Ingredient of the Month Archives

2024

Chocolate

February 2024 - Chocolate

From ancient civilizations’ ceremonial use to Europe’s evolution of the sweet treat, the cultivation of the cacao tree and the ensuing final product produced from the harvested cocoa beans, chocolate and its continuous transformation by chocolatiers has captured the hearts of chocolate lovers worldwide. Download the PowerPoint presentation and complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Potatoes

January 2024 - Potatoes

Embarking on a journey spanning over 7,000 years, the humble potato has transformed itself into a pivotal role of cuisines throughout the globe. From initial skepticism to the transformative influence of a US President, explore the story of this versatile tuber that has since become a culinary essential loved by chefs and home cooks alike. Download the PowerPoint presentation and complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

2023

Rosemary

December 2023 - Rosemary

Rosemary boasts a rich history, dating back to ancient civilizations who revered it for its medicinal and sacred properties. Indigenous to the Mediterranean region, rosemary has adapted across a significant portion of Europe and is a common resident of gardens in temperate climates. Throughout history, rosemary’s aromatic allure has woven it into rituals, folklore, and cuisines, making it a symbol of significance to this day for both gardeners and chefs. Download the PowerPoint presentation and complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Olives

November 2023 - Olives

Olive trees and their fruit, known as olives, have immense history and cultural significance, particularly within Mediterranean regions. With their origins thought to be intertwined with the Mediterranean basin, particularly within the “Fertile Crescent,” which encompasses contemporary Greece, Turkey, and Syria, olives and their derivatives today command a worldwide market and makeup diverse culinary traditions across the globe. Download the PowerPoint presentation and complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Pumpkins

October 2023 - Pumpkin

The pumpkin, known scientifically as Cucurbita pepo, stands as a widely cherished and versatile fruit within the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae. Revered across the globe, it captivates with its culinary, decorative, and nutritional prowess. From the iconic Thanksgiving pie to the aromatic pumpkin spice lattes and the whimsical Halloween jack-o’-lanterns, the pumpkin reigns as an enduring emblem of American tradition. Download the PowerPoint presentation and complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Rice in spoons

September 2023 - Rice

Rice stands as an exceptionally versatile and economical ingredient, lending itself to a diverse array of both savory and sweet culinary creations. Its enduring and captivating journey traces back thousands of years, weaving through numerous cultures. Presently, rice holds a vital role as a staple food, with approximately half of the global population relying heavily on this essential crop. Download the PowerPoint presentation and complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Almonds

August 2023 - Almonds

Ever wonder why the pit and seed inside of a peach resembles an almond? It’s because they’re related! Culinarily referred to as a nut, almonds are botanically classified as a drupe along with apricots, peaches, and cherries. Now the most exported crop in California with 1.3 million tons produced in 2021–2022, almonds are one of the most versatile nuts used in the kitchen. Download the PowerPoint presentation and complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Corn cobs

July 2023 - Corn

As one of the world’s most important crops, corn has been farmed for thousands of years. Originally not existing in the wild, corn was first domesticated over 10,000 years ago. Through centuries of crossbreeding its earliest ancestor, known as teosinte, native civilizations in present-day Mexico transformed the crop into the sweet, tender corn we use today. Download the PowerPoint presentation and complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Lobsters

June 2023 - Lobsters

Once considered a “poor man’s food” and despised by many, the popularity of lobster has since exploded with the average yearly harvest topping over 100 million pounds. Whether the tender, sweet meat is served as a standalone dish or used in soups, pastas and spreads, lobster is rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Download the PowerPoint presentation and complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Blocks of Gouda cheese

May 2023 - Gouda

Originally named for the town it was traded in and not where it was discovered or produced, Gouda is a semi-soft cheese with a mild flavor, creamy texture and pale ivory color. Available in both young and mature forms, Gouda has been a Netherlands staple since the 12th century and has since become a timeless classic enjoyed around the world. Download the PowerPoint presentation and complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Turmeric rhizome and bowl of turmeric

April 2023 - Turmeric

Thriving in the hot and wet climate of the tropics, turmeric is not a root but a rhizome that has a deep orange-yellow color and yields a slightly bitter, peppery flavor when used in the kitchen. Since its discovery, turmeric has had deep ties not only to the kitchen but also in medicine and religion. Thousands of years later, chefs are still utilizing its flavor and coloring properties in a wide variety of both savory and sweet preparations. Download the PowerPoint presentation and complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Jicama

March 2023 - Jicama

Scientifically known as Pachyrhizus erosus, meaning “thick root” derived from Greek, jicama has been cultivated in Mexico and Central America for centuries. Popularized in the U.S. after drought decreased potato production, jicama is now a popular dietary staple in many parts of the world. Like its potato relative, jicama is a tuber with light-brown skin and white flesh that adds a sweet, nutty flavor and can be used in a variety of raw and cooked preparations. Download the PowerPoint presentation and complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Horseradish

February 2023 - Horseradish

In Greek mythology, it’s considered to be worth its weight in gold and horseradish loving chefs agree! Originating in Eastern Europe, horseradish is a hardy, herbaceous member of the Brassicaceae family that has been cultivated for hundreds of years for both medicinal and culinary uses. With its pungent taste, horseradish can be used in many creative ways to pack in flavor without the worries of unnecessary fat and calories. Download the PowerPoint presentation and complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Plantains

January 2023 - Plantains

Although they grow in bunches and may look like bananas, they’re not! Native to Southeast Asia, plantains are grown in tropical regions and when fully ripe they taste like a slightly less-sweet banana. Plantains are an important part of many cuisines, but unlike technically being a fruit like bananas, they are most often cooked before consuming due to their starch content. No matter their stage of ripeness, chefs have created an imaginative list of uses for plantains. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

2022

Garlic cloves

December 2022 - Garlic

Records show that garlic has been cultivated in Mesopotamia for at least 4,000 years. Garlic is a perennial flowering plant grown from a bulb sometimes producing pink to purple flowers. Raw garlic has a characteristic pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking. With the use of garlic on the rise, in both savory and some sweet dishes, the average person eats about two pounds of garlic each year. That equates to over 300 cloves! Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Mulberries

November 2022 - Mulberries

Contrary to the childhood song, mulberries grow on trees, not bushes. These fast-growing trees produce a massive amount of fruit each season, ranging in color from white to deep red to almost black. The berries have a mild flavor that is both tart and sweet. In most recipes, blackberries can be substituted for mulberries as they have similar flavor profiles. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Kiwifruit

October 2022 - Kiwi

The kiwifruit, or kiwi, is the edible berry of several species of woody vines in the genus Actinidia. Kiwi has a refreshingly citrus taste, with a touch of sweetness. The flesh has a creamy consistency with crunchy edible seeds. Although not commonly consumed, the skin is edible. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Bowl of pecans

September 2022 - Pecans

Pecans are the product of a species of Hickory trees known as Carya illinoinensis. The United States produces 80% of the world’s pecan crop. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Watercress

August 2022 - Watercress

Watercress has a unique peppery flavor but once cooked, the sharpness of watercress diminishes. Watercress is available year-round, but its peak season is from April until September. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Capers

July 2022 - Capers

Capers are the un-ripened flower buds of the caper bush. To make them palatable, the immature buds are either cured in salt or pickled in brine. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Cherries in bowl

June 2022 - Cherries

Cherries are classified as drupes or stone fruits. Their color ranges from yellow to deep red-black. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Tea leaves in bowl

May 2022 - Tea

The term tea refers to both the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant and the beverage made from those leaves. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Lamb chops in a tray

April 2022 - Lamb

Sheep are one of mankind’s oldest domesticated animals, raised for meat, fiber and milk. Lamb is meat that comes from sheep that are less than one year old. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Oats in a bowl

March 2022 - Oats

Oat is one of the major cereal grains produced worldwide. Oats are grown for both human and animal consumption. While oats have a bland, slightly earthy taste they also have a great ability to absorb the flavor of other ingredients. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Cardamom in a bowl

February 2022 - Cardamom

Cardamom is considered to be one of the world’s oldest spices. They are recognized by their small seed pods: triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin, papery outer shell and small, black seeds. The spice can be found as a whole pod, shelled whole seeds, or ground powder. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

January 2022 - Cauliflower

Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea. Brassica oleracea also includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, and kale. A single floret of cauliflower contains 10% of your daily recommended value of vitamin C. This makes it a better source for vitamin C than an orange. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

2021

Fresh cranberries in a bowl

December 2021 - Cranberries

The Cranberry is native to the swamps and bogs of northeastern North America. Algonquian people introduced cranberries to starving English settlers in Massachusetts who incorporated the berries into traditional Thanksgiving feasts. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Lavender plants

November 2021 - Lavender

Lavender is a relative of mint, the lavender plant is adorned with pale violet flowers and silver-green leaves. Both the flowers and leaves can be eaten and have a pleasant yet slightly bitter flavor. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Broccoli floret

October 2021 - Broccoli

In the United States, the average person consumes over five pounds of broccoli annually! Read the article to find out more about this popular vegetable. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Pecans in two bowls

September 2021 - Pecans

There are over 1,000 varieties of pecans. They are sold in several forms including whole pecans, pecan halves, pieces, granules and meal. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Chickpeas in a bowl

August 2021 - Chickpeas

Chickpeas are pulses, which are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family. They have a buttery texture and nutty taste. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Guava slices and leaves

July 2021 - Guava

Guava is a fruit-bearing tree in the Myrtaceae family. Guava trees produce small five-petaled, white flowers that yield round, oval or pear-shaped berries. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Cucumber slice

June 2021 - Cucumber

Cucumber is a creeping plant of the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, widely cultivated for its edible fruit. Cucumbers have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Durian with quarter slice removed and sitting separately

May 2021 - Durian

A Durian is a large, oval, tropical fruit with a thorn covered husk. The sweet and savory flavor of durian is wholly unique and has prompted extremely diverse opinions. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

Pile of hemp seeds

April 2021 - Hemp Seeds

Hemp is a plant in the species Cannabis sativa and is cultivated for its fibre or its edible seeds. Hemp seeds have a pleasantly nutty taste, like a cross between a sunflower seed and a pine nut. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Stick and slices of butter

March 2021 - Butter

Butter is a dairy product made from the fat and protein of milk or cream.In order for a churned dairy product to be considered butter in the United States, it must contain at least 80 percent butterfat. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Two bunches of bananas and a single banana

February 2021 - Bananas

Bananas are an elongated, tropical berry with a thick skin and soft sweet flesh. The most common varieties are yellow when ripe. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Four parsnips

January 2021 - Parsnips

Parsnip is a root vegetable closely related to carrot and parsley. The distinctive sweet flavor of the root will only develop after the first frost. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

2020

Several rambutans, some with skins partially removed

December 2020 - Rambutans

Rambutan skin is reddish when ripe and covered with pliable spines or “hairs”. The fruit’s flesh is a translucent white similar in appearance to a lychee. Rambutans have a sweet, slightly acidic flavor reminiscent of grapes. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Ullucus

November 2020 - Ullucus

Ullucus tuberosus, also known as Ulluco (pronounced oo-*yoo*-koh) are grown primarily as a root vegetable but the leaf is also edible. Ulluco have a brightly colored waxy skin in a variety of yellows, pinks and purples. These tubers are typically smooth and can be spherical or elongated. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Six persimmons

October 2020 - Persimmon

A persimmon is botanically a berry that comes from the edible fruit trees in the genus, Diospyros. In color, the ripe fruit range from glossy light yellow-orange to dark red-orange depending on the species and variety. There are astringent and non-astringent varieties. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Cooked lamb on a plate

September 2020 - American Lamb

Lamb is meat that comes from sheep that is less than a year old. Sheep raised in the United States are generally processed at 7-10 months. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Food on dish

August 2020 - Umami Base

Umami or savory taste is one of the five basic tastes (along with sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness). It can be described as a pleasant “brothy” or “meaty” taste. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Bunch of tarragon

July 2020 - Tarragon

Tarragon is a species of perennial herb in the sunflower family. Tarragon has a distinguishing aroma that is reminiscent of anise and vanilla. French tarragon leaves produces the same mouth-numbing sensation as with a Sichuan peppercorn. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Bowl of shelled peanuts with unshelled peanuts sitting behind bowl

June 2020 - Peanut

Peanuts are botanically classified as legumes. However, for culinary, research and nutritional purposes, peanuts are considered a nut. In the U.S., peanuts and peanut butter are the most popular nut choice and comprise 67% of all nut consumption. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Calendula next to pot

May 2020 - Calendula

Calendula is an edible flower known by many other names including pot marigold. This plant is often confused with the French or African marigolds which are actually members of the Tagetes family and are inedible. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Two halves of an avocado

April 2020 - Avocados

Avocados have gained significant popularity in recent years - in 2019 alone, Mexico exported over 2.1 billion avocados to the United States. A nutrient dense, heart healthy fruit, avocados contribute unsaturated fats and contain nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Vanilla bean and flower

March 2020 - Vanilla Extract

Vanilla is a member of the orchid family.Vanilla extract is a solution made by steeping cured vanilla pods in alcohol until the flavor is infused. According to FDA specifications, pure vanilla extract contains 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon during extraction. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Bowl of edible seaweed

February 2020 - Edible Seaweed

Edible seaweed, or sea vegetables, are seaweeds that can be eaten and used in the preparation of food. Edible seaweed has an umami flavor- a pleasant savory taste, which results from a high level of the amino acid, glutamate. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Whole tangerine, half tangerine, and tangerine slices

January 2020 - Tangerines

Tangerines are a group of citrus fruit consisting of hybrids of mandarin oranges. The taste of a tangerine is sweeter and less acidic than that of an orange. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


2019

Slices of Havarti

December 2019 - Havarti

Havarti is a semi-soft cow’s-milk cheese. Havarti is smooth, with no rind, and creamy to pale yellow in color. It has small irregular holes in it known sometimes as “eyes.” It has a buttery aroma with subtle sweet and acidic notes. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Scoop full of rosehips with several other rosehips scattered on table

November 2019 - Rosehips

The rose hip (rosehip) is also called rose haw and rose hep. It is the accessory fruit of the rose plant. It is typically red to orange, but ranges from dark purple to black in some species. Fresh rose hips are semi-sweet in taste but each haw holds a number of small seeds and hairs, which must be removed before consumption. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Chestnuts

October 2019 - Chestnuts

Chestnuts are the fruit of the Castanea tree. A spiny husk called a burr protects the chestnut. Chestnuts are typically harvested mid-September through November and are one of the easiest nut varieties to harvest and prepare for storage. Chestnuts can be used as an alternative to most other nuts though their sweet and earthy flavor will give any dish a unique twist. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Star anise

September 2019 - Star anise

Star anise is a spice made from the dried fruit of an Illicium verum tree. The fruits of this tree have tiny oval seeds contained in pods shaped like a star. These pods are tough-skinned, rust-colored and have five to ten points. Both the pod and the seeds can be consumed. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Honey

August 2019 - Honey

Honey is a sweetener that is produced by honey bees. Honey is collected from wild bee colonies, or from hives of domesticated bees, a practice known as beekeeping or apiculture. Honey has a range of colors and flavors. The shades range from almost colorless to dark brown. The aroma of honey may be reminiscent of the flower from which the bee collected the nectar. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Two apricots in a bowl with two more apricots sitting next to bowl

July 2019 - Apricot

Apricot is a drupe, or stone fruit, that belongs to the rosaceae family. There are about a dozen varieties of apricots widely sold throughout the United States. All varieties are similar in taste, but differ somewhat in size and color. Color can range from yellow to deep orange. They are in season from May through July. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Cooked turkey breast and legs

June 2019 - Turkey

Turkey meat, commonly referred to as turkey, is muscle and can be classified as white or dark. The turkey’s breast meat is white and contains less fat. Turkeys use their legs continuously, which is why the thighs and drumsticks are sources of flavorful, vitamin and mineral-rich dark meat. Turkey meat is a lean protein powerhouse. Just one serving of turkey is worth half the daily recommended value of protein. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Bunch of radishes

May 2019 - Radishes

Radishes are edible root vegetables and are cousins of mustard and cabbage. Radishes have a mild to hot peppery flavor and crunchy texture. Radishes are usually grown as annuals and are harvested before they flower. They range in shape from spherical to long and cylindrical or tapered, and the outside skin can be white, yellow, pink, red, purple, or black. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Cuts of lamb on a cutting board

April 2019 - American Lamb

Lamb is the meat that comes from sheep that are less than a year old. Sheep raised in the United States are generally processed at 7 to 10 months of age. Lamb meat is made up of muscles held together by collagen and silverskin. Lamb is a primary protein in many countries throughout the world, especially in regions of North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Europe. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Whole and half lemons on a cutting board

March 2019 - Lemons

Lemons grow on a small tree in the flowering plant family Rutaceae. The outer rind, or peel, is yellow when ripe and rather thick in some varieties. The inside pulp is pale-yellow and split into 8 to 10 segments. Due to the lemon’s acidity level, it has a distinct sour taste. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Eight bowls full of pulses

February 2019 - Pulses

Pulses are the dry, edible seeds of plants in the legume family. They are individually known as chickpeas, lentils, dry peas, and beans. They are versatile, affordable, sustainable, and nutrient-rich. High in protein and fiber, they are an excellent fit for gluten-free and flexitarian diets! Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


Bowl of molasses

January 2019 - Molasses

Molasses is a sweetener that is formed as a byproduct of the sugar-making process. It is usually produced from crushed sugar cane or sugar beets. While today it is often thought of as a baking ingredient, it adds aroma, color, and wonderful texture to a number of sweet and savory dishes. Complete the quiz by logging on to the ACF Online Learning Center, to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.