Kitchen Hints and Tips
- If you are making a fruitcake, roll the dates, figs, etc. in flour so
they will cut more easily, then cut them with a scissors instead of
- To "age" candied fruit fast for baking fruit cakes, muffins,
cookies, breads, etc., microwave 1/4 cup brandy or any liqueur in a
1-quart bowl on HIGH for 30 seconds. Stir in 1 cup candied fruit or
raisins and heat on HIGH for 2 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes or
until all liquid is absorbed.
- To keep fruits from discoloring after they are peeled, cut the pieces
into a bowl of salted water (about 1 tablespoon to a quart of water).
This works well with apples, peaches, pears, avocados and other produce.
- Any fruit that has a tight thin skin over a juicy interior, such as
peaches, pears, apricots or tomatoes, can be easily peeled if they are
blanched in boiling water for about 30 seconds.
- Prevent fresh fruit from getting crushed in your grocery bags. Simply
blow air into the plastic bag containing the fruit and tie it so that
the air cannot escape. When the fruit is packed in the paper bag, the
air in the bag acts as a cushion for the fruit on its ride home.
- Prevent fruit from turning brown by dissolving two crushed vitamin C
tables in a bowl of cool water before adding fruit.
- Toss fresh fruit with lemon juice, and it will not darken. The juice
of half a lemon is enough for a quart or two of cut fruits.
- Ripen quickly by placing them in a brown paper bag with a ripe apple.
Set in a cool, shady spot and make sure there are a few holes in the
bag. The ripe apples gives off a gas, ethylene, which stimulates the
other fruit to ripen.
- Shake raisins and other dried fruits with flour before adding them to
dough or puddings so the fruits won't sink to the bottom during
- Instead of throwing away the peels, saut them in butter, then spice
them with sugar and cinnamon.
- When making caramel apples, stick them into a piece of Styrofoam after
dipping. They dry without sticking and store nicely in the refrigerator.
- To keep the skins of baked apples intact, make slits around the apple
in several locations with a sharp knife. As soon as the liquid produced
by cooking has an easy way to escape, it will not burst its way out
- To keep a cut apple from browning, apply bottled lemon juice over the
cut surface then wrap the partial apple tightly in plastic wrap.
- To keep apple pieces or slices from browning, cut them into a bowl containing
either lightly salted water or some lemon juice mixed with water.
- To speed the ripening process, put the avocados in a brown paper bag
and leave them at room temperature for a day or two. When ripe, store
in the refrigerator to keep from ripening further.
- As soon as you cut an avocado, pour bottled lemon juice on any portion
you don't plan to use, leave the seed in the unused portion, wrap
tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. It will keep
without darkening for at least a few days.
- Use overripe bananas to make delicious banana bread.
- Slice bananas with a pastry blender. It makes the task faster, and all
the slices are neat and uniform.
- Slice bananas and add to egg whites and beat until stiff for a wonderful
substitute for whipped cream.
- If you have an abundance of ripe bananas, put them in a blender with
a little lemon juice. Make a pur e to freeze and use later for banana
bread or topping.
- Bananas may be stored in the refrigerator. The cold will turn the skin
brown but will not damage the fruit inside. This will also slow down
ripening. This is the only way you can keep them for any length of time.
- Dip bananas in lemon juice right after they are peeled. They will not
turn dark and the faint flavor of lemon really adds quite a bit.
- Ripen bananas fast at room temperature in a paper bag.
- If bananas have darkened, peel and beat slightly. Put into a plastic
container and freeze until it's time to bake bread or cake.
- Store berries in the refrigerator without washing them. Wash and hull
just before serving.
- Do not discard rinds of grapefruit, lemons, oranges and limes. Grate
rinds and put into a tightly-covered jar and store in the refrigerator.
Grated rinds make excellent flavoring for cakes, frostings and such.
- Create beautiful "rose" garnishes from orange and grapefruit
peels. Start at the top of the fruit and cut a continuous 1-inch wide
strip of peel around the fruit with a sharp paring knife. Roll peel
tightly, skin side out, to form a "rose." Hold the "rose"
together by pushing a wooden pick through it. These can be made ahead
of time, wrapped and stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
- To prepare a fresh coconut, puncture the "eyes" with an ice
pick of clean screwdriver and drain out the coconut milk. Put the entire
coconut in a shallow pan and bake for about 1 hour at 350 F. When it
is cool enough to handle, hit it hard with a hammer, and the shell will
part. The meat can then be pulled out in chunks with a table knife.
Peel off the brown skin. Shred coconut, put chunks of coconut with a
little coconut milk into a blender or food processor. Store shredded
coconut in the refrigerator.
- Freeze them before grinding or chopping. There will be less mess.
- Dates and other sticky dried fruit will cut or chop easily if put in
the freezer for 1 to 2 hours.
- When cutting dates and other sticky dried fruits, dip knife or scissors
into hot water now and then.
- A pinch of salt makes a sour grapefruit taste sweeter.
- Do not add kiwi fruit to gelatin molds. They contain an enzyme that
stops gelatin from setting. Use them, however, to garnish molds just
- To get the most juice out of a lemon, soften it first by pressing and
rolling it on a countertop.
- When buying lemons look for the smoothest skin and smallest points on
the ends. These will have better flavor and more juice.
- Don't cut open a whole lemon for just a little juice. Insert the
tines of a fork or a skewer through the skin and squeeze out the amount
needed. Then wrap the lemon in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you
need it next. It'll stay fresh for one to two weeks.
- Wrap a small piece of cheesecloth around the cut end of a lemon before
you squeeze. You won't have to search for seeds later.
- An elegant way to serve fresh lemon with fish is to wrap each lemon
half in a small square of cheesecloth, then tie with string, with a
sprig of fresh herb or parsley for a pretty look. This controls the "squirt"
and traps the seeds.
- Submerging a lemon in hot water for 15 minutes before squeezing will
yield almost twice the amount of juice.
- Store whole lemons in a tightly-sealed jar of water in the refrigerator.
They will yield much more juice than when first purchased.
- Remove the zest from a lemon and store it in a jar containing about
a half cup of vodka. The zest will not spoil and will be available for
use whenever you need a little bit, and the vodka will pick up a lemon
flavor (use it in dessert sauces or in seafood dishes).
- To keep them for a considerable length of time, coat them lightly with
paraffin, using a small brush. When you want to remove the paraffin,
heat slightly, and it will roll off.
- Store, wrapped in tissue paper, on lower shelf of the refrigerator.
- Extend the refrigerator storage time of an opened can of olives by pouring
olives into a glass jar, then filling the jar with vegetable oil and
covering the jar. The oil will preserve the olives and it can be used
for cooking when the olives are gone.
- You can also extend the refrigerator storage time of an opened can of
olives by leaving them in their brine, then adding a layer of oil on
- Put them in a hot oven before peeling them, and no white fibers will
be left on them.
- Oranges can be peeled more easily if blanched in boiling water for about
5 minutes. Cool, then the peel slips right off.
- Thin-skinned oranges are better for juice, while thick-skinned oranges
are better for eating in sections.
- Orange will yield more juice if you first press and roll them on the
- You can get orange sections without white membrane clinging to them
if you cover the unpeeled orange with boiling water, let stand 5 minutes,
- Peaches will ripen quicker if you place them in a box covered with newspaper.
- Peach skins can be removed smoothly with a potato peeler.
- To ripen pears faster, put an apple in the same bag.
- To ripen pears, refrigerate them for several hours. Then remove them
from the refrigerator and place on your countertop where they will ripen
evenly at room temperature. If you wish, chill again before serving.
- If you want to include pineapple in a gelatin dish, use canned or parboil
fresh pineapple for 5 minutes. Fresh pineapple contains an enzyme that
prevents the gelatin from setting.
- If you buy a pineapple that isn't quite ripe, peel, slice and place
in a pot. Cover the fruit with water and add sugar to taste. Boil a
few minutes, cool and refrigerate. It will be fresh tasting and crunchy.
- Wash fresh pineapple thoroughly before paring. Cover parings with water
and cook until soft. Use strained juice for making jelly.
- Cook fresh rhubarb for sauce with just whatever water adheres to the
stalks after washing — don't add any more water. Add sugar to taste.
- Never hull them until they have been washed or they will absorb too
much water and become mushy.
- They will stay red if you add two tablespoons of vinegar to each quart
of berries when canning or freezing.
- They will stay firm for several days if you store them in a colander
in the refrigerator, which allows the cold air to circulate between
- To peel tomatoes easily, drop the whole tomato into a deep pot of boiling
water for about 20 seconds. Remove and run under cold water. The skin
should now slip off quite easily.
- Place unripened tomatoes with other fruit, especially pears, to speed
- Freeze tomatoes that are getting too ripe. They will get mush, but that
won't affect the taste of soups or stews.
- To ripen tomatoes, add a whole lime to unripened tomatoes in a paper
bag and store at room temperature for a few days. Limes are an excellent
source of the ripening agent ethylene oxide.
- Store tomatoes with stems pointed downward and they will retain their
- Sunlight doesn't ripen tomatoes. It's the warmth that ripens
them. So find a warm spot near the stove or dishwasher where they can
get a little heat.
- To ripen green tomatoes, place them in a brown paper bag and put the
bag in a dark cupboard. You will have red tomatoes in a few days.
- Save the juice from canned tomatoes in ice cube trays. When frozen,
store in plastic bags in freezer for cooking use or for tomato drinks.