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Food myths--or are they?

I find some generally held beliefs about food and cooking not to be true ("food myths"), but some people swear that they are true. Please comment on your agreement or disagreement with any of the ones listed below OR can you provide some of your own food myths?

I find the following not to be true:

1. Tomatoes taste better if they are not refrigerated: Well, if they are cold when you serve them, they don't have as much flavor, but if you let them return to room temperature, I don't see a difference between tomatoes kept at room temperature and those stored at cooler temperatures.

2. Steep your tea for at least two minutes because it will taste better: The longer I steep my tea, the more bitter it gets. With a black tea, about a 30 second dunk is all the tea needs.

3. Parsley improves everything: I don't get parsley. If you eat it by itself, it has almost no flavor, unlike, for example, basil or mint. So why bother putting it in a recipe? I keep doing so because all the the recipes tell me to, but can you really discern any difference in the flavor of a dish, if it is left out? I can't.

4. Hard plastic cutting boards won't harm your knife because they are made to deal with your knife: Nothing makes your knife go duller faster.

5. Long, slow cooking of Italian tomato sauce (for example, for spaghetti) improves the flavor of the sauce because the ingredients (garlic, basil, oregano, etc.) meld together: I find just the opposite. The sauce becomes flat tasting, which I think is the result of the acidity of the tomatoes disappearing. A tomato sauce cooked briefly has much more zing and fresh flavor.

6. Using a garlic press alters the flavor of the garlic: I've never noticed any difference.

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  1. gfr1111 - this is gonna be a fun one!
    I don't get the parsley thing either, except as a garnish. I've heard it mellows garlic, but I don't want my garlic mellowed. I agree with the tomato one with this caveat - I put them in the fridge only when I'm afraid they'll go bad if I don't, then bring to room temp. I make a spaghetti sauce (one of 5) that demands long cooking (it has a roast in it). I just freshen the herbs and spices near the end.

    I was hoping for an interesting new topic!

    1. >>>
      2. Steep your tea for at least two minutes because it will taste better: The longer I steep my tea, the more bitter it gets. With a black tea, about a 30 second dunk is all the tea needs.
      <<<

      I usually leave the bag in the cup the whole time, until I am almost done drinking it, which drives Mom nuts. I only pull the bag out when it would in fall in my face drinking the last drops. Never experienced any bitter taste when doing this.

      >>>
      3. Parsley improves everything: I don't get parsley. ,,,
      <<<

      I don't get parsley, either.

      >>>
      4. Hard plastic cutting boards won't harm your knife because they are made to deal with your knife: Nothing makes your knife go duller faster.
      <<<

      My knives don't go dull from the white poly boards in my kitchen, and they go right into the dishwasher for sanitizing. I can also store 2 or 3 in the same space as one good wooden board, a real consideration in my kitchen.

      1. In my opinion:

        1. Tomatoes taste better hot from the sun, or at least at room temp. Here, they go into the fridge if they're over ripe.

        2. Fresh tea leaves should be steeped in a teapot with water that has barely begun to boil for 2 - 3 minutes only. That gives the leaves time to infuse fully. They are then strained into a teacup that's been pre-heated with hot water.....

        3. The only parsley I've ever eaten that actually has a nice herby flavor is parsley fresh from the garden, or farm. The leaves at the tip of each sprig have more flavor than the bottom leaves. The stuff bought at a supermarket is tasteless. Oh, and contrary to popular belief, some curly leafed parsley is actually Very flavorful.

        4. I have a couple of dedicated plastic boards for poultry, raw meat, etc. which are used frequently and I've never noticed any dullness problem.

        5. Since I hardly ever make a "meat" sauce, here's my usual Maranara, with variations, sauce:
        Put the water on to boil.,
        Start sauteing chopped garlic, and any other veggies I care to use.
        Add tinned tomatoes, RPF, G & P, basil and/or oregano. Stir.
        Turn down heat and simmer stirring occasionaly.
        When the salted water boils throw the macaroni into the pot.
        When the macaroni is done - al dente - drain and toss into the sauce.
        Easy Peasy.

        6. The garlic press I've had since forever is used when I need raw garlic in a finished dish but don't want the difficult to digest minced cloves.

        4 Replies
          1. re: phofiend

            Red pepper flakes
            Salt and pepper

            :)

            1. re: phofiend

              Sorry for the typo...I meant S & P. Those who know me like yamalam know I mean and can translate......thankfully.

              1. re: Gio

                Thanks. Sounds like my non-recipe, but I add the RPF when I saute the garlic (and onion) to bring out more pepper aroma. Also finish with any fresh herbs that are around.

          2. >>1. Tomatoes taste better if they are not refrigerated: Well, if they are cold when you serve them, they don't have as much flavor, but if you let them return to room temperature, I don't see a difference between tomatoes kept at room temperature and those stored at cooler temperatures.<<

            I think I heard Alton Brown say that there is a chemical reaction in tomatoes once they hit below 50 degrees. Once you refrigerate them, the chemical process takes place, and it does not reverse itself once the temp is raised. You will not see a difference in flavor between cold tomatoes served cold, and tomatoes brought back to room temp. Neither tomato has been kept at room temp. You will see the difference in flavore between a tomato that has been kept at room temp, and a tomatoa that has ever been chilled below 50 degrees. Your findings do not support your original thought which was "Tomatoes taste better if they are not refrigerated." You refrigerated the tomatoes in both trials, and then claimed essentially that refrigerated tomatoes taste the same as refrigerated tomatoes that have been brought to temp.

            >>5. Long, slow cooking of Italian tomato sauce (for example, for spaghetti) improves the flavor of the sauce because the ingredients (garlic, basil, oregano, etc.) meld together: I find just the opposite. The sauce becomes flat tasting, which I think is the result of the acidity of the tomatoes disappearing. A tomato sauce cooked briefly has much more zing and fresh flavor.<<

            I think this is supposed to be true for sauces using canned tomatoes only.

            I don't really know if either of these things is true, but I might experiment with fresh tomatoes now. I'll have quite a few in August like everyone else!

            2 Replies
            1. re: gordeaux

              Tomatoes that have been exposed to cold lose flavor even if the exposure is while they are still on the vine. I live fairly close to Lake Michigan in Chicago, so we often have our first killing frost weeks after other parts of the metropolitan area. Tomatoes picked in late October or early November have been exposed to refrigerator-like temperatures even though there has not been frost and very definitely lack flavor compared to tomatoes that mature earlier.

              1. re: gordeaux

                well, since almost any supermarket tomato has definitely been kept below 50 degrees I'm willing to bet there are a lot of people who might just as well keep the tomatoes at home in the fridge.

              2. 1. To me, refrigerating tomatoes dulls their flavor, but my main issue with it is the mealy texture that the flesh of the tomato gets when it has been refrigerated.

                2. I'm another one who leaves their tea bag in the whole time i'm drinking it pretty much, and have never had it be bitter.

                3. Parsley can brighten up the flavor of a dish, but i think mainly its used for color.... so it can be for presentation value.

                4. i use a plastic board for meats and a bamboo one for vegs, and i agree, it doesn't dull it any faster.

                5. I like long slow cooked sauces if i'm using canned tomatoes, but quick roasted, raw, or lightly sauteed if i'm using fresh tomatoes.

                6. I've never used a garlic press. I either mince the cloves or make them into a paste with salt depending on the texture I'm looking for.

                1. Well, I steep my tea for 5 minutes minimum.....not because your supposed to, but mostly because I forget about it.

                  Myth or not.....met is better on the bone.

                  My two favorite beef dishes are Roast Prime Rib and a Delmonico Steak. When out in a restaurant, I always prefer to order it with the bone if available. I feel cheated if the bone is not available.

                  When ordering chicken, I only order rustic bone on preparations and never order any grill white breast chicken.

                  To tell you the truth, I cannot tell the difference if the meat is better on the bone or not.....I think I just like gnawing on the bones.

                  1. I don't put tomatoes in the fridge unless they are cooked- I can detect a difference, unless I'm kidding myself and it's just a lousy tomato vs. a good one.

                    Oooh I love loose tea, let it steep for a while- tea bags are a different animal.

                    Parsley was typically chopped and mixed in to make meatballs, in with the ricotta for the lasagna, etc- I love traditions, so I keep this one. Don't force parsley to prove itself, just let it be.

                    I cook my Sunday Gravy alllllllllll day. Start with the neck bones and finish with a hunk of bread dipped into the pot to test it later. Marinara from crushed tomatoes doesn't need that long to cook.

                    Myth to add: ice cream with freezer burn should be thrown away.
                    No way- just push the bigger hunks to the side and polish it off with a fork!

                    1. As I sit here watching my tomatoes refuse to ripen, I'll stick to #1.

                      Grocery store tomatoes are nearly flavorless. Refrigerating them probably doesn't do much harm to their taste (although they may get an unpleasant mealy texture). But per Shirley Corriher, a big part of the taste of a fragrant vine-ripened tomato comes from cis-3-dexenal, a volatile aromatic compound that dissipates at temperatures below 50F.

                      Okay, I lied - venturing out to #3 - I think your parsley observations are along the same lines. With better quality produce you'll be able to tell the difference. Whip up a big fistful of homegrown parsley in a chimichurri sauce and serve it with a New York strip. You'll "get" parsley. You'll get it in a big way.

                      1. 1. I taste the difference between unrefrigerated tomatoes and refrigerated tomatoes. But - I always put the ones from the grocery store into the frig, because they've probably already been refrigerated. My home grown, and the ones from the farmer's market, hang out on the counter.
                        3. Parsley doesn't improve everything - often it's just used for color. But, it does have a wonderful flavor and I really notice when I don't have any fresh parsley to put into my meatloaf. Dry parsley isn't worth a dime.
                        4. No problem with hard plastic cutting boards.
                        6. How could using a garlic press alter the flavor of the garlic? I use a press when I want only the garlic flavor, not the body.

                        1. You can find some support for your tomato position from Robert Wolpe, a food scientist, who had a regular column in the Washington Post. He says that refrigerating them will prevent ripening, but once ripe, they'll be OK for a few days before they start to get mealy. They're better at room temp but if you like them cold, knock yourself out.
                          http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                          Good, fresh parsley is worth the effort and adds a lot to simple dishes. Plain pasta or potatoes with butter or oil and a little garlic and parsley is terrific. Same for simple sauteed fish with lemon and parsley.
                          It has a lovely fresh grassy flavor that does get overwhelmed in complicated dishes but it can make or break a lot of things and I can't be without it. It's a gotta-have in my kitchen, right there with the salt and pepper.

                          I don't like long-cooked tomato sauces. Maybe because tomatoes are one of my very favorite foods and the longer you cook them, the less flavorful they are. All the other ingredients become lost in a jumble of flavors and, to me, the sauces are just plain boring.
                          Give me a quick tomato sauce any day. A few minutes with some quickly sauteed onions and herbs. A speedy bath in the oil for some fresh tomatoes and it's ready to go on top of some pasta, fish, or whatever. Then it tastes of summer on the vine - right there on my plate! What more could you ask?

                          MInced vs. sliced vs. pressed garlic??? The amounts of surface area differ. They cook at different rates and will mellow differently. The flavor of sauteed garlic is different and pressed garlic doesn't saute well. tending to scorch.
                          I use them all depending on what I'm using the garlic for. I use the garlic press when I don't want even tiny discernible pieces of garlic. You can add pressed garlic at the last minute for a fresher garlic flavor, or when you need it for a liquid or emulsion.

                          1. Re: #4: I've had no problem with plastic cutting boards (tip: buy 4 or 5 at Ikea and never worry again). My mom has hard, acrylic cutting boards-- if that's what you're talking about, I agree, they're terrible.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: jules1026

                              The hard white plastic cutting boards are good. The glassy hard ones are dreadful. They are, unfortunately, beloved by suppliers of residence hotels.

                              1. re: 512window

                                yep, there's a definite difference between the two. I once went to a friend's house to prep for a party, and these were all she had, were the "glassy" ones. Her knives were dull, and she couldn't figure out why. I was never under the impression that these were actually cutting boards, I thought they were decorative, or trivet-like.

                                1. re: 512window

                                  Condo associations, too, prefer those glassy hard cutting boards. Fortunately, one of my frequent business trip locations is only 6 hours away by car. I pack one good chef's knife and a smallish poly cutting board.

                              2. Tomatoes, I've made myself like them better room temperature. Actually, the only good tomatoes are in the summer, so I limit to that time, and sure I'll chill it sometimes. I love it and think the salt is the key for me.
                                Tea- I think it does get bitter if it stays in there.
                                Parsley - I love parsley. Its fresh grassy herby taste is a nice addition to most dishes.
                                And I do have a recipe where I cook potatoes with garlic and about a cup of fresh parsley. love it.
                                hard plastic - don't know
                                long cooking improves the flavor- For me it depends completely on the sauce
                                garlic press- don't know

                                1. 1. Tomatoes- I never refrigerate. If I have too many I pop them in the freezer as is. They thaw quickly and can be used in any cooked prep or in salsa or gazpacho- just not sliced.

                                  2. Tea- there are so many variables I would discount the "rule" out of hand

                                  3. Parsley- the good stuff has a presence. Pinch off a bit and if the smell does not hit you then the stuff is just bunny food or garnish. It works in some places and not in others just like any herb.

                                  4. I see no diff between wood and plastic. I am not sawing into the board anyway so?

                                  5. Long slow Italian tomato sauce- if you are talking the Italian American "gravy" with meat, I think the long slow cook extracts flavor and melds things. I stagger the garlic and herbs so that some is long cooked and some less. The long part I think is more along the lines of a slow braise of meat.

                                  6. Garlic press- Mine went into the playbox for the kids playdough use years ago. I think smashed is just different from finely minced- so it depends on the recipe. I do use a small mortar and pestle to smoosh garlic and salt- which would be similar. I am on my way to do that along with fresh oregano, parsley, basil, and thyme to flavor mini meat patties.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: torty

                                    My comment is just to comment on the fact that I am so surprised that allot of folks don't get the slow cooked tomato sauce thing.

                                    There are so many different "red" sauces for pasta - some require hours on the stove, and other more fresh and summery sauces do not.

                                    Torty, you described the slow cooked meat sauce perfectly - a slow braising of the meat.
                                    The gravy actually takes on the porky flavor and the tomatoes become swetter as well. The result is rich, robust, porky and slightly sweet.
                                    Absolutely delicious. Probably my favorite food.

                                    Quick tomato sauces are completely different - fresh, bright and lighter.

                                    Two totally different kettle of fish - each can be delicious!

                                    1. re: NellyNel

                                      Nelly I also don't understand the slow cooked tomato sauce controversy. I always slow cook, and when I don't it just isn't as good. I think the secret is in layering your seasonings. I start out with some of them, and then halfway through add some others, and at the very end I toss in whatever the sauce is lacking in. The deep rich color and flavor is so good. My DH does this quick sauce and it is so boring!

                                      1. re: danhole

                                        I know - I don't understand.
                                        I don't actually have a certain standard "method" .....I improvise every gravy!
                                        But yes, like you, I do tend to layer the flavors, always tasting and adding as it cooks.

                                        1. re: NellyNel

                                          I recently posted a picture of my spaghetti with meat sauce and had someone ask me for the recipe, but I can't! I don't really have one! The best I could do is let them taste the final product and then tell them, more or less, how I got there! But it may not be the same next time I make it - it could even be better!

                                  2. How about the myth that one needs eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. I love listening to Dean Edell's national radio show when this topic comes up.

                                    14 Replies
                                    1. re: chipman

                                      Yesterday I went through four gallons of fluids with only minimal bathroom breaks. Of course, at 4 pm it was 108F with 15% humidity. Intake has to keep up with output, and output should include a little extra to flush the kidneys. A minimum of half a gallon a day is a good rule of thumb, but everybody's body, metabolism, and environmental factors are different.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        I'm not talking about extreme temperature conditions as you are experiencing, but people who walk around all day long with a bottle of water tied to their hip. The whole eight glass a day rule is a complete scam and a fraud that is being perpetrated by the water companies. There is no scientific study anywhere that proves you must drink that much water. And when you discover that food is the primary source for your water requirements, makes the eight glass rule is even more ridiculous.

                                          1. re: chipman

                                            In "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Healthiness," Dean Edell cites studies from Tufts and the University of Nebraska that indicate half a gallon a day is a pretty good average. His point is that hydration is provided by water in any form, whether it's the water in an overpriced bottle of name-brand tap water, in a non-caffeinated beverage, in a bowl of soup, or in an apple.

                                            As for those people who walk around with a bottle of water - yes, some of them are probably sheep, and the folks who own Dasani and Aquafina are happy to take their money. But it's a fact that the body absorbs water more effectively when it's sipped over time than it does when a large amount is gulped down quickly. Living in a hot climate, I tend to take a Nalgene bottle of filtered water with me whenever I go out in the afternoon. No money for the water companies, but it keeps me from getting thirsty.

                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              "whether it's the water in an overpriced bottle of name-brand tap water, in a non-caffeinated beverage, in a bowl of soup, or in an apple."

                                              Even the notion of beverages having to be non-caffeinated is a myth. Studies have shown that caffeine in the levels found in beverages is no more diuretic than water itself. http://www.ific.org/foodinsight/2002/...

                                              1. re: Sooeygun

                                                It's not quite a myth; more like oversimplification. The common notion that you can't hydrate using beverages that contain any amount of caffeine is simply wrong, but nobody disputes that caffeine is a diuretic. The only question is how the diuretic effect balances against the hydrating effect of the water in the beverage. You can probably hydrate just about as well with a quart of iced tea as with a quart of water. A quart of espresso, though, might be another matter.

                                              2. re: alanbarnes

                                                It wasn't that many years ago that nobody "walked around" with bottled water or Nalgene bottles. We sipped from water fountains, drank a glass before we left home or when we got where we were going.
                                                Somehow, nobody died of thirst or dehydrated, even though there wasn't air-conditioning in a lot of places. Heck, there wasn't any air-conditioning when I was a little kid growing up in New Orleans.

                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                  There was also a time where people smoked in doctors offices and airplanes, doesn't mean it was good for everyone involved.

                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                    I remember those days. When I was a kid we never carried water bottles around. Instead, my parents always tossed a Thermos jug of water in the car whenever we went anywhere. It had a spout you could drink out of, but they hollered at us kids when we stuck our mouths on it.

                                                    Maybe it's historically limited to hot, dry climates (both sides of my family pioneered to New Mexico), but carrying water around isn't a new idea. Whether it's a pre-Colombian Mexican with a water bottle made from a gourd or a Bedoin with a goatskin girbah, people have been doing it for a long time.

                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                      When we went on car trips or were going out for a long time - in very hot, humid South Louisiana - my parents did the same thing that yours did. But not for ordinary trips around town.
                                                      Way back then, cars weren't air-conditioned, nor were most buildings, a situation which has changed.

                                                      Cars didn't have a cup holder for every seat. Little kids didn't walk everywhere sucking on juice boxes.
                                                      Now people carry water bottles in their bags from their homes to their offices, to the grocery store, walking down the street, and never seem to be without them. They carry them around their office suites and show up at your house with them in their hands. Don't they think I'll offer them something to drink?

                                                      Now, there is a trend toward "flavored" and "vitamin" waters. Some of these have calories and even sugar. There are tiny packets of Crystal Lite made to add to bottled water. Are people moving away from plain healthful water to ersatz soft drinks? Bored with water?
                                                      Those juice boxes appendages to small kids are sugar-laden. What part do they play in childhood obesity and diabetes?

                                                      How much of this is behavioral? People are now accustomed to putting something in their mouths all day. That habit might have something to do with obesity and diabetes.
                                                      Have we gone beyond that "need for 8 glasses of water a day" to an obsession with swilling something constantly?

                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                        bottled water?? that's what the neighbor's hose was for.

                                                  2. re: chipman

                                                    The whole eight glass a day rule is a complete scam and a fraud that is being perpetrated by the water companies.
                                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                                                    By the highlighted comment, I'll assume you mean the bottled water companies and not the public utilities(tap water). I have no position on the eight glasses of water per day issue......My comment is this. The notion, whether true or not, has been around a lot longer than the past 20 years when the bottled water companies began to surface and become so popular.

                                                    1. re: fourunder

                                                      I think the notion's been around for a while, but the bottled water companies really do harp on it as a reason to go around with bottled water all day. I spent two years living in Japan in a fairly hot area. For a while I just took the water out of the tap, but then got told the water wasn't safe to drink without boiling. I had no choice but to be one of those bottled water people after that. Sigh.

                                                      1. re: queencru

                                                        Doctors do recommend the 2+L of water for people who have had kidney stones.

                                              3. 1) i can definitely taste the dif between a ripe tasty tomato that has been kept at room temp or refrigerated

                                                2) if i'm using a bag, which is rare, i leave it in the whole time. more often at home it's loose leaf - black tea, and dark oolong - boiling water 5 mins. greens and light oolongs 180(ish)F for 2-3 mins, white teas 180F - 7 min. puh ehr - um i havent had any in a long time s i don;t remember

                                                3) parsley adds a fresh, grass green taste. it's subtle, yes - and not necessary, but not impossible to taste

                                                4) agreed

                                                5) there's probably a minimum and max times, but for most sauces the flavors do develop over time.

                                                6) of course it alters it. the more cell walls you break the more pungent the garlic gets. whole cloves are milder than chunks are milder than slices are milder than smashed are milder than pressed

                                                1. 1 - jfood keeps tomatoes next to the bananas on the counter.
                                                  2 - he only drinks cmaomile and mint, so not an issue
                                                  3 - he does not like parsley on his food, not a good "green" eater
                                                  4 - jfood has wood for raw meats and 2 plastics for non-meats. bigger issue is the family using on the granite counter top
                                                  5 - yes
                                                  6 - jfood loves his garlic press.

                                                  1. I think parsley has a nicely strongish taste. Very... parsley-ish. Get the flat leaf, it has flavor.

                                                    I think spaghetti sauce tastes better the following day - the kind with all sorts of meat. Sauce with meatballs and sausage - maybe an hour to cook down some. If you are using dry herbs, you may need extra time to get them soft and flavors infused properly.

                                                    I too am a quick tea dunker. Bitterness bugs me.

                                                    I have a myth: A chef who has a program on the food channel has said repeatedly that water will come to a boil quicker if you start with cold water. He learned that in cooking school. You know what... RUBBISH! I tested that twice and the hot water came to a boil quicker. Someone should be Flayed for passing on that balderdash.

                                                    1. 1. Refrigerating tomatoes kills the tomato flavor molecule --Z-3 hexenal. Put tomatoes in the coolest place you can find that's not the frig -- in a bowl or plastic container in a deep drawer, or someplace else that's cool and cover them with a towel. Just don't refrigerate them -- that's tomatocide. Z-3 hexenal dies at 45 degrees, I believe. The texture also changes -- it become mushy. There's an entire Chowhound thread about this:
                                                      "Refrigerating tomatoes"
                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/539198

                                                      2. Steep your tea till it's as dark as you like it, but not longer. You don't want to develop the rainbow-looking "oil slick" of tannin on the top of the liquid.

                                                      3. Parsley used to be over-used, and ineffectively used. Today, I think it's underused as a flavor ingredient in dishes. It doesn't, even couldn't, improve everything.

                                                      4. Never noticed any diff in knife sharpness using plastic boards. I'm sure you could do some impromptu experiments.

                                                      5. Italian tomato sauce needs to be cooked long enough for the liquid to reduce, and for the wine to cook out. Too long and the flavors become muddy. But a sugo, a ragu, is simmered for hours to produce its flavor.

                                                      6. Using a garlic press makes the garlic stronger, more acrid and less sweet. When the cells walls of garlic are broken that violently by the press, the basic allium acid changes into the harsh pyruvic acid and ammonia. It's actually a chemical defense mechanism and very similar to the reason an onion makes you cry when you cut it, especially when you cut or hack the onion with an unsharp knife. This very subject was the subject of a Chowhound thread:
                                                      "Garlic presses: Good or bad?"
                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/545979

                                                      Nice idea for a thread!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                        Hey, somebody with a food science background! Hate to be so blatant about pumping you for info, but...

                                                        What's the difference between Z-3-hexanal and Z-3-dexenal? Hexane I know what is - dexane, not so much. Z-3-hexenal is leaf aldehyde. Z-3-dexenal appears only in quasiscientific discussions about refrigerating tomatoes. Are they two separate compounds, or is the latter just the viral repetition of a Shirley Corriher typo?

                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                          Love that viral typo line. I think it's that. Surprises me because it's SC. I just checked some scientific articles and a couple of food chem books, and it's Z-3-hexenal.

                                                      2. Re parsley - it depends on how much you use and where it has come from. We use coriander a whole lot more, but parsley really comes into its own when mixed up in a tabbouleh or with garlic, butter and lemon for grilled prawns.

                                                        Re 8 glasses of water - I think this really depends on where you are. I easily get through 3-4 litres a day, but I am in a coastal town, where our average temperature is 27 degrees. When I drink a litre or less, I notice an immediate difference in my skin and hair. And no, I am not constantly running to the bathroom. Your body adjusts especially if you are sweating it out.

                                                        Re long slow cooking - it really can vary depending on your starting point. Fresh tomatoes that are sweet require very little cooking time, at least when I make a marinara sauce. However when using canned I like to leave the sauce simmering for a couple of hours.

                                                        Re tea - we make Indian tea, which entails bringing a pot of water to boil with the tea leaves and fresh grated ginger, add the milk after boiling and allow for it to come to the boil again, simmer for 4 minutes, then strain. Possibly the longest amount of time tea leaves can be in hot water - but never turns out bitter

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: waytob

                                                          You are drinking too much water.

                                                          No human needs 4 litres of water a day. You are literally endangering your life. Stop it.

                                                          1. re: John Manzo

                                                            Wrong. A typical healthy adult's kidneys can process about 15 liters of water per day; just not all at once. Water intoxication and associated hyponatremia are relatively rare, and when they're fatal it makes the TV news. Dehydration is a much more serious problem, and can lead to heat stroke, which kills a lot of people every year.

                                                            Water intake should slightly exceed the amount of water lost through perspiration, exhalation, etc. (Electrolytes need to be replenished in proper ratios, too, but that's a topic for another day.) A sedentary person in a cool climate can get by quite well on about two liters of water a day (including water from food). But someone who's working hard in hot, dry weather needs a lot more to replace the fluids lost through perspiration. And that amount can easily exceed four liters a day.

                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                              Exactly...I don't drink glassfuls at one go either. I sip at a bottle throughout the day, depending on how dry my mouth is etc.
                                                              On days like Sunday, where I am largely lounging around in my apartment, I'll get through a whole lot less, just as on days when my fruit intake is much higher, i find I need less water. I think this ties in with the body craving thread, where your body will tell you if you need water, provided you are attuned to it.

                                                        2. Difficult to imagine tabbouleh without parsley.

                                                          Or baked cod or gammon without parsley sauce.

                                                          I find eating tomatoes, cheese, meat or almost anything else straight from the fridge to be tasteless in comparison with letting it come to room temperature. It is one of my biggest geenral gripes when eating out - particularly cheese when a place goes to the trouble of having it on the dessert menu and then whacking it onto a plate cold. I've watsed my money!

                                                          1. 1. Tomatoes taste better if they are not refrigerated: TRUE. Chilling reduces all flavors somewhat but tomatoes particularly. Something like 60% of "taste" is actually smell.

                                                            2. Steep your tea for at least two minutes because it will taste better. If you are using loose leaf tea this is TRUE. if you are using the floor sweepings found in American tea bags, keep the bag in until you drain the cup, to get any flavor.

                                                            3. Parsley improves everything: Not necessarily true. Fresh from the garden parsley certainly does have a distinctive flavor - buy the Italian Flat leaf; it's better.

                                                            4. Hard plastic cutting boards won't harm your knife because they are made to deal with your knife: TRUE. Glass is the worst cutting board substance. Wood is the best. I have $10 knives that go in the dishwasher and $300 chef knives that are only wiped and oiled.

                                                            5. Long, slow cooking of Italian tomato sauce improves the flavor of the sauce because the ingredients meld together: TRUE. ANY reduction - and that's what a long slow cook time really is - concentrates flavors..

                                                            6. Using a garlic press alters the flavor of the garlic: NOT True.

                                                            1. 1- tomatoes do get mushy and flavorless when refrigerated.This was a clarion call to me when I first read that you shouldn't refrigerate them, my mother used to race home from the store to put all produce in the fridge. I was amazed at how much better they were when not refrigerated.
                                                              2. Steep your tea for however long you like. But Tazo brand, for instance, will make a whole lot more tea than the usual grocery store tea bag, so a lot of it is the quality of the tea you're using
                                                              3. Parsley is great stuff- love it, but it couldn't possibly make everything better! Homegrown is better, obviously.
                                                              4. We finally got a plastic cutting board, but I hate it. I hate what it dies to the knives and I hate that noise it makes.
                                                              5. Italian tomato sauce- well, I've had good versions cooked all different ways but my favorite is mine, and I rarely cook it more than an hour using canned tomatoes. Epic cooking times do tend to make the sauce flat, but not always.
                                                              6. I love my garlic press as much as jfood loves his
                                                              7. half gallon of water a day? Easily for me, but then I live in southern AZ and I'm outside at work and home both a lot. It's a good starting point, you may find you feel a little better with more water.

                                                              1. A few reactions:

                                                                2. If you steep your tea for only 30 seconds, you're getting colored water.
                                                                3. I like parsley in certain dishes. It has, as the late Justin Wilson used to say, "a marvelmous flavor." But this is only true of Italian flat-leave parsley; curly parsley is usually more flavorless than bad celery.
                                                                5. This is an artificial either-or construct. There are several different ways to make tomato sauce, ranging from the uncooked, to the fast-cooked, to the long-cooked; the handling of the vegetable saute at the beginning also affects the flavor. The best discussion of this is in Lynne Rosetto Kasper's "The Italian Country Table," in which she identifies four distinct flavor profiles for sauces and gives clear information on how to arrive at each of them.

                                                                1. Okay, here's my 2c worth.

                                                                  1. I've heard the chemical thing from Alton Brown and as a rule, won't refrigerate my tomatoes. Unless they've been around for a while and I don't want to lose them. Fridge tomatoes are better than no tomatoes.

                                                                  2. Coffee is supposed to be at it's optimum if it's steeped for 4 minutes. So it would make sense that 2 - 3 minutes only would provide optimum tea. Perhaps you just like a weaker tea. No real problem there. A guy at work would more or less just threaten hot water with a tea bag and he was good.

                                                                  3 & 5. Parsley does not improve everything. For instance, it does not improve corn flakes. What I will say though is if you have a long simmering dish, such as a tomato sauce, a nice sprinkling of fresh Italian parsley before serving will really freshen it up. In general if you just adjust or re-season before serving it'll lose the dull taste.

                                                                  4. I don't think it's hard on knives per se. It's what you do. I have mostly plastic boards and scrape my knives on them a lot. Supposedly this is one of the fastest ways to dull a knife.

                                                                  6. The more damaged cell walls there are in a clove of garlic, the more flavour it will deliver. So a pressed clove will be more flavourful than a sliced clove. I wouldn't call that altered though.

                                                                  DT

                                                                  1. Hmmm.... I love tomatoes but haven't really paid attention to see if the temperature made any difference. I shall give this a try next time and see what happens.

                                                                    1. Many years ago, the Chiquita Banana Company used to advertise that you shoud never put bananas in the refrigerator. Myth or not?

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                        No banana's in my fridge. They will rot to black before your eyes!
                                                                        I don't know if Chiquita taught me that or not.
                                                                        Tomatoes and bananas and garlic and onions and taters all loiter, but never in the fridge. Wait- green onions go in the fridge.

                                                                        1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                                                          The skin turns dark quickly but the meat stays edible longer.

                                                                          DT

                                                                          1. re: Davwud

                                                                            It's a good idea in the summer. It seems like they just get ripe so quickly and attract tons of fruit flies, and I live in an area with good AC. Refrigerated bananas with black skin still taste fine and seem to last forever in comparison.

                                                                            1. re: queencru

                                                                              Ummmm - I don't think they ATTRACT fruit flies. I think that might be a discussion for another thread.

                                                                        2. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                          i try to avoid putting bananas in the fridge, it seems to change the consistency, even if i let them come back to room temperature. if they get too ripe, into the freezer for banana bread (or occassionlly a dip in chocolate)

                                                                        3. RE: chiquita bananas-
                                                                          Go to Youtube web-site. Enter- Chiquita Banana Original Commercial.
                                                                          This original commercial is from the 1940's

                                                                          1. It depends on how you use parsely,and the type and quality. Curly parsley is pretty tasteless and is used to make food look good. I like to use celery leaves when I cook but sometimes the flavor is too strong. Mixing them with flat leaf (Italian) parsely evens it out. Parsely is also really good for you.

                                                                            If you get good fresh Italian parsely, make some pasta and dress it with a little good olive oil, a dash of pepper and salt and a good bit of freshly chopped parsely and you have a great side dish.

                                                                            Chopping some greens with fresh garlic does tone down the garlic. It's a classic French technique.

                                                                            Tea should be done to your taste. Since there are thousands of varieties and many steeping techniques you have to develop your own method.

                                                                            You can alter the strength of garlic by chopping it different ways. Paradoxically the smaller you chop it the stronger it tastes. As you break or smash the cell walls you mix more of the chemicals that react and create new compounds that have the classic garlic flavor. If you want a mild garlic flavor leave the pieces large and cook them slowly. If you want that 'I don't care if you ever kiss me again' flavor use a garlic press and keep it raw.

                                                                            By the way you can grow your own garlic easily and cheaply. I use a plastic bucket filled a rich planting mix. I take a head of garlic (it can't have been irradiated), separate the cloves and plant them pointy side up about an inch deep. After a couple of months you get something that looks like a scallion with a bulbous head. If you pick it early enough it will not have the papery cover and it will be undivided, almost the texture of a radish and it will have a mild garlicky flavor (yes, I live in garlic country south of San Francisco,)

                                                                            Plastic cutting boards usually have an uneven surface. If you have excellent knives and know how to sharpen them you know that you are trying to create a very narrow ridgeline along the edge. If the metal is at all soft (like a good high carbon knife) then the uneven surface will dull your knife. And if you use the edge to scrape things off the board (heaven forbid) you will dull the knife quickly. If you have stainless knives with a hard edge it's not going to be an issue.

                                                                            1. As for Parsley -

                                                                              For many years I felt exactly as you - "what's the point?"
                                                                              I could not taste anything.

                                                                              BUT in the past five or six years, I have had an awakening!
                                                                              Parsley does indeed have a wonderful taste.

                                                                              Friday night I was at a cafe and ordered salmon tartare. It was served with a lovely fresh salad - 50% of which consisted of parsley. It had a bright lemony dressing and was incredibly tasty and delicious. It was the parsley that did it!
                                                                              As I ate it I thought of this post, and wished I could feed all of you parsley-nay-sayers a bite!
                                                                              It would have forever changed your opinions!