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15 Foods That Are Often Mistaken for One Another, and How to Tell the Difference

Whether they share similar names or looks, some products can be hard to differentiate. A small mistake can confuse and surprise your taste buds. Let’s see if we can help you avoid this problem.

Bright Side chose some food pairs that get confused most often, and we can’t wait to share how you can finally tell them apart.

1. Mushroom vs toadstool

The toadstool has a rounded cap located on a stalk and it’s inedible. The mushroom takes the form of a domed cap, with gills on the other side of the cap, and it’s safe to eat. That’s why usually, people use the term “mushroom” to describe fungi that are edible, while “toadstool” refers to the kinds that are poisonous.

2. Plantain vs banana

They may look like twins, but once you taste them, you’ll notice a big difference. Plantains have a greener, tougher, larger skin than bananas, and they need to be cooked before you can enjoy them. Bananas are sweet and can be eaten as they are.

3. Noodles vs pasta

Noodles and pasta are different due to their ingredients and the way they’re processed. Noodles are made of milled flour — most commonly, wheat. And salt must be added so that it can develop softer gluten and bind the dough. However, pasta uses a coarser type of flour and is processed into stiff and dry products that later must be boiled before eating.

4. Jam vs jelly

The most significant difference between jam and jelly is how much of the original fruit is in them. Jelly is made into a smoother consistency and it’s done by crushing the fruit and throwing away the solid chunks. Jams are made by the same process but most of the pieces and seeds are left inside to give it a more spreadable consistency.

5. Peach vs nectarine

The main difference between peaches and nectarines is that they have a different coating. Peaches have fuzzy skin and nectarines have a completely smooth coating. They can be used interchangeably for cooking, but since peaches have thicker coats, they need to be peeled.

6. Prawn vs shrimp

While shrimp and prawns are similar in taste, prawns are bigger in size and that’s why they’re considered more of a delicacy. So, because shrimp is smaller, it’s cooked a bit faster and they’re more commonly found on restaurant menus. There’s a difference in their names too, as “prawn” is used primarily in the United Kingdom, and “shrimp” is used more in North America.

7. Chickpea vs soybean

First of all, chickpeas and soybeans are rich in different vitamins and minerals. However, soybeans can’t be eaten raw, even though most plant foods can. As for chickpeas, you can enjoy them in different ways and even as they are.

8. Cilantro vs parsley

Even if they look the same, parsley and cilantro are completely different herbs. Parsley has pointed leaves and a delicate flavor while cilantro has curved leaves and a more powerful flavor. The best way to choose the right one is by smelling them.

9. Gelato vs ice cream

The main ingredient that makes up these 2 desserts is cream. However, the difference is the amount of fat that is used. To make gelato, you need less cream, more milk, and no egg yolks, which is one of the most common ingredients in ice cream. Another difference is the temperature: this popular treat is served around 0ºF, and gelato, at about 15ºF.

10. Yam vs sweet potato

The terms “yam” and “sweet potato” are used interchangeably for both veggies and this has caused a lot of confusion. The difference is that yams can grow to be very large and can weigh up to a whopping 132 lb. Yams, however, are rough and have a skin that is not easy to peel, but it can be after heating. On the other hand, sweet potatoes have smooth skin that can vary in color and they are sweeter, less dry, and starchy.

11. Cupcake vs muffin

The difference between muffins and cupcakes has nothing to do with their ingredients but with their mixing methods. Cupcakes are the miniature versions of cakes while muffins are mixed using the “muffin method,” no matter the flavor. This method consists of mixing the wet and dry ingredients in different bowls and then combining them. Also, muffins have less sugar, more whole grains, and more fruit — they can also be made savory and include things like veggies and cheese.

12. Indian roti vs tortilla

Roti and tortillas have different levels of fat. The tortilla is usually made using vegetable shortening or lard, while roti uses canola or vegetable oil. Also, roti dough is rougher than tortilla dough.

13. Cucumber vs zucchini

Cucumbers are cool, waxy, and hard while zucchinis are warmer to the touch and boast a slight grittiness on their skin. Also, most cucumbers have a rough, bumpy exterior, while zucchinis always have smoother skin. When it comes to taste, you’ll know that it’s a cucumber because it has that specific crunchiness.

14. Raw sugar vs brown sugar

Raw sugar has a mild caramel taste and the crystals are a light, golden brown. On the other side, brown sugar is darker and has a stickier texture with an undeniable caramel taste.

15. Macaroons vs macarons

The macaron is originally from France and consists of 2 light biscuits with a sweet ganache between them. Macaroons, however, contain shredded coconut as well as an egg mixture, and they’re baked into a fragrant, soft cookie.

Which food pair did you learn most about? Is there another food pair that you often are confused about? Do you have a few tricks that help you determine which one is which?