Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a hot item on restaurant menus today. To help foodservice operators take advantage of this trend, Basic American Foods, Walnut Creek, Calif., has launched Excel Sweet Potato Mashed as part of its Potato Pearls line. Available in a 20-oz pouch in a 10-count case, the shelf-stable product is a blend of sweet potato and white russet potato. It provides 100% DV of vitamin A and is a good source of fiber. One pouch yields about 12.5 lbs of finished product. To prepare, the user pours the product into a steam-table pan with five tablespoons of butter. Next, two quarts of hot water (170–190°F) are added to the mixture, which is stirred for 30–45 seconds. After sitting for five minutes, the product is stirred well and is ready for serving.

Other new products in the Potato Pearls line include Premium Redskin Mashed Potatoes with skins, Premium Gold Mashed Potatoes, and Premium Nature’s Own Mashed Potatoes.

Make Mozzarella at Home
Increasingly, consumers are asking where their food comes from and how it is made. For folks who want to get closer to their food, Roaring Brook Dairy, Chappaqua, N.Y., offers a Mozzarella Cheesemaking Kit for home use. With the exception of milk, the shelf-stable kit includes all of the ingredients—salt, dairy thermometer, rennet enzymes, citric acid, and latex gloves—to make authentic mozzarella cheese in about an hour. The kit, which makes 4 lbs of mozzarella (one lb at a time), also includes an instruction manual, troubleshooting tips, recipes, graphic illustrations, and a glossary. It retails for about $18.50 on

To make the mozzarella cheese, users prepare the rennet solution and citric acid solution and heat one-gallon of whole or 2% (non-UHT) milk in a large pot. The solutions are added to the milk separately during heating at specified temperatures. This forms curds, which are strained, heated, kneaded, stretched, folded, and formed into a ball.

Drug Chain Debuts Food Store Brand
Most supermarket chains offer their own private label brands to make their stores a unique shopping destination and to appeal to value-conscious shoppers. Now a major U.S. drugstore chain—Walgreens, Deerfield, Ill., is getting into the act with a line of 400 grocery and household products under the store brand Nice!. Priced at up to 30% below national brands, the line will include food items such tea, soup, sauces, bakery items, dried fruit, rice, and macaroni and cheese. Nice! packaging features an open, clean design aimed at being easily recognizable and simplifying the shopping experience.

The Nice! rollout is the next step in the drugstore chain’s efforts to refine its private-label business, which began a year ago with the introduction of DR Delish products. In recent months, the company has tweaked the brand’s name and packaging, now Good & Delish, and bolstered the selection of the line’s premium snacks and beverages. Many of the products offer benefits such as trans-fat free, gluten-free, reduced-calorie, or made with natural ingredients.