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Cooking can be surprisingly forgiving

Network analysis confirms ingredient swaps are feasible

By
3:23pm, November 23, 2011

If your pumpkin pie recipe calls for cinnamon but you’ve used the last of it, nutmeg, ginger or cardamom will do. Out of olive oil? Try applesauce. A new in-depth analysis of recipes, reviews and suggestions from an online foodie site reveals that many recipes are more flexible than standard cookbooks suggest.

Researchers mined more than 40,000 recipes and nearly two million reviews from the website Allrecipes.com, investigating various aspects of cooking and ingredient preferences. “We wondered if the analysis would let us see how flexible recipes are,” says coauthor Lada Adamic of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

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