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Volume III
July 13, 2012

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

7 Super Time-Saving Veggie-Prepping Tips

By Alice Osborne

I used to be naive enough to think things slowed down in the summer. What a fool! My reality is, no matter the season, life can be rat-racy. To combat this rush-rush, I've been collecting ideas on how to not just work smarter, but work quicker in the kitchen.

With this idea in mind, here are 6 super time-saving tips to prepping those fruits and veggies we're supposed to be eating so much of. After all, our gardens are starting to produce, so let's make things a little easier in the process of using our bounty, and slow life down a little in the process.

1. Pre-chop vegetables for the week and keep prepared salad in a vacuum seal plastic container or bag for storage.

OR try those green plastic produce storage bags usually found in the produce department. They're a little pricey up front, but each bag can be re-used several times, so the cost averages out and they end up being very affordable. Stored either of these ways, produce will keep for about a week.

2. Use a food processor to chop vegetables.

Tape a bag to the counter by your cutting board to quickly catch the leaves, stems, peelings, etc. as you prepare your fresh veggies. Then when finished, remove entire bag and toss in the trash or empty onto your compost pile.

3. Be sure to freeze some of your vegetables - you'll be glad they're already prepared and they'll be easy to cook with.

4. Scald/blanche broccoli, cauliflower, and corn-on-the-cob for freezing in your dishwasher. No kidding! For broccoli and cauliflower, turn the dishwasher on the "Short Wash" cycle. Let the veggies go through a full wash cycle and then when the dishwasher gets to the "heated dry" cycle, check the veggies every 5 minutes or so until they are a perfect crisp-cooked stage.

Broccoli takes about 5 minutes, cauliflower needs about twice that.

Then, let the veggies cool. Chop and place in zip lock bags and throw in the freezer. THAT'S IT! Perfect blanched frozen veggies with so little effort and no mess! I promise you will never go back to spending hours with many batches of veggies in boiling water filling up your steamy-hot kitchen!

For corn, peel and thoroughly de-silk, then stand ears vertical in the racks. Set water temperature as high as it will go and run the machine on the rinse cycle. Leave corn in the dishwasher for about an hour after the cycle stops - the steam will continue to blanche it. Then remove, let cool; cut corn off cobs and place kernels in freezer containers or bags and freeze. Talk about a minimum of muss and fuss!

5. When steaming vegetables, place a wet kitchen towel between the pot and the lid to keep the steam in the pot, reducing the cooking time.

6. When sauteing mushrooms, don't crowd the skillet. They need room so the liquid they give off will evaporate quickly so they can brown.

7. If wanting browned onions or other root vegetables, don't add any salt until after they are nicely browned and caramelized. Salt slows down the caramelization process.

Finally, here's a bonus tip: Start with a clean kitchen and load the dishwasher as you cook – cleaning up after the meal is much easier when we don't wait until after a meal to deal with the mess.

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