Who Knew? Helpful Kitchen Tips #1

Who Knew? Helpful Kitchen Tips #1

When you spend most of your days in the kitchen, like I do, you pick up some helpful tips along the way. I’ve decided to share these nuggets of cooking knowledge in a regular feature on the site: Who Knew? Helpful Kitchen Tips. In our first installment, I’m sharing ten simple fixes for common kitchen dilemmas, from hardened brown sugar to burned rice to broken cakes and more. I’d love to hear your own kitchen tips in the comments, please feel free to share!

1. The next time you’re a little heavy handed with the saltshaker while making soup or sauce, try dropping in a raw, peeled potato. It will absorb some of the excess saltiness.

2. Tired of brown sugar hardening in the bag before you have a chance to use it? Put a couple of marshmallows in the bag to keep the sugar soft (if you keep kosher, make sure they’re kosher marshmallows!).

3. Onions and garlic are super important ingredients in many recipes, but chopping them can leave an odor on your hands for days to come, no matter how much hand soap you use. Try rubbing your hands with a stainless steel spoon when you’re finished, they’ll smell squeaky clean again.

4. Cooking rice seems simple enough, but it’s actually pretty easy to burn. If you find yourself in this predicament, put a piece of white sandwich bread on top of the rice for about 10 minutes to absorb the burned flavor. When serving, be sure to leave out any rice that may have burned to the bottom of the pan.

5. Because of their opaque shell, it’s difficult to tell if an egg has gone bad. An easy way to know if they’re still safe to eat is to place them in a dish with about 4-5 inches of water. Fresh eggs will sink, rotten eggs will float, and eggs that stand upright should be used immediately.

6. Bananas can both help and hinder the ripening of other fruits. If you want something to ripen faster, put it in a brown paper bag with a banana. If you’re not in a hurry, keep bananas separate so that your apples and oranges aren’t overly ripe before you’re ready to enjoy them.

7. Did you break your cake while rushing to remove it from a pan? Simply use your frosting as a binder. Seal the assembled pieces back together and pop the cake into the fridge for about an hour. No one ever complained about too much frosting anyway…

8. To keep parchment from rolling up on your baking sheets before dropping your cookie dough, you can use magnets, cooking spray or even water to seal it down.

9. Bundt pans can be used for more than just cakes and breads. How about using one to help your chicken stand while roasting? Or for keeping stuffed peppers upright while they bake?

10. Does your new cookbook keep turning pages on its own, causing you to lose your place? Stand it in a napkin holder so your hands are free for cooking and chopping.

Do you have a favorite kitchen tip to share? Leave it in the comments below! Your tip might be featured in my next installment of Who Knew!

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  1. Another bundt pan tip: When cutting kernels off of the corn cob, set the pointy end of the cob into the center of the bundt pan, then, as you slice the kernels off, they fall down into the pan. Much more stable and less messy than usual.

  2. - If I am measuring honey or molasses with spoon, I usually use this spoon for oil measuring before. This way honey doesn’t stick to spoon. Very useful for backing.
    – Glass can can be used for chicken holder for roasting. Just make chicken seat upright on it.
    – Completely dried bread can be soaked in chicken broth, pressed to remove most of liquid and used in cutlet instead bread crumbs.

  3. If you place a head of garlic in a bowl and get another bowl the same size to cover it, you can shake the garlic head vigorously and it will self peal.

  4. If your tomato sauce is too acidic or needs a touch more sweetness add a peeled carrot to the sauce while its simmering and it’ll fix it right up!!! Works every time!!!

  5. Read a tip recently that parchment paper works better as a non-stick liner in a sheet pan than foil. I’ve only tested it with a recent Tater-tot craving, but it worked SO much better than foil. Non of the Tots stuck and broke apart at the “stir at half-way point”.

  6. Thanks for the egg tip! I’m going out of town for a week and wasn’t sure how to tell if they were still good when I get back.

  7. Freezer paper makes an excellent disposable work surface for patting out biscuits, or hamburger patties, or any other job that you want to keep off your counters. I also use it for the no-bake cookies until they cool, then put them in a container or zip bag. To get it to lay flat, just fold under an inch or so on each end. Then when through, just fold it up and put it in the trash. Much easier than cleaning a floury counter when making quick biscuits. For biscuits, I lay it over a terry towel, so the counter is protected when I cut them in squares with a knife. The same small folded area also works for wax paper or parchment.

  8. Alterate fix: put one half of an apple on top of hardened brown sugar and seal it tightly. My grandmother also liked to use half an apple stored with crunchy cookies that she wanted to be softer.

  9. My hands are very stiff due to age. LOL. It is hard for me to hold a potato to peel it. I now stick a two prong fork in it to help turn it for peeling. Really helps when we can not do things we use to do.

  10. I loved all the hints that you shared. Here’s one of my favorites. I have a key lime tree that produces a good crop and I’m happy to share the fruit, pies, limeade and margaritas with friends. Any extra fruit gets squeezed and the juice frozen in ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen, they can go into freezer bags for later use when the tree is bare. I would think this method could be applied to most fruit you might be growing in your garden.

  11. If you have too many lemons left over, place them in a container with a cover and add cold water, cover and place in the fridge. They will last for weeks, not good for limes though.

  12. Did you know that you can separate whites from yolks by using a plastic bottle? Simply put the opening in the top of the bottle over the yolk and squeeze the bottle slightly. It picks up the yolk completely and leaves the white ready to whip. Amazing!

    1. I saw this on a video from Japan and didn’t quite believe it. Now I have an empty soda bottle on my cooking utensil shelf! It’s miraculous!

  13. Thanks for sharing. All very good tips, some of them time honored, others new. When rubbing your hands on a stainless steel spoon, do it under cold running water, it works even better. Also, if you keep kosher, make sure not to use your bundt pan for both butter cakes and to hold a chicken upright. You may want to try putting the chicken over an open (full or empty/a little broth) beer can and roasting it, it’s magic.

  14. Another way to get the onion or garlic smell off your hands is to wet your hands, pour about a tablespoon of salt or sugar into your palm and scrub. It works like a charm.

  15. Did you know that if you take a bag of brown sugar and put it
    into a zip lock bag it will never get hard. You will always have soft brown sugar.

  16. If U want to squeeze the juice out of citrus fruit, cut it in 1/2 and take a pair of tongs with scalloped edges, put in the center of the half of fruit, twist the tongs and the juice is removed easily.

  17. Use a well greased Bundt or tube pan to bake a kugel. I make a Pineapple Upside Down one and it looks like a gorgeous cake to serve!

  18. Sometimes cutting onions can bring you to tears. I’ve tried cutting them near running sink water or even a small fan. What works best is wearing a pair of swimming goggles.

  19. Never, ever whip home made mayonnaise if you are on your, ehem…girly-cycle, no kidding! It will curdle. Besides, it’s a great reason to have someone else do the elbow-work. ; )

  20. Miracle Whip polishes copper & brass by just rubbing it on & rubbing it off. I discovered this when using copper measuring spoons to measure some. So easy!

  21. Another parchment paper tip: just crumble it up into a loose ball, then smooth it back out. It’ll still be a little wrinkled, but it won’t roll up anymore.

  22. I mix 2 or 3 eggs (for scrambling) in one of those 2 cup round Ziploc containers with the screw tops. I put one of those spiral wire “balls” (that come with so many shaker bottles) in the Ziploc container with the eggs.
    Start shakin’.
    Haven’t tried it, but I don’t know why this wouldn’t work using the larger 4 cup Ziploc container with the screw top for a large number of eggs.
    Easier to clean than an actual shaker bottle !

  23. when trying to get the seeds out of a pomegranate, cut in half and place the seed side down in your hand…hold your hand over an empty bowl…then with a wooden spoon bang the dome and every one of those seeds will fall through your fingers into the waiting bowl…i love this one

  24. For Pauline: same problem now I just scrub whole potato with a brush and water, stab a few times and Bob,s your Uncle.
    Old age is not for sissies!!!!!
    A whole section could be written for us oldies and our arthritic hands, not to mention eyesight.
    Love reading what young cooks are doing/learning.
    You,re all great!!!

  25. When making a tomato sauce for cacciatore or even spaghetti, add dry white wine and orange juice (1 c. wine to 1/2 c. OJ). No one will guess there’s orange juice in the sauce but they’ll know something special’s going on.

  26. Making a banana pudding? Use a butter patty slicer to slice your bananas. Really fast and the bananas are all the same size. Also, allow your pudding to cool a bit before adding to keep bananas from turning brown.

  27. To stop the liquid ina pot on the stove from boiling over just place a wooden spoon across the pot. It will never boil over. So cooking on a higher flame is no longer a problem

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