Sometimes food prep, chopping, coring, etc, can take up so much energy and may often discourage one from enjoying the art of cooking. I have thrown together a list of tips that have helped me over the years. I tried to give credit to whom it was due.
- Work like a factory line and keep it clean—many times when I am cooking several different meals for the freezer or a large amount for a get together I need more than one of an item. It’s easier to peel and chop all 4 onions for the 4 different recipes than to just work on one recipe at a time. Otherwise you do one, go to the trash, clean off the board (cry a bit more), etc. If you keep your food prep station clean your pile and mess at the end will be far less.
- How to peel many garlic cloves at once--It can be a pain to peel a whole bunch of cloves for garlic-heavy dishes. The trick: Hit the head of garlic with the heel of your hand to open up the cloves. Throw all the cloves into a big mixing bowl, and cover with a second mixing bowl. Then “shake the dickens out of it.”
- How to remove husks from ears of corn--Cleaning corn can be time-consuming — and it can seem impossible to eliminate those thin corn silks that get stuck in your teeth later. You won’t believe how easy the solution is: Place two ears of corn in the microwave (husks still on) for eight minutes. Use oven mitts to remove them from the microwave, place them on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cleanly chop off the entire bottom end of the ear of corn (the one that doesn’t have a bunch of green pieces coming out of it). Now squeeze the other end of the husk, and the corn should easily slide out — with none of that annoying corn silk!
- How to peel pearl onions--“We love pearl onions; and for years, we avoided using them in dishes because honestly, we just didn’t feel like spending 30 minute peeling each one. Finally, someone saved us from our impatience with this trick: Chop off the tip of the onion (the end opposite the root end), cook in boiling water for two minutes and drain. When they’re cool enough to touch, gently squeeze each one at the root end, and the little guys will slip right out! Chop off the remaining roots, and you’re ready to get cooking”. (viaCooking Light)
- How to keep apples from browning---The Yummy Life blog has a variety of unique tricks for this problem: 1) Soak the slices in a bowl of cold salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt per 4 cups of water) for three to five minutes. 2) Soak them in a bowl of cold lemon water (1 tablespoon of lemon juice per 1 cup of water) for three to five minutes. 3) Soak them in a bowl of Sprite, 7-Up or a similar lemon-lime carbonated soda for three to five minutes. 4) Sprinkle them with Fruit Fresh, a citric acid powder that most stores have with their canning supplies.
- How to keep potatoes from browning--- you can break up the prep time and not worry about peeled potatoes becoming brown. Peel them one night, throw them in a bowl of cold water and store them in a cool place (not the refrigerator) overnight. The next day, they’ll still be fresh for slicing and dicing. (via SlashFood.com)
- How to prevent a pot from boiling over---This was a trick my Grandma taught me as a little girl-simply place a wooden spoon on top of a boiling pot will prevent it from boiling over. You can use a spoon made out of something other than wood, but the obvious advantage of a wooden spoon is that it won’t be scalding hot when you remove it.