Author Topic: Brix and health  (Read 30065 times)

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Offline cherimoya_kid

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Brix and health
« on: June 01, 2011, 11:43:49 am »
I am going to do a series of threads/posts  on Brix, plants, and health. I will accept questions, but please, 1 question per post, and no more than 2-3 questions daily.

You can find a lot of good info over at Rex Harrill's site, http://crossroads.ws/brix/index.htm, but I'm going to summarize it here, and take questions, and add my own thoughts as well.

A Brix meter, properly called a refractometer, measures the total amount of dissolved solid matter in a liquid. Winemakers and orange growers often use Brix readings to decide when to harvest their crops. Once a grape reaches a certain Brix, it is harvested.  Orange growers that produce oranges used for commercial orange juice are paid more for higher Brix readings, and they don't harvest until their fruit reaches a certain Brix level. The reason is that the taste of the higher Brix oranges is much, much better.

Plants with Brix readings above 12 generally are not attacked by juice-sucking insects. I believe that this Brix level of 12 is also one at which many fruits become health-giving rather than health-damaging.  In my experience, my health is much better when I refuse to eat fruits with Brix lower than 12.

Some cattle farmers will also pay a higher premium for higher-Brix hay, because it is much better for the health of their cows.

There are a number of ways to improve Brix in plants, including organic soil supplements, foliar feeding, and choosing plant varieties with lower yield.

I generally recommend using a Brix meter on all fruits/veggies that you will eat, and avoiding low-Brix plants whenever you can. It is possible to find high-Brix produce, with time and effort.  In some places, the local fruit is always high Brix, because of excellent local soil quality. For the rest of us, we have to grow our own, or find sources of fruit that are high Brix.  

Questions are welcome. Please feel free to read Rex Harrill's site.

« Last Edit: June 01, 2011, 11:58:23 am by cherimoya_kid »

CitrusHigh

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2011, 12:31:41 pm »
How reliable are refractometers?

CitrusHigh

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2011, 12:35:42 pm »
Can you learn to discern nutrient density of different types of produce by paying attention to the characteristics (appearance, density, smell, etc) of high brix samples?

For example, by paying attention to what a good tasting green pepper lookes, feels and smells like, I can typically judge, based on those characteristics, if a given pepper is going to be sweet or bland. Peaches are much harder!

Offline HIT_it_RAW

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2011, 06:45:06 pm »
Don't you think your smell/taste should be able to judge fruit quality?

I can see why grape's and oranges are rated by a brix value because its an objective measurement. I don't think its neccecary for good health to judge fruits with technology. If our paleo ancestors could judge fruits with their senses/instincts than so should we.
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Offline p0wer

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2011, 10:55:33 pm »
Is there a difference in Brix readings between less ripe and more ripe fruits?

CitrusHigh

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2011, 07:42:51 am »
Yes p0wer, they use the refractometer to determine peak ripeness for harvest of fruits like grapes and oranges among others I'm sure.

Offline goodsamaritan

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2011, 08:24:40 am »
I used to have a refractometer... and then the big flood came and I lost it.
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Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2011, 12:02:46 pm »
How reliable are refractometers?

More than reliable enough, in terms of accuracy, for the purposes of testing fruit.  Even the cheapest ones are good enough.

Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2011, 12:05:27 pm »
Can you learn to discern nutrient density of different types of produce by paying attention to the characteristics (appearance, density, smell, etc) of high brix samples?

For example, by paying attention to what a good tasting green pepper lookes, feels and smells like, I can typically judge, based on those characteristics, if a given pepper is going to be sweet or bland. Peaches are much harder!

It takes years of practice, but yes, you definitely can.  Sometimes it's really easy--solo papaya are nearly always much higher Brix than the large papaya. Bosc pears are nearly always higher Brix than other types of pear. 

Heavier fruit is nearly always higher Brix.  Heavier fruit has more mineral content, and mineral content and Brix are closely related.

Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2011, 12:06:59 pm »
Don't you think your smell/taste should be able to judge fruit quality?

I can see why grape's and oranges are rated by a brix value because its an objective measurement. I don't think its neccecary for good health to judge fruits with technology. If our paleo ancestors could judge fruits with their senses/instincts than so should we.

It takes time, but you can become skilled enough to do that.  Having a Brix meter is a good way to objectively test your own judgement, though, until you are skilled enough.

Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2011, 12:07:43 pm »
Is there a difference in Brix readings between less ripe and more ripe fruits?

Brix readings generally get higher and higher the longer the fruit stays on the plant.

Offline raw-al

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2011, 11:17:54 pm »
I used to have a refractometer... and then the big flood came and I lost it.

So which refractometers would you recommend?

Can you simply take a small sample from things in the grocery store and test them on the spot?
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Offline raw-al

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2011, 11:19:13 pm »
Brix readings generally get higher and higher the longer the fruit stays on the plant.
I read somewhere that fruit is optimum if you catch it as it falls from the tree/plant.
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Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2011, 12:12:52 pm »
So which refractometers would you recommend?

Can you simply take a small sample from things in the grocery store and test them on the spot?

Most any $35-$45 refractometer will work fine.

You would need to get permission from grocery store staff to do that.

Offline raw-al

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2011, 12:27:52 am »
Most any $35-$45 refractometer will work fine.

You would need to get permission from grocery store staff to do that.
OOps I didn't mean to make it sound like that...

So you just squeeze a bit of the liquid from a plant and put it on a slide?
Cheers
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Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2011, 09:26:01 am »
OOps I didn't mean to make it sound like that...

So you just squeeze a bit of the liquid from a plant and put it on a slide?

yes. 

Offline wodgina

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2011, 10:46:32 pm »
or you could eat organs/meat.
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Offline Raw Kyle

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2011, 05:46:38 am »
My understanding of brix was that it was mostly from the concentration of sugar in a liquid sample. I used a refractometer daily as the quality control technician for "Goodbelly" probiotic juice drink. Brix was raised by adding more juice concentrate or sugar and lowered by adding water.

Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2011, 10:43:42 am »
My understanding of brix was that it was mostly from the concentration of sugar in a liquid sample. I used a refractometer daily as the quality control technician for "Goodbelly" probiotic juice drink. Brix was raised by adding more juice concentrate or sugar and lowered by adding water.

Mineral content also affects Brix.  It's really a measure of the total dissolved solids, including sugar, minerals, and any other water-soluble compounds.

Generally speaking, when comparing two different fruits of the same species/type, the higher Brix fruit will have more minerals, better taste, and a higher sugar content.

Offline raw-al

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2011, 10:59:29 am »
Could you also say that it indicates (in the case of fruit recently picked) that it indicates its degree of ripeness?
« Last Edit: August 17, 2011, 03:23:58 am by TylerDurden »
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Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2011, 09:56:33 pm »
Could you also say that it indicates (in the case of fruit recently picked) that it indicates it's degree of ripeness?

Yes, that's fairly true. You can't use Brix to compare the ripeness of fruit from two different fields/trees though, because the soil and growing conditions can be very different.

Offline Raw Kyle

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2011, 10:24:38 pm »
So you're mostly advocating against eating the watery fruits, like melon?

Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2011, 03:19:03 am »
So you're mostly advocating against eating the watery fruits, like melon?

Not necessarily, although finding a melon above 11 or 12 Brix is pretty hard.  I definitely eat melons if they Brix high enough.

Offline MarkC

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #23 on: January 19, 2012, 06:40:44 am »
Cheri,

I'm just trying to understand how we can use brix values. Obviously higher brix is better for any given fruit, but can we compare two different types of fruits based on brix values. For example, you mentioned that you do well when refusing to eat fruit with brix values of less than 12. Does this mean that you avoid all non-sweet fruits, such as avocado, tomato, lemon, and lime?

12 seems to be the upper limit for the non-sweet fruits. By contrast, even a poor quality sweet fruit, such as pineapple, will have a brix greater than 12. (http://www.flavoralchemy.com/journal/the-brix-of-sweet-fruit.html).

Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Brix and health
« Reply #24 on: January 19, 2012, 11:44:13 am »
Cheri,

 For example, you mentioned that you do well when refusing to eat fruit with brix values of less than 12. Does this mean that you avoid all non-sweet fruits, such as avocado, tomato, lemon, and lime?

12 seems to be the upper limit for the non-sweet fruits. By contrast, even a poor quality sweet fruit, such as pineapple, will have a brix greater than 12.

I rarely eat tomatoes, and then only the very small tomatoes, since they generally are higher Brix.  As for lemons and limes, who eats those?  I know a few people like to eat them raw, fresh, and by themselves, but it's very rare.

So, yes, I generally avoid them.  As for avocadoes, I have no trouble finding ones that Brix over 12. It takes a little extra work, but it's definitely possible.

So, in general, people tend to gravitate toward the higher-Brix types of fruits for eating fresh and raw. I think that's natural and sensible.The key is to not accept the lower-Brix ones, and buy only the higher-Brix ones.

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