Knowing some cooking hints and kitchen tips makes preparing meals easier. From skinning a pumpkin to prepping onions to grating cheese, I’ve put this list of cooking hacks and tips together to help make life in the kitchen easier for you.
The following is a bevy of helpful hints for cooking and preparing foods. You’ll find tricks to solve peeling woes, stop the tears, save you money and time, and make prepping scrumptious meals more enjoyable.
Easy way to peel a pumpkin
Pumpkins are full of nutrition. But, do you find skinning and seeding pumpkin a real chore? You’re not alone. Here’s how to make it easier.
Easy peasy microwave cooking tip for peeling a pumpkin:
- Remove the seeds with a metal ice cream scoop. Add a dash of water in the microwave dish with the pumpkin and then microwaving the pumpkin pieces cut-side down.
The skin should come away easily. This might take several minutes depending on the quantity and size of pieces.
Of course, cooking the pumpkin with the skin will give you the added benefits of fiber and nutrition and the added bonus of avoiding the hassle of peeling the pumpkin.
Citrus prep tips and tricks
Oranges, lemon, and limes are great in salads, desserts, drinks, and as garnishes.
Removing citrus skin and pith
If you find removing skin and pith from lemons or oranges tricky, here’s the thing…
- You can easily peel citrus fruit by microwaving them for 20 seconds before peeling.
- Another way is to boil some water and then immerse the citrus in it for 5 minutes. The white pith should come off easily along with the peel for a clean presentation. This is a good tip if you’re wanting to use the orange in salads.
What about squeezing citrus fruit?
- Here’s a microwave cooking tip to get the most juice easily: Zap it in the microwave for 10 seconds on high.
- Another… warm the lemon or other citrus in hot water or in a moderate oven for a couple of minutes before squeezing.
- You can also roll the fruit firmly over a hard surface before squeezing to get the most out of it.
cooking and serving perfect eggs
Eggs are so versatile. There are so many ways to serve them.
Cooking tip for hard-cooked eggs
You can perfectly peel hard-cooked eggs by adding a pinch of baking soda to the cooking water and then run them under cold water after cooking to help release the shell from the cooked egg white.
Tip: Slightly older eggs are easier to peel than really fresh ones.
Peeling hard-cooked eggs hack
Okay, so you’ve already boiled the eggs without using the trick above. And…they won’t peel! Bits of the white are coming off and you’re creating craters on the egg.
Here’s how to rescue your remaining eggs. Crack the egg and immerse in a bowl of water for a few minutes to allow the water to seep under the shell. This should result in the shell coming away easily from the egg.
Here’s another way (providing they are still hot). Peel them while they’re still hot in a sink of cold water. Crack the shell then roll the egg gently between your palms so it cracks all over. It should come away easy peasy.
Beating egg yolks trick
For perfect results, rinse the bowl you intend beating the egg yolks in with cold water beforehand. This will make sure the egg yolk mixture slides out without sticking wastefully to the sides.
Poaching eggs tip
For perfectly shaped poached eggs, gently stir the near-boiling water with a spoon and then drop the egg into the circular well of water formed by the stirring.
Onions without the tears
Onions can have us in tears. On cutting an onion, it releases an enzyme that irritates our eyes (Imai et al, 2002). So…
How to peel and slice onions without the tears? Cut onions without crying by freezing the onions first. Try 30 minutes in the freezer or if not, try sitting onions in the refrigerator or on ice.
☞ Another option is to place the onions in a sink or large container and then cover them with boiling water. Allow to cool, and you can then remove the skins without tears.
Note: this is not recommended if you intend to use the onions fresh in salads.
What if I want to use the onions fresh?
☞ Here’s the trick if you intend using the onions fresh, e.g. in salads. Run cold water over your wrists — weird, but it does work to stop the tears. I can tell you I’ve tried and tested this method on buckets of onions and it does work.
Otherwise you can always try these suggestions I’ve also seen or heard from others…
☞ Wear swimming or ski goggles when cutting the onions
☞ Hold a large piece of bread in your mouth to absorb the onion compounds
To lessen the effect, make sure to use a sharp knife.
Grating cheese without the gunk
You can grate cheese more easily if you freeze the cheese for half an hour beforehand.
☞ Use a vegetable peeler rather than a grater if using cheese as a garnish.
If you do end up with gunk in the grater holes, you can clean the grater easily by running a cut lemon (cut-side) over the grater and then rinse.
Peeling a ton of potatoes fast
Don’t want to spend time peeling potatoes? Here’s an idea: Use a sharp knife to cut the surface of the potato around the middle (encircling the potato) and then boil the potatoes whole in a pan with the skin on.
☞ When the potatoes are cooked, run the potatoes under cold water and then you can easily slide the skins off. Watch this youtube video for more detail…
Removing seeds from tomatoes
Cut the tomato through the middle sideways (horizontally). Then gently squeeze out the seeds.
Tricks for peeling garlic
No more fiddling with the papery garlic skin to remove it. Here are four easy ways to tackle that garlic to remove the skin.
- Boil enough water to cover the garlic cloves. Let garlic sit in the boiled water for 10 seconds. The skin should just slip off.
- Squash the garlic clove with the side of a large heavy knife. The skin will detach and be easy to remove.
- Microwave cooking tip: Microwave the garlic clove for 10-15 second. The skin will slide off easily.
- Use a garlic press to crush the clove. The skin will be easy to remove.
My practical cooking hacks and tips don’t stop there. Here are tips for the kitchen cook when baking.
Separating out egg whites
If you accidentally get some yolk mixed in with the white of an egg, try removing it by touching it with the corner of a clean cloth. Moisten the cloth in cold water first. You’ll find the yolk sticks to the cloth but the white doesn’t.
Curling baking paper
To stop that parchment paper curling up or moving when baking, wipe your bakeware with a damp cloth before placing the baking paper.
Measuring sticky syrups and honey
To avoid the sticky syrup adhering to the measuring spoon when you’re trying to add it as an ingredient, run the spoon under hot water first. The syrup should glide off much easier.
Sitting tomatoes or peppers upright
When you’re wanting to do stuffed tomatoes or pepper in the oven, here’s a cooking trick. Place them upright in large-holed muffin pans so they’ll stay neat in place.
You can soften butter with a glass. Here’s how…
Heat a microwave-proof glass with water in the microwave. Throw out the water and place the glass over the stick of butter for a few minutes.
- The warmth from the glass will make the butter soft. Alternatively, you can heat water on the stovetop in a pot and then use the heated pot in the same fashion.
Tip: You can use a ceramic bowl or pot to do this also. Ceramic pots can be used in the microwave or on the
Best way to cut brownies
How to cut brownies perfectly? Use a warm blade and wipe it clean each time you make the cut.
- Warm the blade by dipping it in a cup of hot water each time.
No cupcake shells?
- Use parchment paper in place of cupcakes shells.
spread icing easily
You can do this while the cake or slice is in the baking dish as long as it has cooled but is still warm (not straight from the oven).
- Use a knife that has been warmed by placing it in a glass of hot water.
- Load the knife with icing and spread across the surface of the cake or slice.
- After each spread, rinse the knife in the warm water and return to spread the remainder of the icing.
Because it’s an essential thing to get the ingredients right in baking, it’s handy to know when using recipes from other countries how much the measurements can vary.
Most are fine, but there are variations that could make that difference.
One exception is the Australian spoon measurements. A tablespoon in a recipe from Australia equals 4 teaspoons (20 ml) while the American tablespoon is 3 teaspoons (15 ml).
With measuring cups, in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, a cup (250 ml) is larger than the American version (1/2 pint or 240 ml).
Cutting a pomegranate
If you are a first-timer with pomegranates, you might not know the best way to enjoy that delicious fruit.
☞ How to cut a pomegranate? First, use your paring knife, cutting at an angle, to remove the remnants of the flower at the top of the fruit.
For more detail, you can find a good step by step with photos here.
Removing excess fat
Remove excess fat from cooked food with ice cubes wrapped in a paper towel. The fat should solidify and cling to the towel.
Keep salt flowing in the shaker
Add a few grains of rice to the salt shaker to keep the salt flowing freely during wet or humid weather.
prevent water boiling over
Put a wooden spoon in the pot to stop the contents boiling over.
Best way to reheat pizzas
When warming up pizzas put a cup of water in the oven to keep the crust crunchy.
What to do with leftover herbs
Keep extra cooking herbs in ice-cubes in the freezer to use later. Try putting them in water or oil to retain nutritional value.
Saving that half of a banana
How often do you use only half a banana? If you have young children this might be quite often.
☞ How to save that half a banana? First, if you are cutting a banana, make sure you cut it with the skin on. Then all you have to do is seal the cut end of the remaining piece, using plastic wrap, or for a more enviro-friendly option, try securing it with a beeswax wrap.
Bananas are full of vitamins and minerals. It seems a waste to throw leftover bananas away or that half a banana that didn’t get used. There are tricks to saving bananas for later.
☞ If you don’t want to waste whole bananas that haven’t been eaten, you can freeze them with their skins on for later. These can be used later in a banana muffin or loaf recipes.
Now for some tips on cleaning pots and pans and the cutting boards and utensils, which are the essential tools in cooking.
Clean cast iron
To clean a cast-iron frying pan, try using salt instead of the normal dishwashing liquid. Salt will break down the residue left on the pan. Coarse salt or just plain table salt will do the trick. The soiled salt can be placed in the trash and the pan then rinsed clean.
It’s a good idea, after cleaning cast iron cookware, to drizzle a few drops of vegetable oil over the cooking surface. With a paper towel spread the oil over the entire skillet to season and protect it from rust before storing.
nonstick coating care
☞ For how to clean and care for nonstick cookware see my article on how to best use, care, and store your non stick cookware.
Food residue stuck in frypan
To remove food residue from a frying pan, add enough water to cover the food.
☞ Make sure to let the pan cool to warm first to avoid damaging the pan.
Allow the pan to soak for several minutes. Then wash as normal.
Ridding that garlic odor
Remove garlic odor from cooking utensils by scrubbing with table salt or lemon. This works in removing the odor from your hands also. Another trick is to dust your hands with bicarbonate soda and rub together and then rinse.
Restore messy wooden spoons
Restore those wooden spoons or utensils suited to non-stick pans by boiling them in plain water and then drying them in the sun.
Maintain wooden cutting boards
Maintain wooden or bamboo cutting boards in good condition by oiling them occasionally with grapeseed oil or
Info Sources For Cooking Tips
Some of these tips came from my grandma’s 1975 book of household tips. Other’s I’ve discovered along the way. If you are looking for best turkey cooking insights — check out my turkey recipe for ceramic grills. Also, check out my article on ways to make your kitchen more green.