Open Nature - Glossary

Glossary A-G
Allspice: Allspice is a spice that is the dried, unripe berry of a tropical evergreen tree grown in the West Indies and South America. It resembles a smooth peppercorn, about the size of a pea, and is dark brown in color. It smells and tastes like a combination of spices, especially cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper. It is commonly used to flavor a variety of confections as well as savory dishes.

Anise: Anise is a spice, in either seed or ground form, with a licorice-like flavor and aroma. The anise seed is a gray-brown oval seed originating from a small annual plant (Pimpinella anisum) in the parsley family native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. It is commonly used to flavor a variety of confections as well as savory dishes.

Annatto: Annatto is a food color obtained from the seed coating of the Achiote tree grown in the tropical regions of the Americas. It does not have a lot of flavor but imparts a rich yellow to orange color; hence, is commonly used to color butter, margarine, cheese, and smoked fish.

Anti-Caking Agents: Anti-caking agents are substances added to dry foods or ingredients (milk powder, sugar, salt, dry seasoning mixes, etc.) to keep them flowing freely. For example, cornstarch can be an anti-caking agent and is often added in small amounts to powdered sugar to keep it free-flowing.

Ascorbic Acid: Ascorbic acid is the scientific name for the nutrient Vitamin C. It is added to foods to prevent loss of color and flavor by reacting with unwanted oxygen. Green vegetables, citrus, and tomatoes are great natural sources of ascorbic acid. Lemon juice contains large amounts of ascorbic acid and is often used to prevent browning of peeled fruits and vegetables.

Bulgur Wheat: Whole grain bulgur wheat is a cereal food made from wheat kernels that have been cleaned, pre-cooked, dried and crushed. It is added to breads as a whole grain component and can be used in pilafs, soups, or as stuffing. Bulgur wheat has a tender, chewy texture, a nutty aroma and flavor, and provides a source of dietary fiber.

Calcium Chloride: "Calcium chloride is a colorless or white substance produced as a by-product of the manufacture of sodium carbonate. It is added to canned tomatoes, potatoes, apple slices, and tofu to keep them firm, and used in certain cheeses to aid coagulation (coagulation is the process of forming semisolid lumps in a liquid)."

Calcium Sulfate (Source of Calcium): Calcium sulfate, also known as plaster of Paris, anhydrite, and gypsum, occurs naturally and is a fine, white to slightly yellow-white odorless powder. It can be used as a yeast nutrient in breads, dough strengthener in bakery products, or a nutrient supplement providing a source of calcium.

Caramel Color: Caramel color is the dark brown substance obtained from carefully controlled heat treatment of specific food-grade carbohydrates. It is used to color soft drinks (Coca-Cola®), soy sauce, baked goods, sauces and dressings, candies, and many other food products.

Carrageenan with Seaweed: Carrageenan (pronounced [kar-uh-gee-nuhn], with a hard g) is obtained from red seaweeds. It forms a gel in food systems and is used to thicken foods like ice cream, yogurts, milkshakes, soy milk, and sauces.

Celery Powder: Celery powder is the ground form of celery seed, which is used to add celery flavor to potato salads, vegetable salads, coleslaw, pickles, and stews.

Cheese Cultures: Cheese cultures are a group of harmless bacteria that feed on milk sugar and convert it into lactic acid. These bacteria are used in cheese production to contribute to the characteristic flavor, aroma, and texture of the cheese.

Chocolate Liquor: Pure chocolate in its liquid form, chocolate liquor is produced from cocoa beans that have been fermented, dried, roasted, skinned, and melted to become the liquor. The liquor is cooled and molded into blocks known as unsweetened baking chocolate (bitter chocolate).

Cultured Whey: Cultured whey is the liquid part remaining after milk has been curdled and strained during the process of cheese-making, with acid-producing bacteria added to it. These acid-producing bacteria consume lactose (milk sugar) in the whey and convert it to acid. Cultured whey is often added to breads because the acid in cultured whey helps prevent mold growth.

Durum Wheat Semolina: Semolina is the coarsely ground flour of the durum wheat, a hard spring wheat. It is mainly used to make pasta products such as spaghetti, macaroni, vermicelli, and lasagna noodles.

Elderberry: Elderberry is the deep purple, tart fruit of the elder tree. Natural elderberry extract is the evaporated oil obtained from the fruit that is dissolved in an alcohol base and often dried and used in foods as a flavoring.

Evaporated Cane Juice: Evaporated cane juice is a natural sweetener made from sugar cane and undergoes less processing than table sugar. Sugar cane juice is first extracted from pressed sugar canes. The filtered, clarified juice is evaporated into syrup and then crystallized into a free-flowing sweetener that has a light, golden color. It is used as a sweetener in many foods and beverages.

Fontina: Fontina is an Italian cheese made with cow's milk. It has a soft, creamy interior and dark brown rind. Fontina has a mild nutty flavor and melts easily, making it a good choice for many savory dishes.

Golden Flaxseed Meal: There are two types of flaxseed: brown and golden (or yellow). Golden flaxseed meal is ground golden flaxseed and has a mild nutty taste. It can be added to bakery products.

Guar Gum: Guar gum is a gummy substance obtained from guar beans, and is used in foods as a thickener and stabilizer.