2016-11-16 / Front Page

Talkin’ Tukey

By Liz Goff
The first Thanksgiving may be significant for bringing together the Pilgrims and Native American Indians. But the feast we celebrate today wasn’t recognized as a holiday until Honest Abe took office.

President Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a national holiday on October 3, 1863, hoping to bring two warring factions to the table.

Lincoln hoped all Americans, from both the north and south, would use the holiday to heal the wounds of the nation caught up in the Civil War.

Here are some Turkey Day tidbits to digest with your own bird:

  • Die you know that Louisiana Yams are considered the “yam version” of sweet potatoes? Experts at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) say that yams offer the most nutritious food benefit on the planet.
  • Yams available at your local market weigh an average of 4-6 ounces each, an FDA spokesperson said. That’s in stark contrast to Caribbean Yams, a tropical plant that grows as large as a man’s arm. Caribbean yams are available at most local and specialty markets, but be ready to plunk down approximately 40 per cent more change for the highly fibrous relative of traditional yams, retail experts said.
  • Apples traditionally play a large role in the Thanksgiving feast. They can be turned into pies; sauce and tarts, or they can be baked or dunked in caramel to help fill holiday dessert trays food experts say.

Most hosts feel their holiday meal is incomplete without a serving of apple cider, the sweet, tart concoction that arrived in the new world with the Pilgrims, food experts say.

It takes 11 pounds of apples to made one gallon of apple cider. More than a dozen different varieties of apples including Macintosh, Empire and Granny Smith apples are combined to make each batch of the traditional apple cider sold in local markets, food experts say. Some manufacturers offer specialized ciders made from one variety of apples, such as the all-time favorite Macintosh cider, experts say..

Fresh picket apples are crushed and blended with pits and cores to make traditional, natural apple cider, food experts say. Natural cider is cloudy and its label indicates that it contains pulp. Clear apple cider is made from crushed, blended apples that are processed to remove seeds, core and pulp to make a product that is easy on the palate – and easier for some people to digest.

Whichever you choose, it is clear that apple cider is to Thanksgiving what candy canes are to Christmas, food experts say.

  • More than 40 per cent of all cranberries sold in the U.S. are consumed with Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. The sweet-tart red berries are as much a part of holiday meals as Native Americans, Pilgrims and pumpkin pie!

The Pilgrims harvested the bright, red fruit for use as a garnish – and as a cure for “certain internal discomforts,” food experts say. The berries were initially turned into gravy, experts said. It was not until the 19th century that they were sweetened, chilled and offered as an alternative to gravy and sauces.

Did you know that cranberries were the first processed food product?  Ninety-five percent of cranberries grown in the U.S. are turned into juice, food experts say. That’s because they taste too tart for most people to eat them as a snack.

Contrary to belief, cranberries are grown in marshes, not in bogs. At harvest time, the marshes are packed with blossoming plants that resemble the neck of a crane, food experts say. The marshes are filled with water to create bogs that help bring the berries to the surface, making it easier to retrieve even the smallest cranberries in the crop.

Good cranberries “bounce,” food experts say. During processing, the cranberries are put on “bouncers” to determine their quality. If a berry doesn’t bounce, it is rejected, experts say. Approximately 13 per cent of all cranberries harvested in the U.S. fail to bounce and are sent to a berry “grave,” experts say.  

  • Did you know that more than 40 million green bean casseroles are served up on Thanksgiving Day? Cooked in a white sauce, with mushrooms, or sprinkled with fried onions or cheese, green bean casseroles have become a tradition to many families on Thanksgiving
  • The world’s largest stuffed turkey weighed-in at 86 pounds, recorded in 1989 in London. Talk about leftovers!
  • Almost half, 44%, of Americans store and devour Thanksgiving dinner leftovers
  • Thirty per cent of adults polled said they fall asleep after eating dinner on Turkey Day
  • President Harry Truman began the annual White House tradition of pardoning a turkey in the days before Thanksgiving.
  • The Etruscans pulled on the first turkey wishbone in the year 322 B.C., seeking health, fortune and a milking goat, historians say. It is clear times have changed when more than 95 per cent of women who pull on a wishbone today, say they just wish if for help with the dishes!

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday weekend!

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