TOQUE TIPS

If you burn food onto the inside of a saucepan, fill the pan with water to cover the scorch, then add 1/4 cup baking soda. Bring the mixture to a low boil and continue boiling until the burned food lifts off.

Store spices and seasonings in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) away from heat and light.... Don't buy spices and seasonings in bulk. They have a very short shelf life, just a few months, before they lose their potency. The worst way to store them is in clear glass jars. Best are dark, opaque, securely sealed small containers.

To keep green beans, fresh spinach, asparagus, and peas green, add a pinch of baking soda to the cooking water.

Squeeze fresh lemon or lime juice on sliced bananas, apples, or avacados to keep them from turning dark.

Peel onions under cold running water, then freeze them for 5 minutes before chopping or slicing them. This will keep you from crying while working with them.

When mincing garlic, shallots, or onions, sprinkle a pinch of salt over them. This will keep the pieces from sticking to the knife and cutting board.

Carefully squeeze out all the air from plastic bags before storing in the freezer. This will prevent ice crystals from forming on the food, and preserve the flavor and texture of the contents.

To remove the smell of garlic or onion from your fingers, try running your fingers under cold water or rubbing them with fresh lemon juice or parsley.

To keep cauliflower white, add a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to the cooking water.

It's much easier to chop candied or dried fruits if you freeze them for one hour. And dip the knife into hot water before cutting them.

Tomatoes, avocados, peaches, and nectarines ripen faster when enclosed in a brown paper bag and kept at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Wrap lettuce in paper towels before you put it in a plastic bag. This will prevent the leaves from browning by absorbing any excess moisture.

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