Kitchen Hints Index
Kitchen Hints and Tips
- Marinate carrot strips, drained, sliced beets (plus onions, if desired),
cauliflower florets, or broccoli florets in the liquid from a jar of sweet pickles.
Put the lid back on and refrigerate for two or three days to allow the flavor
- To keep boiled vegetables bright-colored, add a few drops of olive oil to
- To keep vegetables 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 potatoes and other produce.
- To wash greens, fill sink with water. Cut off and discard stem ends. Add
trimmed greens to water, gently submerging them once or twice. Let stand in
water a few minutes. With your hands, lift out washed greens; do not disturb
sand that has accumulated on bottom. Place washed greens in a large colander
to drain. Before cooking, rinse drained greens under running water two or three
- Add a pinch of sugar when cooking vegetables. Sugar acts as a marvelous
flavor enhancer. There is never enough sugar to make the vegetables taste sweet.
- Use leftover vegetables to make into patties. Mash vegetables together,
add parsley, butter and your favorite seasonings, then fry.
- To restore fresh flavor to frozen vegetables, pour boiling water over them,
rinsing away all traces of the frozen water.
- Cook vegetables in the bottom of a double boiler while you make the cream
sauce for them in the upper pan. This saves fuel and energy.
- Onions, broccoli and Brussels sprouts will cook faster if you make an X-shaped
cut at the base of the vegetable.
- By lining the crisper section of your refrigerator with newspaper and wrapping
vegetables with it, moisture will be absorbed and your vegetables will stay
- Lettuce and celery will keep longer if stored in the refrigerator in paper
bags instead of cellophane. Don't remove the outside leaves until ready
- To prepare frozen vegetables for a casserole, cook them right in the box.
Remove outer wrapping first, then pierce box with a fork. Place in the microwave
and cook, following microwave directions on package. Let stand a few minutes.
Gently squeeze package to get rid of excess steam before opening.
- If fresh vegetables are wilted or blemished, pick off the brown edges. Sprinkle
with cool water, wrap in a towel, and refrigerate for an hour or so.
- Cook in vegetable, beef, or chicken broth for a nice flavor.
- Put vegetables in water after the water boils — not before — to be sure
to preserve the vegetables' vitamins.
- Line the bottom of the vegetable compartment with paper toweling. This absorbs
the excess moisture and keeps all vegetables and fruits fresher for a longer
period of time.
- Use nylon net to scrub vegetables at the kitchen sink. It cleans them without
rubbing off the skin, where the good nutrients are.
- Don't cook them in aluminum or iron pots as they will turn the pots
- To store, don't wash them when you get them home. Just drizzle with
a few drops of water, then seal in airtight plastic bags. Refrigerate for up
to two weeks.
- Before cooking, let them stand for 1 hour in a large pot of cold water to
which you've added 1 tablespoon vinegar for every quart of water. This helps
prevent discoloration, and the flesh will be more succulent after cooking.
- To prevent discoloring, stand artichokes in cold water with a tablespoon
of vinegar for an hour before cooking.
- Before cooking artichokes, let them stand for 1 hour in a large pot of
cold water to which you've added 1 tablespoon vinegar for every quart of
water. This helps prevent discoloration, and the flesh will be more
succulent after cooking.
- To make thick asparagus stalks tender, peel the lower parts up to the tender
part with a potato peeler.
- Tie fresh asparagus with string before cooking. This way you can remove
the spears easily, without breaking them, after they're cooked.
- Open a can of asparagus from the bottom so you can pull out the spears without
breaking the tips.
- If you bend an asparagus stalk, it will snap at the point where it becomes
- If you peel stalks with a vegetable peeler before you snap them, you'll
have less waste and more of the asparagus spear to eat.
- If asparagus becomes wilted, stand it vertically in a pan or jar in about
2 inches of ice water. Cover with a plastic bag and fasten to the jar with a
rubber band. Put in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours before cooking.
- Keep them white and crisp by storing them in a bowl of water in the refrigerator.
- Do not add salt when cooking dried beans. The salt toughens beans and prolongs
- To prevent the beets from bleeding while cooking, do not cut the stems of
beets too close. Leave about one to two inches of stem and keep the root intact.
Put about 2 tablespoons of vinegar in the cooking water, and peel the beets
after they are cooked.
- Instead of boiling beets, bake them like potatoes. They have a lovely flavor.
- To keep the color in your beets when boiling them, add a little lemon juice.
- To keep stuffed green peppers from collapsing, bake them in greased muffin
- To peel peppers, put them under a preheated broiler for just a few minutes.
Then drop them immediately into a paper bag. Close the bag tightly. The steam
from the hot peppers will loosen the skins so they can be slipped off.
- Green peppers don't last long in the refrigerator. A good way to get
them to last as long as possible is to wash them and hollow out their insides.
Then cut them into whatever sizes you want. Dry them with paper toweling before
putting them into a dry plastic bag, then freeze them. When you need green peppers,
you'll have them still fresh.
- Stems can be cooked in the same length of time as the florets if you make "X"
incisions from top to bottom through stems.
- To keep red cabbage red, cook the cabbage uncovered and add a little lemon
juice, vinegar or 1/4 cup wine to the water.
- Insert wooden picks through cabbage wedges to hold leaves together while
- To absorb odors while cooking, place a small cup of vinegar on the stove.
- To soften cabbage leaves before making stuffed cabbage rolls, remove the
core from a large head of cabbage and place it in a pan of hot water. Heat the
water to not-quite-boiling. Remove the cabbage and carefully peel off the outer
leaves that have softened. Put the head back in the water, bring the water back
to a simmer and repeat until you have enough cabbage leaves.
- To make perfect carrot curls, use a vegetable peeler to cut long strips
of carrot. Roll them up, and fit each strip into an ice cube tray compartment.
Fill the tray with cold water, and store it in the refrigerator until ready
to use, then drain.
- Do not store unwrapped carrots in the same storage container as ripe fresh
apples. The apples give off ethylene gas that causes a "ripening"
process in all fruits and some vegetables. This can result in the carrots acquiring
a bitter taste.
- Be sure to remove carrot tops before storing them in the refrigerator. The
tops drain the carrots of moisture and cause them to become dry and limp.
- To keep it bright white, add a little milk during boiling.
- To keep it snowy white, soak for 30 minutes in cold salt water before cooking
- Cauliflower will stay white if you cook it with a strip of lemon peel.
- Place a piece of stale bread on top of cooking cauliflower, and the house
will stay odor-free.
- Cauliflower cooked in an aluminum pot will darken. Use a different kind
of pot and add a little sugar, lemon peel or vinegar to the cooking water to
keep cauliflower white.
- To make celery curls, cut the stalk into 3- or 4-inch pieces. Slice each
piece into narrow strips leaving the end uncut to hold them together. Place
them in ice water for 30 minutes until they curl.
- To give stew great color and flavor, add a few teaspoons of soy sauce.
- Store in the refrigerator in paper bags instead of plastic ones. It will
- Celery will crisp up fast if you place it in a pan of cold water and add
a few raw sliced potatoes.
- Strip the leaves from celery, wash them and dehydrate them on a cookie sheet
in a slow oven. The dried leaves are then crumbled and stored in airtight jars.
These flakes make a nutritious addition to soups, stews, and broths of all kinds.
- Celery leaves should be dried and saved for soup, stew or salad dressing.
Rub the dried leaves through a sieve to powder them.
- A good way to keep whole chiles fresh is to put them in an airtight bag
and freeze them. Then you simply remove them as you need them. When frozen,
they are also much easier to slice (particularly the small Asian chiles).
The best part though is that you have less of a problem with getting the
'juice' (capsaicin) on your fingers which can burn like heck if you rub your
- Put attractive scalloped edges on cucumber slices, by running the tines
of a fork lengthwise over the peeled or unpeeled cucumber, then slice.
- Drop eggplant into salted water as you peel it to remove any bitterness.
Dry it with a paper towel before cooking.
- The fewer seeds in an eggplant, the less bitter it tastes. Check the bottom
(the end opposite the stem). There will be a grayish "scar" about
the size of a dime. If the "scar" is oval or oblong, the eggplant
will be loaded with seeds. If the "scar" is round, it will have far
- Chop garlic in a small amount of salt to keep pieces from sticking to the
knife or chopping board.
- Before chopping garlic, sprinkle the cloves with salt. The salt will pick
up the juice that would otherwise be left on the chopping board.
- Garlic peel will slip off easily if you place the clove on a cutting board,
and press down on it hard with the flat edge of a wide-blade knife. The skin
will almost fall off by itself.
- Garlic cloves can be kept in the freezer. When ready to use, peel and chop
- Garlic cloves will never dry out if you store them in a bottle of cooking
oil. After the garlic is used up, you can use the garlic-flavored oil for salad
dressing or stir-fry.
- Sauté green beans in a small amount of oil before you add liquid to them.
The flavor is improved enormously, and you'll cut down cooking time.
- Before microwaving potatoes, wrap each potato in a paper towel instead of
simply placing a towel on the oven floor. Moisture is absorbed from all around
the potato, so the skin will be crisper.
- It will keep longer if you store it in the refrigerator in a paper bag instead
- Perk up soggy lettuce by adding lemon juice to a bowl of ice cold water,
and soak the lettuce for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
- Soggy lettuce can be fixed by dousing it quickly into hot, then ice water
with a little apple cider vinegar added.
- Lettuce will crisp up fast if you place it in a pan of cold water and add
a few raw sliced potatoes.
- A fresh head of lettuce won't brown as quickly if you remove the care
before storing. Just hit the core sharply against the counter top and twist
- Lettuce will not "rust" as quickly if you place a paper towel
or napkin in the storage container.
- Never store mushrooms in a plastic bag because they quickly become slick
and unpleasant. They keep best either in a brown paper bag (with the top folded
down) because the brown paper absorbs the moisture that the mushrooms produce.
- You can tell if mushrooms are fresh because their caps are completely closed,
with no gills showing.
- To keep mushrooms white while you saut them, either add a half teaspoon
of lemon juice to each half cup of melted butter or, if you are saut ing whole
caps, saut the tops of the caps first and fill the cap with lemon juice while
the top is sautéing
- Oyster mushrooms are excellent but a bit pricy. As mushrooms are about 90%
water, when they are in the supermarket for a long time the water content is
greatly reduced. Stock up on the oysters when they are in a somewhat desiccated
condition, slice them and allow to dry. Reconstitute by soaking in a beef or
bouillon liquid and use them in any way you desire. But, my preference is to
go into the forest and collect them wild. Caution....Have a field guide or someone
who can identify the mushrooms you've collected. ~ Frank Hoffman, Toronto
- Slice while partially frozen, and there will be no tears.
- If you have many onions to peel, cover them with very hot water a few minutes
and the skins will slip off easily.
- Peel and quarter onions. Place one layer deep in a pan and freeze. Quickly
pack in bags or containers while frozen. Use as needed, chopping onions while
frozen, with a sharp knife.
- To get the onion smell off your hands, rub a stainless steel spoon over
your hands or rub your hands on a stainless steel sink. It works every time!
- If an onion seems too strong to use raw on a sandwich or in a salad, place
the slices in a bowl of water to which you have added about 1 teaspoon of sugar
per cup of water. Let the slices soak for about one hour.
- Rub your hands with parsley after cutting up onion, and the onion smell
- When cooking onions and garlic together, always cook onions first then add
the garlic. The flavor of each will be kept separate and the garlic will not
- Fix a stockpile of chopped onions for your freezer. Peel off the skin and
cut the onions into sections. Place in a blender filled with cold water. Grate
for two or three seconds, then drain in a colander or between paper towels.
Spread the chopped onions on a cookie sheet and freeze them quickly. Put the
chilled onions into freezer bags and store in the freezer to use as needed.
- After an onion has been cut in half, rub the leftover side with butter,
and it will stay fresh longer.
- Store them, wrapped individually in foil, to keep them from becoming soft
- Store fresh parsley by rinsing it and shaking off the excess water. Wrap
it in several thicknesses of damp paper towels. Store the wrapped parsley in
a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator.
- Freeze parsley by rolling the sprigs into a tight ball, then wrapping in
foil. Freeze. Unwrap when needed and shave off the quantity you require. Re-wrap
the remainder and return to the freezer. It will retain its flavor and freshness.
- Keep parsley fresh in your refrigerator by putting the bunch in a plastic
bag with a quarter of an apple.
- Keep parsley fresh and crisp by storing in a wide-mouth jar with a tight
lid. Parsley may also be frozen.
- To keep parsley fresh for up to two weeks, trim 1/2 inch from the bottom
of the stems and place the entire bunch in a covered jar that contains enough
water to keep the stems wet. Every few days, cut off another 1/2 inch or so
because the stems will tend to seal and stop taking up water if you don't.
- Salting potatoes before cooking perfects their texture. It removes a lot
of their starch and built-in moisture.
- If making potato pancakes, salt the shredded potatoes and leave them in
a colander to drain for 15 to 20 minutes.
- If making French fries, add salt to the ice water they soak in before you
drain and dry them for frying. Adding salt before cooking also helps give the
potatoes a natural saltiness so that you don't have to overdo it when they
are done. Sea salt works best and is much better for you than ordinary table
- To get a flakier baked potato, prick it with a fork halfway through baking.
- Don't pare small, new potatoes. Rub the skin off with a metal pot scrubber.
- Potatoes will stay white after you peel them until you are ready to cook
them if you cut the pieces into a bowl to which has been added either a teaspoon
or so of lemon juice or vinegar, or some salt. Do not let the potatoes soak
in the water too long because they can lose a lot of their supply of vitamin
- Bake potatoes by standing them on end in a muffin tin. That way you can
remove them all at once, and they will bake just a little faster that way, also.
- For the best French fries, let cut potatoes stand in cold water for one
hour before frying. Dry thoroughly before cooking. Fry them just a few minutes
and blot off the grease. Fry a second time until golden brown. Put them in a
brown paper sack. Sprinkle with a little salt and shake. You will drain and
salt in one action.
- A leftover baked potato can be re-baked if you dip it in water and bake
in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes.
- Always start old boiling potatoes in cold water. Cook new potatoes in boiling
- To make mashed potatoes fast, cut raw potatoes with a French fry cutter.
They'll cook in just a few minutes.
- Save some of the water in which the potatoes were boiled. Add to some powdered
milk and use when mashing. This restores some of the nutrients that were lost
in the cooking process.
- For beautiful brown and crisp baked potatoes, wash skins well, then butter
the skin before putting them in the oven.
- Try using sour cream instead of milk when mashing.
- Add a small amount of vinegar to grease when frying potatoes to eliminate
- For baked potatoes that are crispy outside and fluffy inside, cook in a
hot oven, about 425 degrees F.
- Overcooked potatoes can become soggy when the milk is added. Sprinkle with
dry powdered milk for the fluffiest mashed potatoes ever.
- Make delicious soup with leftover mashed potatoes. Blend potatoes with a
little milk. Place in a pot and add a little more milk, some butter and a sprinkling
of parsley and chives.
- For crisper-skinned baked potatoes in the microwave, wrap each potato in
a paper towel. Moisture is absorbed from all around the potato, so the skin
- For the best French fries, let cut potatoes stand in cold water for an hour
before frying. Dry thoroughly before cooking. Fry them the first time for a
few minutes and blot off the grease. Fry the second time until golden brown.
- Hurry up baked potatoes by boiling in salted water for 10 minutes, then
place in a very hot oven.
- For fast baked potatoes, cut potatoes in half and place them face down on
a baking sheet in the oven.
- If you've peeled too many potatoes, cover them with cold water to which
a few drops of vinegar have been added. Keep refrigerated and they will last
for 3 or 4 days.
- Potato pancakes: Add a little sour cream to prevent potatoes from discoloring.
- To easily remove moisture from thawed frozen spinach, place spinach in a
pie pan. Set another pie pan over spinach. Over the sink, holding pie pans vertically
in your hands, press pans together. Liquid will be pressed from spinach and
drain into the sink.
- An ordinary shoe horn is excellent for removing the corn kernels from the
- Shuck fresh corn and put it into a large pot of water and bring to boil.
As soon as it comes to a boil, cover, turn off heat and and let sit for 20 minutes.
- Corn on the cob will be simple to open if you wash them with cold water,
place in a plastic bag and freeze for an hour or so before shucking.
- Grilling corn on the cob — Soak the corn with husks in a pail of water before
placing them on the grill, with husks on. The husks will most likely be charred
but the corn itself will not be burnt. The corn will have a pleasing buttery
taste without adding anything to it.
- To remove corn silk, run a damp paper towel or terry cloth over the shucked
- If necessary to store fresh corn, buy it in the husks and store in the refrigerator.
This prevents sugar in the corn from turning to starch.
- To select fresh corn, look for fresh green husks, dry silks, and even rows
of plump kernels.
- Place the small end of a cob of corn in the middle of your angel food cake
pan. Cut the corn off. The kernels fall neatly into the pan. There is very little
spattering of the milk, and you can easily and neatly cut off all the kernels.
- To keep sweet corn yellow, add 1 teaspoon lemon juice to the cooking water
a minute before you remove it from the stove.
- To test freshness of corn, pop a kernel with your fingernail. If the milk
is watery, then the corn is immature. If it is thick and starchy, the corn is
- When cooking corn on the cob, use the tender green leaves from the corn
to line the bottom of the pot. It really improves the taste.
- Add some maple syrup to leftover squash before re-heating.