hintsandthings.co.uk »Kitchen

Useful remedies for minor mishaps and tricky jobs in the home and kitchen.



Then, of course, there are those tricky jobs or minor mishaps, what
would Mum do?


Sally Davies contacted us to for a remedy to prevent
mincemeat boiling out and spoiling her
In the end, however, she came up with her own solution and has sent it in to
benefit others.  She simply added a little cornflour to the mincemeat
mixture before use and it worked!

Mincepies are not meat pies but pastry tarts filled with a mixture of currants,
raisins, sugar, apples, candied peel, spices and often suet.  A treat at Christmas in
the U.K.

If you are browning meat (or anything else in oil)
and it
sticks to the pan
when you try to turn it.  Take the pan off the burner
and allow it to sit for a minute or two.  The moisture in the food will loosen it
from the pan and you can then turn it easily.  Unless it is burnt to a crisp, this
will work every time.

Thanks to Randi
Gifford for this gem.

When baking cookies it is less taxing to use an
air-flow sheet.  If you do not have one, it is quite simple to improvise.   Take
two cookie sheets and place four coins on the bottom sheet.  This will cause the top
sheet to sit slightly above the other creating an “air chamber”.

I must admit I am not familiar
with “Air-flow” sheets but this sounds an ingenious idea from
Siren – USA –  Many thanks.

Our thanks to “Heatherdale”
(sorry – this is the only contact name we have)  for this new tip:-

To prevent chillies impregnating
your skin,
before chopping rub a little vegetable oil into your hands
and wash immediately afterwards. 

To prevent pastry cases from rising during
prick the base with a fork before
putting in the filling.

To prevent fillings penetrating the pastry case
and making it soggy
cook the case, then brush over the bottom of the pastry case with warm
apricot jam before adding the filling.  Not suitable for savoury




To cut new bread with a bread knife,
let the knife stand in boiling water for a few minutes before cutting.

To prevent icing from sticking to your
whilst spreading on the cake, occasionally dip the knife into hot water,
shaking off the excess. 

To remove excess fat/grease from soup or
, dip a slice of fresh bread gently into the liquid and this will absorb
the fat. Alternatively, use a clean piece of kitchen towel, however, great care should be
taken to avoid leaving any of the paper behind.

To fill a piping bag with icing,
place the bag into which the nozzle has been inserted, into a jug of a suitable size and
fold back the collar over the outside of the jug.  This will hold the bag steady and
leave both hands free.

To make small icing bags, take a zip style freezer bag and
place your frosting inside.  Close the zip and snip a small hole in one corner of the
bag.  It is essential to use freezer quality bags and the sandwich variety is not
strong enough and will burst when you squeeze the icing out.

Another good tip from Siren – USA – Thank

Cake has burnt a little on the top, or
risen unevenly
– don’t panic.  Slice the top off* which removes the burnt
piece and levels the surface, turn the cake over using the bottom of the cake as the
top.  Coat with icing as usual.

*Use dental floss to slice the top off.
   From  Siren – USA

To separate egg yolks from whites.  
Carefully break egg in half and tip yolk carefully
from one half shell to the other, letting the egg white fall into a bowl underneath as you
do this.   Alternatively, gently break the egg onto a saucer, place an egg-cup
carefully over the yolk and whilst holding this firmly in place tip the egg white into a
bowl, leaving the egg yolk under the egg cup.

How fresh are your eggs?
  Put egg in to 4ins. of water, if it stays on the bottom it’s fresh. If one end tips
up it is less fresh and if it floats to the top it is either bad or at the stage where it
will be impossible to fry without breaking.

Hard boiled eggs – 
prevent the outside of the yolk turning black, immediately after cooking plunge the egg
into cold water and allow to cool down.

To prevent them crumbling when sliced, wet the knife first.

Smelly pans
If previous
dinner smells remain in the saucepan, fill with water, add vinegar and boil up.  The
pan should be fine but the kitchen smells of boiled vinegar!

Smelly fridge or plastic containers.  
It is said that to prevent smells in the first place, leave a piece of
charcoal on one of the shelves and this will absorb any odours. 
However, if there was no charcoal to hand and the fridge smells, dissolve 2
– 3 teaspoons of Bicarbonate of Soda in a pint of water and wipe out the
inside of the fridge.

Fill any offending plastic containers
with the same mixture and leave to soak overnight – all should be odour free
in the morning.

Can’t get the ketchup out of the narrow
necked bottle – try this

  1. Hold thumb over the end of a drinking straw and push straw to the
    bottom of the bottle, remove thumb.  Ketchup should now pour easily.
  2. Hold the bottle almost horizontal with the bottom slightly higher than
    the top.  Tap on the side of the neck with your finger (You’ll be making and
    up-and-down motion).  Works especially well with full bottles.
    Thanks to Ray for this one.

Can’t get the lid off
a wide rubber band around the lid, then twist.  The rubber band allows your hand to
get a purchase on the lid.

Items slip on tray
– Many people use melamine trays for carrying tea-cups, teapots etc.,
however, the items can slip. To overcome this, get a roll of anti-slip
rubber. This is available from many DIY shops, and I have seen it not only
in the usual black (usually used for car boots), but also in Yellow, red and
white. It is easily cut to the shape of your tray with scissors, and is
washable in soapy water (dry on a radiator).  A company called Rolson makes
the coloured sort, and is also available in the AA shop online.

Davis of

Salt cellar clogged up
– put a few grains of rice in with the salt, this will absorb the moisture.
(apparently this tip may be attributable to Mr. Fenton Queue’s Auntie Elizabeth
Anne Turner)

Cake stuck to tin
sides with knife, whilst still hot, place tin on a wet cloth and try again in a few
minutes.  If it is still stuck try to loosen it with a fish slice or flexible


More kitchen gems.

Kitchen and food

How to rescue those kitchen

Aga tips.

How to cook
to perfection.


I am sure you all know a little nugget of wisdom which can be shared
with the rest of us, if so, contact me on june@hintsandthings.co.uk
– don’t forget this is only a hobby and my original intention was to pass on information
to future generations – now is your chance!