"When you run a kitchen, no matter how crazy and chaotic it gets, you have to be the calm one. You cannot show any sign of fear - the guests pick up on it. The beauty of this kitchen, though, is that everybody helps everybody."
- Nina Compton, James Beard award-winning Saint Lucian chef.
Managing a healthy, thrifty, and thriving kitchen requires skills equivalent to, if not higher than running a business. The person in charge of the kitchen has to make sure all available resources are used in an orderly and efficient manner, to prevent wastage and save costs.
These saved costs can then be invested in buying exotic ingredients and equipment to create mouth-watering dishes that bring people together in celebration — the most telling sign of a happy household — where the aroma of warm food wafts through a room full of smiling faces that feel safe, comfortable and provided for.
So, here are 6 simple ways to run your kitchen most efficiently.
Free your fruit from browning
Fresh fruit is the most tempting and common buy for Indian households, but the humble fruit usually ends up spoiling on the table. Don’t worry there’s always a way out. Several ways.
You can keep fruits like bananas fresh by wrapping the end of the bunch in plastic wrap. For type A’s out there, you can go as far as wrapping each Banana in plastic wrap separately. Doing this blocks ethylene gases that rise in the stem, which prevents quick ripening.
Do your picky kids always eat only half of their cut fruit? Don’t fret, you can keep cut fruit from browning by squeezing lemon juice or spreading a mixture of 1 part honey to 2 parts water on it.
Why does this work you ask? The citric acid, vitamin C in lemon juice, and peptide in honey prevent oxidation and discoloration.
Retain those roots by freezing em’
Done grating that fresh ginger, now scared it will shrivel in the drawer? Just freeze the leftover root in a plastic container or a sealed bag, it’ll stay as good as new for several days!
Way to keep your herbs fresh
There is no bigger pain than to see your fresh herbs wilt the next day. But we are here to help. Trim the stems of herbs like Parsley and Cilantro and place them in a small bowl of water. Then secure the bowl with a plastic wrap or plastic bag. Store this bowl in the fridge, and you can use them for up to two whole weeks!
Preserve ingredients, save costs
Here are some miscellaneous tips to preserve the most staple ingredients in a kitchen.
Add a pinch of sugar while cooking leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale, etc. to retain their freshness and color.
Used sliced garlic to save it from cooking burns.
Don’t let your eggplant turn brown and bitter, just put it in a bowl of water.
That last piece of bread you relish, put it in a bag of brown sugar and it’ll stay as soft as new.
Run your noodles and pasta strands under cold water immediately after boiling to separate the strings.
There you go, you are all set to be the next kitchen king or queen. Hope you make the most of your reign!
Win against expiry, the FIFO way
Here’s a rare, top-secret hack – deep-freezing food that is about to expire can increase its shelf life by a whopping thirty days! So next time find food that is expiring, just throw it in the deep freeze, and you have given it new life for 30 days friend. How does it feel to be a god?
Also, half of the food spoilage in the fridge is because of the OSOM (out of sight, out of mind) nature of us fallible humans.
Overcome this problem with the great FIFO (first in, first out) technique, which is to make sure to consume perishable items in the order they have been purchased.
Another hack that makes practicing FIFO easier is to arrange groceries in a way where we move older products to the front shelves of the fridge and shift new items to the back.
Composting way of life
Even after taking all due precautions, some kitchen wastage is simply unavoidable – such as spoiled vegetables, vegetable scraps, fruit peelings, tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, etc – but composting these green wastes can ensure that you give back to the environment.
Want to hear more good news? Apart from turning you into a good samaritan, composting also provides a cost-free, nutrition-rich fertilizer that you can add to your kitchen garden soil.
So, all you home chefs, get organizing right away, because as the legendary Julia Child says:
“There is nothing nicer than a kitchen really made for a cook. Things that are designed to be used always have an innate beauty.”