No matter how much you enjoy cooking, it’s always best to cut prep time so that you can focus on other things. If you’ve been reading the XEN Life blog, you’ve probably encountered several of our food hack posts (17 Clever Food Hacks You Need to Try part 1 and 2, and 15 Breakfast Hacks You Should Be Doing).
We simply love food here at XEN Life and today we’ve gathered the Internet’s best food preparation hacks. Here they are:
#1 Keep peeled potatoes white
Peeling potatoes can take a while. While you’re spending so much time peeling each potato they are slowly turning brown. There’s a simple trick to keeping potatoes white while you move on to other prep for your cookout. Simply pour cold water over your freshly peeled potatoes to stop the starch from oxidising. They’ll remain looking fresh until you’re ready to cook them.
#2 Keep sugar from hardening
Brown sugar hardens in a container if it is constantly exposed to moisture and air. It also forms lumps which makes it harder to dissolve when you put it in your drinks or recipes. To keep sugar from forming lumps add an orange peel to the container before you seal it. A slice of apple will also work!
#3 Slice cherry tomatoes easily
Cherry tomatoes are small, making them a bother to slice. This trick will definitely make your life easier if you’re planning to slice a batch of cherry tomatoes. Just take two container lids or small plates and sandwich the tomatoes in between them. Gently press your hand on top to keep the tomatoes in place. Let the knife slide through the tomatoes, lift the cover and voila!
#4 Slice raw meat easily
Meat can be a messy pain to slice. The cut almost never seems to go as planned. Expert cooks suggest one thing to remedy this: before slicing, put your meat in the fridge for an hour or two. This will help firm up the meat, making it easy to get the perfect slice.
#5 Skim fats
Excess fats can often be noticed in stews, stocks and sauces and are usually removed by skimming the surface of the liquid. However, skimming fats the usual way doesn’t always get rid of everything. A more effective technique is to cool the fats a little by wrapping ice cubes in a piece of cloth and running it along the surface of the liquid to harden the fats. Once you can see the fats forming they are skimmed easily.
#6 Peel potatoes easily
Peeling potatoes isn’t just time consuming; you could also be wasting a thin part of the potato if you’re not a peeling expert. Boil the potato with skin on and let it cool. The potato skin will now be easily separated.
#7 Get more juice from citrus
To get more juice from your lemons and other citrus fruits, freeze them then microwave for about 15 seconds. Roll the fruit with your hand and cut horizontally. Instead of squeezing the juice out with your hands, use tongs. These tricks will ensure you get more juice out of your citrus fruits.
#8 Cook pasta faster
The fastest way to cook pasta is to pre-soak it. Pre-soaking the night before or a few hours before your meal will help you become a faster cook. Put your pasta in a zip lock bag or container and add some water. The pasta will become soft and will cook in just 60 seconds.
#9 Keep water from boiling over
Image Credit: Lifehack
When you’re boiling something or making a slow-cook stew, the water tends to boil over. The secret to no boil-over is to simply place a wooden spoon across the top of the pot. The spoon is not a heat conductor, and so it forces the boiling water to stay below the spoon and inside the pot.
#10 Use Doritos as kindling
When you’ve run out of kindling on your next camping trip, open up the Doritos! These chips can get a fire going in no time while you add in some twigs to start your campfire meal.
#11 Make mashed potatoes fluffier
Add a pinch of baking powder for the best homemade mashed potatoes. While the potato is still hot, the baking powder will form tiny air pockets, making it fuller and fluffier. You can add this even if you are using a mixer or a masher.
#12 Peel oranges easily
Here’s the ultimate way to peel oranges! Just cut the top and bottom of an orange, slice from the outside to the centre and roll it out. The outcome is perfect and ready to be eaten.
#13 Get rid of garlic smell fast
Garlic may smell heavenly when being sautéed, but the smell raw garlic leaves on your hands when slicing is just plain annoying and can last for days. The technique to remove that nasty garlic smell is to rub your hands on a stainless steel sink vigorously for 30 seconds then apply soap. No more garlic smell!
#14 Reheat pizza without drying out
Reheating your favourite foods may often cause them to dry out. When reheating with a microwave, place a (microwave safe) cup of water in with the pizza to help it retain some moisture. This trick works well with other foods as well.
#15 Keep hard cheese from drying out
Hard cheese has the tendency to dry out when left for a long time. To keep it fresh, rub butter on it from time to time. This will help it stay as fresh as it was when you bought it.
#16 Use power tools in preparation
Peeling a batch of apples for a big cookout? You might want to consider a power tool to peel all those apples in just seconds. Check out the video about of a chef who has gone viral for this food prep hack.
#17 Cook tuna with tissue paper
This one is a handy army trick. You can do this when you feel like eating fresh tuna straight from the can but want to put a bit of a spin on it. This trick will create some delicious smoked tuna you’ll love. This can be a great and easy meal when you’re out camping. Simply open your canned tuna, position a napkin or paper towel over it and submerge it in the tuna oils. Take out a lighter and carefully light the napkin sticking out. The tuna will start cooking in its own oil. Just remove the burned napkin before eating.
#18 Make whipped cream in a water bottle
If you have no whipped cream available or if you need it fast, simply put fresh whipping cream in a bottle, add icing sugar and shake vigorously until the cream thickens.
#19 Separate egg yolk with a water bottle
This one is tricky and may require some practice before you are able to do it perfectly. Trust us, it’s worth it! Simply break your egg carefully into a bowl, squeeze out a bit of air from an empty water bottle, place the mouth of the water bottle on the egg yolk and release pressure on the water bottle to suction to yolk straight into the bottle. If you’re successful the egg yolk will be in the bottle, leaving all the whites in the bowl.
Learn these helpful food prep tricks and you can cut down the time you spend cooking every day. Let us know of any other food prep hacks we missed out on!
Featured Image Credit: Matthew Packer via Flikr