by Curt Kovener
Knowledge is power but sometimes things are best left unknown. My ‘Bathroom Book Of Lists’ (and maybe THAT is more information than you want to know) listed how some frequently used foods are processed for human consumption.
Gelatin: Used as a thickener in foods like Jell-O and marshmallows, gelatin is collagen, the protein found in connective tissue. It is not made from horns and hooves, as is often thought. Pig and cattle bones and skin are broken down in hot water or acid and then dried, refined and purified into gelatin. For use as a thickener, gelatin is ground into granules or powder.
Imitation Crabmeat: Found most frequently at Chinese buffets, fake crabmeat is mainly fish, usually Pollock that is cleaned, minced, mixed with starch, salt, a bit of real crabmeat, egg white and flavoring. Then the mixture is ground into a paste, which is pressed into sheets and cooked. To give it that crabby look, the skeets are cut into thin strands and then colored. Then the genuine imitation faux crabmeat is cooked again and vacuum packed for your favorite restaurants to prepare.
Bologna: Supermarket bologna earns its ‘mystery meat’ reputation. The process begins with unused bits of beef, pork, and sometimes poultry. Which bits is the mystery. But the mystery bits get ground up and liquefied into a paste and a blend of secret spices are added. The pasty concoction is extruded into a casing, then boiled or smoked, sliced and packaged for your favorite sandwich or pickling for a masculine meaty treat with beer.
Evaporated and Condensed Milk: To extend the shelf life of milk, it is ‘evaporated’ through pasteurization by putting it in a pressure lower than atmospheric pressure (vacuum) container and then boiled. This vacuum evaporation process concentrates the milk to 30%-40% solids which delays the spoiling. Then it is homogenized to keep the cream from separating and sealed into cans. The difference between evaporated and condensed milk is that the later has lots of sugar added. Which makes it great for holiday candy making…if you can get past the fact that the former fresh milk from a cow may be a year old before you use it.
Jawbreakers: The main ingredient is granulated sugar. It is poured into a round kettle that rotates over heat. The second ingredient— liquid sugar— is added into the rotating heated kettle. It sticks to the granulated sugar and little balls of sweetness begin to form. More liquid sugar is added periodically over then next several days—sometimes up to 100 coats— into the rotating kettle. When the jawbreakers are near full size, color and flavor (such as cinnamon oil) are added. Finally the now hard sugar balls are spun with a foodgrade wax and placed into bags for your candy store or grocery’s shelf.
SPAM: Once short for SPiced hAM, only about 10% of the product is actually ham. The other 90% is pork shoulder, Hormel®, which has made Spam since the 1930’s says it’s short for Shoulder of Pork and hAM. The meat is ground, then dropped below freezing before secret spices are added along with sodium nitrite…a preservative that give the product its pick color. It is mixed in a machine with an airtight seal to keep the amount of water being released low. The uncooked mixture is plopped into cans which are sealed and then the entire can is cooked in hot water.
Over 122 million cans of Spam are sold every year.
After reading all of this, maybe you, like me, will conclude it is appropriate such information be found in a Bathroom Book of Lists.
by Curt Kovener