Ive always been someone who’s organised and my kitchen is no exception. Below are a number of tips on tricky foods, labelling and storage, freezing items and useful cooking utensils.
Peeling an avocado
The first time I peeled an avocado, I did it with a potato peeler and made quite a mess! After a number of failed attempts, I now have a method that works brilliantly!
- Run a sharp knife round the outside of the fruit (making a line to cut)
- Then, on a chopping board, cut deeper into the flesh until you hit the stone,
- Twist the top and bottom in opposite directions and the avocado should fall apart.
- Use a spoon or blunt knife to remove the stone – (this should be easy if its ripe)
- Using a spoon, slide under the avocado flesh, in between the skin and the flesh and move the spoon left to right loosening the flesh from the skin. Keep doing this until all of the avocado has been removed.
- You should be left with a perfect half of an avocado. Repeat steps 5-6 with the other half.
Lemon and Limes
I often see recipes that call for the juice of a lemon or lime, or even the rind of them. I recently found that it was cheaper to buy a big bowl of lemons/ limes from the market, but I only actually needed one! So, I decided to freeze what I didn’t use. Now this method will work with most fruits, but my examples will focus on lemons and limes.
Make sure you remove the rind first before juicing as it makes life much easier. Use either a fine grater or if you have one, a handy little gadget (like this one) that is especially for peeling the skin off fruits. Place the rind in a freezer bag (or plastic sealed tub), label it (date/ what it is/ make a note of how many lemons/ lime you peeled) and pop it in the freezer. Next time you want to make a lemon cake, you have your rind already peeled/ ready to use. If a recipe calls for the rind of say 6 lemons and you peeled 8, just use 3/4 of the bag. Tad-ah!
I have found that the best way for freezing juice is to use an ice cube tray. If you have some in the freezer with ice already in it, then pop out the ice and place it into a freezer bag and back into the freezer. That way you’ll still have some ice available if you need it, and you haven’t wasted them.
- Juice the lemons into a jug, over a sieve, so that the pips are caught.
- When you have juiced all the lemons, pour the liquid into the ice cube trays
- If you find that you dont have enough space in the tray – then place the left over jug of juice in the fridge until later.
- On a empty freezer bag, make a note of how many lemons you have juiced/ the date, and place aside.
- Place full ice cube trays in the freezer and leave til frozen (I usually wait a day)
- Once the juice has frozen, pop all of the cubes out, into the empty freezer bag that you labelled.
- Tie at the top and return to the freezer.
- Your ice cube trays are ready to be used for the next batch (in the jug you placed in the fridge), or for making normal ice cubes. Remember to give the trays a wash before reusing them.
- When a recipe calls for the juice of a lemon, 1-2 cubes will be enough.
Can it be frozen?
When buying fruit and veg, you’ll probably find that it’s cheaper to buy a larger amount than you actually need (as in the case above). So, rather than risk wasting ingredients, why not consider freezing it? Admittedly, certain fruit or veg will go mushy if frozen, but if your going to use it in a pie, a smoothie or recipe where the consistency will go unnoticed, then it won’t matter.
By freezing extra fruit and veg you’ll find its great for those days where you can’t be bothered to run out to the shops. Click here to see my list of ‘freezable’ items
Storage Tubs and Labelling
Whether its left overs or finding something to put your homemade sauce in, storage can be cheaper if you learn to recycle. When throwing away old jam jars (or larger jars like a Dolmio Sauce), plastic food containers and alike, consider washing them out and keeping them, as they can be reused time and time again. I use old jars to make a home made type of yogurt called Kefir, it’s perfect as the jar is the prefect size for my litre of milk. I also have these cute little ‘mini’ jam jars that I had from a cake company (Inspiral ‘cake pots’) and the jars are perfect for keeping sauces in (especially my homemade sriracha from Nom Noms Paleos’ recipe). I also reuse take away tubs to keep any left over dinner in.
Now don’t get me wrong, some ingredients (like coconut flour) will need to have proper sealed tupperware tubs that will need to be purchased, but when any storage pot will do, consider recycling.
Recycle and ‘tart up!
If you do decide to recycle your pots, you can ‘pretty them up’ in a number of ways. Firstly, remove the old labels. You can use white vinegar, which will help remove any left over glue (sometimes nail vanish remover will work too). Alternatively, leave them to soak in very soapy (washing up liquid) hot water. Use a scourer to rub off the labelling. Then, you can buy some great reusable labels such as Kilner, reusable Chalk labels. I have purchased some of these from Amazon and they stick to the jar (or Tub) and you write down whatever you need to (whats in the tub/ date/ portion size). When you need to rewrite the label, just dry wipe it clean and start again!
Another type of labelling I have come across, is chalk labels that you can stick on to shelving (so you could neatly organise your baking cupboard – and no, ive not done this yet, but hey, theres always plenty of time!!). The label has a velcro backing and you stick the corresponding strip of velcro to the shelf. I have only seen these on Amazon, but the idea is a good one and could be great if you have kids/ lots of toy boxes or even for those who craft!
Since starting the Paleo diet, I have found that kitchen gadgets are a HUGE help. Now, I’m not one to have loads of appliances and things that I wont ever use, but I believe that if you follow a recipe, decide you like it and make it on a regular basis, any type of gadget or appliance that will make the process easier is worth investing in. Some gadgets can turn out to be seasonal, (such as my smoothie maker, which only gets used in the warmer months), but as long as it’s justifiable, then it’s worth it.
I didn’t even know these things existed until I bought the Nom nom Paleo book. I had seen recipes where the author had made ‘spaghetti’ out of a courgette and just assumed that they were really handy with a knife or vegetable peeler! ha! No, it turns out that there is a handy little gadget, that looks like a normal vegetable peeler but has a jagged blade. When you ‘peel’ the vegetable (eg. carrots, courgettes) you get long thin strips. It’s also great for making strips of carrot (or beet root) that you can throw in and spruce up your salad.
A lot of the recipes I make are from American cook books, so investing in some measuring cups was one of the best things I have ever done. They are easy to use and takes the hassle out of trying to convert recipes. I found that different ingredients have different densities etc, so converting weights can lead to disasters. Measuring cups take all this hassle away and don’t even have to be expensive.
Cherry/ Olive Stoner
My husband loves cherry muffins, but when cherries are out of season I buy tinned, which work just as well, expect they contains stones and it drives me nuts picking them out. So, I found a cherry stoner (which is great because it works with olives as well – which I LOVE) and it’s so much quicker!
So, there you have it. Hopefully these tips will be of some use to you, and if you have any of your own, please feel free to comment and share. I love a good tip and have spent many hours scrolling through Pinterest noting down life hacks and helpful tips.