Real Food Tips: 34 Random Food & Cooking Tricks

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There’s no better title than “random” for this list. These tips and tricks are all over the board, but these are the things you learn and collect after so many years of cooking. First are some tricks that I use regularly, then at the bottom you’ll find a long list of tips from our readers. Enjoy!

Freezing Pesto in Ice Cube Trays

  1. If an egg is spoiled it will float in a bowl of water rather than sink.
  2. To avoid dulling the blade of your knife, turn it upside down before scraping items off your cutting board.
  3. Use ice cube trays to freeze small portions of pesto, broth, applesauce and pizza sauce. Transfer the cubes to a Ziplock bag or other freezer-proof container and it will be easy to pull out exactly how much you need.
  4. The PLU code for organic produce starts with the number 9 and is five digits long (conventional produce is only 4 digits).
  5. To make peeling and mincing garlic easier first mash the clove with either the flat part of the knife or with the knife handle.
  6. Roll lemons or limes between the counter and the heel of your hand to make them easier to juice.
  7. To kick up a standard grilled cheese sandwich, sprinkle a little freshly grated parmesan cheese on the outside of the bread while it’s cooking then flip it over in the pan so the cheese will cook/stick to the bread.
  8. If measuring out both oil/butter and honey put the oil or butter in your measuring cup first then the honey will slide right out.
  9. Put bread ends or scraps (if cutting your child’s sandwich into a festive shape) into a big bag in the freezer to save for homemade croutons, stuffing, or breadcrumbs.
  10. Discard the seeds from hot peppers to reduce the heat a bit and allow the pepper flavor to be appreciated.  (This trick is from my husband…I rarely eat hot peppers!)

Here are some tips from our facebook fans (which are not all things I’ve tried myself yet)…please leave your suggestions in the comments below:

  1. Amanda: Disassemble a pomegranate in a bowl of water! Seeds sink, pulp floats
  2. Haley: Never store tomatoes in the fridge
  3. Alzbeta: Rub your hands on stainless steel (I usually use my kitchen faucet) to get rid of the garlic smell. Just one quick rub works for me.
  4. Laura: To keep sliced apples from browning, soak them in a mixture of cold water and salt.
  5. Kelly: Peel ginger with a spoon! So much easier to shave the skin off than cutting it with a knife.
  6. Vanessa: Never put lemon AND milk in your tea… it curdles.
  7. Jessica: Store onions in the fridge or soak them in cold water to help with watery eyes
  8. Marsha: Clean & prep as much of your produce as possible when you bring it home. Makes it much easier to put together for lunch or at dinner time after a long day at work.
  9. Loy: Don’t store apples and bananas near each other. Apples give off a gas that makes the bananas ripen (and go soft) much faster!
  10. Julie: CAREFULLY sink your knife blade into the seed of an avocado to remove. Then scoop the meat out with a spoon.
  11. Jean: Don’t store potatoes and onions together it causes eyes in your potatoes.
  12. Melissa: Pull your banana’s apart when you get home if they’re ripe enough it’ll slow down the ripening so they don’t get all brown.
  13. Missy: If your house is smelling like onions, garlic, etc. simmer a pot with 1/2 inch of water, 1/2 inch of white vinegar and a cinnamon stick and in minutes the odors will be neutralized.
  14. Abbey: Briefly soak berries in water with vinegar added to kill mold spores and keep berries fresh longer.
  15. Liz: After throwing away the peels for years it finally occurred to me to save the zest from my organic citrus, (oranges, limes, and lemons) and store it in the freezer for later.
  16. Sarah: Toss berries in flour before baking in muffins or bread and they will be more evenly distributed.
  17. Jasmine: To peel a hard-boiled egg, crack it all over, roll under your palm, then use a spoon to get under the skin and peel it. Most often, it’ll come off in one fell swoop.
  18. Jessica: If you buy spinach in the plastic container, flip it over in the fridge each day to prevent the condensation from wilting the leaves.
  19. Elizabeth: Apples in pineapple juice, orange juice, or any citrus juice will keep them from browning. We always like lime juice with the sweeter red apples, and pineapple or orange with the more tart varieties. Yum!
  20. Amy: You can tell if an egg is raw or hard boiled by spinning it. The hard boiled egg will spin faster than the raw one.
  21. Martha: To get the most “meat” off a pineapple; twist the top spikes off, cut the bottom part to have an even stand then just slice off the sides.. entering the fruit’s peel at an angle.
  22. Debbie: I always flip my nut butters upside down and set them in the cabinet for a couple days before opening. Mixes all the oil into the rest of the nut butter.
  23. Angelica: When you buy berries of any sort take them out of the plastic container and line the container with paper towels.Then place berries back in. Helps to keep berries longer. Instead of turning into mush they kind of dry out. I have had berries last at least a week this way. Also, do not wash until you’re ready to eat!
  24. Lynna: How do you know if a pineapple is ripe? Gently tug on one of the bottom leaves. If it comes away from the fruit with a gentle tug, the pineapple is ripe.

 

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69 comments to Real Food Tips: 34 Random Food & Cooking Tricks

  • Lisa

    For fresh basil – cut the end of the stem so there is a “fresh” cut, put in a cup of water ensuring no leaves touch the water, and cover with a plastic bag with holes in it (I usually punch through the bag several times with a fork). Store on your countertop.

    This creates a little humidifier that basil loves and it will stay fresh for up to two weeks this way. If you put it in the fridge it will go black!

  • Holly

    Awesome tip for basil! And someone had said just to buy what I need and tomatoes won’t go bad…I literally bought one gorgeous organic roma tomato and left it out one day and it had spots of mold all over it. However, I had it in a basket of apples since Lisa said that’s where they keep theirs but a couple people have said apples will spoil things so I will try the window will next time. Can’t wait for summer when my neighborhood produce van guy sets up with the most amazing tomatoes in the world. :)

  • Awesome tips, Lisa! I can’t wait to open my PB and hopefully skip the stirring!! I made a post of some tips of my own, and some of yours! I think my favorite is avocados — once ripened (on counter), transfer to fridge — to be perfect for up to 2 weeks or more! I’ve barely ever had a rotten avocado since! What a savings! http://fresh-you.blogspot.com/2012/02/18-quick-tips-for-kitchen.html

    More cool tips in the comments here! Yikes, aren’t cool ideas from the internet!, really from people, but the internet is what makes the info-passing so easy!

    I love the basil stored like fresh flowers idea — so cool!, and freezing ginger cubes idea, and the herb cutting in a mug idea, …here’s a good one: chop fresh herbs, like cilantro, then put it in ice cube trays (or silicone cupcake tins like I use) to be used as needed. And the plastic bag with cut corner for injecting pesto, or I like it for getting yogurt into a cup for a parfait, so the sides don’t get smudged.

    About the tomatoes, definitely true — it often says as much right on the plastic containers that tomatoes come in! When you put a tomato in the fridge, it stunts the ripening (as is the case for produce that you want to prevent from further ripening), but this is especially bad if your tomato isn’t ready! I think there is also more too it b/c …I think it was the first time I read the container, I had some tomatoes go bad in the fridge, and I’m sure they were were probably moldy, b/c I wouldn’t have taken as much notice of just an unripe tomato.

    Ok, I think I better get to bed! Thanks again for the tips (and the post idea!) and have a great night!

  • What a great blog you have…I love it! It is not an easy task, cutting out processed food, but certainly one worth the effort…my kids eat a lot of processed food….processed by ME!!! It can be hard work but once you get in the rhythm it is great…thanks for some new and interesting ideas. Maybe if you have time you might like to have a look at my blog, mamacino.wordpress.com

  • Denise

    My tip for perfect boiled eggs is to put them in a rice/food steamer for 16-18 minutes and they come out perfect. No more waiting for the water to boil and then timing it. Use older eggs for easy peeling. I have a rice steamer that has several trays. I don’t know if it makes a difference.

  • Jenna

    Once a pineapple is picked it won’t ripen anymore. Store it upside down for a day or two before cutting it up to distribute the juices.

  • Lois

    Tomatoes should be stored on the counter upside down…keeps better and definitely taste better!

  • Dyana

    Food tip: I found that while we were trying to start a small garden that it was cheaper to get fresh live herbs at the grocery store then at Home Depot — also if you happen to be on assistance it falls under groceries. Just take it home and plant it! We also get used tires – from friends, when you get your tires changed, tire shops, etc. to use as bases for our raised garden – nothing gets mowed over, there is room for one to two good size plants of any kind you want to grow and you get to upcycle. You can paint them to make them more appealing or leave them as they are

  • Jennifer

    If you don’t plan to use the entire pepper or other seeded fresh produce, leave the seeds in the unused portion and it will last much longer.

  • Alana

    Have you had any luck freezing Cilantro?

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Alana. I have not tried it. I know cilantro is frustrating because it goes bad so quickly, at least for me it does. Jill

      • Amanda

        I have tried to freeze cilantro and when I pulled it out of the the freezer it was slimy.

        • Lori C

          My sister has been storing her cilantro in a mason jar of water. She says the cilantro has stayed good for almost 2 weeks. So far I have only purchased as much as I need and so have not tried it myself.

  • Christine

    Rather than worry about apple slices browning when making my daughters’ school lunches, I toss the slices in a bit of cinnamon. It clings to the slices and makes them taste so yummy.

    Also, I store our apples in the fruit/veggie drawer of our refrigerator. I love cold, crisp apples straight out of the ‘fridge.

  • Rebecca

    I save the ends of loaves of breads as well. I usually use them for croutons,(if you don’t eat only organic food, using freezer-burnt hotdog or hamburger buns are great for croutons too!, but when I have a collection of about four cups of bread, I like to make bread pudding. It is super easy, only uses a little bit of milk and eggs, and its also a great way to use up the last little bit of nuts, or dried and frozen fruit. It can also be frozen, or keep for days int he refrigerator, making a dessert or snack that can last for a week.

  • Beverly

    Just an add on to tip #7. We like cheddar with mozzarella, but will use whatever we have on hand. We almost always add thinly sliced tomatoes, some fresh baby spinach, and a sprinkle of garlic salt. It’s an easy way to add nutrition and our boys love it! Thanks for sharing these random tricks!

  • Kristin B

    #16- this is basically buttermilk. So, if you’re ever in a pinch, you can make your own using milk and lemon juice!

  • allison

    My favorite thing:

    Wilty lettuce? Chop up and let soak in a bowl of ice water for an hour– goes back to perfect crispiness (assuming it isn’t -too- far gone). I can’t tell you how often I threw wilted lettuce away before I learned this. Works for parsley and other greens too (at least in my experience).

  • Michele

    Scooping out avocado with a spoon is messy and aggravating; if you are careful you can simply peel it with your fingers and leave the meat perfectly intact. I always do this; the first few pieces come off small, but eventually I can get hold of it so that the whole half-peeling comes in one piece. No wasted avocado stuck in the peeling!

  • Molly

    keep the avocado seed in it (or in the bowl of guacamole, etc), and it won’t turn brown as fast!

  • Nicole

    Hands smell like onion or garlic? Simply wet them, pour a generous amount of table salt onto palms, and rub hands together to form a kind of paste. Let it sit a minute or two, then rinse hands. Voila! Now your hands won’t smell like anything.
    PS To add another guacamole tip: If you spray the top of a bowl of leftover guacamole with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap it won’t turn brown!

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