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210 votes
Accepted

Why do grape-flavored foods taste different than actual grapes?

Concord grapes, which most grape jellies/jams/preserves in the US are made from, are derived from the (US-native) "fox grape" (Vitis labrusca) rather than (Europe-native) wine grape (Vitis vinifera). ...
  • 1,367
72 votes
Accepted

When a recipe asks to add spices to the oil, can you add the spices directly to the sauce for the same effect?

The effect will be different for a few reasons. When you add spices to hot oil, they cook at a considerably higher temperature (up to around 200°C) than in a simmering sauce (100°C as it's ...
  • 39.1k
56 votes
Accepted

Confused about cayenne pepper, chili powder and paprika

Cayenne pepper powder comes from the cayenne pepper. It is hot/spicy, registering 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units. Chilli powder, depending where you live, can mean anything between pure powdered ...
  • 67k
54 votes
Accepted

Why do I need sugar syrup for slush?

It's a bit more complex than you think. You need the right amount of sugar for the correct texture. Harold McGee (1990) clarifies this in his excellent book, The Curious Cook." He writes, &...
  • 67k
52 votes

Why does pistachio ice cream not taste like pistachio nuts?

Firstly, let me disagree and say that I have tasted some (amazing) pistachio ice creams that tasted very much like the actual nuts. That said, I can think of several reasons why the ice cream might ...
  • 4,851
49 votes

Is there such a thing as a dish being bland from too many flavors?

I think the description you're looking for is what is often described as "muddy flavors" or "fighting flavors" or "muddled flavors" (though the latter is also a term used ...
  • 8,304
43 votes
Accepted

Why are certain fruit & veg bought in UK supermarkets tasteless?

Non-native and out of season fruits and vegetables that are available in northern countries (e.g. UK, Canada) need to be shipped from far away and will be picked before they are naturally ripe (under ...
  • 19.6k
41 votes

Why use onions in cooking?

Their primary purpose is flavor, although (as mentioned by @David Richerby) they can also be used for thickening in some cases. If you don't like them, but other members of your household do, then it ...
  • 58.1k
41 votes
Accepted

Why is my vegetable stock bitter, but the chicken stock not?

I notice that your recipe doesn't include any salt. That's important, because salt decreases the sensation of bitterness. Chicken contains a certain amount of salt, and I suspect that's making the ...
  • 21.3k
37 votes

Why are certain fruit & veg bought in UK supermarkets tasteless?

In addition to Max's answer, much UK supermarket fruits and vegetables are from varieties grown to have tough skins (so they don't damage in transit), have a long shelf life (so they can be ...
  • 1,025
33 votes

If I want my garlic to taste in a very specific way (with bite or without bite) what should I do?

Garlic strength is mainly down to how much you cook the garlic, and how finely you chop it (different varieties of garlic notwithstanding). Simply put, the less you cook it and the finer you chop it, ...
32 votes
Accepted

Is "sealing in the flavor" an actual thing?

Searing on a grill to "seal in juices" has largely been disproven. Meat loses juice at roughly the same speed regardless of searing the meat first. Searing does produce the Maillard reaction and ...
  • 470
30 votes

Why do grape-flavored foods taste different than actual grapes?

There are lots of types of grapes. Grape flavored items tend to be closer to concord grapes than a wine grape, or the green/red ones available at the grocery store.
  • 76.1k
29 votes
Accepted

Is there such a thing as a dish being bland from too many flavors?

With your longer description, I can understand where you are coming from and why you don't like this version of the dishes (and also why somebody else might prefer them). But the term "bland"...
  • 127k
28 votes

I’m doubling lemon juice in a no-bake pie recipe to make it extra sour. What can I add to make it less goopy?

More lemon juice is more liquid, which is likely the cause of your problems. If there's any other liquid in the recipe, you can try swapping it for the lemon juice, but it's possible that it might ...
  • 76.1k
27 votes

Can one be "taste blind" to the sweetness of stevia?

There's some variation in how people respond to Stevia: From 2013: Multiple genes manage how people taste sweeteners another study recently published in the journal Chemosensory Perception, Allen ...
26 votes
Accepted

How does adding vanilla extract help make a milkshake if the ice cream is already vanilla?

Fundamentally the answer is just 'it is added for flavour; you can skip it if you want'. A few suggestions as to why it might be a good decision to add it: Vanilla flavour can be stronger or weaker, ...
  • 8,316
25 votes

How do I concentrate the flavor in orange juice?

How about using orange zest instead of the juice? That way you'll get a lot of the aroma and flavor we think of as "orange" without really changing the sweetness or acidity.
25 votes
Accepted

Can I make gelatin from bones without beef flavor?

Intentions and expectations Could it be that you have some oversimplified ideas about making gelatine? I think that, if we look closely at what you are proposing, it is not practical at all. The ...
  • 127k
24 votes

Reduce Sweetness in Fudge

Traditional "fudge" gets its structure primarily from the sugar, which forms fine crystals; the texture of fudge is a stiff suspension of the sugar in the fat. So simply reducing the ...
  • 21.3k
24 votes
Accepted

What meat can I substitute for lamb in Scotch Broth?

I'm Scottish (and live in Scotland). Traditionally, Scotch broth was made using cheap cuts of mutton, often on-the-bone. I make this soup regularly in winter. It's real winter comfort food! However, ...
  • 1,412
23 votes

Why does my cauliflower puree taste mustardy after two days?

The flavor / odor notes you're experiencing are probably sulfuric compounds. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower contain sulfiric compounds that are released on cooking. That's why ...
23 votes
Accepted

Is there any advantage to cooking steak on the bone?

Well, many steak experts have held for years that bone-in steak just tastes better, something about that marrow being good. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats tested that theory. He found that the ...
  • 58.1k
23 votes

Confused about cayenne pepper, chili powder and paprika

They give a similar range of flavours, but in quite different proportions. They’re all made from ground roasted or dried red peppers of some kind, so all of them involve some amounts of spiciness (...
  • 1,004
22 votes
Accepted

Why use onions in cooking?

As a child, I used to hate the feel and taste when I conciously bit on a piece of onion (strongest offender: medium-sized chunks, sautéed glassy but still firm). Sometimes that still happens. However,...
22 votes

How Does Wine Enhance Flavor?

The other answers make good points, but OP in comments keeps asking whether alcohol helps ingredients "release their flavor" more. And yes, it does. As to how it does so, one reason is simply ...
  • 31.7k
21 votes

Reduce Sweetness in Fudge

You can't make fudge less fudgy. Fudge is a concentrated mass of butter, sugar and milk, if you change the balance to reduce sweetness it will be too buttery, if you reduce the butter it's too sweet. ...
  • 68.8k
20 votes

When a recipe asks to add spices to the oil, can you add the spices directly to the sauce for the same effect?

As other answers have noted, stirring spices into the nearly-finished dish will give a different taste because frying something in oil is physically and chemically very different from boiling it in ...
19 votes

Is "sealing in the flavor" an actual thing?

There is a grain of truth in the claim that flash-freezing beef "seals in flavour". If meat (or anything else) is frozen slowly, large ice crystals form. These puncture the cells, resulting in a mushy ...
19 votes

Why use onions in cooking?

As a onion-lover I suggest using a similar vegetable instead of onions themselves. Try with leek, it has a lighter flavour than onion. Cook it in the same way. Another option would be shallot, which ...

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