Secondary Packaging as Display Shelf

carton as display shelf instructions

Don’t get the wrong idea. I am not promoting the consumption of instant noodles. I posted it because of the instruction embedded on the box side. It literally shows if the box is cut along the dotted lines, it can be used as display dispenser box.

carton as display shelf instructions

Food commodities are usually package within two containers. Primary and secondary. The first is in direct contact with food. Providing protection against external air, dirt, light and microorganisms that may render it unfit for human consumption. Sometimes it has the ability to shield against physical damage. One example of this is modified air (usually CO2) injected to cracker packages. It serve as cushion, preventing breakage due to dents and drops.

On the other hand, the secondary container is meant to group several primary packs together. Doing so makes handling, transport and stacking easier. It is obvious, a worker can usually carry a packs of 10 to 50 in one lifting (depends on commodity type, of course). Boxes could be stacked several feet high, which I could never imagine possible with single small sachets.

Secondary package also gives first layer of protection. Accidental water spill will first damage the outer and takes some time to reach the inner area. Rodents will have to chew the carton first before opening any primary pack. Can absorb minor forces like dents and knocks.

Sometimes manufacturers became little creative by making the secondary package as display shelf. If you are the man buying groceries, you’ll surely notice how the staff awfully arrange most of irregularly shaped goods. The likes of crackers, sugar, breads and sweets. More often than not, disorderliness makes them unappealing.

Their corrugated carton or hard cardboard have easy to cut out dotted lines and clear instructions. With the merchandiser following direction, the product will have its own neat shelf. Beautifully arranged and pleasing to customer eyes.

Edible Food Packaging! Anyone?

Biodegradable food packaging is great if saving the environment is our concern. Compared to plastic, bottles and tin cans that stay intact on ground for hundred years. Biodegrades looses its identity after being
thrown to garden soil. It may take sometime but it definitely biodegrades.

Wait! If we give the situation a thought. Biodegradable food packaging are invented because we are such undisciplined people. We throw empty packages here and there. Use garbage can without proper segregation practice. If somebody tries to implement, we just ignore it. Adding to insult, I am seeing public garbage collector trucks picking all sort of stuffs, segregated and not into their single truck.

I guess the bio-degradation process is too long that some scientist are developing edible food packaging.

Why you have in mind is right! Don’t waste effort unwrapping candy. Just put it in mouth. Wait a little, packaging melts then what comes next the sweet candy. Cooking noodles? It will be as easy as boiling enough water and dropping in the whole noodle package.

I am directly against the idea! Why?

The package protects food from harmful microorganisms and dangerous chemicals. If it is edible, it should be protected with something inert, like plastic, tin can or bottle. It is dangerous, we never know where it was placed or who hold it before reaching our hands.

If it is edible, then it is likely edible to most pathogenic organisms. Imagine a packaging material having molds!

If it is edible, then it is likely very susceptible to simple chemical reactions. Melting down upon contact with vinegar. Changes color when displayed to sunlight. Absorbing odor of nearby foods and transferring to contents eventually.

We don’t actually need biodegradable and edible packagings. What we need are inert packages that are able to contain and protect our convenience foods. The next is the willingness to recycle it after use.

Jute Sack

Jute sack is the industry standard for packaging cacao and coffee despite of its several weak points.  Why it was chosen? Simply because of three things. It is cheap, durable and porous. Tons and tons could be fumigated inside a warehouse. Its porous nature allows the entry of fuming agent, killing pest and thereby increasing its storage life. For cacao beans, it helps evaporate too much acidity from previous fermentation process.

These are the common cases with our cacao.

We often pray that it never rains during transport. Why? Because if it rains, our raw material is likely to get wet. We need to immediately re-dry it as soon as possible, else, will be unusable after two days. Fungi grows rapidly giving off flavors and putrid odors.  The material high water holding capacity adds to the problem. It holds plenty, that it is wet long after the rain. A short and light rain might not be enough to wet the beans but the water trapped within jute will eventually transfer.

The next problem is moisture absorption. Cacao that was dried down to 7% moisture or below is hygroscopic. It rapidly gain moisture in high humidity places. Large warehouses can be equipped with dehumidifiers but cannot be expected with small time processors. The beans become denser with time if weather condition is unfavorable. Become moldy in worst cases. Note, the same bean batch with varying moisture levels roast differently.

It also permits odor absorption. Odors that may not be removed during processing. Nice if gets fruity aromas of apple, orange, mangoes and nuts. Nightmare if gasoline and diesel instead.

The last but not the least. Correction! It is last and the worst. Cocoa moth and coffee borer beetle are gate crashing like crazy. There are plenty of passages everywhere so it cannot be avoided. In previous experiences, a sack full never last for a month once infested. I never experience the same on fermented cacao though.

As of date, my current supplier packs the raw mat in double layered packaging. Jute sack layered with moderate strength PE bag. They are using jute sack only when the contents of tranpo container is nothing but cacao.  Whichever is the case, I am immediately transferring them all to another jute sack lined with new PE bag.

More Accurate Way to Measure Rice Water

As I learnt from my parents and later from books. The amount of water should be in proportion with volume of rice. For example, one cup water should go with one cup rice before putting it over the flaming stove.

Note: Some need less while others need more. A bit adjustment maybe necessary with every rice batch purchased.

Specifically, this is how my parents thought me how to cook rice. Get rice using the improvised measuring container. Usually an empty medium can of evaporated milk or other thin can of comparable size.

Wash several times with generous water until the last washing is clear and no visible floating dirt.

Then here is how to add the right water volume.

Discard the last washing. Make the washed rice as flat as possible. Measure the depth with straightened palm. Finally, add water equivalent to that depth.

This method is fine for expert cook but too crude for newbie. It is a hit or miss technique that often misses. Before, mine would end up too wet, too dry, raw and rarely nicely done. I often chose the frying jobs to avoid mother’s anger.

The rice flatness when adding water is disturbed. The water measurement will be wrong when the palm is placed in shallow or deeper area.

The cauldron wall is not straight from bottom to rim. Obviously, equal thickness of rice and water above does not mean they are of equal volume.

Here are some tips that I like to share.

If you feel the rice at hand is clean enough. Measuring equal volume rice and water will do the trick.

If washing is necessary. Do the method mentioned above. Stir well. Drain water to separate container. Measure it. Get equivalent amount to be added back. Repeat until satisfied. This way, we have avoided the measurement guess work.  We have measured the right volumes and just replacing the loss water with every washing.

Use electric rice cooker whenever possible. I have never missed once with it. It is fast and energy saving. Contrary to what you have in mind. Yes, it gonna raise electric bill a bit but will save on gas and firewood. In addition, as soon as cooking is started, you can leave it and do other important tasks. Even watching TV and falling asleep is allowable.

If using firewood or LPG. Bear in mind that it should go into running boil as quickly as possible. Set the flame to high at the beginning and lowering gradually toward the end. Easier to do with lpg stove and a lot harder with wood fire. it is kind of erratic. Flame is hard to start. It will become to strong and suddenly to weak and extinguished.