These hacks will take your culinary cred to new heights. 

1. Freeze leftover stock and pasta sauce in a zip-lock bag. Not only will they take up way less space in your freezer, they’ll also be a breeze to defrost.

2. Every time you cut off a piece of ginger, blot the end with paper towel and store it in the freezer. It’ll stay fresh for months and be easier to grate.

3. Core your iceberg lettuce in five seconds by slamming it on your countertop, core-side down. Flip it over and ta-da: no more core.

 4. Turn a loaf of bread upside down before you slice it. The bottom is softer than the top, which means your knife will slide through it more easily. You’ll get less mess and your bread won’t be squished. Win!

5. When it comes to peeling ginger, scrape the skin off with the edge of a metal spoon. Negotiating all those ridges can get tricky when you’re working with a blade or peeler, but a spoon will glide over them without a problem.

6. Eat your capsicum raw. When exposed to high temperatures, capsicum’s stores of vitamin C can degrade. If you can’t handle it au natural, try sautéing or grilling it briefly instead.

7. Freshen up your wooden chopping board with baking soda, salt and half a lemon. Sprinkle a handful of sea salt over the board, rub it in with the lemon, then add half a cup of baking soda. Let the mix sink in, then rinse.

8. Have trouble slicing thin strips of beef for stir-fries? Try firming up the meat in the freezer for around 30 minutes first.

9. Spritz your grater with cooking oil. It’s take the elbow grease out of grating cheese and make the clean-up easier, too.

10. Never wash raw chicken – you’ll splash bacteria all over your kitchen. Kill the germs by cooking it thoroughly.

11. Use your almost-empty jam jar to make a yummy berry vinaigrette. Add a pinch of salt, squeeze of fresh lemon juice and equal parts olive oil and white vinegar to the jar, give it a shake and voilà!

12. Rub your hands on stainless steel to nix the smell of garlic from your skin. The molecules in stainless steel bind to the sulphur molecules in garlic, which transfers the aroma from your hands to the metal.

13. To make the most of your fresh produce, ask market stall holders for their advice. If they’re selling four different types of apples, for example, ask which ones make the best pies.

14. Place bunches of fresh herbs in a jar half-filled with water, cover them with a plastic bag and place in the fridge to increase their life span.

15. Bump up pasta’s health status by reheating it. Yep, if you allow your pasta to cool, then warm it up again, it’ll turn into resistant starch, which reduces blood sugar. Oh, and if you eat it cold, you might absorb less kJs, too.

16. If you need to caramelise onions quick-smart, add a pinch of baking soda to the mix. The powder raises the pH of the onions, which speeds up the caramelisation process.

17. Use almost-empty jars of herbs and spices to make flavoured butter. Add the seasonings to a softened block of butter, give it a good stir, spoon the mix into an ice cube tray then freeze. Take out a few cubes when your pasta, meat, or fish needs some extra zing.

18. To pickle veggies in record time, slice thinly and soak them in some salt, sugar and white vinegar in the fridge overnight. They’ll be sweeter, juicier and look très fancy.

19. Want to boost the antioxidants in your tomatoes? Heat ’em up. Cooking tomatoes (by, say, using them in pasta sauce) increases their levels of the free-radical fighting compounds.

20. Keep your leftover Parmesan cheese rinds in the freezer and add them to your soups for an extra pop of flavour.

21. Use wet fingers to pick out broken egg shells from your mixing bowl. They won’t slip past you now!

22. Got some bread going stale? Make croutons for your salads. Cut the bread into small squares, brush them with a little olive oil then pop them in the oven until they crisp up.

23. Bake pies in glass dishes. You’ll be able to see when the crust is browning and the glass will ensure an equal distribution of heat, so it’ll cook evenly the whole way through for a MasterChef-worthy result.

24. Prevent water from boiling over by placing a wooden spoon on top of the pot. Before the bubbles get a chance to swim over the rim, the spoon will pop them.
 
25. Slash the fat content in your cakes by replacing the butter and oil with pumpkin purée. Swap equal amounts of oil for pumpkin, and cup of pumpkin purée for every cup of butter required.

26. Buy soft cheeses from the farmer’s market if you want the good stuff. “Often the supply isn’t big enough to stock a supermarket,” says Stephanie Alexander, author of Kitchen Garden Companion: Growing (Penguin, $49.99).

27. Don’t crowd your oven tray when baking veggies. If they’re too close, they’ll steam and turn mushy. Keep them separated if you like your roast veg nice and crunchy.

28. Get creative with a little DIY and “make your own cheap oat flour by blending or processing rolled oats,” suggests The Protein Chef Derek Howes (theproteinchef.co).

29. When reading recipes online, keep scrolling down to the comments section. Learn from other people’s mistakes and take advantage of their advice about what worked (or didn’t!).

30. Consider investing in copper cookware to decrease your chances of food poisoning. Thanks to its antimicrobial properties, copper can help to prevent the spread of salmonella.

31. Sauté carrots, onion and celery for at least 15 minutes before adding them to soups to bring out their flavour. You want the vegetables to become fragrant and start to soften.

32. Ripen your bananas and apples by keeping them together. Both fruits produce ethylene gas, which accelerates the maturation process.

33. To dry spinach and lettuce leaves without a salad spinner, simply toes them in a (clean) cotton pillowcase and swing it around.

34. Use the leftover veggie pulp from your juicer to make stock. Add two bags of pulp to a pot with your favourite herbs, a pinch of salt and pepper, one sliced onion and 2L of water, then simmer for 30 minutes.

35. Shop the farmer’s market in order of weight to keep your buys in good nick, recommends Alexander. “Buy the heavy things first, such as potatoes or onions, then, at the very end, buy soft fruit and bunches of herbs.”

36. When buying store-bought bone broth, take note of its texture. “The more jelly-like the broth, the more nutritious it is,” explains nutritionist Stephanie Malouf (stephaniemalouf.com.au). Don’t worry, it’ll turn to liquid when you heat it up.

37. Make sure your exy organic nut haul goes the distance. “Prevent nuts and seeds from going rancid by storing them in the fridge in an airtight container, away from heat and light,” tips Malouf.

38. Stop your chopping board from slipping by placing some paper towel underneath it. The friction will prevent the board from moving, so you can dice those tomatoes without losing a finger.

39. To give iceberg lettuce that nice crispy texture, place it in a bowl of ice water for 20 minutes. Drain, then pat dry using paper towels and refrigerate in a bowl with a lid until you’re ready to serve it.

40. Keep avocados looking fresh by brushing the cut side with olive oil. This helps prevent oxidation (the process that turns your avos brown).

41. Peel your avocado, store it in a zip-lock bag and place it in the freezer. Come back in a week and surprise! It’ll still be good to go.

42. Making a bunch of poached eggs? Preheat your oven to 180°C, then crack each egg into a muffin tin hole filled with 1 tablespoon of water. Bake them for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how runny you like your eggs, then remove them with a slotted spoon. Too easy!

43. Cook pasta in its sauce for an authentic Italian experience. Just before serving time, pour 2 tablespoons of boiling water into the sauce, strain the pasta, then add to the pan. Cook for 10 minutes and the pasta will soak up the sauce for an even tastier dish.

44. Use unscented dental floss to slice even cake layers. Wrap the string around the middle of the cake, slowly pull it tighter and hey, presto!

45. Remove the waxy film from apples by soaking them in warm water and apple cider vinegar for 20 minutes.

46. Cut onions with a potato peeler for thin, even slices in seconds.

47. You can freeze flour! Store this baking staple in the cold and it’ll keep for up to two years.

48. Reduce the bitter taste of leafy greens such as kale by soaking them in cold water an hour before serving.

49. Don’t sit around waiting for your hard or frozen butter to thaw – grate it and it’ll soften in no time.

50. Keep your glass of wine chilled by adding a few frozen grapes instead of ice cubes. They won’t water down your bevvy!

This story appeared in the July 2016 issue of Women’s Fitness.

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