Easy Solutions to Ten Common Kitchen Problem
For those people who are just beginning to sharpen their skills, as well as those who are comfortable in the kitchen, there is always something new to learn!
Below are ten simple tips to make your time in the kitchen just a little easier.
1. Stop Crying While Cutting Onions
For most folks, cutting onions will produce tears and red, swollen eyes. Even the most experienced chef is susceptible because it has nothing to do with experience or toughness. Eye irritation is caused by the chemical propanethial-S-oxide, which is located in the cells of the onion and is released when the onion is cut. This causes the chemical to form a mist, becomes airborne and comes into contact with your skin, eyes and wet countertop. Combining with water, it becomes a form of sulfuric acid, which causes the burning sensation in your eyes. Although there are many kitchen remedies for this problem, simply using a very sharp knife can be a cook’s best friend. Dull knives will press on the onion and tear through the layers, rather than cutting. This will force more of the liquid out of the onion into the air. A sharp knife will cut, rather than smash the onion, resulting in less damage to the onion cells and less liquid to burn your eyes.
2. Squelch those Smelly Refrigerator Odors
With all of the items that we shove into our refrigerators, it’s a wonder that they don’t smell all of the time. Luckily this typically only happens when something goes bad or we store something that has a strong smell. To remedy smelly odors, use an old plastic container or bowl to hold 4-5 charcoal briquettes and place them in the refrigerator. These briquettes will absorb odor faster than baking soda and can simply be tossed into the garbage once the odor is gone.
3. Dangerous Work Surfaces
Unless you have a cutting board with rubber feet, it will sometimes move while you’re cutting something. Having your cutting surface move while holding a sharp knife is a dangerous situation. To remedy this problem, take a slightly wet kitchen towel and place it under the cutting board. This will anchor the board and stop any movement, providing a safer work surface.
4. Perfectly Poached Eggs
As anyone who has ever cooked poached eggs knows, they can sometimes fall apart to spread into an unusable mass. To prevent this, first crack your egg into a small bowl. Using a spoon, stir the water slowly to create a slight circular current in the pot. Quickly pour the egg from the bowl into the swirling water in a single motion. The movement of the water will force the egg white area to form a ball around the yoke and hold it together.
Or, skip the water cooking method and try cooking your poached eggs this way. –> Perfect Poached Eggs.
5. Wet Rice
Cooking rice is a careful balance of temperature, liquid and timing. One of the worst problems is that of too much liquid in the finished product. To cure this issue, simply place a clean kitchen towel between the top of the pot and the lid. The towel will absorb and hold onto the steam created by the cooking process and keep it from dripping back down onto the cooked rice.
6. Reducing Clean Up
For most cooks, the cleaning up process is simply a drag. But, if you plan things well, you can reduce the time spent at the sink and make cooking a little more fun. Try covering sheet pans with foil or parchment paper, which can be easily thrown away when done, eliminating the need to scrub the pan. Cover work surfaces with plastic wrap to catch drips or splattered mess. And, as always, clean as you go to reduce the amount of clean up at the end. Read more on Clean and Healthy Kitchen.
7. Storing Tomato Paste for No Waste
Tomato past is a staple in many kitchens and has lots of uses. Too many times one is forced to open an entire can for only a few tablespoons of paste. You can cover the can with plastic wrap or pour it in a plastic container for storage, but the shelf life isn’t great. Instead, portion the remaining amount into 1-2 tablespoon amounts and store in a plastic sandwich bag. Squeeze the air out and place in the freezer for storage. When you’re ready to use it, simply pull out the amount you need and wait a few minutes for it to thaw.
8. Handling Hot Peppers
Jalapeños, Habaneras and Scotch Bonnet peppers are great to cook with, but can be extremely painful if they come into contact with a cut or your eyes. Simply washing your hands is sometimes not enough, leaving powerful pepper oil on your fingers. If you don’t have rubber or plastic gloves in your kitchen, place a plastic sandwich bag over your hands before handling these peppers.
9. Portioning Butter
Butter can sometimes be difficult to portion. Since consistency is typically the issue, place your butter into the freezer for 20-30 minutes or until it hardens slightly. In this hardened state, you can easily slice the correct measurement of butter for your recipe.
Butter to hard to use on your toast? Grate butter on your grater using the large holes. Perfect solution!
10. What is al dente?
Typically used to describe perfectly cooked pasta, this term can also be used to describe the doneness of fresh vegetables in most recipes. Since mushy, soft vegetables don’t look or taste good, trying to retain some of the crunch and color of the raw product is a desirable goal. With overcooking being the main culprit, here is a simple tip for reducing the cook time of vegetables in any stir fry or other sautéed dish. Place the prepared vegetables in a bowl with a small amount of water and steam them slightly in the microwave. This starts the cooking process, which is completed when you add them to the sauté pan near the end of the recipe. This produces a fully cooked vegetable that has not lost its taste or crunch.