USING A REFRACTOMETER TO TEST THE QUALITY OF FRUITS
Copyright 1994, 1998 by Rex Harrill
PUBLISHED BY PINEKNOLL PUBLISHING
P 0 BOX 6, KEEDYSVILLE, MD 21756
PH/FAX 301-432-2979 Cell phone 301-992-2979
You cannot buy---nor grow---good food until you can
first identify good food
With special thanks to Dave Pelly, a consultant who
truly cares about quality and
who provided the Pelly Chart, proofreading, technical support, and encouragement.
With special thanks to Larry Strite, the Flora-Stim representative who tirelessly
help his clients achieve higher brix levels. Larry spent many hours helping me forge the
finer nuances of Brix=Quality.
FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN NUTRITION
"Perhaps you should eat more fresh fruits and
vegetables," said the doctor...
THESE VEGGIES JUNK, SO-SO, OR SUPER??
TRULY IS THE QUESTION
and the dentist...
and the osteopath...
and the chiropractor...
and the surgeon...
and the nutritionist...
and the herbalist...
and the acupuncturist...
...and the ophthalmologist...
"But they don't taste good," say the
and your spouse...
and your friends...
Well, that's because the food isn't that good. Everyone is certainly
telling you the truth. So, what could the answer be?
The answer is to identify and purchase the higher quality food your
body is craving---it tastes better. If youre a grower, the answer is to GROW better
food---for you, your spouse, your children, your animals, and not least---your customers.
This book is meant to help you see right through the ocean of
misinformation put out by food manufacturers and the sellers of debased agriculture.
Another purpose is to empower you with the ability to make wise choices about the very
substances of life.
Food---real food---is grown on rich and fertile soil. Removing crop
after crop, year after year, rapidly depletes the soil. Simplistic replacement of the NPK
(nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) does NOT replenish the soil and only leads to the sad
insipid excuses so commonly stacked high on supermarket shelves. On the other hand,
balancing the soil---fully mineralizing it to an ideal state---allows the production of
fruits and vegetables of superb flavor and taste---fit for royalty: YOUR family.
There are farmers out there who know how to do the job right.
Demanding the very best helps them. A refractometer can help lead you to the topnotch
growers already doing the job. On the other hand, countless consumers armed with a
measuring tool and saying, "I don't want your sad fare" will wake up the
supermarkets. The produce managers will then wake up that majority of farmers who are
this, indeed, is the needed revolution in Agriculture.
In 1970 the author "inherited" a large garden that had
belonged to a long time J. I. Rodale devotee. As spring rolled around, the next door
neighbor, Mike Lasko, came over and said, "Do you want some help tilling." I
did, and a great friendship was born.
Not too long after the first transplants went out, Mike dropped over
and asked if I had a sprayer. Hearing that I did not, he said, "Well, you've got to
get one---or borrow mine. You'll be needing Malathion soon enough." Being a reader of
Organic Gardening, I declined---with the thought that I would instead try the much-touted
OG 'bug juice' insect control if that became necessary.
Each time that summer that Mike sprayed he would yell over,
"Are you ready to spray?" I kept declining because the bugs never came. What did
come were hungry friends who couldn't seem to get over the great taste of that garden's
bounty. "What variety is that carrot?" they would say. I was several times
accused of playing with the truth when I responded that the 'variety' was simply a 5-cent
pack of seeds I had bought at the drug store on sale.
Another thing that came were customer raves when my wife started
taking the veggie overflow to the office building where she worked. Soon each office was
begging her to see them first. Finally, the customers started looking out the windows to
see when my wife arrived so they could run down the stairs to buy ALL the produce before
she could get in the building.
Yes, that 50' x 150' patch, whose soil had been built up so lovingly
by a previous owner, brought us many spare-time dollars even as it provided abundant
bounty for our table.
In 1987 I bought 16 acres that had been chemically farmed. The very
first vegetables were tasteless. The crop the following year was again tasteless and the
insects were again having a field day---spittle bugs, caterpillars, every pest known to
man seemed to be after those almost bitter turnips, radishes, and other plants. It was
time to do some serious research.
|"Can you believe that you can take
pretty much identical-looking hay from neighboring fields, feed 50 pounds a day from one
field to a cow and have her drop in milk production and get sick, and feed half as
much from the other field and have the cow rise in production and be healthy? What
is the difference between the two samples of hay? QUALITY!"
---Dr. Harold Willis "How To Grow Great Alfalfa"
Anyone who cant make a connection between the above quote and
the importance of only putting high-quality fruits and vegetables into their body is
reading the wrong book.
Dr. Arden Andersen's treatise on ecological agriculture suggested
obtaining a refractometer to test one's output. I did, and small-scale farming has never
been the same for me since. The mystery of that earlier bug-proof garden with its
scrumptious fruits was soon revealed. It's so simple: when the brix is low, the taste is
poor, and the insects come. When the brix is high, the taste is superb and the insects
seem to busy themselves elsewhere. The farmer's job is simply to remineralize and
fertilize in such a way that the plants, properly fed, can develop higher brix.
I've studied much agriculture since then. Clearly, the
conventional farmers should not use toxic chemicals to rescue crops that are obviously
sick---and then sell them to you. However, they can't be blamed: so much of their
education comes via the agriculture schools that are supported by chemical company grants.
On the other hand, I'm often baffled by organic growers who simply substitute dangerous
organic insect controls for the synthetic poisons. Very few people seem to understand what
the word quality truly should mean.
(Poor, Average, Good, Excellent) Testing of Fruits & Vegetables for True Quality by utilizing a simple tool,
the hand refractometer.
The quality of fruits & vegetables served to themselves and,
particularly, their children, concerns everyone. That concern naturally extends to the
feedstuffs consumed by livestock when YOU and YOUR CHILDREN consume livestock production.
It is unreasonable to expect top quality eggs, milk, cheese, and meat from animals fed on
poor or average quality feed.
And, it is equally unreasonable to expect humans to be strong,
healthy, and clear thinking if they are fed poor or average quality fruits and vegetables.
Nor should we expect to take up extreme dietary regimens that fail to address
quality without expecting negative, perhaps deadly, results somewhere down the road.
Many books, charts. and computer programs purport to show mineral
& vitamin content of various foods. Libraries and bookstores have entire shelves of
books reporting supposed food values. It may come as a shock to you to be told that
information consists of average values collected by writers from sources such as the
United States Department of Agriculture or the various universities.
Did you know that there are many animal feed testing laboratories
across the US and throughout the world? Livestock farmers simply cannot work to
"tables." There is little room for guessing. Their livelihood depends on
knowing exactly what feed value is in the hay and other feedstuffs they produce, buy, or
sell. Very few feedstuffs are sold where the actual makeup and inherent values are not
actually tested and reported.
How strange it is that we base the nutrition for
ourselves and our children on tables that many animal growers scorn.
The USDA performs some tests, but often uses results from approved
private food laboratories across the USA. Sadly, the USDA is mainly concerned with size,
color, and appearance grading standards. They must walk a political tight-rope for
as surely as they would admit that some produce is of high quality they
would be simultaneously confessing that most farm produce is of low quality.
The only agreement is that QUALITY varies tremendously. Some authors
claim that the best quality fruits & vegetables have up to 1000 times (times,
not percent) more vitamins & minerals than other fruits and vegetables that pass the
same USDA size, color, and appearance standards.
Think about "average values." If YOU start testing your
own food, YOU will soon dislike AVERAGE. It will have as bad a taste in your mouth as the
average quality fruits & vegetables the grocer now sells you.
|Questions, questions---people do ask
questions. The questions tend to change from time to time and, hopefully, the answers
will, too. For the brix concept is as modern a science as can be---and it is evolving day
by day. Many people who read the words on these pages develop an uneasy feeling. They
begin to understand that most of what they have been taught about fruit and vegetable
quality is far from the truth. It is a small step from there to a wonderment as to whether
the food they have bought (or grown) has really been the best available for themselves and
their children. Perhaps you have a question, too. If so, send it to Rex Harrill, PO
Box 6, Keedysville, MD 21756. Or just call 301-432-2979 Cellphone 301-992-2979
· Children who give an average response to average food will give a
GOOD response to GOOD food because IT TASTES SO GOOD. The response is even better to Excellent
food. Excellent is the taste that you perhaps fondly remember from your own childhood
when, say, your favorite uncle appeared with a delectable apple, peach, or melon.
· YOU will start moving away from AVERAGE and gravitating to those
growers or vendors who can deliver GOOD or EXCELLENT food.
Sure, you, the consumer, are free to send an item to a food
laboratory. However, the report is not free and it only enlightens you about food consumed
long, long, ago. A refractometer speaks to you about what you hold in your hand this
very moment. The instant information it delivers allows you to buy more of what you
really want and less of what you dont.
IS A BETTER WAY
There is a simple process where YOU can test quality at the point of
sale. There is a way to test a small sample of any given produce and then make a fully
informed decision. YOU decide if that produce is what YOU want to feed yourself or your
Its probable that the need for the concepts explained in this
book has never been greater. The world is awash in a sea of misinformation about
nutrition. For instance, any search of the Internet reveals never-ending comment and
argument about "mans proper diet." I monitor many such discussions with
amusement for it becomes immediately obvious that the participants, whether they be
physicians, chiropractors, nutritionists, farmers, veterinarians, or laymen, know nothing
of the quality of what they discuss.
However, the author is neither a licensed physician nor
nutritionist. The information conveyed in this book is just that---information. It
represents my lifetime of research, study, discussion, reasoning, contemplation, and
conclusions about the nature, and effects, of the fresh fruits and vegetables that go into
the human body. I fully intend to comply with the laws of the singular, and the united,
States in their attempts to prevent consumer fraud and scam through often draconian food
and drug regulations. Those laws generally call for a disclaimer that recommends a reader
should consult their licensed health professional prior to adopting any practice described
Please consult your licensed health care
professional before doing anything this book suggests if you have any doubts whatsoever.
IS INCREDIBLY SIMPLE AND THE RESULT IS INSTANTANEOUS!
1) Squeeze a drop. 2) Peek at the screen. 3) Check
AND OUTS OF BRIX TESTING
Yes, the testing truly is as easy as child's play. Fruit &
vegetable QUALITY correlates to the amount of dissolved solids in plant sap (fresh juice).
All you need are the right tools and you can seldom be fooled again when buying produce.
In this book are charts showing the relation of total soluble solids
(TSS) to QUALITY. Your taste buds will prove the charts are TRUTHFUL.
REPEAT: YOUR TASTE BUDS WILL PROVE THE CHARTS ARE TRUTHFUL.
THE ORIGIN OF THE
Professor A. F. W. Brix was a 19th Century German chemist (b.1798,
d.1890). He was the first to measure the density of plant juices by floating a hydrometer
in them. The winemakers of Europe were concerned that they could not predict which of
various grape juices would make the best wine. Being able to judge quality ahead of actual
bottling was of immense importance in an industry where a bottle of the best wine might
sell for hundreds of times more than a bottle of everyday wine. Professor Brix was greeted
as a great hero when he emerged from his laboratory to claim his most generous prize. He
was also honored by having the measuring process named after him.
- BRIX is a measure of the percent solids (TSS) in a given weight of
plant juice---nothing more---and nothing less.
- BRIX is often expressed another way: BRIX equals the percentage of
sucrose. However, if you study the contents of this book, you will soon enough understand
that the "sucrose" can vary widely. For, indeed, the BRIX is actually a
summation of the pounds of sucrose, fructose, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins,
hormones, and other solids in one hundred pounds of any particular plant juice.
- BRIX varies directly with plant QUALITY. For instance, a poor, sour
tasting grape from worn out land can test 8 or less BRIX. On the other hand, a full
flavored, delicious grape, grown on rich, fertile soil can test 24 or better BRIX.
I suggest that you remember that sugar is only one of the components
of brix. Also remember that many other substances can falsely indicate "brix"
readings (although those readings are valid in their own right). Try rubbing alcohol,
whiskey, vinegar, or wine. Interestingly, cooking oil, molasses, syrup, and other
thick liquids require a refractometer calibrated to read 30-90 brix. Honey is checked with
a refractometer calibrated to measure the water within it instead of the solids in the
Professor Brixs hydrometer worked, but it was cumbersome and
required a tall graduate of juice to actually conduct the measure. This was OK for the
vineyard wine cellar, but a nuisance to the grower in the field who wished to squeeze
perhaps a single growing grape to judge its potential quality.
I really am driven by an absolute
conviction that our culture (and nation) are in danger of degenerating and dying out. To survive, we
must feed our kids higher quality foods and it will never happen until families can
identify good food and distinguish it from chemically grown junk.
Heres an interesting diversion that may help
you understand where I'm coming from. Visit your dentist and ask him how many mouths he
looks in that have properly developed dental arches. Our children are being fed food so
poor in minerals that the average kids jaw cannot fully fill out. That is why wisdom
teeth have to be removed. That is why so many kids are in braces. Take that knowledge and
start studying the faces of the kids you see on the street. The mouth is only a window
into the body. Those thin faces; with poorly formed mouth arches; with crowded teeth
trying to push past one another; are accompanied by fragile, low-density, bones. Our race
is in danger of dying out. High quality food is not important only because it tastes better...it is vital for us to
Why do you both farm and tell the Brix story?
Read Dr. Weston Price's Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
It is a timeless message that will shock you.
if you want a copy ($23 includes domestic
A refractometer is an optical device that takes advantage of the
fact that light passing through a liquid bends or refracts. Thicker, i.e., more dense,
liquids refract more. Solids dissolved in a liquid will cause it to exhibit a refractive
index in direct relation to the amount of solids. A refractometer substitutes a calibrated
prism and an etched screen for the liquid. Refraction is extremely exact and no modern
chemist wishes to be without a refractometer.
Table model refraction measuring devices date back to the
1600s. Although lost to antiquity, it appears that some scientist, or perhaps
artisan, developed a workable portable model sometime in the latter 1800s. By the
1920s, rather bulky "hand" models were in use in many vineyards.
Although complicated in construction, a modern hand refractometer is
extremely easy to use.
Todays hand refractometer we are discussing looks almost like
a small 5" or 6" long telescope, but it has a prism at the end opposite the
viewfinder. A calibrated hand refractometer allows determination of a reading or degree
brix when you place a drop of juice on the prism and flatten it with the attached cover
While widespread farming use (other than vineyards) traces back only
some 20+ years, other (industrial & commercial) uses of hand refractometers are
decades older. The devices are simple, accurate, durable, and easily carried. A
refractometer's initial expense seems lessened as you use one and realize it will last as
long as a pair of fine binoculars. It may even become a much-sought heirloom for family
DOCTORS NORTHERN AND REAMS
Carey A. Reams, D. Sc. (1904-1985), owned an agricultural consulting
service in Orlando from the late 1920s to the late 1960s when he took up
teaching full time. Although servicing mainly the citrus industry, the company provided
high-level consulting to dozens of other crops.
Reams was deeply influenced by the work of Dr. Charles Northern, an
Alabama physician who stridently protested against the mineral poor food that clogged
commercial channels and markets. Northern entered history when his powerful health-is-dependent-on-minerals
research, as recorded by Rex Beach in an article in Cosmopolitan, was read into U. S.
Senate testimony. Yes, this is the famous 1936 Senate Document No. 264 that is so widely
quoted by hucksters selling liquid minerals. Sadly, those hucksters rarely bother to
mention that humans are designed to get their minerals from food, not inorganic solutions.
Perhaps we should revisit parts of the original article and see what wisdom we can glean.
Rex Beach speaking
He [Northern] asked himself how foods could be used intelligently in
the treatment of disease, when they differed so widely in content. The answer seemed to be
that they could not be used intelligently. In establishing the fact that serious
deficiencies existed and in searching out the reasons therefore, he made an extensive
study of the soil. It was he who first voiced the surprising assertion that we must make
soil building the basis of food building in order to accomplish human building.
"Bear in mind," says Dr. Northern, "that minerals are
vital to human metabolism and health - and that no plant or animal can appropriate to
itself any mineral which is not present in the soil upon which it feeds."
"When I first made this statement I was ridiculed, for up to
that time people had paid little attention to food deficiencies and even less to soil
deficiencies. Men eminent in medicine denied there was any such thing as vegetables and
fruits that did not contain sufficient minerals for human needs. Eminent agricultural
authorities insisted that all soil contained all necessary minerals. They reasoned that
plants take what they need, and that it is the function of the human body to appropriate
what it requires. Failure to do so, they said was a symptom of disorder."
"We know that vitamins are complex chemical substances which
are indispensable to nutrition, and that each of them is of importance for the normal
function of some special structure in the body. Dis-order and disease result from any
"It is not commonly realized, however, that vitamins control
the bodys appropriation of minerals, and in the absence of minerals they have no
function to perform. Lacking vitamins, the system can make some use of minerals, but
lacking minerals, vitamins are useless."
"Neither does the layman realize that there may be a pronounced
difference in both foods and soils - to him one vegetable, one glass of milk, or one egg
is about the same as another.
"Dirt is dirt, too, and our layman assumes that by adding a
little fertilizer to it, a satisfactory vegetable or fruit can be grown."
"The truth is that our foods vary enormously in value, and some
of them arent worth eating, as food. For example, vegetation grown in one part of
the country may assay 1,100 parts, per billion, of iodine, as against 20 in that grown
elsewhere. Processed milk has run anywhere from 362 parts, per million, of iodine and 127
of iron, down to nothing. [Note: commercial milk tends to run about 10-11 brix,
whereas the very best milk can run up to 20 brix]
"Some of our lands, even in a virgin state, never were well
balanced in mineral content, and unhappily for us, we have been systematically robbing the
poor soils and the good soils alike of the very substance most necessary to health,
growth, long life, and resistance to disease. Up to the time I began experimenting, almost
nothing had been done to make good the theft.
"The more I studied nutritional problems and the effects of
mineral deficiencies upon disease, the more plainly I saw that here lay the most direct
approach to better health, and the more important it became in my mind to find a method of
restoring those missing minerals to our foods.
"The subject interested me so profoundly that I retired from
active medical practice and for a good many years now I have devoted myself to it."
The results obtained by Dr. Northern are outstanding. By putting
back into foods the stuff that foods are made of, he has proved himself to be a real
miracle man of medicine, for he has opened up the shortest and most rational route to
· He showed that it should be done, and then that it could be
· He doubled and redoubled the natural mineral content of fruits
· He improved the quality of milk by increasing the iron and the
iodine in it.
· He caused hens to lay eggs richer in the vital elements.
· By scientific soil feeding, he raised better seed potatoes in
Maine, better grapes in California, better oranges in Florida and better field crops in
Before going further into the results he has obtained, lets
see just what is involved in this matter of "mineral deficiencies", what it may
mean to our health, and how it may affect the growth and development, both mental and
physical, of our children.
We know that rats, guinea pigs, and other animals can be fed into a
diseased condition and out again by controlling only the minerals in their food.
A 10-year test with rats proved that by withholding calcium they can
be bred down to a third the size of those fed with an adequate amount of that mineral.
Their intelligence, too, can be controlled by mineral feeding as readily as can their
size, their bony structure, and their general health.
Place a number of these little animals inside a maze after starving
some of them in a certain mineral element. The starved ones will be unable to find their
way out, whereas the others will have little or no difficulty in getting out. Their
dispositions can be altered by mineral feeding. They can be made quarrelsome and
belligerent; they can even be turned into cannibals and be made to devour each other.
A cageful of normal rats will live in amity. Restrict their calcium,
and they become irritable and draw apart from one another. Then they will begin to fight.
Restore their calcium balance and they will grow more friendly; in time they will begin to
sleep in a pile as before.
It is now agreed that at least 16 mineral elements are indispensable
for normal nutrition, and several more are always found in small amounts in the body,
although their precise physiological role has not been determined. Of the 11 indispensable
salts, calcium, phosphorus, and iron are perhaps the most important.
Calcium is the dominant nerve controller; it powerfully affects the
cell formation of all living things and regulates nerve action. It governs contractility
of the muscles and the rhythmic beat of the heart. It also coordinates the other mineral
elements and corrects disturbances made by them. I t works only in sunlight. Vitamin D is
Dr. Harold C. Sherman of Columbia University asserts that 50 percent
of the American people are starving for calcium. A recent article in the Journal of the
American Medical Association, stated that out of 4,000 cases in New York Hospital, only 2
were not suffering from a lack of calcium.
What does a deficiency mean? How would it affect your health or
mine? So many morbid conditions and actual diseases may result that it is almost hopeless
to catalog them. Included in the list are rickets, bony deformities, bad teeth, nervous
disorders, reduced resistance to other diseases, fatigability, and behavior disturbances
such as incorrigibility, assaultiveness, nonadaptability.
Heres one specific example: The soil around a certain Midwest
city is poor in calcium. Three hundred children of this community were examined and nearly
90 percent had bad teeth, 69 percent showed affections of the nose and throat, swollen
glands, enlarged or diseased tonsils. More than one-third had defective vision, round
shoulders, bowlegs, and anemia.
Calcium and phosphorus appear to pull in double harness. A child
requires as much per day as two grown men, but studies indicate a common deficiency of
both in our food. Researcher on farm animals point to a deficiency of one or the other as
the cause of serious losses to the farmers, and when the soil is poor in phosphorus these
animals become bone-chewers. Dr. McCollum says that when there are enough phosphates in
the blood there can be no dental decay.
Iron is an essential constituent of the oxygen-carrying pigment of
the blood: iron starvation results in anemia, and yet iron cannot be assimilated unless
some copper is contained in the diet. In Florida many cattle die from an obscure disease
called "salt sickness." It has been found to arise from a lack of iron and
copper in the soil and hence in the grass. A man may starve for want of these elements
just as a beef critter starves.
If iodine is not present in our foods the function of the thyroid
gland is disturbed and goiter afflicts us. The human body requires only
fourteen-thousandths of a milligram daily, yet we have a distinct "goiter-belt"
in the Great Lakes section, and in parts of the Northwest the soil is so poor in iodine
that the disease is common.
So it goes, down through the list, each mineral element playing a
definite role in nutrition. A characteristic set of symptoms, just as specific as any
vitamin-deficiency disease, follows a deficiency in any one of them. It is alarming,
therefore, to face the fact that we are starving for these precious, health-giving
Very well, you say, if our foods are poor in the mineral salts they
are supposed to contain, why not resort to dosing [supplements]?
That is precisely what is being done, or being attempted. However,
those who should know assert that the human system cannot appropriate those elements to
the best advantage in any but the food form. At best, only a part of them in the form of
drugs can be utilized by the body, and certain dietitians go so far as to say it is a
waste of effort to fool with them. Calcium, for instance, cannot be supplied in any form
of medication with lasting effect.
But there is a more potent reason why the curing of diet
deficiencies by drugging has not worked out so well. Consider those 16 indispensable
elements and those others that presumably perform some obscure function as yet
undetermined. Aside from calcium and phosphorus, they are needed only in infinitesimal
quantities, and the activity of one may be dependent upon the presence of another. To
determine the precise requirements of each individual case and to attempt to weigh it out
on a druggists scales would appear hopeless.
It is a problem and a serious one. But here is the hopeful side of
the picture: Nature can and will solve it if she is encouraged to do so.
It is merely a question of giving back to nature the materials with
which she works.
We must rebuild our soils: Put back the minerals we have taken out.
That sounds difficult but it isnt. Neither is it expensive.
Therein lies the short cut to better health and longer life.
When Dr. Northern first asserted that many foods were lacking in
mineral content and that this deficiency was due solely to an absence of those elements in
the soil, his findings were challenged and he was called a crank. But differences of
opinion in the medical profession are not uncommon - it was only 60 years ago that the
Medical Society of Boston passed a resolution condemning the use of bathtubs and he
persisted in his assertion that inasmuch as foods did not contain what they were supposed
to contain, no physician could with certainty prescribe a diet to overcome physical ills.
He showed that the textbooks are not dependable because many of the
analyses in them were made many years ago, perhaps from products raised in virgin soils,
whereas our soils have been constantly depleted. Soil analyses, he pointed out, reflect
only the content of samples. One analysis may be entirely different from another made 10
"And so what?" came the query.
Dr. Northern undertook to demonstrate that something could be
done about it. By reestablishing a proper soil balance he actually grew crops that
contained an ample amount of the desired minerals.
This was incredible. It was contrary to the books and it upset
everything connected with diet practice. The scoffers began to pay attention to him.
Recently the Southern Medical Association, realizing the hopelessness of trying to remedy
nutritional deficiencies without positive factors to work with, recommended a careful
study to determine the real mineral content of foodstuffs and the variations due to soil
depletion in different locations. These progressive medical men are awake to the
importance of prevention.
Dr. Northern went even further and proved that crops grown in a
properly mineralized soil were bigger and better; that seeds germinated quicker, grew more
rapidly and made larger plants; that trees were healthier and put on more fruit of better
By increasing the mineral content of citrus fruit he likewise
improved its texture, its appearance and its flavor.
He experimented with a variety of growing things, and in every case
the story was the same. By mineralizing the feed at poultry farms, he got more and better
eggs; by balancing pasture soils, he produced richer milk. Persistently he hammered home
to farmers, to doctors, and to the general public the thought that life depends upon the
REENTER DR. CAREY REAMS
Reams verified that the "soft" rock phosphate, washed away
as an "impurity" while cleaning "hard" phosphate rock during the
manufacture of acidulated phosphoric fertilizers was, indeed, a prime resource for the
biological farmer. Combined with poultry litter and high-calcium lime, and all under the
watchful eye of Reams, the formerly disdained soft rock phosphate produced superb
highly-mineralized citrus as well as other crops.
Reams was well aware that citrus crop quality was directly
proportional to juice richness. His years of incessant laboratory experiments had proven,
over and over, that the mineral content of a crop marched in lockstep to the
"heaviness" of the juice it contained.
History does not record when Reams first realized that the concept
applied to other crops than grapes and oranges. Nor does history record when he first
picked up a refractometer and said, "I wonder?" Did someone else say, " Dr.
Reams, take a look at this," or did it come to him as inspiration?
Whatever the answer to those questions, it is known that he created
a bombshell in the early 1970s when he, refractometer in hand, walked into the
office of ACRES USA and placed a simple chart on the editors desk. That chart
correlated brix numbers with four general quality levels for most fruits and vegetables.
Copied innumerous times, it has made its way around the world over and over.
IT---YOULL LIKE IT
You can easily get a drop of juice from most soft fruits, but some
vegetables require a sturdy garlic press. Extreme cases require crushing pliers---and
rarely---a blender. Understandably, juicing enthusiasts find this the easiest step.
- YOU, not some scientist in a lab coat, can test the food you want to
- YOU can determine QUALITY at the point of sale.
- YOU will gain back a little control over YOUR life.
Please take readings immediately after getting the juice drop. If
the juice dries on the prism, it will give a false reading. You must also be wary when
testing dehydrated produce. Drying of a drop, or an entire fruit, creates a false high
However, only HIGH QUALITY produce dehydrates. HIGH BRIX produce
ADAMANTLY RESISTS ROTTING IN STORAGE! Check this claim yourself by testing and storing
HIGH-BRIX fruit or other produce.
The above statement always comes as a shock to a lecture audience.
The typical consumer has been conditioned to expect fruits and vegetables to decompose.
That is why I must repeat the above sentence: good food will NOT rot in storage. Please,
please, check this claim yourself by testing and then storing HIGH-BRIX fruit or other
produce in your refrigerator, or even on a windowsill.
Once you depart your current thinking and enter the poor-food-rots
/ good-food-doesnt paradigm, everything else in this book will make sense.
The basic Reams chart that follows is still widely
disseminated by Pike Agri-Lab in Maine. Dr. Reams' widow insists that before he died he
spoke often of Mr. Pike's invaluable assistance in helping finalize Brix=Quality crop
Ray Neilson, president of Circle-One in Brooksville, FL publishes
the following chart, which I call simply, the Neilson Chart. Circle-One formulates
and distributes a wide range of ecologically sound farm products designed to increase
plant brix levels (as well as yields). Certain of his numbers reflect continuing research
that he has done in the more tropical regions.
Another reproduced chart, which I have dubbed the "Reams
Composite," is compiled from five associated sources:
- ACRES, USA, an ECOLOGICAL farm newspaper edited by Fred &
- THE ANATOMY OF LIFE & ENERGY IN AGRICULTURE by Dr. Arden
Andersen, D.O., Ph.D.
- NOURISHMENT, HOME GROWN by Dr. A. F. Beddoe, DDS
- MAINLINE FARMING FOR CENTURY 21 by Dr. Dan Skow, D.V.M.
- HOW TO GROW GREAT ALFALFA AND OTHER FORAGES by Dr. Harold Willis,
This chart has extensions to show certain brix levels conferring
plant immunity from insect, bacterial, fungal, or viral attack. The theory (field-proven
time and again) is that healthy plants are almost always spared pest attack
Another chart follows which is published by BEDA BIOLOGICS in
Kitchener, Ontario. This chart shows remarkably high, but reachable, values for some of
the cooler weather fruits and vegetables. David Pelly, the consultant owner of BEDA, feels
comfortable that continuing research will cause him to republish his work from time to
time as his research leads him to ways to grow yet higher quality produce.
ALL researchers credit Dr. Reams with originating the BRIX=QUALITY
Yes, a careful reader will notice differences in the charts.
Happily, a careful taster will notice that produce rated excellent by any chart has truly
outstanding taste and flavor with but rare exceptions. The explanation for a major faux
pas that possibly went to the grave with Reams is reflected in his chart value for
"sweet cherries." I interviewed one Washington State cherry grower who chuckled
at Reams "16 = excellent" assignment and who said, "I wont harvest my
Bings until I see 25 brix." Youll notice that the Pelly chart lists excellent
cherries as 25 brix or better.
Various charts may be duplicated in the back of this book as space
permits. The intention is that you may care to detach the pages and keep them handy in
multiple places such as your car, purse, or kitchen. Online readers can easily cut and
paste the charts for printout.
GENERAL NOTES FOR
· Any extended DISEASE FREE figures in parentheses are the plant
brix readings at (or above) NO DISEASE OR INSECT will infest the plant. Although they were
unfamiliar with refractometers, this was the great secret that such men as Sir Albert
Howard and J. I. Rodale inherently knew.
- It is possible to have values higher than excellent (as shown by
various disease-free readings). More than likely, future practice will be to show
"+" by the excellent values as it now seems that upper limits may never
be known. For instance, Bob Pike once lectured about 28 brix strawberries being grown in
- As a GENERAL rule of thumb, 12, or better, brix
readings confer reasonable plant pest immunity. This is true of both fruit and leaf
- Unknown (unmarked) values are still being researched.
- If you garden, or farm, care about QUALITY, and want POISON FREE
food, you will find brix values vital. Maintaining HIGH BRIX values frees you from
spraying toxic substances.
You may sometimes find that you have to use a leaf (where the leaf
is not the plant part you eat) to get your test drop. While this may help you determine
the better of two plants, the majority of data in the quality charts refers to the eaten
In Nature, the plant has a single goal: to reproduce. However, it is
obvious that the plant must survive to maturity if it is to achieve that goal. In a
perfect world, the plant develops 12 or better brix in its leaves. This resource, this
goodness, this BRIX is transported to the roots and shared with the healthy
bacteria growing in the root rhizosphere. The bacteria, using this gift of energy,
"bloom" profusely and create many substances from soil minerals---substances
critical for the plant to complete its life cycle.
Later, assuming the plant was successful in defending itself against
pests and disease, it will start maturing the parts needed for that primary directive:
reproduction. In other words, say, any apple tree will proceed to produce the very best
apple that it can. The best tasting apple is the fruit most likely to be selected by an
apple lover. Of course, the apple lover also takes the seed that is inside the
apple---always with the possibility that those seeds may possibly be planted elsewhere.
Many scientific growers are adopting the Pike Agri-Lab Tissue Test
methods where great attention is paid to maintaining leaf values at 12 or better, brix.
The sap translocation process is well understood and from long experience it is known that
the ripened fruit which follows those high leaf brix values can reach 20 or more brix.
Please remember that we are speaking of a dynamic process. Plants
that are deficient in one or more of the minerals needed for optimum health can generate
excessive brix in their leaves that may be blocked from translocating to the roots and
stem. For instance, 25+ brix values in blueberry leaves have been recorded, but where the
fruit ultimately only reached 12 brix. Although these values are high, most readers will
readily recognize that optimum conditions were not prevailing.
Sadly, some modern hybrid plants (sweet corn for instance) have been
bred to excessively translocate sugar. They can give high ear readings even as the stalks
and leaves are giving relatively low readings.
You will find pest problems persist until you achieve higher leaf
and stalk readings¾ the target is always 12+. That knowledge becomes invaluable when
gardeners or farmers need to monitor plant quality in early growth stages.
You may be a grower, consumer, or both. Although the selling
growers goals are sometimes at variance with those of the consumer, both benefit
from any increase in brix values. Hopefully, both will work in tandem to improve the
quality of the food supply.
A GENTLE WARNING
A first natural inclination for many people is to test the fruits of
their labor from their garden. Bruised feelings are common when their personal pride and
joy indicates less than high quality. Be happy that YOU now have the knowledge needed to
inspire you to grow higher quality fruits and vegetables. And you may rest assured that
judging the quality of your neighbors garden as anything less than "good"
or "excellent" will cause difficulty. Another phenomenon I often encounter
is where the new brix convert starts rejecting produce that doesn't measure
"excellent." The strange thing is that they will reject items that they
would have eagerly bought back when they could not tell good from bad. Please let
the refractometer guide you toward better food. For instance, if you have
unknowingly used poor grade spinach to make salad in the past I would
suggest you now look for average or good spinach with an eye
toward pinpointing excellent spinach at some future time.
AND A FEW NOTES
- Spicy or pungent foods (such as onions or hot peppers) are tested for
QUALITY the same as any other.
- The refractometer is not truly a ripeness tester, although it is used
in that sense by many Departments of Agriculture. For instance, many Departments allow
cantaloupe to be picked once it tests 9 brix (this is what you normally find on
salad bars). However, excellent cantaloupe is 16 brix or better.
- Produce CANNOT gain minerals (increase in QUALITY) after detachment
from the mother plant or the soil.
- Ignore vendor's comments about produce somehow ripening into better
quality. Particularly ignore vendor's signs reading SWEET. YOU now have the means,
using a refractometer of determining true quality. Youll never be fooled again by
their cry of "Sweet!"
TASTE & FLAVOR
All creatures with a sense of taste use it to help them select
nutritious food. You will rediscover that good tasting food is more satisfying than
everyday fare. You will quickly learn that HIGH BRIX food actually tastes wonderful.
Interestingly, once you rediscover the great taste of high brix food, you may find the
artificial flavorings you once tolerated objectionable. Certainly, you will find it
difficult to eat poorer quality fruits & vegetables so easily as your taste sense is
once again "recalibrated" to the great flavor of higher brix produce.
The refractometer is a tool---no more---no less. It is used to help
you select HIGHER QUALITY foods containing more vitamins and minerals. You will
immediately notice the direct relation between flavor and brix. You should find the
refractometer quickly helping you regain your ability to select good food by taste alone.
This re-developed skill can serve you well at both restaurant and supermarket.
However, you should remember that variety affects taste. That will
not change the fact that a high brix item of any produce is better tasting than a low brix
item of the same produce. For instance, some people prefer tart apples and some like sweet
varieties. An excellent quality Winesap apple, while wonderful to some eaters, may be too
tart for those who like, say, Red Delicious. In like manner the 42 brix specialty
wine grape often holds small attraction for the connoisseur of eating grapes, who may be
ecstatic at finding a 24 brix Ribier.
STAGES OF TESTING AS A CONSUMER
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Immediately begin to re-learn that taste is as important as all other
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Do be discreet and not disturb other customers.
THE STAGES OF TESTING
AS A GARDENER OR FARMER
- IN THE FIELD
Start by testing your
finished produce when it is ready for harvest. Recognize that HIGH QUALITY produce comes
from HIGH QUALITY plants. Test the leaves of your plants that are not ready for harvest.
If they continually test high as the days go by, the harvest will ultimately test high.
Start your testing earlier next season. You are no longer operating
blindly. Adjust your fertilization to increase leaf brix. The QUALITY of your produce will
be far higher. An excellent
step-by-step program using pH & electrical conductivity to adjust leaf brix
upwards has been developed by Bob Pike. This method removes much of the traditional
guesswork that formerly dominated the "try this---try that" school of how to
2. OBSERVE THAT INSECTS, VIRUS, BACTERIA, AND FUNGUS ONLY ATTACK
LOW BRIX PLANTS
Chemical control of plant pests is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Each year, the chemical companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars advertising their
products purportedly to control insects, viruses, bacteria, and fungus. The
chemical companies spend more millions conducting and sponsoring field tests that attempt
to prove the special worth of their particular products.
However, their tests assume that all pests voraciously attack all
green plants. That premise brings forth the following questions:
What kept the pests from multiplying, and then devouring, everything
green millions of years ago? Why is the Earth not a bare rock now?
Understandably, the chemical companies shy away from these
questions. Most are well aware that pest problems occur in fields fertilized with NPK.
The true answer is that pests are extremely selective in what they
eat. Selectivity is well known. For instance, a cabbageworm dropped in a cornfield starves
to death in the midst of plenty. Similarly, corn-smut fungus spores landing in a cabbage
patch quietly die.
HIGH-QUALITY organic growers have, for generations, calmly stated
that pests leave their produce alone. They are telling the truth. However, the truth of
their observations is often clouded by the pests that LOW-QUALITY organic growers battle
with garlic sprays and other concoctions.
Simply stated, unhealthy plants attract pests. Parallels are well
known in nature. Predators are drawn to the weakest, most unhealthy, animals in a herd.
Another thought is that the syrupy nature of high brix plant juices
is simply too difficult for sucking insects, such as aphids, to ingest. In all likelihood
they depart in frustration to seek out the watery chemical grown produce of the
Finally, some students of BRIX=QUALITY theorize that alcohol plays a
major part in plant/pest interaction. Apparently, insects, unlike warm-blooded creatures
have no mechanism in their blood to prevent sugar from rapidly fermenting to alcohol.
Therefore, they reason an insect feeding on a HIGH BRIX plant would suffer toxic effects
from sugar fermentation in their blood. They reason, further, that predators easily catch
toxic (or tipsy) insects¾ removing them from the gene pool.
Some alcohol theorists add yet another concept: namely that formed
alcohol tends to dissolve the waxy seal exo-skeleton creatures employ to prevent fatal
dehydration in hot fields.
Whatever---the reasoning goes on to suggest that insects feeding
indiscriminately on HIGH BRIX plants fail to survive evolutionary pressures.
Although there is scant official research to validate any of these
theories, there is wide agreement among non-toxic farmers the world around that healthy
plants are immune to insect attack and disease.
- OBSERVE THAT HIGH LEAF BRIX READINGS PROTECT AGAINST FROST
Pure water freezes at 32 degrees Farenheit. However, a 5 brix water-sugar mixture
freezes at 26 degrees; a 10 brix mixture at 22 degrees; and a 15 brix mixture wont
freeze until it reaches 17 degrees. Plant frost damage (killing) occurs when ice
crystals rupture plant cells. Many HIGH BRIX growers find their production season extended
because the first few light frosts no longer harm their crop.
a sugar-water mixture is not exactly the same as brix, consumers would be wise to
recognize that the last local field-grown produce is almost assuredly the highest
brix and therefore the highest quality. Such growers are worth seeking out.
Note: Some refractometer models are calibrated to directly show the
temperatures needed to freeze certain liquids.
- Price your output accordingly
Once you understand that your produce is sweeter and more nutritious
than average, you should be prepared to show your customers why it is worth more.
THAT USE REFRACTOMETERS
Refractometers are used extensively in commercial food manufacture.
Individual instruments range from $100+ hand-held models to digital read-out laboratory
types costing many thousands of dollars. Hundreds of major corporations routinely use
refractometers to control processes, concentrations, and solutions. For instance, the soda
dispensing machines so common in corner stores and gasoline stations are checked for
accuracy with a hand refractometer.
Note: PINEKNOLL maintains lists of company names and will furnish
Photostatted copies upon request. Please send a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) and
$1 to cover copying costs & handling if you need this information.
FOR QUALITY WITHOUT A REFRACTOMETER
Of course YOU may wish to check your family's food QUALITY without
buying an industrial grade device. Testers obtain identical results by floating an
inexpensive hydrometer in a container filled with fresh made juice. You may have a friend
who homebrews beer who has a brix hydrometer (although many have shifted to
refractometers). Actually, as earlier stated, the hydrometer was the tool first used by
Professor Brix. One drawback, of course, is the inconvenience of requiring a pint or more
of fresh juice. Another is that it is impossible (or very difficult) to gage the diffusion
(of which more will be said later).
The same companies that sell refractometers often sell hydrometers.
USE IN WINE MAKING
Wineries routinely determine the anticipated quality of wine during
grape harvest with a refractometer. Those vintners who purchase grapes from independent
growers base payment on brix numbers. Vintners learned long ago that HIGH BRIX grapes are
the raw material needed for HIGH QUALITY wine.
Consumers are rapidly learning that HIGH-BRIX equals HIGH QUALITY in
all fruits and vegetables.
A drop of plant juice starts drying immediately. Wind and sun speed
the drying. If you suspect that your test drop dried enough to affect your result, clean
your refractometer and start over. It only takes a moment
Experts suggest that you re-check most tests when you first start
using your own refractometer. The ability to duplicate your work by crosschecking is a
powerful confidence builder.
Be alert for fading of the demarcation line in the viewing screen.
Fading means the sample is drying on the prism. Do not confuse this with fuzziness
(blurring---see below) f the demarcation line. You may want to gain experience at spotting
fading with your refractometer. Place the smallest drop on the prism that will give a
demarcation line. Then examine the screen for a minute or so. Fading should occur fairly
soon as the moisture evaporates.
Dehydration is necessary when preparing certain foods. For instance,
you must remove many gallons of water from maple sap to make a gallon of maple syrup. A
refractometer user could determine in advance exactly how many gallons to evaporate by
checking the brix of the fresh sap.
Some refractometer users also know raw sap with HIGH BRIX produces
far better, tastier, and more abundant syrup.
Stored fruit & vegetables either rot or dehydrate. Rotting in
storage is an unmistakable sign of poor quality. Dehydration is an absolute sign of HIGH
QUALITY. The purveyors of low-quality fruits and vegetables seem willing to resist this
fact until the end of time. Many consumers are terribly confused on this point because
they have been conditioned to cut off rotting portions of a fruit or vegetable and eat the
Please understand that testing the juice from a dehydrated item of
produce can be misleading. Your refractometer will indicate a higher than true brix. While
seldom a problem when selecting foods, checking leave tissues in a field of heat-stressed
plants can result in erroneous readings. You should avoid using a refractometer to check
any plant with any possibility of lack of turgor¾ i.e., droopy leaves. Even when drought
is not apparent, it is best to check leaves as early in the morning as possible.
ADVANCED USE (blurry
- A less-than-sharp demarcation line (blurry/fuzzy/diffused) on the
screen is an indication of varied atom distribution¾ i.e., an excellent mixture of
minerals. For instance, many veteran refractometer users grow forages for animals and also
have access to standard lab tests (so as to make possible direct comparisons of brix
vis-à-vis other lab tests). They are adamant in insisting a sharp demarcation is
an indication of increased simple sugar and therefore lesser high-quality
protein (and other life-enhancing substances) at any given brix level.
Conversely, they suggest a blurry/fuzzy line predicts more, and
better quality, proteins (*). Interestingly, the fuzzy line concept appears to be
supported by the ability of astronomers to use refracted light to determine the elemental
makeup of distant stars. Starlight, properly refracted, is spread out so that the
lines left by various elements can be identified. It is suggested that you
think of your readings as, say, 12S (sharp) or perhaps 14D (diffuse). In almost all
cases, blurry tastes better.
- You will quickly, and easily, learn to judge the mid-point of any blurring.
Your correct reading lies there.
- Blue intensity matters on those models that have a blue background
field. When different items reveal the same brix but one has a less intense blue, it will
taste sweeter and be higher in calcium, which neutralizes acids. However, the blue
background can be overcast by the deep green chlorophyll color of some leafy plants.
Do not be discouraged if your field of view appears to "greenout." Simply
rotate your body away from the light source and watch for the demarcation as the light
- Although your mouth readily tells the difference, the refractometer
cannot easily distinguish starch from sugar. There is an additional chart in the book to
convert starchy food readings to sugar equivalents.
Some produce resists efforts to get a drop of juice for testing:
- Consider that it may be very high brix and that the juice is really
- Try cutting a very thin slice (1/16" to lay on the prism---it
really works!), or
- Crush a leaf and lay that on the prism, or
- Grind the food in a processor and squeeze the chopped result.
- Be wary of dehydrated produce.
Some foods are made to order for testing:
- You can plunge the prism end of many refractometers into citrus
fruits. Then pull the instrument back and flip the plate down to get the reading. (The
plunge method works well on other very ripe fruits and any tomatoes).
(*) Protein quality is a subject of much interest to farmers.
Should you ever visit a farm show devoted to biological growing, as opposed to
chemical growing, you are almost sure to find a booth where they have common ear corn
sealed in air-tight jars. As could be expected, corn grown with their products will
be as good as the day it was picked. On the other hand, ears of corn identified as
grown with ordinary N-P-K technology will be seriously decomposed. This
"oddity," which is far more common than you may suspect, is generally attributed
to "funny" protein. When pressed, the speaker will describe malformed
proteins and how they appear when too much nitrogen in the form of N-P-K is applied to
the growing crop. Much money is spent on "research" to discover ways of
using yet more chemical additives to keep poor quality food from decomposing right on
supermarket shelves. One must wonder if any of those funds found their way to
explore this phenomenon whether we might learn much about good agriculture and good
CARE & CLEANING
Refractometers require little, if any, special care. Normal wind,
rain, cold, or heat will not damage them. (However, you should remember that temperature
extremes might require using the correction chart).
· Clean off plant juices with a moist paper towel after use (avoid
grit or sand).
· You should not drop one, but accidents do happen. Check the
calibration and continue using the instrument if there is no physical damage. Physical
damage requires a return to the factory.
Note: you can purchase prepared standard calibration liquids if your
work requires extreme accuracy. Perhaps you have contracted to pay a certain premium if a
grower achieves a higher-level brix and there is some question as to whether the specified
mark was reached. A calibration solution can help referee.
As mentioned before, specially calibrated hand refractometers are
available to test other than 0-32 brix. For instance
- Freezing point of anti-freeze mixtures...
- Saline concentration...
- Detecting illegal wrestler dehydration...
- Blood protein testing...
- Drug tampering...
- Jelly & jam production...
- Honey quality...
- Aquarium setup...
- Jet fuel quality and contamination...
With practice, a standard brix refractometer can be used to
accurately test or help duplicate many aqueous solutions.
Example: some farmers buy barrels of 35% hydrogen peroxide to spray
on their crops to raise brix levels. 35% H202,
itself tests about 17 brix when fresh. However H202
gradually breaks down to water in storage. A farmer can check with a refractometer and
determine if he is getting what he is paying for.
Example: drug store 3% hydrogen peroxide tests 1.5 brix when fresh.
It is an easy matter to dilute 35% concentrate down to 3% by adding distilled water to
reach an identical reading.
Example: Sorbet (frozen fruit mixtures) can be adjusted to obtain
more consistent results.
OF FRUITS & VEGETABLES
BRIX=QUALITY charts are not 100% complete nor finished. New
researchers will establish values for unlisted produce. New farmers will re-discover long
lost methods to grow higher quality produce. New agronomists will debate among themselves
over the merit of a single degree brix.
In the interim, the home tester using a brix chart must sometimes
substitute the value of a closely related item of produce. For instance:
- KALE, COLLARDS, and BRUSSELS SPROUTS are not normally listed.
However, all three belong to the family BRASSICA, along with CABBAGE, and KOHLRABI.
- BLACKBERRIES are not listed, but RASPBERRIES are. The two are
similar. Most people testing a blackberry use the raspberry values
- TOMATOES, EGGPLANT, POTATOES, and PEPPERS are from the NIGHTSHADE
- EGGPLANT, another nightshade, seldom has a listed value, but its
relatives such as peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes do. You can generally interpolate
a needed value.
- Where is DURIAN? PERSIMMON? ASIAN PEAR? ETHNIC PRODUCE? SPINACH? and
many little known fruits.
Those, and many other produce items, must await further research.
For instance, the U.S. based author has read market reports from the Southern Hemisphere
in which he could recognize but a fraction of the names of the listed items. Hopefully,
researchers in areas such as Australia will forward Brix=Quality values for their unique
fruits & vegetables that can be included in future editions. If you have a
special fruit that is unlisted, please reach out to the author or to BrixTalk@yahoogroups.com and you may quickly find
the answer you need.
VERSUS PASTEURIZED FRUIT JUICES
TV commercials and other advertising try to create a fresh=high
quality mystique. Sorry, but poor quality juice is poor quality juice. Fresh HIGH QUALITY
juice is HIGH QUALITY JUICE. A glib actor can spout for hours and not change that.
While processing can damage vitamins, it ordinarily neither removes
nor adds minerals. Of course, many processed juices have sugar added in an attempt to
enhance taste. The added sugar prevents accurate brix quality testing even as it degrades
the taste. Read the labels.
People often report that pasteurized HIGH QUALITY juice is only
slightly less tasty than fresh juice. They insist it tastes far superior to fresh poor, or
average, quality juice.
SIGNS OF HIGH QUALITY
- CITRUS: A thinner rind indicates HIGHER QUALITY
- CITRUS: Top quality citrus has five points at the calyx (stem end).
- PEARS: A boxy shape is better.
- STONE FRUITS: A split pit indicates poor quality and mineral
- GRAINS: Dry grain QUALITY is relative to unit weight, i.e., if you
weighed bushels of 2 equally dry wheats, the heavier bushel is HIGHER QUALITY. For
instance, top quality wheat from mineral-rich soil can be 70+ pounds per bushel. On the
other hand, mineral poor wheat can be as little as 60 or less pounds per bushel. The grain
elevators pay meaningful premiums when they can find higher quality wheat or other grains.
- JUICES: Have your restaurant juice served over ice. HIGH BRIX juice
will not taste watery.
- VEGETABLES: A natural waxy coating is good. Packers, processors, and
stores try to duplicate this effect by mechanically waxing poor quality vegetables.
- VEGETABLES: Any hollowness indicates a mineral deficiency (probably
- POTATOES: Sunken eyes signify lower quality (probably short on
- MATURING GRAIN FIELDS: Dr. Skow says that a golden color is much to
- ANY ITEM: Bright pure color, whether in cut flowers or cut
watermelons suggests higher quality.
- ANY ITEM: Slime or mold can be washed off the surface, but it has
grown throughout the item. Reject such food. Remember that high brix produce will not rot
in storage, therefore rotting in storage is a sign of poor quality.
|Are you serious about
this "won't rot in storage" talk?
Indeed I am! We've endured commercial "food" that quickly
rots in storage for so long that we now think produce is supposed to rapidly
decompose. Years ago, when I first heard of this "won't rot in storage"
concept, I decided to conduct some kitchen tests. I really didn't need to test low
brix food because I had already spent a lifetime learning that typical produce rotted
quickly. Anyway, I started sitting items of high brix food on the windowsill to see
what would happen.
Wow! What a revelation. As the days went by
potatoes, peppers, oranges, even lettuces simply shriveled up as they dried. I had
been warned that tomatoes were an exception and I found the warning valid.
Perhaps some curious scientist will delve into this
anomaly and report back. Currently, I think the "water activity" notes published
by CSIRO in Australia may best
describe the rationale behind the seemingly bizarre "high brix food won't rot"
You will start using a refractometer timidly. You will think that
identifying HIGH QUALITY food could not be so simple. Then, as you become experienced, you
will learn that it really is so simple. For instance
- You will put back the watery, tasteless, low brix tomato.
- You will smile at the vendors "pretty" string beans
and ask when he expects to get good tasting beans.
- You will insist on a small sample of melon or pineapple...or forgo
buying, because you are tired of taking low quality melons and pineapples home.
- You may sometimes buy marked-down items, or some of the 'canning'
peaches because your test proved them HIGHER QUALITY than the 'picture pretty' produce.
You will begin to expect HIGH QUALITY produce and you will start getting HIGH QUALITY
- You will get HIGH QUALITY produce because you will be able to
identify HIGH QUALITY.
With practice you will casually get the test-drop and only quickly
glance in the viewfinder. You will rarely be fooled. Some buyers actually have the vendor
give them a drop of juice to test. You will teach your children---and their children---how
to select proper food.
You will share, and help your children re-discover, the yummy taste
of the HIGH QUALITY fruits & vegetables humans deserve.
No one will have to convince you that you are providing you and your
children superior nutrition.
That is because you will convince yourself
SOME NOTES ON AGE AND
Babies are born with the ability to detect four tastes (sweet, sour,
salty, and bitter). Those four, along with the sense of smell, are provided to help guide
our young toward the proper food needed to develop to maturity (and to remain healthy).
Sadly, many babies are sent on a lifetime journey of confusion. The
child at the table is often told, "eat it, it's good for you." Young as he is,
the child knows the food tastes bad (or has no taste), but must eat it to avoid starving.
Oft times sympathetic (and loving) parents add butter, sugar, or salt to induce the child
to eat what the childs senses clearly tell them isnt proper food.
|My late wife was asked to participate in a
number of studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health. Among the more
interesting were a series of "scratch & sniff" evaluations, some at Bethesda
MD and some via mail at home. When I interviewed the doctors, they made a convincing
case that they could evaluate one's health *or* non-health by how well they could smell.
They were particularly interested when my wife couldn't smell something that she was sure
she once could smell. I sometimes think back to her problems when I'm holding and
smelling a particularly delectable peach. Obviously, the thrill that runs through my
body is not triggered similarly by those sad 10 brix imitation peaches in the store.
Far too often the child will mature into an adult with a
mangled sense of taste molded to such as sugar, salt, and artificial flavors. Frequently,
unless intervention occurs, the now-grown child will, in turn, ignorantly distort the
instinctive taste abilities of their own children.
Food manufacturers are driven by the profit motive. They will
continue to seek cheaper ways to produce "food." This generally means they will
use lower quality flavorless food and try to improve its non-flavor with those sad
low-cost adulterants: sugar, salt, and artificial flavors. Older readers may well
remember the WWII phrase ersatz food. The term referred to the
attempts by German chemists to create "food" from industrial byproducts such as
sawdust. These created products were destined for ordinary people in the occupied
countries. Meanwhile, the higher quality farm output in those same countries was
earmarked for Nazi consumption.
Medical texts claim that taste ability declines as people age. That
may be true in an absolute sense, but almost all older people report that HIGH BRIX food
tastes wonderful. Possibly, the reported loss of taste only applies to artificial flavors
and other adulterants.
How can buying HIGH QUALITY fruits and vegetables save you money? An
almost instinctive thought is that it must be the other way around.
An ancient proverb insists that the pleasure of purchasing QUALITY
persists long after any difference in initial cost is forgotten. Can you not remember
that, say, scrumptious peach or pear that accidentally found its way to your plate? What
you are remembering is, say, 18 brix instead of the 10 or 11 brix fruit on most stands. If
the purpose of buying food is to get the minerals needed to create bodies, then buying
more brix per dollar represents the wisest possible savings.
Almost all doctors agree that eating more fruits & vegetables
leads to far better heath along with less hospital and nursing care. At first thought you
may worry that your family will consume far more of any better tasting, more highly
mineralized (HIGHER QUALITY) fruits and veggies when you locate such. However, it
doesnt work exactly that way. Indeed, once their bodies catch up on minerals and
quit demanding endless empty calories, they will often surprise you by becoming sated much
sooner and on smaller quantities.
Livestock owners are quite familiar with this phenomenon and know
the true economy of feeding quality forage. One producer of soil remineralization products
uses the 6 bales = 9 bales concept to illustrate the value of his product when feeding
hay. He points out that the feed value of hay produced with his product tends
to run 50% higher than that produced by others.
Progressive dentists know that the higher mineral content of higher
quality fruits & vegetables leads to healthier teeth and gums. That wonderful classic,
"NUTRITION & PHYSICAL DEGENERATION" by Dr. Weston Price (available from
Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation 800-366-3748 or the author) makes a strong case that
highly mineralized food prevents ANY tooth or gum problems.
Saving money by first identifying, then buying and eating HIGH
QUALITY food only follows:
- Its possible you will spend less for intensive doctor care...
- You may avoid a nursing home...
- Your dental checkups could become checkups only...
- You could avoid buying poor quality food that you later throw out...
- Your meals may shift away from high-priced manufactured food to more
wholesome basic fruits & vegetables...
- You may even purchase and eat less total food because your body's
hidden hunger for missing vitamins and minerals will lessen as you obtain HIGHER QUALITY
- Finally, you more than likely will free yourself from purchasing
bottles upon bottles of vitamins and other food supplements because you will be getting
more generous amounts of higher quality vitamins and essential body elements exactly as
your body is designed to get them: from your food...
And the truth shall set you free...
E-MAIL SUPPORT FOR THE COMPUTER USER
The author moderates an e-mail list dedicated to food quality.
Simply send e-mail to BrixTalk@yahoogroups.com
and follow the directions. Please also feel free to report any brix results from either food you
buy or food you grow. If it is something you bought, identify it as best you can as
other readers may want to go buy some of that particular brand. If it is something you
grow for sale, say so and include ordering information.
ACCESS TO TOOLS
Refractometers and charts are available from:
- Pike Agri-Lab Supplies Inc. RR2, Box 710, Strong, ME 04983
- Most biologically-oriented farm & garden suppliers now carry and
- Various wine supply houses stock brix refractometers and hydrometers.
- Online auction houses, such as eBay,
always have refractometers listed.
- The author, Rex Harrill, PO Box 6 Keedysville, MD 21756 301-432-2979
will assist anyone who cannot obtain an instrument.
- The Anatomy of Life & Energy in Agriculture, Dr. Arden
Andersen. Acres USA, P.O. Box 91299 Austin, Texas 78709 USA
- Science in Agriculture, Dr. Arden Andersen, Acres USA
- Mainline Farming for Century 21, Dr. Dan Skow, Acres USA
- Nourishment, Home Grown, Dr. A. F. Beddoe, S & J Unlimited,
P0 Box N, Oroville, WA 98844
- How to Grow Great Alfalfa, Dr. Harold Willis
- Numerous articles in ACRES USA, P.O. Box 91299 Austin, Texas
78709 USA (800-355-5313)
- Taped interviews and transcribed seminar notes attributed to the late
Dr. Carey A. Reams
WHERE DO WE
GO FROM HERE?
While the above procedures work well for many, increasing numbers of
large-scale growers are paying close attention to the full range of in-field tissue tests
being highlighted by companies such as Pike Agri-Lab in
the US and Australias Nutri-Tech.
These methods, which employ not only the refractometer, but also pH
and conductivity tests (of soil and plant), are gaining a worldwide reputation for putting
profitability back into farming. High quality food production is no longer a hit or miss
situation. Perhaps of even greater interest, the brix/pH/conductivity parameters are
making it possible for large-scale growers to farm at vastly decreased toxicity levels
because they are growing crops that are far healthier.
Many consumers are quick to condemn farmers for using so many toxic
sprays. Few stop to think about how unhappy the farmer is that no one has shown him ways
to grow abundant crops, poison free. After all, in most cases the farmer is the one
getting the brunt of those toxins.
The Pike Tissue Test methods are fully detailed on Worldsite Crossroads
No matter how or where you may have obtained an instrument,
questions can always be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
for prompt and courteous response.
You are free to copy or print this booklet as you wish.
However, it should be kept together as a unit. You may reprint the brix charts as
they are public domain.