The Food24 team shares their must-know kitchen hacks
Whether we’re cooking, baking or cleaning, we spend a lot of time in our kitchens, so we decided to collate the hacks that save us time and money in our happy space.
Make cooking a breeze
Katy Rose, Food24’s social media specialist, is full of advice when it comes to making cooking easier. Her first hack is to microwave butternut for one minute. “This softens the skin and makes peeling it much, much easier,” she says. She also has a tip to easily cut marshmallows: “Dip scissors in water in between cuts to cut the marshmallow cleanly and without any sticking. I used it when making this Zoo Biscuit rocky road recipe.”
Our content creator, Bianca Jones, is a hive of useful tricks! First, she says: “If you heat avocados (in hot water or in a microwave) a little before you cut them, they don’t turn black.” Next, add a little salt when whisking egg whites. “This helps them whip up easily because the salt helps break down the proteins.” Finally, a quick trick to make an easy yet delicious dressing – mix a little water into tahini paste. “It creams up nicely. Season with lemon juice and salt, and you have a banging salad dressing for cumin-roasted butternut and aubergine.”
Recipe editor Ilse Kleinsmidt likes to add some onion to her bechamel. “A chef friend taught me to sweat finely diced sweet onions and use it in the base for a bechamel. Add it to the flour and butter mixture. It gives savoury pies and pastas the most amazing, hearty flavour.”
Can’t stand the smell of garlic on your hands after cooking with it? Reviews editor Nikita Buxton says to simply rub the tips of your fingers on the bottom of a stainless steel sink. “It neutralises the odours!”
Our Head of Content, Tessa Purdon, has one for those who love beetroot but hate that telltale pink tinge on their hands: “Put olive oil on your hands when peeling beetroot to avoid staining your fingers. It really works – and moisturises your hands at the same time! Win-win.”
To make peeling ginger easier, commissioning editor Lauren Goldman has something she learned from chef Zola Nene: use a teaspoon. She says this way you remove only the skin, preserving as much of the flesh as possible. And don’t discard the juices when chopping or grating ginger, Tessa adds. “That’s where the delicious gingery flavour is!”
Lauren also says she always adds a dash of sugar to tomato-based sauces. “Add just half a teaspoon and you’ll taste the difference. It removes some of the acidity from the tomatoes.”
If you’re looking for a quick “meaty” stock, Tessa suggests mixing Bovril into boiling water, while copy editor Lindsay September says to freeze things such as tomato paste in portions (you can use an ice tray), then just pop in like a stock cube when needed!
Less time cleaning means more time eating
Food24’s Head of Food, Natalie Wilson, is all about fuss-free living in the kitchen. “Have a sink of warm, soapy water while you cook to wash bowls, dishes and cutlery as you go and while your dish is simmering,” she says. “This makes cleaning up after dinner so much quicker and it feels like way less work.”
How to store your goodies for longer
Our video editor, Romy Wilson, prefers never to be caught off guard when she’s in the kitchen: “This may not be a ‘hack’ as such, but I have taken to always having little bottles of long-life milk and cream. It tastes exactly the same and saves you having to run to the shops in a cooking emergency!”
Lindsay uses the freezer for storage. “Whenever I have leftover fresh vegetables, I chop them up and freeze for later use. Instead of that one carrot languishing in your vegetable drawer, it can mean one third (or all three parts – celery and onions freeze well, too!) of your mirepoix already done and dusted, or you can use it to bulk up a dish or add a bit of sweetness at the last minute without having to dash out to the store.”
Ilse has also latched on to a handy storage trick during lockdown. “My baby sister told me about this hack,” she shares, “and we’ve been using it during lockdown. To keep biscuits and other baked treats soft after baking, add a slice of white bread to the container. It remains soft and fresh-tasting.”
And there you have it – the hacks that save the Food24 team time and money in the kitchen! What are your hacks? Share them with us in the comments below.