Ingredient Explainers and Swaps
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Broccoli: The Best Ways to Store It, Cook It, and Eat It
31 Days of Vegetables
All the broccoli basics for your favorite lil tree.
Jul 10, 2020
Liquid Smoke Is a Magical Ingredient for Smoky Flavor Without a Grill
You only need a dash!
Jul 11, 2020
Mushrooms: The Best Ways to Pick Them, Cook Them, and Eat Them
31 Days of Vegetables
Love mushrooms? Start here.
Jul 9, 2020
Carrots: The Best Ways to Pick Them, Cook Them, and Eat Them
31 Days of Vegetables
Bonus: How baby carrots are made.
Jul 8, 2020
No, Prawns Are Not Just Really Big Shrimp — Here’s the Difference
All your questions, answered.
Jul 9, 2020
Jalapeño Peppers: The Best Ways to Pick Them, Cook Them, and Eat Them
31 Days of Vegetables
You may not have jalapeños high on your list of vegetables, but even though they may not take center stage like tomatoes and corn, what would summer eating be without them? These little peppers that could are essential to perfect guacamole and they give a little kick to oh so many dishes. Here’s what you need to know about jalapeños, from how to pick them to how to get their pesky burn off your hands. Five must-reads for jalapeño lovers.
Jul 8, 2020
Eggplant: The Best Ways to Pick It, Cook It, and Eat It
31 Days of Vegetables
The best recipes for eggplant, including eggplant bacon (!!), eggplant roses, Ina's eggplant Parm, and the most delicious eggplant noodles. Plus, the first eggplant recipe everyone should start with.
Jul 6, 2020
Everything You Need to Know About Cabbage
31 Days of Vegetables
This is one smart and long-lasting vegetable!
Jul 5, 2020
The $4 Ingredient That Makes Homemade Ice Cream (and Everything Else It Touches) So Much Better
It's the secret ingredient I add to cookies, cakes, and more.
Jul 3, 2020
Our Quick Guide to 7 Common Beer Styles
From lagers to stouts.
Jul 1, 2020
Does Vinegar Ever Really Go Bad? Here’s How to Tell.
Wonder no more about this pantry staple's shelf life.
Jun 29, 2020
What You Need to Know If You've Had the Same Jar of Honey Forever
While honey has an exceptionally long shelf-life, it isn't completely spoil-proof.
Jun 24, 2020
The 6 Vinegars All Cooks Should Have in Their Kitchens — and Why
Is your favorite on the list?
Jun 24, 2020
The One Thing You Should Be Adding to Your Salad
I'll never make a salad without it again.
Jun 20, 2020
The $2 Pantry Ingredient That Can Transform Any Fruit into Dessert
Taste Makers
You might already have it in your pantry.
Jun 16, 2020
You're Throwing Away the Best Part of Your Fresh Herbs
The stems hold so much potential.
May 3, 2020
The Best Substitutes for Evaporated Milk Are Already in Your Kitchen
So you can still bake those 7-layer bars!
Apr 24, 2020
Out of All-Purpose Flour? Here's What to Use Instead.
Yes, you can still bake if you're out of all-purpose flour.
Apr 20, 2020
What’s the Best Substitute for Baking Soda?
Answer: The solution is already in your pantry.
Mar 19, 2020
Quinoa Flakes Are the Gluten-Free “Breading” Crunchy Food Lovers Need
It's so good you'll want to try it even if you're not going gluten-free.
Jan 10, 2020
Sea Vegetables Are the Most Underrated Way to Get More Antioxidants
Here's how to work them into your diet.
Jul 22, 2019
Cooking with Fresh Cheese: Indian Paneer
Paneer is the reason why many of us are addicted to dishes like palak paneer and shahi paneer korma. This fresh milk cheese is a true staple in Indian cooking, which is no surprise given how well it’s mild flavor and chewy texture goes with spiced up curries. Do you ever cook with it?Paneer is made by curdling warmed milk with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. The curds are then drained and pressed into a solid block.
May 2, 2019
Salty, Sour, and Fruity: Umeboshi Vinegar
I first discovered Umeboshi vinegar several years ago when I was cooking a lot of vegan/vegetarian food. It came in handy when I needed some ‘of the sea’ flavor. This very salty liquid (technically a brine) still has a place on my pantry shelf today, where I add it to recipes like Chickpea of the Sea or sprinkle it over steamed vegetables. Umeboshi vinegar (also called ume plum vinegar) is the by-product of the umeboshi making process.
May 2, 2019
Lemongrass: Infuse Dishes with Delicate Lemony Flavor
Do you cook with lemongrass? Unless you do a lot of cooking from Asian cuisines, you may not have come across this particular ingredient before. I recommend seeking it out post haste! A few stalks of lemongrass will perfume your dishes with soft lemony flavor like none other.Lemongrass grows in tall, individual stalks. Layers of tough green leaves surround a central bulb, similar to the way spring onions and scallions grow.
May 2, 2019
Ancient Grain in Modern Times: Sorghum
Sorghum doesn’t get quite the same street cred as corn, rice, and the other great grains of the world. It is nonetheless a vital crop in many areas around the globe, particularly in central Africa where this drought-resistant grain originated several thousand years ago. Here in the US, sorghum is experiencing something of a renaissance, both as an alternative sweetener and as a gluten-free grain. Have you ever cooked with sorghum?
May 2, 2019
Why Pistachios Are Green: Plus 5 Favorite Recipes for Using Them
Could there be anything better than a handful of pistachios? They’re a snack on their own, they’re a dessert when mixed with ice cream, they’re a savory addition to our salads — I wouldn’t be surprised if they could leap tall buildings and move faster than a speeding bullet, too. They’re basically the superhero of nuts. Except they’re not actually nuts.
May 2, 2019
5 Ways to Use Balsamic Vinegar Every Day (Other Than Salad Dressing!)
If the only time you think of pulling that jar of balsamic out of the cupboard is when it’s time to make a salad, you’re missing out. This sweet and tangy vinegar is one of my favorite secret ingredients, and I’ve found all sorts of ways that its presence will perk up my everyday cooking. To Finish Soups and Sauces: Balsamic and ripe summer tomatoes have a well-known affinity for one another.
May 2, 2019
Kohlrabi Is Weird! And Here’s What You Can Do With It
So…. Kohlrabi. Yeah. It’s a little out there as far as the pantheon of commonly known vegetables goes. It’s somewhat reminiscent of broccoli stems. It looks a bit like a space alien. And I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve cooked with it. Do you find kohlrabi a little weird, too? Let’s discuss. Why don’t we start with what we know.
May 2, 2019
7 Ways to Use Up a Peck of Peaches
If you have yet to bite into a fresh peach this year and have its juices run down your arms to your elbows, you’ve still got time. Sweet peaches are arguably the best part of late summer, and inhaling as many as humanly possible is an important responsibility. But after you’ve eaten a handful from the peck, head into the kitchen to pull even more love out of the stone fruit with one of these seven recipes.
May 1, 2019
The Bean That Is Just as Filling as Meat
I knew I already loved pasta and cheese and gelato when I moved to Italy, but what I discovered while living there was that I loved beans. That’s because I found the one bean that finally felt as hearty as meat. As someone who was once a vegetarian and had eaten a lot of beans in her lifetime, I’d never felt satisfied with them — even nubby chickpeas don’t have that heft that meat does.
May 1, 2019
The 5 Best Cheeses to Use to Create a Flavorful Cheese Ball
At the heart of a cheese ball is, of course, the cheese, so it’s important that the cheese used is a great one if you want stellar results. Almost any cheese can be transformed into a party-friendly ball, but we have a few favorites that we always turn to when building our creation. Here are our top five picks. First, it’s important to know that a cheese ball is a two-cheese (at a minimum) affair.
May 1, 2019
The Secret Step for Tastier Cacao Nibs
If you’re a fan of chocolate in every way, shape, and form, then perhaps you’ve given cacao nibs a try. Were you as surprised by them as I was? No, cacao nibs do not taste like my favorite bar of dark chocolate — they are far more bitter! Essentially unprocessed chocolate, cacao or cocoa nibs are the part of the cocoa bean that are ground up and then sweetened and made into chocolate bars.
May 1, 2019
What Is Lillet?
The moment summer hits, my routine tends to involve rosé and icy gin and tonics. There’s just something about the sunny weather that makes me crave happy hour drinks a whole lot more often. While those have long been my go-tos, this year there’s a new bottle that’s been getting equal, if not more, playtime: Lillet. For some, Lillet isn’t anything new, as it’s been around for a good long while.
May 1, 2019
What’s the Difference Between Cocoa Brownies and Chocolate Brownies?
Brownie connoisseurs already know this to be true: not all brownies are created equal, but there’s room in our lives for lots of them. Cocoa brownies and chocolate brownies both have a place in our kitchen, although they bake up with slight idiosyncrasies. Here is everything you need to know about the differences between the two. Both cocoa- and chocolate-based brownies include sugar, eggs, and flour.
Oct 19, 2018
The Coolest Cucumber You Can Eat Right Now
I’ll be honest with you: I’ve been a cucumber skeptic for years. It’s not that I ever disliked the vegetable — it’s just that it never really did that much for me. The crunch is fine, but the flavor is, well, nonexistent. Especially in the summer, when there is so much abundance around, I always felt my time was more well-spent on things like tomatoes and corn.
Jul 18, 2018
5 Things to Know About Rhubarb
I wait all year long for the arrival of rhubarb — it’s easily one of my most favorite signs of spring. Yet, as well-loved as it is, rhubarb tends to be a little misunderstood. There’s a lot of mystery behind those funny-looking, pink celery-esque stalks. Here’s what you should know. While it’s most commonly paired with strawberries, rhubarb actually isn’t a fruit. It’s technically a vegetable and is in the same family as sorrel.
May 11, 2018
Are Rice Krispies Gluten-Free?
Whether you’re simply pouring them into a bowl with milk or whipping up marshmallow-loaded treats, it’s hard to beat the reliable simplicity of Rice Krispies cereal from that blue box. Since they’re made of rice, you might be wondering if they’re gluten-free. The answer to that question may surprise you. Rice Krispies are, in fact, not gluten-free.
Feb 7, 2018
5 Quick Tips for Choosing Winter Squash
The arrival of winter squash, in all of its many shapes, sizes, and colors, signals not only a change of seasons, but also a desire for heartier food. Since winter squash is consistently on our shopping lists these days, it’s useful to know just exactly what to look for at the farmers market or grocery store to ensure we buy the best butternut or acorn or spaghetti squash possible. Here are five tips to always keep in mind. Pick up that squash and feel the weight of it in your hands.
Oct 10, 2017
3 Things You Need to Know About Coconut Sugar
Every few years, a new “natural” sweetener hits store shelves promising to be the holy grail of the health food world — the perfect substitute for cane sugar. But there’s always a catch (we’re looking at you, agave), and today’s sweet miracle is no different. I’m talking about coconut sugar. This “healthy alternative” has a dirty little secret. Simply put, coconut sugar is sugar that’s made from the sap of the coconut palm tree.
Oct 10, 2017
What’s the Deal with Air-Chilled Chicken?
Take a look around the meat case in the grocery store and it’s pretty likely that you’ll notice packages of chicken labeled “air-chilled.” But what exactly is air-chilled chicken, and what makes it so special? Air-chilling refers to a specific method for cooling chickens during processing.
Sep 13, 2017
The Thing I Use Up the Fastest in My Kitchen
I lived a mustard-free childhood. Instead, Miracle Whip was the condiment of choice in my household. That was all well and good with me, as I found mustard too sharp and pungent for my tastes anyway. Funny how tastes change, however, because once I matured and flocked the Miracle Whip nest, I developed an insatiable taste for mustard. While I truly love it in all forms now (with the minor exception of yellow mustard), my heart lies quite squarely with Dijon.
Aug 14, 2017
Why Is Peach Skin Fuzzy?
With peach season nearly upon us, it’s time to finally answer the question that crosses my mind every year: Why are peaches coated with a soft fuzz? If you’ve ever eaten a fresh peach, I’m sure you’ve wondered the same. It’s time to finally put your curiosity to rest, because I have the answer for you.
Jul 3, 2017
Here’s How to Pick the Best Carton of Strawberries
There isn’t really anything sweeter than the arrival of strawberry season. For me, it not only marks the arrival of fresh fruit after a long, cold winter of imported citrus and cellared apples, but it’s also the kickoff to all the berries and stone fruit that’s soon to arrive. Now’s the time to binge on cartons of strawberries until your fingers are stained and your belly is stuffed. Here’s how to buy the best of the best, because the season is too short not to.
Jun 17, 2017
3 Ways to Use Dates as a Substitute for White Sugar
Dates are a powerhouse sweetener. Not only are they naturally high in sugar and fiber, but their sweetness also has distinct caramel-like flavor that just cannot be replicated. However, when it comes to replacing dates for white sugar in cooking and baking, a simple one-for-one swap isn’t always possible. But dates can be manipulated into a few baking-friendly forms and replace white sugar in everything from salad dressing to cookies.
Jun 13, 2017
4 Ways to Make Bland Strawberries a Lot Sweeter
Even when you know just what to look for when picking out a carton of strawberries, there is no true guarantee for that sweet, juicy flavor you expect from prime summer berries. If you’re faced with bland berries, fear not — there is still hope. Here are four easy ways to make bland strawberries a whole lot sweeter. The quickest, easiest path to sweeter strawberries is tossing them with a spoonful of sugar (or sugar substitute, if you prefer).
Jun 6, 2017
What’s the Difference Between Oregano and Marjoram?
Fresh oregano and marjoram are members of the mint family and staple herbs found in a wide array of Greek and Mediterranean recipes. They look remarkably similar and are often confused for one another, but there’s a distinct difference that sets them apart. Do you know what it is? While the oval, flat green leaves of these mint-family herbs are often confused for one another, each one has a distinct smell and flavor that sets it apart.
Apr 12, 2017
What Are Bitters Anyway?
Maybe you’ve recently perused a cocktail menu and noticed the many varieties of bitters in the lists of ingredients. Or perhaps you’ve noticed small bottles labeled “Angostura bitters” while browsing your local liquor store (the distinctive label that looks too big for the bottle might have caught your eye)? And maybe you’re wondering, “What exactly is this mysterious ingredient, and does it belong in my home bar?
Feb 20, 2017
7 Ways to Add More Vegetables to Your Stew & Chili
When it comes to hearty winter stews and braises, meat tends to be the main ingredient of this warming meal, but that doesn’t mean you should discount vegetables. Not only do they complement and balance the meatiness of stews and chilis, but it’s a wonderful way to pack more (and more!) vegetables into your comfort food. Whether the recipe calls for it or not, every stew can use another serving of veggies. Here are seven vegetables you should be adding to stews and braises right now.
Jan 12, 2017
What’s the Difference Between Muesli and Granola?
If you’ve long been a fan of granola’s clusters and crunch, maybe it’s time to consider a similar-looking cereal on the block: muesli. So how does equally delicious muesli compare to your beloved granola? Here are the answers you’re looking for so you can navigate the cereal aisle at the grocery store with confidence.
Jan 5, 2017
What Exactly Are Quinoa Flakes?
You're going to love this gluten-free and quick-cooking alternative to oats.
Jan 2, 2017
8 Small Ingredients That Changed the Way We Cook in 2016
It’s an exciting thing for a passionate cook to discover a new ingredient. Just when we think we’ve seen it all, a new fruit or fat comes our way. Or maybe a new way of understanding a familiar ingredient is uncovered. Here are eight of those ingredients that either woke up our senses or taught us something new in 2016. Could we write this roundup without mentioning aquafaba, the craziest egg substitute that changed vegans’ lives forever? No!
Dec 26, 2016
The Difference Between Green, Napa, Red, and Savoy Cabbage
Go to the store with a “head of cabbage” on your list and you’ll see your choices are abundant. Gone are the days when a big orb of green cabbage was your only option. Now there are a whole slew of varieties readily available, all with great potential in the kitchen. So which one to choose? Here are the four most common types of cabbage out there and how to best use each. This is likely the first thing that comes to mind when you think of cabbage.
Nov 7, 2016
5 New Apples to Try This Fall
The first chilly days of fall carry a whole lot of excitement around apples — whether you’re picking your own or gathering them at the farmers market — yet after you’ve snacked on and baked with your first bushel, fruit fatigue can set in. You reach a point later in the season when you just can’t look at another McIntosh or Honeycrisp. Luckily you don’t have to, since there are well over a hundred varieties of commercially grown apples to try.
Oct 25, 2016
5 Ways to Use Grainy Mustard to Make Any Dish Pop
When it comes to mustard, the Germans have it right — keep several different types handy, and use it often. One of our favorites to always have at the ready is a jar of grainy mustard. Yes, it’s lovely spread on sandwiches and a must-have for sausage, but this tangy condiment can be the surprise addition that can bring almost any dish to life. A swipe of grainy mustard is the finishing touch you might not have realized your egg sandwich was craving.
Oct 21, 2016
What’s the Difference Between Applesauce and Apple Butter?
When apples are in season, it’s practically our duty to eat them in every form: out of hand; in pie, crisp, or cake; and in the form of applesauce and apple butter. The latter two may look similar on the surface — soft and spoonable — but they are pretty different characters. Here’s how.
Oct 20, 2016
The Best Oils for Roasting
Fat, specifically oil, is an essential component when roasting foods. Without it, you wouldn’t get that lovely crisp, brown caramelization that makes roasted veggies so amazing. There are so many different varieties, and the selection at stores only seems to be growing — so, which oil should you be using for roasting for both safety and flavor? From a safety standpoint, it’s important to understand the basics of an oil’s smoke point.
Oct 19, 2016
The Craziest Water You Should Be Cooking With
Water, 99.9 percent of the time, is not crazy. Most of the time, it’s pretty boring, save for those times you decide to toss that lemon slice or a few fruit and herbs in it. I am not talking about that kind of water. In fact, this a water you wouldn’t throw back in a tall glass (although I wouldn’t judge you if you did); it’s a cooking water that comes from a little corner of Italy and it’s in that crazy 0.1 percent.
Aug 26, 2016
The Spring Veggie We Might Love More than Asparagus
Once spring hits, there are a few vegetables that aways take center stage. Asparagus jumps front and center, along with fava beans, ramps, and radishes. But there’s one little green vegetable that often gets left behind. I am talking about pea shoots. Made up of tender stems, small green leaves, and curly tendrils, pea shoots literally shoot right up out of the soil and off a pea plant before any pods are formed.
Apr 21, 2016
What’s the Difference Between East Coast Butter and West Coast Butter?
It's what's on the inside that counts.
Mar 4, 2016
What Is Ghee?
I grew up hearing rumblings of the word “ghee” from my aunts at an early age. When I’d visit for dinner, I’d see them grab a big spoonful of it from a jar by the stove before cooking practically everything. But that’s really where my knowledge stopped — I never understood quite what it was, and perhaps was too afraid to ask.
Mar 1, 2016
Why Is Pickled Ginger Served with Sushi?
Whether it’s the pink pickled ginger tucked next the plastic green grass in the sushi you pick up from the grocery store, or the pale, thin slices served at your favorite sushi joint, chances are you’re always going to find ginger of some sort next to your order. Ever wonder why? Us, too. So we did some digging for an answer. Traditionally, pickled ginger (or gari) is served as a palate cleanser during a meal made up of several courses of sushi.
Feb 12, 2016
Is Brown Rice Really Better?
According to conventional wisdom, white rice is a tasty, versatile starch that’s bad for you, while brown rice is a good-for-you grain that tastes bad. But is the difference between the two really so straightforward? Let’s start with the basics: There are more than 40,000 cultivated varieties of rice — each with a brown form.
Feb 2, 2016
Your Canned Tuna Label Decoded
Around the time I started stocking my own pantry, many years ago, I learned a quick lesson about one of my favorite lunch staples: Canned tuna is not just canned tuna. Albacore, chunk light, packed in water, packed in oil … what does it all mean? What’s the difference between them? And does it really matter? There’s certainly no shortage of options when it comes to buying canned tuna.
Jan 20, 2016
What’s the Difference Between Regular and Stone-Ground Flour?
Stone milling is nothing new — it’s the way flour was made for thousands of years before electricity came onto the scene — but lately, it’s having something of a renaissance. In addition to historic stone mills still functioning around the country — some of them still run by waterpower — new mills are popping up and artisan bakeries are even installing their own mills so they can grind flour on the premises. The result?
Jan 18, 2016
What Is Flour?
A pantry staple, flour is an ingredient you might not have given much thought. But these days, there’s a surprising selection of flours in your grocery store’s baking section. There’s all-purpose of course, but also pastry flour, cake flour, and bread flour. You can also choose between bleached and unbleached, white and whole-wheat — and then there’s the wide world of alterna-grain (i.e., non-wheat) flours. But do you actually know what flour is?
Jan 14, 2016
Why Does Spinach Leave a Weird Film on Your Teeth?
I’m a spinach fan and love that it cooks quickly so I can stir it into eggs, pasta, stews, soups, or just about anything I choose. What I don’t love, however, is that strange film it leaves on my teeth. You know what I’m talking about — that unpleasant coating that’s both dry and chalky. “Spinach teeth” is such a weird phenomenon; where does it come from, and is there anything that can be done to minimize or prevent it?
Sep 28, 2015
A Visual Guide to the 7 Major Types of Canned Tomatoes
A lot of recipes rely on canned tomatoes for flavor, acidity, richness, liquid, and so much more. Canned tomatoes are definitely a pantry staple we can’t live without, especially when it’s the middle of winter and there aren’t any good fresh tomatoes to be found. The canned tomato aisle at the grocery store is pretty impressive, with so many varieties and brands competing for your attention. How is each kind made, and how is it best used?
Sep 24, 2015
How Is Skim Milk Made?
Sometimes my fridge contains too many varieties of milk — whole milk for my toddler, 2% low-fat milk for the other kids who hang out here, and skim milk for my husband. Seeing the lineup got me thinking recently: How exactly do you get all the fat out of skim milk, and is that the only difference between it and the other kinds of milk? Skim milk goes by “skimmed milk” in the United Kingdom and Canada. It is also sometimes referred to as nonfat or fat-free milk.
Feb 10, 2015
The Best Pumpkins for Baking and Cooking
When it comes to pie, just any pumpkin will not do.
Oct 8, 2014
What’s the Deal With Baobab?
I’d like to introduce you to baobab (bay-o-bab). Have you tried this unusual fruit yet? Here’s what it tastes like, and what you can do with it. Baobab is a native fruit from an upside-down looking “tree of life”in Africa. The revered tree can live for hundreds, even thousands of years. It never burns and can store water in its trunk, which can be tapped for release in times of drought.
Sep 30, 2014
Everything You Need to Know About Pluots
So, just what is this speckled fruit that looks like a plum and bears a similar, yet funny name? Pluots are a member of the (delicious!) stone fruit family. They are a hybrid fruit developed in the late 80s that are 75% plum and 25% apricot. They resemble plums with smooth skin, and a similar shape and texture. If you’ve never tasted a pluot you’re in for a treat! The flavor is intense, and I say that in the best way possible!
Jul 25, 2014
What to Look for When Buying White Chocolate
When a recipe calls for a good-quality white chocolate, do you know what to look for when you compare brands and labels? And does what you choose determine if your recipe will succeed? Here are a few tips for buying the best white chocolate for baking and melting. Many argue that since white chocolate doesn’t contain the dry cocoa solids that are in chocolate liquor, it’s not really chocolate at all.
Jun 13, 2014