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10 Essential Kitchen Skills Everyone Should Know But No One Taught

For the purpose of making the content easier to consume, this article was republished at chewtheworld.com on permission of its author.
You can find the original on lifehacker.com.

Most of us never get a crash course in how to cook or find our way around the kitchen. We learn from others: friends, parents, cooking shows, or cookbooks. That means it's easy for there to be gaps in our knowledge, like things we really should know, have been doing wrong, or just never had to learn. Let's take a look at some of them.

Even if you do know your way around a kitchen, odds are you've come across a problem or two that you just didn't know how to tackle, or you had no idea what the right way was, so you got along the best you could. There's nothing wrong with that—it's how we all learn.

I've been cooking for years, and only recently did I really pick up on the best way to dispose of frying oil, and I was scolded on my garbage disposal use by a plumber who came to replace the one in my apartment. Don't make the same mistakes I have. Here are some tips to keep you in the clear in your kitchen.

Important Message: Do you want to learn cooking with 16-Michelin-star Gordon Ramsay for less than $100?
Check it out here or click here to read my review on his course.

1. How to Peel Peaches, Nectarines, or Tomatoes

Stone fruit like peaches, tomatoes, or any fruit with thin skin and delicate flesh can be tricky to peel. The flesh bruises easily if you just take a knife to it. Instead, try blanching them to loosen the skin and make it easy to remove.

Instruction

2. How to Properly Dispose of Frying or Cooking Oil

Frying can produce a lot of leftover oil. If you're frying something particularly flavorful, like bacon, that oil can come in handy later.

Instruction

3. How to Properly Clean (and Care for) a Garbage Disposal

How to Properly Clean (and Care for) a Garbage Disposal

If you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen, you know it's a lifesaver. However, depending on the model and its horsepower, it can handle some things and not others. There are some basics that apply to every disposal though.

Instruction

Important Message: Do you want to learn cooking with 16-Michelin-star Gordon Ramsay for less than $100?
Check it out here or click here to read my review on his course.

4. How to Clean Your Washer, Dryer, and Dishwasher

4. How to Clean Your Washer, Dryer, and Dishwasher

Most people don't think about cleaning their washer, dryer, or dishwasher, because they use them to clean other things. We assume that because we put soap and water in them, they clean themselves. That's only partially true (after all, does your bathtub clean itself?). You can certainly run your dishwasher or washing machine empty, but that'll only do so much. Instead, do this:

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You don't have to clean these appliances terribly often. You could always just wait until they're dirty, but it makes sense to be proactive. Every few months or a year should be enough. Make them part of your spring cleaning regimen, or do it now if you've never done it before.

5. How to Break a Chicken or Turkey Down into Parts

Instruction

Whether it's raw and about to be cooked, or cooked and about to be served, breaking down a chicken or turkey is a pretty critical kitchen skill everyone should know (and all too few people do).

The video above from the New York Times shows you how to break down a whole chicken in a matter of minutes before cooking. This gives you the freedom to cook different parts of the chicken for different meals, and to save the bones for broth. Best of all, you have control over the whole bird, and you don't have to pay more per pound to have someone else cut it up for you.

6. How to Properly Clean Your Knives

Taking good care of your and cleaning them properly is equally important, and something many people overlook. They'll just scrub their knives down or let them sit in a sink full of water, or worse, just run them through the dishwasher and expect them to be okay on the other end.

Sure, most knives are dishwasher safe, but putting them through the dishwasher is generally a bad idea. You'll shorten the life of your blade, dull it more quickly, and it's pretty dangerous, too.

Instruction

Important Message: Do you want to learn cooking with 16-Michelin-star Gordon Ramsay for less than $100?
Check it out here or click here to read my review on his course.

7. How to Care for a Cutting Board

How to Care for a Cutting Board

Taking good care of your knives is half the battle. The other half is taking good care of your cutting boards and surfaces. First, regular washing with soap and water after every use is ideal, no matter what your cutting board is made of. After that, it varies depending on the material. Here's what you need to know for each type of cutting surface:

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Whatever cutting surface you have, it shouldn't take too long to clean it. Regular scrubbing is key, but with wood, you really want to go the extra mile to make sure it lasts over the long term.

8. When to Use Salted or Unsalted Butter

Salted or Unsalted Butter

You've probably been to the grocery store and seen salted and unsalted butter. You may even have a preference. I buy both, usually, and the reasoning is simple:

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9. How to Store and Rescue Hardened Brown Sugar

Storing brown sugar is easy: A simple airtight container will keep your brown sugar moist and fresh for as long as possible. If you want to keep it moist as long as possible, you can always toss in a slice of bread with the brown sugar and seal the container as tightly as possible.

The moisture in the bread will keep the brown sugar loose enough to use. Alternatively, you can get a terra cotta sugar bear to do the same job. Soak it, and put it in with your brown sugar. The same thing works with cookies you want to keep moist. If you don't feel like buying anything, a shard from a terracotta pot will work just as well.

As for rescuing brown sugar once it's dried out, if you have the time, you can pop in the bread or terra cotta and let is set. It'll take a while, but it'll loosen up. If you need to use it now, a quick trip through the microwave with some water will do the trick.

Video Instruction

10. How to Frost a Cake

Frosting a cake sounds easy until you actually have to do it yourself. You might think it's just a matter of slathering on frosting and smoothing it out, but there's much more to the picture. The video below from Saveur Magazine shows you the ropes, but the key is to master the back-and-forth motion you'll need to use to smooth out the frosting from the center out to the sides of the cake.

Instruction

Final Thought

With all of these tips combined, there's little you'll run into in the kitchen or around the house that you won't be prepared for. For some people, these are common sense techniques they learned either through a lifetime of cooking and cleaning or from family who saw fit to teach them—for others though, they're useful skills that no one's going to teach you in school. Either way, they're all important to know.

None of These Matters
If You
Don't Know How To Apply Them In Your Life Systematically!

While learning the skills above will help you along in your kitchen, there are still tons of other techniques and recipes you need to learn just to take a little control of your kitchen.

Hoping over food bloggers to recipe-sites, gathering as many cooking tips and tricks as possible may help you a little here and there but it loses your sight of the big picture. You will waste a lot of time and get little result in return. 

You can ask a better question:

"How can I learn cooking with minimum effort (time and money) and get a huge result (recipes and skills) in return?"

Well, the answer is pretty simple, everyone knows it: "Learn from the Master."

​But price for tutorship from masters is never low! You even have to devote both your time and spirit to learn with them.
This is where the solution comes. Let me tell you my little bonding experience:

I was so lucky to have a chance to participate in one of 16-Michelin-star Gordon Ramsay's master cooking class, for less than $100.
To be honest, it's the greatest course I ever take part in for such a low price.​ (You can click here to read my review about his course)

The question above will be solved if you take part in his course.

By following his instructions in the class, now I am able to perform much better in my kitchen. Also by knowing the fundamental principles, I can learn new recipes much faster and get more successful results.

Not only I get the positive results after taking his course, but many others, from beginners to experts, more or less have the same positive experience like me. Click the button below to learn more about other students' experience on Ramsay's course.

Or click her to read other students' experience on Ramsay's Masterclass