In our seventh installment of Who Knew? Helpful Kitchen Tips, here are ten simple fixes for common kitchen dilemmas. I’ve also included a few fabulous tips that readers shared on my last Who Knew? post. Do you have a useful kitchen tip? Please share in the comments below!
1. The flavor of vanilla extract fades with prolonged exposure to heat. Extend the life of your vanilla by storing it in a cool, dark place like a pantry or spice drawer.
2. The next time you plan to cook meat or poultry for dinner, try rubbing it with salt (also known as a “dry brine”) and storing it in the refrigerator the night before. The meat will absorb the salt, which results in more moisture and better flavor. Just remember to rinse off any excess salt before cooking. If you are using kosher meat, it is usually salted already– proceed with care to avoid over-salting!
3. Filling a pepper mill can be messy business. A quick and easy way to keep peppercorns in place is by using a disposable envelope as a funnel. Simply fill the envelope with peppercorns and snip off one of the corners. The peppercorns will flow straight into the mill rather than all over your floor!
4. Try using a tea strainer or wire mesh strainer when decorating with powdered sugar to create an even, pretty shower of sugar.
5. Place a slightly dampened dishtowel under your cutting board to keep it from sliding around on smooth countertops.
6. Cook meat faster by following these simple guidelines. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting, 30 minutes before grilling and 10 minutes before sauteing. Room temperature meat will cook faster and more evenly than meat that just came out of the refrigerator.
7. So what does softened butter really mean? Softened butter should be soft, but not too soft and definitely not melted. Around 67 degrees F is the ideal temperature for use in baked recipes. When pressed, it should give slightly while still holding its shape.
8. Have leftover tomato-based sauce from your meal? Let it cool to room temperature, then freeze it in ice cube trays. The frozen cubes can easily be reheated when you need a quick sauce for a weeknight meal. This works best with dairy-free sauces like marinara and arrabbiatta.
9. Every latke maker knows that shredded potatoes turn brown fast. Dissolve a vitamin C tablet in 2 tablespoons of water and add it to your shredded potatoes. This will help to ensure that your last batch of potatoes is as white as the first.
10. If you’re steaming or boiling strong-flavored vegetables like asparagus, broccoli or artichokes, save the cooking water as a broth for cooking rice or pasta. It will lend a nice, unique flavor to your dish without any extra effort.
When dusting cake pans, I always use a bit of cocoa powder to dust with if I’m making a chocolate cake. Can’t stand that white residue on a chocolate cake. ~ TheAvasmommy
Here’s a tip my sister taught me– you can use an apple slicer to cut potatoes into perfect wedges if you stand the potato up tall and slice downward. ~ Gilly Martin
When you need mashed bananas for making Banana Bread or Cake, use a ricer, you’ll always get no lumps whatsoever. ~ Lily
Put DEFROSTED spinach into a potato ricer. Press handles together and “presto” no more water! Simple and hands are not freezing! ~ Karen
Fresh garlic bulb stored in an egg carton (I keep it enclosed with a rubberband) keeps it from sprouting for a long time. ~ Cynthia
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!