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Whether you enjoy cooking or not, you could probably use some tips and tricks to make the process easier. These 25 Genius Food Hacks will show you how to prep your favorite foods far more easily than with typical methods, allowing you to streamline your time in the kitchen and enjoy more quality time with your friends and family!
For more helpful life hacks, check out the following:
Brilliant Food Hacks to Make Meal Prep So Much Easier
SEPARATE EGGS WITHOUT THE MESS
Separating egg yolks is a messy job. Whether you use your hands or the back-and-forth shell transfer method, your hands are bound to get at least a little egg on them. You may have seen the water bottle trick, wherein you squeeze an empty water bottle, position it over the egg yolk, then release your grip on the bottle. This action causes the egg yolk to get sucked up into the bottle and separated from the egg white. That’s a pretty awesome idea, right? However, I don’t usually buy bottled water, and it wouldn’t make any sense for me to buy a bottle of water just to separate eggs.
Luckily, there’s a slightly different method that’s even better than the water bottle trick! You follow the same motions except you use the top of your baster, which most people already have in their kitchens. Baster tops are similar in size and shape to store bought egg separators like this, which are used the same way. Since we learned that basting a turkey isn’t a good idea anyway, why not give your baster new purpose as an egg separator!
CUT CORN WITH A BUNDT PAN
When I cut corn off the cob, I use my big cutting board and still make a huge mess! Luckily, my pups usually help me with clean up, but it’s still not my idea of a good time to have precious, sweet kernels of fresh corn flying everywhere. Then, I found this awesome method, which is easily the best way to cut corn without the mess! Simply rest one end of the corn cob in the middle hole of the Bundt pan as you cut the corn kernels, which then fall into the Bundt pan. Genius!
From Simply Recipes
GET MORE JUICE FROM FRESH LEMONS
When a recipe calls for fresh lemon juice, microwave lemons for 10 seconds to get their juices flowing, yielding more juice for you!
RIPEN AVOCADOS FASTER
Hard, unripe avocados taste pretty terrible, but it can tough to wait days to enjoy your favorite fruit – yes, avocados are a fruit! Ripened avocados are firm, slightly soft, and definitely not mushy. They’re overripe when mushy and, at that point, best used in guacamole or discarded. When picking out fresh Hass avocados at the store, try to pick darker green to brown avocados that are firm with just a little bit of give when you press them lightly. The bigger California avocados remain green even when ripe.
Most of the time, you won’t find a perfectly ripe avocado at the store. If you get underripe fruits, you can ripen them faster by placing them in a paper bag. Add a ripe banana or apple to the bag to speed up the process even more. They can be ready as soon as overnight, so be sure to check your avocados at least daily. This works because bananas and apples give off the natural plant hormone, ethylene, which speeds up the ripening process in mature fruits. The paper bag traps the ethylene, further facilitating the process.
PRO TIP 1: What’s the difference between Hass and California avocados? The Hass avocado is smaller, and it’s skin is bumpy and darker green to brown in color, while the California avocado is much larger with smooth skin that remains green when ripe. California avocados also contain much less fat than Hass avocados, which may sound great to control fat and calorie content in your diet. However, avocados are full of healthy fats, so Hass avocados are actually healthier for you than the California variety. Plus, Hass avocados are much richer and tastier, so you will feel satisfied with fewer fruits and may, therefore, consume fewer calories overall. Hass avocados are usually the preferred avocado type in food preparation because of their desirable taste, texture, and healthy fat content.
PRO TIP 2: If you are a fan of avocados, you may have noticed the flesh of this fruit browns quickly after being exposed to air. Slow down this process by mixing cut avocados with an acidic food like lemon juice, vinegar, or vinaigrette, and store leftovers by covering as tightly as possible. For example, place plastic wrap directly on the surface of guacamole to keep as much air out as possible.
PRO TIP 3: If you’re keeping 1/2 the fruit for later, save the 1/2 with the pit still inside. This will slow down the browning process, too. Be sure to wrap the leftover 1/2 tightly in plastic wrap.
From left: California avocado and Hass avocado
CUT A TANGERINE FOR LESS MESS
Unroll tangerines and mandarin oranges to enjoy this sweet citrus fruit with far less mess. To do this, cut off the ends of the tangerine, make a vertical slit through the skin and pith, then unravel the slices of fruit, as shown below. You can follow the same technique for regular oranges, as well.
USE A CHEESE GRATER
Handmade pie crust and biscuits taste the best by far, but it can be a pain to cut cold butter into flour. To make this process easier, grate frozen butter, then just toss the butter and flour together to combine.
From The Kitchn
DON’T RINSE YOUR PASTA
Don’t rinse your pasta after cooking, or it may affect how your dish tastes. Rinsing your pasta may cool it down faster and remove the starch, but that can be a bad thing if you’re preparing a hot pasta dish. You want those starches intact, so your sauce will stick to the pasta and make the meal more flavorful. The only time you may want to rinse your pasta is to remove some of the starch when preparing cold pasta salads.
CUT AWAY MOLD
It’s heartbreaking to go to enjoy that expensive block of cheddar cheese just to realize there’s mold on it! However, sometimes, even if there’s mold growing on cheese, it’s still safe to consume. The Mayo Clinic states that mold usually can’t penetrate into hard and semisoft cheeses like cheddar, Colby, and Swiss, so you can just cut away any mold that’s on the surface and still eat the rest of the cheese. Just be sure to keep your knife away from the mold and to cut about an inch around the mold to prevent contamination.
Soft cheeses like cottage cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella, and Brie are another story. The soft texture of these cheeses allows mold to grow large root systems throughout the cheese and is a prime environment for the growth of harmful bacteria, including listeria, E. coli, salmonella, and brucella.
STORE NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER UPSIDE DOWN
Natural nut butters are healthier for you, since they don’t contain added oils, salt, and sugar (and palm oil, which is horrible for the environment and gorilla habitats), but they can also be a real pain to eat! Not anymore, though! Store your nut butter jar upside down to distribute the oil throughout the butter, making stirring a thing of the past and your nut butter creamy and delicious.
USE A GARBAGE BOWL
It can be a pain to keep walking over to the trash can to throw away garbage and food scraps while you’re busy trying to prep a meal. You can lug the can over to where you’re working, but it might be heavy or in the way. I like to use a big mixing bowl to gather throwaway items while I’m cooking, so I only have to make one trip to the trash. This really streamlines the process and makes cooking so much easier for me.
USE AN APPLE CUTTER TO SLICE POTATOES
Cutting potatoes to make fries or potato wedges at home can be a hassle, and depending on your knife skills, can take forever! Instead of struggling, try this amazing hack – use an apple cutter to slice your potatoes into uniform strips. Hate peeling apples and potatoes? Check out this handy gadget.
From Grandma’s Briefs
HULL STRAWBERRIES WITH A STRAW
Hull strawberries the quick and easy way by poking them with a drinking straw! Start at the bottom of the strawberry, and push the straw through until the green leaves pop off. It’s so easy, and your kids will love to help with this fun technique! Bonus: You don’t have to worry about cutting your fingers with a sharp knife!
From New Nostalgia
CUT SOFT FOODS WITH AN EGG SLICER
You don’t need to use your egg slicer just for hard boiled eggs. Cut other soft foods like strawberries, mushrooms, olives, cheddar, fresh mozzarella, fruits, and more into perfectly thin slices using this easy hack that’s so much faster than cutting with a knife.
From The Life Jolie
USE NATURE’S REFRIGERATOR
If the temperature is 40 degrees or colder, store refrigerated food outside to free up space in your fridge. This tip is especially helpful around the holidays when you need to store that big turkey or ham roast.
PRESERVE FRESH HERBS
Reduce food waste by freezing fresh herbs soaked in olive oil using ice cube trays.
From The Kitchn
REPURPOSE BROKEN CAKE
Don’t be upset if your cake breaks into pieces before you can frost it. Just turn it into a delicious trifle, and no one will know! Here’s great a recipe.
From Life, Love and Sugar
USE YOUR KITCHEN SCISSORS
I cooked in professional kitchens for years, but still never thought to use my kitchen shears to debone meat. This works especially well on tender meats like chicken. You can also use your shears to cut delicate herbs like chives and dill, green onions, lettuce, and other tender raw or cooked vegetables.
CUT GRAPES + CHERRY TOMATOES ALL AT ONCE
Put grapes and cherry tomatoes between two flat plastic lids to cut a bunch all at once. This also works with pitted cherries and olives. If you think you can handle more, you can try this method with plates!
From The Yummy Life
DEFROST MEAT AT THE LAST MINUTE
Did you forget to pop frozen meat in the fridge to thaw? That used to cause a dinnertime disaster, but now, you can thaw meat safely in no time with this easy hack and avoid defrosting in the microwave, which often overcooks meat. Take two metal pots. Turn the first pot upside down in your kitchen sink, and place your frozen meat on the top of the pot. Fill the second pot with room temperature water, and place it on top of the meat. Your meat should be thawed in about 5-10 minutes!!
EFFORTLESS BLENDER CLEANING
To clean your blender in no time, fill it 1/3 full with warm water, add a few drops of dish liquid, and run your blender for about 10 seconds or until clean – you don’t even need to take it apart! Rinse and dry, and you’re good to go.
From Everyday Tastiness
REPURPOSE STALE BREAD
It can be super frustrating to waste bread that’s gone stale, so don’t! You can actually put stale bread to good use by turning it into bread crumbs. Tear the bread or buns into pieces, and freeze. Any time you need bread crumbs for a recipe, simply take the frozen bread out of the freezer and pulse in the food processor until fine. You don’t even have to thaw it before use!
CUT WATERMELON WITH EASE
With its delicious sweet taste and thirst-quenching water content, the watermelon is arguably the best summer food! Most of us cut watermelon into wedges, which can get pretty messy. Here are two cutting hacks to make eating watermelon an even bigger treat. Cut your watermelon into sticks to make it less messy and easier for tiny hands to hold, or cut it into cubes and eat it with a fork.
From A Thrifty Mom
PEEL GINGER WITH A SPOON
Young, fresh ginger has such thin skin it doesn’t really need to be peeled, but older ginger, which is usually what’s available at the grocery store, has a thicker skin. Peeling it with a paring knife is often wasteful – because of all the grooves in ginger, it’s really difficult to cut super close to the skin.
The best way to peel ginger is with a metal spoon. Simply scrape the ginger with the spoon for easy skin removal. If your ginger is old and wrinkly, this means it’s not fresh. It may still be usable, though – just make sure you don’t see any rot or mold. You’ll need to use a knife to remove the skin in that case, since the skin will be too wrinkly and tough for a spoon.
From Simply Recipes
PEEL GARLIC WITH A MASON JAR
To peel garlic in about 30 seconds, put a bulb of garlic in a mason jar, and shake it like crazy! This actually separates the cloves and removes the skin with far less effort than usual techniques. Please note, this method only works if your garlic is over two weeks old.
SOFTEN ICE CREAM IN NO TIME
Sometimes, ice cream comes out of the freezer as hard as a rock, making it impossible to scoop. You can let it thaw on the counter, but the ice cream will melt first around the edges and remain hard in the middle, which still means it’ll be difficult to get a nice scoop. You could pop the ice cream in the microwave, but then, you run the risk of turning it into a melted mess – and it still won’t soften evenly.
These genius hacks will soften the hardest ice cream evenly and in no time! If your ice cream isn’t super hard, try this hack first. Fill a bowl with hot tap water, and dip a metal ice cream scoop or serving spoon in the hot water before you scoop the ice cream. If that doesn’t work, try this second method. Dip a metal knife in hot water, and cut the ice cream about one inch deep in a grid pattern, spacing the lines an inch apart. Then, dip your scoop in the hot water before each scoop of ice cream.
PRO TIP: Prevent your ice cream from getting rock hard in the first place by storing the container in a sealed plastic bag!
REMOVE POMEGRANATE SEEDS EASILY
Pomegranates are a healthy and delicious fruit to eat on their own or in salads, but it can be difficult to get all those tiny seeds out of the husk. The easiest way to enjoy a fresh pomegranate – and work out some aggression in the process – is to cut the fruit horizontally in half. Then, put an empty bowl in the sink and the pomegranate seed-side down in the palm of your hand. Put your hand over the bowl, so it can catch the seeds. With a wooden spoon, whack the fruit really hard until the seeds fall out into the bowl. This method should get most of the seeds out of the pomegranate in not time, but you may have to fish out a few seeds with your fingers.
These Brilliant Food Hacks will have you enjoying your favorite foods in no time!
I would love to hear from you!
Please let me know what you think of these Food Hacks, and be sure to share some of your favorite hacks not included on this list in the comments below.
NOTE: The following posts were originally written for Thanksgiving, but they offer great tips for hosting any holiday or family gathering!