Almost everyone knows how to cook up, at least something like toast or coffee. But there are a few who are culinary experts – not only because of the great food they dole out, but also because of some "Kitchen wisdom" that helps them bring out the best in terms of hygiene, flavour and aroma. Our team brings you these priceless pearls of wisdom.
Leave refrigerated produce unwashed in its original packaging or wrapped loosely in a plastic bag. (Exceptions, such as mushrooms and herbs.) If your greens seem sandy or dirty - rinse and dry them well, then wrap them in a paper towel before placing in a plastic bag. Fruits and vegetables stored at room temperature should be removed from any packaging and left loose. Assuming your fruits are ripe and ready to eat, items like apricots and avocados, will ripen faster in a paper bag on the countertop. The bag traps ethylene gas, which is released by the produce and acts as a maturing agent. Want to speed the process up even more? Put an apple in the bag, too.
Dairy items should be kept in the refrigerator, though cheeses benefit from a little extra TLC. Place soft ones, like mozzarella, in an airtight container once open. Wrap semi hard and hard cheeses, once open, in wax or parchment paper, then stow in a re-sealable plastic bag. (If you're freezing, replace the paper with plastic wrap.) Good news for those who like to stock up on milk and yogurt when they're on sale: Both can be frozen. Just transfer them into freezer containers or freezer proof glass jars, leaving 1 inch of space at the top to allow for expansion; once thawed, mix to redistribute the solids.
Whether you're keeping baked goods at room temperature or freezing them, make sure they're tightly wrapped or in an airtight container, with the following exceptions: Dairy-based cakes and pies, such as cheesecake and lemon cream pie, and cookies with uncooked dairy fillings, like whipped cream or cream cheese, should go into the refrigerator. Bakery-style breads and baguettes should be kept in their original packaging (an airtight bag will turn crusts soggy) at room temperature; if freezing, transfer to a re-sealable freezer bag. Any crackers or snack foods that don't disappear within a couple of days will also stay fresh longer in an airtight container or bag.
Keep meat and poultry in its original packaging in the refrigerator. To freeze, slip the packaging into a re-sealable freezer bag. If you're freezing for several months, it's best to wrap pieces individually in plastic before bagging; this will make them less vulnerable to freezer burn. Another way to cut the risk of freezer burn is to buy vacuum-packed meats and poultry (which can also last about 2 days longer in the refrigerator). Leave seafood in its original packaging and, if possible, place on a bowl of ice in the refrigerator. However, live shellfish (like clams) should not be put on ice; open or poke holes in the packaging. To freeze seafood, slip the original packaging into a re-sealable freezer bag.
The quickest way to clean a microwave oven is to place a handful of wet paper towels inside and run it on HIGH for 3-5 minutes. You don't need a science lesson to know that the steam from the towels will soften the grime. Once the paper towels cool down, use them to wipe the oven's interior.
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