Kitchen Hints Index
Kitchen Hints and Tips
- If you are making a fruitcake, roll the dates, figs, etc. in flour so they
will cut more easily, then cut them with a scissors instead of a knife.
- To "age" candied fruit fast for baking fruit cakes, muffins, cookies,
breads, etc., microwave 1/4 cup brandy or any liqueur in a 1-quart bowl on HIGH
for 30 seconds. Stir in 1 cup candied fruit or raisins and heat on HIGH for
2 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
- To keep fruits from discoloring after they are peeled, cut the pieces into
a bowl of salted water (about 1 tablespoon to a quart of water). This works
well with apples, peaches, pears, avocados and other produce.
- Any fruit that has a tight thin skin over a juicy interior, such as peaches,
pears, apricots or tomatoes, can be easily peeled if they are blanched in boiling
water for about 30 seconds.
- Prevent fresh fruit from getting crushed in your grocery bags. Simply blow
air into the plastic bag containing the fruit and tie it so that the air cannot
escape. When the fruit is packed in the paper bag, the air in the bag acts as
a cushion for the fruit on its ride home.
- Prevent fruit from turning brown by dissolving two crushed vitamin C tables
in a bowl of cool water before adding fruit.
- Toss fresh fruit with lemon juice, and it will not darken. The juice of
half a lemon is enough for a quart or two of cut fruits.
- Ripen quickly by placing them in a brown paper bag with a ripe apple. Set
in a cool, shady spot and make sure there are a few holes in the bag. The ripe
apples gives off a gas, ethylene, which stimulates the other fruit to ripen.
- Shake raisins and other dried fruits with flour before adding them to dough
or puddings so the fruits won't sink to the bottom during baking.
- Instead of throwing away the peels, saut them in butter, then spice them
with sugar and cinnamon.
- When making caramel apples, stick them into a piece of Styrofoam after dipping.
They dry without sticking and store nicely in the refrigerator.
- To keep the skins of baked apples intact, make slits around the apple in
several locations with a sharp knife. As soon as the liquid produced by cooking
has an easy way to escape, it will not burst its way out elsewhere.
- To keep a cut apple from browning, apply bottled lemon juice over the cut
surface then wrap the partial apple tightly in plastic wrap.
- To keep apple pieces or slices from browning, cut them into a bowl containing
either lightly salted water or some lemon juice mixed with water.
- To speed the ripening process, put the avocados in a brown paper bag and
leave them at room temperature for a day or two. When ripe, store in the refrigerator
to keep from ripening further.
- As soon as you cut an avocado, pour bottled lemon juice on any portion you
don't plan to use, leave the seed in the unused portion, wrap tightly with
plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. It will keep without darkening for
at least a few days.
- Use overripe bananas to make delicious banana bread.
- Slice bananas with a pastry blender. It makes the task faster, and all the
slices are neat and uniform.
- Slice bananas and add to egg whites and beat until stiff for a wonderful
substitute for whipped cream.
- If you have an abundance of ripe bananas, put them in a blender with a little
lemon juice. Make a pur e to freeze and use later for banana bread or topping.
- Bananas may be stored in the refrigerator. The cold will turn the skin brown
but will not damage the fruit inside. This will also slow down ripening. This
is the only way you can keep them for any length of time.
- Dip bananas in lemon juice right after they are peeled. They will not turn
dark and the faint flavor of lemon really adds quite a bit.
- Ripen bananas fast at room temperature in a paper bag.
- If bananas have darkened, peel and beat slightly. Put into a plastic container
and freeze until it's time to bake bread or cake.
- Store berries in the refrigerator without washing them. Wash and hull just
- Do not discard rinds of grapefruit, lemons, oranges and limes. Grate rinds
and put into a tightly-covered jar and store in the refrigerator. Grated rinds
make excellent flavoring for cakes, frostings and such.
- Create beautiful "rose" garnishes from orange and grapefruit peels.
Start at the top of the fruit and cut a continuous 1-inch wide strip of peel
around the fruit with a sharp paring knife. Roll peel tightly, skin side out,
to form a "rose." Hold the "rose" together by pushing a
wooden pick through it. These can be made ahead of time, wrapped and stored
in the refrigerator or freezer.
- To prepare a fresh coconut, puncture the "eyes" with an ice pick
of clean screwdriver and drain out the coconut milk. Put the entire coconut
in a shallow pan and bake for about 1 hour at 350 F. When it is cool enough
to handle, hit it hard with a hammer, and the shell will part. The meat can
then be pulled out in chunks with a table knife. Peel off the brown skin. Shred
coconut, put chunks of coconut with a little coconut milk into a blender or
food processor. Store shredded coconut in the refrigerator.
- Coconut WATER is the natural juice found inside the coconut, as opposed
to coconut milk, which is made by boiling equal amounts of WATER and
shredded coconut together until foamy, then straining, or coconut cream, which
is made in the same manner with a ratio of four parts of shredded coconut to
one part WATER. Milk can also be used in place of the WATER for a richer mix.
These products are also available online and in many grocery stores, but are
not to be confused with sweetened cream of coconut, which is most often used
for mixed drinks.
- Freeze cranberries before grinding or chopping. There will be less mess.
- Finely chopping 12 ounces of cranberries will yield about 2 1/4 cups of
chopped berries for your baked goods or recipes.
- Dates and other sticky dried fruit will cut or chop easily if put in the
freezer for 1 to 2 hours.
- When cutting dates and other sticky dried fruits, dip knife or scissors
into hot water now and then.
- A pinch of salt makes a sour grapefruit taste sweeter.
- Do not add kiwi fruit to gelatin molds. They contain an enzyme that stops
gelatin from setting. Use them, however, to garnish molds just before serving.
- To get the most juice out of a lemon, soften it first by pressing and rolling
it on a countertop.
- When buying lemons look for the smoothest skin and smallest points on the
ends. These will have better flavor and more juice.
- Don't cut open a whole lemon for just a little juice. Insert the tines
of a fork or a skewer through the skin and squeeze out the amount needed. Then
wrap the lemon in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you need it next. It'll
stay fresh for one to two weeks.
- Wrap a small piece of cheesecloth around the cut end of a lemon before you
squeeze. You won't have to search for seeds later.
- An elegant way to serve fresh lemon with fish is to wrap each lemon half
in a small square of cheesecloth, then tie with string, with a sprig of fresh
herb or parsley for a pretty look. This controls the "squirt" and
traps the seeds.
- Submerging a lemon in hot water for 15 minutes before squeezing will yield
almost twice the amount of juice.
- Store whole lemons in a tightly-sealed jar of water in the refrigerator.
They will yield much more juice than when first purchased.
- Remove the zest from a lemon and store it in a jar containing about a half
cup of vodka. The zest will not spoil and will be available for use whenever
you need a little bit, and the vodka will pick up a lemon flavor (use it in
dessert sauces or in seafood dishes).
- To keep them for a considerable length of time, coat them lightly with paraffin,
using a small brush. When you want to remove the paraffin, heat slightly, and
it will roll off.
- Store, wrapped in tissue paper, on lower shelf of the refrigerator.
- Extend the refrigerator storage time of an opened can of olives by pouring
olives into a glass jar, then filling the jar with vegetable oil and covering
the jar. The oil will preserve the olives and it can be used for cooking when
the olives are gone.
- You can also extend the refrigerator storage time of an opened can of olives
by leaving them in their brine, then adding a layer of oil on top.
- Put them in a hot oven before peeling them, and no white fibers will be
left on them.
- Oranges can be peeled more easily if blanched in boiling water for about
5 minutes. Cool, then the peel slips right off.
- Thin-skinned oranges are better for juice, while thick-skinned oranges are
better for eating in sections.
- Orange will yield more juice if you first press and roll them on the countertop.
- You can get orange sections without white membrane clinging to them if you
cover the unpeeled orange with boiling water, let stand 5 minutes, then peel.
- Peaches will ripen quicker if you place them in a box covered with newspaper.
- Peach skins can be removed smoothly with a potato peeler.
- To ripen pears faster, put an apple in the same bag.
- To ripen pears, refrigerate them for several hours. Then remove them from
the refrigerator and place on your countertop where they will ripen evenly at
room temperature. If you wish, chill again before serving.
- If you want to include pineapple in a gelatin dish, use canned or parboil
fresh pineapple for 5 minutes. Fresh pineapple contains an enzyme that prevents
the gelatin from setting.
- If you buy a pineapple that isn't quite ripe, peel, slice and place
in a pot. Cover the fruit with water and add sugar to taste. Boil a few minutes,
cool and refrigerate. It will be fresh tasting and crunchy.
- Wash fresh pineapple thoroughly before paring. Cover parings with water
and cook until soft. Use strained juice for making jelly.
- Improve your pumpkin pie! Before mixing the filling, put the canned or fresh pumpkin puree into a saucepan over medium-low hear, and stir for 8 to 10 minutes until it has slightly caramelized and excess water has cooked out. Proceed with the recipe as usual with the warm pumpkin. It will have more depth of flavor, will not crack and will not be watery.
- Cook fresh rhubarb for sauce with just whatever water adheres to the stalks
after washing — don't add any more water. Add sugar to taste.
- Never hull them until they have been washed or they will absorb too much
water and become mushy.
- They will stay red if you add two tablespoons of vinegar to each quart of
berries when canning or freezing.
- They will stay firm for several days if you store them in a colander in
the refrigerator, which allows the cold air to circulate between them.
- To peel tomatoes easily, drop the whole tomato into a deep pot of boiling
water for about 20 seconds. Remove and run under cold water. The skin should
now slip off quite easily.
- Place unripened tomatoes with other fruit, especially pears, to speed up
- Freeze tomatoes that are getting too ripe. They will get mush, but that
won't affect the taste of soups or stews.
- To ripen tomatoes, add a whole lime to unripened tomatoes in a paper bag
and store at room temperature for a few days. Limes are an excellent source
of the ripening agent ethylene oxide.
- Store tomatoes with stems pointed downward and they will retain their freshness
- Sunlight doesn't ripen tomatoes. It's the warmth that ripens them.
So find a warm spot near the stove or dishwasher where they can get a little
- To ripen green tomatoes, place them in a brown paper bag and put the bag
in a dark cupboard. You will have red tomatoes in a few days.
- Save the juice from canned tomatoes in ice cube trays. When frozen, store
in plastic bags in freezer for cooking use or for tomato drinks.