Questions about the identification and evaluation of specific ingredients.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

19
votes
10answers
17k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
17k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
7k 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 ...
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 ...
11
votes
3answers
327 views

How can I use these new findings on tomatoes to my advantage?

A new study appears to suggest that the characteristics that make a tomato most appealing when choosing one at the store also make it the least appealing when biting into it. Apparently, it is the ...
11
votes
1answer
964 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 ...
10
votes
10answers
17k 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 ...
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?
10
votes
5answers
14k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
4k views

How to know whether a coconut is ripe or rancid before buying

Buying the shrink-wrapped coconuts (in shell) at the store is similar to playing Russian Roulette. All this trouble of getting the water out and breaking the shell only to find out the coconut is ...
9
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
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 ...
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?
7
votes
1answer
423 views

How do Crispbread manufacturers use so few ingredients?

I'm curious if anyone is familiar with how the major Swedish crispbread manufacturers like Ryvita, Wasa, Finn Crisp, etc., manage to produce those crackers with ingredients lists as short as "rye ...
7
votes
1answer
724 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?
7
votes
1answer
282 views

How do I choose frozen fish so that it doesn't release so much water?

I bought a package of frozen, individually wrapped, vacuum-sealed pacific cod fillets (about 150-200 grams each) from what I thought was a reputable brand (and not the lowest price) in my nearest ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

How to choose fresh, ripe (hot) jalapeños?

When shopping at a supermarket or a farmers market, how can I tell which jalapeños to take home? I want them hot and ready rock that very day. Do they get hotter off the vine? Is a ripe jalapeño a hot ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Is it true that good pistachio nuts should have yellowish shell, purplish skin and greenish flesh?

In China, where I live, most pistachio nuts sold on the market have very white shell, and yellowish skin and flesh, like this: Today I read some articles claiming that these pistachio nuts were so ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Kimchi / Mo-Chu Ka-roo?

I have been looking for this ingredient called ko-chu Ka-roo to make kimchi. I checked in a local asian grocery and I didn't find something with that name. But I found Maesri Chilli Powder. Is this ...
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 ...
6
votes
1answer
125 views

Is soy milk in America similar to the type in East Asia?

Finding soy milk in the States isn't very difficult - it's generally stocked in supermarkets and used as an alternative to dairy. However, I'm not sure if the flavour of typical American soy milk ...
6
votes
2answers
770 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
186 views

Finding good bamboo shoots

I recently tried to make a soup recipe that called for bamboo shoots. I found some canned shoots from a local Asian supermarket and attempted to use those---but they were awful. They had a bitter, ...
6
votes
1answer
69 views

Does the freshness of the ingredient impact the longevity of the cooked dish?

Using ingredients that aren't fresh will generally negatively impact the flavor of the dish, but does it impact how long the cooked dish will last before it goes bad? For example, if I make two pots ...
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 ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

When a recipe calls for a can of condensed soup, is the water implied?

There are many recipes that will use a can of cream of mushroom soup, for example, not as soup, but as flavoring or sauce. When this is the case, and the recipe does not mention the "add water" ...
5
votes
2answers
216 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
488 views

What is the best way to prepare a 'chow chow' (chayote)?

I saw this in a grocers in an area which is predominantly populated by Korean people. It reminded me of Audrey 2 from 'The Little Shop of Horrors'. Any ideas on how best to use it?
5
votes
1answer
280 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, ...
4
votes
3answers
591 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?
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Could I use beer instead of/as well as water in my sourdough?

The sourdough recipe I use calls for 300ml of water to 500g of bread flour (along with the starter). Instead of this water, could I use beer - or a combination of beer and water? The reason I thought ...
4
votes
3answers
559 views

What might cause a tangy flavor in hummus?

I'm pretty sure that this is an intended flavor; there's a great and authentic middle eastern restaurant nearby and their hummus tastes noticeably tangy. Others in the Yelp reviews have commented on ...
4
votes
3answers
176 views

Domestic, fresh taste-alike for an Italian coffee

My wife is from Italy, and she got me hooked on this absolutely gorgeous coffee called Lavazza Qualita Oro. I love it, but unfortunately getting a fresh bag here in the United States is really hit or ...
3
votes
7answers
318 views

What kind of onions for dal?

I'm making dal for the first time and have all of the ingredients below, but I can't decide whether to use white, yellow (vidalia), or red onions. I have all three in stock. Here are the other ...
3
votes
2answers
287 views

What is the name of this dish involving fruit & sugar - blended and baked thin and flat?

I don't know what it is I'm doing (IE, the name of the technique or dish) I can't research it. I cook either rhubarb or passion fruit with a few tablespoons of sugar, blend until very smooth, ...
3
votes
2answers
14k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
100 views

Belgian chocolate milk

I've tried a lovely chocolate milk (cold, not to be confused with hot chocolate) from Marks and Spencer (a supermarket in the UK) and I'm trying to emulate it's rich Belgian chocolate taste. My ...
3
votes
2answers
182 views

Where to buy food chemicals

So I want to experiment with making a food product, and I'm wondering where I acquire the chemical ingredients? Things like vitamin chemicals and caffeine. Thanks.
3
votes
2answers
260 views

What's the difference between Santa Cruz Rum and Jamaican Rum?

Reading through a book of cocktail recipes from the late 1800s, I notice some recipes call specifically for Santa Cruz rum and some call for Jamaican rum. Is this a mere place of origin reference, or ...
3
votes
1answer
18k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
997 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
73 views

Bread-machine recipes: are liquid ingredients fungible?

I've noticed that the recipes that came with my bread machine all have about the same ratio of liquid ingredients to flour: for a 1.5-pound loaf, 3 cups of flour is accompanied by 1 cup of water +2T ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Corn Starch vs Potato Starch

One of the recipes I am trying out asks me to use Potato starch to help thicken the sauce. A majority of the recipes I found online for it say to use Potato starch but at the store I mainly found corn ...
2
votes
1answer
1k 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?
2
votes
8answers
769 views

secret ingredient in a restaurant bolognese

I have dabbled with almost every ingredient I can think of in varying amount to get my Bolognese to taste similar to a restaurant made Bolognese in the italian alps. Including: Pepper Sugar Salt ...
2
votes
1answer
278 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
68 views

Melon buying tips

I've just started buying rockmelons and they were only sweet a couple of times. The other times, they've been very low in sweetness and it felt like a waste of money. Are there any tips when buying ...
2
votes
1answer
335 views

What Tea leaves are used in Kashmiri Pink tea

I want to make Kashmiri pink tea but have not found an exact name in English for those tea leaves used in Kashmiri pink tea. As I am right now in china, here they have varieaty of tea. I would like to ...
2
votes
1answer
490 views

How common are worms in dried mushrooms?

I was excited to try cooking with dried mushrooms until I saw some comments from people who found (many) dried worms mixed in with their dried mushrooms. How common is this?