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35 Food Preparation Tips from the Experts

We've collected 35 food prep tips from experts like Gail Ambrosius and Bartlett Durand from Black Earth Meats. We hope that you like them (and use them)! If you have tips of your own, please share them here.

How to Crack an Egg One-Handed

  1. Grip the egg by placing in the center of your palm with your thumb, index and middle fingers surrounding it. Place your index finger at the mid-point.
  2. Strike it in the center and hold over your bowl.
  3. Allow your index finger to maintain the center and pull apart with your thumb and middle finger.
  4. To practice, hold 2 golf balls in your palm with a quarter between the balls. Separate the balls until the quarter drops.

How to Sear a Steak to Preserve its Juices

  1. Heat a dry stainless steel pan.
  2. Add oil to coat the surface until it shimmers but does not smoke.
  3. Test with a drop of water. If it sizzles and evaporates, it's ready.
  4. Place meat in pan but don't overcrowd. Hear that sizzle? Flip after a minute or two.

How to Segment Citrus for Salads

  1. Cut off the top (with the stem) and bottom of the fruit.
  2. Place flat on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to shave off peel and pith.
  3. Hold the naked citrus over a bowl.
  4. Use the knife to make two cuts in each membrane to remove each wedge of the fruit.

Bonus: This method of peeling works well on pineapples and melons too!

How to Make a Basic Vinaigrette

  1. You will need vinegar, olive oil, salt and Dijon mustard.
  2. Vinaigrette = 1 part vinegar + 3 parts oil.
  3. Add a hearty pinch of salt and the mustard to your vinegar and whisk.
  4. Using your other hand slooooooowly drizzle in the oil while whisking. Done!

Zip it up with garlic, shallots, herbs, fruit juice, champagne, etc.

How to Store a Refrigerated Cake or Pie

  1. Cut an apple in half.
  2. Place the apple next to the open side of your dessert.
  3. The apple will help retain moisture and keep your dessert tasty longer.

How to Treat Your Knife Well

  1. Purchase good quality knives.
  2. Avoid dishwashing machines and always thoroughly dry after washing.
  3. Only use wooden cutting boards.
  4. Learn the right techniques for holding and cutting your knives.

How to Make Amazing Oatmeal

  1. Put your basic ingredients including oats, water, milk, sugar and vanilla in your crock pot!
  2. Add dried fruits, nuts, and spices.
  3. Put on low and heat overnight.

Experiment with fresh fruit, frozen chocolate chips, other grains, etc.

How to Make Good Use of Your Coffee Grounds

  1. Rub grounds on your hands and fingers to remove the smell of garlic.
  2. Place in a thin cloth and use as a scouring agent.
  3. Put in a clean filter and place in your fridge to control odors.
  4. Compost!

How to Peel a Banana Like a Monkey

  1. Turn it around so that the stem is away from you.
  2. Pinch the tip – if it's ripe it will instantly split.
  3. Strip the peel off.

Hint: Start from the end you usually don't start with.

How to Make a Bouquet Garni

  1. Gather 3 sprigs of parsley, 1 sprig of thyme, and 1 bay leaf.
  2. Tie with string for cooking.
  3. Add to soup or stew.

How to Perk Up a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

  1. For spicy, before grilling add the following between your bread and cheese: banana peppers, mustard, fresh salsa, Powerkraut kimchi, or Sriracha sauce.
  2. For sweet, add: Gail Ambrosius chocolate sauce, bananas and honey, sliced green grapes, fig jam or pineapple.

How to Quickly Infuse Olive Oil

  1. Sterilize fresh herbs by blanching them in rapidly boiling water for 60 seconds
  2. Break out the mortar and pestle.
  3. Grind your preferred herbs/garlic/zest with coarse salt.
  4. Drizzle olive oil into the mixture and let sit for at least one hour.
  5. Empty contents into a vessel while straining out the herb mixture.

How to Cut a Mango

  1. Face the axis of the mango to you. It's the indentation in the center of the fruit, like a peach.
  2. Take a knife and cut through the mango ½ inch to the right of the axis.
  3. Repeat this cut on the left side.
  4. The core portion should contain the stone. Trim remaining flesh and enjoy.

How to Avoid Common Cooking Mistakes

  1. Read the recipe all the way through.
  2. Never overcrowd a pan.
  3. Recognize the importance of pre-heating pans andovens.
  4. Understand proportions and conversions.
  5. Don't serve it without tasting it.

How to Adjust Your Mood with Food

  1. Anxious?  Eat a chicken sandwich for the protein.
  2. Stressed?  Magnesium will fix it. Have a spoonful of tahini (sesame butter).
  3. Depressed? Time for sushi. Diets high in fish help fight depression.
  4. Insecure? Dark chocolate is said to soothe.
  5. Flummoxed? Boost your memory with the anti-oxidants in pineapple.

How to Sauce Like an Italian

  1. The Italian word for sauce is “condimento” so consider how much ketchup you add to a burger.
  2. The focus should be the pasta. Make your own or try great local pasta such as RP's Pasta.
  3. Add your sauce to your pasta and toss until it is dressed like a salad where everything is coated but only slightly.

How to Slice a Watermelon…the Smart Way

  1. Chop off both ends so that the melon can stand up on a flat base.
  2. Cut into it along the darker green lines of the rind because these indicate where the seeds are.
  3. Your slices should now have the seeds on the outside of the flesh to be easily removed.

How to Cook Perfect Rice

  1. Measure the quantity of rice you need.
  2. Place in a bowl and cover with water and let sit for at least fifteen minutes and up to an hour.
  3. Drain and cook as recommended.

This method helps rice, especially long-grains, expand and accept cooking.

How to Use Lemongrass

  1. Remove the tip and root ends and peel away the tough outer layer.
  2. Pound the stalk with a mallet or mortar.
  3. Tie the stalk into a knot and drop into a stir fry, soup or curry.

How to Juice a Pomegranate

  1. You will need between 12-15 pomegranates to make 3 cups of juice.
  2. Roll the fruit on the counter while pressing down on it (like kneading bread).
  3. Hold over a bowl and puncture with a small knife.
  4. Squeeze and squeeze again.

How to Make Your Own Mayonnaise

  1. Beat one egg yolk.  Add a drop of lemon juice or vinegar and continue to whisk.
  2. Add one drop of vegetable oil and beat like mad.
  3. Sloooowly drizzle oil, continue to beat, and watch it slowly thicken.
  4. Add another drop or two of lemon or vinegar if too thick.

Hint: If your arm is sore from whisking it is probably great mayo!

How to Caramelize an Onion

  1. Select a sweet onion.
  2. Heat oil in a nonstick pan and add sliced onion.
  3. The onions will go from translucent to soft to gold to brown to deep brown –done!

Hint: Don't rush this. Take it slow.

How to Prevent Brown Sugar from Hardening

  1. Store it in the freezer

Hint: If you've got hardened brown sugar, put half an apple in the bag and come back later.

How to Use Coconut Milk in Curries

  1. If using coconut milk in a recipe, do not cover the pot because it may curdle.
  2. Use full-fat cow or goat's milk if coconut is unavailable or unappealing.

How to Make Clarified Butter

  1. Slowly melt unsalted butter over medium-low heat.
  2. There are three parts to the butter: water, butterfat, and milk solids.  Water and the solids are heaviest so they will sink to the bottom. You want the butterfat.
  3. Skim foam from the top, pour out butterfat and keep in a container, leaving solids behind.

How to Deglaze a Pan

  1. Remove excess fat and any burned bits from your pan.
  2. It's better to add a cool liquid to a hot pan –beer, stock, wine, vinegar or fruit juice.
  3. Once the liquid is poured into the hot pan, stir and scrape with a wooden spatula.
  4. Turn down the heat. You have a very useful saucy substance.

How to Make a Roux

A roux is a thickener for sauces.

  1. Melt a tablespoon or so of butter in a pan.
  2. Add an equal quantity of flour and stir.
  3. Continue stirring through the thickening to eliminate raw flour taste.
  4. Add stock or liquid to finish recipe.

How to Slice Herbs Efficiently

  1. Take the biggest leaf from the herb you are using and put all the smaller leaves inside it.
  2. Roll as if you were making a cigar.
  3. Using a sharp knife, begin slicing the cigar.

Bonus: In French this is called a “chiffonade” meaning “made of rags.”

How to Discover Exciting Food Pairs

  1. Play with the idea that opposites attract.
  2. Think “sweet/sour,” “hot/cool” or “salty/sugary.”
  3. Experiment with mango/vinegar, chili pepper/mint or feta/melon.

How to Make Ceviche

Ceviche is a way to prepare fish using citrus but without cooking.
  1. Try it first with a delicate ingredient, such as scallops, which will not take as long to “cook.”
  2. Take the juice of an orange and add a small amount of light vinegar to soften its edge.
  3. Marinate the scallops in the mixture and keep in fridge for several hours. Taste!

How to Roast a Red Pepper

  1. Place your red pepper directly on the grill or gas stove.
  2. Rotate until all sides are blackened.
  3. Place in plastic bag and seal until the pepper sweats.
  4. When the pepper is removed from the bag, the skins will easily peel off.

How to Preserve an Avocado

  1. Keep the pit in the half you will not use.
  2. Sprinkle with lemon or lime juice.
  3. Store in an air-tight container.

How to Bedazzle a Burger

  1. Remove any mental inhibitions.
  2. Try sautéed zucchini, alfalfa sprouts, coleslaw, fried eggs, mashed olives, pickled beets or avocado.
  3. Break from tradition—try a new green, a new cheese or a new variety of tomato.

How to Reconstitute Sun-Dried Tomatoes

  1. Place in a heat-proof bowl.
  2. Cover with boiling water and let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Pat dry.

How to Make Flower Sugar

  1. Learn about edible flowers such as lavender and roses.
  2. With small flowers keep with the stem. Larger flowers just need the petals.
  3. Place a handful in a plastic bag and cover with 1 cup of sugar.
  4. After 3 or 4 days, sift the petals out of the sugar and discard.
  5. Use sugar for tea or baking.