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Feb 17, 2009 11:30 AM

Fun kitchen tips to share? - moved from Home Cooking board

I thought it would be nice for home cooks to exchange some of their ideas - cost cutters, or ones that just make things easier in the kitchen.

Here are some of mine:

I used to always throw away half used jars of pasta or pizza sauce. I just couldn't get through them before they turned moldy. Until I started keeping the jars in the freezer. Now I just thaw and freeze, thaw and freeze. It doesn't seem to affect the taste or texture at all, and I am saving money by not throwing so much away!

I buy a lot of ground meat because it is easier on my little ones to eat than bigger hunks. I will often get a lot (size discounts or sales), and freeze in freezer bags. But, my freezer was always disorganized and the meat would thaw forever. My light bulb moment came when I was flattening out the bag to get rid of the air. I kept flattening the meat until it was a think meat square that filled up the entire bag. This made my freezer so much easier to organize, and the meat thaws in about an hour now, on the counter.

You don't always know how your grocery fruit will taste. I've been disappointed countless times by flavorless melons, stone fruit, grapes, citrus. And threw it out when no one would eat it. But I've had a lot of luck taking the same fruit, pureeing or juicing it, adding some sugar and lemon juice, and putting it in the ice cream maker. It really makes mediocre fruit shine.

Do you have kitchen tips to share?

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  1. We used to waste a lot of coffee using a drip coffee maker (the coffee didn't taste that good, so no great loss. It didn't brew long enough or hot enough). We discovered the french press. Now we never have to pour coffee down the drain. If there is any left over, we save it in the fridge and drink it later as iced coffee.

    1. I find that mixing ground meats for meatloaf, or meatballs, is easier done with your KA mixer on low/medium speed is better than using your hands. Ingredients are evenly distributed without over handling or mixing (hate the feel of raw meat on my hands). Your end-product will be lighter and tastier. Don't pack down too firmly when forming into balls, or a loaf, or packing into a form. Use a light touch !

      1 Reply
      1. re: Lisbet

        I do the same thing using the dough hook, and prebeaten eggs perfect meat mix every time. Oh and I use the small (melon ball size) ice cream type scooper for the meat balls, scooped not packed they turn out tender every time.

      2. That's an excellent tip for storing the ground meat, sasha. I'm going to adapt that. Wish I had a worthwhile tip, but I'm afraid I'm the sort of person who needs to READ the thread :-). So thank you very much for starting it and thanks to others who are posting.

        1 Reply
        1. When I have leftr over fresh herbs I either put them in olive oil and refrigerate (basil and parsley) or I put them in baggies and freeze for later use.

          7 Replies
          1. re: JEN10

            (sorry not actually replying to JEN10 but I get an error message when trying to respond to the OP)

            Whenever we go on vacation we invariably have some milk in the fridge that will spoil by the time we return. I freeze the milk in ice cube trays. Makes a great addition to the kids' hot chocolate - much nicer to use a cube of milk to cool it down than a regular ice cube. :)

            1. re: maplesugar

              I'm psyched this thread finally got some responses! And this milk idea is brilliant.

              We just plugged in our garage fridge to store all the summer fruit I've been slicing and freezing, so now of course I need ideas for food to fill it up... Not that I'm going to freeze milk gratuitously, but a good idea for vacations.

            2. re: JEN10

              Refrigerating raw vegetable matter in olive oil over a prolonged period risks botulism.

              1. re: greygarious

                I go through it pretty quickly, I am Italian and use alot of basil. Thanks for the reminder GG!!!

                1. re: greygarious

                  Can you just freeze fresh herbs straight up w/o the oil?

                  1. re: JerryMe

                    I do, things like sage, thyme, oregano have done well. I got the idea from Trader Joe's; they have frozen basil, cilantro, and parsley in little cubes. I just use a freezer bag and label it and reuse it.

                    1. re: JerryMe

                      Jerryme - you can freeze herbs without the oil. I put them in quart size zipper bags, label each and press out as much air as possible before completely sealing. The assortment of bagged herbs are stored in one gallon size bag - eliminates digging around the freezer for the right little bag.

                2. I'm proud to say, great minds think alike! I have adopted to freezing leftover pasta sauce and making frozen ground meat squares, out of necessity. For me, the meat square idea was actually what I learned when I worked at a bakery, where the master baker asked me to freeze my pastry dough in thin square slabs, to help with freezing and thawing.

                  Thanks too for starting the thread. I wish I could recall more useful tips I can contribute!

                  Okay, here is what I have so far:

                  I have a burner stove top at home, and that's where I leave things that I want to defrost quickly, be it milk bags or frozen meat. The conductivity of the metal seems to help speed up the thawing process. Of course you need to make sure the stove is off :)

                  I also tend to travel a lot on a whim, and the freezer is my friend for avoiding wasted food. I have been experimenting with what kinds of fresh produce can go in with minimum preparation, and be thawed and reused reasonably (many can't). The latest discovery is that, I can freeze whole oranges and other citrus, and then thaw them to be used, within a day, for juicing, with no compromise in flavour. Having been frozen, the skin turns mushy but it still works pretty well.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tarteaucitron

                    Also found from a last minute kitchen sweep before travel I dumped a basket of citrus and avocado into a freezer bag and stuck in the freezer. The avocado when defrosted was still bright green, the texture was only good for a spread or guacamole but the taste was the same. I also found that zesting the citrus is easier when frozen (less pith), zest into a baggie or foil and put zest back in freezer before defrosting or juicing. Actually I now pop any citrus in the freezer that I'm not going to use in time, I'm usually on top of the avocados:-)