Tips for Butter, Jars and Herbs - #HowToKitchen

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Butter being softened by a warm wine glass.

Kitchen Junky is back after the Easter break and I've been testing some more kitchen tips & tricks for you to try at home. So far, eggs have been the focus of a few posts (you can see them here and here) and then I impersonated a samurai with some cherry tomatoes. Go check them out if you haven't done so already. 

For now, strap yourself in and get comfy: here comes some strong Kitchen Kung-Fu.

Easily soften butter

Not Margarine. Actual butter. The best place to keep butter is in the fridge - but this creates a bit of a problem for when you quickly want to spread something. Butter turns solid in cold air, making it very difficult to spread onto a sandwich and even more so when you have a fragile scone or muffin. First instinct is to run it through the microwave, but butter melts very quickly and you might end up with an oily mess, instead of a snack. The second option that I've encountered is heating a knife with steam. This is a tedious task and you'll have to re-heat it every few seconds for it to work.

Luckily, there's a pretty easy solution for this. Boil some water and use it to fill up a small bowl. Take a wine glass that has a wide enough opening to fit over the butter block and slowly put it in the water bowl. Make sure that you do it gently, so that the air pocket doesn't cast the glass upside down or spill boiling water all over you. Keep the glass there for 30 seconds or longer, so that it heats up nicely.

Once you have a heated up glass, carefully remove it from the water and place it over the butter block. Keep it there for 30 seconds or longer, before removing it. The hot glass will soften the butter so that you can easily spread it on to your favourite snack. Here's a quick video that we made to test the trick out:

How to open a jar

This happens at least once a month: you desperately want something, like a preserve, pickle or beet root from a jar, but you can't get the dastardly device open. There are a few old-school tricks that work, like hammering the edges with a knife or giving the jar a bath in some hot water.

An easy way to get that lid off is to wrap a rubber band tightly around the rim of the lid, giving you a better grip of the slippery fiend. For even more grip, wrap a leather belt around the bottle. Take that, jar.

 Preserve fresh herbs

Fresh herbs are expensive, and you only ever need a little bit of them for your meal. What you're left with is an expensive container with 3/4 of the herbs rotting away in your fridge. A clever way to preserve herbs is to take an ice cube tray and add the herbs into each of the empty cubes. Fill the tray up with water and slip it into the freezer. The next time you need a 'pinch' of basil or thyme, pop one of the cubes out of the tray and add it to your pot, ice and all. Quick, inexpensive way to keep your food tasting great.

Thanks for reading this week's #HowToKitchen post. If you've got any suggestions for tips & tricks that you think we should know of, send them to us via Facebook or Twitter, using the tag #HowToKitchen and we'll test them out. Check back soon!

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  • Charl Barkhuizen
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