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25 Brilliant Kitchen Shortcuts You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

Save time prepping food and make cooking easier with these cooking hacks that are pure genius.

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separated egg white and yolk; Shutterstock ID 363403886PIMPAN/Shutterstock

Use an empty water bottle to separate egg whites and yolks

Crack an egg into a shallow bowl, then hold the mouth of the bottle near the yolk and gently squeeze. When you release the squeeze, the yolk will be sucked out, and you can deposit it into another bowl. Check out more ways to cook eggs perfectly.

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empty red bundt pan with baked carrot cake beside it on farmhouse table top view; Shutterstock ID 1122710399Lynne Ann Mitchell/Shutterstock

Cut corn with a Bundt pan

To remove corn from the cob quickly, stand the cob upright in the center of a Bundt pan. Holding the top of the cob steady, stroke a chef’s knife down along the sides to remove kernels. Scrape the cob with the back of the knife to release juices. Kernels and juice collect in the Bundt pan—meaning one less mess for you to clean up. Don’t miss these other genius new uses for ordinary kitchen tools.

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Cooked pasta on forkZapylaiev Kostiantyn/Shutterstock

Skip the pasta rinse

Rinsing noodles washes away flavor and natural starch, which helps sauce stick. It’s why some recipes suggest saving pasta water to use in sauce. Instead, skip the wash and spread drained pasta on a pan to cool. By the way, this is why you shouldn’t add oil to your pasta water.

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Taste of Home

Don’t cry over a broken cake…

Instead, make a trifle by layering salvaged cake pieces with fresh whipped cream and fruit in a pretty glass bowl, advises Tamar Adler, chef and author of An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace. Plus, don’t miss the best homemade whipped cream topping.

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S'mookies on a baking sheetTaste of Home

Keep counters clean with a baking sheet

Place all ingredients on an empty baking sheet prior to prepping them. (This will help you catch spills and avoid wasting time hunting for an item as you cook.) Here are some more cookie-baking tips from an expert.

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Circular Pizza Cutter on wooden rustic background; Shutterstock ID 441796336Sebastian Studio/Shutterstock

Pizza wheels chop herbs

Turn in the chopping knife: Instead, roll over herbs like parsley and cilantro with a pizza wheel for quick and safe slicing. A pizza wheel also effortlessly chops foods like pancakes and pasta for small children. Check out these other surprising ways you might be using kitchen appliances incorrectly.

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Bowl of household vegetable and fruits refuse and garbage collected for compost preparation; Shutterstock ID 743217673ThamKC/Shutterstock

Use a countertop bowl for easy garbage

As you cook, toss scraps, eggshells and other garbage into a large bowl. This will contain messes and save time if a trash can isn’t readily accessible. Line the bowl with a plastic bag to make cleanup even easier. Check out these tips for living a more waste-free lifestyle.

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Woman salting boiling water in pot on stove, closeup; Shutterstock ID 1295704264New Africa/Shutterstock

For easier hard-boiled eggs, salt is your BFF

Want the shells of hard-boiled eggs to come off in big chunks instead of a million tiny pieces? Add a teaspoon of salt to the cooking water before putting in the eggs. Learn the cooking method that lets you hard-boil eggs even faster—and peels so easily.

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Using blender for making a healthy smoothie; Shutterstock ID 587714921Creative Family/Shutterstock

Clean a blender sans sponge

Fill it one-third full with warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid, recommends Woman’s Day. Run it for ten seconds. Rinse and dry. Don’t forget about these other clever ways to clean your trickiest kitchen appliances.

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Breadcrumbs; Shutterstock ID 170955146Sea Wave/Shutterstock

Whip up gourmet bread crumbs in a pinch

Got extra burger or hot dog buns? Tear into pieces and freeze in a zipper-top bag. Ten to 20 pulses in a food processor will transform them into ready-to-use bread crumbs—no thawing necessary. Find out why you’re spoiling your bread by putting it and these other foods in the fridge.

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microwaving lemons for 20 - 30 seconds before squeeze make them soft and easily squeeze; kitchen tips; Shutterstock ID 1144612682batjaket/Shutterstock

Juice a lemon with a microwave

Zap a lemon for ten seconds to break down cells and make the juice flow faster, suggests Laurent Tourondel, chef and partner at Arlington Club in New York City. This is good to remember when trying to squeeze out as much juice as possible for a vinaigrette. If you like using them for flavor, check out these insane health benefits of lemon.

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grated butter and grater on wooden board; Shutterstock ID 398422966Joerg Beuge/Shutterstock

For better pie crusts, use a cheese grater

A cheese grater makes quick work of piecrusts and biscuits. Instead of cutting the butter into the flour, simply grate a stick of frozen butter, and then toss the shreds with flour until a crumbly mixture forms, says Beth Moncel, creator of Don’t miss these other butter hacks you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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Frozen berry cubes in a bag on a cutting board on a table; Shutterstock ID 770195506Ahanov Michael/Shutterstock

Flavor sauces and stews with leftover wine

Freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays (eight cubes = one cup) to add flavor to sauces and stews.  White and sparkling work best in creamy or clear and brothy soups (think chowder and simple vegetable), while red wine goes well with tomato or beef-based varieties (think chili). Add a few generous splashes per portion. Here’s how much alcohol really cooks out of food.

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Peanut butter jar on wooden table. Copyspace. ; Shutterstock ID 553058383etorres/Shutterstock

Flip natural varieties of peanut butter upside down

This position allows the pool of oil near the lid to move through the rest of the jar and make the peanut butter creamier (and to skip messy stirring). Just make sure the cap is screwed on tight to avoid a greasy pantry shelf.

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Still life of cooler with rubber boots and flower pot standing outside; Shutterstock ID 1185474436; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH"Jesus Fernandez"/Shutterstock

Use your porch to refrigerate

If your fridge is full because you’re hosting a party and the temperature is 40°F or below, place hardy perishables (like fruits and vegetables) in a cooler outside near the back door. Doing so will free up a lot of extra shelf space while still keeping food cold.

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Heap of nachos on green plate.; Shutterstock ID 142006165; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHruzanna/Shutterstock

Leftover Doritos? Think outside the chip bag

Smash a handful of chips, stuff into a clean pepper mill and grind away onto everything from mac and cheese to broccoli. Here are more bizarre food pairings that are actually delicious.

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Pair of kitchen shears or scissors with shelled, cracked and whole macadamia nuts on a wooden bamboo cutting board viewed close up from above; Shutterstock ID 1012493167Ozgur Coskun/Shutterstock

Make friends with your kitchen scissors

Use them to chop cooked or tender raw vegetables (especially greens) right in the bowl or pan, suggests Mark Bittman in his book How to Cook Everything Fast.

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Sliced Cherry Tomatoes; Shutterstock ID 200340188More Than Cake/Shutterstock

Halve cherry tomatoes fast

Save time on your next salad: Find two similarly sized storage container lids. Place cherry tomatoes on top of one, then firmly hold the other lid on top of the tomatoes. Use a very sharp knife to slice through the entire bunch at once.

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Apple Slicer and Vintage Kitchen Scale; Shutterstock ID 253357159; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHstickasa/Shutterstock

Apple cutters slice potatoes

You’ll have perfectly sized pieces to bake as wedges. Want to cook the perfect batch of French fries? Find out how to here!

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Dark chocolate ice cream with paprikaTaste of Home

Soften ice cream hard as a brick

Heat a sharp knife under warm water, then use it to make one-inch-deep cuts in a grid formation, spacing the lines about an inch apart. This increases your ice cream’s exposed surface area, speeding up the thawing process (similar to the beef trick). Run a scooper under warm water, and easily serve up each section. Did you know that there’s actually a difference between American and British vanilla ice cream?

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Raw red meatAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Defrost meat last minute

Thank high school science for this neat trick: Remember, metal conducts heat. Place meat in a plastic bag, then put it on top of an upside-down aluminum pot. Fill another pot with room-temperature water, and set it on the meat. In five to ten minutes, your meat will be defrosted. Make sure you aren’t falling for these frozen food myths almost everyone still believes.

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Cheese in aging proces and with mold on it; Shutterstock ID 129560705; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHAjFile/Shutterstock

Cut away the mold

Before you toss suspect-looking leftovers, know this: firm foods are more likely to be salvageable than soft foods. Mold generally can’t penetrate deep into hard cheeses like Asiago and cheddar, so it’s OK to cut off about an inch. The same goes for firm produce like bell peppers and carrots. However, chuck moldy-looking foods with high moisture content—yogurt, soft cheeses, cooked leftovers and bread. Porous foods are likely to be contaminated beneath the surface. Here are more kitchen mistakes almost everyone makes.

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sliced strawberries,; Shutterstock ID 130202870; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHUMB-O/Shutterstock

Chop strawberries with an egg slicer

Use an egg slicer to quickly chop strawberries for fruit salads and desserts. Or cut avocados for sandwiches and uniform mozzarella slices for salads and pizza.

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Rustic Mason Jars with Moonshine; Shutterstock ID 173311682; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHReece with a C/Shutterstock

Twist open a mason jar for easy fried eggs

For perfectly round fried eggs (handy for breakfast sandwiches), heat a pan and spritz Mason jar rings with cooking spray. Place the rings on the pan, and slowly drop one cracked egg into each of the rings. Cook for about 5 minutes for a medium yolk. Use tongs to remove the Mason jar rings, and serve. For more breakfast tricks, learn the only way you should be making scrambled eggs.

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Warming Cup Of Coffee Inside Microwave Oven; Shutterstock ID 234672856; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Whip up French toast in your microwave

Rub a pat of butter on the bottom of a mug; fill it to the top with chopped bread. In a separate cup, mix one egg, three tablespoons of milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Pour the mixture into the mug, and microwave for one minute. Don’t miss these other 25 foods you can cook in the microwave.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest