You Need To Read These Cooking No-Nos!

By Emily 5 months ago

1. Burnt garlic

Image source / Eat this, not that

Garlic has got to be up there as one of, if not the, most used ingredients the world over. It’s therefore crazy how few of us know how to get the most out of it. Firstly, like other vegetables, garlic needs time to cook at a moderate temperature - add it on too hot, too soon and it will burn. But don’t wait too long - once there is liquid in the pan, the garlic won’t be able to brown and release that amazing flavor.

2. Not planning your meals

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Before you hit the grocery store, take just 10 minutes to think through the meals you will cook that week. It’s a great way to use up ingredients as you split them across your planned dishes. Your purse will thank you too - entering the grocery store without a plan will see you spending WAY more than if you know what you want.

3. Wasting your kitchen gadgets

Image source / Reneedezvous

Whether it’s an eclectic whisk or slow cooker, everyone has one kitchen gadget that gets used once a year, if that. It’s a shame really because these expensive bits of kit can save so much time and are far more versatile than we think. Take the humble electric mixer for example. From soups to smoothies, sauces and sorbets - there’s so much they can do when you know how.

4. Pouring spices from the jar

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Have any of your spices kind of clumped together inside their container? Annoying right? There’s actually a common cause for this - you! When you pour spices into the pan directly from the jar the steam from your cooking rises up and enters the container. This small amount of moisture is enough to impact the contents and cause that annoying clumping. Sprinkle onto your hand, then add to your food.

5. Pasta rinsing

Image source / The Mirror

After cooking pasta, do you rinse it in a colander? If so, I’m afraid you have a lot to learn! Whilst draining pasta is fine, rinsing it with water isn’t. Why? Well the starchy water you have cooked it in is slightly sticky and makes the perfect base layer for your sauce to grip onto.

6. Incorrectly storing food in the fridge

Image source / Wales online

Did you know that professional kitchens have strict rules (and in some cases, laws) that they follow to maintain food hygiene standards? One such rule is the order that food is stored in a fridge. Simply, any uncooked meat produce should go at the bottom. The reason for this is because any nasty drips will land in the base of the fridge and not over the other food, eww.

7. Being a stickler to the recipe

Image source / Kapwing

Granted, following a recipe is the perfect introduction to cooking, especially if you are trying something new. After a while though, it can be just as fun (and even more rewarding) to start making some tweaks. Be confident  - swap out one ingredient for another or make something up entirely. You might surprise yourself with how well you do and if you don’t like what you make, you will have learnt something along the way.

8. Not following a recipe…!

Image source / Ephotozine

At the risk of totally contracting myself from the last hint, when it comes to baking, precision is key. Get as creative as you like with other aspects of cooking but baking is an art and unless you are a masterchef I’d recommend carefully weighing out your ingredients. There’s a big difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of baking powder, for example!

9. Cooking burgers medium rare

Image source / Hypebeast

Whilst a slightly pink steak is perfect for many, an oozing pink burger should not have the same appeal. Why? Well, a piece of steak has never been cut into, meaning as long as the outside is seared, no bacteria has reached the middle and you’re good to eat it pink. Burgers on the other hand are pulverized meat, meaning some of the bacteria ridden outside may have made its way into the middle of the patty. Unless it’s cooked the whole way through, there is no way to be certain you aren’t eating a whole ton of bugs.

10. Having an unorganized fridge

Image source / Pinterest

Sure, it may not be the most glamorous job in the world, but organizing your fridge should be a weekly task. It will remind you what ingredients you have to use, along with any left over portions of food you have already cooked. You’ll also get rid of any food that’s past its best which if left will begin to turn your other food bad.

11. Making a separate dish for your veggie pals

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It’s likely we all have one or two friends who are veggie (or maybe even vegan). Next time they come over for food, try not to be tempted to cook a separate meal for them. Instead, ask them what their go-to 5 star meal is and have a go at recreating it. Not only will your friend feel included, you’ll be able to add a new recipe to your repertoire that you would never have cooked otherwise.

12. Cooking too fast

Image source / Know Your Meme

I get it, you want food and you want it now. Problem is, if you rush all your cooking by cranking up the heat you are far more likely to burn your food and have to remake it anyway. Some parts of a recipe just shouldn’t be messed with and cooking time is one of them. Burnt rice? No thank you.

13. Wooden cutting boards

Image source / Amazon

Although they may look appealing, wooden cutting boards are a hotbed for bacteria. Wood is natural after all, so it makes sense that it would make a good surface for things to grow on… If you insist on having them, clean with an antibacterial spray and ensure they dry out fully.

14. Glass cutting boards

Image source / Daily Mail

Whilst wooden cutting boards harbor bacteria, glass ones are a one way ticket to the emergency room. I mean seriously, there are few surfaces I can think of that are as slippery as glass. Add water or juice from something you’re chopping and it’s game over. Fingers, beware!

15. Know your chilli

Image source / Youtube

I like a bit of spice in my food. Maybe not quite vindaloo levels but a bit of heat really adds to the flavor, don’t you think? Be careful though…. We’ve all eaten a meal that is WAY too spicy, even for the toughest mouths. So know your chilis and test their heat before adding them with zeal to your dishes (or you’ll be reaching for the yogurt…)

16. Not knowing your oils

Image source / Know your meme

Olive oil is a pretty standard go-to for cooking but did you know that it can only tolerate being cooked at a medium heat? Anything above that and the oil will burn. Instead, swap it for something like rapeseed or corn oil which can withstand much hotter temperatures. Reserve olive oil for your dressings.

17. Using too many pots

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Cooking is great - it’s creative, fun and you make something to eat at the end, what’s not to love? Dishes, that’s what. Scrubbing the dishes (and especially pans) can really take the joy out of the kitchen. To minimize your dish washing duration, think smart when cooking. E.g. use the same pan for pasta sauce as you did the pasta. Add a colander over boiling water and steam your veggies as you boil the other ingredients.

18. Not prepping ingredients first

Image source / Giphy

When following a recipe, you will firstly see a list of ingredients along with how they should be prepped. For example, it might say ‘butternut squash, cubed’. A good chef will prep her ingredients before starting to cook. If you try and do both at the same time you’ll likely find yourself getting out of sync with the recipe timings as you rush to chop and slice your ingredients.

19. Unsharpened knives

Image source / Know your meme

We grow up being told to avoid sharp objects at all costs but funnily enough, when it comes to cooking, a dull or unsharpened knife can actually be more harmful. When knives are blunt we find ourselves applying more pressure, using the wrong knife for the job or simply getting frustrated. All of these are a disaster waiting to happen. Order a knife sharpener, you won’t regret it.

20. Catching falling knives

Image source / Youtube

A pretty urgent caveat on the last post… if you ever drop a kitchen knife (especially if it’s one you’ve just expertly sharpened), never, EVER go to catch it. It’s the cause of so many accidents. We’re so used to automatically reaching for falling objects so this can take some effort to remember but remember you should, your fingers will thank you!

21. Cleaning a cast iron pan with soap

Image source / Serious eats

Most pans are made from steel and are designed to be non-stick and easy to clean. However, some specialist pans need a little more love and care and cast iron pans are no exception. These very heavy pans are designed to retain the flavor of previous dishes so won’t take well to being scrubbed with soap. Hot water and a sponge should be just fine. Use salt if something is really stuck.

22. Having too many, cheap knives

Image source / Ruddington

Like so much in life, spend a little more and you will be grateful for it. When it comes to kitchen knives, this rule certainly applies. In fact, most professional chefs use fewer knives than you likely have at home. Get yourself 3 good quality knives: large, medium and serrated.

23. Over flipping

Image source / Reddit

They say a watched pot never boils which may explain why people like to be constantly involved in their cooking to try and speed things up. But beware - overflipping, stirring or generally messing with your food as it cooks can lead to meat and fish that doesn’t cook evenly and may even break into a mushy mess.

24. Under seasoning

Image source / Meme arsenal

Watch any professional chef cook and you might be surprised just how much salt, pepper and butter they use. Sure, too much butter and salt isn’t great for us but if you’re aiming for a dish packed full of flavor then you will probably need to over indulge a little.

25. Pouring hot oil down the drain

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We’ve all done it, turning the tap to hot and hoping the oil just runs away! Well guess what, pouring hot oil down the sink is a big no no. Over time it will harden and congeal in your pipes causing blockages and a whole lot of money to fix.

26. Reheating rice

Image source / Mashable

Few people know that cooked rice is a breeding ground for bacteria. Think about it - all those moist, tightly packed grains with a huge surface area… yeah, it’s a germ’s dream. So if you must insist on reheating rice please do it properly. In the microwave you’ll want to get the rice piping hot before stirring and repeating the process to ensure every grain is thoroughly heated through.

27. Over scrubbing non-stick pans

Image source / The Independent

We’ve already heard about the rules when it comes to iron skittles (just soap and water!) Well when cleaning non-stick pans a little caution here will also go a long way. These pans have a thin film to create that oh-so-useful non-stick surface. Over scrub and guess what? Your non-stick pan ain’t non-stick no more!

28. Adhering to ‘best before’ dates

Image source / The Guardian

Food packaging often comes with 2 dates: use by and best before. Naturally, you wouldn’t want to use anything that’s gone past its use by date. But ‘best before’ is simply a guide and to be honest, a pretty useless one at that. For fruits and veggies especially, ignore the date and use your eyes and nose… it’s what your ancient ancestors would have done!

29. Not letting the oven preheat

Image source / Happy mag

It can be annoying, especially if you’re hungry, to wait for the oven to preheat. But those 5 or so minutes serve a very important function. If you put your food in too soon, the top will likely burn before the center has even had a chance to warm up. Be patient…

30. Not using seasonal, local produce

Image source / Meme arsenal

We live in a time where you can pretty much buy any ingredient at any time of year. The issue with this is that so much of what we eat has been flown thousands of miles from hotter or colder climates to reach out plates. With this comes a delay from the time the food was harvested and ultimately the quality is reduced as the food has to be preserved in some way. However, if you eat food that is local and in season, it’s likely to have been picked just days earlier making it fresh and far tastier. Why not find out which foods are in season right now where you live.

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