There’s nothing more disappointing than planning a meal only to find that one of your ingredients is a little lack-lustre. Here are a couple of handy hints we’ve found that are sure to revolutionise your time in the kitchen!
Fix floppy lettuce! Empty 1 or 2 trays of ice into a large bowl and fill the bowl with cold water. Put your lettuce (washed or not) into the bow, keeping the lettuce as fully submerged as possible. Wait 15-20 minutes. Remove the lettuce from the water and dry it in a salad spinner. Make salad and serve immediately.
Stop potatoes from sprouting! It’s best to take them out of the plastic bag and put them in a basket or breathable cotton sack and make sure they are totally dry before storing long-term. Damp potatoes will rot or sprout faster. Keep them in a cool, dark place and never store them near onions, bananas, or other fruit — this will encourage them to sprout faster. The best place to store potatoes is in the fridge in the vegetable drawer lined with kitchen paper, it’s both cool and dark!
Brighten up bread! Bear in mind, this trick only works with more rustic loaves that turn hard not mouldy. Never use mouldy bread! This might seem terrifying at first, but stay with us. Turn on a tap of running water—either hot or cold will do—and stick that loaf of bread right under it. Try to position it so the exposed or cut-side is facing away from the water, but if the loaf’s interior gets wet, fear not. Don’t be timid; get the crust good and wet before proceeding. If your oven has a “warm” setting and you’ve been waiting to use it, this is your moment. If not, just set it to 150-160 degrees celsius and pop the bread in the oven, directly on the rack. Set a timer for 6-7 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf—or 10-12 for a super wet loaf (like one whose interior has gotten drenched). What emerges will be a good-as-new loaf: Moist on the inside, crackly-crust on the outside.
Tenderize meat! Whether you’re grilling or stir-frying, ending up with tender, mouth-watering meat is always the goal. Achieving said texture isn’t always so easy. Here’s a trick for tenderizing meat that you may never have heard before:
Use bicarbonate of soda to tenderize meat.
This may sound weird, but bicarbonate of soda alkalizes the meat’s surface, making it harder for the proteins to bond and thereby keeping the meat more tender when cooked.
Here’s what to do with a large piece of meat you might grill or pan-sear:
Rub the meat with bicarbonate of soda. Let it rest in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 hours. Rinse all the meat thoroughly to remove all the bicarbonate of soda. Cook as desired, then bite into a seriously tender piece of meat.
Here’s what to do with smaller cuts or slices you might stir-fry:
Dissolve bicarbonate of soda in water (for every 350g of meat, use 1 teaspoon of baking soda and ½ cup of water). Soak the meat in the solution for at least 15 minutes. Remove and rinse. Cook as desired, then bite into a seriously tender piece of meat.
This technique works particularly well with smaller cuts of meat, since the bicarbonate of soda has a lot of surface area to penetrate. You can use it with chicken, pork and beef.