25 Kitchen hacks to save you time, money and energy
Fancy yourself as a bit of a Jamie Oliver or come over all domestic goddess like Nigella anytime you're in the kitchen? That doesn't mean you know it all though, and we're here to help you save time, money and energy with these 25 kitchen hacks that will soon have you lording over the kitchen as your domain!
#1. Make bananas last longer
Bananas are loaded with potassium, great for a healthy heart, and they're the perfect post-workout snack, but often they're turning brown before you have a chance to eat them. Whilst you could give in and just make banana pancakes, wrapping the end of the bunch with cling film will prevent ethylene gas from being released from the stem, which stops the bananas from ripening so fast; genius (1)!
#2. Keep potatoes white
Because nobody wants grey mashed potatoes, cover your chopped potatoes with cold water in the pan before cooking, to prevent oxidisation.
#3. Check your eggs
You CAN use eggs past the date on the box, so rather than wasting half a box of eggs which could be perfectly good in an omelette, test them to see if they're still edible. Place the raw eggs (gently) in a large bowl of cold water. Edible eggs should sink to the bottom. The older an egg is, the more the liquid inside will have evaporated (leaving behind a lovely bubble of gas). So old, inedible eggs will float!
#4. Make removing squash seeds simple
Pumpkin and butternut squash are loaded with beta-carotene, great for healthy skin and sparkly eyes. Removing the seeds can be a pain though, so try using an ice cream scoop to cut through the goo in no time at all.
#5. Remove the fat from your soup
Fat floating on the surface of stews and soups isn't only unappealing, it's bad for your health. For an easy way to scoop it up, wrap some ice cubes in a paper towel and skim it along the surface of the soup or stew. The ice cubes solidify the fat so it can be easily scooped up with a spoon.
#6. Make a hull-free strawberry smoothie
For a simple way to hull strawberries, use a straw! Just press the straw through the bottom of the fruit until it breaks through, taking the hull with it. So you have perfect hulled, ripe strawberries, ready for your smoothie.
#7. Take the mess out of cheese grating
Semi-soft cheeses such as Mozzarella or Fontina can be a pain to grate and pretty messy. Try freezing them for around 30 minutes to make your life a little easier.
#8. Stop onion tears
We're sure your gran probably told you plenty of ways to stop crying whilst chopping onions, but here's the way that works for us. Run the peeled onion under a cold tap for a few minutes or pop it in the freezer before chopping - obviously don't do this if you're using the onion raw in a salad or it will be soggy!
#9. Make buttermilk
When you're whipping up fluffy pancakes for brunch but realise you've run out of buttermilk, there's no need to panic. Just try adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk for the same effect.
#10. Soften butter fast
Rock-hard butter straight from the fridge isn't ideal for baking, but when you're on a tight schedule, waiting around for it to soften probably isn't going to happen. Try grating the butter to make it easier to smoosh and mix!
#11. Measure sticky substances the easy way
Ever made a mess measuring honey, treacle or golden syrup? Oh good, it's not just us then! For an easy way to stop sticky substances from going everywhere, try coating the measuring spoon with hot water or a bit of oil before measuring, so it slides right off.
#12. Revive your honey
Some types of honey can crystallise quicker than others and if you've bought squeezy honey for your morning porridge, you'll know what a pain this can be. Place the bottle in a bowl of hot (not boiling) water for around 10 minutes to bring it back to liquid form.
#13. Stop your pans boiling over
This has to be one of the Expertrain team's favourite kitchen hacks - it really works! If you're squeezing in a workout whilst your pasta or rice is cooking on the hob, chances are you'll end up with a pan that boils over and makes a mess. To stop this, place a wooden spoon across the pot and you'll find it won't happen! Why? Because wood doesn't conduct heat, so water will stay away from the spoon (2).
#14. Create frothy milk
If you're lucky enough to have an espresso machine with an in-built milk frother, happy days. For those of us who don't, you can still enjoy frothy milk for your cappuccino or hot chocolate, and you'll get a bit of an arm workout too! Just fill a small glass jar with a lid to around halfway with milk, then shake until the milk has doubled in size. Take the lid off and microwave the milk for around 30 seconds; simple.
#15. Reheat your pizza
Whether you're reheating a healthy cauliflower pizza base with veggie toppings or a cheeky takeaway pizza from last night, you've probably noticed that reheating baked goods in the microwave tends to leave them dry. To combat this, place a cup of water in the microwave at the same time, to add moisture to the atmosphere.
#16. Store fresh herbs for later use
If you've taken the time to grow your own herbs, don't let them go to waste! Use an ice cube tray and freeze chopped herbs in a little olive oil or water, to add to all your recipes.
#17. Chill your wine the right way
Nobody likes adding ice cubes to wine, but when your wine is getting warm in the sunshine, what do you do? Try freezing some grapes and popping a couple into your glass for the chilled effect without diluting your drink.
#18. Banish garlic odour from your hands
The odour of garlic and onions can really linger on your hands - not what you want after you've cooked a romantic meal for two! There is an easy way to neutralise the odour - rub your hands with baking soda or lemon juice for a fresh smell (3).
#19. Clean your produce naturally
Removing dirt and pesticides from some fruit and vegetables, such as potatoes, can be tricky, but don't use washing-up liquid or anything else containing chemicals. Try a mixture of water and baking soda to scrub the dirt off.
#20. Remove limescale from kettles
Lime scale can build up and shorten the life of your kettle - it also looks pretty nasty! If you're living in a hard water area, try scrubbing the outside of your kettle with a mixture made from 1 part vinegar and 1 part water. You could even fill your kettle with the vinegar mixture, bring to the boil and leave overnight to dissolve stubborn scale (4). Don't forget to rinse it thoroughly before you make a cup of tea!
#21. Freshen up your chopping board
Wooden chopping boards can get stained and a bit whiffy, especially if you're regularly cooking healthy meals from scratch. Freshen yours up by scrubbing with coarse salt and half a lemon to clean away smells and stains.
#22. Keep your knives sharp
A sharp knife is a safe knife, so stop yours from dulling by storing them with the cutting edge facing up in a counter-top knife block, or, even better, get a magnetic knife rack. When chopping food, use the back of the knife to transfer food to the pan rather than dulling the knife blade by scraping it across the board.
#23. Slice soft cheese with ease
Brie, goats cheese and taleggio - soft cheeses are a nightmare to slice! Get some unflavoured dental floss to make slicing a breeze - great for use in sandwiches or tarts.
#24. Open jars the easy way
Stuck lids on jars can be pretty frustrating, particularly if you don't have anyone to ask for help. Try wrapping a rubber band around the lid for extra traction. If this doesn't work, running hot water over the metal lid should cause it to expand and loosen slightly, making it easier to twist off.
#25. Scoop out broken eggshell
It can be so frustrating to see a bit of shell in the bowl of eggs you're about to use to make an omelette, and messing around with your fingers or a spoon to remove the shell can be irritating. Did you know that if you use half an already cracked egg shell and touch the piece of shell in the bowl, it will act as a magnet, drawing the shell out? (5)
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