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Kitchen and cookery tips, shortcuts, money saving tips, food preparation tips and other gems.

saucepan full of water



I thought it was time to start a
page for general kitchen tips, please send us yours to add – june@hintsandthings.co.uk

  • If you stick you tongue out while chopping onions
    it will stop you crying. Alternatively, chop the onion close to a running tap.  
    Apparently the chemicals in the onions go for the nearest source of liquid.

Contributed by Mark Shileds (12 years

  • A quick and effective way to “Smoke”
    food at home –

Take the tea out of about 10 tea bags (or use loose
tea) and mix together with 8 oz. of demerara sugar and 8 oz. of long grain rice.

Line a Wok with tinfoil, put the above mixture on
top and cover with another piece of foil. Lay your trout, salmon, chicken breast or duck
(whatever you are cooking) on top of the foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover
with lid.  Leave to cook on a gradual heat for about 15/20 minutes.

This will give the food a delicious
“smoked” taste.  Be warned, however, it does make a rather pungent smell in
your kitchen.

If you don’t fancy smoking
your own food then there are companies out there offering excellent
smoked meat
and other produce at very competitive prices.

  • After cooking Corned Beef in the pot use the stock
    for Pea and Ham Soup; you can freeze the stock and use later or make the
    soup straight away and freeze or eat the next day, we found it to be

Maureen Hutchinson

  • Put two or three lumps of sugar in with the cheese
    to stop it going green mouldy.

  • If you want your pork chops to taste even better,
    sprinkle with soy sauce as you grill them on the cooker or barbeque.

Thanks to Harvey Alexander for
these two tips

  • When peeling garlic, thump the clove with the side of
    a knife or cleaver and the skin will lift away easily.

Thank you Michael Paterson.

  • To bake a moist ham, pour a can of Coke into the baking pan, cover with
    aluminium foil and bake.  Remove the foil 30 minutes before the end of cooking time.
      The dripping combined with Coke provides a delicious brown base for gravy.

This tip was sent in by Doreen
and Craig Stocker as well as “Siren”

  • To remove fat from soups or gravies, take the outside leaves from a
    Romaine lettuce which you would normally throw away and wipe them over the soup or gravy.
      The fat adheres to the leaf beautifully.

Thank you Jo-Ann Giuggio.

  • To open stubborn caps and lids on kitchen items, take a church key
    (bottle opener) and place end under the cap and slowly pry upward until you hear the air
    release and then open.

Thanks to Robin for this one.

  • Piercing the cap with a skewer or other suitable metal
    object to release the air also works.

  • If you have to cook a hen (i.e. older bird) which usually take much
    longer than the young chicken place a heavy metal knife and fork (MUST BE ALL METAL NO
    WOOD OR PLASTIC) inside the boiling water along with the bird and you will cut the cooking
    time by more than a half.  This also works well with most hard to cook meats (turkey,
    pork) it even works with potatoes.

Thanks for this very original
tip Mary Valencia


  • After being advised to put skewers in baking potato’s to reduce
    cooking time, which worked, I took this method one stage further and
    applied it to beef, pork, lamb and chicken, which also worked and thus
    reduced my energy bill by at least half an hour each time.

    David Burton


    N.B.  DO NOT do this when cooking in a
    microwave and BE CAREFUL when removing the skewer as it will be extremely


  • When preparing tuna salad, chicken salad or potato salad, pre-chill all
    the ingredients first.  This keeps this potentially hazardous food from getting to
    temperatures where harmful microorganisms will grow.  Most people believe that the
    mayonnaise is the culprit, but actually because commercially prepared mayonnaise contain
    lemon or other stabilizers, it actually insulates the meat and potatoes.  You must
    then place into a refrigerator at a temperature of 41 degrees.

Thank you Sandra Girard (Health Inspector)

  • Instant potatoes are excellent for thickening gravy, soups etc. it
    doesn’t make lumps like flour.

Bette sent in this one – thank you.

  • Pastry too flaky or you haven’t got time to let it rest – then tightly
    cover your surface with some cling film, sprinkle with a little flour, place the pastry on
    the film, then cover again with lightly floured film.  Once you have made a cling
    film sandwich simply roll out the pastry, take the top layer of film off, flip the pastry
    into your flan case or baking tin.

Charlotte Ward makes this sound so easy –
thanks Charlotte.

  • Rub your hands with vinegar before and after slicing onions – this will
    eliminate the smell.

Thanks to Tina for this one

  • If you forget to do the above – When
    peeling onions and the scent is on your hands, just run the cold water
    and rub hands on the chrome fixture. Works like magic.

Contributed by Jan Cornelius

  • To remove the smell of onion and/or garlic from your fingers: Wet
    your hands and rub your fingers on something stainless steel – the
    sink, a splashback, the kettle, a large implement like a ladle. I
    didn’t believe it would work, but it does!

Sarah Nicholson

  • To avoid stinky garlic smelling fingers for what seems days on end
    here’s a tip……….. before peeling and chopping, coat your
    finger tips with a little olive oil. When you’re done, just wash
    normally with soap and there’s no smell. Cheaper than that more
    expensive metal soap bar.

Ms. Watfa yassine

  • To prevent foam from forming and boiling over when boiling pasta in
    water, put a couple of drops of vegetable oil in the water.

Thank you “SchoenRacer”

  • An easy way to cut brownies is to use a plastic knife.

Jane contributed this gem. Thanks.

  • To kill bacteria in kitchen sponges (the cleaning variety that is – not
    cake), put them into the microwave for 30 to 40 seconds, then wash in the usual way.
      BE CAREFUL – they are
    very hot in the centre so make sure you run them under cold water before squeezing.

Thank you Denise.

  • Other than salt in water to make it boil faster, use a little bit of
    vinegar, especially for potatoes, it will keep them whiter.

  • To make potatoes fluffier while your mashing them add a pinch of baking
    soda, they will turn out really fluffy and taste better too.

Both tips sent by Natalie Trahan, thanks.

  • To separate eggs is to take a small funnel and crack an egg into it.
      The white will slip through leaving the yolk in tact in the funnel.

  Thanks to Siren for this one.

  • Another way to separate egg yolks from whites is to crack the egg and
    pour it into you hand, letting the white slip through your fingers.  (I have a
    feeling that salvaging the yolk may be easier said than done!)

  • To squeeze frozen spinach dry after it has thawed is to put it in a
    potato ricer and squeeze the water out – works a treat.

Both these tips were submitted by Travelling
Gourmet Personal Chef Service – thank you.

  • Zest a fresh orange (i.e. just the orange part not the white pith) and
    put into butter and brown sugar when you make sticky buns so the sugary part will not turn
    gritty but will really caramelise.  Great taste and texture.  (Oh yes please!!!)

Courtesy of Mary Ann Macy – thanks.

  • Never salt meat before cooking, it will draw out all the juices and
    toughen it.

Thank you “Sugarlouise”

  • To keep packed lunches at a safe temperature, freeze a part of the
    lunch, e.g. a small tub of yoghurt or a juicebox.  Pop it into an insulated lunchbag
    and it will keep the rest of the lunch chilled until lunchtime.

Contributed anonymously.  Thank you.

I actually make my sandwich with bread taken
from the freezer, this keeps it nice and fresh until lunchtime.

  • We have found the best way to prepare garlic is to feel the garlic, then
    chop it up in the food processor, until fine.  We then form ropes on wax paper, roll
    it up and freeze.  Then when required we take out the rope and cut off what we need
    and replace the rest in the freezer until the next time.

Thank you Rozetta Hahn for this one.

  • When next cooking a leg of lamb, stab holes into it and stuff them with
    pieces of garlic.  The pieces dissolve during cooking and add flavour and tenderness
    to the meat.  Sprinkling dried or fresh rosemary on top adds a nice flavour too.

Courtesy of Kim Hedrich

  • To keep mealy moths (and therefore weevils
    out of your grain products put whole bay leaves in each container.  Several leaves
    dropped at the back of the shelf won’t hurt either.  The moths hate the smell of bay
    leaves and will, therefore, leave the area.  This works for some species of roaches

Thank you Mairi Krausse

  • If you boil quite a few eggs ahead of time for a dish and decide to put
    them into the refrigerator until you use them, here’s a quick tip to make sure that you do
    not accidentally pick up the wrong ones.  When the eggs are boiling, place a few
    drops of food colouring into the water.

Thanks “Siren” of the USA.

  • Chops herbs and chillies,
    place in a bag and place in freezer ready to use as and when needed.

  • To get those encrusted bits of food off your work surface, move the lid
    of a milk carton over the surface pressing hard, it will scrape them off easily and
    quickly without harming the surface.

Thanks to Pam in Bath for this one.


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