Real Food Tips: 34 Random Food & Cooking Tricks

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!

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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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  1. #21 is not accurate. Onions might encourage the eyes to grow, but potatoes already have eyes. The eyes do not come from storing them with onions.

  2. I don’t believe the banana comment because they can get ripped and ripen even faster. Something that does work however is keeping on the plastic they usually wrap on the stem for as long as you can.

  3. Eggs that float are just not fresh; they’re still useable and more suitable for hard cooked eggs than fresh eggs. Hot pepper seeds aren’t hotter than the pepper, and they contain great flavor along with texture and visual appeal.

    1. You never lived on a farm! And I stand to bet you never had the unpleasant experience of trying a floating egg anyways only to realize the hen had sat on it too long & you just boiled & crack open the fetus of a baby chick. Think about that when an egg floats straight to the top. There’s a reason. Hopefully you won’t find the saddest thing ever but changes to the yolk of that egg, visible or not have already begun.

  4. NEVER pack banannas in a school lunch when te lunch has any kind of cracker! the crackers end up tasting like banannas

  5. Need an avocado to ripen quickly – put it in a brown paper bag and the gasses it emits will speed up the process. Need it really fast? Put it in a brown paper bag with a banana.

  6. There was a string about Cilantro/ freezing… I have been creating a list of 101 ways to use an ice cube tray-

    take any fresh herbs you use regularly, chop fine, put in the bottom of an ice cube tray (1/4tsp) then cover with EVOO, Coconut Oil, stock, broth, water, etc (whatever you use to cook with). Put the tray in the freezer, remove the cubes, pkg them in a freezer safe container. When you’re ready to cook, you have the herbs & fat/ liquid all in one. You can do this with herbs, scallions, garlic, just about anything.

    An ice cube is roughly 1/4cup – I also freeze milk (when it’s just a little in the carton – no room for 2); wine (you can add herbs too); add an extra potato or 2 to the pot/ oven, then blend with water, stock or milk – quick easy thickener for soups, gravy, sauces, **add a pinch of garlic too; guacamole freezes nicely, each cube is about a serving for tacos – thaw while prepping everything else ** make a bunch when avocados are on sale/ in season, have it all year; freeze fruit mixed with yogurt (seasonal/ sales), pack in small mason jar, top with yogurt & by the time you get to work/ school it’s a yummy snack/ lunch treat (gogurt w/out the additives); cream cheese w/ herbs, salmon, jam – 1 cube/ bagel half – thaw as needed, **Add savory cc cubes to mac -n-cheese

    Do you make lunches? Sandwiches? Try pre-making a it: bread & meat – freeze, open-face, in the morning add cheese, veggies, spreads, wrap in parchment paper or paper towel. By lunch it’s thawed and everything stays cold. You can also just do pre-made meat servings in the freezer on a tray, then stack w/ wax paper, pull as needed. I actually will buy lunch meats on sale/ bulk, separated in sandwiches in a whole loaf of bread & freeze everything. Then it’s a quick lunch when I need it, nothing spoils. My fave is honey wheat, roasted turkey & guac (all made/ frozen) – pull it out, add lettuce, carrot shreds, red onion, roasted peppers. YUM!

    Ok – I think that’s enough for now…

  7. Tips for handling hot peppers:

    If you coat your fingers in a little bit of olive oil- the hot pepper oils don’t soak into your skin. If you forget and feel that tell-tale burn, make a paste with baking soda and milk. Spread the paste on your hands and let it sit for about ten minutes. Rinsing with milk or soaking the paste off in milk helps as well! Cheers!

  8. #7 , The grilled cheese sandwich tip, I have been doing that for over 15 years. So I am claiming this tip as

  9. 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!

  10. 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!