Tips, hints, tricks–whatever you call them–have long been valuable currency in the culinary world. Whether freely swapped or tightly guarded, this insider information, we often believe, holds the key to our good fortune in the kitchen. But did you ever wish you could collect those helpful tidbits in one place? Here’s a small start with some of the best tips culled from May and June issues of some of today’s most popular cooking magazines.
Unscent-itary: You can combat a smelly garbage disposal and give your kitchen a fresh citrus scent by grinding up quartered lemons. But the May/June issue of Cooking With Paula Deen magazine also suggests making vinegar ice cubes and sending them down the drain followed by a cold water rinse.
Wax On or Off: Save the waxed paper for preventing messes in the microwave, or while breading meats or decorating cupcakes, says Cooking With Paula Deen’s May/June issue. The paraffin wax-covered tissue-like paper is handy for clean-ups, but should never be used in the oven–which explains more than one of my near disasters in the kitchen! Parchment paper, which has a non-stick coating, is the answer for lining pans instead.
Veggie Bouquet: The best way to store asparagus spears is upright like flowers, in a container filled with a few inches of water, according to Taste of the South magazine‘s April/May issue. Before cooking, trim the ends.
Berry Good: Wash fresh strawberries just before using, says Weight Watchers magazine‘s May/June issue. Otherwise, when rinsed berries are refrigerated, they retain moisture, making them spoil more rapidly.
Zest for Limes: Cook’s Illustrated magazine‘s May/June issue recommends freezing zest of fruits like limes and lemons for up to three weeks, at which time they begin to lose their flavor. For garnishes, fresh zest should always be used, as the color of frozen zest will fade.
How the Cookie Crumbles: A Cook’s Illustrated reader suggested in the May/June issue that one should place rolls of cookie dough in a pan of rice to help retain its roundness, preventing it from going flat on the bottom.
What’s Up Doc: When choosing fresh carrots, don’t shy away from those with bolder or deeper pigments, according to the May issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. They taste no different than the typical orange-hued ones and actually are packed with more antioxidants and vitamins like beta carotenes and lycopenes.
Keep Your Cool: Keep iced coffee and tea drinks cold without getting watered down by using ice cubes made of leftover coffee and tea, suggests Better Homes and Gardens’ May issue. Even when the ice melts, drinks won’t lose their flavor.
Neat Treats: Use a round cookie cutter to neatly sprinkle toppings over muffins or cupcakes in the pan, says Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade magazine‘s May issue. This helps to prevent messes in the oven or even when they’re done.
Flour Power: The May issue of Clean Eating magazine suggests dusting raisins, dried cranberries and other dried fruit with a little flour to reduce stickiness so they can be more easily chopped.