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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 old!)

  • 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 lovely.

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 hot!


  • 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 too.

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.


General Food and Cooking related tips.

Food tips

General kitchen tips




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