7 essential kitchen hacks for avid home cooks

Kick some ass with these food prep tips

Grated ginger
Photo by kidmissile on Flickr.

Sometimes, you don’t realize how hard you’re working in the kitchen until someone shows you a nifty shortcut, tip, or solution, even if you didn’t know you had a “problem” in the first place. Read on to discover seven tips that will have you saying [face palm]: “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Iced Pesto Cubes

Reach for an ice cube tray when you want to store a large batch of homemade pesto. Divide pesto evenly between compartments, then cover each with a layer of olive oil before freezing to prevent pesto from oxidizing and turning black. Once frozen, pop the blocks out of the tray and place in a zip lock bag.

Next time you’re looking to brighten up a meal, just pop a cube of pesto in! You can do the same to any unused fresh herbs from the garden at the end of growing season.

'Nuke for More Juice!

We’ve all heard that rolling a lemon or lime before cutting into it produces more of that stubborn citrus juice. Next time, cut the lemon/lime in half and place the halves, cut side down, in a small bowl. Heat the citrus fruit in the microwave for 30-60 seconds, and voilà! The heat of the microwave will coax out what seems like three times as much flavourful juice.

Freezing Ginger

Ginger is never easy to work with. It seems determined to thwart off human interference at all cost. We recently showed you how to peel ginger more efficiently, so what's next? 

Get rid of those annoying, stringy bits of ginger (the kind that gets stuck between your teeth) by freezing the whole ginger root before grating it. Yes, freeze. When you’re ready to use it, simply take it to your zester or Microplane, and you’ll end up with a beautiful, fine powder that blends perfectly into any dish, no strings attached.

Use Dental Floss to Cut Cheese

Need to cut soft cheese (such as goat cheese) or frosted cake evenly, without it crumbling? Grab some unscented dental floss and slice through the cheese or cake for a flawless presentation.

Grate Stiff Butter

It’s happened to the best of us. We have guests over for dinner, perhaps we baked a fresh loaf of focaccia bread to start the meal, but we forgot to take the butter out of the fridge to soften — and it’s rock solid come serving time. Don’t panic, reach for a cheese grater. Grate the butter and it will be spreadable within minutes.

Control Fresh Herbs with a Dash of Salt

Sometimes when cutting fresh herbs, they get a little unruly and dance all over the cutting board. Easy fix: toss a little salt onto the cutting board, and the weight of the salt will keep those herbs in line.

Tent Your Meat

It’s almost against human nature not to dig into a beautifully cooked piece of meat, right away. But resist, you must! Letting meat rest is one of the most important steps to ensure it stays moist. Cover your meat with tin foil (hence, tenting) and allow it to rest for 10-20 minutes. This gives the juices time to redistribute throughout the meat before cutting.