Hacks for Home Cooks

From spices to grilling, these hacks are designed to help you improve your food.

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When it comes to cooking at home, there are several hacks that will save you time and help your food to look and taste better. In this article, we share our favorites. 

VEGGIE HACKS

Garlic is an essential ingredient to most dishes but it can be a time waster, unless you know how to peel garlic in an efficient way. Instead of using a knife to smash your garlic cloves, simply place them into a jar and shake vigorously for about 90 seconds. The paper should come lose in no time and you’ll have access to that delicious garlic underneath. 

Another veggie that can use some finesse when preparing is the tomato. Too often, home cooks use the wrong kitchen knife to cut this delicious veggie. The secret “weapon” if you will, is a bread knife, to ensure aesthetically pleasing and intact tomato slices and cubes for salads, sandwiches and more. No more mushy red things. 

While we are on the topic of vegetables, especially root vegetables, you should always save your scraps. It’s a great idea to keep adding your scraps to a freezer bag. Once it’s full, simply roast and simmer them to create a delicious vegetable stock. Homemade stock is a key component of delicious soups and various sauces! It is also a welcome cooking agent when preparing rice, to help amp up the flavor of an otherwise plain tasting grain. 

Homemade stock is a key component of delicious soups and various sauces!

SPICE HACKS

Over time, unused spices lose their potency so here are some tips to move through that spice rack more quickly. When it comes to your spice shelves, organization is key. We suggest pouring all of your spices into uniformly sized containers, like small mason jars, and creating labels for them. Remember that whole spices will stay fresh longer than ground spices will. Technically, you should replace ground spices every three months and whole spices every ten months. Where you buy your spices will affect their shelf life as well. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that quality spices from an artisan merchant will last longer than ones bought at a convenience store. They’ll impart your dishes with more flavor as well. 

Buying whole spices means that you’ll need to commit to grinding them yourself, so invest in a mortar and a pestle if you don’t already have one. If you prefer a finer consistency, you can use a spice mill instead. An efficient and creative way to use up older spices is to make your own blends. Doing so also ensures that no MSG or additives are added! 

Remember that whole spices will stay fresh longer than ground spices will.

GRILLING HACKS

When it comes to grilling, allow whatever it is you’re cooking to come to room temperature before you begin to grill. This will help the food cook faster and ensure even cooking as well. Keeping the lid to your barbecue closed is another key time saver. This is because the outside air will cool the food and actually slow down the cooking time when the lid is up. 

If any of your ingredients can be cut in half, made thinner, or diced, you’ll save yourself precious time. If you want your salmon to cook in 10 minutes, rather than 30 minutes, cut down a whole fillet into four pieces. Same rule applies for potato wedges, which will cook faster than whole potatoes.

Other hacks include warming your plates before serving hot foods, freezing homemade stock in an ice cube tray and labeling everything in your fridge and freezer with painter’s tape and a marker. That way you will know exactly what everything is and when it was prepared.