Sometimes common cooking mistakes can make a big difference in whether a meal turns out fabulous or just plain lousy. What may seem like a minor mistake can cause a meal to simply have to be discarded. Here are some common mistakes that you should be aware of so that your meals are tasty and safe to eat.
Too Much Salt
Too much salt on your food can ruin a perfectly good meal. However there are methods to ensure that this doesn’t occur to you. The best way is to taste the food as you are cooking. You must remember to take into consideration the salty ingredients such as salted butter and cheese prior to adding salt to the food. But, if you find that the food is salty, then you can still save it by making it less salty.
This can be accomplished by adding lemon juice or vinegar to the food. The acids actually trick your tongue and make it seem like the food is less salty. If you’re making broth or soup, then just by adding water will improve it. When cooking if in doubt about the amount of salt, then err on the low salt side because it is much easier to add salt to a meal than it is to remove it.
Overcrowding the Pan
When we are searing or browning meat on a pan it is to make it more flavorful. However, if you are overcrowding the pan then the meat will never sear or brown. What happens is that the meat releases moisture while it is being cooked. And, meats that are cooked in a pan that is crowded will steam and not sear. Cook your meat in batches or utilize 2 pans if you want to make the process quicker.
Pan Not Hot Enough
The meat may also not sear correctly because your pan is not hot enough. In order to brown you meat properly you have to ensure that the pan is hot enough prior to adding the oil. The oil is hot enough when it begins to shimmer. That’s the right time to add the meat to your pan. And, it’s important that the meat is dry, if it isn’t then use a paper towel to pat it dry.
Cooking Meat that is Cold
If you have ever wondered why your meat easily cooks on the outside, but the inside is still raw, then it’s probably because you’re cooking meat that is cold. Always begin to cook your meat once it reaches room temperature. This rule applies to all meats such as beef, chicken, turkey, and fish.
Cooking with Dated Ingredients
If you tend to keep herbs and spices for an extended shelf life then you should know that it is not helping your cooking. In fact these old ingredients that should have been discarded can cause your food to taste bland and may interfere with your baking efforts. You should know that baking powder has a shelf life of only 3 to 6 months. Dry herbs can be kept for approximately 6 months because they do lose their flavoring. In addition, cooking with wine that’s gone bad, dried out cheeses, and frost bitten meat should be avoided.
Overcooking the Vegetables
Vegetables that are overcooked are less tasty and frankly they ruin the meal. You can avoid overcooking vegetables by cooking them separately in another pot. Just place the vegetables in a pot that is filled with boiling water. Watch the vegetables and once they are finished cooking they should be firm and have a vibrant color. Immediately remove the vegetables from the heat and rinse them in cold water to halt the cooking process. This prevents vegetables from being overcooked.
Not Measuring Ingredients
If you don’t know why sometimes the cookies that you bake are just perfect, but the next time they’re brittle and dry, then it’s probably due to you not measuring the ingredients. Measuring the ingredients in a recipe is the way to make sure that your meals are consistent. This is true especially when baking. A variation of a couple of ounces of flour can make a big difference when baking a cake or cookies. It’s better to measure the ingredients because this will make you a better cook.
Not Enough Time
A common way to ruin a dish is to have to rush while cooking it. If you find that you just don’t have enough time to prepare the meal correctly, then it is best to select another recipe or making other arrangements for meal time. A recipe that takes 2 hours to prepare should not be started 1 hour prior to dinner time. Leave those time consuming recipes for another day when time is not a concern.
Food Safety Mistakes
There are some germs that can be present in foods that can quickly cause food poisoning, and some toxins can even cause paralysis or death. Some common food safety mistakes that are known to cause serious illnesses are the following:
- Tasting the food to find out if it is still good. This can lead to food poisoning and even just a small amount may lead to a serious illness. The problem is that the bacteria responsible for food poisoning cannot be tasted, seen, or smelled. It is best to discard the food before the bacteria grows.
- Placing meat that is cooked back on the same plate that held the meat when it was raw. This can transfer the germs from the raw meat to the cooked meat. Get into the habit of using 2 plates, one for the cooked meat and another for the raw meat. This rule also applies to seafood and poultry.
- Letting food thaw on the counter. At room temperature the harmful germs rapidly multiply. Learn to thaw food safely. Food should be thawed in the microwave, in cold water, or in the refrigerator.
- Washing poultry or meat. If you wash poultry or raw meat, then the bacteria can spread to the different surfaces found in your kitchen such as countertops and sink. The solution is not to wash eggs, poultry, or meat.
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