81 Ways to Be a Better Chef
Whether you have trouble boiling water or are a foodie who loves spending time behind the stove, these tips and tricks will make cooks of all levels better at their game. Here are a few dozen of our faves.
[Photo: Charles Masters]
35. Ripen faster
If you have avocados, peaches, or nectarines that aren’t quite ripe, put them in a paper bag, fold the top closed, and leave them on the counter for a day or two. For really unripe fruits, add a banana to the mix.
36. Avoid overripening
Bananas release a gas called ethylene that causes fruit to ripen quickly. (All fruits and veggies emit the gas, but bananas produce the most.) To lessen its ripening effect, don’t keep your bananas in a bunch or in a fruit bowl with other fruits.
37. Save your fruit
Once bananas get too ripe to eat, freeze them instead of throwing them out. You can leave the peel on or take it off. Place them in freezer bags and then toss into cold storage, or mash and freeze them in sealed containers for an easy smoothie addition.
38. Get more juice
Before squeezing lemons or limes, roll them on the counter under the palm of your hand to help free up the trapped liquid. You can also microwave the fruit for 10–15 seconds to help further release juices.
39. The drip method
Just need a few drops of lemon or lime juice? Poke the fruit with a skewer and squeeze out exactly what you need. If you slice the fruit in half, it’s more likely to dry out or spoil before you’ve had a chance to use it.
40. Love smoothies?
Instead of prepping fresh fruit every morning, do it once a week. Throw your favorite mix of berries, banana, and whatever else into a bag and freeze so it’s ready to grab and blend—just add yogurt, milk, or juice and go.
41. Slice it nice
Whole pineapple is much cheaper than the precut, canned stuff. To properly break down the prickly fruit, cut a big slice from the bottom. Stand the pineapple up, and cut off the skin in strips, from top to bottom. Next, chop the top off and slice the pineapple lengthwise into wedges—remove the core from each wedge—and break down into chunks.
42. Rinse right
Washing fruit starts the decomposition process. Don’t rinse something off until right before you plan to cook it or put it on your plate.
43. Scramble with ease
Always add eggs to a hot pan. Heat expands the metal and seals off imperfections that the eggs would otherwise stick to.
44. Precision cracking
Break an egg on a rounded corner and shards of shell are more likely to fall into your food. Instead, use a hard, flat surface like your counter.
To easily peel eggs, run them under cold water immediately after cooking.
46. Are your eggs fresh?
To find out, put them in a cup of water. Fresh eggs sink; bad ones float.