Every household has its own unique kitchen hacks and tricks. Little smart habits we mostly do automatically that save time, help to prevent waste or just make things better. While at this stage all these simple things seem quite obvious to me, I still think they are amazingly useful and worth sharing and trying.
I had a pleasure to be working on the photos for this post with Marysia from the blog Pychotkowo and I want to thank her for all her help.
Here is my list of 10 kitchen hacks that I picked, well, along the way. They are listed in no particular order and each of them is well tested and sound. I hope you will find them as practical as I do.
Funnily enough, this is the kitchen trick that I learnt while working in the office and in fact, this is one of the most important experience that my boss shared with me. She insisted that tomatoes should never be kept in the fridge as rather than being preserved they loose all the flavour. Well, she was right and the proof came in the taste. I never keep my tomatoes in the fridge. Instead they are stored in a wooden bowl and if anything they only get ripe and sweeter. We do eat plenty of tomatoes in our house and they are hardly any that get old or crinkled but if I see any I roast them and add to the tomato soup to make it rich and more flavoursome.
Bananas are a bit tricky to store. They do not like the cold of the fridge and they do not like the company of other fruit or veg. What is more, they do not keep long, get the brown spots quickly and turn brown within days. On the other side, once they are ripe they have more antioxidants, are sweeter and easier to digest. I hate any waste in the kitchen and could not bear not using the brown and overripe bananas. Especially, they are perfect for banana bread or smoothies. However, rather than baking banana bread on a weekly basis, I peel the bananas, put them in a sealed bag and freeze for later.
Vinegar has been used in the households for ages and then quite suddenly and sadly forgotten and pushed away from the cupboards by more fancy and professionally manufactured kitchen chemicals. I find it underestimated and essential and I always have a bottle of distilled crystal clear vinegar as it comes in handy on so many occasions and seems to be the remedy for so many problems. It is great for cleaning greasy glass, treating various stains and removing stickers and decals. We also use it to remove splinters. Just soak the affected area in vinegar for 15 – 20 minutes and the splinter will either slide out on its own or can be easily removed with tweezers. Also, due to its antibacterial qualities it it effective in treating verruca. Just dampen a little bit of cotton wool in vinegar or apple vinegar, press against the verruca, secure closely with a duct tape and leave overnight. The treatment might take up to two weeks but so far it has never failed to work.
And in case you wonder what else you could use vinegar for this article here will give you plenty more ideas.
This is just my way of trying both: being eco-friendly and minimizing the waste. It is truly useful when cooking tomato sauce or tomato soup as you need to add the water anyway. Obviously, while I add at least one full can of water to the soup, you will only need a quarter of a can for your sauce. I do go a step further and add a splash of water into my almost empty jar of mustard or mayo and use the jar to mix the salad dressing in.
Did you know that the darker green end of the cucumber is more bitter? Therefore, I always start peeling the cucumber at the lighter green end. That way I do not spread the bitter taste and keep it right at the end where it should be. I must admit that I could never remember which end I should start at and was often wondering: light or dark? Until I came up with this little mnemonic trick that sorted it once and for all – Let’s start with Light green.
I admit I can be annoyingly pedantic sometimes and surely sorting forks, knives, tablespoons and teaspoons shows this side of me. However, this hack proves very time saving as once all your cutlery is washed and clean you just transfer it one to one, container to container, dishwasher basket to cutlery tray. I was actually able to talk my friend – Wiola, into it and she now would not do it any other way.
We all know how tricky it can be to get this moment when your avocado and mango is not too hard and not overripe but just right. Apparently, if you roll them a few times it can make them juicier and ready to eat, so I always do.
Why didn’t I come up with it earlier, I wonder. Possibly, I did not have a really powerful blender that does the job in the matter of seconds. Every now and then when the rolls get stale I keep them to dry out and then after a week or two I pop those in the blender and get a very fine bread crumbs. Honestly, we never ever bought bread crumbs and always make a good use of any left over rolls and baguettes around the house.
While bread crumbs seemed a natural solution, it never occurred to me that you can actually make your icing sugar in the very same way. I only learnt you can easily turn caster sugar into icing sugar when I went, as neighbours do, with a regular “can I borrow a cup of sugar” visit and Kasia, my neighbour, showed me you do not need to store both at home as the blender will powder your regular caster sugar so that you can use it for baking and decorating.
This is the best home made peeling ever that I picked ages ago from a girls’ magazine. I must say I never used anything else. It leaves your hands soft, moisturized and pale as sugar removes any old tissue, oil makes the skin nourished and lemon gets rid of any red stains.
I would love to hear what your kitchen hacks are and I am really looking forward to your feedback and comments.