Kitchen Tips

Prolonging Berry Freshness
It happens to all of us. Put a box of berries in the refrigerator, then throw them in the garbage a few days later, covered with mold. While we've advocated not washing berries until just before use (damp berries turn mushy faster than dry berries), we've discovered that cleaning with a mild vinegar solution and careful drying destroys bacteria and mold spores, extending the life of the berries. Here's how to do it:
1. Wash berries in bowl with 3 cups water mixed with 1 cup white vinegar. Drain in colander and rinse under running water
2. Place berries in a Salad Spinner lined with 3 layers of paper towels spin for 15 seconds or until berries are completely dry.
3. Store berries in paper towel-lined sealable container, keeping lid slightly open to allow excess moisture to escape.

 - By J. Kenji Alt - Cooks Illustrated August 2007-

Faster Defrosting
Our recommended method, thawing frozen meat overnight in the refrigerator, can take 24-36 hours. Not very convenient if you've got guests coming for dinner in a few hours. Trying to quickly defrost meat in the microwave results in partially cooked meat. A quick way to defrost meat without loss in quality, submerge the meat (unwrapped) in a bucket of cold tap water, changing it every 15 minutes. After one hour, poke the thickest part with a skewer to see if the meat is fully thawed. If the interior still feels frozen, change the water and check again at 10 minute intervals. 1 1/2 lbs should take between one and 1 1/2 hours to fully defrost.

 - By J. Kenji Alt - Cooks Illustrated August 2007 -

Fondant Tips

Before applying fondant, a "sticky" surface should be applied to the cake which will help the fondant adhere to it. Many spread a thin layer of butter cream before laying out the fondant.

Fondant dries quickly, so while working with it, always keep excess well-wrapped in plastic, as well as the parts on the cake you are not working on.

 - Courtesy Of Food Network 2005 - From the show Sugar Rush  -

Cleaning Copper
I clean my copper bowls by buffing them with ketchup, then rinsing them. Acid in the ketchup eats away the tarnish. And it's non-toxic, so I know it's safe.

 - J. Hoover, Des Moines, IA - 1999 Nov/Dec Cuisine -

Crispier Custard Crust

When you are baking custard in a crust, the crust can sometimes become soggy once it is prepared.
To help prevent this the next time that you make your recipe, break your eggs into a bowl before adding to the recipe. Slightly mix the egg so that it is just combined.
Pour the egg into your prepared pie shell and tip the pan so that the egg touches all of the surface of the shell that the mix will be touching.
When you are done coating the crust, pour the egg into your mixture and continue to prepare as normal.
When you bake your pie the egg coating will cook first helping to preserve your crust

 - Teresa Worth August 2007-

Does Silicone Need Preparation:

Although manufacturers of baking and cooking pans use the term non-stick, this is a relative thing. There is no substance on earth that is 100% non-stick. Silicone is the best of all non-stick material but it still requires preparation. a light coating of oil will work for non-chocolate cakes but a spray that contains oil and flour or oiling and flouring the pans is necessary for chocolate cakes

- December 2005 -

Knife Sharpening
The traditional sharpening steel can straighten and recondition the edge but requires skill and practice to avoid doing more damage to the blade than good. The straightened edge is still weak after "steeling" and can quickly fold again. Eventually, steeling breaks off too much of the edge and is no longer effective. The average person doesn't have the skill or know how to use a sharpening steel correctly. The margins for error are slim because there are no angle guides and using the steel proficiently requires effort, skill, patience and lots of practice. Diamond steels produce better results because the diamond abrasives will actually sharpen the edge of the knife blade even if the angle is not correct. Note: All knife manufacturers recommend periodic professional sharpening in addition to regular steeling.

 - Chef's Choice Online 2006-

Floss Your Cake
I used to cut cheesecake with a knife, but the cake always stuck to it. The slices looked just plain awful. Then I saw your tip about cutting soft cheese with dental floss. It works great for cheesecake too. Just hold the floss taut and pull it down through the cheesecake. Perfect!

 - J. Burch, Valparaiso, IN - 1998 May/June Cuisine -

Freezing Blue Cheese
When I have leftover blue cheese, I just throw it in the freezer in a sealable bag. The frozen blue cheese is always ready to go on top of salads and other dishes. When it's frozen, the cheese breaks off easily. It can also peel off in curls using a vegetable peeler or paring knife.

 - S. Stansfield, Sussex, NJ - 1998 Sept/Oct Cuisine -

Freezing Lemon Slices
To add a little zing to your drinks, use frozen lemon slices. Lemons (and limes) freeze in perfect condition. Not only do they add flavor, they keep beverages cooler too! I always keep slices of each in the freezer for beverages - water, iced tea, beer, or soda.

 - L. Coomes, Kirkland, WA - 1998 Sept/Oct Cuisine -

Freezing Tomatoes
When my garden produces more tomatoes than I can handle or give away, I freeze them whole. Just put them in a plastic bag and place them in the freezer. You don't even need to cut out the core. In the winter when I need fresh-tasting tomatoes for soup, sauces, etc., I go to my freezer. Simply run cool water over the frozen tomatoes and the skin pops right off.

 - L. Hitchcock, Salinas, CA - 1999 May/June Cuisine -

Frozen Gel Packs
I was taught to chill the bowl to whip cream faster and increase its thickness. Once, I was in a hurry and grabbed a frozen gel pack from my freezer. I put it under my mixing bowl, then whipped the cream. It worked like magic. Best of all, the packs are reusable!

 - A. Persico, Bismarck, ND - 1998 Sept/Oct Cuisine -


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