You know all of those helpful kitchen-related suggestions that old-timers are so willing to share with the younger generations? These little tips and tricks might be called “kitchen hacks” these days, but they’re still the same good old nuggets of wisdom that they always were. As with any old wives’ tale, hack, or tip, your mileage may vary. Some of these gems have been around for several lifetimes – and according to most grandmas, they really work.
1. For cleaning smelly hands after chopping onions or garlic, just rub them on a stainless steel spoon. The steel is supposed to absorb the odor.
2. Fresh coffee beans can also absorb nasty odors from your hands.
3. If you happen to over-salt a pot of soup, just drop in a peeled potato. The potato will absorb the excess salt.
4. When boiling eggs, add a pinch of salt to keep the shells from cracking.
5. Never put citrus fruits or tomatoes in the fridge. The low temperatures degrade the aroma and flavor of these persnickety fruits.
6. To clean cast iron cookwear, don’t use detergents. Just scrub them with salt and a clean, dry paper towel.
7. Will milk curdle if it is allowed to boil? It turns out that this age-old piece of wisdom isn’t true, after all. Milk that has been boiled is perfectly safe to consume.
8. To clean an electric kettle with calcium buildup on the heating element, boil a mixture of half white vinegar and half water, then empty.
9. When storing empty airtight containers, throw in a pinch of salt to keep them from getting stinky.
10. If you are making gravy and accidentally burn it, just pour it into a clean pan and continue cooking it. Add sugar a little at a time, tasting as you go to avoid over-sugaring it. The sugar will cancel out the burned taste.
11. Burned a pot of rice? Just place a piece of white bread on top of the rice for 5-10 minutes to draw out the burned flavor. Be careful not to scrape the burned pieces off of the bottom of the pan when serving the rice.
12. Before you chop chili peppers, rub a little vegetable oil into your hands and your skin won’t absorb the spicy chili oil.
13. If you aren’t sure how fresh your eggs are, place them in about four inches of water. Eggs that stay on the bottom are fresh. If only one end tips up, the egg is less fresh and should be used soon. If it floats, it’s past the fresh stage.
14. To banish ants from the kitchen, find out where they are coming in and cover the hole with petroleum jelly. Ants won’t trek through the jelly. If they are coming under a door, draw a line on the floor with chalk. The little bugs also won’t cross a line of chalk.
15. Before making popcorn on the stove or in an air popper, soak the kernels in water for 10 minutes. Drain the water, then pop as normal. The additional moisture helps the popcorn pop up quicker and fluffier with fewer “old maids.”
16. Don’t store your bananas in a bunch or in a fruit bowl with other fruits. Separate your bananas and place each in a different location. Bananas release gases which cause fruits (including other bananas) to ripen quickly. Separating them will keep them fresh longer.
17. To keep potatoes from budding in the bag, put an apple in with them.
18. If you manage to have some leftover wine at the end of the evening, freeze it in ice cube trays for easy addition to soups and sauces in the future.
19. To clean crevices and corners in vases and pitchers, fill with water and drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets. The bubbles will do the scrubbing.
20. After boiling pasta or potatoes, cool the water and use it to water your house plants. The water contains nutrients that your plants will love.
21. When you clean your fish tank, the water you drain can also be used to water your house plants. The nitrogen and phosphorus in fish droppings make aquarium water a great fertilizer.
22. When defrosting meat from the freezer, pour some vinegar over it. Not only does it tenderize the meat; it will also bring down the freezing temperature of the meat and cause it to thaw quicker.
23. The substance in onions that causes your eyes to water is located in the root cluster of the onion. Cut this part out in a cone shape, with the largest part of the cone around the exterior root section.
24. Taking the top layer off of a onion can also reduce the amount of eye-watering misery.
25. Toothpaste is a great silver cleaner.
26. Baking soda isn’t as effective a deodorizer for the fridge as that baking soda company would like you to believe. Activated charcoal is much better at absorbing fridge and freezer odors.
27. Baking soda is an extremely effective cleaner, though. Use it with vinegar to deodorize drains and clean stovetops and sinks.
28. A favorite tip of thousands of grandmas: when you nick your finger while cutting veggies, wait until the bleeding stops and paint on a layer of clear nail polish. It will keep juices out of the wound and won’t fall off into the spaghetti sauce like a bandage.
29. The jury is still out on what to put in the bag of brown sugar to keep it from going hard: a slice of apple, a piece of bread, and a shard of a terra cotta pot have all been used.
30. Got a nasty invisible splinter from your kitchen tools? Put a piece of adhesive tape on the area and then pull it off to remove the splinter.
31. When you burn yourself in the kitchen, just spread mustard on the affected area. Leave it for a while and it will ease the pain and prevent blistering.
32. For aluminum pans that are looking dull, just boil some apple peels in them. This will brighten up the aluminum and make your house smell yummy.
33. To keep cookies fresh, savvy grannies like to put some crumpled-up tissue paper in the bottom of the cookie jar.
34. If your salt is clumping up, put a few grains of rice in with it to absorb excess moisture.
35. To clean fruit stains off of your fingers, rub them with a fresh, peeled potato. White vinegar can also do the trick.
36. Keep iceberg lettuce fresh in the fridge by wrapping it in a clean, dry paper towel and storing lettuce and paper towel in a sealed baggie in the fridge.
37. If your loaf of bread is starting to go stale, just put a piece of fresh celery in the bag and close it back up. For some reason, this restores a fresh taste and texture to the bread.
38. Always keep an aloe vera plant in your kitchen. It’s invaluable when you scrape your arm or burn your finger. Just break off a leaf and rub the gel from the inside on the injury.
39. When making a soup, sauce, or casserole that ends up too fatty or greasy, drop in an ice cube. The ice will attract the fat, which you can then scoop out.
40. To reuse cooking oil without tasting whatever was cooked in the oil previously, cook a 1/4″ piece of ginger in the oil. It will remove any remaining flavors and odors.
41. If your milk always goes bad before you can finish it, try adding a pinch of salt to the carton when you first open it. It will stay fresh days longer.
42. Water that has been boiled and allowed to cool will freeze faster than water from the tap. This comes in handy when you’re having a party and need ice pronto.
43. Remove tea or coffee stains from your fine china by mixing up a paste of baking soda, lemon juice, and cream of tartar. Rub it over the stains and they’ll come off easily.
44. If two drinking glasses become stuck together after stacking, it’s not impossible to unstick them. Just put ice in the inner glass and dunk the outer glass in warm water. The warm glass will expand and the cold glass will contract, making the glasses separate easily.
45. For splinters under the fingernail, soaking the affected finger in a bowl of milk with a piece of bread in it is said to draw out the splinter.
46. Did grandpa ever give you a drink of cola for an upset tummy? It turns out that this is actually a pretty effective remedy. The sugar and carbonation can soothe many tummy problems – but it can also exacerbate others.
47. Putting salty bacon on a boil is said to “draw the poison out” of boils.
48. To help old wooden drawers (without runners) open and close smoothly, rub a candle on the tracks.
49. A cotton ball soaked in white vinegar and applied to a fresh bruise will reduce the darkness of the bruise and help it disappear sooner.
50. Drinking cranberry juice and eating blueberries regularly will help stave off urinary tract infections.