25 mind-blowing food prep techniques to save you time & frustration

Never again will you have to tediously peel off every layer of each tiny pearl onion, or spend half of your prep time peeling hard-boiled eggs or removing corn husks, or panic that you won’t finish prepping before your produce browns. These simple, brilliant tips save you the trouble — without any fancy gadgets.

 

1. How to: Peel individual garlic cloves

Lay the clove on the cutting board and place the flat side of the knife on top of it. Use the heel of your hand to hit the knife, putting enough pressure on the clove for the skin to simply fall off.

 

2. How to: Peel many garlic cloves at once

How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds from SAVEUR.com on Vimeo.

Even with the previous trick to peeling individual cloves, it can be a pain to peel a whole bunch of cloves for garlic-heavy dishes. The trick: Hit the head of garlic with the heel of your hand to open up the cloves. Throw all the cloves into a big mixing bowl, and cover with a second mixing bowl. Then “shake the dickens out of it,” as Saveur executive food editor Todd Coleman demonstrates. Voila! It’s peeled — like a magic trick only with mixing bowls instead of a hat.

 

3. How to: Remove husks from ears of corn

Cleaning corn can be time-consuming — and it can seem impossible to eliminate those thin corn silks that get stuck in your teeth later. You won’t believe how easy the solution is: Place two ears of corn in the microwave (husks still on) for eight minutes. Use oven mitts to remove them from the microwave, place them on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cleanly chop off the entire bottom end of the ear of corn (the one that doesn’t have a bunch of green pieces coming out of it). Now squeeze the other end of the husk, and the corn should easily slide out — with none of that annoying corn silk!

 

4. How to: Remove the tough stems of hearty greens


Real Simple had a nifty trick for getting rid of the tough stems on veggies like kale, chard, mustard greens and collards — no knife required. With one hand, hold a leaf at the bottom by the thickest part of the stem, use your other hand to gently pinch the leaf with your index finger and thumb, and then pull it up and off along the stem.

 

5. How to: Peel pearl onions

We love pearl onions; and for years, we avoided using them in dishes because honestly, we just didn’t feel like spending 30 minute peeling each one. Finally, someone saved us from our impatience with this trick: Chop off the tip of the onion (the end opposite the root end), cook in boiling water for two minutes and drain. When they’re cool enough to touch, gently squeeze each one at the root end, and the little guys will slip right out! Chop off the remaining roots, and you’re ready to get cooking. (via Cooking Light)

 

6. How to: Remove an avocado pit

If you haven’t learned this trick yet, it will change your life. To remove an avocado pit, simply cut the avocado in half length-wise, firmly strike the pit with a knife and twist it. Done! (Just be careful removing the pit from the knife.) Scoop out the fruit from each half with a large spoon.

 

7. How to: Soften butter

For the impatient baker, waiting for butter to soften can be like waiting for a pot to boil. To quicken up the process, use a grater to shred the required amount into a mixing bowl. It’ll be ready before you know it. (via Martha Stewart)

 

8. How to: Prevent apples from browning

The Yummy Life blog has a variety of unique tricks for this problem: 1) Soak the slices in a bowl of cold salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt per 4 cups of water) for three to five minutes. 2) Soak them in a bowl of cold lemon water (1 tablespoon of lemon juice per 1 cup of water) for three to five minutes. 3) Soak them in a bowl of Sprite, 7-Up or a similar lemon-lime carbonated soda for three to five minutes. 4) Sprinkle them with Fruit Fresh, a citric acid powder that most stores have with their canning supplies.

 

9. How to: Prevent avocados from browning

The long-held myth is that replacing the pit in an avocado half will keep it fresh and prevent it from browning, but unfortunately it’s just that — a myth. One effective trick is to place the halves in a bowl of water with the peel still on. Unless you’re making guacamole or smoothies, just wipe off the wet side and slice when you’re ready. (via 52KitchenAdventures.com)

 

10. How to: Prevent potatoes from browning

Are you sensing a pattern here? With this tip, you can break up the prep time and not worry about peeled potatoes becoming brown. Peel them one night, throw them in a bowl of cold water and store them in a cool place (not the refrigerator) overnight. The next day, they’ll still be fresh for slicing and dicing. (via SlashFood.com)

 

11. How to: “Peel” hard-boiled eggs without peeling

We have no idea how Tim Ferriss figured this out, but it works! Boil the eggs at slow boil for about 12 minutes with about two inches of water above the eggs and a teaspoon of baking soda. Here’s where it gets crazy: Give one end of the egg a good tap on the counter and remove the shell pieces from the tip. Repeat with the other end of the egg. Now hold the egg’s width in a cupped hand, raise it to your mouth and blow. The egg falls right out of the shell! Another option, for when you don’t need the eggs to be whole, is to simply cut the egg in half with a knife and scoop out both halves with a spoon. No peeling necessary!

 

12. How to: Peel a potato in 10 seconds


Make a thin cut all around the potato, length-wise, trying to cut only the skin. Boil the potato until it’s soft inside, and then plunge it in ice water for 10 seconds. Now all you have to do is gently rub the potato, and the skin falls right off.

 

13. How to: Remove salmon bones

Unless you’ve had plenty of practice, removing the thin, soft pin bones in a salmon fillet can be challenging. Real Simple’s trick to pulling it off without mutilating the salmon: Run your index finger along the center seam of the fillet, going against the grain. If there are any pin bones, you should feel them protruding at about half-inch intervals. Use clean tweezers to grasp the tip of the bone and tug, pulling at a slight angle instead of up and out.

 

14. How to: Prevent a pot from boiling over

Weird trick, but simply placing a wooden spoon on top of a boiling pot will prevent it from boiling over. You can use a spoon made out of something other than wood, but the obvious advantage of a wooden spoon is that it won’t be scalding hot when you remove it. (via ASmallSnippet.com)

 

15. How to: Get all the juice out of a lemon


Tongs can double as lemon-squeezers. Place half of a lemon (or lime or orange) between the prongs over a bowl or pitcher and squeeze the open end of the tongs with both hands. It’s these kinds of concepts that make us love Martha Stewart.

 

16. How to: Preserve herbs for later use


Photo: TheHungryMouse.com

This is one of our all-time cooking pet peeves: You can’t buy a small bunch of herbs anywhere. Even the smallest bunch you find at the grocery, bodega or farmers market will be too much for a one- or two-person household to use throughout the week before some of it goes bad. The solution: Freeze the herbs in olive oil in ice-cube trays! The next time you need herbs, just pop out one of those cubes and throw it in the pan. (via TheHungryMouse.com)

 

 

17. How to: Core a head of iceberg lettuce in 3 seconds

This kitchen technique doubles as a stress reliever. To quickly remove the core of a head of iceberg, Boston or bibb lettuce, slam it down hard, with the core of the lettuce parallel to a flat surface (like a cutting board or counter). The core is immediately freed, and all you have to do is pull it out. Proceed with your prep! (via Saveur)

 

18. How to: Cut multiple cherry tomatoes (or similarly shaped food) at the same time


Photo: GrillaChef.com

If you’ve ever tried cutting cherry tomatoes in half for a refreshing summer salad, you know how difficult it is to chop multiple ones at once without them sliding all over the place. The only way to do it is to tediously cut each one individually — or is it? Grill a Chef created a brilliant solution: Take two tops from two typical plastic takeout containers. Place the cherry tomatoes — or other tiny food you want to slice together — on the top of one lid, so the rim of the lid prevents them from moving around. Place the other lid on top of the tomatoes, using your hand to hold it in place, and saw through the gap with your knife — Grill a Chef recommends using a serrated knife.

 

19. How to: Peel a kiwi


Photo: MarthaStewart.com

Fruit with a name like “kiwi” shouldn’t leave you aggravated when you try to peel it. (We actually have trouble saying “kiwi” without smiling.) To quickly skin it, Martha Stewart recommends trimming both ends of the fruit and easing a tablespoon between the flesh and the peel. Turn the kiwi, pressing the back of the spoon against the peel as you go, and the whole fruit should slide right out.

 

20. How to: Open a stubborn pistachio

Whether your nails are short and stubby or you’d prefer to not break them, using nails to open a tight pistachio just isn’t always a viable solution. Spare your nails, and use a discarded pistachio shell half to open it! Simply stick the top of the small end into the partially opened pistachio and twist. (via Instructables.com)

 

21. How to: Fish out a piece of egg shell

Don’t lie — it happens to you too. Every now and then, you screw up your perfect egg-cracking routine, and a tiny piece of shell falls into the bowl with the raw egg. Then, if you’re anything like us, you spend a good 60 seconds attempting to pull it out of the bowl. It turns out all you have to do is wet your finger with water first — you’ll be stunned how much easier it is to get a hold of that egg shell piece.

 

22. How to: Seed a pomegranate


Photo: WitAndWhistle.com

We love pomegranates. We don’t love the mess they make when we’re trying to get the fruit out of them. Wit & Whistle found the solution in a bowl of water. Cut an X in the top of the pomegranate, about halfway down the fruit. Set it in a big bowl of water, place your thumbs in the center of the X and pry the peel apart. While the pomegranate is underwater, carefully brush the seeds away from the membrane. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, and the empty membrane will float. Use a strainer to scoop up the remaining membrane from the water, and then strain so you’re left with only the delicious seeds.

 

23. How to: Determine if eggs are still fresh

Can’t remember how long ago you bought those eggs? Easy fix: Place the eggs in a bowl of water. If they sink to the bottom, they’re still good. If they float, toss them.

 

24. How to: Cut roly-poly vegetables

Potatoes, squash and beets can be tricky (and sometimes dangerous) to cut — their round shape causes them to roll around the cutting board while you’re trying to chop. Here’s what you have to do: Cut a thin slice along the length of the vegetable to create a flat side, turn it cut-side down on the cutting board and slice away. When you get to the point where it starts to roll again, flip it onto the flat side from your last cut and continue to slice. (via Real Simple)

 

25. How to: Separate egg yolks from egg whites

OK, so this one isn’t really a timesaver. It’s just so unusual that we felt the need to include it purely for entertainment. Crack an egg into a bowl. Gently squeeze an empty plastic water bottle, and hold it over the egg yolk. It should suck up just the egg yolk, allowing you to transfer it to another bowl. Totally not worth the time or effort, but kind of fun to watch.

 

Comments

Submitted by Chris on

I love these tips, can't wait to try them.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Another easy way to get the seeds out of a pomegranate is to cut it in half, place it seed-side facing downward in the palm of your hand (over a bowl) and hit gently but firmly with a wooden spoon. The seed will pop right out!

Submitted by Laura on

I have tried using a wooden spoon to help my pot from not boiling over...and it fails EVERY TIME.

Submitted by Mark SmokeyB on

I keep a can of Pam or somesuch near by and spray the water with it. That stops the boilover from potatoes, etc.

Submitted by Rita Rodriguez on

Place a metal spoon inside your pot,My husband taught me this,it works.

Submitted by Sharon on

i have heard of this before except you are supposed to put the spoon in the water.

Submitted by Ronalyn on

A wooden spoon goes across the top of the pot, not in it. I've used this trick with pasta and oatmeal (even in the microwave) and it works.

Submitted by Elizabeth on

With the replies in mind, it sounds to me that every one has their own method (across pot, in pot, metal spoon, etc). Why a wooden spoon (across pot) would work for some and not others doesn't make sense.. maybe it depends on something like the climate/elevation(location)?.. er.. well.. that's probably just for baking.. I just don't want to assume someone is lying. I do, however, LOVE ALOT OF THESE TECHNIQUES and have stored them in my mind, so that kitchen duty is not such a hassle to me. UGH! I want to enjoy it as much as possible since I have to do it anyway. With the more I learn, with info. such as this, I hope to one day LOVE THE KITCHEN again. THANKS SO MUCH, HELLAWELLA

Submitted by Matt on

I would guess that it has to do with the shape/size of the spoon.

Submitted by ardith on

I find it depends on how much water you have in the pot, if it is full nothing prevents it from boiling over,,,

Submitted by Anon on

Great tips! Thanks for sharing...

Submitted by Jessica Pierce on

Boil the water first, then add the eggs with a long spoon. Boil for the normal 20 mins. Pull from oven, add the cold water to pan to cool off. Egg peels come right off.

Submitted by Shelli on

This is the one I grew up with. Once the eggs have cooled, I crack them but rolling them across the counter with gentle but firm pressure from the palm of my hand. This cracks them evenly across the middle. I peel a small amount from the center and the parts at either end just pop off.

Submitted by Shary on

Cool the eggs completely by covering with cold water after cooking. Tap them all over on a hard surface to completely crack the shell. Peel under cold running water. The shell and membrane will usually come off in one or two sections instead of a lot of little pieces.

Submitted by roger on

last tip is totally worth it....

Submitted by Anonymous on

Ive found that squirting some lemon juice on an avocado half (or guac) keeps it from browning. I love making guac for parties and always use lemon and/or lime juice; keeps it looking fresh for hours.

Submitted by Mary B on

Great tip. Also if the egg super fresh it's harder to peel the "standard" way rather than an egg that is a couple of days old

Submitted by Ghermine on

I find the method of striking the pomegranite with a spoon is more effective. Video on YouTube by Martha Stewart shows how.

Also, a simple method for keeping apples from browning is to sprinkle them with cinnamon. And the added benefit is it tastes almost as good as apple pie!

Submitted by Nancy on

How do you cut up those mini carrots to put them in a salad?

Submitted by Marlys on

Use one of the egg shells to fish out a chip of shell..it works every time :)

Submitted by Anonymous on

Make sure you have the knife blade facing away from your fingers or use a Kevlar glove (also have a first aid kit where you can get to it)!

Submitted by sistagirl on

after boiling egg with salt in the water, rinse in cold water. then to peel tap the egg to break the shell and roll it along the counter top till all the sheel is cracked then it will peel off in one go. so easy and takes seconds. Carefull no to press to hard when rolling, that will crush the egg!

Submitted by Mommasue on

Steam them instead of boiling them. Seriously. Steam large eggs (covered) for about 15 minutes, them place into ice bath to cool/stop the cooking. You'll be amazed at how easily they will peel. I get fresh eggs from a local farmer--the fresher the egg, the harder it is to peel--and this works great. You may need to adjust your timing a bit, depending on the size of your eggs, but this is a great, simple procedure.

Submitted by susan on

I found this trick out from my boyfriend whom refuses to admit, which idk why; because it works GREAT!!!!!
put about a teaspoon of baking powder into the water before putting the eggs in. It prepares the shells to come right off.
YOU'RE WELCOME! :)

Submitted by Elizabeth on

All you have to do is (1) BOIL THEM, (2) COOL THEM down with cold water, then make sure they are sitting in pan under cold water (drain-fill-drain-fill method using lid). (3) CRACK THEM all the way around (by tapping on counter and then gently pressing while turning egg) and sit them BACK IN WATER. (4) then PEEL THEM (starting with a 'loose' end where you can feel looseness and gently pinch and peel, starting there, peeling all the way around gently rubbing (or 'scooting') your thumb between the shell and the egg). There might be some 'picking', but it mostly will all rub right off. EASY PEASY!

Submitted by Tia on

I really liked the idea about not having to peel the hardboiled eggs until I realized my friends probably don't want me blowing on their eggs!! Guess I will save that tip for personal servings.

Submitted by muttonchop on

I hope this guy isn't preparing eggs like this for a restaurant.

Submitted by Happywifehappylife on

That gentleman in the corn husking video is awesome! Love his personality! I tried he's husking method and it worked like a charm! I wish I knew about it years ago! Lol

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