Pocket worthyStories to fuel your mind

Home Cooking Mysteries, Solved

How to fix mushy rice, what to do with green potatoes, and how gluten actually works.

Pocket Collections

Read when you’ve got time to spare.

In partnership with

Even as an experienced home cook, following a recipe can be a mystifying experience. Why do I need to skim that pot of stock while it's simmering? And do I really need to rinse that raw chicken before roasting it? It's a constant gamble just trying to figure out which shortcuts are okay to take and which ones will completely sabotage the end result.

Picking the ingredients out before starting a recipe can be even more confusing. There are those grocery store decisions, like which butter (salted or unsalted, cultured or uncultured, American or European) will work best for your next batch of croissants. And then there's the constant debate about whether those older ingredients sitting in your crisper drawer are still okay to use. Thankfully, the editors of Epicurious have your back with the answers to some of these biggest everyday cooking mysteries.

Image by Olga Cherniak / Getty Images

The Coffee Lingo You Need to Find Your New Favorite Beans

Ever Meister

“For some people, that morning cup of coffee is just about the caffeine. But for others, it’s a peaceful little moment when you get to drink something really delicious before launching into the day’s responsibilities. This guide helps you decode the terms on the bag of coffee beans (like ‘blended,’ ‘single-origin,’ ‘washed,’ or ‘natural’) to figure out which beans are right for you.” -Anna Hezel

The Real Difference Between European and American Butter

Carina Finn Koeppicus

AH: “Pastry chefs love to sing the praises of European brands of butter for making pastry. In this article, we break down the major differences between European and American butter, sharing some advice for what to look for in the grocery store.”

Knead, Rest, Repeat: How Gluten Actually Works

Annelies Zijderveld

AH: “If you’ve ever baked your way through a loaf of sourdough or a batch of focaccia, you’re probably familiar with the importance of gluten formation in these processes. But what actually is gluten, and how does it work?”

Anna Hezel

Anna Hezel is a senior editor at Epicurious. Before joining Epicurious in 2022, she was the senior editor at TASTE. Anna has written about food, drinks, and culture for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bon Appétit, Rolling Stone, GQ, Eater, and more. She’s the author of the 2019 cookbook Lasagna (Clarkson Potter) and the 2023 cookbook Tin to Table (Chronicle Books).