Kitchen tips and tricks for holiday cooking

Christmas Holiday cooking

Many of us are gearing up to spend a serious amount of time in the kitchen this holiday period. Hopefully, every meal and recipe will go flawlessly but occasionally something will need rescuing.

Here are some tips and tricks that may save you from having to throw out that extra salty soup or cake that just won’t release from the pan.

Thicken runny sauces

Pop a dry lasagne sheet into a runny sauce to absorb excess liquid. The pasta will remove liquid without changing the taste or texture of your sauce.

Once the sauce has reached your desired consistency, just pull the sheet out and discard it.

Keep ice cream ice free

An icy crust on your ice cream can be unpleasant. Luckily, it’s easy to prevent. When you’ve scooped out enough, simply press a piece of grease-proof paper onto the surface of the ice cream before replacing the lid.

Quickly warm baking ingredients

You’re ready to start baking but you’ve forgotten to take the butter and eggs out of the fridge ahead of time. Instead of fighting with solid butter, fill a bowl with boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes. Pour out the water and place the warm bowl over your wrapped butter.

With eggs, just place them in some warm water for 10 minutes until they’re up to room temperature.

Release a stuck cake

You’ve whipped up the perfect cake to impress your family and friends but when it’s time to remove it from the pan … it won’t budge.

Take a small butter knife or offset spatula and run it around the cake rim to loosen it from the sides of the pan. Working your way around the whole cake, insert two forks on the opposite ends of the pan and use the forks as levers, slowly squeezing and nudging the cake to loosen it.

If the bottom is extra stuck, soak a tea towel in warm or hot water, wring it out and rest the baking pan on top of it for 10 minutes to loosen up.

Pop more popcorn kernels

Homemade popcorn is the perfect snack, but it can be frustrating when you’re left with a heap of unpopped kernels in the bottom of the pan.

A simple trick to help those kernels become the delicious morsel they can be is to soak the kernels in water for around 10 minutes before popping. After 10 minutes, simply strain and add the kernels to the pan with butter or oil.

The additional moisture from the water creates more steam inside each kernel during cooking, resulting in fewer unpopped kernels.

Prevent potatoes sprouting

If you want to purchase some ingredients for Christmas dinner early, potatoes are usually a safe bet. Just store them with an apple to avoid early sprouting.

The ethylene gas given off by the apple will prevent sprouting, but be sure to store them in a cool, dark place away from onions.

Thaw meat more quickly

There’s nothing worse than going to prepare dinner and realising you forgot to take the meat out of the freezer. 

You can defrost meat quickly by pouring white vinegar over the surface of the meat. The vinegar will lower the freezing temperature of the meat, causing it to thaw faster. As an added bonus, the vinegar will help tenderise the meat too.

Remove excess fat

A layer of fat and oil on sauces, stocks, stews and soups is not only unsightly, but it’s also not great for your waistline.

Wrap a few ice cubes in a paper towel then skim them across the top of the dish. The excess fat will solidify due to the cold, making it much easier to scoop out and discard.

Save a salty soup

Salt is an important component of a delicious soup, but it’s easy to be a bit heavy-handed with seasoning. Too much salt is just as unpleasant as not enough.

To rescue a salty soup, drop a peeled potato into the pot. The potato will help absorb some of the excess salt and hopefully save the dish.

Have you ever had a kitchen disaster? Did you manage to save the dish, or did you resort to delivery? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Kitchen cleaning tips that will save you time and money

Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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