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Questions tagged [ingredient-selection]

Questions about selecting desirable ingredients (e.g. checking fruit ripeness). Please do not use for "which ingredient should I use in my dish" - this kind of question is subjective and will be closed.

32
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5answers
7k views

Can I make popcorn with any corn?

Up until today I only knew about one type of corn for popcorn. Searching for Peruvian food I found out that in Peru there are different "popcorn" varieties. So that made me think: is it possible to ...
29
votes
11answers
54k 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 ...
22
votes
6answers
4k views

Are there different grades or styles of bacon?

In commercials and when I go to restaurants (even fast food!) the bacon that I get is a reddish brown color and seems to be mostly meat, or at least meat textured. However, when I buy bacon at the ...
20
votes
11answers
38k 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 ...
19
votes
5answers
36k 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
3k views

Do I need to worry about differences in produce in foreign recipes?

I am from Egypt and so I think some produce is different from the ones in Europe or the US where most of the recipes found online are written. Should I stick to a regional cook book or is the ...
17
votes
3answers
5k views

Is there any advantage to combining spices before applying them to meat?

Up to this point when preparing steaks, ribs, or any sort of "meat" I would apply my spices in sequence: first adding salts, followed by a pepper-based powders, and lastly some sugars (if applicable). ...
17
votes
2answers
9k views

Which is the most caloric, edible, single ingredient by weight?

There is a lot of articles among the Internet talking about the most caloric meals you can eat, but just out of curiosity, I would like to know which is the most caloric single ingredient you can add ...
17
votes
1answer
2k views

How does buttermilk affect a waffle recipe?

A lot of waffle recipes call for buttermilk and some claim its addition makes superior waffles. Apart from thickening the batter and giving it a slightly acidic flavour, does its addition do anything ...
16
votes
6answers
66k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
20k 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
369 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
15k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
12k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
2k 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
3answers
6k 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
2answers
2k 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?
9
votes
4answers
20k 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 tbsp....
9
votes
1answer
15k views

Mysterious bitter taste from tropical fruits and coconut

I cook every day, and today I had an experience I am at a total loss to explain. I am hoping the combined knowledge of the Internet can help. Today, I decided to make a tropical fruit custard. Being ...
9
votes
2answers
61k 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?
9
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
923 views

Albacore or Yellow Fin

I once heard that one type of canned tuna is prone to have less mercury (poison) based upon the size it is at harvest or the location where it is commonly found. I buy Genova brand which has both ...
8
votes
2answers
5k views

Why add Wheat Germ to Bread?

A blogger I generally trust recently posted a recipe for a simple, brown soda bread. The recipe calls for: bread flour, whole wheat flour, and wheat germ. What is the purpose of adding wheat germ to ...
8
votes
2answers
110k views

Differences between haddock and cod

I saw haddock on sale at our local grocer. It's really cheap this week. It grew my curiosity. Are there any similarities in flavor between haddock and cod? I often see haddock and cod ...
8
votes
2answers
273 views

What is the flavor quality that makes cheese “sharp”? Are there other seasonings or foods with this "sharp flavor?

I love the flavor of sharp cheese (especially cheddar) and was wondering what exactly it is that makes aged cheese taste sharper. I was also wondering if there are any ingredients that emulate this ...
8
votes
1answer
209 views

How can I recognize peaches with split pits?

Split pits in stone fruit can be a real problem for farmers, because fruit that are seriously affected can’t be sold. However, if the damage isn’t obvious from the outside, the fruit are going to the ...
7
votes
3answers
4k 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 (...
7
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
11k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
124 views

Eggs used as Binders

Eggs are commonly used as a binder in meatballs and other foods. If separated, is one part of the egg a stronger binder: Is the white a stronger binder than the yolk? Is the yolk stronger than the ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there a way to deliberately explode other food than corn kernels? [closed]

Since popcorn can be tasty, I started to think if other kinds of food could be modified to explode when rapidly heated. Corn explodes because of the water vapor pressure inside it finally exceeds the ...
6
votes
3answers
10k 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 ...
6
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
9k 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
3k 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
5k 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
1answer
16k 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" ...
6
votes
2answers
1k 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
2answers
2k views

I lose the flavor of basil when I make pesto sauce

Okay, I am writing this question as a result of a long experience in trying to make pesto at home :p I like pesto sauce alot and that is why I have decided that I should make this at home. But for ...
6
votes
1answer
136 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
1answer
1k views

What would cause heartburn in marinara sauce?

So there's this pizza place in Rhode Island which makes some of the best pizza I've ever had. I tend to order the "plain" pizza, which is just sauce. It's that kind of pizza where the sauce is thick ...
5
votes
2answers
5k views

How to make frosting very white, fluffy, and shiny?

Given a typical recipe for frosting (preferably cream cheese), what can be done to make it fluffy and shiny -- even in a chilled state? I've noticed that my cream cheese frosting tends to do this if ...
5
votes
2answers
372 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
3k views

What methods are appropriate for preparing 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 to use it?
5
votes
1answer
852 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
4answers
2k views

When's the best time to buy a Thanksgiving turkey?

I know this is about buying, not cooking, but gathering your ingredients is the first step, and right now this is the one worrying me most. I'll be cooking the Thanksgiving bird this year, due to my ...