Cooking Hacks You Wish You Knew Sooner
Making delicious food doesn’t have to be complicated, and cooking hacks can often be the difference between spending an hour in the kitchen or spending just a few minutes. Wouldn’t you like to cook your favorite meal in no time?
With just a few simple tricks you can save money, time, and your sanity. From restoring stale bread to easily poaching an egg, these clever shortcuts will change how you cook and eat forever. Check out these game-changing tips you’ll wish you’d learned sooner…
Dental Floss For More Than Teeth
If you have floss lying around, you have access to an invaluable kitchen tool. This tiny product has a long lifespan, and you’ll find that it can be used for so many things. You’ll be able to avoid buying several kitchen products that you don’t really need.
Soft foods like cheeses can be cut using dental floss, to help you get perfect, easy-sectioned cuts. If you don’t have a large enough knife to cut a birthday cake, grab some floss. (Please note that mint-flavored floss may not be your go-to in the kitchen, though.)
Keeping Cake Fresh
Cakes can be the best, with yummy icing and a moist inside that everyone loves. What happens when you have a birthday cake that produced way too many leftovers and has largely remained untouched?
Don’t worry. Cake can last a shockingly long time. To keep it as fresh as can be, though, you’ll want to keep the exposed (already cut) sides of the cake from going stale. Secure a slice of bread to these exposed areas with a toothpick, to keep the moisture in your cake.
If you are concerned about your butter going bad, there is an easy solution here. Freeze your butter and then use a cheese grater to grate it. Butter will last longer in the freezer, which is always an added benefit and a way to cut down on food waste.
When it comes to butter that you’ll use to make pastries, as opposed to the butter that you might use in your day-to-day cooking, using this method will lead to less of a mess and it’s easier than using a pastry cutter.
Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs
Knowing how to make hard-boiled eggs is key to making the popular holiday classic- deviled eggs- so knowing the best way to prepare them matters. First, start with your eggs in a pot of cold water.
Add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water as you bring your eggs to a boil. This will make them easier to peel, especially if you let them cool off before doing so. If you need the eggs peeled ASAP, add some salt to the water while they cook, and then use a spoon to crack and peel the eggs.
Melt Chocolate In The Microwave
Don’t have a double boiler to melt your chocolate? That’s okay. You really don’t need one. You can instead melt your chocolate in the microwave. This sounds like an easy task because it is.
So, don’t get caught up with feeling like you need fancy kitchen supplies to make those chocolate-covered pretzels for your neighbors and friends. Simply pop your chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, use 50% power, and heat the chocolate for 30-second intervals, stirring in between.
Measuring Honey With Ease
Honey is prized for its sweet, sticky texture that adds so much to so many dishes. The problem comes when it is time to measure the amount of honey that goes into a recipe. This can be so messy and quite time-consuming. Thankfully, there is a simple way to keep the stickiness away.
Spray the measuring cup or spoon with a bit of non-stick cooking oil or slather some vegetable oil on the surface of your measuring cup. This way, the honey will pour out quickly and easily. You also will get to use the honey that would otherwise get washed away from the sides of the measuring device.
So, it’s Saturday morning and your kids have some friends over. They all want to make pancakes, but you just cannot deal with the mess of cleaning up afterward. The good news is that there is an easy solution.
Use either a Ziplock or pastry bag to mix up your pancake batter. Cut a hole in the corner of your plastic bag, unless it is a pastry bag that comes with a tear-away section. You can make fun shapes with the kids and avoid the mess of cleaning mixing bowls.
Keep Oil from Splattering
Frying food in hot oil can be so stressful, and often it feels like there is no solution that can keep you from getting stains on your clothes. Even if you’re in the path of the splattering oil, you may also get burned.
Avoid this by not only using a splatter shield but by addressing the problem directly. Sprinkle some flour or salt into the hot oil as it starts to bubble. These ingredients help to absorb moisture which won’t cool down the oil but will prevent it from splashing.
Sauce at the Ready
If you can’t tell, saving things like herbs, fruits, and even coffee are all ways to keep your kitchen running smoothly. The same thing works with sauce. So, if you have any extra sauce that is leftover- don’t throw it away.
Try freezing your sauce instead. You can use ice cube trays if that’s all you’ve got, but things like egg cartons are great, too. You can later transfer your sauce cubes to a plastic bag for easy access and yummy pasta later on.
Peeling Kiwi Easily
You may be used to taking a knife to remove the skin off of a kiwi. This will leave you with less fruit, as some inevitably get chopped away. There is a way to peel your kiwi without even touching a knife, let alone a cutting board.
Instead, peel your kiwi with a spoon. This is the easiest way to remove the skin without removing the fruit that is inside. You’ll have a quick, and relatively mess-free process and extra kiwi to eat- not bad.
Microwave Poached Eggs
Poaching eggs can be quite the process, especially if you’ve ever tried to poach them with just a pot, some swirling water, and your wits. Trying to make quick, single-poached eggs doesn’t have to be hard, though.
Add non-stick cooking spray to a mug, break your egg, and then cover the mug before putting it into the microwave for 30-40 seconds until the egg is set. You can gently loosen the egg by running silverware between the inside of the mug and the egg.
Cake Made Quick
Baking is fun, but admittedly not always the most efficient use of time. So, what do you do after a crazy day at work when you really want some cake but don’t want to go out and don’t have a few hours to spend making something that is too much for you?
That’s easy. Coat a mug with nonstick spray, crack an egg and whisk it, then stir in ¼ a cup of your favorite nut butter, from peanut to almond to Nutella, and then microwave for 30 seconds. This may not be an everyday go-to, but it is too convenient not to mention.
Get that Ginger
Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, but it is not only good for those things. Ginger also helps soothe stomach aches and muscle soreness, when used properly. You can add some slices of ginger to a cup of boiling water for some healthy, easy tea.
If you prefer skinless ginger in tea, sliced up with sushi, or in any other sort of dish, no need to fret. The peel is thin, so you don’t have to do much else than scrape a metal spoon down the side. Like with kiwis, this can make the peeling process much easier.
No More Brown Apple Slices
When you’ve cut up some apple slices but must sit them down for a while, or when you are using them in a dish, it may be a bummer to come back and see that they’ve turned brown. Did you know that you can easily prevent this?
Soak apple slices in a mixture of lemon juice and water for 10 minutes to prevent them from turning brown. Use 4 cups of cold water and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Your apple slices will keep their fresh appearance for longer and can even help you to meal prep without worrying about browning produce.
Preserve Your Herbs
You can preserve herbs in an easy way. All it takes is ice cube trays with water, a little oil, and a freezer. This won’t dehydrate your herbs like normal freezing would, but makes them meltable, blendable, and easy to add to any dish.
Simply add 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh herbs and place them into an ice cube tray. Next, add a drop of olive oil, and then fill the rest of the space with water. Once frozen, move the ‘herb cubes’ to a freezer bag and use them for up to 6 months.
Removing Stray Eggshell Pieces
Say you crack an egg into a bowl to make some scrambled eggs. You notice that there are some small pieces of the shell in your bowl. What do you do? We’ve tried silverware, our fingers, and the shell itself, and it’s always a pain.
The best method is to wash your fingers so that they are thoroughly wet, and then try to grab the eggshell pieces. The water on your fingers will help you immediately pick up those annoying little pieces. Cold water works best.
Save Your Burnt Toast
Have you made toast but then stepped away for a few minutes? You may have come back to some burnt bread. This can be a pain if you are in a time crunch, or if that was your last piece of bread.
Even if you just want to preserve your food, you won’t be happy that your toast is burnt. You can use a micro plane grater or zester to scrape the burnt part off any overdone toast.
Save And Soften Brown Sugar
If you have some brown sugar that has hardened or has some clumps, you may have to go through some extra preparation when making pies and other sweet treats. There is an easy solution for this – the microwave.
You can place brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and then fill another mug or container with about ¼ a cup of water. This will effectively help to steam the brown sugar just enough so that it softens and returns to its ideal texture. Check on the sugar after each 30-second rotation in the microwave to make sure it is not over-softened.
Freezing Bananas? Peel Them First
Did you know that you should be peeling your bananas before you freeze them? If you’ve ever had an overripe banana that you threw into the freezer for a smoothie later, you know that later taking off the peel is an ordeal.
To make your frozen bananas easier to use, take the peel off and chop the banana into chunks. This will allow you to later take them out of your Ziplock bag, defrost, and then either mash and bake them into treats or blend them up into a tasty drink.
Cream Of Anything Substitutions
So, you’re making a green bean casserole and need a can of cream of mushroom, but you don’t have any. If you want to skip an extra trip to the store, you can make your own substitute for cream of…well, anything. From mushroom to chicken to all the other cream-based soups.
The equivalent of a can of soup uses 2 tablespoons of butter, ½ cup of milk, 3 tablespoons of flour, and ½ cup of a broth of your choice. You can use any type of milk you like and can add celery or mushrooms if you’re looking for that extra textural component.
Saving A Soft-Boiled Egg
Picture this, you take out your soft-boiled egg a few minutes too early. This can be stressful because you want to save the egg, but don’t know how. If you’ve started off by placing an egg in cold water (in a small pot) over high heat and then bringing it to a boil, you’ll be in the best position.
If your boiled egg is still a little undercooked when you cook it this way, you can put the top back on and put the egg under a tall glass for a few minutes. Eventually, the egg will reach the desired level of ‘done’-ness.
Remove Fishy Flavor
Are you cooking up fish tacos but the flavor seems like it’ll be a bit too fishy for you? Even if you enjoy fish, some saltwater fish can have a flavor that is almost too fishy. You can get rid of that extra fishiness easily enough, though.
Soak your fish in milk for about 2 hours to remove some of that super strong flavor. This will allow you to buy fish that is less expensive but enjoy a flavor that is more reminiscent of an expensive fish.
Keep Cool With Coffee
Coffee is likely to be essential to start your day if you’re like many others. Iced coffee can be refreshing, especially on a hot day. Until that is, the ice cubes melt, and your drink becomes much more diluted than you might prefer.
This is an easy fix and will allow you to quickly make your own at-home iced coffee and save some cash. Next time, try freezing coffee ice cubes for yourself. Simply make a pot of coffee, wait for it to cool, pour it into an ice cube tray, and freeze. Place the cubes into a plastic bag to use at your convenience.
Another Way To Get Easily Poached Eggs
Oh, you thought that the first poached egg hack was the only one? Far from it. The microwave option can work well, but you may be a bit weary of sticking an egg straight into the microwave. That is valid. So, there is another way.
Crack the eggs into high-quality plastic bags, they should be the kind that can withstand high temperatures and have a melting point of 250 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll throw the bags into boiling water for a few minutes before taking them back out and voila, poached eggs.
Egg Slicer To Slice Other Produce
Keeping on trend with the topic of egg-related hacks, let’s talk egg slicers. These are typically used to slice hard-boiled eggs for salads and other dishes. You can, however, double your use of this kitchen tool.
Level up the use you get out of your egg slicer and use it for other produce. Softer produce like mushrooms, or even strawberries, are a great texture to be chopped up with an egg slicer.
How To Restore Stale Bread
Just like overripe fruit or freezer-burned foods, stale bread is a major letdown. What if you have to make some sandwiches for the day and don’t have time to go buy a whole new loaf?
Run the bread under water- stick with us, I know that sounds bizarre. Once you’ve got your bread saturated, stick it in the oven for 5-10 minutes, checking it often. If that weirds you out, wrap a few wet paper towels around the bread before sticking it in the oven. The moisture will revive the bread almost immediately.
Fresh Fruit Popsicles
We know that freezing overly ripe fruit like bananas makes them viable for later use. So, the same goes for fruit like strawberries, mangoes, and even apples. Not only can you make refreshing drinks with fruit, though.
You can also turn any overripe fruits into fruit cubes to create flavored ice water, but there is an option that is my personal favorite. Turn your fruit into sugar-free fruit popsicles by cutting off any rotting portions and pureeing the fruit with some water or coconut milk. Put it into a popsicle mold and you’re good to go.
Checking Your Eggs
Properly stored eggs will last for three to five weeks. If you are unsure of how well-preserved your eggs are, however, you can check them. Nobody wants to crack open a rotten egg into something they’re baking.
So, to make sure you don’t stumble upon this issue, place your egg into a large bowl or glass of cold water. If the egg sinks, you’re good to cook. If it floats, that’s a no-go. Buy yourself some new eggs if yours are floating.
Cutting Cherry Tomatoes
If you love tomatoes, you know that cherry tomatoes are great on salads and in Caprese dishes, but a menace to properly slice. If you need a bunch of tomatoes and don’t want to cut every little one into 2 or 3 parts, here’s a hack for you.
Place your tomatoes on a plate before covering them with another plate. Lightly press down and then run your knife between the plates, carefully, to cut all the tomatoes at once. This works with grapes, too. Fruit salad, get ready.
Blender-less Whipped Cream
If you have a handheld mixer and a plastic bowl, you can pretty easily make whipped cream. But what if you don’t? I can tell you from a last-minute birthday dessert gone wrong, that using a whisk is going to be a painstakingly long process.
Luckily, there is a trick that will save your arms. Pour some heavy cream into a large mason jar, close it tight, and shake for a few minutes. Sooner rather than later you will have fluffy whipped cream. Not too shabby, huh?
Keeping Ice Cream Scoopable
So, you’re making a pie for your holiday dessert, and plan to serve it with some ice cream. Problem is, your ice cream might have hardened in the freezer and will take ages to get soft enough to scoop.
Not anymore. Next time you buy a tub of that vanilla ice cream (or any flavor), keep it in a freezer bag. You’ll have soft, scoopable ice cream straight from the freezer.
Freeze Fresh Ginger
Looking to add fresh ginger to all of your favorite dishes but don’t have the time to head to the grocery store every time you need fresh ginger? Not to worry, you can have all the fresh ginger you want without the hassle.
Use a Ziplock freezer bag and place your fresh ginger inside. Then, freeze your ginger. Once you need ginger, you can use a vegetable peeler to help you peel the skin once it has been partially thawed. Then, grate it into whatever you make. You’ll still get a fresh ginger taste and can save the leftover ginger for next time.
Ripened Fruit At The Ready
Sometimes you buy some fruit that looks amazing, and it is a total bummer when it just isn’t ready to eat yet. It’s a shame, but we’ve all been there at one point or another. There is a solution, though, so not to worry.
Stick those stubborn fruits (i.e. avocados, nectarines, plums) into a paper bag. This can be a big help when it comes to speeding up the ripening process. The gasses in the fruit will help to speed up ripening when they are enclosed like this.
Speaking of ripening fruit, there is another process to know about. If you have fruit that you fear will ripen, and or brown, too quickly, there is a trick for that, too. In order to find the space between not ripe enough and too ripe, try storing your fruit in a new way.
Combine a mixture of water, honey, and lemon juice into a container large enough for your fruit. Lemon juice has citric acid and vitamin C, and honey has peptides. These things combine to help slow down the oxidation process, which is ultimately what causes discoloring.
Protein And Pancakes
Pancakes may be viewed as a guilty pleasure, but what if you’re wanting a yummy breakfast and to get in your protein? Especially over the holidays, getting those essential nutrients in can be difficult. Use protein powder, almond milk, oat flour, fruit, and top with a bit more fruit or jam.
Make it fun and healthy by replicating the way that boutique restaurants already make pancakes. Even if you’re just looking for a quick breakfast to make for your family that is staying in town, these protein pancakes will give everyone a boost.
Freezer Burn? No More
Freezer burn can be a real bummer, and make you feel lost when it comes to preserving food successfully. Odds are, if you are freezing food, to begin with, you want it to be preserved and good to eat when you take it out.
The best thing you can to do avoid this issue is to make sure that your foods are sealed as tightly as possible before being put in the freezer. This reduces the amount of air the food is exposed to, which keeps those little ice crystals from having the space and conditions to form.
The Intricacy Of Bananas
We’ve talked about bananas in all senses now, as a product that can need help to quicken the ripening process, and as a fruit that needs to be taken care of once it has become over-ripe.
What, then, is the best way to help bananas stay at their prime ripeness for as long as possible? If you’ve ever seen a banana hanger in someone’s kitchen, just know that there is a reason they are popular. They help keep the fruit from going bad too quickly and keep bananas away from other fruit so that their gasses don’t cause any other produce to ripen too quickly.
Garlic is a staple of any great recipe. The hassle of peeling garlic is something you can move past by following a few simple steps. First, remove all the cloves from the head of the garlic. Next, place them on a cutting board, and use a chef’s knife to place the blade flatly onto the cloves.
Carefully shape your hand into a fist and begin to apply pressure to the blade. You’ll want to hit each clove with the flat side of the blade. Eventually, the skin will start popping off the cloves. The skin should peel right off, after that.
Save Those Spices
As we’ve mentioned before, there are great ways to preserve herbs a few days after they’re considered fresh. If you don’t want to use them in oil or don’t have spare ice cube trays lying around, this solution is the one for you.
Use the microwave to dry them out. Throw any herbs into the microwave on top of a paper towel for 20-second intervals. Do this until they are dry. You can then crush them and even make your favorite herb blend.
Make The Most Of Lemons
When life gives you lemons… you’ll probably want all the juice you can get out of them. It isn’t always easy to squeeze lemons, though. Especially when they aren’t as juicy as you’d thought.
Go ahead and microwave this citrus fruit on high for about 20 seconds to get the most juice. It’ll be softer than a cold lemon from the fridge, or even from your countertop. You’ll be able to get all the juice you can in no time.
Plan Ahead For Smoothie Production
If you’re not a huge breakfast person, you may want to start your day with juice or a smoothie. Full of nutrition, they can keep you feeling full and energized all morning long. The only issue is prep, especially on a busy morning.
Divide fruits and vegetables into individual food bags based on the ingredients you’ll want in a given drink, then store them in the freezer or fridge. You can then make any juice or smoothie you want.
Wrangling Plastic Wrap
Plastic or wrap can be the worst, especially if you’re just trying to cover your leftovers. The same thing for saran wrap, these products feel unnecessarily difficult to work with. Often, a ton of the wrap is wasted because it either rips or sticks together, turning into a ball of disaster.
You can chill the wrap in the fridge while you eat. This will help you wrangle your wrap. Something about the cooling process makes it easier to get the wrap from the roll to your desired container.
Skimming Fat, No Problem
If you’re cooking a large dish like a meat-based stock, stew, soup, or sauce, you are likely familiar with the need to scoop off any fat that has accumulated on the top. Not the worst thing ever, but it can be a pain when you are making a big holiday meal.
Speed up the process by wrapping a few ice cubes in a paper towel (cheesecloth works, too) and go ahead and skim that along the surface of the soup, stew, broth, or whatever you are making. The ice will help to solidify the fat, and it will be so much easier to remove with a spoon.
Perfect Potatoes Every Time
There are so many amazing ways to enjoy potatoes – mashed, fried, cooked, grilled –they’re all great. The microwave won’t get you the fluffiest or crispiest potatoes, but it can help you save time at the beginning of cooking.
Start off by poking holes into the potato with a fork. You should then microwave them on high for ten minutes, to get things going. Once they’ve softened up, move them to a preheated oven to finally get the perfect potato in less time.