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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Avoid a Fruit Fly problem in your kitchen this year!

Fruit Fly Fighter Starter Kit  
Fruit flies can be a problem year round, but as the weather warms up; temperatures in the kitchen heat up and windows and doors are opened, so you typically start seeing them in spring. 
We’ve created this fact sheet for you to explain how infestations originate and how you can prevent them in your kitchen this year:
Biology and Behavior
Fruit flies are common in all types of kitchens; restaurants, school cafeterias, office break rooms, even homes.  Anywhere with unrefrigerated produce will attract fruit flies.
  • The adults are about 1/8th inch long and usually have red eyes. The front portion of the body is tan and the rear portion is black.
  • Fruit flies lay their eggs near the surface of fermenting foods or other moist, organic materials. Upon emerging, the tiny larvae will feed near the surface of the fermenting mass. Because the larvae feed only on the surface on the over-ripened fruits and vegetables, the damaged area can be cut away without having to discard the remainder for fear of retaining any developing larvae.
  • The reproductive potential of fruit flies is enormous, laying anywhere from 400 to 500 eggs. The entire life cycle from egg to adult takes about one week.
  • Fruit flies are especially attracted to ripened fruits and vegetable, but they also breed in drains, garbage disposals, empty bottles and cans, trash containers, mops and cleaning rags; any area that has developed a moist film of fermenting material.
  • Infestations can originate from over-ripened fruits or vegetables that were previously infested and brought into the kitchen. Also, the adults can fly in from outside through inadequately screened windows and doors.
  • Fruit flies are primarily nuisance pests. However, they also have the potential to contaminate food with bacteria and other disease-producing organisms.
The best way to avoid problems with fruit flies is to eliminate sources of attraction:
  • Produce which has ripened should be eaten, discarded or refrigerated.
  • Bruised or cracked portions of fruits and vegetables should be cut away and discarded because eggs or larvae may already be in the damaged area.
  • All areas where food is stored should be cleaned out.  A single rotting onion remaining at the bottom of the bin, or fruit juice spillage under a refrigerator can breed thousands of fruit flies. So can a recycling bin with soda cans that aren’t rinsed which is not emptied or cleaned.
  • Windows and doors should be tightly fitted with 16 mesh screens to help prevent adult fruit flies from entering from outdoors.
Once your kitchen or break room is infested with fruit flies, every area that is a potential location for breeding must be located and eliminated. Until all breeding sites are removed or cleaned, the problem will continue no matter how often insecticides are applied to control the adults:
  • Locating the actual source of attraction and breeding can be challenging and can require thoroughness, diligence and persistence. Potential breeding sites like garbage disposals and drains can be inspected by taping a clear plastic food storage bag over the opening overnight. If flies are breeding in these areas, the adults will emerge and be caught in the bag.
  • After the source of attraction and breeding is eliminated, a pyrethrum-based, aerosol insecticide may be used to kill any remaining adult flies in the area. 
  • Alternatively, you can construct a trap by placing a paper funnel (rolled from a sheet of notebook or butcher paper) into a jar which is then baited with a few ounces of cider vinegar or a slice of banana. Place the jar trap(s) wherever fruit flies are seen. This simple trap will soon catch any remaining adult flies for removal from your kitchen.
Any busy kitchen is a great location for the fruit fly to set up house!  Working with restaurants, schools and institutional kitchens across the US, at Cook's Direct, we've had plenty of customers come to us with this problem – and we’ve been able to help them with easy-to-implement, cost effective solutions. We even have a pesticide free product from Defender that we recommend and which can be found in our Restaurant Chemicals / Janitorial Supplies.   If you are concerned about a potential fruit fly invasion, give us a call and let us get you set up to stop them before they start this year. 

Information courtesy of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment / UK Entemology webpage on Fruit Flies.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How to make the perfect hard boiled eggs for your Easter Eggs!

Looking for instructions to make the perfect Easter Egg?  Look no further, Cook's Direct is here to help!

Hard boiling eggs is pretty easy, but if you over cook them you get a green color to the yolk that isn't particularly attractive.  I researched this last year and tried it myself - these instructions will help you have perfect Easter eggs, with beautiful yellow cooked yolks inside:
  1. Buy your eggs at least five days in advance of boiling them.  This will make them easier to peel.  Fresh eggs will always be difficult to peel, but if you aren’t able to get your eggs in advance, you should steam them for 20 minutes to hard cook them rather than boiling them and they will be easy to peel.
  2. Get a large saucepan and put the eggs in a single layer then cover with at least one to two inches of cold water.  By starting with cold water and then bringing the eggs to gently to boil, you’ll have less chance of a cracked egg. 
  3. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water.  This will help keep the egg whites from running out of any eggs that do crack while they are cooking.  If you are concerned that the vinegar will affect the taste of any eggs that do crack, then you can add a ½ teaspoon of salt to help prevent the cracking and to make the eggs easier to peel. 
  4. Put the burner on high and bring the eggs to a boil.  As soon as the water starts to boil, remove the pan from the heat for a few seconds.
  5. Reduce the heat to low, return the pan to the burner and let simmer for one minute. Note that if your eggs have already been boiling for a minute, because you didn’t notice right away that they started boiling, then you should skip this step.
  6. After a minute, remove the pan from the heat, cover and let sit for 12 minutes.  If you are doing a large volume eggs at one time, you can check for done-ness after 10 minutes by sacrificing one egg.  Simply remove it from the pan, run it under cold water and cut it open to see if it’s fully cooked.  If not – then you can cook the remaining eggs for a couple more minutes.  Timing can vary based on pan size, egg size, number of eggs, etc.  When in doubt, let the eggs sit a little while longer.  This method is fairly ‘gentle’ and you can leave them sit as long as 15+ minutes without over cooking them.
  7. Finally, after the 12 minutes is up, remove the eggs from the pan with a slotted spoon and place them into a bowl of ice water or you can strain out the water from the pan you are using , fill it with cold water to cool the pot, strain it again and fill it again until the eggs cool down a bit. 
  8. Once cooled, strain the water from the eggs and store them in a covered container in the refrigerator.  Be sure to eat your cooked eggs within 5 days.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April showers bring May flowers – and slippery floors! Get tips to prevent falls in your restaurant.

The National Restaurant Association has a very interesting article on how to prevent slips and falls; Don’t trip up:  Preventing slips and falls, featured on their website.  We all know that restaurant floors can very easily get slippery - a greasy spill that gets hurriedly wiped up, a mat that creeps up in the middle or maybe there's a tile that's not quite even in a certain spot.  All of these hazards can cause employees who are in a hurry or customers who aren't on the lookout to trip and fall.  You don't want any one hurt nor do you want to face the possibility of a costly lawsuit and increased insurance premiums. 

There's a lot of science presented in the article that makes it worth reading, but we're going to mention some of the solutions here because they are pretty simple to implement and can help you right away. 
First - make sure you're employees are all wearing good chef shoes.  Improper footwear causes almost 24% of slips and falls according to the NFSI.  We recommend Mozo Shoes, there are a wide variety of styles and colors that are perfect for the front of the house and the back of the house.  These shoes were designed for the restaurant industry so they look good and feel good.
Next on the list of things to address is matting.  We do a brisk business in matting in the fall and the spring and that's because it's an easy way to improve the appearance of your entrance during wet and messy weather and it improves safety.  But you need to be sure the mat you select is up for the task - if not, it will contribute to the problem.  You should look for high traction entrance matting.
You'll also want to put non-slip matting in kitchen areas that are wet.  If the area tends to be greasy too then you need a mat that's also greaseproof.  Generally you'll find that an all purpose non-slip mat and a greaseproof non-slip mat are two different colors so that you know where to place them in your operation.  Our best selling greaseproof mat is the Apex 3'x 5' Greaseproof Non-slip Mat.  You should also consider a matting cart because it will allow you to easily move and store matting when it doesn't need to be out and you can use it for cleaning and drying your floor matting too.
Do all that you can to keep floors even. Replace buckling, torn or worn carpeting or mats.  Repair uneven floor surfaces inside the restaurant and on outside walkways.  Enlist your staff to keep you posted whenever they come across a potential tripping hazard.   Also, keep aisle ways clear.  Close cabinet doors after use and don't store items on the floor or in stairwells.  There are more great ideas in the article.
While some of these ideas seem obvious, it's easy to overlook these small steps but it's worth it to be vigilant.  Make sure that you train your staff to be aware of potential fall hazards and to be proactive in making your restaurant safe for staff and customers.

Friday, April 4, 2014

It's that time of year! Buy me some peanuts and Craker Jack....

This week included Opening Day for Major League Baseball, including today's 2014 season's home opener for the Chicago Cubs!  It's the 100th season for the Cubbies at Wrigley Field.

And how does that relate to foodservice, we'll if you follow a team like the Cubs, you're there for the experience, not so much to watch them win.  And the food at the baseball park is a big part of the experience.  Did you know that MLB ballparks serve almost 23 million hot dogs per season throughout the U.S.?  That's according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.  They also serve 20.000 beers per game on average to wash all those hot dogs down!

Sports arenas have been upgrading their food over the last decade or so, but there's still a good deal of the traditional concession equipment there and all of our favorite snack type foods.  Along with hot dogs, you'll find popcorn, nachos, Cracker Jack, Peanuts, hot pretzels and so much more. 

One of the things that makes the hot dogs at the ball park taste so good - besides the fact that you're at the ball park eating your hot dog, is that they are steamed or broiled instead of boiled or grilled which is probably how you would cook them at home.  It keeps them more moist than grilling and more flavorful than boiling. 

If you are interested in creating that same flavor at a restaurant or at your concession stand, then you'll want to look into commercial hot dog equipment and supplies solutions.  You'll find that there are a wide variety of Hot Dog Steamers, Hot Dog Broilers or Hot Dog Roller Grills to choose from which vary by:
  • Size/Capacity - from machines that us very little counter space and hold only 12 hot dogs to equipment large enough to cook 340 hot dogs per hour
  • Configuration - there are steamers with bun warmers or without, cart style steamers, steamers with windows so the hot dogs are visible to customers and so much more
  • Cooking Method -- there are broilers, steamers, roller grills, even European style steamers and bun warmers
  • Manufacturer -- Gold Medal Concession Equipment, APW Wyott, Star, Vollrath and Benchmark USA, just to name a few. 
With all those options, there's sure to be some great tasting hot dogs on your menu soon.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wow! how do you keep your Stainless Steel kitchen equipment clean?

Do a quick search on Google and you'll see that with our new love of stainless steel kitchen equipment there's also a lot of people searching for a way to keep them clean and fingerprint free.  As a commercial restaurant equipment dealer, stainless steel kitchens are not a trend and keeping them clean is a battle that's been fought for years - with some proven restaurant chemicals.  Our favorite metal cleaner- in the office, for all of us with residential stainless steel kitchens, and on our website for our customers, is WOW!.  That's right - WOW! Stainless Steel Cleaner.  It probably got that name because that's what people say the first time they use it and the realize how easy it is to get their refrigerator to sparkle and be fingerprint free....for a few weeks!  I use this at home and it's that good.   

There are a few other benefits to WOW! that are worth noting too: