Cooking is a norm in every African household and a lot of African women spend more time in the kitchen than in many rooms at home.
There are many ways to solve common problems in the kitchen during cooking. Here are 7 tips that will make life more bearable for you and even save you from throwing away good food:
Keeping starchy staples, fruits and vegetables fresh
Starchy roots and tubers are a staple food all across Africa. Most of our local dishes are made from these tubers. Unfortunately, some have to go waste because they get rotten especially when cut through. The hack to slow down this rotting process is to sprinkle lemon juice over the cut or exposed area of a plantain or yam before you put it away.
This hack also works with fruits and vegetables. The ascorbic acid-rich lemon juice reacts with the polyphenol oxidase compound. After the reaction, the acid works to prevent oxygen and other atmospheric conditions from making the food age.
Protecting your eyes from onions
Many people tear up when slicing onions and to prevent this, bite unto a piece of bread that sticks out of your mouth as you chop the onions. The bread will absorb the sulphur gas emitted by the onion which prevents them from travelling to your eyes.
Other hacks to deal with onions are to freeze them before you start the slicing or rub the chopping board with white vinegar just before cutting them.
Testing the freshness of eggs
To identify if your egg is in good condition without cracking it open, place it in a glass of water. If it sinks to the bottom, it is still fresh but if it floats mid-way, it is not as fresh as it ought to be. If it floats on the surface, it has gone completely bad and must be discarded.
Reducing the burning sensation of pepper to skin
This is one of the staple ingredient of every African home. Sadly, many people have to deal with the burning sensation that follows the use of pepper. A simple hack to this is to smear the hand with olive oil before touching the pepper. This creates a barrier between the pepper and the hands to alleviate the burning sensation.
Reducing spillage when boiling starchy foods
To avoid water from boiling over and spilling the kitchen stove when boiling starchy foods, place a cold wooden spoon over the pot. When the water rises with steam to the top and hits the spoon, it will convert to liquid and drop into the pot. The effect will, however, lessen as the spoon gets hotter.
Extending the lifespan of avocado
This is one of the most enjoyed fruits in Africa. When in season, many homes across Africa are seen incorporating them into their salads, smoothies and as a side dish of many delicacies. Many do not like to keep leftovers of avocado due to its very short lifespan. To lengthen the lifespan and get rid of black or browning surfaces, rub olive oil on the surface of the avocado. It keeps the surface clean and void of insect attack.
Removing the smell of meat from hands
To avoid that funky smell after touching meat, rub the hands with toothpaste or baking soda for a while and rinse it off with room temperature water. Alternatively, rinse the hands with vinegar or lemon juice. Salt has been known to work for some people in getting rid of funky smells. Rub salt between the palms and rinse off with water or lemon juice and you are good to go.
Peeling off garlic
A time-saving and easy way to get the peels of garlic off is to put the head of the garlic in an empty container, cover the container and shake vigorously. After a while, the outer peels will come off and the process can be repeated to get the peels off individual cloves. Also, it is advised to peel ginger roots with a spoon as knives and other sharp edges tend to peel off too much of the ginger.
How to get crystal clear ice cubes
To achieve crystal clear ice cubes for that upcoming get-together, make sure to boil the water before you freeze it.
Main image by Alexa James of usmediahouse.com.