15 Surprising Tips That Will Make You a Better Cook in 2016

The Kitchn's Best of 2015

One of the signs of a good cook is that they've learned little tricks of the trade along the way. They know how to make the most of the food they have in their fridge and how to improvise or take shortcuts to make a recipe even better.

Here are 15 tips that will help you become a better cook in 2016.

  1. Use this tip to make sure your eggs are fresh: That way you'll know which should be poached and which will be better hard-boiled.
  2. Don't keep cucumbers in your fridge: Turns out the crisp veggies don't want to be that cold.
  3. Don't toss your overripe fruit: Thanks to your freezer, you can give it a second life.
  4. Banish carrot sticks from your kitchen: It's carrot rounds or bust from now on.
  5. Cook chicken breasts faster: Get that weeknight dinner staple on the table in record time.
  6. Don't toss all your kitchen scraps: Several of them, like celery and scallions, can be regrown in just water or potting soil.
  7. Never guess whether your avocado is ripe again: This one trick can give you a definitive answer before you cut into the fruit.
  8. Know that if meat has gone gray, it doesn't mean it's gone bad: A color change doesn't mean that ground beef is bad. Follow this advice to avoid wasting food.
  9. Use these non-alcoholic substitutes for wine: When cooking for guests who don't drink, opt for these ingredients in place of red or white wine.
  10. Swap onions and shallots: You just have to know the right exchange rate.
  11. Reheat your pizza the right way: Make sure you're reheating your slice properly.
  12. Store ginger properly: Plus, did you know it can be frozen?
  13. Don't buy a box of cake flour just for one recipe: There's an easy trick to making your own, if you just need a small amount.
  14. Become a master at poaching eggs: It's all thanks to Julia Child.
  15. Make your blueberry muffins better: This simple trick will change your breakfast staple forever.

(Image credits: Kelli Foster; Sea Wave/Shutterstock; Christine Gallary; elena moiseeva/Shutterstock; Faith Durand; Emma Christensen; Shebeko/Shutterstock; Gayvoronskaya_Yana/Shutterstock)

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The Kitchn's Best of 2015