Gourmet apples

Gourmet apples

Excerpts from an article in the University of Cincinnati magazine:

For nearly 200 years, Japanese farmers have fine-tuned the little-known craft of creating gourmet apples. To document their “incredibly labor- intensive efforts,” Stevens spent four months in Japan last year photographing how the Japanese cultivate enormous apples with utterly unblemished skins and perfectly tinted on all sides…

The work starts in the spring when farmers thin the apple blossoms. “An average tree has 4,000 blossoms, and they cull them down to 200 to 400,” she says. Each flower consists of a set of five blossoms — one in the center, surrounded by four more, she explains. Farmers climb ladders to carefully pluck the four outer blooms, leaving only the center one. This creates fruit that is 30 percent larger than American apples, the standard size expected in Japan, she notes.

In June, while apples are still less than an inch in diameter, imperfect fruit is discarded, and the best apples are identified as ones to “bag.” Farmers go back up the ladders, armed with distinctive bags made of a special opaque paper and lined with a translucent, colored wax paper, she describes. They pull a bag over each apple, pleat it in way to allow room for growth, then wire it shut so the apple receives no sunlight for three months or more. The technique keeps out pests, significantly extends the storage life and flavor of the fruit, and leaves apples a creamy white color. In the fall, farmers again climb the ladders to carefully remove the outer bag without tearing the lining…

When the wax bags are finally removed, farmers take exorbitant steps to increase an apple’s exposure to the sun, thereby increasing its sugar content and giving each a uniform color. They trim branches and strip leaves from remaining branches to keep shadows off the fruit. Next, they lay silver or white mats on the ground to reflect sunlight on the bottom of the fruit. Every few weeks, they also hand-turn each piece to give all sides equal sun exposure…

For the biggest, most perfect apples, they also apply sticker-like stencils to create designs on the apples’ skin. “The stencils act like a high-contrast negative,” the professor notes. “Some have sayings on them, such as, ‘Best wishes for a long life.’ Some are negatives with pictures. One Japanese pop star put his picture on apples to give his entourage for presents.”

More details at the link.  Via Edible Geography, where there is additional information on the history of “branding” and putting stencils on fruit.

(Via TYWKIWDBI (“Tai-Wiki-Widbee”).)

Tetris Cookie Cutters

Tetris Cookie Cutters Featuring All Seven Classic Video Game Shapes

Tetris Cookie Cutters

This aluminum set of Tetris Cookie Cutters features all seven of the classic video game shapes. The entire set is available to purchase online from Firebox.

Sick and tired of getting those good-for-nothing T and Z pieces? Aren’t we bloody all. Now you can just mass-bake the cherished Line and Square Tetriminos and enjoy a leisurely baking and gaming experience. Practice the world’s most increasingly stressful game while the pressure is off. Rotate them at your whim. Make those lines disappear. You’re no longer battling against gravity and you level up as you eat.

Tetris Cookie Cutters

Tetris Cookie Cutters

(Via Laughing Squid.)

McDonald’s to become ‘Macca’s’ in Australia

McDonald’s to become ‘Macca’s’ in Australia

0801 maccas sp

McDonald’s is embracing its Aussie nickname with selected stores around the country changing their signage to “Macca’s” from today.

The world-first change – a temporary measure – comes after a branding survey commissioned by the fast food chain found that 55 percent of Australians called the company by its shortened name.

“We’ve been a part of Australia for over 40 years now and we’re incredibly proud to embrace our ‘Australian-only’ nickname,” said Mark Lollback, chief marketing officer for McDonald’s Australia.

“What better way to show Aussies how proud we are to be a part of the Australian community than by changing our store signs to the name the community has given us?”

Lollback said 13 restaurants around the country would change their signage this week as part of the company’s celebrations of Australia Day.

The first stores involved Tuesday were in the southern Sydney suburb of Engadine and an outlet in Queensland’s Kangaroo Point.

McDonald’s signage will return to each site from early February.

(Via http://finance.ninemsn.com.au/.)