Fun food facts and kitchen tips to make food taste better and last longer

Oct 12, 2008 at 5:26 p.m. ET

With your grocery budget getting pinched with the state of the economy, it's essential to get the most and best use of the items you buy. Here is a list of fun food facts and kitchen tips to help make some of your foods last longer and taste better.

Woman with Groceries

A little kitchen ingenuity goes a long way

  • To keep blocks of cheese fresher longer, wrap them in aluminum foil instead of plastic wrap. It will help prevent mold.
  • Extend the shelf-life of cottage cheese by storing it upside down in its container.
  • When you get home from the store, separate bananas from the main stem. They will not ripen as quickly. And to avoid having strings on a banana when you peel it, take the peel off from the bottom — the primates do it that way.
  • If you love the taste of garlic, push it through a garlic press before adding to the rest of your ingredients. If you like a milder taste, chop or slice it. Pressing garlic makes the taste of garlic much stronger because there is more surface area of the garlic exposed. Also, be sure to add garlic towards the end of cooking when sautéing so you don't burn it and turn it bitter.
  • Soak diced or sliced raw onions in ice water for 15 minutes to make them less pungent — ideal when adding to salads or sandwiches and you don't want an overwhelming onion bite.
  • To make rich and creamy scrambled eggs or omelets, beat in a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, softened cream cheese or heavy cream.
  • To reheat pizza without creating a soggy mess in the microwave, heat it in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove over medium-low heat until warm. You may need to put the lid on the skillet to melt the cheese.
  • If a bell pepper has three bumps on the bottom it is sweeter and better for eating raw. If it has four bumps on the bottom, it is likely firmer and better for cooking.
  • For super-simple deviled eggs, put cooked egg yolks and additional ingredients in a zip-top bag and seal. Mash until well combined. Slice one of the tips off of the bottom of the bag and squeeze mixture into the cooked egg white shells. Clean up is easy — just throw the bag away.
  • To reheat refrigerated bread products, like loafs, biscuits, pancakes or muffins, and keep them soft, reheat in the microwave with a cup of water. The water will keep the them moist and help them reheat faster.
  • To make a quick, minty-fresh frosting, melt Andes mints in a double boiler, stirring until smooth, and pour over warm brownies or ice cream.
  • Make the most of your holiday hard-candy, like candy canes, by chopping them up and using them in desserts and hot drinks. Add chopped candy to brownie and cake batter before baking. Stir it into hot coffee and cocoa, letting it melt before drinking. Sprinkle over ice cream or frosted cakes. Add it to preserves for a berry minty treat.
  • To double your frosting for cakes and cupcakes, whip store-bought frosting with a mixer for a few minutes or until it doubles in size. Not only will you be able to frost more desserts, you will end up eating less sugar, fat and calories per serving.

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