Monday, September 24, 2012

Defining Unprocessed {October Unprocessed 2012}

While I made a modified pledge for October #Unprocessed 2012, reading these definitions made me feel a whole lot better about my possibility of success.

Click here read it on Andrew's Eating Rules website. Or read below for his answers to the questions that I had.

Would these have been deal-breakers for you?

Chocolate. Yup, it’s okay, because it’s possible to make chocolate at home. However, if the store-bought chocolate contains extra emulsifiers, flavorings, or other additives that you wouldn’t use if you were make it at home, it’s off the list.

Coffee. Yup. Try this fun project: Buy some green coffee beans (they’ve already been cleaned for you), and toast them in your popcorn air popper. (Skip the little yellow, blue, or pink packets and the powdered creamer.) Or you could grow your own coffee plant, and then wet-process the beans yourself. Totally doable at home (how much time do you have?)

Beer. Yup, I’ve got quite a few friends who make beer at home (one even grows his own hops — he makes truly incredible beers. Just saying.)

Wine. Yes, I’ve got quite a few friends who make wine at home. There is the question of sulfites, though. My winemaker friends usually add sulfites (sourced from winemaking suppliers, not from your regular grocery story, I believe) — so you’ll need to decide for yourself if you’ll seek out sulfite-free wines.

Bacon and Sausage. As long as there are no additives (nitrates, flavorings, etc.), and it’s a high-quality product, you’re probably okay here. Maybe this is a good opportunity to get to know a local butcher.

Cooking Oils. It is possible to press your own oils at home, though it would be a rather inefficient process. I would expect that nut oils would be easier (just grind them up and let them separate, like your jar of peanut butter, right?). Also, these old oil press instructions and drawings are fun.

Salt. Depending on how refined it is, this may or may not be okay. Stick with the natural, unprocessed salts such as the fabulous Fleur De Sel.

Sugar. Usually, the term “sugar” refers to bleached table sugar, those fine-white granulated crystals that come from sugar cane or sugar beets. The bleaching is done with sulfur dioxide, an ingredient that hopefully isn’t in your pantry. Next!

Turbinado Sugar (“Raw” Sugar) is the same stuff — but it hasn’t been bleached. I think it would be possible to make turbinado sugar crystals at home, if you had some sugar cane stalks ready to go. Although there are a couple of steps in the commercial process that you couldn’t do, I’m guessing you could still get the crystals if you’re patient enough (perhaps a countertop food dehydrator would help evaporation).

Honey. Good to go; in fact, this is probably the most “unprocessed” sweetener available.

Agave Nectar. You’re probably okay with this one. Some agave is simply heated (at relatively low temperatures). It may also be enzymatically processed. Any agave experts out there want to weigh in?

Flour. As long as it’s 100% whole grain flour, it’s okay. You could certainly grind whole grains in your kitchen. As Bob’s Red Mill says, one pound in, one pound out. Refined flours, however, have had the germ and bran removed (leaving just the fluffy endosperm) — and are likely bleached or brominated, and may be enriched with nutrients that had been previously removed.

Corn Meal and Masa. Again, if these are made with the whole grain (such as the whole grain cornmeal in my Bob’s Red Mill giveaway), then it’s all good.

Butter. Yup, you could certainly make real butter at home, if you’re so inclined.

Cheese. Yup. In fact, I already make cheese at home. Skip the “pasteurized processed” cheeses, or “cheese foods,” of course.

Nut Butters. Look at the ingredient list. If it’s just “Nuts & Salt” (or better yet, just Nuts), then it’s great. But if it’s got stabilizers, sweeteners, and oils, it’s a no-no.

Spices. Yup, these are okay. You could certainly grow them at home, dry them, and then grind them as needed.

Breads. Again, it’s all about the ingredient list. The best option, of course, is to make it at home. But if it’s store-bought, read the ingredient list. The flour should be whole grain (avoid these pitfalls), and there shouldn’t be fillers, preservatives, artificial sweeteners (yes, they sometimes add those to 100% whole wheat breads.

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