Tag Archives: food trends

Add Some Zip to Your Menu with Fermentation

A growing trend among restaurateurs for the last few years has been in-house fermentation. Fermenting adds a nice flavor profile to some of your favorite veggies, turning them into tangy sides to go with your main entrees. The added health benefits to fermentation (contains healthy bacteria and aids digestion) is a great selling point for you to incorporate it into your menu. Not to mention, offering something “house-made” on your menu tends to catch the eye of diners.

Pickled Vegetables

Photo Credit: ccarlstead/Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo Credit: ccarlstead/Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Fermenting vegetables comes down to just a few ingredients: veggies, salt, water and any spices you want to use. For pickles, you simply dissolve the salt (pickling or kosher) in water to create a brine. You can chop, shred, slice or keep your veggies whole. Place your vegetables and spices in an airtight container or crock and fill with the brine. If you want to make a crunchy pickle, add a grape leaf or two to your jar. Grape leaves are rich in tannens, which inhibit the enzymes that make pickles soft. If using cucumbers, removing the blossom ends will help achieve the same effect, making grape leaves unnecessary.

You want to make sure your veggies stay submerged underneath the brine. Sometimes, placing a weight of some type onto the vegetables may be needed to keep them submerged. This is important, as the vegetables need to be kept in an anaerobic environment during the fermentation. Exposure to oxygen is a no-no, as that introduces the possibility of bad bacterial growth.

Fermentation can take a week, all the way up to a few months. How long to ferment depends on your tastes. It’s important to check on your fermentation, making sure there is no mold growth or spoilage-type  smells. During your checks, you should also taste your veggies. Once they are to your taste, you can move to cold storage, which slows fermentation down almost to a crawl, so your pickles will retain the flavor you desire.

Sauerkraut and Kimchi

Photo Credit: Paul Downey/Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo Credit: Paul Downey/Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

A slight variation from normal fermentation is when making sauerkraut. When fermenting cabbage, instead of mixing the salt and water, you will add salt directly to your shredded cabbage. From there, you want to massage the salt into your cabbage and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. The goal is to draw out the cabbage’s natural juices, as they will create your brine. Lightly pounding with a wooden spoon or mallet will help draw the juices out as well. Once finished, you would add your cabbage to your vessel and ferment into sauerkraut.

Kimchi is quickly becoming one of the more popular side condiments for dishes. This spicy Korean staple is made the same way as sauerkraut. The differences are in the type of cabbage (typically bok choi or napa cabbage is used for kimchi; green or red cabbage for sauerkraut), the way the cabbage is prepared (sliced for kimchi; shredded for sauerkraut) and the additional goodies added to kimchi, such as ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes.


Looking to start your own fermentation projects? Click here for a huge list of recipes from the website Cultures for Health.

The site Maangchi has you covered if you want to try your hand at kimchi. Click here to check out their array of kimchi recipes.

Top photo credit: jules/Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: December 16

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for the week of December 12 through December 16. 

Let’s Move! Breaks Jumping Jacks World Record
From Let’s Move Blog, Read Full Story

Back in October, we reported about Let’s Move attempting to break the world record of the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period.  The record they had to beat was 20,000.  This week, First Lady Michelle Obama took to the Let’s Move blog to announce the good news–not only did they break the record, but by a large number!  The grand total was 300,265.  To read the full story, including a video from Mrs. Obama, visit the Let’s Move! Blog.

More Gluten-Free and Heart-Healthy Meals
From NY Daily News, Read Full Story

Image by Ariadna on MorgueFile.com

This year there’s been more awareness to food allergies and also to healthier menu items.  The NY Daily News reported there has been a 61 percent increase in gluten free menu items.  What’s more interesting is not all of the customers requested gluten-free menu items because of a medical condition.  Then also, according to the article, 73 percent of customers wanted to know menu nutritional content.  Read the full story on the NY Daily News site and take their poll regarding gluten-free menu items.

People Choose Restaurant Gift Cards
From Nation’s Restaurant News, Read Full Story

In a recent National Restaurant Association study,they reported approximately one of every five people will give the gift of a restaurant gift card this year.  Towards the end of 2011, we’ve read there will be an increase in restaurant sales–and this article’s estimate that people will on average spend $155.43 on gift cards will certainly help! Read the full story on the Nation’s Restaurant News site including more interesting survey results.

Image by Ronnie Bergeron on MorgueFile.com

Food Trends for 2012
From Huff Post Food, Read Full Story

Last year Central put together a list of foodservice trends for 2011.  Well more and more websites are posting their different trends for 2012, including this one from Huff Post Food, which takes a close look at specific food trends.  Some on the list include fast casual Asian, french dips, pretzels and more food trucks.  For a slide show on all trends, including pictures and explanations, visit Huff Post Food.

FoodBuzz’s “Today’s Top 9”
From FoodBuzz, Read Full Story

On the FoodBuzz website, they put together a list of the top nine recipes for the day, which were submitted to the site from website contributors.  Menu items include candy cane marshmallow pops, sweet potato pie oatmeal and mint cookies ‘n cream.  Take a look at all nine items including pictures and recipes on the FoodBuzz website.      


NRA 2011: Product Trends and Innovations

Image: NRA Website

This year’s NRA show in Chicago just wrapped up. From food and seminars, to products and technology—the show really covers it all. To keep it simple, we’re just going to discuss some of the interesting trends we saw — along with links to the other information for you to catch anything you missed!

Latest Technology

Companies are finding innovative ways to use technology to make a customer’s experience with a product exceptional. Many times advanced technology can be something restaurant owners stay away from. We live in a fast-paced world and restaurants don’t have time to figure out how to fix a piece of equipment filled with technology.

However—companies are now not only making products that cut down on time, but are making them easier to manage as well. When searching for a product, don’t be so nervous or stray away thinking it’s “too advanced.” The people creating these products, from ice machines to digital signage, are making everything easier all the way around. Don’t think of getting the latest in technology as a fad, consider the money you will be saving later on down the road.

Digital Signage

Digital signage is on the rise and is a great way to go paperless. We came across several vendors advertising digital menu boards. This is an excellent way to advertise a menu, as many times pre-made signage isn’t easy to change and can be costly. With digital boards, changes can be made in an instant.

Another huge trend, which we have been covering, is the menu tablet. A major concern among restaurant-goers is a tablet can’t replace excellent customer service.

When speaking with a representative with Titbit about their interactive digital menu, she explained this technology actually enhances customer service. By using these menus, customers are in complete control of their order freeing up the wait staff’s time to focus on the actual service.


If you attend NRA, you can’t miss the food. They truly have it all. Among the many food vendors this year were foods for a particular lifestyle such as gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian. Whether it’s a lifestyle choice or an allergy, customers with particular eating habits are no longer few and far between. It’s best to be prepared.

Going Green

Image: Conserve Website

Companies are finding ways to go green and many have at least one product that is eco-friendly. We came across many green products from fryers to disposableware. If you haven’t taken too much time on making your restaurant more eco-friendly, it’s becoming very easy to find a green model of a product.

As we’ve been learning about the importance of saving the environment, we released this whitepaper last month on making a restaurant economically friendly which will help if you’re not sure where to begin.

More Information

Here are a few links to other interesting aspects of the show. If you attended this year’s NRA show, we hope you share with us what stood out to you.

Fun With Food

Here’s a list of links to some fun, food-related articles I’ve found over the week…a great mix of trivia, recipes and fun photos!  Enjoy!

Check out this list of Top 10 Food Songs…bet you can’t guess all ten!

Art that gives “playing with your food” a whole new meaning.

What they’re eating at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Recipe ingredient:  Girl Scout Cookies?

10 food trends to watch in 2010.