When we learn to cook, it’s easy to learn a technique or method that really works against you in the kitchen. You probably continue doing the same thing only to realize later on that there was a better way all along.
Common mistakes in the kitchen can easily be corrected and might even make things easier. Here are 13 common cooking mistakes and how to fix them.
1) Not reading the recipe fully before starting.
It’s important to fully read a new recipe and go through the preparations in our head. Doing so will ensure that you have all the ingredients, have the necessary kitchen equipment, and have the knowledge you need to create the dish successfully. Nothing is more frustrating than starting to bake and realizing you need a different loaf pan or don’t have enough flour.
2) Measuring dry and wet ingredients with measuring cups.
When it comes to measuring liquids, only liquid measuring cups like the Pyrex liquid measuring cup pictured above. Likewise, dry ingredients should only be measured with standard measure cups so that you can easily scrape off any excess and get a precise measurement.
3) Putting hot food in a cold fridge.
The temperature zone where there is a chance for food to breed bacteria and increase your risks of getting a food-borne illness is between 140° F (60° C) to 40° F (4° C.) The quickest way to get your food down to 40° F (4° C) to store it in the fridge is using an ice bath. Putting hot food in a refrigerator results in uneven temperatures where the food closets to the container is cool but the food at the center of the container remains warm. Here is more information for using an ice bath to cool food quickly.
4) Putting all ingredients in a Crock-Pot without reading recipe directions.
There are many Crock-Pot dump dinners where you simply dump all ingredients and let it cook. But for recipes that contain dairy, pasta, or easy to cook vegetables, you generally want to add them last. For example, adding milk at the start may cause it to curdle so it is best to add it at the end of the cooking cycle.
5) Not letting cooked meat rest before serving.
When meat is cooking, the juices are generally at the edges of the meat. Before serving, let the juices redistribute throughout the meat before serving. Simply wrap it with foil and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes before serving.
6) Cooking cold meat in a hot pan, grill, or oven.
To prevent overcooking meat, always try to bring your meat to room temperature before cooking it. When taking meat out of the fridge, let it rest at room temperature for about 15-30 minutes before cooking it.
7) Using extra virgin olive oil to cook everything.
Extra virgin olive oil is great for salad dressing or to finish off a meal but it shouldn’t be use for frying because of its low smoke point.
8) Sauteing mushrooms or greens while they’re still wet.
When sauteing greens in oil, you want to prevent them from steaming which will cause them to get soggy. Run them trough a salad spinner first to ensure they are dry before adding them to the pan.
9) Using a non-stick pan to cook everything.
Non-stick pans are great for delicate foods such as eggs or when cooking pancakes or fried rice. But for most dishes, a regular pan will give you better results when cooking meat or sauteed dishes.
10) Cooking too much food in a pan.
If you’re searing or browning meat, you want to prevent meat from touching as you want heat to surround each piece. If you need to brown a big batch, it’s best to break it up and brown smaller batches for even browning.
11) Adding garlic too early.
Garlic is a great way to add flavor to your oil before frying but having burnt or scorched garlic may destroy a delicate dish. When cooking on high heat, the best way to prevent garlic from burning is to add after your aromatics such as onions have cooked. You’ll still get the nutty taste of fried garlic but without scorching it.
12) Not adding salt to your water when boiling pasta.
To prevent your pasta from tasting bland, adding salt to your water is crucial. While most sauces already have salt, you also want your pasta to taste just as good and be able to stand on its own. The amount of sauce depends on your personal taste but try adding a tablespoon for each pound of pasta and increase or decrease the amount based on your preferences.
13) Storing everything in the fridge.
The first food that comes to mind that should never be in your fridge are tomatoes. The best place is on your countertop as placing them in your fridge will result in them having mealy texture and less taste. If you’re wondering where to store your groceries, follow the tips on this handy infographic from BuzzFeed.
Bonus Tip: How to Store Your Groceries