Recipe hoarders

 secret recipes

Have you ever had a dish that you wanted to recreate, so you asked for the recipe – only to be denied by the person who made the dish? It might be understandable for a chef to keep a recipe trademarked, but what about your neighbor or family member? Is it fair to keep recipes a secret? Over at Epicurious, Bonnie Rubin discusses some of the reasons people won’t share their recipes

Sometimes a friend or family member won’t share a recipe because she feels it won’t be special if everyone knows how to make it. Others worry that someone will change the recipe and still credit it to him or her, even if the changes ruin the dish. The original recipe giver does not want to be associated with something that turns out badly. 

Another reason could be that the recipe isn’t as special as you think it is. For example, one hostess known for her “show-stopping” cheesecake won’t give out the recipe for one simple reason: she uses the recipe that comes on the package of cream cheese. Sometimes people can be sneaky in not providing the recipe. Instead of outright denying the ask, they sabotage the recipe by omitting key ingredients or instructions. 

How about you – do you give out recipes freely or do you have “secret” recipes with which you’ll never part? Although I can emphathize with the woman who didn’t want to be associated with a terrible dish, I usually give out recipes if asked. People will occasionally say that their attempt to make the recipe didn’t turn out as well as mine. I wonder if they think I sabotaged it?

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  • Jane  on  January 22, 2017

    I'm always happy to share recipes. I make a wonderful salted caramel brownie which is Nick Malgieri's Supernatural brownies topped by Felicity Cloake's Perfect salted caramel sauce. I have requests to make them for every party and get together. And anyone who asks gets sent the recipe. I don't understand the obsession with taking a recipe to the grave. If you have a great recipe why would you not want lots more people to enjoy it?

  • Cubangirl  on  January 23, 2017

    I always share my recipes if asked. However, I am always aprehensive that it won't turn out the way the person expects. Some people (including me) do not always follow directions, and while tweaking is great, sometimes it makes a huge difference in a bad way. In some of my Cuban recipes I use Bijol, most folks don't have easy access to it. My spice pantry and herb garden are bigger than average, so while fresh tarragon and sumac are normal for me, not so for most of the folks around me. Still I feel flattered that someone wants to replicate what I make and am always happy to share.

  • Jane  on  January 23, 2017

    You are quite right Cubangirl, that is one issue when sharing recipes. Several people who have tried to recreate my brownies had an issue making the caramel and I have ended up having to give them a caramel lesson! I think we who cook and bake a lot sometimes forget that others don't have the same skills and pantries.

  • eliza  on  January 23, 2017

    I always share as well, and I'm flattered when people want "my" recipes. I cook a lot, and try a lot of new things, and it's great to pass along the best ones to others. The ultimate for me happens when my Mum wants one of my recipes!

  • ellabee  on  January 24, 2017

    My cooking's simple enough that the recipes I'm asked for have a lower than average potential for screwups. They're rarely ones I developed myself, though some have changes that make a nice difference. In the recipe I pass along, I credit the original source and note key steps or ingredient amounts that differ from the original.

  • hillsboroks  on  January 25, 2017

    I have never hesitated to share recipes since nearly all of them come from cookbooks, magazines, newspapers or websites. But I have an elderly friend in her 80s, in poor health and who has no children to pass her recipes down to, who is adamant about never ever sharing a recipe. She says they will all go to the grave with her which seems like such a shame. I have never understood her logic. I totally understand about a chef or a food company safeguarding their recipes or someone who enters lots of food contests. But for the rest of us sharing recipes with friends and family can bring such joy.

  • susan g  on  January 27, 2017

    My mother used to type up recipes for friends who asked for them. Thanks to that, I have some of her recipes that have fond memories attached.
    I see that no one who commented has said, essentially, I hoard my recipes and keep my secrets. Nice to be in a community of generous and caring people!

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