UMAi Dry® Casings Help You Make Dry Sausage at Home

How do UMAi Dry® casings help you craft

slow fermented traditional dry sausage — and how can we do better?

This is what we asked in our December survey. Almost 450 UMAi Dry® sausage makers responded!

Your responses set us on a clear course to formulate our new UMAi Dry® Sausage Spice Blends so that you can craft the best tasting salumi recipes ever with UMAi Dry® casings.  These blends were created by the master dry sausage maker at Spark Spices. You will find spice blends for soppressata, pepperoni and salami available our website on February 1, 2016.

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Even more important, we learned a TONS from your answers to the question:

“What do you like best about UMAi Dry® casings?”

We imagined you might like the strength, ease and no fuss nature of UMAi Dry® casings, but we heard again and again how you love recreating old family recipes and (most important of all) needing no special curing or drying chamber.

  • 157 customers told us that like the EASE of UMAi Dry® casings
  • 134 customers told us they use UMAi Dry® casings because they are NO FUSS
  • 85 customers noted that the STRENGTH of UMAi Dry® casings stood out for them
  • 28 customers love RECREATING OLD RECIPES WITHOUT FEAR

Here are a few of the great comments and stories:

“First, I love the ease of use and clear and concise instructions. Money well spent there. Then, I like the strength and use of zip-ties on a near indestructible bag.”

“The ease of use has been wonderful, they are consistently strong and do not rupture during stuffing. Their shelf life is excellent and the ability to make smaller batches that with natural casings has been a plus.”

“Using without fear, humidity levels, being able to create safely under normal refrigeration conditions. I think the products are a great idea!”

“I personally like the fact that I can recreate traditional recipes any time of the year without having to limit my production to the fall.”

“The product takes the guesswork out of drying out meat.  I don’t have to worry about humidity as much and the product is always sterile so I don’t have to worry my brother flushed it out properly. :-)”

“No fear is a big one, my schedule at home is erratic at best and my wife is a conscientious objector so for me the big one is once the casing is stuffed I can leave it in the refrigerator until the weight is right with no intervention on my side…good for me. BTW, I love the product and will be buying more.”

“The best ever, salami in your own fridge fridge, most of my friends don’t think you can make your own, I don’t have to worry about bacteria etc, it is a great idea and it absolutely works. I made five Soppressata and they were eaten very quickly.”

“Umai Dry is great. Finally you guys made something so someone can make salumi without building a fermentation chamber. Love Umai dry. Keep up the great work.”

“My dad is 80, born in Italy & taught me how to make a simple traditional sopressata & sausage dried in basements with the right environment. Everyone loves it.  We also make Copacolla & it’s too much for him to breakdown the butt.   His butcher will do it for him now & he gets the joy of watching it in his fridge anytime of year.”

“The ease of use. Especially with the zip ties being all you need to seal. Also living in the south it an almost impossible climate to use traditional casings so this makes a very distant dream a home kitchen reality. ”

Thanks to all the kind folks who took time to respond to the survey and share their thoughts and stories.  

We feel really encouraged and inspired to continue building our business on the hope we help you CREATE TRADITION AT HOME®!

Sous Vide Cooking Guarantees a Perfect Steak Every Time

Congratulations! Dry aging done! Your ribeye, striploin or sirloin is ready. Now it’s time to trim the “bark” off, cut it into steaks, and get ready to enjoy, share or preserve to savor over time.

Steak lover beware: Dry aged steak cooks faster than “wet-aged” steak. With the lower water content, there is none of the weep and shrivel to indicate doneness. Time has provided tenderness that you don’t want to unintentionally turn to shoe leather.

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The ultimate way to cook a steak is sous vide, under vacuum in a controlled temperature water bath. Once the meat has reached the desired temperature of the bath, the meat is cooked perfectly edge to edge. Polish the steak off with a quick sear on a grill or frying pan. This is the secret to a perfect steak.

Freezing dry aged steaks:
Dry aged steaks freeze very well with minimal impact on taste or texture. Because of the reduced moisture content, dry aged steaks are less susceptible than wet aged steaks to freeze damage that is a result of water crystal formation. Simply vacuum seal your dry aged steaks into vacuum/sous vide bags and place them in the freezer. For best results, thaw the steaks very slowly in the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature before grilling or cooking sous vide. You might want “hot tub” the steaks in lukewarm water for an hour or so before cooking so you know they are just right when you toss them on the grill.

Cooking dry aged steaks:
Dry aged steaks tend to cook faster than wet aged steaks because there is just less water in them to “bring to a boil.” The steak will reach doneness in much less time. So, keep an eye on those steaks, use a quick read thermometer, and pull them off before they reach temp to let the carry over do the trick.

Many chefs will quick sear the steak before vacuum packing with a pat of butter and some seasoning. When you sous vide this way, the flavors expand and penetrate the meat delectably. Sous vide cooking is your best guarantee of steak perfection—exact temperature, ideal texture, complete nutritional value and maximum flavor.

One great resource on the web, ChefSteps.com, offers a great visual guide to temperature and doneness. They also offer online video classes on how to cook perfect proteins and more sous vide.  Check out their Map of Sous Vide Cooking:

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When it Comes to Charcuterie, Weight is Everything

Charcuterie is a simple craft.  There are Three Fundamental Rules:

  • #1  3% salt to weight of meat
  • #2  0.25% slow acting curing salt (eg. Instacure #2) to weight of meat
  • #3  dry cure until meat has lost 35-40% of its original weight

Basically, all that is required is meat, salt and patience (and UMAi Dry®!)  Of course, you need the correct proportion of salt to meat.  To achieve this, you must choose the right salt and measure it by weight.

Since North Americans most often measure ingredients by volume (cups and teaspoons) rather than weight, obeying the Three Fundamental Rules can be impossible in a kitchen that lacks a basic kitchen scale.

So… first, you need a scale. If you don’t have one, check out the model that we offer:  Escali Primo Digital NSF-rated Scale.

Next… you need to know your salt. “Salt is salt is salt,” some say.  But this can be a risky oversimplification when it comes to choosing and measuring salt for home crafted charcuterie.  Not all salt is alike–even when labeled “Kosher.”

In Warning: Measure Your Salt by Edward Schneider, we learn that one cup of Morton’s kosher salt weighs 250 grams while one cup of Diamond Crystal kosher salt weighs 135 grams!  Because these two kosher types are manufactured very differently, one brand weighs almost twice as much as the other.

What’s more, if you use regular table salt (NOTE: Never use iodized salt for charcuterie projects), know that one cup of table salt weighs in at 300 grams–even saltier than the Morton’s kosher.

Imagine the flavor of the capicola made with one cup of Morton’s kosher salt or unionized table salt?!  Safe amount of salt, but possibly not very palatable results.

UMAi Dry® recipes provide both volume and weight measurements for the convenience of our customers.  Please note that our volume measurements are all based upon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (the lightest, aka “least salty”).  This way, we ensure that our recipes provide the minimum proportion-by-volume of salt for safety.

As Mr. Schneider warns, “… whenever recipe writers are rash enough to give a precise measurement for salt, they ought to specify what kind they’re talking about. Some do; but even then, some just say “kosher salt” — I’ve done this myself, but I’ve stopped, and I promise never to do it again.

We hope you will take his advice to heart.  Know your salt.  Use a scale.

Guarantee safe, flavorful home-crafted charcuterie–with UMAi Dry®!

Sausage making across two continents

We are always grateful to receive special “Creating Tradition at Home” stories from our customers. We feel that this recent email embodies the spirit of UMAi Dry as well as adds a real Australian pioneer flavor to the story.

Our customer Anthony who incidentally now calls Ohio his home sent this email to us:

Sausage making is very popular in Australia. I came from a 24,000 acre sheep and cattle station in Western Queensland. As many of my mates do. We slaughtered all own cattle, sheep and pigs. Making bacon, ham, sausages (fresh and cured), corned meat and obviously all the fresh cuts. It was not uncommon to kill 8 or 10 sheep at a time or 2 head of cattle. Pig killing was a family affair on the weekends.

I attach a few photos from about 1992 with the old German gent who taught me the skills and me and my son (who is now 26). Oh how I wish we had Umai dry in those days. It would have saved so much work. The photo with the hanging sausages is of Black and White pudding made from the head and offal of the pig. I still make it from time to time also.

I do pay great attention to detail when working with meat and enjoy using your product as previously mentioned.

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Coincidentally Anthony was inquiring about an issue he encountered while making his salami and stuffing UMAi Dry casing. The casing sometimes tends to bulge when pressure builds up inside. That is an inherent property of the material and rarely creates some funny looking shapes like shown below. As Anthony said himself most of the sausages turned out looking fantastic.

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Pancetta recipe – made in a home fridge

Pancetta is the original bacon. Amazingly enough it is a very easy thing to make at home.

This pancetta recipe is a classic example of refrigerator charcuterie that has consistent results and requires no special set-up.

The Roman legionnaires were snacking on this delectable meat candy in between battles.

This traditional pork belly preparation can be made either as a slab (stesa) or roll (arrotolata), as you prefer.

Here is the recipe we used:

Pork belly           (we used two 5 lb. pieces)               10 lb. (4.5kg)

Garlic, minced                      4 cloves

InstaCure #2   (0.25% of meat weight)   2 tsp (11g)

Kosher salt (3% of meat weight)   3/4 cup (120g)

Dark brown sugar                  2 tbsp (30g)

Black pepper, coarsely ground  4 tbsp (8g)

Juniper berries, crushed            2 tbsp (10g)

Bay leaves, crumbled               4 (4g)

Nutmeg, freshly grated             1 tsp (2g)

Fresh thyme                    4 or 5 sprigs

Here are some beauty shots of the end product:

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We started out with two 5lb pieces of pork belly that we bought at our nearby Whole Foods supermarket

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We ground up the spices and the curing salt together and rubbed the bellies with the mixture:

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We placed each belly into a Ziplock plastic bag and put in the refrigerator for two weeks

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After the two weeks we  washed off the excess cure and spices. Don’t mind the burn marks on our chef-trainees arms he didn’t get them making Pancetta.

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We rolled one of the bellies and tied it with butchers twine (say it with me) Arrottolata! and left the other one flat Stesa style.

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The bellies are ready to go into UMAi Dry at this point. UMAi Dry is a special membrane material that will allow the pancetta to age in our home fridge. We have done this pancetta a couple of times inUMAi Dry and each time the results were excellent and consistent.

UMAi Dry looks like a regular plastic bag, but it has magic properties of letting the moisture out and letting oxygen in, while protecting the meat and its surroundings from mold, odors and other undesirable things.

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UMAi Dry is applied with a vacuum sealer, but it is not a vacuum bag. All we have to do is to get the bag into the contact with the moist meat surface and it a few days, the bag will stick to the meat and it will age/dry perfectly.

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Here it is all sealed up in UMAi Dry and ready to go rest in the fridge for 6-8 weeks.

Yea I know, thats a long time, but all good things are worth the wait.

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Voila! 7 weeks later we have a delectable hunk of meat candy. Best served thinly sliced on a slicer we like the Chef’s Choice Model 632 slicer with non-serrated blade.

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Zip It!: Even Easier Dry Sausage Making

As you know, UMAi Dry® makes it possible to dry age and dry cure in your home refrigerator.  In our never-ending quest to make it easier for you to “create tradition at home,” we are always exploring new techniques for applying UMAi Dry®.

With the release of our new 32mm UMAi Dry Sausage Casing for quick drying fermented recipes such as pepperoni, saucisson sec and snack sticks, we discovered a great solution for tying off the casings.

Traditionally to tie off sausage stuffed into natural or collagen casing, you need butcher’s twine and really strong fingers. A long sausage making session, tying and tying and tying off sausage after sausage can not only leave you with sore fingers, but also with splits with the butchers’ twine starts to cut into your skin.  The twine had to be tight or the sausage hung to ferment and dry might–PLOP–fall to the floor putting all your hard work to waste.

When UMAi Dry® casing was first released, we recommended measuring off lengths of casing, then sealing them with a vacuum sealer, as we do with most UMAi Dry® applications.  After stuffing, however, sealing the end using the VacMouse® to draw out the tiny bit of air at the end of the casing seemed fiddly and wasteful.  Moreover, you still need the hang the sausage to dry, so the strong fingers and butcher’s twine were still required.

During testing various alternatives, we discovered the common zip ties (aka tie wrap or cable ties) were a far more efficient and far less strenuous way to tie off the casings.  A simple 4″ cable tie does a great job of tying off the starting end after you thread your preferred length of casing onto the stuffing horn.  It is a clean secure way to tie off the end of each sausage as you stuff it out.

The best discovery was a technique that eliminates the need for any butcher’s twine.  When stuffing, if you stuff two links, with a small space of casing in between, you can then easily hang the pair of links for fermentation.

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Here are the steps:

  1. Zip tie the starting end.
  2. Stuff out one link.
  3. Twist the end of that stuffing and zip tie it off.
  4. Leave about an inch or two centimeters of casing, then zip tie the starting point for the second link
  5. Stuff out the second link, twist off, zip tie.
  6. Leave another short span of casing and zip tie for the starting point of your next link of sausage.
  7. Cut between the ending point and starting point leaving two sausage links together.
  8. Hang the pair from the connecting point to ferment.

The photos below will give you a good idea how this works both while stuffing and when hanging to ferment.

We hope this helpful hint makes it even easier for you to experiment with fermented dry sausage making.

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Cold Smoked Salmon – a new method

Cold smoking salmon is a method that is often out of reach for most. The cold smoking set up involves smoking the fish at low temperature for a long period of time (like 2-3 days). Cold smoking imparts that coveted smoke flavor to the fish. Cold smoking allows the fish to dry and take on a prosciutto like texture.

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While visiting Montreal this summer we discovered a new more kitchen friendly method for creating an amazingly flavorful and delicious looking Cold “Smoked” Salmon. This method is also quite safe as everything happens under refrigeration and the fish is not exposed to high temperatures.

This recipe came from our friend Yan Garzon of

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The recipe for the cure was very simple:

500 gr of coarse salt
-500 gr of brown sugar
– 20 gr of spices of your choice (Montreal steak seasoning finely ground)
-sweet ground paprika (enough to cover de filet)
-10 gr of ground black pepper

One interesting thing is that the Montreal seasoning which is marketed mainly for steak, actually contains a perfect mix of spices traditionally suited for salmon:

Here is the Montreal seasoning recipe:
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp crushed black pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp crushed coriander
1 tsp dill
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

We prepared more cure than was needed for this particular cure and did a little experiment creating four different recipes for Cold “Smoked” Salmon:

We did a cure in 4 different ratios of cure/fish by weight: 5%, 10%, 25% and 50%

The basic method was as follows:

Mix all of these together and keep in a Ziploc bag or Mason jar.
Method
1-cover the filet with some paprika that you sprinkle on it. Purpose is to get a nice red colored finish product:

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2-Use a big Ziploc bag to fit your fish filet, and you can cut the filet in 2 or 4 part, as you wish to fit in your curing bag and after in the UMAI DRY bags.

3-Weigh the fish and put in the bag two table spoons of liquid smoke, and 50% of the fish weight of curing solution also. (we made 4 batches of various ratios)

4-toss the bag and the mix evenly so it covers the flesh part

5-Put in the fridge for 7 days, and turn it every day.

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As you can see after a couple of days of curing the salt pulled out various amounts of water from the fish most being pulled out by the 50% cure ratio
6-After 7 days, take out of the ziplock bags and lightly rinse under fresh cold water, and dry with clean paper towel.

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7-Vacuum seal in UMAI DRY Small Charcuterie Bag and keep in the fridge on a open wire rack for about 12 days. The fish must be elevated to allow airflow all the way around it to allow moisture to evaporate through the bag.

The UMAi Dry bags are special bags that allow the fish to dry in the refrigerator. The moisture loss will develop a flavor and texture of cold smoked salmon. The UMAi Dry bags are used mainly in Charcuterie and Salumi applications for creating capicola, bresaola, pancetta in a home refrigerator.

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When the fish was fully cured and dried it has lost an average 35% of its original weight:

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This product is very shelf stable when refrigerated and can last a couple of months if vacuum sealed in regular Foodsaver bags.

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Sodium Nitrite – Is it a bad thing?

Much of todays society is focused on food “purity”. Many products today are marketed as “locally raised”, “sustainable” and free of many ingredients deemed to be undesirable.
One such ingredient is commonly referred to as “nitrite”. Processed meat products like salami, ham, turkey, etc. are boasting a claim to be “nitrite free“.
What is referred to as “nitrite” is actually sodium nitrite a salt commonly used in preserving meat and protecting the meat from growth of harmful bacteria know as Clostridium botulinum which can cause botulism a dangerous possibly fatal condition.

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A “nitrite free” product purchased in an American supermarket most certainly does contain nitrite, but not in its salt form. The manufacturers of these “nitrite free” products often use extracts of celery or celery seed, which naturally contains elevated levels of nitrite. The labeling laws in the US allow companies who use a plant derived form of nitrite to claim that their products are “nitrite free”.
One of the interesting details about the use of celery derived nitrites is that it is virtually impossible to control the concentration of nitrite in the meat precisely, since the levels of nitrite in celery can vary widely depending on its source.

By adding a nitrite salt such as Instacure #1 or Instacure #2 to your home made sausage you can control the level of nitirite in the meat more precisely and avoid over or under dose.
Instacure #1 contains 93.75% salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite and should be added at a level of .25% of the weight of the meat.
It is used for fresh and cooked sausages and hams
Instacure #2 contains 92.75% salt and 6.25% sodium nitirite as well as 1% sodium nitrate. It should be added to meat at a level of .25%. This curing salt is used in dry sausages and charcuterie meats that are aged longer than 2 weeks.
The sodium nitrate component of this additive breaks down into sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite eventually breaks down through oxidation into nitric oxide in dry sausages leaving no trace behind.

Michael Ruhlman outlines the myths behind “nitrite free” labeling in his post: http://ruhlman.com/2011/05/the-no-nitrites-added-hoax/

Pepperoni the artisan way with UMAi Dry

Pepperoni is an American dry sausage introduced by italian immigrants in the beginning of the 20th century. It is a cousin of several traditional italian salami products like: Soppressata, Salami Toscano, etc.

Today the popularity of this sausage exceeds any other dry sausage, since pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping around the world. However, the pepperoni that is put on your Domino’s pizza is produced in large factories using very inexpensive ingredients and is cooked prior to drying. It has little to do with its origins as an artisanal dry sausage. We went on a quest to make pepperoni the way it was originally made. Stanley Marianski in his book “The Art of Making Fermented Sausages” had the recipe we were looking for.

This simple and delicious artisan dry sausage can be made with the new UMAi Dry 32 mm Dry Sausage Kit right in the comfort of your kitchen.

Here is the process and recipe:

We used lean pork tenderloin since it is very affordable at our local Costco warehouse (you can use any leaner cut of pork), we also used beef chuck and pork back fat.

You would want to par-freeze all the meat in thin strips before making the sausage. Once the meat is semi-frozen, you can cut it into small cubes in order to feed them into the grinder:

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After the meat is cubed you can put it back in the freezer and assemble you cure and spices:

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Now we are ready to grind the meat, we like to use a large 6mm (1/4 in.) grinding plate, it makes the texture and drying more even. When grinding the meat you would want to alternate beef, pork and fat to get some mixing in the grinding step:

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After all the meat is ground, the cure and spices can be added. We use wooden paddles to mix the cure and spices in since the ground meat is cold and mixes very easily. Warming up the meat with hands makes mixing the cure more difficult.

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After the spices and the cure are mixed in we will add the Bactoferm T-SPX starter cuture, which has been previously dissolved in previously boiled and cooled to room temperature water. After the culture has been added we begin to “knead” the sausage mix with hands until begins to stiffen:

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We thne put the mixture back into the freezer and get our stuffer ready and prepare the UMAi Dry 32mm casing included in the sausage kit. We will use 4 inch zip-ties to close the ends of sausage chubs:

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We stuffed the chilled sausage mix into pair chubs, trying to avoid air pockets. The pair chubs will make it easier to hand the sausage for fermentation:

 

 

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We used an unused oven as our fermentation chamber. The oven was at room temperature 65-75F. We fermented for 36 hours. The pepperoni sausage will change color from pale orange to bright red after fermentation:

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After fermentation the pepperoni is ready for drying. UMAi Dry allows you to dry in any modern household fridge on a wire rack. Don’t use a beer fridge, mini-fridge or garage fridge in the winter. We used our regular kitchen fridge to dry:

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The 32 mm UMAi Dry sausage casing dries pretty quickly. In this case it took only 2 weeks for the sausage to loose the 35-40% weight required for dry sausage

 

 

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This pepperoni exceeded our expectations. The flavor and texture was levels above commercially produced pepperoni. It had a true artisanal character.

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Recipe is below:

Traditional Pepperoni

(Slow-fermented Dry Style)

Ingredients per 2.2 kg 5 lb of meat

Lean beef 670g 1.45 lb

Lean pork 1375g  / 3 lb

Pork fat (Back Fat) 250g  / 0.55 lb

Salt 65g 11 tsp

Instacure #2 5g  / 1 tsp

Dextrose 4g  / 1 tsp

Sugar 6g  / 1 tsp

Black pepper 6g  / 3 tsp

Paprika 12g  / 6 tsp

Fennel 5g  / 4 tsp

Cayenne Pepper 4g  / 2 tsp

Bactoferm T-SPX 0.5 g   / 1/2 tsp

(dissolved in 2 tbsp lukewarm de-chlorinated water)

Butter vs. Olive Oil: What’s Better?

“When the editorial team cooks with butter, the question arises: Is it better than olive oil?”

Photo from The Daily Meal

“Both olive oil and butter have their place in the kitchen and in cooking different recipes, but there are times when butter just makes that much of a difference in the dish. When cooking vegetables such as the lemon asparagus recipe below, it adds a rich sweetness to the dish that’s nicely balanced out by the acidity of the citrus juice. And it’s great when scrambling eggs, or finishing off a steak.”

From The Daily Meal

Read more: http://www.thedailymeal.com/butter-better#ixzz1tYLhQHJ1