Cheap vs expensive ingredients

Started by stamina888, March 11, 2023, 02:09:11 PM

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stamina888

What are examples of ingredients where upgrading from the cheap to the expensive one provides a significantly noticeable improvement.  And examples where the cheap vs. expensive ingredient are similar to where 99.9% of people won't tell the difference, and it's best to just save money here and redirect that money into other places.

One example is oil.  If you're just using it for cooking or you need the properties of a fat to change the texture (and other aspects of the food), probably some flavorless generic brand oil will work.  But if you want to put oil on top of something after cook for flavor, maybe you do want the EVOO, or fancy truffle oil or whatever.  Similar point with butter.

waltertore

Quote from: stamina888 on March 11, 2023, 02:09:11 PM
What are examples of ingredients where upgrading from the cheap to the expensive one provides a significantly noticeable improvement.  And examples where the cheap vs. expensive ingredient are similar to where 99.9% of people won't tell the difference, and it's best to just save money here and redirect that money into other places.

One example is oil.  If you're just using it for cooking or you need the properties of a fat to change the texture (and other aspects of the food), probably some flavorless generic brand oil will work.  But if you want to put oil on top of something after cook for flavor, maybe you do want the EVOO, or fancy truffle oil or whatever.  Similar point with butter.

For me each ingredient is affected when adding/changing anything and your pie will tell you so.  Cheaping out on ingredients/processes for profit is something we never considered.  Balance is what I strove for with our pizzeria pizza. It took 30 years to find what cheeses, flour, tomato, fermentation, oven, bake temp, mix time/process, toppings and ratio/thickness of toppings, to satisfy me. I used only top ingredients from Italy and the USA.  Never cheap out on any part of it because when it is all done right it has that "pop" that will attract a great and loyal audience.  Find the pie you love and make it.  If it is appealing to others, you hit a home run.  If not, you are off the mark, and or in the wrong region for it. 
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nanometric

Quote from: stamina888 on March 11, 2023, 02:09:11 PM
What are examples of ingredients where upgrading from the cheap to the expensive one provides a significantly noticeable improvement.

Top-quality anchovies are inherently expensive. Top-quality basic ingredients such as flour, tomatoes and cheese aren't necessarily expensive: you just need access to a proper resto supply. Of course, cheap things can get expensive if shipping or travel is involved.

Timpanogos Slim

When my youngest brother was in a culinary arts program he profiled what was then my favorite pizzeria for a course assignment.

His remark to me was that they were spending way too much on cheese.

They were using Grande.

I don't hold my youngest brother's culinary acumen in high regard.
There are many kinds of pizza, and *Most of them can be really good.
- Eric

Jon in Albany

I think clams are one. You can get canned and there are a lot of varieties of clams at various price points, but I think good quality, fresh little necks are significantly better and they cost more, at least in this area.

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mosabrina

Olive oil has pretty diminishing returns the more expensive you go.

Also wine, especially for cooking I always use cheap.

Damichele uses soybean oil on top of their pizzas and not sure anyone complains about the taste.

Jackitup

If you've made a few years worth of pies.....you know where you can push the envelope a bit!!! Iron Fist/Velvet Glove level %$# and all that......dough, ingredients, it all counts!!!!
Jon

"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."-----------Mark Twain

"If you don't think you're getting what you should out of life.....maybe you're getting what you deserve."---------The Root Beer Lady

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Yael

For me, it depends on what you can find around and what is your restaurant position.
Either way I have the (bad?) habit to start with the cheapest product of the series and going up step by step - until I'm satisfied. What I'd suggest though, is at least to try the top products once or twice. Because you can get used to cheap/lower quality, and when you eat something better, suddenly you realize how little you knew!

Then, it's frequent that when the ingredient is good you can put less of it. You could make a 'Margherita' with 150g cheap shredded cheese or replace it with 80-90g fresh more-expensive fior di latte and have a much better pizza for the same price.

Finally, there are of course some ingredients that I don't bother too much with (but again, it depends on the position), like condiments (salt, pepper...); cheapest EVOO is good for me for cooking and in the pizza dough; flour for cakes or tarts...
"Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist" - Pablo Picasso

NoBSpizza

In tomato sauce / paste the difference between really good and bad products is unbelievable. You might be able to find really good, yet reasonably priced sauce, though. Especially sauce from good, homegrown tomatoes is so much better, you won´t care about the other toppings (cheese, sausage, etc.) very much once you have seen the light.
Friday morning. You had a hard week, the day ahead of you is long. But then you remember: tonight is pizza night. This is going to be a good day.

TXCraig1

"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

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foreplease

I'd like to point out that expensive doesn't guarantee good and sometimes cheap (less expensive) doesn't necessarily mean poor quality. We can't just line things up by price and be sure that translates to best quality. Personal taste and preference plays into it too, of course.


We are in Shop Talk. I'd be surprised if any of the successful shops insist on paying top dollar. A significant percentage will pay for high quality.
-Tony

Timpanogos Slim

#11
Quote from: NoBSpizza on March 18, 2023, 01:36:23 PM
In tomato sauce / paste the difference between really good and bad products is unbelievable. You might be able to find really good, yet reasonably priced sauce, though. Especially sauce from good, homegrown tomatoes is so much better, you won´t care about the other toppings (cheese, sausage, etc.) very much once you have seen the light.

I haven't tried Bianco di Napoli.

I certainly like Mutti better than Cento.

Muir Glen is not bad for some applications. Also better than Cento.

A #10 can of 7-11 for $7 really blew me away, though.

I'm not sure my life can be regimented well enough to successfully grow anything but weeds. I do technically live in a desert.

Quote from: foreplease on March 18, 2023, 09:09:35 PM
I'd like to point out that expensive doesn't guarantee good and sometimes cheap (less expensive) doesn't necessarily mean poor quality. We can't just line things up by price and be sure that translates to best quality. Personal taste and preference plays into it too, of course.


We are in Shop Talk. I'd be surprised if any of the successful shops insist on paying top dollar. A significant percentage will pay for high quality.

Yeah. In consumer psychology, paying a higher price almost always results in higher satisfaction with the product, even if it's the exact same product. The experiments have been done to death by college freshmen.

But when it's your livelihood on the line, you have to be analytical and figure out what actually pushes the right buttons.

My remark about my brother believing that Grande is a far too expensive mozzarella -- I'm not trying to make a living or really impress other people right now, but it's not hard at all to see how some work better than others. And I'm not even talking about how well they re-heat. Just how they melt and spread, the mouth-feel, etc. I don't even care that much if the cheese breaks and releases fat.

they aint all the same by a long shot. Even among whole milk low moisture with the right salt level, they just aren't apples to apples.

For example, costco's bella rosano has a good flavor, but if i pile it on a little heavy it's just gross. It's too soft and viscous in the mouth, as compared to the Galbani wmlm from RD. No idea if the small grocery store balls of Galbani wmlm at grocery stores is the same stuff.

Of course if your style and objective is a very light layer of cheese, that won't become a problem.

I recall hearing that Little Caesar's said that they use a lot of muenster in their blend because it's cheaper than the mozz they use. As a consumer, that sounds crazy to me, but I'm not ordering cheese by the ton.
There are many kinds of pizza, and *Most of them can be really good.
- Eric

NoBSpizza

Quote from: Timpanogos Slim on March 18, 2023, 11:56:28 PM
I haven't tried Bianco di Napoli.

I certainly like Mutti better than Cento.

Muir Glen is not bad for some applications. Also better than Cento.

A #10 can of 7-11 for $7 really blew me away, though.

I'm not sure my life can be regimented well enough to successfully grow anything but weeds. I do technically live in a desert.


Most tomatoes, especially varieties from Southern Italy (I love Piennolo del Vesuvio), like dry, hot climates. There is hardly any rain in and around Naples in summer. You could simply let them sprawl on the ground like a weed. In dry climates they stay healthy that way. Water once or twice a week and they should be fine.
Friday morning. You had a hard week, the day ahead of you is long. But then you remember: tonight is pizza night. This is going to be a good day.

stamina888

Quote from: foreplease on March 18, 2023, 09:09:35 PM
I'd like to point out that expensive doesn't guarantee good and sometimes cheap (less expensive) doesn't necessarily mean poor quality. We can't just line things up by price and be sure that translates to best quality. Personal taste and preference plays into it too, of course.

This. We are human beings.  Factors like price, brand, marketing and aesthetic can influence us whether we consciously know it or not. 

Blind taste test is king.

TXCraig1

Quote from: foreplease on March 18, 2023, 09:09:35 PM
I'd like to point out that expensive doesn't guarantee good and sometimes cheap (less expensive) doesn't necessarily mean poor quality. We can't just line things up by price and be sure that translates to best quality. Personal taste and preference plays into it too, of course.

I agree 100%. When I first read this question, I was trying to think of anything I use that I pay more for an expensive alternative. The only thing I could think of is pepperoni.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

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wotavidone

To me, it is like red wine. While spending more does seem to increase your chances of getting a good bottle, it doesn't guarantee it.
For all that the nicest red wine I've ever had was also the most expensive, many a cheap bottle has been a pleasant surprise, many an expensive bottle a bitter disappointment.
Mick

Pizza_Not_War

Cheese is the one ingredient I notice the most when comparing between cheap and higher priced. You get different flavor, melt and texture.

foreplease

Quote from: TXCraig1 on March 19, 2023, 09:48:13 AM
I agree 100%. When I first read this question, I was trying to think of anything I use that I pay more for an expensive alternative. The only thing I could think of is pepperoni.
Parm Reg for me.
-Tony

TheRealJonnyD

Mozzarella, but it's not exactly about price. Infact, the cheese I use is one of the cheapest available to me yet it's of the highest quality. If it were more expensive, I'd still buy it.
Jon

Timpanogos Slim

Quote from: TheRealJonnyD on March 19, 2023, 12:15:49 PM
Mozzarella, but it's not exactly about price. Infact, the cheese I use is one of the cheapest available to me yet it's of the highest quality. If it were more expensive, I'd still buy it.

I've heard that some people get good results with Frigo string cheese fed through a food processor but i haven't tried it.
There are many kinds of pizza, and *Most of them can be really good.
- Eric

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