3 Tips For Chopping Onions

Onions are in many different recipes from sauces to stir-fries. Anything you can think of, onions might play a role in! However, chopping onions is not the most pleasant task around, since almost 100% of the time someone chopping onions will end up with a flood of tears in their eyes. Want to avoid the tears? Here are three tips to help you get through chopping onions without too much discomfort:

Sharpen The Knife

The sharper your knife, the easier it will be to cut into onions, which gives the fumes less time to float up to your eyes and make you cry while chopping. Sharpen your knives on a regular basis to make them perform at their best. We also recommend chopping faster rather than slower, but you still need to be careful, which is why the emphasis should be on the sharpness of the knife you are using instead.

Circulate The Air

The fumes from the onions are why your eyes water when chopping onions. Help reduce the amount of fumes reaching your eyes by turning on an exhaust fan (e.g. on your oven) or setting up another fan in the kitchen near to where you will be chopping. This way you can circulate the air and help reduce the fumes. This way, you should cry less during the chopping process.

Refrigerate The Onions

Another great way of lessening the impact of the fumes and the tears in your eyes when chopping onions is to refrigerate them beforehand. This should chill the onions and slow the release of the fumes when you cut into them. The extreme of this is to freeze the onions, but this makes them much harder to chop, so stick with refrigeration instead. Put them in your fridge for at least half an hour before chopping, but ideally for up to two hours.

3 Ways To Use Overripe Fruit

As much as we might try, sometimes we cannot eat all our fresh fruit before they start getting a little overripe. Overripe fruit tends to not be as enjoyable as a standalone snack like simply ripe, fresh fruit is. However, this does not mean you have to throw out overripe fruit! In fact, you have a good window of time with overripe fruit before you do have to throw it away for health reasons. But what can you do with it during that time? Let’s examine three popular things now:

Baked Goods

Perhaps the most popular example here is using overripe bananas to bake some delicious banana bread.  Almost everyone knows about this particular trick. But did you know you can do something like this for just about all kinds of overripe fruit? You are not even limited to a dessert bread. You can make muffins, brownies, and a lot of other baked goods with your fruit. The overripe variety simply adds a little more flavour and ease of baking (softer fruit, easier to mash).

Savoury Sweet Sauce

Yes, you can make a good sauce with your fruit! For instance, a classic combination is apple sauce and pork chops—why not use overripe apples for this? You can pair lots of different meats with your fruit sauces (e.g. chicken with orange sauce). The choice is all yours! This is a great way to add a sweet flavour to savoury dishes—your results might surprise you.

Salad Dressing

Have you ever seen fruity salad dressings in your grocery store? If you haven’t, you likely just reached for your favourite without looking at what the options were. Fruity salad dressings are aplenty! All you need to make your own is the fruit, vinegar, olive oil, and a little bit of seasoning. Throw these ingredients in a blender to create your dressing. The seasoning you want will depend on what fruit you have. For instance, we might recommend trying basil with strawberries.

 

Steps To Clean Your Refrigerator

Every so often, you need to clean your refrigerator. We recommend doing this at least twice a year, but more than that is better. Perhaps 4 times a year, along with the change in seasons, would work for you!

Cleaning your refrigerator helps save precious space, remind you of what you might need to replenish, and helps with general cleanliness. With this in mind, we wanted to give you some simple directions to help make cleaning your refrigerator a breeze. Let’s start now:

Step One: Empty It Completely

First things first, you need to take everything out of your refrigerator. Your counters or dining room table are both fine temporary locations. This helps you in multiple ways, including giving you an accurate idea of what you have in your fridge and what is spoiled. It also puts a time limit on your cleaning, since you don’t want the food to spoil on the counter.

Step Two: Deep Clean The Inside

While your fridge is empty, you can clean it very well. Make sure you use a nontoxic cleaner when wiping things down in here. We also recommend making a basic paste out of baking soda and water. This baking soda paste with not only clean your fridge from any stains or discolouration, but will also deodorize it!

Step Three: Sort Your Products

Now is the time to go through all of your products on the counter. Throw away anything past its expiry date! Check it all carefully so you know what you have!

Step Four: Wipe Down Containers

Before you place everything back in the fridge, we recommend you wipe down all the containers you can. This will help eliminate bacteria when you put things back on your now pristine fridge shelves. Always make sure you use a food safe cleaner and be sparse so you don’t soak anything.

Step Five: Organize

As you start putting everything back into your now clean fridge, we recommend you use the time to organize everything well. Organization in your fridge will make it easier to find what you are looking for, reduce potential food spoilage, et cetera. You will thank yourself later

Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice Blend

The flavours of pumpkin pie are all the rage during the autumn months. You see everything from pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin chai tea—even pumpkin spice Oreo cookies! IT seems as if pumpkin spice is everywhere as soon as fall hits.

But how do you get this spice? How do you bring the pumpkin into your home besides spending a fortune on the specialty products? Sure, you can buy prepackaged pumpkin pie spice if you want, but then you have no control! If you want to adjust the spices in your pumpkin pie (or anything else you want to add this flavour too) you have come to the right place!

Commercial pumpkin pie spice will vary based on the manufacturer, and thus so will your homemade blends. However, the common individuals spices you find in pumpkin pie spice are cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves, and occasionally mace.

Making your own pumpkin pie spice allows you to bring out one of the specific spices more strongly, or eliminate one you really cannot stand if you so desire.

The fact that you have the control means there is not a hard and fast rule about how much of each spice you need in your pumpkin spice blend. However, our recommended basic recipe looks like this:

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon mace (optional)

You can adjust these according to your taste and recipe requirements.

Even though buying a commercial pumpkin pie spice is convenient, making your own is not only far more economical, but also quite a bit more delicious. When you purchase all the individual spices you need there is some expense, but then you can mix your pumpkin spice regularly and even have some individuals spices left over, which you can then use in other recipes! With this and the taste in mind, you will never go back to commercial blends once you make your own pumpkin spice once!

3 Tips For Gluten-Free Eating

Do you have to eliminate gluten from your diet because of an allergy? Are you trying to improve your diet and have decided cutting back or eliminating gluten is a good place to start? Regardless of why you want to go gluten-free, it is very important to take gluten-free eating seriously. To that end, here are three tips for you to consider:

Read The Labels

When you are in the grocery store, it is important to read the labels on everything you buy. Sometimes it is clear what has gluten, but in some cases things may surprise you. Thus, especially if you are avoiding gluten because of an allergy, you should read the labels looking for references indicating the product may have even trace amounts of gluten.

Consult A Professional

Sometimes people make a lot of mistakes with their diet when they are trying to eat gluten-free. In many instances, they overload on the gluten-free versions of their favourite things (e.g. spaghetti). However, this is a big mistakes. We advise you to connect with a health professional who knows about the specific requirement people need each day with their diets and can help advise you on how to build your own gluten-free diet. They will help ensure your diet remains balanced, healthy, and that you are getting all of the vitamins and nutrients you need.

Experiment

Since you are gluten-free, there is a lot not available to you. There are, however, many options for gluten-free eating! Make a list of the foods you know do not contain gluten. When in doubt, experiment with new fruits and vegetables, along with any other new products you stumble across. Try something new each week to expand your palate. What you discover may actually surprise you in the end! Just be sure to keep the other tips we’ve discussed in this post so you can remain healthy with your gluten-free diet.

How To Make Jam

Have you ever purchased one of those jars of jam at the grocery store? Ever wondered if you would be able to make your own? The good news is you can! Some people think making jam is quite difficult, but the truth is making jam is quite easy to do! All you need is time and the tools. So here’s how:

Gather Your Supplies

The first thing you need to do in order to make jam is to have all of the necessary supplies. Sometimes the specifics will vary based on the exact jam you want to make, but in general you will need the following: a selection of canning jars, a large pot, a deep skillet, as well as the ingredients for the jam. A basic jam recipe includes lemon juice, sugar, pectin, and the fruit of choice (e.g. raspberries). The fruit can obviously change, but the other ingredients tend to remain the same.

Work With The Fruit

You need to cut the fruit into small pieces and put them into a large, hot skillet. Gently try crushing the fruit to help make smooth jam, and then add in your lemon juice. Once things have come to a rolling boil, you can add your sugar and pectin. The exact ratio of ingredients will depend on how much jam you want to make, as well as the specific brand of pectin (they will have their own recommended instructions).

Remember The Jars

Before you get ready to pour your jam into the jars, you need to make sure you have sterilized the jars and their lids. The easiest way to do this is to put the jars and lids into a large pot of boiling water. Generally, boil the jars for 15 minutes. Dry them off with a kitchen towel before spooning in your jam.

2 Tips For Canning Food

In addition to freezing food and reheating later, canning some of the ingredients you need is a great way of preserving them for later. You can save tomatoes for a sauce, turn cucumbers into pickles—almost anything you can think of, you can figure out how to can it! But how exactly do you can everything properly? We have two key tips here you need to consider when canning food, detailed below:

Sterilize Everything

When you have your Mason jars and other cans, you need to ensure you sterilize them very well—normally people will do this with boiling water. With this method, you need to wash all of the jars and lids in hot water and dish soap. Rinse thoroughly before placing the jars in a pot and covering them with hot water. Bring this water to a boil and keep the jars in the pot, covered, for 15 minutes after you start seeing steam. At this point, turn off the heat and let the jars stay in the hot water. Put the lids into another pot of boiling water and let them stand for five minutes.

Before you fill the jars with your chosen ingredients, you need to put them upside down on a kitchen towel to dry. You need to wait to do this because you should fill the jars while they are still hot.

Listen For The Pop

When you are sealing your jars, you need to make sure it is always done properly—it needs to be airtight every single time. If you don’t seal the jars properly, your food will actually spoil and your time canning will have been completely useless. So how do you know if you are canning your food well and the jars are sealed properly? It’s all in the pop!

You should hear the lid pop when you are closing up the jars. This happens when the contents cool and contract in the jar. You can test the seal after about 12 hours. The easiest way to tell is to press the middle of the lid with your finger—if it springs up when you release your finger, your jar isn’t sealed.

How To Freeze Baked Goods

Sometimes we might want to make sweet treats ahead of time and have to freeze them in order to ensure they are still god when we actually wish to eat them. This is particularly common with preparing for holiday parties and other holiday events. In addition, we may also have leftover baked goods from something. Regardless, it is essential to understand how to properly freeze baked goods if you are truly to enjoy the sweet treats to their full potential once you defrost them! Here’s how:

Cool Completely

Do not put freshly baked items into the freezer. Make sure everything cools completely before you do this. Not following this direction means you might end up with freezer burn or otherwise compromised baked goods! Leave your cakes, bread, muffins, et cetera on cooling racks for a while before you package them up for the freezer.

Eliminate Air

When you package your baked goods, be sure to eliminate as much air as possible with the freezer bags, containers, aluminum foil, et cetera. Air is one of the primary culprits of freezer burn! Always double check when you are wrapping up everything. We also recommend filling containers as much as possible in addition to tight wrapping.

Wrap Twice

Speaking of wrapping, you can give your baked goods a little bit more protection by wrapping them twice. For instance, try wrapping individual muffins in aluminum foil or plastic wrap before putting them in a freezer bag. Doing something like wrapping the muffins individually also helps you only take out a muffin at a time, which means you do not need to defrost the whole batch if you do not wish to! Perfect choice for on the go snacks and breakfasts! All you need to do is unwrap your sweet treat and pop it into the microwave for a few seconds if you are in a hurry—otherwise, let it defrost naturally.

2 Ways To Prevent Freezer Burn

If you have frozen any food before, you will have likely encountered freezer burn at some point. While you can still consume food freezer burn has affected, since it does not mean bacteria has ruined it, the taste will not be what you want it to be. No, freezer burn negatively affects the overall quality of your food—so why risk it? Here are two ways you can help ensure your food remains at its peak condition in your freezer:

Use Proper Containers

The containers you use have a significant influence on how long your food can last in the freezer without encountering freezer burn. In terms of bags, for instance, you need to have actual freezer bags for the best results. You also need to consider how full you will make each container, regardless of whether it is a bag or a solid container. Limiting the empty space, the air, helps prevent the air from causing the freezer burn you hate. With liquids, you want a little extra space since the liquid will expand slightly as it freezes. With solids, however, you just want to fill up a container as much as possible.

In addition, you want to provide extra insulation if you will be storing things for a long period—so try wrapping aluminum foil around your freezer bags! Certain specific items will have their own tricks for preventing freezer burn through packaging as well—with baked good, for example, you want to wrap them in aluminum foil before putting them in a bag.

Cool Food First

The temperature of your food and how fast you cool it has a significant influence over how long you can prevent freezer burn from occurring. You actually want your food to be as cool as possible before putting it in the freezer. Thus, we recommend you put your portioned leftovers in the fridge for a couple hours before you place them into the freezer. The only exception to cooling in the fridge first is if you are trying to freeze things like uncooked chicken, fruit, et cetera. Anything you haven’t heated—especially stuff you were already storing in the freezer—is fine!

4 Tips For Freezing Food

On a busy day, nothing saves time more than pulling out a frozen meal you made before and simply reheating it to enjoy as fast as possible. You can also build up a stockpile of ingredients to make meals in the future. This is especially helpful on your wallet, since you can buy the products when they are on sale and don’t need to shell out the big bucks later on.

All of this means you need to freeze your food. However, sometimes this can go wrong. You might encounter freezer burn and other issues. So what can you do? Here are 4 tips for freezing food to help you out:

Separate Into Portions

If you follow the proper defrosting protocol, you can technically refreeze something if you don’t cook it. However, we do not advise this because its hard to be sure everything went perfectly, and freezing and defrosting multiple times can degrade the quality of the food. Thus, we recommend separating everything into portions. For instance, if you are just cooking for one, only put one chicken breast in a freezer bag. Portion a big meal like lasagna into the size you like to eat for one meal. This dramatically cuts down on food waste!

Write The Date

Make sure you write the date you froze your meal, ingredient, et cetera on the bag or other container. This helps you keep track of everything—even freezing your food won’t make it last forever! You will run into things like freezer burn if you leave food in there for too long. Spoilage can also be a concern, though this is a very long process. More often than not the ultimate freshness will be negatively affected. Dating everything ensures you regularly consume what you have stored.

Use Freezer Bags

Speaking of storing items in the freezer, we highly recommend using freezer bags instead of regular storage bags! Freezer bags are thicker and thus make your food last longer as well as reducing the chances of the food developing freezer burn.

Chill In Fridge First

Though you want to freeze your food quickly, do not put it straight into the freezer after you portion it if it is cooked. Instead, put your food in the fridge to cool first. Putting it in the freezer right away can make the freezer rise in temperature, which can make the other food in there defrost slightly, which can impact the growth of bacteria.