recommended on Fleischmann’s yeast packaging. If you use a yeast that lists a different temperature, use the temperature that’s recommended on your yeast package.

Cinnamon Amount and Dry Non-Dairy Creamer

When I first published this article, I forgot to add the creamer to the ingredient list. I’m allergic to cow milk of any type, but I seem to have no allergies with non-dairy creamer. Dry creamer is an excellent substitute for low fat dry milk in this recipe (or really any bread recipe). It adds a richness that you don’t get without using it. You can find non-dairy creamer on the coffee aisle of your local supermarket. I typically buy the house brand as it’s usually the most cost effective. If you have no problems with milk, then feel free to use low fat dry milk instead.

I also prefer my bread very cinnamon flavored. Some recipes similar to this one call for 1 teaspoon. I prefer the flavor with 1 tablespoon. However, not everyone likes lots of cinnamon. I’ll leave it up to you to determine how much you want to add. Anywhere between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon is fine. Be aware that the more cinnamon you add, the slower the bread may rise.

Differences in Bread Machines

Because bread machines are all slightly different, the proportions for this recipe may or may not work in your bread machine as is. If this loaf doesn’t turn out correctly in your bread machine, I suggest locating your bread machine’s recipe manual and change the above same ingredient amounts to match the proportions listed in your manual’s white bread recipe. This should allow the recipe to work properly in your bread machine.

Using Butter as an Oil in Bread

So, you want to use a healthier oil than butter? The difficulty with using butter as an oil in bread is that it hardens at cooler temperatures, but it also imparts a flavor and richness you can’t get any other way. When at room temperature, it can make the bread seem stale to the touch and the bread can seem dry when you cut it. To revive the bread, you’ll need to warm it until the butter is softened again. You can do this in the microwave in 10 second intervals or you can use a toaster, but a toaster will toast the bread. If you have a bread warmer, you can use that. If you’re not looking for toast and you don’t have a warmer, then using a microwave is the answer.

To avoid this hardening problem in baked goods, don’t use shortening, butter, palm or coconut oil in bread. Instead, use oils that remain liquid at all room temperatures. These reasonably available oils include avocado, peanut, vegetable, canola, olive and corn oil. If you use any of these non-hardening oils, you’ll need to cut down the amount of oil in the recipe by at least half or increase the amount of flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If a recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of butter, you’ll want to use about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of oil. The reason is that butter is about 20-25% oil to 75-80% water. This means that you’ll need to use less oil than you do butter. Oil adds to the moisture content of the dough, so contrary to thinking you might need to add more water, it’s not necessary unless your dough ends up way too dry.

If you use a non-hardening oil, your baked goods will remain softer at room temperatures and won’t require warming. I’ve wrestled with this problem for a while until I realized it was the butter causing the baked good to feel hard (and stale) at room temperatures. This doesn’t mean your bread won’t eventually go stale, but it does mean baked goods made with non-hardening oils won’t feel stale (or taste dry) at room temperature like when using butter.

Happy Baking!

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