They say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”. Indeed, the last thing you probably want to do during the summer heat is to stand over a hot stove or let the oven heat radiate through your kitchen.
Cooking in a hot kitchen can be unbearable in summer, particularly in the hottest parts of the country.
To help you beat the heat, here are some of the easiest summer cooking tips to help keep your kitchen cool and comfortable, even when the summer season is at its hottest.
Only use your oven at night or in the morning
If you must bake cookies or roast vegetables, opt to do it later in the evening or first thing in the morning.
The temperature outside will be a bit cooler than it will be in the middle of the day or early evening, which means you will sweat a little less when the oven heats up your kitchen.
Choose microwaveable foods
Unlike your stove or oven, your microwave emits almost no heat when it is running. Avoid using the oven during the summer heat if possible.
Instead, choose foods that are easy to prepare in a microwave. Microwavable foods often get a bad reputation for being unhealthy or tasteless, but that is not always the case.
There are lots of delicious foods you can cook in a microwave, including steamed vegetables, meatloaf and mac n cheese.
Eat more cold dishes
Salads and other similar dishes are ideal for hot summer days. However, keeping the heat in the kitchen to a minimum does not mean never firing up the burners. Sometimes it is about making the most of the time that you have them on.
Cold dishes are a great way to go, but they often call for ingredients that you need to cook. In this case, try planning meals before time, doubling the amount of certain ingredients. For example, make an extra portion of pasta to enjoy both hot when you make it as well as later in a cold pasta salad.
Try simple, easy recipes to avoid overheating
Cooking can involve a lot of literal moving parts – going from the fridge to the sink to the chopping board to the oven, and then back again, in many iterations throughout the duration.
Couple all that legwork with a little stress (which, let us face it, can arise when you’re trying recipes that use new techniques or have lots of steps), and you can heat right up.
The solution? Simplify it. Opting for recipes with only a few steps and ingredients will cut down on the amount of running around and physical labour that you have to do to get food on the table.
If you want to keep your kitchen cool but need to cook for guests; why not move the meal prep outside and cook with one of the best grills instead?
No doubt, it will be hot to cook in such conditions, at least you are keeping the heat and smells outside, rather than trapped in your kitchen.
Of course, if conditions are scorching, and it is not safe to cook outside and expose yourself to the heat for so long, stay indoors, and prepare food using small appliances. Slow cookers work their magic while you are spending time playing outside.
A pressure cooker or an instant pot offers a seamless way to cook rice and vegetables without using the stovetop.
Cook during the cooler hours
Cooking in your kitchen when it is already hot outside (and maybe already hot in your home) means you will only add to the heat. Plan ahead and strategise your cooking times for when it is not as hot.
As mentioned earlier, the best time to cook to avoid the heat is in the morning or later in the evening.
That might appear easier said than done, but you could bake bread in the morning, or cook proteins and pasta dishes while you are making breakfast or an early lunch so they will be ready to go for dinner.
Cooking releases moisture into the air in your kitchen. Running the exhaust fan above the stove will suck some of the cooking heat and moisture right out of the kitchen, giving your air conditioner a break.
Cooking is also one of the main sources of home air pollutants. But using the exhaust fan as you cook will help you rid the air of these pollutants.
Still determined to enjoy a hot meal?
Fire up the grill, but do not limit yourself to meat. Vegetables and fruits grill up nicely, too. Make skewers with zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes and carrot wheels. Make your own vegetable patties to scratch that burger itch in a healthy way.
Grill pineapple for a tasty accompaniment to grilled shrimp or chicken. And throw peaches on the grill for a tasty dessert, alongside a small scoop of vanilla frozen yoghurt or ice cream.