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Putting knives in the dishwasher may save you time now, but can cost you money in the long run. It’s just one of the many kitchen mistakes people often make that can lead to the premature breakdown of utensils, cookware and appliances. The June 2012 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, identifies fourteen costly cooking mistakes and easy fixes that help you save money and in some cases even protect you and your family’s health.
“Everyone goofs up a recipe now and then, but over time these kitchen mistakes can really cost you,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “We decided to shine a light on some common, costly habits so that you don’t have to spend money on a roasting dish, extra ingredients, or even takeout.”
Costly Kitchen Mistakes & Their Easy Fixes
Here’s a sampling of some common kitchen mistakes and ways to correct them - the full list is available in June issue of ShopSmart.
• Don’t put your kitchen knives in the dishwasher. The high heat of the machine’s drying cycle can cause the blade and handle to expand and contract, so you could end up with a warped blade or cracked handle. • Do wash knives by hand in hot, soapy water, and dry immediately to avoid rusting or spotting; then put them away.
• Don’t line the oven with foil. It can trap heat, throwing off the oven’s performance, or melt, damaging the oven or even causing a fire. Your warranty may be voided if the oven has a foil warning. • Do use heavy-duty foil on the rack below the food that’s cooking – a sheet that’s a few inches bigger than the pan over it can catch drips and still allow heat to circulate properly.
• Don’t use nonstick pans over very high heat. Very high temps can break down the coating and create fumes that can kill pet birds and possibly cause flulike symptoms in people. • Do use the pans on low or medium heat. Most pans indicate the maximum temperature on their label (usually 350°-400°F).
• Don’t run cold water over hot pots, pans, and baking sheets. Over time the repeated expanding and contracting of the materials can cause permanent warping and cracking.
• Do let the pan cool before removing stuck-on stuff from the bottom of a pan. For stubborn food, add a little water to the pan and warm over a low flame, scraping up any browned bits.
• Don’t refrigerate your tomatoes. Cold temperatures kill the flavor of tomatoes and can create a mealy texture. They also stop the ripening process. • Do keep all tomatoes (even fully ripe ones) on the counter. Always place them stem side up to prevent bruising.
• Don’t ignore instructions to rotate baking pans. Many baking and casserole recipes suggest rotating pans during cooking to make sure the dish is uniformly cooked because home ovens might have pockets where one area gets hotter than another. • Do halfway through cooking, rotate pans 180 degrees. If you’re cooking multiple items, swap the pans onto different racks.
• Don’t boil when the recipe says simmer. Even when you’re crunched for time, it’s important not to rush the cooking process. Foods will cook unevenly, meat can become tough, and the food at the bottom of your pot is likely to burn. • Do keep adjusting the heat to keep the simmer steady – you should just see tiny bubbles covering the surface of the liquid. If you start to see bigger bubbles and hear them pop, turn down the heat.
About Consumer Reports: Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.
About ShopSmart magazine: Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon the publication’s celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. ShopSmart features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and “best of the best” lists. It’s ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Borders, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at www.ShopSmartmag.org.