In my younger days, I worked in professional kitchens. So I would like to think that I have picked up quite a few kitchen hacks. Whether you need help with food storage, food prep or any other area you could think of, you should find something to help you below. Now, I know at this point I’m meant to ramble on to up the word count (good seo and all that) but screw that. Let’s dive in.
Kitchen Hacks For All Occasions – Food Storage
1. Check if your eggs are still edible. This is one that I expect most people will know. But it bears repeating anyway. To check if eggs are fresh, place them in a bowl of cold water. If they lay flat on the bottom, they’re fresh. The more of the egg that rises off the bottom, the less fresh it is. And if it floats on the surface, throw it away! Bonus tip, if you want to peel a slightly older egg quickly, do this:
2. Always cover peeled potatoes with cold water to keep them white before use. If you are keeping them longer than overnight, change the water to stop them going fluffy and unusable.
3. Bananas. Want to keep them fresh for longer? Wrap a little saran wrap around the stalks. Want to speed up the ripening process? Place them in a paper bag.
4. Tomatoes should be stored with the stem facing down and not in the fridge. Obviously don’t spend your time turning over cherry tomatoes, it would take you forever!
5. I read tips all the time for stopping avocado going brown. Normally this involves lemon juice. Which for me defeats the point because it fundamentally changes the taste. Instead, place the leftover avocado in an airtight container with a half of peeled onion. Done.
6. Stop brown sugar from congealing into a clump by putting it into an airtight container rather than the bag it comes in. Alternatively, put a marshmallow in the bag. Too late and it’s already gone hard? Microwave it in an open container next to a small bowl of water. The moisture will re-invigorate the sugar.
7. Want to keep lemons for longer? Place full lemons into a sealed jar of water. The water will seal the lemon and prevent it from drying out. Allowing you to keep it for up to a month.
8. To properly store root vegetables, cut off the root. The root draws moisture from the body of the vegetable, meaning it dries out quicker.
9. Get yourself some mason jars. Most pre-packaged foods (quinoa, rice, sugar, cereals etc) come in terrible longer term containers. The jars will pay for themselves in no time at all. And as an added bonus, they look great in your cupboards or on the side. Also make sure that you label everything. When it was opened and how long you have until it needs throwing. And don’t use sticky labels! It will quickly become a pain to wash off each time. Instead, make your jars look amazing by using string labels.
10. Proper fridge and freezer temps. If your fridge does not have a built-in temperature gauge, get one. Make sure that the fridge is around 5°C or slightly lower. For freezers, it needs to be 18°C or lower.
Kitchen Hacks – Food Preparation
11. Wanting to grate softer cheeses such as mozzarella? To do so it’s best to firm it up slightly before hand by placing it in the fridge 30 minutes before grating. Similarly, if you are wanting to slice soft cheeses, don’t bother with the old dental floss trick. Place a sharp knife in very hot water for 1 minute and then slice.
12. Jar won’t open? No problem:
13. Butter too hard to work with? Don’t microwave it. All you will do is ruin the taste and texture. If you have a little time, cut the butter into smaller pieces to let soften. And if you don’t have the time, grate it using a cheese grater. This is exactly how butter knifes work. The serrated part of the blade separates the butter into strands, allowing it to be worked easier as it warms from the friction.
14. Need to weigh a sticky substance such as honey? First coat the receptacle you are going to use with a little oil (tiny amount on a paper towel, wipe it around) to stop it sticking to everything in sight.
15. To decrystallize honey, boil a small pan of water. Put it in a bowl and then place the honey jar into the water. The heat will revive your honey in absolutely no time.
16. Clean as you go. This was something taught to me very early on and it’s always stuck with me. If you tidy your kitchen and clean used pots as soon as you can, the end effort will be a lot lower. Allowing you to enjoy your food without the knowledge that the kitchen looks like a bomb went off in it!
17. Need more than a few hard-boiled eggs? You could always fill several pans with water and do it that way. But for an easier, less messy solution, try this: get a muffin tin, put as many eggs as you need in it (one in each recess) and bake for 30 minutes at 180°C. Perfect eggs every time.
18. Lots and lots of things can be prepped before hand. How do you think professional kitchens are able to keep up with the flow of people. By prepping in advance. Pasta can be cooked off and stored for up to 3 days in an airtight container. To reheat it, add it to the sauce. Vegetables can be chopped, ready to be used. Heck, you can even prepare mashed potatoes beforehand as long as you keep them in an airtight container. Pretty much everything in a restaurant is made beforehand to save time. Even chicken breasts are steamed off in the morning, ready to be used throughout the day.
19. Washing salads. When you wash a salad, fill your sink with cold water and add a drop of white vinegar to it. This will help cleanse the salad leaves. If you don’t have white vinegar, a pinch of salt will suffice. Then chuck it all in a salad spinner to remove the moisture. If you don’t have a salad spinner you can use a combination of a sieve to drain and then a teatowel to remove the rest of the moisture. But a salad spinner is a million times easier!
20. Need to peel ginger? Don’t use a potato peeler or a knife. Scrape a teaspoon down the sides to remove the skin. It won’t damage or remove the layer underneath as a sharp object would.
Kitchen Hacks – Cooking
21. Stop pots from boiling over with this one easy trick! (how click baity does that sound!). But really, all you need to do is place a wooden spoon across the top of the pot when you are using it. I don’t know why this works, but it does.
22. Roasting vegetables in the oven or anything else that needs “flipping” halfway through? Bugger that. Save yourself time and effort by preheating the baking sheet. Now you don’t need to turn it over.
23. Need to bake a sweet potato? Have it done it around 6 minutes. Run some baking paper under the faucet and wring it out. Pierced your sweet potato so it cooks evenly. Wrap the baking paper around it loosely and microwave for 6 minutes. Check to make sure it’s done. This is a great shortcut and gives you lovely fluffy insides and firm skin, just like a baked potato should be!
24. If you are baking, throw a couple of slices of apple in the oven with your creation. It will help to keep it soft and moist.
25. Want to make chocolate bowls for your dessert to impress your friends? Here’s the easiest way to do it. Heat up some chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Blow up a bunch of balloons. Drizzle the chocolate over the bottom half of the balloons and then set on some parchment to harden. Once hard, pop the balloons and you now have a chocolate bowl. Something like this:
26. No funnel? Use an envelope instead (a new clean one). Snip a hole in the corner and you’re good to go.
27. Make homemade butter really easily by whisking double cream and a pinch of salt. Once down, drain out excess moisture by wrapping it up in a teatowel and squeezing. Congrats, you just made your own butter!
28. Want to know if the oil is hot enough? Stick a wooden skewer into the oil. If it starts to bubble, you’re good to go.
29. If you need to add more oil to your pan while cooking, make sure you drizzle it down the side wall of the pan. This way it will be at the correct temperature when it reaches the middle. This ensures that your meal is cooked evenly.
30. Last of all, a piece of advice. Measure and weigh everything. There is a good reason that recipes include amounts, make sure you follow them to maximise your results.
And I think that’s where we will leave the kitchen hacks for now. I hope that at least some of these tips prove to be useful to you. I have many many more and will probably write at least one more article on this subject. But until then, make sure you check out the food section for tips on storage, substitutions (for example, did you know you can use peanut butter as an egg substitute?).
Until next time……….