Why FoodWrite Ltd ?

Welcome From FoodWrite !

FoodWrite Ltd. loves helping businesses achieve their market potential, make the best business decisions and improve their profits !

FoodWrite Ltd. provides consultancy on technologies and markets for the food and beverages industry, and in related industries such as personal care, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, resources, biochemical engineering and nutritional healthcare.  Food and nutrition ingredients, dietary and health supplements, and animal products are all core areas of expertise.

♦ FoodWrite Ltd writes web-content and has increased web-site rankings simply by providing high quality written material to support sales and marketing. It also offers SEO, website development in WordPress, PHP and Magento.

♦ FoodWrite Ltd brings together all the skills needed for creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation and quality of advice in helping businesses develop their strategies for growth.

It covers:-

– technical and business writing, and both scientific and commercial bid   proposals,

– product marketing,

– consumer consultancy,

– costings and cost effectiveness on projects

– product concepts and development

– provides high quality technology analysis, updates, action plans and reports based on data and scientific literature.  

♦ It also offers technology scouting, identifying partners for collaboration, business and market development, and a B2B strategy for emerging technologies in food science and processing.

♦ It  provides product documentation and specification services coupled with technical market research to the food industry. White papers and marketing materials to support web-sites are a speciality and a number of clients use this service including the copyright more than any.

FoodWrite Ltd. helps a range of companies, from multinational manufacturers and suppliers, venture capital firms to research organisations and to smaller companies.  The consultancy draws upon great technical skills and knowledge coupled with management insight to provide a comprehensive service.

♦ We help customers realise their potential by providing support, expertise, support and advice to encourage best practice and continuous improvement. 

FoodWrite Ltd. started in 2011. Communication with the client is the heart of the service, ensuring we work closely to deliver all your milestones on time. You may be starting a food business or trying to understand the market place for a technology, please be confident that your project is managed professionally. Project proposals are generated ensuring all steps, their costs and timings are clear and transparent. The advice is high quality and tailored to your needs with progress updates provided as required. The knowledge has helped clients develop their intellectual property (IP), or otherwise supported their investment decisions in new markets or technology. 

♦ Checkout the case studies on this web-site.

♦ Give us a call or e-mail and use FoodWrite Ltd‘s experiences to open up new markets, meet the challenges you face and add value to your business.  Telephone consultancy is also available.  Our passion is to provide answers that can be actionable and to work closely with you

Lets transform your business at an affordable cost. If you are interested in other topics to be written about- just let me know !

Contact: 4, Bowens Hill, Coleford. Glocs. GL16 8DH  T: 01594 810704 M: 07714101039

Clients we work with:

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Vegan and Vegetarian Health Products - Herbalift

Kenaf – A Valuable Fibre, Seed Oil For Nutritional And Bio-diesel and Vegetable

Kenaf has been grown for centuries as a cordage plant, one whose stem and stalk have been widely used for the production of high quality paper, biocomposites, fibre boards and bioplastics. Kenaf also produces a very valuable seed which has strong potential for nutritional and bio-diesel purposes and should be more widely known in food circles.

The common name kenaf belongs to the plant Hibiscus cannabinus L. in the Malvaceae family which is an annual, woody tropical plant. The leaves are often eaten in various parts of the globe.  It has been used as a traditional folk remedy in Africa and India having a long pedigree for treating a range of medical conditions from bruising to gastric issues and fevers (Lee et al., 2007).

Nutritional Value Of The Seed Oil

Perhaps of greatest valuable is the seed oil which has enormous nutritional value as well as being a potential source of bio-diesel. Kenaf is made up of various active components including tannins, saponins, polyphenolics, alkaloids, essential oils and steroids. Kenaf seed oil is often compared to soybean oil and the former oil has a relatively low linoleic acid and linolenic acid content (45.9% and 0.7% respectively) but a higher oleic acid (29.2%) level than soy which is 53%, 7.5% and 24.5% respectively based on Soxhlet extraction. Unfortunately, the seed oil from kenaf is not as stable as expected as it suffers readily from oxidation (Ng et al., 2015). The phospholipid and sterol content of the seed oil is 6.0% and 0.9% respectively.

The seed oil is extracted commercially using supercritical carbon dioxide (Chan and Ismail, 2009) or the much more simple but less sophisticated hexane extraction method (Mariod et al., 2011). There is some evidence that defatted seeds yield a valuable phenolic-saponin rich fraction which might be added back to improve seed oil stability (Chan et al., 2014).

Vanillic acid is the most abundant phenolic compound in the seed oil then caffeic acid and gallic acid (Nyam et al., 2009).


The plant itself also provides important textile fibre, especially in Southeast Asia and other tropical countries. A Malaysian study suggested about 15 tons of kenaf stems for fibre production can be generated if the cultivation conditions are correct (Saba et al., 2015). Likewise, the yield of seeds is up to 100 kg/ka (Chan et al., 2014) but this depends on variety and growing conditions.

Treatment Of Medical Conditions

The leaves are said to protect against red blood cell (erythrocyte) issues induced by various drugs according to various articles (unreferenced).

The seed oil has cytotoxic activity with apoptosis against ovarian cancer cell lines (CaOV3) and a colon cancer cell line (HT29) (Yazan et al., 2011) which may be due to a range of phytosterols. The seed oil has also been shown to decrease serum cholesterol levels including the ratio of low-density lipoprotein to high-density lipoprotein in the serum (Ng et al., 2015).


Chan, K.W., Iqbal, S., Nicholas, M.H.K., Ooi, D.J., Ismail, M. (2014) Antioxidant activity of phenolics—saponins rich fraction prepared from defatted kenaf seed meal. LWT – Food Sci. Technol. 56 pp. 181–6

Chan, K.W., Ismail, M. (2009) Supercritical carbon dioxide fluid extraction of Hibiscus cannabinus L. seed oil: a potential solvent free and high antioxidative edible oil. Food Chem. 114 pp. 970–975

Lee, Y.G., Byeon, S.E., Kim, J.Y., Lee, J.Y., Rhee, M.H., Hong, S., Wu, J.C., Lee, H.S., Kim, M.J., Cho, D.H., Cho, J.Y. (2007) Immunomodulatory effect of Hibiscus cannabinus extract on macrophage functions. J. Ethnopharmacol. 113 pp. 62–71.

Mariod, A. A., Matthäus, B., & Ismail, M. (2011). Comparison of supercritical fluid and hexane extraction methods in extracting Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus) seed oil lipids. J. American Oil Chemists’ Society, 88(7), pp. 931-935.

Ng, S.K., Tee, A.N., Elaine Lai, C.L., Tan, C.P., Long, K., Nyam, K.L. (2015) Anti-hypercholestrolemic effect of kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) seed high-fat diet Sprague dawley rats. Asian Pac. J. Trop. Med . pp. 6–13

Nyam, K.L., Tan, C.P., Lai, O.M., Long, K., Man, Y.B.C. (2009) Physiochemical properties and bioactive compounds of selected seed oils. LWT – Food Sci Technol. 42 pp. 1396–403.

Saba, N., Jawaid, M., Hakeem, K.R., Paridah, M.T., Khalina, A., Alothman, O.Y. (2015) Potential of bioenergy production from industrial kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) based on Malaysian perspective. Renew Sustainable Energy Rev 42 pp. 446–59.

Yazan, L.S., Foo, J.B., Ghafar, S.A.A., Chan, K.W., Tahir, P.M., Ismail, M. (2011) Effect of kenaf seed oil from different ways of extraction towards ovarian cancer cells. Food Bioprod. Process 89 pp. 328–32.


Cold Brew – The New Kid in The Coffee Cup

Having just listened to one of my favourite radio comedies “Ed Reardon’s Week” who decides he should become ‘educated’, I also realised that if he wanted to get down with the students, he should be drinking his cold brew coffee on campus. They say that when Starbucks runs out of cold brew, life is wrecked for some-one. In the States, they take to placing their woes on Twitter or Facebook or so the papers claim and coffee is no exception.

It’s an interesting concept- cold brew, which has put iced coffee on the backburner for a while but may well be the same product for anyone who cares. Cold brew is coffee grounds steeped in water at chilled or room temperature, which allows the goodness in the coffee to infuse out. A traditional iced coffee is simply made with hot-brewed coffee that has been cooled down. Connoisseurs say the cold brew method results in a mellower, less acidic coffee and we who get heartburn from coffee tend to find it a little easier to digest. Heating also causes coffee to oxidise and generate those bitter aromas and flavours we rather hate. In some cases the cold steeping can take up to 36 hours if there is to be a decent flavour release. Some experts forego the sugar and cream its that good !

It really is a beverage for young people, particularly the hipster fraternity and for summer. I guess we just drink hotter versions whilst winter comes round !

The Speciality Coffee Association of America is keen to emphasise it should be taken seriously rather than as an add-on in this world. It also lends itself to short stubby bottles and fantastic logos.

Apparently, mixing hot water with coffee grounds is the most efficient way to extract its oils, acids and fragrance, all of which contribute to its flavour. Coffee brewed hot will have a stronger flavour and smell but when it’s brewed at a lower temperature, it’s less aromatic or fragrant. More ground coffee is needed if the flavour is to be allowed to come out.

Market Research

It has also been a rapid riser because research published in 2015 by market analysts Mintel found retail sales of ready-to-drink cold brew coffee growing by 115 percent over 2014, and similarly in 2015 which is an extraordinary 339 percent since 2010. And though Mintel found cold brew claims just a 0.4 percent share of the overall ready-to-drink coffee segment, it’s become the main headline in beverage magazines and an increasingly popular choice among millennials. It seems though that everyone has yet tried it – a study by the National Coffee Association found that only 15 percent of consumers have sampled it. It would seem there is still a considerable market out there to be tapped.


To make cold brew, coffee beans are ground coarsely, steeped in water held at room temperature or even chilled slightly for 12 to 24 hours, filtered and then cooled further. Some baristas  steep in a refrigerator, but since water’s viscosity increases slightly when chilled, flavour extraction from the beans slows markedly. Baristas commonly start batches the day before and keep them steeping overnight.

Growing Broad Beans

The broad bean (Vicia faba L.) can trace its cultivation back into the mists of time – some ancient sources describe them being eaten as far back as 6,800 B.C. which marks the dawn of recorded history. We know them as Broad beans in Europe but they are called ‘fava beans’. When it comes to cooking, they make a superb accompaniment but they also make a wonderful sauce when crushed with peas and mint for pasta.  They can also be mixed with feta cheese to be smeared on toast or just added salads. Usually, the skins of older beans are removed as they have a slight bitter note. The young pods can also be picked and cooked but once they have developed their inner fur, they become difficult to munch on.

They are self-fertile but benefit from insect pollination especially with bees.

The beans freeze well !


Beans are sown directly into good garden soil although my favoured method is to plant them in modular cells. Slugs and snails are an issue as they target young shoots however, when sown under glass this is best managed.

They prefer good, fertile, well-drained soil which is rich in organic matter with added manure. A sheltered spot is ideal as high winds knock plants down which is the case with Brussels sprouts.

The young shoots are planted out about 23cm (9in) apart in rows which are 45cm (18in) apart. There should be about 60cm (24in) between any further rows.

The plants need to be watered regularly in dry weather and weeds need to be removed simply to stop shading competition.

The pods form at the base having produced white/back pea like petals. The plants need to have their tips pinched out to promote pod growth and also stop blackfly or black aphids from gaining a foothold on the plant.

Dwarf varieties do not need staking but taller varieties do need to be supported against a stout cane as the pods cause the plant to keel over.


Pods emerge from the bottom and these are picked first. The best way to pick is to hold the stem to avoid uprooting the plant and pull away. The pods can also be cut with scissors.


Blackfly: Black aphids readily congregate on the growing tips from early summer onwards. Deal with the pest by nipping off the top of the plant once the pods have come as this stops sap movement and the aphid dies.

Chocolate Spot: Brown spots on the leaves are symptomatic of this rust. Severe attacks kill the plant but has little impact on pod production.

Slugs and snails: Young plants need protecting so any preferred means should be employed. I prefer the greenhouse so that the issue can be monitored properly.


cv. ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ is one of the best choices for autumn sowing. It is a great cropper and ideal for the earliest of harvests. It generates long pods, about 9in or 23 cm long.

cv.’Express’ is a fast growing type which is great for spring sowing as it also produces early pods.

The Sutton’ is the ideal dwarf variety for the windy spot. It is possible to grow in tubs and containers and is ideal for small spaces. Only grows to 25 cm (10in).


Grow your own plants with our quality flower and vegetable seeds. Buy online from SimplySeed.co.uk

Groves Nurseries and Garden Centre

Growing Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are not just for Christmas, they are a must on the winter vegetable table, especially for those of us living in the cooler climes of the world. We cook them after they have had the first severe frosts because it sweetens them up beautifully. They are not difficult to grow either !

Cooked Brussel sprouts. Copyright: yeko / 123RF Stock Photo

Cooked Brussel sprouts. Copyright: yeko / 123RF Stock Photo

There have been a number of hybrids, all F1 to enter the market with exceptional flavour. There is a red-buttoned variety called ‘Red Bull’ which is a clear red button type.

The Brussel sprout has its detractors; they are not everybody’s favourite vegetable but they are certainly one of mine. The finest dish you can have is a side order of sprouts with Chicken Tikka Masala. It’s strange to think they were first found as a sport on a cabbage plant in 1750, around the city of Brussels and the name has stuck ever since.

Cultivation & Growing

I start plants from seed and usually under cover in March into ordinary soil although compost gives the best results. A seed per cell tray is ideal.

When it comes to a growing location, a sunny site with reasonably good soil that is sheltered from hard winds is ideal. Add up to two bucket loads of well-rotted manure per square metre, and before planting or sowing add 150g (5oz) per square metre/yard of a general purpose fertiliser.

Plant out the young plants from mid-May to early June into well watered soil, when they are 10-15cm (4-6in) high and have seven ‘true’ leaves. It is best to transplant into their growing positions, leaving 60-70cm (2-2½ft.) between plants and 75cm (2½ft) between rows. Just re-water again to allow the roots to settle into their new home.

Water every 10-14 days in periods of dry weather. The plants benefit from a top-dressing of high nitrogen fertiliser such as dried poultry manure pellets at 150g (5oz) per square metre/yard in July.

Mound enough soil around the base in September to support the plants.


The earliest varieties can be harvested from August before frosts arrive but lack a certain sweetness although they are ideal when cooked with spices or curry powder. It is best to start from the lowest sprouts, when they are tightly closed, firm and the size of a walnut. These are snapped off with a sharp downward tug. Most other varieties are harvested after the frosts have taken their toll of other plants where they convert starch to sugars. At the end of the season the sprout tops can be harvested and eaten.


Abacus’ AGM:  Early to mid season. Good crop of dark green, solid, round sprouts with a strong taste.

Attwood’ AGM in 2016; Stand well producing clean, mid-sized,  pale green buttons.  No harshness claimed in its flavour.

Bosworth’ AGM: Late. Oval sprouts, which are dark green, solid and closely spaced, so easy to pick. Stands well and retains quality until February.

Chronos‘:  New, clubroot resistant, mid-season, good crop of well-formed, tasty sprouts.

Crispus’ AGM in 2016: Has clubroot resistance.  Early producing firm mid-green buttons. Cooking reduces the taste by half apparently.

Diablo’ AGM: Mid to late season. Vigorous and tolerant of poor soils, smooth round, mid to dark green sprouts.

Doric’ AGM in 2016: Very late – cropping into early February. Buttons turn darker green on cooking and has a slight bitterness which is ideal for stews etc.

Green Marble’ AGM in 2016;  Produces nicely spaced, smooth, round and large buttons with a pleasant, slightly walnutty note. Excellent eaten raw and cooked.

Marte’ AGM in 2016; Buttons well and the taste is strong but not bitter. Can be eaten raw and cooked.

Maximus’ AGM in 2006 and reconfirmed in 2016: Early to mid-season. Uniform plants with mid to dark green, smooth, dense sprouts.

Revenge’ AGM: Very Late. Vigorous and tolerant of poor soils, with high yields of nutty flavoured sprouts; it stands well. A well spaced cropping variety, easy-to-pick sprouts. Stands well and retains its quality until February or later.


Pigeons are highly problematic as they prefer to nibble the fresh leaves. Generally, birds have always been an issue with brassicas as thy eat seedlings, buds, leaves and so on. It is best to cover the young plants with netting or fleece.

Club root leads to distortion on the plant with wilted yellow leaves and is caused by a virus. The best treatment is to add lime which raises the pH but it is best not to grow on affected soil until the issue has cleared.

Cabbage root fly is a white larvae which attacks most brassicas. They are about 5 cm (2in) long and feed on the roots just below the soil surface. Like vine weevil, that eat roots which causes general plant wilt and death.

The Cabbage White butterfly lays eggs on the leaves in late summer and the caterpillars can easily strip a plant. The best treatment is to hand-pick or spray with pyrethrum, deltamethrin or a form of cyhalothrin. Insect-proof mesh or fine netting (5-7mm mesh size) works but there must be suitable distance from the leaves to prevent the butterfly laying its eggs.

Grow your own plants with our quality flower and vegetable seeds. Buy online from SimplySeed.co.uk

Groves Nurseries and Garden Centre

Energy Sustenance – Not Just Caffeine But Theacrine As The New Shout In Sports Performance.

Alkaloids are vitally important ingredients for energy drinks; research continually discloses news about the mechanisms for caffeine in particular and other related substances for providing usable energy. One of those ‘new’ related ingredients is theacrine which has excited interest in recent years.

Caffeine is an extraordinary ergogenic ingredient for maximal endurance exercise as well as high-intensity exercise. The continuing interest in caffeine for sports related studies has now moved onto its role in stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), for improving alertness especially during sleep deprivation and helping with performance during extreme exercise.

The latest research looks at dosages of between 3 and 6 mg of caffeine per kg body weight which enhances sports performance, and it has a greater ergogenic effect when consumed in its crystalline state as opposed to just being found in coffee. A recent review has looked at coffee-based, pre-workout shots as the preferred means of obtaining caffeine for athletes (Ganio et al., 2009).

A number of research reports that have been subjected to meta-analysis describe how coffee that provides between 3 to 8.1 mg/kg bodyweight of caffeine can reduce feelings of perceived exertion and improve endurance performance during time-to-exhaustion trials (Doherty and Smith, 2005), and influence body lipid distribution (Cai et al., 2012). In addition, more recent research found low doses of caffeine (<3mg/kg body weight, or about 200 mg) can also improve subjective feelings like vigilance, alertness, mood, and cognitive processes during and after exercise, with few side-effects (Ganio et al., 2009; Warren et al., 2010). The need for an ingredient which does not trigger heart problems or stroke is a major factor for many exercising, especially as they enter later life.

However, caffeine isn’t the only ingredient on the market that improves feelings of alertness. A purine alkaloid attracting considerable research interest is theacrine (1,3,7,9-tetramethyluric acid). Theacrine is found in coffee plants too, as well as fruits and an unusual Chinese tea called kucha (Camellia assamica var. kucha)  and in the chocolate analog, cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum).  The chemical structure is similar to other methylxanthines but it is probably synthesised from caffeine in a three way step with 1,3,7-methyluric acid as an intermediate (Zheng et al., 2002). It appears to inhibit adenosine, preventing dopamine from binding as caffeine does. It also stimulates the dopamine pathway.

Early data shows that theacrine when ingested in doses of about 2.8 to 3.2 mg/kg (~200mg), improves feelings of energy, focus, and mood, while reducing fatigue (Kuhman et al., 2015). Unlike caffeine, theacrine isn’t habit-forming and technically is not classed as a stimulant. When combined with caffeine, the optimal dose is closer to ~0.75 to 2 mg/kg or about ~50mg to 125mg.

One study has found that theacrine in humans does not alter heart rate, blood pressure or any blood measures associated with clinical safety, yet it lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol. It may be because of the high polyphenol content. It has no effect on body composition. There is also another randomised double-blind crossover study looking at the effect of 200 mg of theacrine on healthy individuals which has led to significant improvements in subjective measures of energy, reduced fatigue, and improvement across some indices of mental performance. Additionally, in a subset of six subjects, a 200mg dose, open-label, repeated-dose study over a seven-day period improved subjective measures of energy, fatigue, concentration, anxiety, motivation to exercise and libido (Habowski et al., 2014; Ziegenfuss et al., 2016).

Theacrine appears to be a novel innovation for improving the function of the CNS and energy metabolism, without the more disconcerting side effects associated with caffeine. It could be a viable substitute in formulation for caffeine, which is avoided by some consumers avoid due to side effects that include energy crashes, raised heart rate and hypertension, and some of the habit-forming aspects. There is a need for non-caffeinated solutions especially for sports enthusiasts to take their game to the next level.

Cai, L., Ma, D., Zhang, Y., Liu, Z., & Wang, P. (2012). The effect of coffee consumption on serum lipids: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr., 66(8), pp. 872-877.

Doherty, M., & Smith, P. M. (2005). Effects of caffeine ingestion on rating of perceived exertion during and after exercise: a meta‐analysis. Scand. J Med. Sci. Sports. 15(2), pp. 69-78

Ganio, M. S., Klau, J. F., Casa, D. J., Armstrong, L. E., & Maresh, C. M. (2009). Effect of caffeine on sport-specific endurance performance: a systematic review. J. Strength & Conditioning Research, 23(1), pp. 315-324

Habowski, S.M., Sandrock, J. E., Kedia, A.W., Ziegenfuss, T.N. (2014) The effects of Teacrine™, a nature-identical purine alkaloid, on subjective measures of cognitive function, psychometric and hemodynamic indices in healthy humans: a randomized, double-blinded crossover pilot trial. J. International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11,(1), P49

Kuhman, D. J., Joyner, K. J., & Bloomer, R. J. (2015). Cognitive performance and mood following ingestion of a theacrine-containing dietary supplement, caffeine, or placebo by young men and women. Nutrients, 7(11), pp. 9618-9632.

Warren, G. L., Park, N. D., Maresca, R. D., McKibans, K. I., & Millard-Stafford, M. L. (2010). Effect of caffeine ingestion on muscular strength and endurance: a meta-analysis. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., 42(7), pp. 1375-87.

Zheng, X. Q., Ye, C. X., Kato, M., Crozier, A., & Ashihara, H. (2002). Theacrine (1, 3, 7, 9-tetramethyluric acid) synthesis in leaves of a Chinese tea, kucha (Camellia assamica var. kucha). Phytochemistry, 60(2), pp. 129-134

Ziegenfuss, T. N., Habowski, S. M., Sandrock, J. E., Kedia, A. W., Kerksick, C. M., & Lopez, H. L. (2016). A Two-Part Approach to Examine the Effects of Theacrine (TeaCrine®) Supplementation on Oxygen Consumption, Hemodynamic Responses, and Subjective Measures of Cognitive and Psychometric Parameters. J. Dietary Supplements, pp. 1-15.

Citrus antioxidants may prevent chronic diseases caused by obesity

Citrus fruits offer us a great deal – plenty of vitamin C, a sharp distinctive, acidic flavour and even fibre in the pulp. It also appears to offer us plenty of antioxidants that may prevent if not reduce a range of health concerns. According to a recent piece of research exploring the health benefits of popular foods, citrus antioxidants may lower oxidative stress, minimise liver damage, reduce ischaemic stroke risk, lower blood lipids and glucose levels, maintain or possibly lower blood pressure, and support heart health.

Citrus antioxidants - a colourful way of reducing oxidative stress. Copyright: karandaev / 123RF Stock Photo

Copyright: karandaev / 123RF Stock Photo

It has been known for many years that fruits contain a variety of antioxidants called flavonoids, which are one of the largest group of plant chemicals called phytonutrients, of which there are over 6,000 types. Phytonutrients along with carotenoids are responsible for the sharp vivid colours of fruits and vegetables.


There are several groups of flavonoids, including anthocyanidins, flavanols, flavones, flavanones and isoflavones. Flavanones are especially abundant in citrus fruits , such as hesperidin, eriocitrin, and eriodictyol and have been associated with lowering oxidative stress in vitro and animal models.

A new study from Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) in Brazil revealed that consuming oranges and other citrus fruits could delay or prevent negative effects of obesity in mouse models given a Western-style, high-fat diet. The investigators were presenting the results of their study at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Philadelphia, USA.

Paula S. Ferreira, a graduate student with the research team stated:-
“Our results indicate that in the future we can use citrus flavanones, a class of antioxidants, to prevent or delay chronic diseases caused by obesity in humans.”

In this study, the researchers treated 50 mice with three kinds of flavanones, hesperidin, eriocitrin and eriodictyol. The researchers divided the mice into groups, which were receiving a standard diet, a high-fat diet, a high-fat diet with hesperidin or eriocitrin or eriodictyol.

Obesity causes fat cells to increase in size and these enlarged fat cells produce high levels of reactive oxygen species, which potentially damage the cells in a process referred to as oxidative stress. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claim now that one-third of adults are obese in the U.S. It’s a known fact that obesity makes people more prone to various diseases related to the heart and liver, and even makes the person insulin restrain, leading to diabetes hence the considerable interest in research to reduce obesity levels generally.


The researchers found that the group of mice receiving a high-fat diet had an 80 percent increase in levels of cell-damage markers known as thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) in the blood and a 57 percent increase in the liver compared to mice on a standard diet.

On the other hand, hesperidin, eriocitrin and eriodictyol decreased the TBARS levels in the liver by 50 percent, 57 percent and 64 percent, respectively. Furthermore, eriocytrin and eriodictyol also reduced TBARS levels in the blood by 48 percent and 47 percent, respectively, while hesperidin and eriodictyol  reduced fat accumulation and damage in the liver.

According to a press release, all three kinds of flavanones used in the study caused the mice to lose weight. However, the antioxidants in citrus fruits also made these mice healthier with lower oxidative stress, less liver damage, lower blood lipids and lower blood glucose.

Use Of FT-IR In Food Adulteration

Analytical techniques come and go but Fourier Transform-Infrared (FT-IR) Spectroscopy has been in the toolbox for over 30 years. It may well be because it is straightforward to apply and the technology has become so refined that instruments of measurement are rapid, easy and simple to use with minimum sample preparation. A number of companies have equipment available but I recommend Thermo Fisher Scientific as one great business with the type of equipment ideal for the application I wish to discuss – food adulteration.

FT-IR allows for the qualitative determination of organic compounds as the characteristic vibrational mode of each molecular group causes the appearance of bands in the infrared spectrum at a specific frequency, which is further influenced by the surrounding functional groups. Moreover, FT-IR spectroscopy is an excellent tool for quantitative analysis as the intensities of the bands in the spectrum are proportional to concentration because where Beer’s law is obeyed.

Passing off food as something else has been a common problem for the customer, ever since foodstuffs had a value and a price, were rare or simply not good enough for retail. Certain unscrupulous suppliers of these foods have sought ways to maximise profits by replacing some of their higher-cost food materials and ingredients with other less expensive, lower quality substitutes and passing them off as something else. The objective is usually to obtain more money for them than their actual worth – a clear case of economic fraud.  In fact, as the potential for profiteering rises, techniques for food adulteration become more sophisticated and traditional methods used in detection of adulterants become increasingly time-consuming and expensive.

In some cases, adulteration leads to death ! Adulteration of rapeseed and grapeseed oils in the 1980’s caused 400 deaths and over 20,000 forms of illness due to toxic-oil syndrome (Jimeno, 1982; Posada et al., 1987).  Regulatory agencies, the law and governments have become intimately involved in resolving adulteration issues

Olive oil has been a popular target because the best quality is extremely highly prized and priced. It began with cases in Roman times. In the European Union alone, there have been losses of up to 15 million euros annually. From 1995, FT-IR began to be increasingly applied to winkling out the adulterants in olive oil, especially cheaper vegetable oils (Lai et al., 1995; Marigheto et al., 1998; Kupper et al., 2001; Tay et al., 2002).  Depending on the adulterant oil, the detection limits for olive oil adulteration were as low as 2%, and analysis could be completed in less than 5 min.

Given detection limits, it is thought some suppliers have substituted extra virgin olive oil with nearly 20% hazelnut oil because it is much harder to detect. It appears hazelnut oil has a similar fatty acid/sterol composition, and oxidative stability to olive oil which means substitution is almost too simple (Parcerisa et al., 1998; Contini et al., 1997). In 2002, a technique using FT-IR was employed which was combined with discriminant analysis and partial least-squares analysis to  detect hazelnut oil adulteration of olive oil but only to 25% volume (Ozen and Mauer, 2002). The technique was more successful in detecting sunflower oil adulteration of hazelnut oils.

Mid-infrared spectra have been used to characterize edible oils and fats, because they differentiate in the intensity and the exact frequency at which the maximum absorbance of the bands appears, according to the nature and composition of the sample.

There is an excellent review on the subject by Rodriguez-Saona & Allendorf (2011) on the general applications of technique where adulteration is concerned.


Contini, M.; Cardarelli, M. T.; Santis, D.; Frangipane, M. T.; Anelli, G. (1997) Proposal for the edible use of cold pressed hazelnut oil. I. Evaluation of oxidative stability. Riv. Ital. Sostanze Grasse. 74, pp. 97-104.

Jimeno, S. A. (1982) The Spanish toxic symptoms. Trends Anal. Chem. 1, pp. 4-6

Kupper, L., Heise, H. M., Lampen, P., Davies, A. N., McIntyre, P. (2001) Authentication and quantification of extra-virgin olive oils by attenuated total reflectance infrared spectroscopy using silver halide fiber probes and partial least-squares calibration. Appl. Spectrosc. 55, pp. 563-570

Lai, Y. W.; Kemsley, E. K.; Wilson, R. H. (1995) Quantitative analysis of potential adulterants of extra-virgin olive oil using infrared spectroscopy. Food Chem. 53, pp. 95-98.

Marigheto, N. A., Kemsley, E. K., Defernez, M., Wilson, R. H. (1998) A comparison of mid-infrared and Raman spectroscopies for the authentication of edible oils. J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc. 75, 987-992.

Ozen, B. F., & Mauer, L. J. (2002). Detection of hazelnut oil adulteration using FT-IR spectroscopy. J. Agric. Food Chem., 50(14), pp. 3898-3901

Parcerisa, J., Richardson, D. G., Rafecas, M., Codony, R., Boatella, J. (1998) Fatty acid, tocopherol and sterol content of some hazelnut varieties (Corylus aVellana L.) harvested in Oregon (USA). J. Chromatogr. 805, pp. 259-268.

Posada, M., Castro, M., Kilbourne, E., Diaz-de-Rojas, R., Abaitua, I., Tabuenca, J., Vioque, A. (1987) Toxic-oil syndrome: case reports associated with the ITH oil refinery in Sevilla. Food Chem. Toxicol. 25, pp. 87-90

Rodriguez-Saona, L. E., & Allendorf, M. E. (2011). Use of FTIR for rapid authentication and detection of adulteration of food. Annual Review of Food Science and Technology, 2, pp. 467-483.

Tay, A., Singh, R. K., Krishnan, S. S., Gore, J. P. (2002) Authentication of olive oil adulterated with vegetable oils using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Lebens.-Wiss. Technol. 35, pp. 99-103

Growing Basil With Zest

If you want the best of friends with your summer tomatoes or a Greek salad then look no further than that great herb of the Mediterranean, basil. It is in fact a jungle plant and so conditions suited to these conditions should be ideal but it is easy to grow and simple to maintain. There are dozens of different excitingly-flavoured varieties which simply cannot be bought at the supermarket but can be sown for a crop all year around. Why not try fragrant cinnamon, lime and even liquorice basils just to add an extra twist to a salad.

Basil leaves. Copyright: duskbabe / 123RF Stock Photo

Basil leaves. Copyright: duskbabe / 123RF Stock Photo

Sowing Seeds

Sow the seeds indoors in small pots or trays of compost throughout the year. Water well and place in a warm position, usually a windowsill or greenhouse. This encourages maximum germination.

Seedlings appear in 7 to 14 days. The pots should be moved to a slightly cooler place to avoid undue straggly and leggy growth. Thin out seedlings and use any unwanted  shoots and leaves in cooking.

Some basil varieties do grow outside, but these need to be hardened off so acclimatising the plants to cooler temperatures helps in this process. Remember, frost is a killer of these plants !

Transplant the basil seedlings when they are large enough to handle to their final growing position which is ideally a well-prepared bed in the sunny part of the garden or a large pot. I prefer the greenhouse, under the shade of tomato plants.

Make successional sowings so that a ready supply of leaves are available throughout the year.

Harvest the leaves as and when required and this too is throughout the year. Pinch out growing tips to encourage bushy growth and just prevents the plant growing unruly.

Continued Cultivation

Water in the morning. Basil dislikes wet in the evening because grey mould (Botrytis) can afflict the growing plants.


 Greek’, ‘Sweet’, ‘Genoese’, are all successful cultivars. D.T. Brown (Tel: 00 44 333 003 0869) sell an unusual, small-leaved Greek basil called ‘Aristotle‘ (Height: 60cm/2ft). I also like ‘Red Rubin’ (Height: 60cm/2ft) which is an attractive, deep purple-burgundy coloured type with a spicy, highly aromatic flavour and ideal as a complement to the green varieties.  Finally, ‘Cinnamon(Height: 60cm/2ft) offers a wonderfully fragrant, tagine-scented note with purple stems topped by fresh green leaves. Ideal for pots !

We have also tried D.T. Brown, Suttons and Mr. Fothergills for different barieties

Grow your own plants with our quality flower and vegetable seeds. Buy online from SimplySeed.co.uk

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Growing Gooseberries

Gooseberries – there little green jewels herald the start in most Summer gardens of the fruit bonanza. Coinciding with blackcurrants, they are often picked for use in desserts, especially fools, jellies and preserves. In fact they lend their tartness in savoury gels extremely well.

Gooseberry. Copyright: malleo / 123RF Stock Photo

Gooseberry. Copyright: malleo / 123RF Stock Photo

Planting And Cultivation

Bushes are planted into well dug and manured ground to start off with. The ideal time is Spring generally.

Gooseberries grow well in part shade rather than full sun. Choose a variety resistant to American mildew if you live in a particularly rainy or damp area and beware the dreaded gooseberry sawfly ! It is said to be one of the only fruits to grow well on limestone or  other  alkaline soils.

The bushes can be grown as half-standard against walls, stooled or cordoned as with plums although the bush form is generally preferred and can then be pruned to the classic vase shape. The half-standard and cordons are grown on a single rod to form a taller, more upright tree. Bush types are planted at an overall 120cm spacing whilst cordons are placed at least 60cm apart.

Continued Care

The plants are best pruned and indeed planted in the winter months when other vegetables and fruit remain in their dormancy. Any weak branches are removed and the remainder need to be reduced by a third so that new growth and shape is promoted. A balanced fertiliser is fed to the plant during spring but not too much nitrogen should be given as this encourages the plant to become too woody.


Gooseberries are picked always by hand from June to August when they begin to soften slightly. The green fruit is harvested to prepare pies and jams but the fruit should be allowed to ripen fully to red if they are needed for freezing.


Bullfinches can take the buds in the winter time but all birds will snack on the ripening fruit. It is probably best to keep this fruit in cages or covered extremely well with netting during the summer.

The Gooseberry sawfly is active in late May and June. The tiny caterpillar makes its unwanted presence felt by chomping leaves in a successive manner. It apparently eats its own bodyweight twice in a day, so handpick to remove the pest. Avoid sprays where feasible although drastic measures may be needed to remove it but do not pick fruit for at least a month.


Invicta’ is a very good fruit producer and cropper, a famous standard and resistant to Mildew. The Japanese variety ‘Hinnomaki’ is also extremely hardy and was bred to be resistant to American Mildew.  ‘Whinhams Industry’ also produces good yields and is ideal for heavy soils – it produces red fruit on ripening. Finally, ‘Careless’ is a variety which turns white with ripening and is often used for cooking and jam manufacture because of its pale colour.

Grow your own plants with our quality flower and vegetable seeds. Buy online from SimplySeed.co.uk

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Great Plums ! Cultivation For A Wonderful Harvest.

Plums ! The taste of plums, a quintessential flavour of summer is second only to apples in our affections. They originally came down the Silk Road with Chinese traders who passed them on to the Romans. The Chinese were cultivating the fruit (Prunus domestica L.)  in their temperate climates and the Romans found them ideally suited to the Northern European conditions they deserved. It is most likely they were greengage plums which are a set of slightly smaller varieties than the plums we see today.

A basket of Victoria plums from an English garden. Copyright: quasargal / 123RF Stock Photo

A basket of Victoria plums from an English garden. Copyright: quasargal / 123RF Stock Photo

We in Britain have about 300 cultivars. In China, they are treated by their chefs as a complement to savoury dishes but we find them excellent, baked in tarts, coated with honey and served with ice-cream. My grandmother simply stewed them which meant a few burnt mouths but a symbol of early autumn. They are also ideal for storage in Kilner jars but don’t keep for more than 6 months at a time. I think though that they are exceptional eaten fresh, having been plucked fresh from the tree. They also have a wonderful warm array of colour, from yellow to a deep purple/red colour. Most varieties ripen from mid-July through to early October. Unfortunately, most of the varieties never find their way to our shelves because plums are susceptible to damage and do not keep well.

Having recently been to our local nursery to pick up a ‘Victoria’ plum but we were careful to choose the right rootstock because normally the tree is exceptionally tall and shorter types are available. Most plum cultivars are self-fertile and so do not require other trees in the vicinity to produce their fruit but it would appear that the presence of other compatible plum trees helps with overall fruit production.


Plums can be trained into various styles and forms. The French were trying the idea of cordons in the late 1700s. We have tried cordons by fixing the fruit to a south, south-west wall which receives enough sun to keep the tree warm. A fence is an alternative decorative structure. Plum trees can also be free-standing, fan-trained or pyramid-trained against a wall to achieve about a 6m height and spread. These are made smaller than the standard orchard trees which can be up to 12m tall.

Originally, rootstocks did not exist that produced manageable tree heights for the smaller garden. The rootstock called ‘Pixy’, introduced in the mid-70’s helped restrict the extreme vigour of the plum tree. The scion, which is the fruiting cultivar grafted onto the rootstock is then restricted to about 2m which means it can be trained and managed more easily. There are other rootstocks available which allow for training including ‘St Julien A’ that restricts these to about 2.5m.

Plums are best grown as oblique cordons with the stems placed at an angle or as an upright. When planting a new tree or maiden as they are called, ensure the branches coming from the main stem (laterals) are kept to around 15cm and any shoots growing from these (known as sub-laterals) to 3cm.

Plum shoots are thin and whip-like, so pinching back regularly is essential and keeps the tree tidy and uniform. This is not the same as for the care of pears and apples. A main prune is conducted in July or early August, with pinching back occurring well into September.

With the newly planted tree established, pinch back all growth to one bud to restrict growth every three or four weeks.

Care For Plums

Grow plums in a sunny, sheltered spot on fertile, moisture-retentive soil. Prune when the sap is starting to flow which is between April and August and in dry weather. Seal any wounds to avoid the dreaded silverleaf disease.

Plum blossom is produced early in the fruit growing season, from early March to April and very prone to frost. Late flowering cultivars are ideal if frost is an issue or the fruit has to sit in a frost pocket. One good example is ‘Marjorie’s Seedling’. When a frost is likely to occur, cover smaller trees with old net curtains or horticultural fleece when the blossom is out. Greengages are more susceptible to frost and should thrive best against a sunny wall.

Thin the fruitlets in early summer to prevent trees from overcropping and producing lots of small fruit. The branches can snap as they do with apple trees and raise the potential for disease. The best situation is to leave one fruitlet every 5 to 8cm.


There is a large variety of fruit trees available for the gardener and they make very attractive plants for the garden especially in the early spring.

Victoria’ – the most famous and ubiquitous being introduced in 1840 to the UK. It is frost-resistant especially its flowers, self-fertile, an exceptional pollinator and generally a heavy cropper. Really ideal for northern Europe let alone most of the UK. The fruit can be eaten both fresh and cooked, usually being picked in late August. The fruits  are a pale red/purple with heavy yellow. It achieved the Award for Garden Merit from the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society. Should be in everybody’s garden !

Marjorie’s Seedling’– a self-fertile, heavy cropping cooker type. Picked in September or leave the fruit on the tree until November for dessert quality fruit.

Grow your own plants with our quality flower and vegetable seeds. Buy online from SimplySeed.co.uk