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Canned Pumpkin Isn’t Actually Pumpkin

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We hate to squash your autumnal dreams, but baking a pumpkin pie might not be as easy as you think. That’s because the canned pumpkin that normally makes pie prep such a breeze isn’t made of pumpkin at all. Food & Wine reports that cans of pumpkin puree—even those that advertise "100 percent pumpkin"—are actually made of a range of different squashes.

Most pumpkin purees are a mix of winter squashes, including butternut squash, Golden Delicious, and Hubbard. Meanwhile, Libby’s, the largest pumpkin puree brand, has developed its own unique brand of squash called the Dickinson, which is more closely related to a butternut squash than a pumpkin. The FDA is vague about what counts as "pumpkin," which allows companies to pack unspecified squashes into their purees and still list pumpkin as the sole ingredient.

While it’s a little unsettling to find out your favorite pie is not what it seems, pumpkin puree brands have a good reason for their deception. While pumpkins are a quintessential part of autumn, they don’t actually taste that great. Most pumpkins are watery and a little bit stringy, and turning them into a puree takes more work, and involves less reward, than other, sweeter winter squashes.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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Food
Drink Your Coffee Out of a Cup Made From Coffee Waste
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HuskeeCup

Your coffee habit isn’t exactly good for the environment. For one thing, 30 to 50 percent of the original coffee plant harvested (by weight) ends up as agricultural waste, and there aren’t many uses for coffee husks and pulp. While coffee pulp can be made into flour, and in Ethiopia husks are used to brew a type of coffee called bruno, typically most of the byproducts of your morning coffee go to waste.

Huskee has another use for coffee husks. The company makes stylish coffee cups, returning coffee back to its original home inside the husk, in a sense. The dishwasher-friendly and microwavable cups are made of husks from coffee farms in Yunnan, China. The material won’t burn your hands, but it keeps your coffee warm as well as a ceramic mug would.

A stack of black cups and saucers of various sizes on an espresso machine.
HuskeeCup

Designed for both home and restaurant use, the cups come in 6-ounce, 8-ounce, and 12-ounce sizes with saucers. The company is also working on a lid so that the cups can be used on the go.

Huskee estimates that a single coffee drinker is responsible for around 6.6 pounds of husk waste per year, which doesn’t sound like much until you begin to consider how many coffee lovers there are in the world. That’s somewhere around 1.49 million tons per year, according to the company. Though coffee husks are sometimes used for animal feed, we could use a few more ways to recycle them. And if it happens to be in the form of an attractive coffee mug, so be it.

A four-pack of cups is about $37 on Kickstarter. The product is scheduled to ship before February 2018.

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Big Questions
Jam vs. Jelly: What's the Difference?
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The language of fruit spreads is a peculiar one. Spreads made from the squeezed-out remnants of oranges, berries, grapes, and other mashed-up foods can easily be confused for one another, with jam vs. jelly being a particular source of befuddlement. Here’s how to keep them straight. 

Jelly is made solely from the juice of fruit. The fruit is crushed and strained, and the liquid extract is boiled with added sugar and pectin to produce a thick, spreadable topping. Jam is produced in a similar way, but with one important distinction: It’s not strained. The goop leaves in chunks of crushed fruit, giving the spread a more robust consistency. Because it’s already thick, preparations of jam typically don’t call for a whole lot of pectin. Think of it as the chunky peanut butter to jelly’s regular, even though you might not see whole pieces of fruit suspended in the product.

Sometimes people will call a spread a “fruit preserve.” While that might mean the fruit chunks are larger and more noticeable, that’s not always the case. You might also see marmalades that look suspiciously like jams. The distinction there is that marmalades are typically sourced from citrus fruits like oranges or lemons.

Things get a little trickier in the UK, where “jelly” can refer either to a fruit spread or to the gelatin concoction Jell-O. The country also has pretty strict standards for applying the jam label: Jams need to be a minimum of 60 percent sugar in order to earn that title. The rule was created in the 1920s so the spreads would have a longer shelf life. (Sugar, in this instance, acts as a preservative.) Reducing the amount of sugar, which has been discussed among people wishing to keep all of their teeth, might result in a longer boil process and some loss of flavor.

And what of fruit butters and conserves? Fruit butters are made using fruit pulp for thick spreads, but don’t actually contain any butter. Conserves add nuts or raisins for added texture. These rogue spreads aren’t as common as jelly or jam.

We hope this clears up any jam vs. jelly confusion and that you find yourself better-informed to deal with the next naked piece of toast you encounter.

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