Brix Book - Consumer Testing
Page 18 of 35
|All Departments of Agriculture use refractometers. All food companies that process either liquid or paste foods use refractometers. All agricultural buyers are familiar with refractometers.
1. FIRST, CALIBRATE YOUR INSTRUMENT
- Place a drop of distilled water on the prism and flip the plate down (if you have a plate model). Flip the hinged prism shut if you have a double prism model.
- View through the instrument toward a light source (a clear sky is best).
- Adjust the focusing ring until you see a razor sharp image of the brix scale. The demarcation line where the light and dark fields meet should CROSS at ZERO.
- ATC models (Automatic Temperature compensated) are calibrated with the adjustment screw to read ZERO. This adjustment is rarely needed. Standard (non-ATC) models may require temperature correction. Anyone needing the full version of the abbreviated sidebar chart should write or call.
- Please understand that temperature compensation is simply not needed if you are only trying to select more nutritious food and the comparison tests are conducted at the same temperature. For instance, a glance at the chart shows that testing, say, a 15 brix carrot on a hot day would require adding less than a single brix to make full correction.
2. RUN A TEST
- Select a soft fruit from your refrigerator or fruit bowl and squeeze a drop from it onto the prism.
- Flatten the drop with the prism.
- Hold it to the light.
- THE READING IS EXACT! (many instruments read to 0.2 brix)
3. REPROGRAM YOUR MIND TO THINK QUALITY
- Determine QUALITY by comparing the reading to either Brix CHART.
- Taste the fruit.
- Immediately begin to re-learn that taste is as important as all other senses.
- Rediscover that taste is far more important than simple appearance for selecting QUALITY produce.
- Test, then taste, your vegetables (a garlic press can be useful for squeezing a drop of juice).
- Resolve to buy QUALITY fruits & vegetables.
4. PROGRESS TO TESTING AT A PRODUCE STAND OR MARKET
- Try to obtain a sample of anything you wish to buy, but be warned that 90% of produce on retail stands will test POOR or AVERAGE.
- Of course, you should offer to pay for the sample. If you have rapport with the owner, you can ask if you can test the produce in their presence.
- You are a buyer. You should have the right to select your purchases by means other than simple appearance.
- Many consumers are conditioned to buy, whether they wish to or not, once they take a sample. Perhaps you should let the refractometer guide you to a "Thanks, but no thanks" when it indicates poor or average produce.
Of course, you may (and probably will) decide to buy a considerable amount of any produce that tests either GOOD or EXCELLENT.
However, you should never judge (nor "label") someone's produce as POOR or SO-SO. Simply tell the operator that you are looking for "higher sugar." Fruit stand operators have feelings, too. Remember that you are a consumer, not an arrogant inspector. And please remember that you have no desire to "punish" the stand operator for all the years of poor produce you have endured. You are trying to open channels so that you can get BETTER fruits & vegetables. Yes, you want this person interested in your special needs.
Let the operator examine your instrument if they wish. Let them verify your readings. Ask how they select what they buy at the wholesale market. Ask if they can pick HIGH QUALITY produce out of a pile by its heft (a few experienced operators can). Many operators will be fascinated with your refractometer. Some may offer to buy it. They may quickly grasp how it could help them get better produce at the wholesale level where they buy.
Don't be surprised if a stranger notices you testing and asks what brix you are seeing as you peer. Discreet brix testing may be going on all around you.
5. GO TO THE GROCERY STORE
- Ask for the produce manager.
- Tell him the information you want and what you wish to do.
- Offer to share the information you obtain.
- Grocery stores have a satisfaction guarantee. Suggest to them that you are trying to decide your satisfaction at the store instead of waiting until you get home.
- Do be discreet and not disturb other customers.