New This Month

Good Things: Cooking Tips for a Less-Mess Kitchen

Sometimes it seems like cooking can be so messy. But what if it didn't have to be that way? Here is a collection of tips that should help make cooking a cleaner, easier experience.

 

Learning a better way to do something is so satisfying. Even better: Passing that knowledge along! Make sure you show off your new kitchen know-how the next time you have guests over.

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Chop Tomatoes in the Can

Chopping quantities of canned tomatoes for use in soups and sauces can get ugly really quickly. Rather than removing the tomatoes and slicing, use a pair of kitchen shears to cut them while they're still in the tin. Not only does this prevent spatters -- you'll also have one less bowl to wash.

Use Your Sieve as a Splatter Guard

A splatter guard keeps grease spots on your stove to a minium when frying, and helps protect the cook as well. If you don't have one, a large sieve can stand in.  Place it facedown over the food cooking in the pan. For safety, turn both handles toward the back of the stove, resting the sieve's handle on top of the pan's.

  • Scoop Out Seeds with a Scooper
    Scoop Out Seeds with a Scooper

    Try using an ice cream scoop to remove the seeds from a winter squash. You'll end up with a squash cavity that is smooth, clean, and read for baking.

  • Lay Down the Plastic Wrap
    Lay Down the Plastic Wrap

    When chicken needs nothing but a little seasoning, there's no reason to make a mess of your work surface.  Lay down a sheet of plastic wrap first.  As long as you do not do any cutting, the plastic serves as a barrier against bacteria. When you're finished, carefully fold up the plastic and throw away.

  • Mince Garlic with Salt
    Mince Garlic with Salt

    There's a foolproof way to mince garlic quickly, without having it stick to your knife. Sprinkle coarse salt and a drop of olive oil over the cloves before you chop. The salt crystals act as an abrasive, helping to pulverize the cloves, while the slickness of the olive oil allows the garlic to slide easily off the blade.

  • Make an Envelope Funnel
    Make an Envelope Funnel

    Transferring dried grains, beans, and other dry goods from bags to airtight jars keeps them fresh, but the process can cause them to spill all over the countertop.  If you don't have a funnel, use an envelope instead. Cut off a corner so you have a triangle, snip off the closed point, and open it into a cone.

  • Scoop Out Seeds with a Scooper
    Scoop Out Seeds with a Scooper

    Try using an ice cream scoop to remove the seeds from a winter squash. You'll end up with a squash cavity that is smooth, clean, and read for baking.

  • Mince Garlic with Salt
    Mince Garlic with Salt

    There's a foolproof way to mince garlic quickly, without having it stick to your knife. Sprinkle coarse salt and a drop of olive oil over the cloves before you chop. The salt crystals act as an abrasive, helping to pulverize the cloves, while the slickness of the olive oil allows the garlic to slide easily off the blade.

  • Lay Down the Plastic Wrap
    Lay Down the Plastic Wrap

    When chicken needs nothing but a little seasoning, there's no reason to make a mess of your work surface.  Lay down a sheet of plastic wrap first.  As long as you do not do any cutting, the plastic serves as a barrier against bacteria. When you're finished, carefully fold up the plastic and throw away.

  • Make an Envelope Funnel
    Make an Envelope Funnel

    Transferring dried grains, beans, and other dry goods from bags to airtight jars keeps them fresh, but the process can cause them to spill all over the countertop.  If you don't have a funnel, use an envelope instead. Cut off a corner so you have a triangle, snip off the closed point, and open it into a cone.

Carve in a Pan

If your carving board doesn't have a well to catch juices, set it in a rimmed baking sheet before you begin to slice. Not ony will you be able to collect the juices for sauces and gravies, but you won't have to wipe drips or spills from the countertop afterward.

Stuff in a Bowl

Rather than grapple with a whole raw chicken on the kitchen counter, where it's awkwardly positioned for stuffing and could contaminate your preparation area, place it in a high-sided bowl. Arrange chicken with the cavity opening facing up for easy access.

  • Grate Frozen Ginger
    Grate Frozen Ginger

    Grated gingerroot can be a challenge because the fibers separate messily from the root's juicy flesh. If you store the whole unpeeled root in the freezer, however, it will grate cleanly. Wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, unpeeled ginger will keep frozen for several months. When you wish to grate some, simply peel the part you need while it's still frozen.

  • Slice Cheese with Dental Floss
    Slice Cheese with Dental Floss

    A knife isn't the best tool for cutting soft cheese like goat's-milk into neat portions. For better results, lay a length of unflavored dental floss or fine thread beneath the log of cheese, cross the ends over the top (but don't knot), and pull the thread taut. The cheese rounds should fall away.

  • Grate Frozen Ginger
    Grate Frozen Ginger

    Grated gingerroot can be a challenge because the fibers separate messily from the root's juicy flesh. If you store the whole unpeeled root in the freezer, however, it will grate cleanly. Wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, unpeeled ginger will keep frozen for several months. When you wish to grate some, simply peel the part you need while it's still frozen.

  • Slice Cheese with Dental Floss
    Slice Cheese with Dental Floss

    A knife isn't the best tool for cutting soft cheese like goat's-milk into neat portions. For better results, lay a length of unflavored dental floss or fine thread beneath the log of cheese, cross the ends over the top (but don't knot), and pull the thread taut. The cheese rounds should fall away.

Bag Your Cookbook

To protect a cookbook from splatters while you cook, slip it into a gallon-size resealabe plastic bag. This trick also keeps the book open to the recipe you are using.

Chop Frozen

Not only is it time-consuming to chop berries by hand, but ripe ones can crush easily in the process and lose a fair amount of their juice. Chop them in a food processor instead. First, freeze fresh berries in a plastic bag overnight, then pulse them in the machine until they're the consistency you need.

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