Kitchen secrets are my favorites. I know that sounds weird, but if you spend a lot of time in your kitchen, whether you cook for your family, professionally, or as a hobby, then you know how valuable they are. I love sharing kitchen tips with my fellow foodies, cluing them into a piece of information that helps them in some way. Whether it's a trick that saves food from going bad or a way to make something taste better, these fixes always come in handy. Take a look at some of these tried and true secrets of the kitchen, and then pass them on yourself!
1. A Hard Lesson
Some of my favorite kitchen secrets involve ingenious ways of keeping certain spices in good condition. I bet you know, for instance, that adding a marshmallow, an apple, or a piece of bread into your brown sugar container keeps it soft and moist, right? Well, you can also place some rice in the salt cellar to keep it from getting hard or clumping. Furthermore, if you put a bay leaf into your rice, you won't get any mealy bugs. Incidentally, that trick also works for pasta or flour. By the way, you can also keep brown sugar in your freezer – it stays soft and fresh!
2. Cut the Cheese, Please
I adore cheeses, but I hate the way they get hard so quickly. If you feel the same way, I've got not just one kitchen secret for you, but two! Hard cheeses with wax seals get hard quite quickly, but all you have to do is smear some butter or a little margarine across the exposed edges. It makes the cheese stay moist and delicious! Softer cheese can actually go in the freezer if you haven't served or eaten them all in one sitting. Just make sure you wrap it up tight, then you just have to put it in the fridge 24 hours before you're ready to serve it again. On the subject of dairy, also try keeping cottage cheese, sour cream, or sour cream based dips stored upside down – there's less moisture that way, so they won't go bad as quickly.
3. A Bad Egg
Ever have trouble judging a bad egg from a good one? It's hard to tell if your eggs have gone bad, unless they've already started stinking to high heaven. You don't have to let them get to that point, though, nor do you have to risk throwing away half a dozen still good eggs. Test your eggs by dropping them – gently! – into a pot of water. If they're still good, they'll sink to the bottom. If they're bad, they'll float to the top. Simple as that!
4. Vivacious Veggies
Keeping vegetables fresh is surprisingly difficult, because they lose their verve so quickly. Fortunately, there are a number of kitchen secrets that keep your greens, well, green! For instance, place paper towels in the bottom of your crisper. They'll take in the moisture that leads to wilting, rotting veggies. Paper towels come in handy with fresh mushrooms, too – just wrap them up before you store them and you won't end up with slimy fungi. If, despite your best efforts, you end up with saggy carrots, celery, radishes, or other vegetables, slice up a potato, plop it in ice water, and throw your veggies in after. They'll be crisp again in no time!
5. The Honey Trick
Have you ever noticed your jars of honey accumulating crusty crystals? Don't make the mistake of thinking you have to get rid of it. This is one of my favorite kitchen tips, because I used to throw away a lot of honey. The thing is, it's honestly nonperishable – it never goes bad, not even if it starts creating crystals. Even cloudy honey is still good! All you have to do is microwave it a little bit at a time. Depending on the strength of your microwave, 20-30 seconds at a time should do it. After each round, give it a little stir or a shake. It will be clear again in no time, ready for your enjoyment.
6. Making Lemonade
Fresh lemon juice is fantastic, so much better than the bottled kind. But what happens if you only need a little bit? You don't have to cut lemons into quarters or even half them. If you just need a bit of juice and don't want to waste the whole thing, just puncture the fruit. Use a meat thermometer or a kebob skewer. That way, you can easily squeeze what you need and store the rest of the fruit.
That's a corny pun for a really fantastic kitchen secret. If you like buying bunches of herbs but never get the chance to use them before they get far less fresh, don't despair! Keep buying lots, just freeze them! All you have to do is wash them up and place them in freezer bags, then pop them into the freezer. They'll stay good for as long as a month, they're simple to chop, and you'll always have your favorites on hand.
I really hope you find these kitchen secrets as valuable as I do. Even if you're not trying to save money, it's always good when you can, and saving food is even more important. Sometimes the simplest tips work the best – but trust me, there are many other secrets of the kitchen. Some of them I've heard of and some of them I haven't, so why don't you share your favorites? Let me know the tip or tips you value most in your kitchen!