30 kitchen hacks to change your life
Prevent your tomatoes from becoming shrivelly, blackened, rotten messes by storing them stem side down. This helps stop air from entering and moisture from exiting the scar where the tomato attached to the vine. Storing them at room temperature rather than in the fridge also makes them last longer and ensures they have a better flavour.
Sick of your bananas going black before you can eat them? Keep the bendy fruit fresher for longer by wrapping the end of the bunch with cling wrap. This stops ethylene gases from releasing out of the stem, ripening the fruit too fast. Even better is to separate each banana and store them separately, as the gases released from one ripe banana will ripen the rest of the bunch.
If you have the opposite problem and need to make banana bread but your fruit isn't ripe enough, simply place the nanas on a parchment-lined tray in the oven on medium-low heat until the skins blacken. The fruit will then be nice and sweet and ready to squeeze straight out of their skins and into your baking.
KEEP SUGAR SOFT
Find your brown sugar forms into hard lumps in the pantry? Keep it soft by storing it in an airtight container with an orange peel. The natural oils from the orange help to stop it clumping.
CAP IT OFF
As the war on plastic continues and we look for ways to cut down our use of it, how about ditching the cling wrap in the kitchen in favour of a bathroom staple, the shower cap? Shower caps (clean ones of course) are fantastic to put straight over bowls of food and are completely reusable. They're also great if you're at a barbecue or party and want to keep the flies off that plate of snags.
GET THE SCOOP
Taking out the seeds from pumpkins can be annoying with the little pepitas flying everywhere. Stop the hassle by using an ice cream scoop with a sharp edge. It'll take out all the seeds and the fibrey lining with ease and you can just scoop it all straight in the bin or compost.
SKIM THE FAT
When making stocks, stews or sauces, trying to skim off the fat from the top can be tricky. Make it easier by wrapping a few ice cubes in paper towel and rubbing them across the surface of the liquid. It will help the fat to solidify making it easier to remove with a spoon or slice of bread.
Have trouble taking the peel of garlic? There's two easy ways. One, simply put the garlic into a jar and shake it off like Taylor Swift. The vibrations from the shaking will cause the skins to fall off. Alternatively, pull out a single clove from the bulb, rest it on a chopping board, put the side of your knife across its surface and whack down on the other side of the knife with the heel of your hand. The skin will come clean off.
Want to get maximum juice from your citrus fruit? Try rolling the fruit firmly across your kitchen bench for 30 seconds first. This breaks down the membranes holding the juice and consequently you get more liquid. It will also help make them easier to peel. Alternatively, you can place your fruit in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Just be careful though, the fruit can get really hot and the juice inside scorching.
Avoid the struggle of grating soft cheeses like mozzarella or fontina by simply placing them in the freezer for about ½ an hour first. It'll firm them up making them easier to handle.
A CUT ABOVE
On the topic of cheese, make cutting soft cheeses like brie and goat's cheese simpler by using unflavoured dental floss. The floss acts like a fromagerie's special wire tool, cutting the curd without smooshing it.
Left your butter out too long and its turned into a mushy mess? Revive it by giving it an ice bath. Just put the butter in a bowl and float the bowl in another bowl of ice water. It will soon firm up and be good to use again.
HONEY, WE HAVE A PROBLEM
Revive crystallised honey by placing the container in a bowl of hot water for five to 10 minutes. It'll be runny and ready to use once again.
Stop molasses, honey, golden syrup, maple syrup or rice malt syrup from sticking to your measuring cups when cooking by simply spraying the cup first with a bit of oil. The oil acts as a barrier between the cup and the sweetener and will help it slide right out ensuring you get the full amount of sticky stuff in your recipe.
Save time flipping your food when you cook it in the oven by simply pre-heating your baking tray. Put the tray in the oven when you turn the oven on and when the oven comes to temperature your tray will be hot that it will be able to help cook the food from the bottom, so you don't have to flip it. It's great for roast veges, oven fries, pies and pizzas. Just don't try it with biscuits or cookies or it will burn the bases.
Cooking a whole chicken or turkey? Help cook it evenly by running some ice cubes across the breasts and wings to chill them down before you put it in the oven. Since the dark thigh meat needs more time to cook than the white breast meat, chilling the breasts will promote even cooking.
NO MORE HIGH AND DRY
Stop pizza and baked goods from drying out when you reheat them in the microwave by placing a cup of water in the microwave with them. The water will add moisture to the air, meaning no more crunchy, overcooked bits.
FIGHT FREEZER BURN
Sick of your ice cream going all crystally from freezer burn? Simply place a piece of wax paper over the surface of the sweet stuff, then wrap the container in a plastic bag and you'll have smooth, scoopable ice cream ever after.
Remove garlic or onion stench from you hands by rubbing them with lemon juice, baking soda, or stainless steel. When you touch stainless steel, the molecules in the steel bind with the sulphur molecules on your hands, transferring the molecules and the stink to the metal and off from your hands. Genius!
Microwave a mess with baked on foods? Put a sponge in a cup of water in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and the moisture released will soften the crusty clingers, making them easy to remove. And as a double bonus, microwaving your cloth also disinfects it.
BRING BACK THE WOODEN SPOON
As timber is porous, your wooden spoon often absorbs all the flavours of the dish you use it in. To avoid your next cake tasting like your last curry, boil your spoon in a pot of water and put it in the sun to dry.
While dishwashers may be convenient, they will also blunten your knives. The intense heat and moisture, combined with the corrosive detergent and the fact that the blades can often rattle around and hit other cutlery will all take off that sharp edge from your favourite cutting tool. Instead always wash you knives by hand.
Run out of icing sugar when making a cake? Powdered sugar is just normal sugar that has been processed more, so simply grab your sugar or caster sugar and put it in the blender. Within a few minutes you'll have the fine sweet stuff you need to finish that frosting.
AGAINST THE GRAIN
If you struggle getting your family to eat healthier grains like quinoa, brown rice or bulgur, try pimping them up with a little tea. Cooking the grains in Earl Grey, the smoky black tea lapsang souchong or even chai will add plenty of punch and make them more appetising for those fussy eaters. Cooking grains in stock is also ideal.
While having left over wine is never really a problem, if you have a bottle that you just haven't finished from a party or the night before, try freezing it into ice cubes. They are then terrific to add to sauces, bolognese, ragu or a jug of sangria.
IN THE CLEAR
Ever wondered why the ice cubes you get when you're out at a restaurant or bar are clear and yours are cloudy? If you boil the water before you freeze it, you'll end up with aesthetically pleasing crystal-clear cubes.
If your waffle iron is sitting in the cupboard unused, think about using it for savoury items. The kitchen appliance is great for making all kinds of hash browns. Simply grate potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin or parsnip, season with salt and pepper, and put it in the iron for a cool looking, super crispy hash.
SOMETHING TO FROTH OVER
Create foamy cappuccinos at home without the need for a fancy frother. Simply fill a jar half way with milk and shake it until it fills the jar. Then just heat the milk in the microwave for 10 seconds and you're good to go.
CLEAN AS A WHISTLE
Get your copper pots looking new again with a little white vinegar and salt mix. The mix also works well on chopping boards, as does a little lemon juice and salt.
PIECE OF CAKE
Keep that leftover cake from drying out by placing a slice of bread against the cut side.
Natural nut butters a great healthy fat, but often the oil splits from the nuts and you have a puddle at the top of the jar. Simply putting the jar upside in your cupboard when you bring it home from the supermarket will let the oil go back through the butter and you'll have silky PB once again.