24 brilliant kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner

Save time prepping food and make cooking easier with these cooking hacks that are pure genius.

Use an empty water bottle to separate egg whites and yolks
Crack an egg into a shallow bowl, then hold the mouth of the bottle near the yolk and gently squeeze. When you release the squeeze, the yolk will be sucked out, and you can deposit it into another bowl. Here are 10 'facts' about eggs that are an absolute yolk.

Cut corn with a Bundt pan
To remove corn from the cob quickly, stand the cob upright in the centre of a Bundt pan. Holding the top of the cob steady, stroke a chef’s knife downward along the sides to remove kernels. Scrape the cob with the back of the knife to release juices. Kernels and juice collect in the Bundt pan – meaning one less mess for you to clean up.

Skip the pasta rinse
Rinsing noodles washes away and natural starch, which helps yummy sauce stick. It’s why some recipes suggest saving pasta water to use in sauce. Instead, skip the wash and spread drained pasta on a pan to cool. Better yet, try this cooking hack that makes draining pasta even easier.

Don’t cry over a broken cake…
Instead, make a trifle by layering salvaged cake pieces with fresh whipped cream and fruit in a pretty glass bowl, advises Tamar Adler, chef and author of An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace. Plus, don’t miss this genius frosting hack that will change the way you bake. Find out how to make a better cake here.

Keep counters clean with a baking sheet
Place all ingredients on an empty baking sheet prior to prepping them. (This will help you catch spills and avoid wasting time hunting for an item as you cook.) 

Pizza wheels chop herbs
Turn in the chopping knife: Instead, roll over herbs like parsley and cilantro with a pizza wheel for quick and safe slicing. A pizza wheel also effortlessly chops foods like pancakes and pasta for small children. Head here to find out how to freeze herbs.

Use a countertop bowl for easy garbage
As you cook, toss scraps, eggshells, and other garbage into a large bowl. This will contain messes and save time if a garbage bin isn’t readily accessible. Meanwhile, these are the foods you should be digging out of your garbage bin right now.

For easier hard-boiled eggs, salt is your BFF
Want the shells of hard-boiled eggs to come off in big chunks instead of a million tiny pieces? Add a teaspoon of salt to the cooking water before putting in the eggs. Follow this advice to achieve the perfect boiled egg.

Clean a blender sans sponge
Fill it one-third full with warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid, recommends Woman’s Day. Run it for ten seconds. Rinse and dry. Head here for more great kitchen and dining room cleaning hacks. 

Whip up gourmet bread crumbs in a pinch
Got extra burger or hot dog buns? Tear into pieces and freeze in a zipper-top bag. Ten to 20 pulses in a food processor will transform them into ready-to-use bread crumbs – no thawing necessary. Follow these 5 tips to cut down on food waste.

Juice a lemon with a microwave
Zap a lemon for ten seconds to break down cells and make the juice flow faster, suggests Laurent Tourondel, chef and partner at Arlington Club in New York City. This is good to remember when trying to squeeze out as much juice as possible for a vinaigrette. Find out the 10 foods you should never reheat in a microwave. 

For better pie crusts, use a cheese grater
A cheese grater makes quick work of piecrusts and biscuits. Instead of cutting the butter into the flour, simply grate a stick of frozen butter, and then toss the shreds with flour until a crumbly mixture forms, says Beth Moncel, creator of budgetbytes.com. Head here for more great pastry-making tips.  

Flavour sauces and stews with leftover wine
Freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays (eight cubes = one cup) to add flavour to sauces and stews. White and sparkling work best in creamy or clear and brothy soups (think chowder and simple vegetable), while red wine goes well with tomato or beef-based varieties (think chili). Add a few generous splashes per portion. Head here to discover 10 foods you had no idea you could freeze.

Flip natural varieties of peanut butter upside down
This position allows the pool of oil near the lid to move through the rest of the jar and make the peanut butter creamier (and to skip messy stirring). Just make sure the cap is screwed on tight to avoid a greasy pantry shelf.

Leftover corn chips? Think outside the chip bag
Smash a handful of chips, stuff into a clean pepper mill, and grind away onto everything from mac and cheese to broccoli.

Make friends with your kitchen scissors
Use them to chop cooked or tender raw vegetables (especially greens) right in the bowl or pan, suggests Mark Bittman in his book How to Cook Everything Fast. 

Halve cherry tomatoes fast
Save time on your next salad: Find two similarly sized storage container lids. Place cherry tomatoes on top of one, then firmly hold the other lid on top of the tomatoes. Use a very sharp knife to slice through the entire bunch at once. 

Apple cutters slice potatoes
Use an apple cutter to slice potatoes and you’ll have perfectly sized pieces to bake as wedges. Discover 11 extraordinary uses for ordinary household items here. 

Soften ice cream hard as a brick
Heat a sharp knife under warm water, then use it to make one-inch-deep cuts in a grid formation, spacing the lines about an inch apart. This increases your ice cream’s exposed surface area, speeding up the thawing process (similar to the beef trick). Run a scooper under warm water, and easily serve up each section.

Defrost meat last minute
Thank high school science for this neat trick: Remember, metal conducts heat. Place meat in a plastic bag, then put it on top of an upside-down aluminium pot. Fill another pot with room-temperature water, and set it on the meat. In five to ten minutes, your meat will be defrosted. Follow these 5 food safety tips for proper food handling. 

Cut away the mould
Before you toss suspect-looking leftovers, know this: firm foods are more likely to be salvageable than soft foods. Mould generally can’t penetrate deep into hard cheeses like cheddar, so it’s OK to cut off a couple of centimetres. The same goes for firm produce like bell peppers and carrots. However, chuck mouldy-looking foods with high moisture content – yoghurt, soft cheeses, cooked leftovers and bread. Porous foods are likely to be contaminated beneath the surface. Find out the 13 foods you should never, ever eat past their expiration date.

Chop strawberries with an egg slicer
Use an egg slicer to quickly chop strawberries for fruit salads and desserts. Or cut avocados for sandwiches and uniform mozzarella slices for salads and pizza.

Twist open a mason jar for easy fried eggs
For perfectly round fried eggs (handy for breakfast sandwiches), heat a pan and spritz Mason jar rings with cooking spray. Place the rings on the pan, and slowly drop one cracked egg into each of the rings. Cook for about 5 minutes for a medium yolk. Use tongs to remove the Mason jar rings, and serve.

Whip up French toast in your microwave
Rub a pat of butter on the bottom of a mug; fill it to the top with chopped bread. In a separate cup, mix one egg, three tablespoons of milk, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Pour the mixture into the mug and microwave for one minute.

This article appeared on Reader's Digest.