Cooking Tips

An Ever-Growing List of (Somewhat Random) Kitchen Tips
Updated May 13, 2011

  • Store fresh herbs as you would freshly cut flowers: in a small jar of fresh water, in a cool spot away from direct sunlight.  If they wilt excessively, cut a few slits in a plastic baggie and cover the herbs loosely with it.  They will keep longer this way and you’ll be more likely to use them if they are stored where you can see them.
  • Pomegranates are best seeded under water.  You’ll protect your clothing from juice splatters and the seeds simply sink to the bottom while the skin and membranes float to the top.
  • Fish fillets should be grilled with the skin on and skin-side-down.  The skin keeps the fish from falling apart and also imparts a richer flavor to the fillet.
  • Most recipes call for unsalted butter because the salt content in manufactured butter varies from brand to brand.  If you don’t have unsalted butter, use salted and reduce the amount of salt in the recipe.
  • In most recipes, semi-sweet chocolate and bittersweet chocolate are interchangeable.  Both have a low sugar content.  Unsweetened chocolate contains no sugar and cannot be substituted with semi- or bittersweet.
  • Olive oil makes a great natural hand moisturizer to use while you’re cooking because it won’t impart chemicals or perfumes (often found in lotions and creams) to your food.
  • Thrift stores are great places to find slightly used cake pans, Pyrex dishes, casseroles, kitchen tools, flatware, and chinaware… at a fraction of the cost of new merchandise.
  • Restaurant supply stores are usually open to the public and sell the same kitchen tools and equipment you’ll find at housewares retailers for about two-thirds of the price.
  • Between temperatures of 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, food is in the “danger zone.”  Food left in the danger zone for more than four hours can become contaminated with harmful bacteria.
  • Don’t rinse berries before you store them in the fridge; the introduction of moisture encourages mold growth.  Store them dry and rinse just before eating.
  • Olive oil has a low “smoke point,” meaning it burns at a relatively low temperature.  For high-heat cooking such as stir frying, use peanut or vegetable oil.
  • Make sure your utensils are completely dry before stirring or working with melted chocolate.  Even a drop of water introduced to melted chocolate can cause it to “break” or clump, after which it can’t be revived.
  • Lentils are the most protein-rich of the legume family.
  • Always test your yeast before starting a recipe for bread dough.  To test, dissolve a teaspoon in 1/4 cup of warm water with a pinch of sugar.  It should froth and bubble within about 5 minutes.
  • Egg whites won’t form a meringue if there’s even a trace of oil on the surface of your mixing bowl.  Before mixing, wipe the bowl with a paper towel moistened with a dab of vinegar or lemon juice, both of which are good natural grease-fighters.
  • Bavarian Cream is equal parts whipped cream and pastry cream.  It makes a great cake filling.
  • The “cloudy” pattern that forms on the surface of baking chocolate after it has been stored for awhile is harmless.
  • Kale, chard, spinach, and broccoli are the most nutritious of the leafy greens.
  • Use canola oil in baking… it has the mildest flavor.
  • Don’t forget to soak your bamboo skewers before BBQing so they don’t burn.
  • A proper cheese platter should contain one soft cheese (such as brie), one semi-firm cheese (such as manchego), and one firm/hard cheese (such as cheddar or pamigiano-reggiano.)
  • Sow lettuce seeds every 20 days for a continuous crop all throughout the cooler months of spring and fall.
  • When baking, always measure flour by weight for maximum accuracy — one cup of flour weighs 4.5 ounces.  Invest in a kitchen scale if you don’t already have one.

(c) copyright 2011

3 Responses to Cooking Tips

  1. Kate says:

    Great tips! I didn’t know that bittersweet and semi sweet chocolate were interchangeable and that olive oil burns at a low temperature. And I always wash berries before I put them in the fridge! I won’t do that anymore. Those are all really useful pieces of information. Thanks Miri.

    • miri says:

      Yeah, definitely don’t wash berries until you are ready to eat them. Strawberries last forever if you store them dry in a plastic container (lidded) that’s lined with paper towel. It’s amazing!

  2. Once again I’ve learned something new from you!
    Great tips!!!
    Lisa :)

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