Smart 20 Essential Kitchen Tips and Tricks for Cooking
You spend a lot of time planning meals and preparing food,
making all of those helpful kitchen tips and tricks that save you time worth knowing! And so, I can give you a short list of some of the best tricks I find most useful in the kitchen.
“01. Peeling Garlic The Easy Way”
This is not the job I like to sign up for (who likes to smell garlic on their hands for 3 days straight?), but this technique looks like too much fun to pass up! Smash, shake, and separate! I’ve also seen this done with two ceramic bowls placed on top of each other (rim to rim) to create a dome for the garlic. The hard surface might work more efficiently than Tupperware at breaking apart the garlic.
“02. How To Peel An Orange”
This tip is especially useful for those of you that don’t have any nails to dig into the tough skin of an orange. With a few clever cuts of a knife, you can peel an orange and eat it without juice dripping all over your hands. But best of all, its FUN!
“03. Store Ice Cream In A Bag”
A plastic freezer bag keeps the cold air from making your ice cream rock hard. If you like straight spoons and soft ice cream, this trick is worth the extra step! Try to push out as much air out of the bag as you can before putting it in the freezer.
“04. Grate Cold Butter”
Your stick of butter has to be close to frozen for it to work, and you must work fast to keep it from melting, but the grated butter is perfect for adding to flour before baking biscuits, scones, muffins, etc.. It also makes the butter melt much faster, so if your butter is too cold to spread, consider grating it first and then topping toast, veggies, or a baked potato!
“05. A Better Way To Cut Watermelon”
This tip will come in handy this summer! Watermelon is my go-to fruit, especially when I’m craving something sweet. It’s hard to believe this stuff is good for you. I like to cut it up into small pieces and store it in a large Tupperware bowl so it’s easy to grab and eat. I’ve found this cutting technique to be the easiest and fastest way to get the perfect little bite-size pieces.
“06. Freeze Leftover Sauce”
How clever is this? I hate wasting food but sometimes it’s hard to prevent, especially when a recipe calls for half a cup, but the cans are sold in servings (like tomato paste). Essentially you could do this with home-made sauces as well as anything canned that you don’t use up like re-fried beans, chopped jalapenos, etc.
“07. Peel Ginger with a Spoon”
Ginger can be tricky to peel with all its bumps and irregularities. Rather than using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, reach for the spoon. Scrape it against the skin and it’ll come right off, following every contour and minimizing waste.
“08. Get an Immersion Blender”
I use my immersion blender more than any other electric tool in the kitchen by a long shot. Whether it’s pureeing soups directly in the pot, getting rid of ugly lumps in my cheese sauce, or making mayonnaise or hollandaise in under two minutes, the immersion blender is the tool for the job. Much easier to clean than a counter-top blender or food processor, no need to transport hot ingredients from a pot to the blender jar, and the ability to work with even small quantities of ingredients (provided you have a cup that fits its head properly) make it an invaluable asset.
“09. Slice Avocados in their Skins”
To slice avocados for salads or guacamole, split them in half, remove the pit by whacking it with the heel of your knife and twisting it out, then slice it directly in the skin using the tip of a paring knife or chef’s knife. When you then scoop it out with a spoon, you’ll have slices ready to go, with less mess than trying to fiddle with slippery peeled avocado a cutting board.
“10. Reviving Crystallized Honey”
Try this trick to bring honey back to a luscious, drizzly state: Place the container in a bowl of hot water until the honey is smooth and runny, 5 to 10 minutes. (Alternatively, remove the lid, then microwave the jar in 30 second intervals.) To prevent crystals from forming again, store the honey in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) and avoid introducing moisture. So no double-dipping once your spoon hits your tea.
“11. Opening Jars With Ease”
There’s always that one jar that pisses you off! I usually just hand it over to the husband, but when you need a little bit of assistance, just put on a rubber kitchen glove, or place a thick rubber band around the lid. The rubber gives you just the right amount of grip to get the job done without tearing a muscle.
“12. Make Crystal Clear Ice”
I want to try this simply for the fun of it. Apparently, the process of boiling filtered water eliminates dissolved air and decompresses minerals in the water. That’s way too much science for me, but this would make for pretty cubes, especially if you’re freezing them with fruit for a water pitcher.
“13. Muffin Pan Citrus Cubes”
This is a fabulous idea for a water or sangria pitcher! A muffin pan gives you much larger cubes, making the ice last much longer. This also looks beautiful with the whole lemon slices in there. You could also do this with oranges; maybe even throw in some mint or sliced strawberries!
“14. Rolling Citrus Fruit”
I use lemons almost every day in my ice water. Why has it taken so long to find this out?! If you roll while applying a bit of pressure to your citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, etc.) you will get so much more of that yummy juice.
“15. Wooden Spoon Trick”
Place a wooden spoon over boiling water to keep it from boiling over. There is a lot of science behind this, but the easiest way to explain why this works is because the spoon pops a lot of the bubbles once they come into contact with it, and it also absorbs some of the moisture. Apparently, metal spoons don’t work because they heat up too fast. It’s worth a try!
“16. Freeze Herbs In Oil”
If you freeze your herbs in olive oil it will prevent them from browning and getting freezer burn. Not to mention they will always be handy, whether in season or not. Toss the cubes in a pan for sauteing meat and veggies, or use them as a sauce for pasta.
“17. Keep Lettuce Fresh Longer”
Wondering how this works? The dry paper towel absorbs moisture from the lettuce, which is one of the main reasons why it wilts and turns soggy so fast. It’s also important to get the lettuce as dry as possible before storing in the first place.
“18. Use a Scale for Baking”
Using volumetric cup measures is extremely inaccurate for compressible foods like flour. Depending on your scooping or sifting method, a cup of flour can weight anywhere between four and six ounces. That’s a difference of 50 percent! With a scale, on the other hand, you know that your cup of flour is exactly the same time after time, giving you better, more consistent results. On Serious Eats, our standard cup conversion is five ounces of all-purpose flour per cup.
A scale will also save you clean up! Rather than using different cups to measure out every ingredient, just place a bowl on your scale, and measure directly into the work bowl as you go. For instance, when making a pizza dough, I know I can add 1 kilogram of flour, 700 grams of water, 25 grams of salt, and 10 grams of yeast and have a dough that will behave exactly as I expect it to, all with only a single bowl to clean.
“19. How to zest a lemon”
Well, this is not just about how to zest a lemon – you can zest any citrus fruit. What is zesting? It’s removing the very outer layer of skin from a citrus fruit. Zest is a great way to add extra flavor to cooking and extra oomph to food and drink presentation. 😀
You can candy it, preserve it, dry it, grind it with spices, add it to baked goods – almost anything!
“20. Keep Your Knives Sharp”
Having sharp knives is not only safer (your knife is less likely to slip off a vegetable and into your finger), but it just makes cooking so much more pleasurable when you can fly through your slicing, dicing, and chopping tasks.
For most home cooks, sharpening should be done once or twice a year. If you’re up for the task, you can get yourself some stones and do it yourself, though most folks will opt to take their knives to a professional. Whatever you do, don’t use those awful electric grinding machines which will strip off far more metal than is necessary, wearing your knife down and shortening its useful lifespan.
Even with a sharp knife, you’ll want to hone the blade by stroking it across a steel to align any microscopic dings and bends before each use.