Chefs Top 10 Fruit and Veggie Prep Kitchen Tips
Perhaps you’ve watched too much Food-related TV, and you’ve seen professional chefs use a knife to chop veggies faster than a pair of wind up teeth. You see them create genuine works of art in their cooking style, and they seem to know all the little tricks for making gourmet food. I can’t tell you to use a straw to get the leafy part off a strawberry, and you instantly be a 5-star chef in Paris named Jacques, but I can sure help you make your kitchen time a little easier.
1. Toma-no’s There’s a few measures you can take to prevent your tomatoes from becoming toma-no’s. (get it?) First, keeping them on the counter away from direct sunlight is actually preferable to refrigeration. Tomatoes are a summer fruit, and as such they don’t keep too well in colder temperatures. Another simple tip for your spaghetti fruits is to flip them upside down. That’s right, you can have an extra few days worth of tomato just by flipping the little bugger upside down. This is because oxygen is able to reach the inside of the tomato via the little stem that’s left over from being picked.
2. Immortal Bananas Bananas, like avocados, have a very small window in which they go from green and inedible, to so completely rotten you could fuel a sedan with them. Just like tomatoes, they have a “scar” from being picked, whereby oxygen and ripening ethylene gases are able to move a little too quickly, causing a rotten fruit. The best way to slow down this process and create a bigger window of edible fruit, is to wrap the stem in plastic wrap. Because ethylene can no longer escape so quickly, the fruit will remain ripe (but not rotten) much longer.
3. Scoopin’ Squash A quick and easy tip for getting pesky seeds out of pumpkin and squash, is to use an ice cream scoop. Because the scoop is slightly bladed, it carves out the slimy seeds much quicker than a dull spoon.
4. Drunken Cherries Sick of going to the dentist every time you dive head first into a bag of cherries, not remembering they have little pebbles in them? Grab a beer bottle! Place the cherry on the top of the bottle, and use a straw or chopstick to push the seed down into the bottle. Make sure the bottle is empty, because otherwise we’re just going in a really dangerous circle.
5. Peeling Gingerly Peeling ginger root is kind of like removing the paint from a car with a butter knife. Okay, it’s not THAT bad, but it’s pretty tedious. A quick tip for removing the pesky, papery peel from ginger, is to use a spoon rather than a traditional peeler. This is because the peel of ginger is much more papery and fibrous. Using a spoon allows those fibers to stay together just enough to remove much more peel, much faster. Combine this with rinsing it like a potato while peeling, and you’ll be finished in no time.
6. Garlic Smashin’ Peeling garlic is no fun task. Like egg shells, you can spend tedious amounts of time peeling tiny bits of the outer shell with little progress. A great tip that I use every time I peel garlic, is to place the flat side of a chef’s knife over the clove of garlic, and give it a tap with the palm of your hand. This breaks the tough outer shell of the clove, and it will fall right off.
7. Avocado Ninja Most of us already know the traditional avocado trick. Cut it in half, whack the seed with a knife, and toss it in the garbage. But what if I told you you didn’t have to hack it like a lumberjack and wake the neighbors dogs? While still in tact, where you’d normally cut your avocado in half along the side, do so again in a horizontal direction. You’ll be left with four easy-to-peel quarters and a loose seed. No barking dogs, no split counter, and you keep all your fingers. Win.
8. Jack Of All Corns What’s the first thing you think of when you need to remove corn from the cob? That’s right, a bundt pan. Place the corn on top of the bundt, and you’ll have a stand and a catcher for easy cutting. Simple, quick, and probably already in your kitchen.
9. Monkey It Expanding on the ever-troublesome banana, a quick tip for getting to the good part of the banana is to open it from the bottom. No, I’m not calling you a monkey.
10. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy We’ve all been there. You want a zingy touch of lemon in your food, but as you’re cutting it, a bit spurts in your eye. You fall backwards into your coffee maker, coffee spills everywhere, you’re running all over the house from the hot coffee and lemon in your eye. The dog’s barking, the kids are crying, the neighbors all turn on their porch lights, you’re half blind and your back feels like it’s melting. You run outside and roll around in the lawn, because that’s what the firemen told you to do, right? Wrong. You’re not on fire. It’s coffee, and you cut your lemon wrong. Only YOU can prevent apocalyptic lemon cutting. Throw it in the microwave for 15 seconds, roll it on the counter (lightly), and you’ll have soft, easy-cutting citrus.