Working in the kitchen is just that: work. Whether you're making a regular meal, a holiday banquet, or a simple dessert, anything to make things easier and shave even the slightest bit off of the time is welcome in a busy kitchen. It's all about finding the hacks you'll use most and integrating them into your cooking habits. Knowing your ingredients and tools well is the key to finding your time-savers in the kitchen.
The Proof is in the Oven
If you find yourself in a cold kitchen, you might also find yourself with poorly proofed homemade bread. You want to get that rise for the perfect texture, crumb, color, and flavor. Don't turn your oven on, but do place your loaf inside it, then put a pan below your bread filled with simmering water. Close the bread in there, and you have a perfect proofing station.
Like most things made of simple ingredients, sauces usually keep well in the freezer. The problem is, how do you comfortably and safely thaw a giant, frozen sauce in a tub or a freezer bag? The key here is portion size. Keeping a dedicated ice cube tray to hold your cooled-down sauces and then freezing them is the perfect way to get the right amount of that sauce you didn't want to forget.
The Oil Rises to the Top
If you love peanut butter, you'll find an excuse to put it on or in just about anything, including this delicious West African Peanut Stew. If you also happen to love natural peanut butter with oil, you might not be a fan of that oil that sits on top of it, requiring an annoying and difficult stir before it's usable. In this case, store your peanut butter stored upside down. The oil will "rise to the bottom," and you can just flip it right-side-up when you need a serving or seven.
Freshly-grated cheese is so much better than pre-sliced since the latter has stuff added to it, so it doesn't stick together too much – but this makes it a poor melter. Any fresh cheese can stick and clump to a cheese grater, so spraying yours down with cooking spray first can help prevent that, making for a cleaner grate.
The Juice is Loose
If you ever have trouble getting all the juice from a lemon, pop it in the microwave for seven to ten seconds. After that, roll the warm lemon back and forth on the counter with your hand. Your next squeeze will extract the rest of the juice.
Keeping your kitchen together and making your cooking methods more efficient starts with knowing where everything is. Organizing your kitchen is quicker than you might think. Separating your starches, veggies, proteins, sauces, spices, and baking ingredients will save you a lot of time on the front end, meaning these cooking hacks are bound to cut your cooking time down considerably.