Not everybody loves to cook, but everyone has to eat.
As you spend more time in the kitchen, you develop little tricks that make your life easier, right? Then you can imagine how many tricks someone like Gordon Ramsey or Wolfgang Puck might have up their sleeve.
Since you probably won’t make a dash for a culinary career anytime soon, we’ve compiled a list of kitchen hacks that world-class chefs use regularly.
10 Kitchen Hacks That Will Change Your Life
Whether you’re a budding gourmet or a humble home cook, these kitchen tricks make your cooking time more productive and more fun!
1. Aged Eggs
You can’t tell by looking if an egg is past its prime. Most of all, you most certainly don’t want to crack it open if you’re unsure (the smell can be overwhelming).
Since egg shells are porous, they will allow air inside over time. In short, the fresher the egg, the less air inside, the less it will float.
Simply drop the egg in a large bowl of cold water. If it sinks directly to the bottom and lies flat, it’s fresh. If the larger end tilts part way up, it’s about a week old. Alternitively, the larger end stands straight up, it’s a few weeks old and still good to eat. If it floats to the top, toss it.
2. Baked Eggs
A quick way to cook many eggs at a time is to simply bake them whole.
Preheat oven to 325°. You may either place eggs directly on an oven rack with adequate space between or in a muffin pan with one egg in each cup. Bake for 30 minutes. Oven times may vary based on the accuracy and evenness of heat in your particular oven; you may test first with a couple of eggs to check. When the 30 minutes are done, place eggs in a bowl of ice-cold water for 10 minutes. Lastly, peel and enjoy!
3. Crystal Clear Cubes
If you fill an ice cube tray from the tap, minerals in the water and surrounding air are trapped. This makes for foggy ice. Boiling the water first removes bubbles so it will freeze clear. Plus, removing air and impurities allows cubes to freeze harder (water molecules are more densely packed). This means that the ice cubes will take longer to melt.
To make, bring filtered (via reverse osmosis) or distilled water to a boil. Allow to cool, then boil and cool again. If you use a pot rather than a kettle (this allows more air to escape), loosely drape a clean dish towel over it to prevent dust or insects from settling in it. Once cool, pour into the tray and freeze for pure, clear ice. If you’re in a bit of a hurry, boiling once is almost as good.
4. Flavorful Fish
Many people add a squirt of lemon to their fish—the flavors seem to go perfectly together. Grilling fish (or anything) outside adds a smoky taste and keeps any objectionable smells out of the house. Because fish is fragile, cooking it on a grill requires extra care. You can combine special handling with a flavor enhancer by grilling lemon and fish together!
Wash and slice lemon(s) horizontally to about a ¼-inch thickness and place pieces closely together directly on the grill rack, covering enough area to accommodate the fish. Position the fish on top of the lemons and cook. The lemons will keep the fish from sticking to the rack and the fish will absorb their flavor.
Feel free to use the lemons as a garnish or flip them over after removing the fish to cook on the other side and eat them, too—rind and all.
5. Lemon Aid
Chilling a lemon will constrict the membranes and juice inside. Before juicing, allow your lemon (or other citrus fruits) to come to room temperature. Submerge in warm (not hot) water for a few minutes until the fruit is warm to the touch when you hold it in your hand.
Remove lemon from the water and firmly roll back and forth on the countertop a few times, hard enough so the shape distorts but not so hard that it breaks. This loosens the sunny goodness inside so you can squeeze out every delectable drop of juice.
6. Pot Watcher
Cleaning the stovetop after a pot boils over is a labor-intensive, time-consuming chore. Here’s the conundrum: if you watch the pot, it won’t boil and if you don’t, it will boil over.
Here are two hacks to prevent the dreaded mess:
- Before turning the heat on, line the inner top inch and rim around the perimeter of the pot with a thin coating of olive or coconut oil. Oil repels water and will prevent a boiling mess.
- Once the water boils, place a long wooden spoon across the top of the pot in the middle. How this works: the spoon is cooler than the water/steam/bubbles coming up from the pot. They hit the spoon and break back down into water so the bubbles don’t spill over. This only works as long as the spoon is cooler than the steam; if it’s a thin spoon, it’ll heat up after several minutes and the trick will stop working. You can quickly rinse the spoon in cold water or replace it with another spoon. The drawback to this hack is that over time, steam will wear and warp the spoon and can cause it to split. Be advised: a metal utensil won’t work for this task because metal conducts heat extremely well and you’ll have spillage in no time.
7. Rhizome Scrape
Peeling ginger or turmeric can be challenging, with its odd shape and tough skin. Freezing the rhizome (at least 2 hours), then allowing it to thaw for 5 minutes loosens the skin and keeps the flesh firm so they separate readily.
Rather than using a vegetable peeler, simply scrape off the outer skin with the side of a sturdy metal spoon handle.
8. Shake It Up
Peeling garlic is another sticky, fragrant, tedious task. Sometimes the skin can be especially stubborn. This hack may be the best of them all—watch the one-minute video and you’ll be amazed.
You need two large stainless steel bowls of the same size. Take a whole head of garlic and place it bottom up on the counter or cutting board. Firmly smash the end with the heel of your hand to break the cloves apart. Sweep every bit of the garlic into one bowl, invert the other bowl and cover the one with the garlic. Grasp the sides of the bowls and shake like mad for ten seconds. You’re done.
9. Soft Serve
Sometimes ice cream (whether made with cow, coconut, or rice milk) can get so hard in the freezer that you have to leave it out for several minutes before you can even scrape a little off the top.
Storing the carton encased in a plastic freezer bag keeps the frozen treat from becoming rock-hard, so you can dish it out as soon as you take it out.
10. Wine Cooler
A delicate wine is best sipped and savored. To keep it cold without diluting it, place some frozen grapes in the glass. Make sure the grapes’ skins are intact to prevent them from affecting the flavor of the wine. You can eat the fruit as your wine’s dessert.