Make your life easier with our clever kitchen tips to help you save time, from ideas for storage to quick cleaning tips
Make your life easier with our clever kitchen tips and hints to help you to save time, from ideas for storage to quick cleaning tips and easy ideas to speed up food preparation.
Although we love cooking, baking and spending time trying new things, we would all ideally love to spend less time in the kitchen during the week and when we have guests over.
Find out how to keep your bread fresher, how to keep dairy fresher for longer, how to stop toast going soggy and how to make your dough rise faster among our essential kitchen hacks. Get more organized with suggestions for how to arrange your kitchen cupboards in zones and how to keep your utensils handy at all times.
There are tips on how to choose the right containers, how to save space when you're entertaining (clue: it involves canny use of a cake stand) and how to remove stubborn labels from glass jars. Learn how to convert a square cake tin to a round tin and still pick the right size and see how to use a lemon to clean - it really does work wonders.
Our favourite tip? How to make berries work as ice cubes and improve your drink at the same time. This is one trick that works so well for a party and looks so much prettier than ice cubes too. Plus, we recommend some essential kitchen equipment that is worth the investment, such as our favourite grater. These are among our must-haves.
You won't know how you managed without these time-saving tricks, and you'll be sharing them with your friends - just as we were when we put them together.
So follow our tips and advice for cooking, cleaning and storage and discover how easy your life can be...
1. Peel Ginger With A Spoon
Ever wondered if there's a quicker and easier way to peel ginger? Patrick Drake, head chef at recipe box scheme HelloFresh, recommends using the edge of a spoon rather than a knife to peel the ginger as you run the risk of wasting a lot of the flesh. "This way the skin comes off easily and without any waste; simple!" he says.
Click through to see more clever kitchen tricks...
2. Sharpen Knives On The Edge Of A Mug
"If you don't have a knife sharpener but you want to keep an edge on your knife, turn over a coffee mug and run the knife along the rough edge," says Patrick Drake, head chef at recipe box scheme HelloFresh. "The way to do this is to angle the knife at 90 degrees to the cup, then halve the angle to 45 degrees and halve it again so you're at roughly 22-25 degrees. Use a smooth motion to drag the knife across at least 20 times on each side."
3. Use A Plate To Chop Cherry Tomatoes
"To chop lots of cherry tomatoes in half in one go, simply put them on a chopping board, place a little plate on top of them and press down," says Patrick Drake, head chef at recipe box scheme HelloFresh. "While you're holding them down, run your (sharp!) knife underneath the plate to cut them all in half in one go. Magic!"
4. Make A Salad Dressing Grenade
If you want to jazz up your salad at work, this one is for you. "Line a teacup with some clingfilm then pour in your homemade salad dressing," says Patrick Drake, head chef at recipe box scheme HelloFresh. "Draw up the sides and twist it around to close your salad dressing into a little tight ball. Place it in tupperware with your salad and dress it just before eating. No more soggy salad!" Interested in trying out a recipe box scheme? HelloFresh delivers all the ingredients you'll need for their recipes stright to your door - all measured out and ready to cook! Intrigued? woman&home has partnered with HelloFresh to so you can get your first HelloFresh box half price.
5. Shake Garlic For Easy Peeling
Thump the bulb with a saucepan to separate the cloves, place them into a metal bowl and put another one on top. Give the cloves a vigorous shake and they should come out perfectly peeled.
6. Keep Dairy Fresher for Longer
Make cream, cottage cheese and créme fraîche last longer by storing the container upside down in the fridge to create a vacuum effect that inhibits the growth of bacteria.
7. Pop Your Dough in the Microwave
The pros on the Great British Bake Off have advised all bakers that zapping their bread dough in the microwave can help it to rise perfectly. Proving the bread dough properly is key to making the perfect loaf, but normally it takes hours. Next time you bake bread, try placing a wet towel over the bowl where the dough has had its initial rest and put it in the microwave for just 25 seconds. Rest it again for another 5 seconds before blasting again for another 25 seconds. Leave it to rest for 45 minutes and then bake!
8. Take The Fire Out Of Chillies
The fastest and easiest way to deseed a chilli is to halve it lengthways, then use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds in one downwards stroke. Before chopping them, rub some vegetable oil onto your hands. This creates a barrier to prevent your skin absorbing their stingy heat.
9. Streamline Your Seasoning
Make the most of counter space by using a pedestal cake stand to hold olive oil, salt, pepper, and other seasonings. That way, the ingredients you use most often are in one place.
10. Zone Your Cupboards
Fill your cupboards in organised zones. Put baking items such as flour, sugar and baking soda together on a shelf; pasta, rice and pulses together; teas, coffees and so on. Avoid putting strongly flavoured foods, such as exotic spices, on a shelf next to delicately flavoured items, like tea or flour, or you'll contaminate their flavours.
11. Choose The Right Containers
Glass looks good and enables you to see the contents easily. Choose jars with rubber seals to lock in freshness and protect from humidity and pests. Make sure jars can be microwaved, refrigerated and put through the dishwasher for ease.
12. Keep Bread Fresher
Put your loaf in a plastic bag with a fresh celery stick and leave overnight. The loaf will slowly absorb the humidity from the celery, refreshing it for another day.
13. Utilise Your Utensils
The stylish Joseph Joseph utensil holder has seven segments that keep tools upright, helping you to organise your worktop with military precision. Available from josephjoseph.com, £15
14. Add Frozen Berries To Your Drink
Try adding a few frozen berries to drinks instead of ice cubes - they provide a burst of flavour and colour, and cool the drink down without diluting it.
15. Keep Toast Fresh
Soggy toast but don't have a toast rack? Follow cooking guru Delia Smith's advice: "Prop each slice against a jar for a minute before serving."
16. Save Space When Entertaining
Stack cake stands one on top of the other, then pile high with canapés to free up precious space on the table when you are having a party.
17. Use Lemon To Clean
Rub half a cut lemon over a wooden or plastic cutting board to clean and bleach the surface.
18. Invest In A Grater
Food editor Jane Curran calls the Microplane Gourmet Grater this a "grating wonder product". Made of stainless steel with clog-resistant blades and a soft-grip handle, its non-slip bar rests on the table. Comes in fine, coarse and ribbon widths. Available from Amazon, from £22
19. Invest In A Magic Non-Stick Liner
"This has revolutionised my baking," says woman&home food editor Jane Curran. "It is heat-resistant up to 260C, can be cut to the necessary size and is so non-stick that food - even uncooked pastry - just glides off. It goes in the dishwasher too." Available from Lakeland, from £5.99
20. Make a DIY Piping Bag
Spoon your icing into a re-sealable plastic bag, snip off one corner and you're ready to ice!
21. Remove Labels With Vinegar
Remove sticky labels from vases and glasses by dampening with vinegar, leave for 5 minutes then buff off with a cotton ball or paper towel.
22. Use Redcurrants To Help Jam Set
If you want to make jam, remember that strawberries are low in pectin, which is what causes jam to set, so add redcurrants, which are high in pectin. Stand the jam for 15 minutes before potting to prevent the strawberries floating to the top of the jar.
23. Pre-Chop Onions
How many savoury recipes call for a chopped onion or two as a starting point? Next time you're chopping onions, make triple what you need and freeze in a freezer bag to cook from frozen when needed. Or else buy bags of chopped onions in supermarket freezer departments.
24. Melt Chocolate Without A Microwave
When a recipe calls for melted chocolate, place it in a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water, but don't let the bowl touch the water or it will overheat. Don't stir it - let it melt gently.
25. Stop Blades Blunting
If you're scraping bits off your chopping board with a knife before cleaning, use the other side, not the blade side, so you don't blunt your knife.
26. Keep Herbs Fresh
To keep your cut herbs fresh, wrap them in damp kitchen towel in the salad drawer.
27. Blind Bake With Foil
When baking blind, use foil rather than baking parchment as it fits snugly into the corners, doesn't curl up and gives a neater finish.
28. Convert A Square Cake To A Round Tin
To convert a recipe that calls for a square cake tine to a round, just increase the tin size by 1inch. So an 8inch square cake will fit into a 9inch round tin.
29. Avoid A Soggy Bottom
If you're making an apple pie, sprinkle breadcrumbs on the pastry base first to absorb moisture and stop sogginess.
20. Make Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting
"Use Philadelphia for the perfect cream cheese icing," says w&h food editor Jane Curran. No other is thick enough. Use a star nozzle to get this pretty effect.
21. Put Off Preserving
Want to make marmalade but don't have time before the Seville orange season ends? Just freeze the fruit whole.
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