Now that you’re shopping for groceries less frequently – if only to avoid being coughed on in the [empty] pasta aisle at the supermarket – you’ll be noticing the importance of rationing and recycling more than ever.
Freezing family meal portions for a rainy day … Organising orphan meals for friends who are self-isolating … Doing exciting things with leftovers … Even allowing your pet pooch or moggy more exotic food than their usual canned stuff … The to-do list of the clever foodie is an extensive one.
With Corona chaos all around us, it’s more important than ever to remain calm and clever in the kitchen.
For those looking for smart ideas that will make the most of what’s in the pantry, fridge and fruit bowl, here are 20 trusty tips.
Collated by Antonino Tati
01. Crispier greens
Bring limp greens to life by placing them in a bowl of iced water for half an hour. You’ll get more crunch out of your carrots and cucumbers, too, and this trick works well for herbs like coriander, parsley and basil. Also, you can slow down the browning of greens by storing them in glass jars in the fridge. Of course, lettuce will need to be cut into wedges (a little work won’t kill you), but rocket, spinach and herbs are easily separated into smaller batches.
02. Shell eggs with ease
When boiling a batch of eggs, throw in a wedge of lemon. That little bit of citrus acid will see the shells slide off much easier when done.
03. More tender meat
You can tenderise meat easily by marinating it in fresh pineapple juice for 15 minutes. To get the pineapple flavour off, simply soak the meat for another five minutes in water. Works wonderfully with even the thickest of steaks.
04. Ripen your avos and other fruit faster
Simply include a bunch of bananas in your fruit bowl. Bananas make the other fruit ripen as they release a gas called ethene which sees the softening of the other fruit as it converts starches to sugars. Incidentally, you’ll also find your fruit tastes sweeter.
05. Keep potatoes fresher for longer
Don’t wash your spuds before storing them as you want to avoid dampness which would spoil them. Store your ‘tatoes in a cool, dark, dry space – like the bottom of the pantry. Don’t ever store spuds in the fridge as this only sees the veggie’s good starch converting quicker to sugar resulting in too sweet a taste and discoloration when cooked. Oh, and to stop spuds from sprouting, throw in a Granny Smith apple. Follow these four tips and you’ll see why potatoes have an even higher shelf life than you initially thought… It’s no wonder it was the star vegetable in times of famine.
06. Use humble bread to pick up fiddly bits of glass
If you’ve broken a jar, glass or cup in the kitchen and don’t have a microscope to see the tiny shards that need picking up, simply grab a slice of bread and dab the littered area delicately. The fluff of the bread will pick up even the smallest shards of glass, making the floor safe for all once more.
07. Open tight-lidded jars with ease
Simply wrap a large rubber band around the rim of the lid which will give you extra grip to ply it open.
08. Keep the star ingredients afloat when baking a pie
Whether you’re using canned, dry or fresh fruit in making a pie – or fresh meat chunks for the meatlovers out there – simply toss the contents in a little flour before mixing into the batter or sauce. For some strange (and brilliant) scientific reason, the flour keeps the star ingredients – fruit or meat – from sinking to the bottom!
09. Enjoy the many uses of milk
Keep plants disease-free by mixing one glass of milk to nine glasses of water and filling an easy-spray bottle; an all-natural alternative to harmful pesticides! Use milk as a soothing salve for sunburn; simply soak a towel in milk and use as a cold compress! Remove makeup by dipping cotton wool in milk and gently dabbing and wiping away eye shadow, lippy and foundation!
10. Remove the sticky labels on jars with ease
Remove as much of the sticky label as you can, then coat the remaining sticky area with a little eucalyptus oil. Let it soak for a while, then rub off with a clean cloth to remove the residue.
11. Reuse your fruit punnets wisely
Plastic fruit punnets which you’re not quite ready to see go into landfill can be reused to store bits and bobs that you’ll later use for crafts or DIY-ing. The punnets are idealbecause they’re see-through and because they already come with a nifty lid.
12. Stay stain-free when chopping beets and juicing berries
If you’re have a dirty, stained-filled time chopping beetroot or juicing dark berries, and your hands are starting to look like they’re henna-tattooed, rub a raw potato over the stains and watch them disappear!
13. A cleaner pizza stone
Making more easy pizza than usual? You’ve probably noticed stains built up on the pizza stone. To get rid of these (and any nasty hidden bits of oil), lay damp paper towels onto the stone and using a metal spatula, scrape over any burnt or oily areas. The paper towels will catch any residue and – presto! – the pizza stone ought to look brand new.
14. Keep your Chux wipes free from germs
You know the horrid feeling – you go to handwash a coffee mug and you’re not sure if the Chux superwipe has just been used for something it oughtn’t have been. Give your wipes an instant clean by zapping them in the microwave on high for 2 minutes. Wrap the wipe around a wedge of lemon before microwaving for an even sprightlier touch. Easy peasy, but don’t forget to replace your wipes regularly.
15. Instant insect trap
Running out of fly spray? Pour a little apple cider vinegar into a glass, add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. And watch pesky fruit flies dive right in and, well, die.
16. Use apple cider vinegar to stop the itch of mozzies
Simply dab a little of the cider vinegar on mozzie bites and feel that blissful relief…
17. Heat food more evenly in the microwave
Place the bowl or tray of food toward the edge of the microwave plate rather than the middle so as to ensure the food heats more evenly and won’t leave you digging into ‘cold’ morsels.
18. Reduce oil splatters when frying
This one’s as simple as it is genius: sprinkle a little salt into the oil to minismise splatter. Thank you, Physics.
19. Keep cheese mould-free
If you have leftover chunks of cheese and want these to stay fresh, wrap the chunks in aluminium foil. It’s magic how the foil keeps the cheese from going mouldy!
20. Make your own dishwashing agent
Put 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate powder and 4 drops of eucalyptus oil into the dishwasher dispenser and wash on a hot cycle.
* And one quick tip when feeding your pet pooch or moggy…
Avoid ants getting in and around your pet’s food bowl by placing it inside a larger bowl filled with water. This creates a kind of ‘moat’ to keep the ants out and will keep your pet hungrier, happier and healthier.