Learning how to cook takes work, but it’s also enjoyable and often delicious. Cooking is a skill that will always come in handy, no matter how often you cook. Keep reading for a handful of insightful and interesting cooking tips.

Spices and herbs should be stored in a dark and cool area. Their flavors will be weakened when they are exposed to light, heat or humidity. Do not expect your spices to last more than a year. Spices which are kept whole can retain their flavor for between three and five years. If you store them correctly, they will stay fresh for an even longer period of time.

Place meat in the freezer for a few minutes to make slicing easier. This is perfect for meals that require really thin meat such as Chinese or Thai dishes. When the meat is partially frozen, it is much easier to slice and doesn’t tear or stretch. Then don’t forget to let the meat strips completely thaw, so it will cook evenly.

In your journey to cook more meals yourself, utilize the library or local bookstore in acquiring cookbooks. Target simple books with simple recipes that make you comfortable. Try your hand at some of the recipes, remembering that patience is key during the learning process.

Mashed Potatoes

Slice meats into thin strips on the bias when prepping for stir-fry. This technique is somewhat tricky and can take a little time. Freeze the meat until it is firm and then slice the thin slices across the grain.

Try adding cauliflower to your mashed potatoes to lower the fat content. Cauliflower does not have a strong taste and will be virtually undetectable when mixed with the potatoes and other ingredients. As a bonus, cauliflower is the same texture and color as potatoes, so no one will be the wiser when you improve the nutritional content and lower the caloric content of your mashed potatoes.

If you are cooking and you need to add some oil to the pan, drip it down the inside so that it will be a little warm when it hits the food. Hot oil adds more flavor to the food, giving you the tastiest results when you’re finished.

Fresh ingredients are always preferable to dried or frozen ones in all of your recipes. Use whatever seasonal ingredients are available to create tasty dishes, which are also less expensive.

A sharp knife is imperative when preparing food. Not only can it be difficult to cut with dull knives, but it is dangerous to use them too. You have a much higher chance of cutting yourself because you will probably have to force the knife through your food, instead of having to gently cut it.

When making your own chicken stock, prepare more than you need up front. Make sure that you prepare a large amount of stock so that you will have more than enough to store and use for future kitchen adventures. You can use the stock as a base for all kinds of soups or even casseroles. Freeze premeasured amounts of your stock in freezer proof containers or bags when cool.

Certain types of cooking such as boiling, can strip vegetables of their valuable nutrients. To get the greatest health benefit from vegetables, cook them quickly with methods like steaming or sauteing, or serve them raw.

When trying to eat a healthier diet or lose weight, you should decrease the portion of oils used in cooking meals. Unnecessary fats are contained in butters and oils. Consider giving non-stick cooking spray a shot. The end result is virtually the same, but these sprays are often fat-free and have ingredients that are more friendly to your diet.

Do you want to cook with fresh basil? In a glass put a lot of fresh basil inside. Make sure the stems are saturated with water. You can keep basil fresh for weeks on top of your kitchen counter this way. The basil can actually grow roots if you keep the water changed occasionally. You can encourage the basil’s growth even further by trimming it back from time to time, keeping it fresh and healthy even longer.

When cooking a whole pumpkin, place the pumpkin upright first, then cut directly down its middle to create two halves. Place the two halves on baking sheets. Add a few drops of water to each baking sheet, then allow the pumpkin to bake for about one hour at 350 degrees.

When you are grilling burgers, they sometimes lose their shape when they stick to your grill and become hard to remove. If, however, you brush the grill with oil, this will help prevent sticking.

You will have fresh fruits all year long. Furthermore, you can enjoy seasonal fruits without paying outrageous prices during the off season.

Make big portions when preparing stock. Make sure that you prepare a large amount of stock so that you will have more than enough to store and use for future kitchen adventures. Homemade chicken stock adds great flavor to everything from soups to casseroles. First, cool the stock and then stick it in the freezer.

Carefully measure the oil you cook with. Avoid pouring oil directly from the bottle to the pan when you cook, as this will allow you to lower your consumption of fat. This technique gives you greater control over the amount of oil you want to use.

If you are looking for a nutritionally beneficial way to cook your vegetables, try sauteing them in a small amount of chicken broth. The chicken broth will add a dimension of flavor, and let you cut down on how much oil you use. Try this next time you cook vegetables for a great meal.

You should try and dry your tomatoes on your own. Simply cut them into 1/2 half inch slices, or cut lengthwise for Romas. Then put them on a rack that you might use to cool cookies and then lightly cover them with salt. Place the cooling rack on a cookie sheet and dry in a 190 degree oven for up to 10 hours. Keep the tomatoes fresh by storing them in freezer bags. Dried tomatoes can be placed into a jar that is filled with fresh herbs and olive oil. Use them within two weeks of refrigerating.

If you are cooking with garlic, you want to use the freshest clove that you can find. The sooner you use fresh garlic, the better and sweeter the flavor of it will be. Fresh garlic will have firm skin and will not be bruised or soft to the touch.

A well organized kitchen will simplify cooking. If you do not organize them, you will be scrambling around to find where you put everything. Store similar items together in the same place. To be more specific, put peanut butter and jelly on the same shelf, since they both serve the same purpose.

If a particular wine’s flavor is unknown to you, then you shouldn’t use it as an ingredient in your food. If you select wine that you do not enjoy or use a bottle that you have never tried, you may not like how your food turns out. Look through your grocery store to find wines that are used specifically for cooking.

Organization while cooking is necessary in order to avoid disasters, like under done or burnt food. Organizing your kitchen cooking area creates a more productive kitchen. If you aren’t organized, you will start to forget what you buy and that will make you spend too much money that could have been spent on something you would have eaten.

Try to make dinner preparations the evening before. You can dice, slice and otherwise prepare vegetables in advance. Stir up some sauce prior to your bedtime for a stress-free pasta dish the next evening. This will take a great deal of stress off of your shoulders when it is time to cook.

When you cook, wash dishes as you go along. Have a sink of hot, soapy water on one side and rinsing water on the other. Since the easiest time to clean bowls and other implements is right after you have finished with them, you will save yourself a lot of time and effort since you won’t have to scrub them so much.

If you are cooking, it’s a good idea to wash each dish after using it. Have your sink full of soapy, hot water one side, and use the other side to rinse. Utensils and mixing bowls are easiest to cleaned directly after their use, and can be used again during the same meal preparation.

When boiling pasta, salt the cooking water generously. Adding salt at this stage will ensure that the pasta absorbs it completely. This is much more effective than trying to add salt to pasta that you have already cooked.

Stay creative and have fun when cooking. Following a recipe exactly is boring and stale. You can add a little of one thing, or take out something else, to suit your tastes and enhance the recipe. That is how a real cook gets it cooking!

It is now time to apply what you have learned. By using the tips from the above article, you have all the tools necessary to start cooking amazing food! You will truly enjoy serving a dish to your family that you prepared yourself. Cooking well does truthfully require some skill. However, a delicious meal is worth all of the effort!

Save a little bit of your pasta water when making pasta sauce. Measure out one quarter cup of water, and put it to the side. Then, mix a little of this water in with your pasta sauce. The combination of water and the starch from the pasta will give your sauce body and creaminess.

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