The Friday Feast | 21 June, 2024

The Pro-tips edition

While these ideas for your weekday dinners and weekend celebrations are fantastic, something is missing. What you need are some pro tips—not just for cooking, but for all those little things that happen before you even preheat the oven. If only we had a resident pro… oh wait, we do! Food storage may sound boring, but, understanding it better will save you time and money. Not to mention the heartache of watching beautiful produce, purchased with your hard-earned, wilt in the graveyard of good intentions that is the vegetable “crisper” (pro-tip #1: your vegetable crisper is anything but, fill it with beers instead).

On storage:

Good quality, airtight containers are your best friend here. As is the humble chux cloth. Line your container with a damp chux cloth, in with the veg, cover with another damp chux, lid on. The air in your fridge is dry as dry, and living things need moisture to, well, live. You’ll be amazed by the extension to life this gives everything, from root veg to delicate herbs. If you’re really going for it, wrap individual bunches of herbs in damp paper towels in the containers. You can store some herbs for 3+ weeks like this with some upkeep.

Except basil. Basil hates the fridge; store it in water on the bench. Change the water every couple of days.

Get a thermometer for your fridge. Sounds basic, but without one, how can you know if your fridge is really running at 4 degrees or below? This is actually super important, as every degree above this reduces shelf life and could have serious implications for food safety.

Label things. You’ll think you’ll remember when you made that sauce, or stock, or curry, but you won’t. Particularly if freezing things, labelling is super important. Masking tape and a sharpie. Best four bucks you’ll ever spend on your kitchen setup.

Trim stuff. You absolutely do not need to store carrot tops. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you carrots last longer stored with tops on. They’re wrong, lying to you, drunk, or all three.

Lastly, every time you open your fridge, do a little something – anything – to make it cleaner, neater or better. Do you really need that last 50 ml of leftover mayo from 2 weeks ago (which you know because you labelled it)? No, you don’t. So, instead of looking at it for a further two weeks, get it in the FOGO and move on. See that little milk sploosh? Give it a quick wipe now before it crusts and stains. It’ll take, like, 30 seconds. Do this, and you’ll never do another daunting monthly (or annual) fridge cleanout ever again.

On prep:

This can be summed up in a few short phrases. Allow 25% more time than the recipe says, especially if you’re new to the kitchen or unfamiliar with a recipe or technique. Sharpen your knives. Read the recipe in full, twice. Write lists. Be organised. Clean as you go.

Sharper knives are safer and save time. Reading the recipe in full before you even put on an apron familiarises you with it and may save you from making a costly error. Most people can remember, like, seven to nine things at a time. Max. So you’ve no hope of these seven things being everything you need for your cooking. Write lists and use them. Checking things off is deeply satisfying. Have everything you need within reach around you, and nothing you don’t need clogging up your bench space. An organised workspace is an organised mind. Clean as you go, unless you have kids. If you do, make them clean. You cooked.

Obviously, we could go on and on about these types of things. The more you begin to learn, the more you’ll discover the little things that help you most in the kitchen. It might be batch cooking, it might be organisation, it might be simply a new apron and a new sense of purpose. But, at Harvest, we aim to improve not only your shopping experience, but your cooking and social experiences too.

Hopefully, these little pro-tips have helped. With a bit of practice and a new habit or two, you’ll be cooking like those cool cats in the picture in no time.

Thanks for reading! See you in the morning.

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