Kitchen and cooking tips and tricks

May 14, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. ET

Newbie cooks can make their time in the kitchen much simpler and more enjoyable by learning some basic tricks of the trade.

Cutting onions

If you're new to cooking, chances are you haven't yet picked up techniques that become second nature to people who have read dozens of cookbooks, watched a lot of cooking shows or who have learned from trial and error in having cooked so many dishes. Not to worry — we've got you covered with a cheat sheet of tips and tricks that'll make cooking and other kitchen tasks much simpler.

Ripen avocados more quickly

Sometimes you just get a craving for guacamole. Or perhaps you forgot to pick up avocados in advance for the breakfast burritos you plan to make for brunch. Avocados are typically not yet ripe when you buy them at the supermarket. While it won't help with your immediate craving for guac, storing avocados in a paper bag in a dry, dark place will help them ripen more quickly — within two days, in fact.

Chop onions without tearing up

The gases released when you slice an onion are what bring tears to your eyes. You're in luck if you wear contact lenses, however, as they will help prevent you from crying. Not a lens wearer? Wearing goggles can help prevent your eyes from tearing, but if you don't want to keep a pair of goggles on hand, try not standing directly over your chopping board when you chop an onion. What will help even more is keeping the cut side of the onion facing away from you. One other way to prevent your becoming a teary mess when chopping onions is to peel the onion, then pop it into the freezer for five minutes before slicing it.

Get the juice out of limes

Limes can be difficult to juice. To juice a lime more easily, lay it on your counter or cutting board and, using your palm, roll it over the surface. Then slice it open for juicing.

Clean away the smell of garlic

Garlic can add such wonderful flavour to your dishes, but its pungent scent is not something you want lingering on your hands after you've prepped some cloves. You can buy small stainless steel tools to run your hands and fingers over under running water to help remove the smell. Another method that is equally effective — and that doesn't require you to buy anything — is to rub your hands on your stainless steel faucet or stainless steel cutlery as you rinse them in the sink.

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