Ten-Second Tips for the Kitchen | bag
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bananas
Bananas

Overripe Bananas: The next time one or more of your bananas turns black, peel them and put them in a zippered freezer bag.  Once you have a sufficient amount frozen, thaw and make your favorite banana bread or muffins, or drop into the blender frozen when making your next smoothie.

Peeling: Peel a banana from the bottom and you won’t have to pick off the fibrous “strings.”

Storage: Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.

Ripen Faster: Store the green bananas in a brown paper bag.

Ginger

To store:  Grate or chop fresh peeled ginger, then store in the freezer in a zippered bag.  It freezes beautifully!  You can also peel your fresh ginger and keep in the freezer whole; when needed grating is much easier.

Baguette

Put leftover French baguettes through the food processor, put the crumbs in a zippered freezer bag, and place in the freezer for the next time you need bread crumbs.

Alternatively, if you know an entire baguette will not be consumed the day you bring it home, put the portion you know will not be eaten into the freezer in a zippered freezer bag.  When you are ready to use it, leave it out on the counter for about half an hour.

Bacon

To cut easily: freeze for thirty minutes.

To reduce shrinkage: Run bacon under cold water before frying,  This can reduce shrinkage and curling by up to 50%.

To separate slices: Before you open a package of bacon, roll it. This will help separate the slices for easy removal.

To fry ahead of time: Cook and drain, then wrap in wax paper. Freeze them in a plastic zippered bag or other freezer container. Reheat briefly in a skillet.

Freezer

Here’s an easy way to prevent freezer burn zippered freezer bag.  Zip it up leaving a small opening to allow air to escape.  Fill a bowl of water and dip the item in the bag.  The pressure from the water will seal the item and the air will escape leaving a vacuum around your item.  Carefully press the bag to allow as much air to escape as possible, then seal.  This will give your food item longer life and prevent the development of freezer crystals on your food.

You can also use another method if you have a drinking straw on hand.  Put the food item or liquid in a zip top freezer bag.  Insert a drinking straw into one end of the bag, close the zipper up to the straw and pinch it closed.  Then suck out as much air as possible.

Stuffing

Turkey or Chicken: The next time you are stuffing a turkey or chicken, make your stuffing as desired, but instead of putting the stuffing right into the cavity of the bird, line a bowl with cheesecloth or get a cheesecloth bag and then stuff that into the bird.  This makes it so much easier to remove the stuffing when you are ready.

If you are stuffing your bird the old fashioned way then use the “heel” of your sliced bread.  Stuff your bird as usual then cover the opening of the carcass with the bread to keep the stuffing from falling out.

Pastry Bag

Make a throw-away pastry bag: Take a zippered bag.  Trim a corner with scissors and place a frosting tip and coupling into the end.  Spoon in your frosting for a disposable bag.

To fill:  For ease of filling, put the bag in a tall drinking glass and pull the top of the bag over the edge of the glass.

Parsley

To clean: The best way to clean fresh parsley is to cut off the long stems and wash in your salad spinner until there are no traces of sand.

To store: Fresh parsley can be dried or frozen for later use. For either method, wash and dry parsley then chop. To freeze, place in a plastic zipper bag and freeze. To dry, spread chopped parsley evenly on a baking sheet and place in a 200 degree oven and remove from oven when completely dry. Store dried parsley in an airtight container.

Meatloaf

To mix: The next time you make meatloaf, put all ingredients in a zippered plastic  bag and knead the ingredients in the bag.  No mess!  You can also use your potato masher to mix ingredients and also keep those hands grease free.

To make a meatloaf that cooks faster, don’t use a loaf pan.  Instead, mold your loaf on a cookie sheet or metal pie plate lined with foil or parchment.  The longer and skinnier you make it, the faster it will cook.  As an added bonus, you won’t have a pan to clean and will have more browned crust.

For individual portions:  Divide the meatloaf into muffin tins.  This will not only  cook faster, it’s great for kids too.

To prevent sticking in pan: Meatloaf will not stick if you place a few strips of bacon on the bottom of the pan.

Marinate

To reduce clean up: Keep extra large zippered plastic bags on hand for the next time you want to marinate almost anything.  Drop your fish or meat, vegetables and your marinade into the bag and ensure the ingredients are coated with the marinade.  When you are ready to cook, simply throw out the bag – no mess and, of course, less time!

Fish

To remove pin bones: Some fish, like salmon, have pesky bones that are hard to remove and unpleasant to bite into.  To resolve this problem, drape your filet over an upside-down bowl.  The curve of the bowl makes the little bones stick up for easy removal with tweezers.

To thaw quickly: Put frozen fish in a zippered freezer bag and submerge in a bowl filled with water.

To remove freezer burn taste: Try thawing frozen fish in milk. The milk draws out the freezer taste and provides a fresh-caught flavor.

Cilantro

To store: It seems like I only ever need a little and cilantro is sold by the bunch.  So try this:  Clean and dry the fresh cilantro.  Put in a zippered freezer bag and store in the freezer.  You will find that this is just about as good as fresh when you need it.

Anchovies

Many people store anchovies in the refrigerator but I prefer this: When you just need a few anchovies from a can, store the rest in a zippered plastic bag in the freezer.  They freeze beautifully and thaw out quickly.  No more waste!

Fruit

To ripen most: Wrap them in newspaper or brown paper bag and put in a warm place for 2-3 days. The ethylene gas they emit will make them ripe. Or, put unripe fruit in a paper bag, close the top, and leave it at room temperature. Check after a few days.  Fruits like mangoes, kiwi, pears and nectarines ripen especially well with this method.

Breading/Coating Meat or Poultry

Prevent buildup on hands: Use one hand for the wet part (egg) and the other hand for the dry (flour or breadcrumbs).  Keeping the wet from the dry will eliminate a buildup of batter on your hands and makes cleaning up easier.

You can also put sheet of wax paper or parchment on the plate before putting the flour or breadcrumbs.  Lift the corners of the paper until the meat is covered.

Another option is when you need to coat foods with bread crumbs, batter, or flour, place the coating in a zipper lock freezer bag or any plastic bag and shake.

Help coating stick: After coating chicken, place in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes before you fry it.

Eggs

To boil: When boiling an egg, add salt to the water. This will separate the membrane between the shell and the egg for easy peeling. When separating eggs, try breaking them into a funnel; the yolk will stay put and the whites will come through.  This also helps you get the most egg white from your egg.   Note that cold eggs are the easiest to separate because the yolks are more firm than room temperature eggs.

When poaching eggs, add a pinch of salt and a little white vinegar to keep the egg intact.

To crack an egg, always use a flat surface like a counter. If you crack it on the side of a bowl, for instance, it will not break evenly.

To prevent boiled eggs from cracking, add about two tablespoons of white vinegar for every quart of water before boiling.  The eggs will not crack and will peel easier.

To remove broken shell: If you have a piece of eggshell in the bowl, scoop it out with the shell in your hand; the shell will attract the broken piece and make it easier to retrieve the broken piece.

To make deviled eggs with no mess, put eggs yolks from hard boiled eggs into a zippered plastic bag. Put in remaining deviled egg ingredients, close bag and mix. When finished, cut a small tip off corner of bag and squeeze into egg white. When finished, throw bag away. You won’t have a mess.

To poach in advance: Kept in a container,  eggs can be poached well in advance by storing in a bowl of cool water.  When needed simply drop eggs in simmering water for 30 seconds before serving.  This is especially great when entertaining.

To remove a broken egg from the carton: Wet the carton with water and the egg should slip out.

To bring to room temperature faster: To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, place them in a bowl of warm – not hot – water for 5 to 10 minutes.  Generally, it is better to cook with room temperature eggs than cold ones.

French Fries

For the best French fries let cut potatoes stand in cold water for one hour before frying. Dry thoroughly. Fry them just a few minutes and blot off the grease. Fry a second time until golden brown. Put them in a brown paper bag. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and shake. You will drain and salt in one action.