Questions about the identification and evaluation of specific ingredients.

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9
votes
3answers
4k views

How to recognize fizzy wine?

I don't have much theoretical knowledge about wine, but I like the taste. So I often get a random bottle from the wide selection at the supermarket, avoiding only the bottom line of TetraPack wine. I ...
10
votes
5answers
17k views

What's the difference between masa for tortillas and for tamales?

I often buy fresh prepared masa from Mexican markets in order to make tamales and pupusas. Mexican cookbook authors stress getting the correct masa for the recipe, either masa for tamales or masa for ...
9
votes
4answers
5k views

If a recipe doesn't specify the type of vinegar, is there a standard type implied?

I occasionally come across recipes that call for vinegar, but don't specify which of the many varieties they mean. (A recent example is this recipe for a corn and pepper salad, which just says "2 ...
3
votes
2answers
16k views

When to use chicken thigh versus breast?

The America's Test Kitchen recipe for Chinese Orange Chicken calls for chicken thigh, explaining that it has a better taste and texture for the recipe. It does not explain why, however. So that has ...
12
votes
2answers
8k views

What is the difference between good quality chocolate and cheap chocolate?

There are many types of chocolate out there, some higher quality than others. What are the main differences between good quality chocolate and cheap chocolate? And in practical applications in baking ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Is there a difference in the taste/seeds of egg-sized eggplants, and long and slim eggplants?

Is there a difference in the taste/seeds of egg sized eggplants or brinjals, and long and slim eggplants or brinjals? They are different in shapes. Is there any other "known/visible" difference?
6
votes
2answers
863 views

How to compare the strength of commercial natural vanilla extracts?

Vanilla extracts usually don't give details on the content of vanilla. Only the main ingredients are listed in descending order of concentration. On the Kirkland brand I saw a figure of 2000ppm ...
1
vote
4answers
3k views

How does “Brownulated” light brown sugar compare with regular light brown sugar?

I'm assuming that the granulated sugar in the bag is easier to work with and won't turn into a hard block. It's also more expensive than the boxed kind. Are there any other differences, e.g. in the ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Yellowness of egg yolk

Related question: Why are Italian eggs so yellow? Occasionally I get served a fried / poached egg with a deep yellow/orange yolk. I find it extremely appetising and visually attractive. Sometimes ...
8
votes
1answer
812 views

What to look for when buying good quality loose black tea?

What features should I look for when buying good quality loose black tea?
1
vote
1answer
861 views

What makes a good quality pasta brand?

When I browse the pasta aisle I see a number of different brands (De Cecco, Rummo, etc.). Are there any notable differences between these brands? If I have a choice between different brands of the ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

What differences, practical and aesthetic, are there between egg washes?

An egg wash can be done in six major variations: [with | out egg white] mixed with [water | milk | cream]. My first hit when searching 'egg wash ratio' My Persian Kitchen where the use was for ...
3
votes
1answer
19k views

Differences between haddock versus cod

I saw haddock on sale at our local grocer. It's really cheap this week. It grew my curiosity. Are there any similarities between haddock and cod as in flavor? I often see haddock and cod ...
1
vote
1answer
285 views

How can I detect bad-fed or fast-fed chicken eggs before buying?

I have traveled in Eastern Europe and I am annoyed to find out supermarkets seem offer only stale eggs (like white inside, no A -vitamin, tastes bad), they cost in the range of 7-12 cents per egg. My ...
5
votes
1answer
303 views

Fresh mussels, or are they?

I bought and cooked these mussels today. I'd like to know if there is anything wrong with the left hand mussel. Is the color, size an indicator for freshness? I'm guessing it was 'captured' (OK, ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

How can I tell if a balsamic vinegar is good?

I bought a bottle of balsamic vinegar, and it smells so sour when I put my nose over the bottle. Is it supposed to be like that?
15
votes
3answers
18k views

How can I identify dutch process cocoa?

I have a hard time finding "dutch process cocoa" in the store sometimes. What other names might dutch process cocoa be known as? Is there something else in the ingredients that might identify ...
20
votes
10answers
19k views

What can you surmise about coffee beans that have oil on them at the time of purchase?

I find myself favoring the purchase of coffee beans that have visible oil on them. My inference was that this bean had some extra flavor or awesomeness. Am I right, are beans 'better' if they are ...
5
votes
6answers
3k views

Is there an official standard vegan packaging symbol designating that a product is vegan?

I'm trying to eat vegan and having a hard time determining (by the packaging) which products are appropriate for me. Are there symbols or certifications I can look for, preferably something backed by ...
4
votes
3answers
603 views

small, medium or large eggs

When I buy eggs, I have trouble deciding which size is the best value. Does any one have any tips?
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Are ripe meyer lemons supposed to be soft?

At the grocery store they were selling meyer lemons in mesh bags, they all seemed to be much softer than an ordinary lemon. Are meyer lemons supposed to be a very soft fruit? just touching them ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I pick the best potatoes at the supermarket?

I was picking potatoes randomly from the supermarket without much thinking, and some potatoes take more time to bake properly. So on what basis should I pick potatoes, potatoes for baking? I'm not ...
5
votes
2answers
219 views

Flavor notes of olive oil varietals?

I prefer extra-virgin olive oils with fruit and grassy notes, rather than the peppery back-of-the-throat flavors that some folks enjoy. Are there particular olive varietals that are more likely to be ...
7
votes
1answer
16k views

How do I tell if a cantaloupe is ripe?

I have a tough time telling if my cantaloupe is ripe (without opening it and trying it. Any suggestions?
12
votes
11answers
19k views

How can I choose good avocados at the supermarket?

I've been trying to ignore my burning desire to make some guacamole because every time I go to the supermarket to buy avocados I can't manage to pick out good ones. They always either become too soft ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the difference between various cuts of steak?

I'm sure each has their own differences in texture (and cost) but don't really know exactly what they are or what they are best used for. I like bone in ribeyes so I haven't bothered to try ...