20 Top Kitchen Secrets, Hacks and Tricks

Lots of people will have you believe that cooking is really tricky, some sort of fantastical alchemy that takes decades to master.  The truth is that anyone can learnt to cook, with a bit of guidance and a bit of practice.  Just watch some cookery shows to learn the techniques and what the terms mean, buy some decent cookery books, and get stuck in.  Practice really does make perfect.  And, if you make mistakes, great - how else does anyone learn?  I've been cooking for decades and still mess up, my husband does it for a living and still messes up!  And if you want to improve your skills and techniques, check out these 20 top kitchen hacks.

1. Soften fridge cold butter fast by placing it under a glass that has been warmed under the hot tap for a couple of minutes.

2. Freeze fresh herbs in ice cube trays, top up with water or olive oil then add directly to stews, sauces etc.

3. Got shell caught in your egg white?  Just wet your finger and you can slide it out easily.

4. Keep cookies and flapjack soft by adding a wedge of Apple to the storage container, it will keep your bake lovely and moist. Replace the apple wedge daily.

5. Don't throw the olive oil from jars of olives and Sun-dried tomatoes away, use it to soften onions when cooking and add more flavour to your dish.

6. Place a wooden spoon over boiling pasta to prevent the water boiling over.

7. Open tricky jars by placing a bottle opener under the rim to break the seal. Just twist till the pressure 'pops'.

8. Check eggs for freshness by placing them one at a time in a bowl of cold water. If it sinks to the bottom it's fine, if it stands upright on the bottom hard boil it, if it floats, bin it.

9. Peel ginger with the edge of a spoon, so much easier than using a knife, and it just scrapes the bark off so none is wasted.

10. Add a large pinch of sugar to tomato-based sauces and soups to bring out the flavour.

11. Before squeezing citrus fruits, roll them back and forth under your palm on the counter to get more juice out.

12. If you only need a teaspoon or two of lemon or lime juice, push a skewer into the end and squeeze the juice out.

13. Use drawer inserts to keep utensils organised or, better still, keep cutlery and equipment you use most often in pots on the workshop. (Ours are all in handy metal plant pots from IKEA.)

14. Clean and polish chrome or stainless steel appliances with a dab of baby oil on a clean cloth. A bottle lasts for ages.

15. Place a cut lemon in the fridge to absorb nasty niffs.

16. Spruce up a grubby chopping board by rubbing with coarse sea salt then wiping half a lemon over.

17. Stop your chopping boards slipping on the workshop by placing a slightly damp cloth or tea towel underneath.

18. Keep drains clear by chucking a handful of baking soda down, followed by a kettle of boiling water once a week.  More natural cleaning tips.

19. Clean your dishwasher once a week by running an empty wash with white vinegar in place of detergent. Run a second hot cycle to rinse.

20. Make ice cubes with hot boiled water.  They will freeze faster and be crystal clear.  Perfect for when your cooking is done - cheers!

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