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Here are 13 cooking shortcuts that will make your life so much easier

On dinner duty this evening? Read on…

COOKING IS A skill, which means that the more you practice, the better you become.

And only with practice can you learn all those little tricks you need to solve problems and speed things up in the kitchen.

But whether you’re a connoisseur or a newbie, someone else has been there first, and lucky for you, they’re willing to share their hard-won wisdom.

Here are 13 simple cooking tips that will make your culinary life easier.

1. Having trouble peeling garlic? Microwave it first.

garlic-2 Source: CHOW/Youtube

Microwave your head of garlic for 10 seconds. Remove it and peel the garlic with your hands — you’ll notice the cloves slip right out of the casings like magic.

Or – smash the garlic head with the heel of your hand, and then throw it into a metal bowl.

Or – put another metal bowl on top and shake hard for a few seconds. When you remove the top bowl, you’ll see a load of naked garlic cloves. Like so…

garlic-3 Source: SAVEUR/Youtube

2. Soak mussels and clams in water with a few tablespoons of flour.

They will open up to ingest the flour, and in doing so will expel any sand or grit still inside. Leave them in for 30 minutes to get the best possible results before cooking.

3. Get more juice from a lemon by microwaving it.

Heat up your lemon (or any citrus fruit) for 20 to 30 seconds. Apply pressure by rolling it on the counter or in your hands before cutting it in half and juicing.

The fruit will be softer and easier to squeeze.

4. Skim off that disgusting surface fat from soups and stews – with ice cubes.

fat-globules-in-soup Source: FoodMayhem.com via Flickr

Drop a few ice cubes into your finished soup, stew, or casserole. Globules of fat will rise to the surface where it has congealed in colder areas. You can skim these off with a spoon.

Another simple method to try if you’re not eating the soup right away is put it in a container and let it cool in the fridge.

Once the fat has risen to the surface and solidified, you can just scoop it out and then reheat soup as desired.

5. Herbs sticking to your chopping knife? Throw a pinch of salt onto the cutting board.

The friction and weight of the salt will keep the herbs from sticking to your knife and getting all over the board.

(Note: this tip is best with herbs like rosemary and thyme. Basil and mint should be hand-torn to avoid bruising.)

6. Pat meat and seafood dry before frying it in the pan.

Use a paper towel to remove any surface moisture on your meat. This will help avoid steam (or worse — flare ups) when it hits the hot pan or grill.

Moisture and steam will also impede caramelisation, which is what makes the delicious exterior you crave when searing and grilling meats.

7. Chop iceberg lettuce in seconds by removing its core.

iceburg lettuce Source: SAVEUR via Youtube

Take your head of lettuce and slam it down on the counter as hard as you can onto its bottom. Turn it over, and remove the core.

Once the core is out, the lettuce will be easy to separate and chop up with a knife.

8. Avoid clumpy rice by rinsing it before cooking.

Place your uncooked rice in a sieve or mesh colander and run under cold water until it runs clear.

This will remove a lot of unnecessary starch from the rice, which can cause it to stick and clump together. You’ll get fluffy rice every time.

9. Speaking of rice, freeze leftovers to always have a batch on hand.

After you make a big batch of rice, freeze it in multiple microwave-safe containers.

Once you’re ready for rice again, sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of water over the rice and cover with dampened paper towels.

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Pop it in the microwave on high for 1-3 minutes before fluffing. Repeat until the rice is fully hot.

10. Prevent pots from boiling over by resting a wooden spoon across the pot.

boiling water spoon Source: Chad King via Youtube

This works because the dry, room temperature spoon will break the bubbles and send them back into the pot (there’s science behind it — you can read about that here).

Use a different wooden spoon from the one you were stirring with, though. If you use a wet spoon, the wood will warp.

11. De-clump brown sugar quickly with a microwave and water.

If your brown sugar is rock hard, there’s a really simple solution.

Place the block of sugar in a bowl, sprinkle it with water, cover with a damp paper towel, and then microwave for 30 seconds.

Continue microwaving, checking every 30 seconds, until the sugar is soft.

In future, to keep your brown sugar from clumping, place the bag in an airtight container or a resealable freezer bag and store at room temperature.

12. Wet your fingers with water to retrieve an egg shell.

Trying to pick a tiny fragment of egg shell out of a slippery egg yolk is one of those perennial kitchen irritations.

Just you run a bit water over your fingers before reaching in, and the egg shell piece will be easy to grab.

13. Never thaw your frozen steak.

thawed-steak-versus-frozen-steak-americas-test-kitchen-2 Source: America's Test Kitchen via Youtube

Frozen steaks not only taste better than thawed steaks after they’ve been cooked, but they also cook more evenly and lose less moisture.

Read: These amazing food photographers will put those Instagrammed photos of your dinner to shame>

7 delicious lunches that ACTUALLY only take 15 minutes to make>

Published with permission from:

Business Insider
Business Insider is a business site with strong financial, media and tech focus.

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