Posts Tagged ‘dried’

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Organically grown cherries, straight from the farm! These delicious dried cherries are coming to you from Utah’s organic farms thanks to All Good Provisions.

In 2011 this Park City, Utah startup began their journey to bring healthy snacks to the world. They’re proud contributors to 1% for the planet, where a percent of their sales go to support global environmental efforts.

I received a pouch of these cherries in my August Knoshbox.

Tea Suggestion:

These dried cherries make a great tea time snack along with just about any tea, but, I chose a pure tea since the cherries pack enough flavor on their own.  I love the way the toasty flavor of this Autumn Houjicha from Yunomi along with its nutty tones and hints of caramel complimented the sweet-tart flavor of the cherries.  A really unexpectedly delightful flavor combination!

What I Think:

These have a sweet and tart taste, with a texture that reminds me of Craisins except that they aren’t quite as sticky as Craisins … nor are they quite as tart as Craisins.  Because … well … these are cherries!

What surprised me from the first moment I bit into one of these dried cherries is just how much juicy flavor they offer!  They pack a real punch of cherry taste in each little morsel!

Cherries aren’t really a fruit that I often look for as a dried fruit as I tend to prefer them as a fresh fruit.  What can I say?  I grew up in Southern California, and every summer, as our school vacation came close to being over … my father and step-mother would take all of us kids (I had three step-siblings and one half-brother) south to Cherry Valley and we’d pick bushels and bushels of fresh cherries.  It was a pretty good deal to pick the fruit ourselves – we got the cherries for a fraction of what you’d pay in the store, and the quality was better because these were picked right at their prime … plus, we were known to pop a few in our mouth as we were picking them!  YUM!

So, I’m not really one to eat a lot of dried cherries.  I love ’em fresh (or frozen … they’re really yummy frozen … like little tiny, bite-sized popsicles!)  But these … these cherries could make a believer out of me.  I like the way these taste.  It’s making me think how they’d be in a bowl of oatmeal made from steel cut oats (I can’t eat the rolled oats oatmeal anymore … I love steel cut oats!) or perhaps in a chocolate chip cookie.  Now that … sounds amazing.

These are really tasty!

My Final Thoughts: 

Yeah, I’m liking these!  I’ll admit that I wasn’t like overjoyed that these were part of the Knoshbox for August … I was kind of ho-hum about it and much happier to dig into the cotton candy or the kettle corn, but, these are really good!  They’d be a great addition to a homemade trail mix.

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Product Information:

Amazing!  Who would have thought that honey roasted chickpeas can taste so good and be so addicting.  You will not be able to stop eating these super crunchy sweet and salty yet guilt free treats.  You’re getting 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per ounce.

I received a package of these Chick Pz in my February Goodies Box.

Tea Suggestion:

When trying these chickpea snacks, I wanted something clean and refreshing to sip, so I chose Blissful Buds Green Tea from Mellow Monk.  The sweet and savory taste of the tea made a nice accompaniment to these crunchy snacks.

What I Think:

I admit that I was kind of excited to try these … not because I particularly like chick peas or anything… but because I thought they would be different and really interesting.  Unfortunately, they didn’t live up to my expectations.

They’re alright, I guess … they kind of taste like a bland version of honey roasted peanuts.  The crunchy coating is tasty, sweet, and is similar to a candy coating that you might find on honey roasted peanuts.  The chick peas have a nice crunch to them … which is further enhanced by the crunchy coating.  But these lack depth.  It’s like the flavor kind of stops once you get beyond the sweet, crispy coat of salty, honey and toasty taste.  The chick peas … well, they taste like chick peas.  Slightly meaty, kind of mealy, and a little boring.

My Final Thoughts:

Overall, they aren’t bad.  They’re just … not all that exciting.  I can see the appeal of this product, especially if one is sensitive to peanut consumption.  Since I’m not, I personally would prefer to eat honey roasted peanuts than the chickpea alternative.  OK … but not great.

photo from Sensible Foods. Click on the pic to go there.

Product Details:

100% Fruit – 100% Fat Free – Gluten Free – No Added Sugar – No Additives/Preservatives – Crunchy, Sweet & Delicious

This product was part of my Goodies Tasting Box for September.

Tea Suggestion:

Because the dried fruit is so flavorful and such a strong taste, I decided to go with something on that had good flavor but wasn’t a strong, overpowering flavor so that the snack and the beverage were not competing with one another.  I selected this tasty Hazelnut Vanilla Oolong from Zenjala Tea Company.   The sweet, creamy vanilla and nutty tones provided an excellent contrast to the bright, flavorful fruits of this product.

What I Think:

I am really liking this snack … and so far, it may just prove to be my favorite product in the September Goodies Box.  These fruits are freeze-dried, which I like better than the dehydrated fruit, because I love the crunchy texture that the freeze-dry process imparts on the fruit.  I’ve tried a few freeze-dried fruits up until this point:  apples, strawberries, and pineapple … and of these three, pineapple is definitely my favorite.  It tastes like candy!

This package of Cherry Berrry Crunch doens’t have pineapple, but it does have apples, strawberries, blueberries and cherries.  Of the four fruits, there is far more apple.  I found this kind of interesting since the mix is called “Cherry Berry” … and based on the name I would expect there to be more cherries and berries than apples, but, I’m not entirely surprised, since apples are cheaper than cherries, strawberries and blueberries.

And the apple is nice in this.  It is sweet and crunchy, and when eaten by the handful with the cherries and berries, the apple gives off a mellow enough flavor that the flavor of the cherries and berries really shines through.  The cherries aren’t really strongly flavored, though, which kind of surprised me – I expected a slight tangy-tart note from them but they’re rather mild.  The blueberries are only slightly more tart and flavorful than the cherries.  Of the fruit, the strongest flavor is the strawberry, and it is bright and very sweet and has a tart finish.

My Final Thoughts:

This was a very tasty mix, although I found myself wishing for more flavor from the blueberries and cherries.  The strawberries seemed to dominate the entire pouch, and as a strawberry lover, I didn’t really mind that, but, I think it would have been neat to taste more from the blueberries and cherries.   If I see this in the store while shopping, I might pick up a bag.  It is an enjoyable, healthy and energizing snack-time choice.

photo is from Olympic Provisions, click on the pic to go there.

Product Description:

Chorizo Rioja (chor-IZ-oh ri-OH-ha) is a Spanish-style salami with sweet & smoked paprika, garlic and oregano. Best enjoyed with copious amounts of Spanish wine.

The Chorizo Rioja is available for a limited time from Knoshbox.

Tea Suggestion:

I sliced this sausage super thin, served it with the Castleton Crackers that also came in the Knoshbox this month, and instead of serving it with lots of red wine … I poured a cup of this Pu-erh Cabernet from Vintage TeaWorks.  The spicy flavors of the sausage really complemented the gentle spices of the tea blend, and the sweetness of the tea softened the somewhat oily/greasy taste of the sausage, while the rich, buttery, grainy taste of the crackers toned down the overall spicy note.  This was a spectacular FEAST!

What I Think:

This isn’t the first sausage that I’ve tried from Olympic Provisions … I had the Cacciatore Salami which was featured in my Portland tasting box from Foodzie.  So, I had a pretty good idea of what I might expect from this sausage – it would be really hard, but also full of flavor.  I was a little worried that this was a chorizo sausage though, my experience with chorizo has always been a VERY spicy sausage.

And while it IS spicy, it isn’t “mouth-on-fire” spicy.  The spices are warm, and if I ate a lot of it at one time, my mouth might be on fire, but when sliced thin and eaten with crackers and tea, it is a very enjoyable, mildly warm sausage that is very flavorful.

It has a delicious, meaty flavor that is well-spiced.  But the spices are not out of control HOT with this sausage like I expected it to be.  The spices maintain a balance with the meat and allow the many layers of flavor be experienced without setting my tongue aflame.

My Final Thoughts:

I was thrilled that Knoshbox included a sausage from Olympic Provisions!  They’re a local company, and I love supporting local business, and I found this particular sausage to be even more enjoyable than the Cacciatore Salami that I tried previously.  This surprised me because I typically steer away from chorizo because of its spicy reputation, and my few experiences with chorizo in the distant past had taught me that chorizo is a bit too much for me, but, this experience has opened my eyes to new possibilities with this sausage!

Product Description (from Foodzie):

This fourth generation of family farmers harvests their stone fruit when it’s tender and ripe. Hand-slicing and traditional sun-drying preserves the juiciness, yielding deliciously sweet, tender fruit, requiring zero energy beyond mother nature to process.

Learn more about Blossom Bluff on their website.

Tea Suggestion:

Because the flavors of these dried fruits are so intense and sweet, I wanted something on the lighter side, so I selected a white tea:  Silver Needle from Mandala Tea.  The tea is crisp and refreshing and delicate, allowing the full flavor of the fruit to be experienced.

What I Think:

I don’t usually purchase dried plums.  While I do prefer fresh plums to dry (although when I was a child, one of my favorite “treats” were chili saladitos, but that’s another story!), I found these to be very delicious.

The texture of plums is quite nice.  The first thing I noticed is that they don’t feel sticky the way many commercial dried plums or prunes do.  They are tender and chewy and oh – so – sweet!   But they don’t taste like they’ve been sweetened, the sweetness is the natural sweetness that comes from the fruit itself, and I like that.

I also like that they are organic and un-sulfured, they’re the kind of snack you can feel good about eating because they’re delicious and satisfying (and just sweet enough to curb the sweet-tooth craving too!), and they’re healthy for you and the planet too!

My Final Thoughts:

Very tasty, and different from the dried plums that are readily available.  These are naturally sweet and wholesome, without additives.  Just the fruit, and I like that.

To learn more about this and other products from Willows Cranberries, please visit their website.

About Willows Cranberries:

Willows Cranberries grows premium quality cranberries and sells specialty cranberry gourmet food products. Willows brand cranberries are used in our own fresh fruit, trail mixes, syrups, sauces, vinaigrette, candies and more. We are always working on improvements of our crops and our specialty food line. We are proud to provide you with the finest quality fruit and products of the industry.

What I Think:

Until now, the only type of dried cranberry I’d ever tried are Craisins (which, if you happen to have any in your cupboard, this recall information may be of interest to you – fortunately the Craisins I have in my cupboard are not subject to recall).  I actually keep dried cranberries (Craisins) on hand all the time – they’re the new raisin.  Truth be told, I’ve never really been crazy about raisins, but, I love dried cranberries.

Since I do have some Craisins on hand, I thought it would be interesting if I were to compare the two … these Sweet Dried Cranberries from Willows Cranberries, and the Craisins.  Believe it or not, there are some significant differences between the two!

First of all, the color of the Willows Cranberries are very consistent.  Every single berry is deep ruby in color.  The Craisins are a bit lighter in color overall than the Willows Cranberries and the coloration is not as consistent with the Craisins.  The exterior of the Willows Cranberries is shiny, whereas the Craisins are a bit duller.  And as far as taste, the Willows Cranberries taste … better.  They are not as sweet as the Craisins, and they have a delicious fruity flavor to them that is sweet and tart, and they just taste … like properly ripened fruit. The Craisins have less of the ripe fruit flavor.  They taste as though they have more added sweetener to them (both dried fruits have been sweetened).

I guess what it boils down to is that Willows Cranberries are grown on a family owned farm, so when you buy Willows Cranberries, you can taste the difference between their cranberries and those grown commercially.

My Final Thoughts:

These make a great snack right out of the package and I always add a handful of dried cranberries to my oatmeal or farro porridge.  (I usually reconstitute them slightly first, by putting them in a bowl with a small amount of water, and microwaving them for a minute or two.)  So, I eat a fair amount of dried cranberries, and I almost always have some on hand.  Until now, I always purchased the Craisins, but, I may rethink that, and start ordering from Willows Cranberries, because they taste better!

Where to Buy:  Benjamin Twiggs on Foodzie

Price:  $5.95 for 8 ounce package

Product Description:

You open a bag of Benjamin Twiggs Michigan Dried Cherries and before you know it – Poof! – it’s empty. You can’t help yourself. That’s because our dried fruit is processed, dried and packaged right here in northern Michigan. Plump and sweet, they’re delicious right out of the bag or a tasty addition to your salad, cereal, or muffins.

What I Think:

Delicious!  I love cherries, and these dried cherries really capture the sweet flavor of cherries while adding a nice, chewy texture.  I like that these are sweet but they also have a tartness to them.  They aren’t too sweet.  These are so nice and plump with a good, fruity flavor.

Wonderful right out of the bag (and quite difficult to stop munching on once you start!) I also love dried cherries on a green salad topped with bleu cheese dressing.

As tasty as these are right out of the bag, I didn’t want to eat them all like that.  Since this month we also received a bag of farro, I wanted to make a hot cereal of farro and cherries!  Here’s how I made it:

I started by melting some butter in my pan, and then adding the dry farro.  I cook it over medium high heat for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly, until I smell a nutty aroma developing.  Then I add hot water to the pan and bring it to a boil.  Once it is boiling, I lower the heat to a simmer and allow the farro to simmer for a half an hour.

At this point, I add a pinch of salt and some cherries to the pot and allow it to continue to simmer for about 20 minutes.  Strain, and add a pat of butter (if desired) or milk.  Eat!

This is an incredibly easy and yummy (albeit time consuming) way to enjoy both the farro and dried cherries.

My Final Thoughts: 

I really like these.  They are plump and of good quality.  Since they aren’t overly processed and don’t contain a lot of extraneous ingredients, I am able to enjoy the true flavor of the cherry.   I want to try Benjamin Twiggs Cherry Salsa!  YUM!