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23

Coffee beans have a natural oil in them. Often beans that have been roasted longer will have more visible oil on the surface. Not really an indicator of quality, though, but a longer roast will be darker, have a stronger flavor, and (paradoxically to some) less caffeine. (At least, this is what I learned when slinging Cappuccinos at a Canadian coffee chain ...


20

There really isn't another name for Dutch processed cocoa. You could perhaps look at the ingredients or label and search for some reference to alkalization. Cocoa powder, Dutched or natural, consists of a single ingredient: cocoa. The difference is that Dutched cocoa has an extra step in the manufacturing process. Normal cocoa powder is created from cocoa ...


16

Good quality chocolate has a number of distinguishing features: High cocoa solids content: less than 50% will have little real chocolate taste and one with more than 70% will have a much more complex and fine chocolate taste. Actual cocoa butter as opposed to vegetable oils which are cheaper than cocoa butter (prices have increased in recent years due to ...


11

Argh. The oil is not the caffeine. The oil is not (alone, or even predominantly) what makes the flavor. Also, beans that look oily are not oilier than beans that look dry. A bean that's roasted dark enough to produce an oily surface has had many of its lower viscosity oils volatilized, leaving only heavier oils. A more lightly roasted bean has not lost these ...


11

Avocados don't ripen until picked, so you may find under-ripe ones in the store; these will be hard and bright green. You can allow them to ripen at home quickly by placing them in a paper bag and sealing it. Already ripened avocados will have a bit of give to them when squeezed, without being too hard or too soft. They'll also be dark green to green-black ...


11

If a recipe asks for "vinegar", a standard type is implied, namely white vinegar. There certainly are more vinegars than just the white and the cider one (white wine or balsamic are also often used). However, cultural differences can play a role. I've found on wikipedia that English people put malt vinegar on their fish 'n' chips. If you would see a recipe ...


11

Picking a tomato which is individually ugly isn't going to help you. It's still the same variety and grown, stored and shipped under the same conditions as the other tomatoes in the pile. Try looking for a store (farmers' and ethnic markets are good for this) which has a whole bin of ugly tomatoes; those are a different variety and/or handled differently. ...


10

Depends on if you'll buy for instant consumption or for storage. If you want to eat/prepare them right away, you want an avocado that feels soft on the inside, when pressing them they will cede and have that soft feeling ripe avocado has. It shouldn't cede very much though, as those are past their prime. The very good ones even smell in a nice avocadoey ...


9

just as a point of personal experience: I spent some time in Ethopia and had fantastic coffee in many places. The beans were ALL non-oily and downright dry looking. I was really surprised as my assumption was the same as yours. I've noticed some of the Starbucks beans are so oily I have wondered at times if they add oil for that effect.


9

Cantaloupe should feel heavier than it looks and smell musky and sweet. Also you should be able to press your thumb in slightly on the bottom and there shouldn't be a lip around the stem. If it smells over-sweet it's most likely over ripe. You can let a cantaloupe ripen on your counter top if you get one under-ripe


9

Well, it IS vinegar. However as you probably already know, higher quality balsamic vinegar is less sour and more rich tasting than its cheaper counterpart. It's unlikely that your balsamic is spoiled--in most ways vinegar is as spoiled as it's going to get. More likely is that you've uncovered one of the issues with balsamic vinegar: Most of what you can ...


9

You could check whether a wine is carbonated which should be indicated on the label (it's one of the processes to produce wine). If it's not indicated on the label, then it's normally a young wine. The way to get rid of the off flavour is very simple: wait! A glass of evil smelling, lightly carbonated, wine can become a very nice drink if left to breathe. ...


8

There are two basic kinds of potatoes: starchy and waxy. The difference is actually in the amount of starch in them. Starchy potatoes, such as Russet or Idaho potatoes are best for baking, since the starch will allow it to be nice and fluffy after it's baked. They don't hold their shape particularly well when cooked. If you cut into a baked potato, it ...


8

Regarding the last question: Do egg producers and/or chefs use dirty tricks to effect a yellow yolk? Dye? Food additives? Yes, they do! In fact scientists have experimented with food additives in order to control the color of the yolk. Interestingly enough the preferred color of the egg yolk differ between countries and even between regions within ...


8

The natural colors for pistacio meats are green, yellow-green, purple and/or red. Shells are beige. The Kerman variety, which account for 90% of the pistachios grown in California, are yellow-green to deep green. Pistacios from Iran tend to be more in the red-purple spectrum, and are alleged by their partisans to be superior to California pistacios. ...


7

The color of the yolk is based on the chicken's diet. I eat vegetarian fed eggs from the grocery store and they have deep yellow yolks. If I go back to buying standard white eggs its a bit disconcerting because they have very pale yolks. In the fall is when the eggs are the orangest for pasture raised eggs, again something about what is available to feed. ...


7

I don't think there is any “standard” type of vinegar worlwide. In recipes for French dishes, an unspecified vinegar can be assumed to be a red wine vinegar. Mien seems to have a different opinion, so I'd say it's pretty much a cultural issue.


7

I am not a chef, so for me it comes down to personal preference. I love using vinegar, but like regular wine you really should pare it with what you are cooking. Yes it could be a regional thing, but again for me it comes down to simple choices. If you don’t want to add flavor you just want the punch or enhancing other flavors - Plain white (I use rice ...


7

In casseroles, pot pies and the like, condensed soup is usually added without additional water. It serves as a thickening agent and will pick up sufficient water from whatever vegetables etc. you also have in the recipe. That's not to say you never add water along w the soup, it's just that the desired end result is more often some sort of solid ...


7

Tomatoes relax the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle at the top of the stomach that contracts to keep stomach contents from going back up the esophagus. The more concentrated the sauce the more the relaxing effect. Alcohol does this as well, and over-eating can lead to the LES muscle being unable to overcome the pressure. So if you had a big portion of ...


6

Every tea can have potentially various grades and different teas will have different qualities. I'm not sure what is available where you are, but if you're fairly new to drinking loose leaf teas, I'd for starters find a store that lets you see, smell and possibly sample various teas. Once you have a better idea of what you're looking for, then online dealers ...


6

I'd really suggest you read the wikipedia on chocolate processing as a starting point. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate#Processing There are many steps involved, and each one is important. A summary of things that can go wrong: Under-ripe beans Improper fermentation. (many factors can contribute to this) over/under roasting Improper cleaning ...


6

Well, as to the difference in taste, I suggest the best way to find out is to try both (cooked, of course). If you have access to Cooks Illustrated (as opposed to just watching the TV show on PBS), they have recipes for both roast chicken breast and roast thighs—make both, and the flavor differences should be readily apparent. As far as cooking goes, ...


6

My advice is simple -- don't plan ahead. Being fresh produce, most of us have no idea before you get to the store what the current stuff coming out of the local fields are. This is going to affect both price (in season stuff that hasn't been shipped from the opposite hemisphere is typically cheaper, especially w/ today's fuel prices), and quality (how long ...


6

All crisp-bread recipes use water (or at least some ingredient with a high water content), but the bread is baked and then hung from the ceiling to dry further until the water content is very much reduced. The real mystery is how structure is introduced without leavening. Wikipedia has good information on this point, [...] bubbles are introduced into ...


6

It really doesn't matter, I have tried with all of them, and each one tastes differently. Even in India at different places people use different kind of onions, it is mostly driven by availability. The best way to check what you may like is by using different kinds of onions for the first 3 times you make it :). I personally like yellow ones, you can start ...


6

My partner has a very sensitive "dirt-flavor" sense... One of the ingredients that may be found in salsa that often triggers it for her is cumin.


5

When food researchers want to compare the flavors of a food item, they assemble a group of expert tasters and train them on a controlled vocabulary to describe the many different compounds that can be detected in the food item.  Over time some of these vocabularies get standardized.  A limited vocabulary has been adopted by the International Olive Council to ...


5

As citadelgrad mentioned, there are currently agencies that certify vegan standards. Vegan Action's certification (the V in the heart) is no longer accepting new applications for certification. According to this article from Vegetarian Journal, other certification groups include the European Vegetarian Union (not vegan), Natural Food Certifiers, The Vegan ...


5

There are two common symbols; the European Vegetarian Union (EVU) and Vegan Action. In my experience, you will see the EVU on packaging and on restaurant menus. I've only ever seen the Vegan Action symbol on packaged products. The EVU is not exclusively vegan so you'll still need to read the packaging or ask about ingredients if in a restaurant. The ...



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