- Microwave citrus for a few seconds before juicing -- you'll get more out of it.
- When you're done juicing lemons, use them to wipe down your cutting boards.
- Pat strawberries dry with paper towels right after rinsing or they'll absorb water and lose flavor.
- Crush raspberries and blackberries with sugar for an instant berry sauce.
- To know if a pear is ripe, just take a whiff -- it should smell slightly sweet.
- Ripen tomatoes by storing them in a paper bag on the counter for a couple of days.
- To draw out an eggplant's bitter juices, salt slices generously and let rest for 30 minutes. Then rinse, pat dry and cook.
- Bundle your green beans and remove the ends with one quick slice.
- Placed halved avocados cut side down on a plate to keep fresh -- no wrapping necessary.
- Whack the bottom of a boston, bibb or iceberg lettuce against your kitchen counter to de-stem it.
- Spin a paper towel with your salad greens to soak up even more moisture.
- Put the snap back into limp celery sticks by soaking them in ice-cold water.
- Soak sliced red onions in ice water for 15 minutes to take away the bite.
- Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel just before using them.
- No need to peel carrots -- just give them a quick scrub.
- Pull a fork down the skin of a cucumber to make decorative ridges.
- For a lighter, no-cook pasta substitute, use a peeler to make cucumber "noodles."
- No need to prick potatoes before microwaving -- just let them steam inside their skin.
- Microwave garlic cloves for 10 seconds -- the skin will slip right off.
- Rub off corn silks with a paper towel -- cleanup is a snap.
- Season and toast winter squash seeds and sprinkle them onto soups and salads.
- Give leftover pumpkin seeds a sweet twist by tossing them with melted butter, cinnamon and sugar before roasting.
- When you make burgers, indent the center with your thumb -- the patty will stay flat as it cooks.
- Freeze raw meat just until firm for easy slicing.
- Drag a few ice cubes across a roasting pan to skim the fat off pan juices.
- Use a bottle of your favorite salad dressing as an instant marinade.
HERBS AND SPICES
- Toast ground spices in a dry pan just before using to make them fragrant.
- Mix your favorite spices and dried herbs for a signature seasoning blend.
- Use kitchen scissors to snip delicate herbs like chives and tarragon.
- Use cilantro, parsley and dill stems -- they're just as flavorful as the leaves.
- Use a teaspoon to scrape the skin off fresh ginger.
- Snip the corner of an envelope to make a funnel for spices.
- Stock up on fresh seasonal berries and freeze them for later.
- Store freshly grated parmesan in the freezer -- no need to defrost it before using.
- Freeze butter to keep it fresh, then grate over toast, popcorn or baked potatoes.
- Freeze leftover chopped fresh herbs and water in an ice cube tray and use them later in soups and sauces.
- Freeze leftover lemon slices -- when you pull them out, they're good as new.
- Freeze leftover parmesan rinds, then toss into soups and stews for extra flavor.
- Don't let fresh ingredients go to waste. Double a soup recipe and store it in the freezer for up to two months.
- Don't toss overripe bananas. Peel and freeze them for smoothies.
- Fold strips of uncooked bacon in layers of wax or parchment paper and freeze for later use.
- Stop second-guessing the size of your baking pans. Mark the bottoms with permanent ink.
- Spritz your rubber spatula with cooking spray so batter won't stick.
- If dough sticks to your rolling pin, rub the gummy bits with flour to remove them.
- Use a large piece of eggshell to fish out any shell bits that fall into the mixing bowl.
- Score a few extra teaspoons of cream: Set the emptied container down to let the last drops settle, then pour.
- Chill your bowl and beaters before whipping heavy cream.
- Use raw sugar in place of sprinkles on festive cookies and desserts.
- Give your guests a surprise! Line your pie shell with toasted nuts or chocolate chips before filling.
- Grind leftover walnuts and coat a cake pan with them instead of flour.
- Next time you make waffles, warm up your maple syrup -- just heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- For fluffier pancakes, make the batter with club soda instead of milk.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Make bread crumbs in a blender -- the bread will grind evenly and won't stick to the blades.
- To toast 1 cup of fresh breadcrumbs, microwave them on high for 3 minutes.
- Use crushed tortilla chips as a substitute for bread crumbs.
- Bring day-old rice back to life by reheating it with a little water or broth.
- Refresh a stale baguette by sprinkling it with water, then warming it in a 300° oven for 5 minutes.
- Cut back on sodium by blending two parts soy sauce with one part water.
- Dip a silver spoon into a pot that's boiling over -- the liquid will instantly simmer down.
- Refrigerate an open cottage cheese container upside down to create an airtight seal -- the cheese will stay fresh longer.
- Stop wrestling with that jar! Just place a thick rubber band around the lid to get a surefire grip.
EASY CLEAN UP
- Clean your cast-iron skillet with a paste of coarse salt and pepper.
- Give your emptied-out food processor one last whirl to rid the blade of clingy food.
- Deodorize food containers with newspaper (then wash before using).
- Place a plastic bag over your hand to easily grease a pan without the mess.
- Clean your sponges in the dishwasher. Just place them in the silverware bin.
- Cover a fine grater with wax paper before grating for quick cleanup.
- Keep a coaster under your drippy honey jar so it won't stick to the table.