Whether you are a seasoned home cook or a budding novice, you probably have some firm kitchen habits engrained in you that you’re not even sure where you picked up. Perhaps you learned them from parents or grandparents, or perhaps it’s something you just thought was the correct way to prepare food and you have been doing it that way forever. But what if I told you that there are some cooking myths out there that are unnecessary or incorrect? It can be hard to change habits, but by unlearning some of these, you will be well on your way to not only becoming a better cook, but being more efficient in the kitchen, too! Here are some common cooking misconceptions and where the truth really lies.
There is really no good reason to rinse cooked pasta with more water after you’ve drained it. In fact, it’s better to keep the starch on the hot pasta so that sauce is more likely to stick to it. That starchiness can also help thicken the sauce and add a sumptuousness you’re less likely to achieve by rinsing.
Cooling Leftovers Completely Before Refrigerating
Many folks believe that hot or warm food will spoil if put in the fridge before cooling. But keeping food at the right temperature is your fridge’s job! Conversely, leaving food at room temperature on the countertop can encourage the growth of bacteria, so it’s best to make sure you refrigerate everything as soon as possible.
Rinsing Raw Chicken
For some reason, many people believe this is an essential step before cooking poultry, but there is really no good reason to do so. Rinsing off raw chicken does not eliminate bacteria, but it can spread it to your sink, sponges, and other items while rinsing. Be assured that properly cooked poultry will destroy any pathogens. Just be sure to keep raw poultry separate from other food, wash your hands anytime you are handling it and disinfect your surfaces afterwards.
Believing that Frozen Veggies Aren’t Nutritious
It can be debated that frozen produce is actually healthier for you than fresh, as the produce is picked at its peak, then blanched and immediately flash-frozen, which actually retains all nutrients. In fact, fresh produce in your store has already been traveling a lot longer to get there, which decreases its freshness and lessens its nutrients.
Finally, it’s important to mention that, for savory dishes at least, recipes are not meant to be followed to a “T.” Baking is certainly a science that should be exact, but when you’re preparing a savory meal, it’s not only OK to improv a little and experiment, it is encouraged! Recipes can be a source of inspiration, but should be considered more of a starting off point. The more comfortable you get in the kitchen and with trusting your instincts, the better you can have fun! Some “rules” are meant to be broken!