When you’ve been cooking for as long as I have, it’s easy to feel like you already know everything there is to know about the stuff in your kitchen. But in reality, you may be using your kitchen items incorrectly without even knowing it! I certainly was, before I finished researching and writing today’s post! Today I’ll be talking about 15 kitchen items that you may be using the wrong way. You’ll learn the correct way to use the stuff in your kitchen, and why it’s important. Not only will you (hopefully) learn some new things, but you’ll also learn how to keep a cleaner, more functional, and more efficient kitchen! :-)
15 Kitchen Items You’re Using Incorrectly
1. Kitchen Knives
A knife is a knife is a knife, right? Not necessarily! Some knives are better suited to different tasks. For instance, a serrated knife is great for cutting homemade breads without accidentally smashing them. Serrated knives are also great for cutting soft produce items, like tomatoes and strawberries!
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Another knife that many people overlook is the paring knife. This small knife isn’t only good for cutting small items. It can also be used to peel fruits and vegetables, remove seeds, and even to remove veins from shrimp.
Where you place your dishes inside your dishwasher makes a big difference! A study published in Chemical Engineering Journal determined that dishes with carb-based residues (like potatoes, pasta, etc.) are cleaned better when placed in near the center of the machine. The study also concluded that dishes with protein-based residues (like meat, cheese, etc.) should be placed around the edges of the machine for optimal cleaning.
3. Food Processor
Some people use their food processor and blender interchangeably, but they’re actually better suited to different tasks. Food processors are best for cutting up solid, dry foods, and making chunky sauces.
Your blender can be a really helpful tool for making soups, sauces, smoothies, and more. But blenders can struggle if you don’t add your ingredients in the right order! Start with your liquids first, then add smaller ingredients. Then follow up with large ingredients, and add the toughest ingredients last (like ice or vegetable stalks).
Many people use the shelves in the door of their fridge to store things like milk and juice for easy access. But this isn’t a great idea, because the door shelves are one of the warmest parts of your fridge. Instead, use those door shelves to store things like condiments, water, and shelf-stable juices, since these items don’t need to be kept quite as cold. Store your milk and fresh juices on the main shelves of your fridge to make sure they’re kept nice and cold!
Another factor that affects the temperature of your fridge is how much food you have in it. It’s fine to have a lot of food in your fridge, as long as there is enough space between items to allow air to circulate. If air can’t circulate, your items won’t get sufficiently cold and may even spoil!
6. Garlic Press
If you own and use a garlic press, you may be surprised to learn that you don’t actually have to peel your garlic cloves before pressing them. The garlic “skins” will stay inside the press, and only the good parts will get pushed through the holes.
Most people don’t use their freezers nearly often enough! It’s a great place to store your leftovers so they stay fresh for longer. Using your freezer often will help you cut down on food waste, and less food waste means keeping more money in your pocket!
8. Garbage Disposal
It seems instinctive to use hot water when you’re operating your garbage disposal, but cold water is often the better choice. Hot water causes many foods to melt, and melty foods can stick to the disposal blades and to the inside of your pipes. Cold water keeps food solid, and solid foods are much easier to crush and rinse away.
9. Stand Mixer
Most people who use a stand mixer don’t know that you can actually adjust the height of your paddle attachment. It should rest a few millimeters above the bowl; any higher and it won’t mix properly, and any lower and it will scratch up your bowl. Check out this blog post from KitchenAid Australia to learn how to adjust this setting when necessary.
In order to use your microwave properly, you should know the wattage of your particular model. The wattage is how much power your microwave produces, and it affects how quickly food cooks. Many frozen food labels suggest different time recommendations based on wattages, so it’s important to know yours. You can find it in your microwave’s User Manual, or on the front or back of your microwave.
Opening your oven door while cooking or baking can be a risky move. The temperature in your oven can drop up to 130°F every time you open the oven door! This temperature swing can cause disastrous results, like collapsing cakes and undercooked food! If you need to open the oven door during the cooking process, do it as quick as you can to minimize the temperature drop.
The drawer underneath your oven may actually be more useful than you had thought! Depending on your oven’s make and model, that drawer may be for storage, warming, or even broiling. Read your oven’s User Manual to find out what your oven drawer should be used for, and how to use it!
12. Slow Cooker
Much like the oven, your slow cooker can suffer a dramatic temperature drop if you lift the lid during cooking. It’s hard to resist the temptation to peek, but your food will be better off if you just leave it alone! :-)
13. Vegetable Peeler
When you use a vegetable peeler, make sure to move the peeler away from you, rather than towards you. Not only is peeling away from you safer, but it also results in a cleaner and neater finished product!
14. Wood Cutting Boards
Moisture and heat can both warp your nice, wooden cutting board. So rather than cleaning it under the faucet or in your dishwasher, use half a lemon and some coarse salt. The salt will scrub away messes, and the lemon will disinfect the surface. After scrubbing, wipe the board clean with a clean cloth. (Don’t forget to treat the wood regularly with a cutting board conditioner too!)
15. Spaghetti Spoon
The hole in the center of your spaghetti spoon isn’t only for draining; you can also use it for measuring! Slide dry spaghetti through the hole to measure out one serving of noodles.