What’s Worse? 3 Surprising Truths About Food

Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockBy Lynn Andriani

What's worse: using bottled lemon juice or none at all (if you don't have fresh lemon juice)?

None at all.

You might think bottled lemon juice is an unacceptable substitute for the real deal, and it is true that once any kind of citrus juice comes in contact with oxygen, it starts losing its flavor and gets more acidic, which means it doesn't taste quite as lemony, limey or orangey as fresh would. And many commercial brands contain controversial additives.

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Still, using bottled lemon juice is better than none at all-provided you use a high-quality brand. Sabrina Sexton, a chef instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, uses Santa Cruz Organic Pure Lemon Juice or Nellie & Joe's Key West Lemon Juice for cocktails. If you're caught without a good quality bottle of lemon juice, consider adding a splash of orange juice or even vinegar (not for drinks, though), which will add the burst of acidity and freshness lemon juice usually brings to a dish.

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What's worse: frozen peas or fresh peas?

In most cases, fresh peas.
Frozen peas are better than most of the fresh peas you'll see at your grocery store, says Sexton. There is such a short window of time for fresh ones to be delicious, that usually, by the time they get from the farm to your store, they're starchy and flavorless. Frozen ones are sweet, not mealy, and a useful ingredient to keep on hand.

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What's worse: cooking with canned tomatoes or with fresh tomatoes?

Fresh tomatoes.
Canned tomatoes, whether they're whole or chopped, have a much more concentrated flavor than fresh tomatoes do. If you are making a tomato sauce and want it to have a deep, rich tomato flavor, "it's almost impossible to achieve it with fresh," says Sexton.

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