It is so much fun organizing a helpful segment. As I worked on this one about Kitchen Tips & Tricks for Good Morning Texas, I had so many ideas. I have three questions I ask myself about each item before determining if it makes the cut; Is it relevant? Is it true? Is it helpful? Listed below are the Kitchen Tips & Tricks that made the cut for the show. Some are probably very familiar, but maybe I have tweaked them to make them better for you, or maybe this is just a reminder! If you have questions, please ask in the comment section of this blog, so others can also know the answer. If you have questions about something I didn’t mention, let me know, and I will try to work it into another segment or a blog post. The video is just below, and this blog serves as a print itinerary to give you information I may not have had time to mention.
Fruit Wash & The Sock
The Fruit Wash Recipe
1 cup Water
1 tablespoon Fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Baking soda
Use a small spray bottle and mix together. Shake before use. Use on fruits and vegetables with edible surface skins.
Spray fruits, take a clean sponge (I have a green one dedicated for scrubbing fruit). Scrub to remove dust, pesticide residue, gummy price labels, preservative wax and yes, other shoppers skin oil. Sounds gross doesn’t it, but think about it, quite a few other people have touched what you are about to eat. Your fruit could have the DNA of other people all over it. The oils in fingerprints carry DNA, and as I learned in chemistry class, it adds gram weight. Yes, fingerprints have weight! Okay, I’m getting off topic. Scrub the fruit with the veggie wash. You need the citric acid, and the baking soda to dissolve the stuff mentioned above. Spray and scrub again if needed, then rinse, dry and enjoy.
Why are socks in the fruit bowl? Well, it makes clean fruit portable! When you cleaned your fruit, you removed the wax preservative that kept it fresh for travel to the store and display. I almost always have an apple, that I washed at home, in my tote, and if your tote is like mine…well, you don’t want to eat it after it has been rolling around in there. If you put the fruit in plastic, it will begin to ripen, especially since you removed the preservative wax. I use an unbleached, organic cotton sock. It keeps the fruit clean, and allows air-flow, so it will not become too ripe. Your snack is now free to roll around in a tote, backpack, car seat, or where ever you may put it. ~~Enjoy!
Special Note: I scrub fruits and vegetables with edible surface skins in this mixture. I soak salad greens, for 20 minutes, in white vinegar and regular temp water mixture using 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water ratio. To be simple, if you are soaking greens in your salad spinner or a bowl, use 1/4 to 1/2 cup white vinegar in the water. Sometimes, I use a mixture of food grade hydrogen peroxide and water, but that is another story! I wanted to be clear about the difference.
About the Sock: Any cotton, sock will work. The sock I use in the photo, is a Maggie’s Brand organic, unbleached sock.
The Lemon Story: Roll, Zest, Juice
Roll them on a hard surface, with your palm, to break open their cells for more juice. Even if you don’t need the zest right away, still zest the lemon, so you have used it fully. You can freeze it for later use. I freeze mine in a 4 oz Ball jar. (How to freeze in Ball / Kerr Jars below in this post) I place a small piece of parchment in the bottom, add the zest, and pop in the freezer. It is great to add into your smoothie, sauces or salad dressing. Of course, wash the lemons with the above spray veggie wash!
Here’s how to easily juice a lemon without using a gadget other than your knife.
- You’ve rolled it on a hard surface to break open the cells to produce more juice
- Cut the lemon in half
- Now cut each of the halves in half, but not all the way through. Stop, so that the lemon is solid on the backside
- Take one of the halves and place it, cut side down, on the back of a chef knife at the back of the blade
- Point the tip of the knife at a sharp angle into a bowl
- Use your dominant hand to squeeze the lemon
- You will see the juice run down the point of the knife, and into the jar. Most of the seeds will stay at the top. A few may escape into the bowl where they can be easily removed
Store unused juice in a jar in your refrigerator, or freeze for later use. Label with the day and date juiced.
One lemon yields approximately 2 tablespoons of juice.
What to do with a naked lemon?
If you only needed the zest, you now have a naked lemon. You can place that whole lemon, with spices of your choice, inside of a whole chicken and roast it. You can also slice it, and bake fish on top of the slices, or wrap it, and refrigerate to save for later use.
If you zested and juiced the lemon, you are left with the used halves. If you don’t want to put them in drinking water or use in cooking, sprinkle them with a bit of salt or baking soda, and use them like a sponge to clean your sink and lavatories. Finally, grind them in the disposal to give it a fresh smell.
Nutritional value of one lemon
High in Calcium (65.9 mg or 7%)
Magnesium (13.0 mg or 3%)
High in Vitamin C (83.2 mg or 139%)
Protein…yes, protein (1.3 g or 3%)
Dietary Fiber (5 g or 20%)
Freezing Food in Ball / Kerr Jars
I always used plastic freezer bags, until someone shared this tip with me. In an effort to use less plastic that contributes to the landfill, I have begun using jars. So far, only one has ever broken. I filled it too full with liquid. There is a definite format to follow:
- Use Only straight-sided jars, NOT jars with shoulders.
- The jar on the right, is a one quart with shoulders.
- The four on the left are straight-sided jars. You may freeze food in all four of these, but NOT the one on the right.
- If you look just under the glass lid line, on the tall straight-sided jar, there are the words, freeze line.
- Do not go higher than the freeze line with food. It should never touch the lid. As it freezes, it needs room to expand, or the jar breaks.
- I always allow about one inch of space between the contents and the lid.
- I put parchment in the bottom, so food does not stick to the bottom.
- Fill with room temp, cool food. Do not put anything warm in, and put in freezer. The temperature contrast could break the glass.
- Label with day and date.
I prefer Wide-Mouth Ball / Kerr Jars.
Independent hardware stores usually sell them separately, so you will not have to buy a whole case.
Opening the jar from the freezer
Sometimes a jar may be difficult to open right out of the freezer. Allow it to sit on the counter for 3 or 4 minutes. With some jars, but not all jars, you will hear an audible pop, as the metal lid adjusts to the warmer temp. Now the jar will open easily.
Facts about Ball jars
The brands, Ball & Kerr were at one time two separate family owned companies. Now they are both owned by Jarden Corp. Both brands are the same quality.
Ball / Kerr jar lids have been BPA free since September 2012
Freezing Grapes (Wine Coolers & Snacks)
Eating frozen grapes settles the craving for something sweet and something cold. Plus, they make the best snacks! They are great for slightly chilling wine on those hot summer days, and will not dilute wine like ice cubes. Use them in anything from water, to iced tea to lemonade. If you have a child that is teething, stores sell cases to hold a frozen grape, so it can be used as a teething ring.
- Wash, de-stem and dry very well.
- Use a Ball / Kerr jar. Take the lid top, use it as a pattern, and cut out three rounds of parchment paper.
- Place one in the bottom of the jar, fill to the center with grapes, place a second one on top of grapes, and fill to almost one inch from the top. Cover with last round of parchment paper and put on lid.
- The parchment paper is not necessary, but it does limit the possibility of the grapes sticking together.
When the Jar Won’t Open
These large, wide rubber bands serve as kitchen gadgets at my house. They come on broccoli, and are as helpful as the broccoli is nutritious. When a jar lid is stuck there is no need to tap it with a knife handle, or run it under water. Grab one of these rubber bands, fit it around the top, and presto…the jar opens. If you don’t have one of these, use your rubber glove.
Garlic, Ginger and My Mosquito Hypothesis
Garlic, I love it. In fact, I love it so much, I really can’t tell when a recipe has too much! Here’s how to open garlic quickly:
- Hold in your dominant hand, root side down.
- Smack, pretty hard, on the counter several times, until you feel it loosen.
- Open it up and place in a covered container. The container should be large enough that the garlic can shake around easily.
- Cover and shake like crazy for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Check the garlic, remove the remaining paper-like shell, and you are good to go!
(I have a recipe for Garlic Ginger Soup that I make in the winter. It uses 30 cloves of garlic and 1/2 cup of ginger…like I said, I can’t tell when a recipe has too much!!!) I will post it in a Fall blog post.
The green sprout in the center…to use, or not to use? It indicates the garlic is older. It won’t make you sick, but it will make your dish bitter or spicy. Some of my chef friends say it is bitter, some say it is spicy. Depending on your taste, you may want to cut it out and use the garlic, or toss the whole thing, and buy another head. One of the best articles about this topic is on the blog of David Lebovitz. He actually tested it. Click here to go to, “Should You Remove the Green Germ of Garlic?” Check it out, it’s short, and has great photos!
Ginger has so many great benefits. I make ginger, garlic, lemon tea almost daily. To peel ginger, rinse and dry it, grab a spoon, take the tip of the bowl on the spoon and turning the bowl in on the ginger, drag the bowl of the spoon down the ginger. It lifts the skin off without losing the meat of the ginger.
Mosquitoes can’t stand garlic and ginger. Make a tea by mincing up about a tablespoon of both, put into a lose tea bag or strainer basket, cover with boiling water, add a squeeze of lemon and let steep for ten minutes. Add honey if you want it sweeter. If you are dealing with diabetes, use a few drops of stevia. You won’t smell to your friends, but the mosquitoes can detect you a mile away (well, maybe not a full mile). There’s a good possibility they won’t like the way you taste, and move on to bite someone else. I have not had a mosquito bite in years! My hypothesis is: It’s the tea! Make this tea in the winter to scare off the cold and flu bugs!
Garlic Ginger Lemon Tea Recipe
1 tablespoon of EACH Garlic & Ginger (mince or rough chop). Put in loose leaf tea bag or strainer.
Fresh lemon: Use as much as you like…half a lemon or the whole lemon. Juice it, then let the pieces steep in the tea.
With all items in a mug, fill with boiling water and steep for 10 minutes.
Sweeten with honey. If you are dealing with diabetes, use a few drops of Stevia. I like the brands NuNaturals and SweetLeaf.
Alright…bugs be gone!!! ~~Enjoy
Phebe Phillips has had several internships at The Tree of Life Center in Patagonia, Arizona under the direction of Dr. Gabriel Cousen’s. It is one of the most famous Raw Kitchens in the world. Not only did she work in the kitchen, but became a master at growing micro-greens and sprouts. Here she is standing in the door of the incubator room, where seeds are soaking and getting rinsed. You can see a few jars on the floor behind her. This photo was taken by her friend Martha, and it has become one of Phebe’s favorite photos.
To learn more about Phebe, visit the “About Phebe” section on this blog.
Pamela towns says
Awesome tips! I love all of them. I have started cooking more often and your tips will help save me time and money.
Phebe Phillips says
Thank you so much for commenting. I am happy to know the information will be helpful. That’s the main goal of the segment and blog posts…to be helpful.
Suzy BashoRe says
Love the tips about cleaning the vegetables!
Phebe Phillips says
Thanks for the comment. The recipe is: 1 cup water, 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice and 1 TBSP baking soda. This combination works well to dissolve all the gunk off the fruits and vegetables.