London - Brilliantly simple kitchen tips that will change your life...
A typical lemon contains 3 tbsp of juice. To maximise the amount you can squeeze, roll the fruit on a kitchen counter, applying light pressure. This bursts the tiny juice-filled cells. Alternatively, blast for 20 seconds in a microwave. Then cut lengthways rather than crosswise. You will get around three times more juice.
KEEP BREAD FRESH
Put it in a plastic bag with a fresh celery stick and leave overnight. The loaf will slowly absorb the humidity from the celery, giving it a fresher taste and bounce. As the celery does not have a strong flavour, it won’t affect the taste of the bread.
Before chopping them, rub a little vegetable oil onto your hands. This creates a barrier which prevents your skin absorbing their fiery properties and aroma. Be warned, though - it may make the knife slippery.
Also, the fastest way to de-seed a chilli is to halve it lengthways then use a teaspoon to scrape the seeds out in one downwards stroke.
Before opening a bottle, rinse your champagne flutes with a small quantity of white wine. This will coat the glass and prevent over-exuberant mousse overspilling as you pour. An added bonus is that this will greatly speed up pouring a tray of glasses.
Also, you can always rescue champagne or sparkling wine that’s going flat by dropping a raisin or two into the bottle. Initially, the raisins sink. But then the few remaining bubbles will stick to their rough surface, increasing their buoyancy and lifting them up. When the raisins reach the surface, the bubbles pop, making the champagne seem as fresh and fizzy as when it was first poured. The flavour will not be affected.
With all its lumps and bumps, root ginger can be tricky to peel. The solution is not to use a peeler or knife but to gently rub the skin off using the back of a teaspoon. This makes it easy to follow every contour and minimises waste.
ROSIER RED CABBAGE
To help vegetables maintain their colour throughout cooking, add a small squeeze of lemon juice to the pan. This is particularly effective with red veg (such as red cabbage) and white ones (such as turnips), as the acidity helps preserve their pigments or flavonoids.
However, this won’t work for greens, which contain different pigments - chlorophyll. They will turn a drab olive colour when put in contact with lemon juice.
SPEEDY CHERRY TOMATO SLICING
Cutting cherry tomatoes individually is a bore. Instead, find two similarly-sized Tupperware tub lids, sit the tomatoes on one and place the other on top to form a kind of tomato sandwich. While holding the top lid down firmly to keep them in place, slice through all the tomatoes horizontally in one go with a sharp knife. Easy.
INSTANT ICE CUBES
It may sound unlikely, but water that’s been boiled will freeze faster than water straight from the tap. The reason is something called the Mpemba effect, named after a Tanzanian man Erasto Mpemba who first brought this to the attention of physicists.
Thump the whole bulb with the base of a saucepan to separate the cloves. Then place them in a metal bowl and put a similar one on top. Give the cloves a hearty shake and they should come out perfectly peeled.
SAVE SALTY SOUP
Simple! Just add a peeled and quartered potato. It will act as a sponge, absorbing the excess salt and won’t leave a flavour. However, remove the potato before serving as it’ll be far too brackish to eat. Adding a cup of water or a pinch of brown sugar are alternatives.
RESCUE BURNT RICE
If you burn your rice, don’t despair. Just remove from the heat and place a piece of white bread on top of it for about ten minutes. This will extract and absorb the burnt flavour. The rice should be fine to eat, but be careful to leave the blackened pieces on the bottom of the pan when serving.
If a soup, sauce or gravy is too fatty or greasy, turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes. Much of the fat will then float to the top.
Next, place a few ice cubes on the surface. The grease and oil in close proximity to the ice will solidify and congeal, making it easier to scoop out. But be ready to remove it quickly, as the ice cubes won’t stay frozen for long.
GET RID OF ONION SMELLS
If your hands smell after chopping onions or garlic, rub them on a stainless steel spoon which will absorb the odour. The sulphur from the plants is attracted to and binds with one or more of the metals in the steel. Of course, wash the spoon afterwards.
RECYCLING COOKING OIL
If you want to re-use cooking oil without the taste and smells of what was previously cooked in it, pour it into a frying pan and heat on a low setting.
Carefully add some sliced root ginger, letting the pieces soak for 15 minutes. At the right temperature, the slices should turn golden-brown very slowly. When you scoop them out, they will have absorbed any flavours and odours.
UPSIDE-DOWN CREAM TRICK
To make cottage cheese, creme fraiche or sour cream last longer, store the container upside down in the fridge. This will create a vacuum effect that inhibits the growth of bacteria, which causes food to spoil. Obviously ensure it’s a tight-fitting lid first.
NEVER LET MILK BOIL OVER
Milk often boils over and spills. This is because when it heats, the water in its structure starts evaporating from the surface.
As a result, the remaining fat and proteins concentrate into a thicker layer at the top of the pot, which eventually becomes so thick that water vapour rising through the milk can’t break through very easily.
Instead, it gets trapped, causing it to explode violently.
To avoid this, simply put a long-handled spoon into the saucepan as it heats. The spoon acts to break the surface tension - allowing the steam underneath to escape smoothly without an eruption.
NEVER CRY CUTTING ONIONS
Peel and cut the onion in a large bowl of water or under a running tap. This will prevent the fumes which cause your eyes to water from escaping into the air. You can also put lime juice on your knife before chopping. The acid reacts with chemical compounds of the onion, with the result that it releases less gas.
Another way is to chew gum, as this makes you breathe through your mouth and not your nose, which will help reduce the gas affecting your tear ducts.
STOP VEG ROTTING
Line the bottom of the fridge vegetable drawer with paper towels which will absorb the excess water that causes vegetables to decay. Similarly with fresh herbs, put them in a sealed plastic bag containing a paper towel.
CLEAN CORNERS OF VASES
Fill with water and drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets. The bubbles - usually used to combat acid indigestion - will do the scrubbing.
Also, when cleaning cast-iron cookware, don’t use detergents. Just scrub them with salt and a clean, dry paper towel.
To clean an electric kettle which has calcium build-up, boil a mixture of half white vinegar and half water, then empty and rinse.
Boiling apple peel in aluminium pans for about 30 minutes will stop them looking dull. The acid in the peel will remove any stains or discolouration.
And remove tea or coffee stains from your fine china by rubbing them with a mixture of baking soda, lemon juice and cream of tartar.
Also, use tomato ketchup to polish copper. Just apply a thin coat and wipe off with a rag. - Daily Mail