Everyone needs to know how to cook. Not only is homemade food tasty and nutritious, it also helps you economize.

Your spices and herbs should always be stored in a cool and dark place. If they are exposed to light, heat or humidity, they will lose much of their flavor. Another little known fact is that ground spices tend to lose their flavor quicker than whole spices. Spices that are raw, or whole, can keep the original flavor for as long as five years, though it usually falls somewhere between three and five. If you store them correctly, they will stay fresh for an even longer period of time.

It’s very important to have good, sharp knives for cooking. Knives that have not been sharpened in a while can not only pose a threat to your health, but also a threat to smashing your food. When you use a dull knife, you often have to force the blade through whatever you are cutting. Using a sharp knife is much easier and safer.

If you are working on creating more home-cooked meals, try the library for cookbooks that offer a variety of easy recipes that will be fun to prepare. Try some recipes and be patient as you develop your skills.

Do you know grilling times for meats? It is recommended that you use a reliable meat thermometer to ensure proper cooking inside the meat; a digital thermometer would give you very accurate readings. If you are grilling a thicker piece of meat (over 1.5 inches), close your grill while cooking to save some time.

One of the best tips that you can follow when you are using oil is to add it to the sides of your pan upon cooking so when it gets to the food, it is already heated. Having the oil at the right temperature when you cook with it will make the flavors pop.

Keep flour, sugar and other items for baking in tins with seals that keep the air out. Store spices, seasonings and ingredients in airtight containers to avoid exposure to light, heat and humidity. These containers can be purchased at many retail locations and are a great investment for the money,

Here is a little trick that can help you save your sauce so that you can use it right away. Start with 1 tablespoon and add more cornstarch until you reach the desired consistency. Stir it into your sauce as it simmers and it will get thicker. Adding the cornstarch mixture slowly and continuing to stir helps you judge the proper thickness of your sauce.

Sauteing veggies in a bit of chicken broth is a healthy way you can prepare them. This way you’ll use less oil while still giving the veggies a nice flavor. Do this and you will find that your vegetables are delicious and easy to prepare.

Longer cooking methods, such as boiling, take out a lot of the healthy nutrients that are found in vegetables. If you are not serving the vegetables in their raw state, consider steaming, sautéing or even roasting your vegetables to protect their vitamin and nutrient content.

Your cutting board retains the odors of certain herbs and vegetables despite repeated scrubbings. Make a small mark with a marker on one side of your board to remind you which side is for sweet items and which is for sour.

Many individuals enjoy cooking with apples when it is cooler outside, but if stored improperly, they will no longer be usable. Apples need to be kept loosely in plastic bags while in your refrigerator or basement because they rot in dry, warm air. You must still keep an eye out on the apples because one apple that is rotten can spoil the whole bag.

Follow the instructions carefully whenever you cook macaroni and cheese. Remember that the makers of your mac and cheese designed these instructions with the best possible result in mind. Serving with a solid-faced spoon will prevent the finished meal from sticking and globbing. Add some extra flavor with pepper.

Have you ever wanted to cook a meal using fresh basil? Put a bunch of fresh basil in a glass. Submerge the stems in water. Next, place the basil and glass on the kitchen counter; the herb will remain fresh for a week or more. In fact, if you periodically freshen the water, the herb may even sprout roots. If this happens, trim the basil once in a while. This promotes continued growth, which means you have fresh basil at your disposal well into the future.

Save a little bit of your pasta water when making pasta sauce. Use around a quarter cup and put it aside for your sauce. When you are getting ready to mix the pasta and sauce together, pour in some of the water. The water contains starch from the pasta, and will make your sauce nice and creamy.

Cook your vegetables in chicken broth. Try cooking your veggies in chicken broth. It adds a nice flavor, and the veggies will not stick to the pan. Chicken broth is cheap, and can be bought anywhere.

Cutting Board

Carefully measure the oil you cook with. If you measure the amount of cooking oil you use instead of just dumping some into a pan, you are far less likely to overdo it. Doing this lets you be very mindful of just how much oil you are actually using in your cooking.

When you are using your cutting board to chop herbs, sprinkle a little salt on the board. Salt will not only add flavor to your herbs, but it will keep the herbs on the cutting board. Then monitor the amount of salt that you add to the food as it is cooking. The salt will stick to the herbs and make their flavor stronger.

Preserve the flavor of your herbs and spices by storing them in an area with low light and cool temperatures. Excessive warmth or light can leech the flavor from your spices and herbs.

If you are using raw onions in salsa that will not be eaten in less than 20 minutes, then be sure to rinse the onions with cold water followed by thorough dry blotting. Fresh onions have a sulfurous gas in them. This unappetizing gas by-product can ruin the taste of your salsa. You can remove the gas by rinsing and drying the onions.

When you are barbecuing, make sure that you prepare your grill beforehand so it is ready when you are. Prepare the grill approximately half an hour prior to putting the food on. Your coals should be kept at a medium heat range and covered with a layer of ash. This is the right temperature to begin grilling your food.

Before you start cooking, it is best to have everything you will need already prepared. This will stop you from having your oven or stove on for too long, and will also give you an extra safety level if you are using oil on a hot pan or other dangerous cooking techniques.

Do your prep work to save cooking time. It is sometimes possible to do some preliminary tasks in the days preceding the actual meal preparation. For certain meals, it is imperative to engage in longer preparation times to yield the best flavors. Once you get in the habit of advanced prep, you may never return.

When preparing to barbecue, make sure you light the charcoal in your grill ahead of time. Prepare the grill approximately half an hour prior to putting the food on. The heat should be moderate and the charcoal should be a little ashy. Grilling at this temperature is highly recommended.

Discover new ways to eat oysters. Oysters are typically eaten raw with maybe a splash of lemon, but there are other ways to prepare them. For example, put some shelled open oysters in a pan and coat them with a small amount of cream. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and some freshly grated pepper, and the broil until they are bubbling. You can also saute oysters. Cover them with seasoned flour and use hot butter to fry them for about two minutes or until golden. Do not remove oysters from their shells for baking. You want to put them into a casserole dish with a little butter and breadcrumbs on top of each oyster, and put it in a 425 degree oven for about 5 minutes. As soon as the juices and butter start to bubble, they are ready to be served with a simple toasted baguette.

If you saute a food, don’t overload the pan. The moisture that the extra food volume adds will cause the food to steam, which means it won’t be as crispy as intended. Use a low temperature while doing this, too.

You should have stackable cooling racks in your kitchen. If you do not have cooling racks that stack, your kitchen could become overtaken by cooling cookies the next time you need to make a large batch. Because of this, you should use these type of cooling racks so that you can save your space to use for other more important things. This will save your kitchen space and give you some breathing room.

Try not to under or over cook your cake. The recommendations on the package are only guidelines, because many factors, including oven variations, can impact the finished product. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake instead. If your toothpick is wet or sticky, give your cake a little longer to cook. If it’s clean and dry, your cake is ready to cool and frost.

Use a thick-skinned baking potato for firmer-shelled twice baked potatoes. Varieties such as Yukon Gold or red potatoes have thin skins that aren’t sturdy enough for heavy fillings.

Fresh Herbs

Always use soft, not melted butter when you are making cookies. If your butter melts completely, then put it back in the fridge to let it solidify again. You can also refrigerate the resulting dough. Colder cookie dough will stop your cookies from widening too much.

Enhance the flavors in a simple dish by using fresh ingredients, herbs and seasonings. In a more complex dish with many flavors, dried herbs can be acceptable. Though when possible, it is always better to use fresh herbs as they provide your dish with better flavor. You can plant an herb garden to make sure you always have your favorite fresh herbs available.

Use spices after cooking. Pepper, cayenne, salt, and garlic are yummy additional seasonings you can add. Spice is a matter of individual taste, so what works for one person may not work for another. Instead of putting them on your food let the people eating choose. Each person can then have his or her own customized meal.

By learning how to use the techniques discussed above, you can learn to cook like a pro. If you test your skills a little more in the kitchen every day you will be enjoying home cooked meals and watching your savings account grow. By deciding to eat at home, you could put your entire family on a healthier diet with a focus on good nutrition. Think of these cooking tips the next time you are in the kitchen.

You should always use nylon, silicone or rubber cooking utensils when using nonstick cookware. The harder metal or wooden utensils can gouge or scratch the coating, which both reduces its effectiveness, and allows its coating to flake off into the food. Not only will that appear unappetizing, but it can be dangerous as well.

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