PH Scale

Life loves balance, often best in the middle. The level of acid or alkaline is a prime example of nature taking the centre line. On the pH scale above, it starts at 0 (most acidic) and goes up to 14 (most alkaline). Human blood sits just above 7, anything of a slight difference either way and this are serious health implications.

At the start of the salami, or any fermented sausage, making there is a short period when the product is made more acidic. This is achieved by adding a starter culture which contains acid producing bugs. These are almost identical to the bacteria that get yoghurt going. The salamis are kept in a warmer environment to start with, to encourage the culture to perform a process of fermentation. This creates a hostile environment for any harmful bacteria and adds to the overall defensive structure of the preserved meat. The cumulative effect of all of these methods of charcuterie help to create great food with a long shelf life. Matured cheese shares a number of these secrets …


Weber chimney barbecu starter



We have had that first blast of good weather and within a week barbecues are filling up the shops. There is nothing more satisfying than outside cooking, especially when it’s made a little easier for us. One of the common difficulties of barbecueing with charcoal, is lighting the stuff and keeping it going. How many times have you been to a barbecue and the whole garden reeks of parafin? Lighting fluid, gel and blocks have all been used to get the barbecue going for years. There is nothing wrong with that, but it can be done without the stench of burning fuel.

Old newspaper, charcoal and the gizmo above, will do the job for you. This is a Weber chimney starter and should be available from most places that stock a good range of barbecue accessories. Basically, you put a couple of gently twistied page of newspaper in the bottom part which looks like a wire cone. Then, you turn it over and fill to the brim with charcoal or briquettes. The paper is lit through the holes in the side. Once it is going, then there is probably nothing you need to do for about ten minutes or so. The fire will get into the coals and light them. Flames will build up inside the chimney and then die down to a glow. At this point, when all the coals are glowing, pick the chimney up and gently pour into the barbecue. You might want an oven glove for this as it will be very hot indeed.

The only real decision you may need to make is which sausages to choose …

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