You are beginning the adventure of food production and are seeking out cooking basics everyone should know. Great news- you’ve come to the perfect place. Here we detail the essentials of how to get into cooking so that you can quickly turn from novice to expert.
The culinary arts are more than an opportunity to eat healthy and tasty food, they are a chance for self-expression and self-discovery.
Learn your true taste palette and learn true self-sufficiency by starting to cook for yourself. When it comes to food, there is everything from expeditious to detailed. The first steps are learning the basics, which is exactly what we detail herein.
- How to Get Into Cooking
- Raw Eating
- Food Safety Essentials
- Cleaning Food
- Storing Food
- Rotating Food
- Proper Knife for the Job
- Bread Knife
- Boning Knife
- Serrated Knife
- Paring Knife
- Steak Knife
- Maintaining your Tools
- Using the Knife
- Proper Grip
- Correct Maneuvering
- Final Word
How to Get Into Cooking
There are countless ways to cook food; however, simply put, the process of cooking is simply applying heat properly and evenly.
With time and practice, you will exceed the basics. For now, these simple steps will diversify your food choices and give you a chance to learn.
If you are planning on cooking, chances are you have an oven. Baking is a simple way to cook food. The first step is to take an oven-safe pan and place in it the food you plan to cook.
A general rule of thumb is to heat food at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meat has specific cooking demands. As a beginner, know it is better to overcook food than to undercook it.
Place a small amount of water or broth in with the food. If you are adding oil, ensure that the flash point is higher than the temperature of the oven. Otherwise, the oil will burn and smoke.
As a beginner cook, one dish cooking is ideal. Place vegetables with the meat, under a cover. Generally speaking, after an hour, you will have a full meal.
As a new cook, frying is a handy trick. A good rule of thumb is to start by frying an egg. First, place oil or butter on the pan.
Heat this to medium on the burner closest you. When the butter melts, place the egg contents (not the shell) into the pan. Try not to crack the yolk of the egg.
Once the whites of the egg begin to firm, use the spatula to prevent this from sticking to the edges.
The next step is to flip the egg. Do so gently, without breaking the yolk. If it does break, however, fret not- this is a learning experience.
In less than five minutes, you will have a cooked egg, ready to eat. Some add salt at the beginning, others afterward. You will quickly learn what you prefer.
The good news is that the frying process is similar to everything you cook. Keep the items in the pan moving around. Prevent burning with this motion.
This method is most common for vegetables. That said, boiling is perfectly acceptable for proteins as well. Boiled fish and boiled chicken are two classic meals. A handy rule of thumb is that roots cook from cold.
That means that we place them in the water and both are brought to a boil together. Place all other foods into already boiling water.
Fill the pot half, to three-quarters full of water. Add a dash of salt to catalyze the reaction.
Turn the burner on to maximum and cover the pot, leaving a small crack open to release the steam. Once the water is boiling, add in the food you wish to cook.
Typically, boiling is quick. For items like pasta and other starches, check their doneness after a few minutes. It will give you an idea of duration. Remove a piece with a fork or spoon.
Let it cool and taste it. If needed, leave it to cook a while longer. Otherwise, your cooking is near done. Turn off the heat. Empty the contents into a strainer. Cool and serve.
While raw eating is technically not cooking, it provides us with essential skills for the kitchen. These translate to prep work for other types of food production. To be safe, only use raw cooking for veggies and fruits.
Try out different ways of chopping and slicing. Learn what works best for you. Salads are a great side dish for novice cooks; and, over time, making them provides you with the technical skills needed to prep for baking and boiling these ingredients.
Food Safety Essentials
Of course, cooking basics must also include food safety precautions. We want to stay safe and healthy; so, by following these easy steps, you can rest assured that your food is properly cleaned and cared for.
Always wash your food thoroughly. Never use hot or warm water to do so, only cold water suffices. Regardless of whether you handle a vegetable or meat, it is essential to remove any chance of pathogenic contamination.
Scrub the surface of your food thoroughly before cooking. While the heat of your cooking the food may reduce the likelihood of contamination, the cleaning process also removes additives and preservatives. It is always the best practice.
Another necessary step for proper food maintenance (and an essential cooking basic) is to store your food in airtight containers.
Cooked or raw, food will spoil. Air speeds along this process significantly. Protect your nutrition from damage by sealing it correctly.
There are many kitchen items that facilitate this end. From plastic wrap to sealed containers, the method does not matter. So long as you ensure that you protect your food from the air, it will last longer and prevent illness.
Key to preventing contamination is making sure food never passes its expiration date. A good practice is to keep food that spoils sooner towards the front of the fridge.
This way, we know to eat this first. While expiration dates are generally reliable, they are nothing compared to human intuition and sense.
If your food smells off or looks discolored in any way, it is better to be safe than sorry. Discard items of a questionable nature- especially as a novice cook. This will keep you free from harm and ensure that cooking is easy and safe.
Knives are an essential kitchen tool, so we all need to know how to use a knife like a pro. When we use these implements properly, they make prep, cooking, and serving efficient and straightforward.
However, if improperly handled, they are dangerous; incorrect use damages the knife, the kitchen features, and leads to potential injury.
Thankfully, we have compiled the essential information to turn you into a knife expert. Cut through the nonsense with these simple tips and tricks for an optimal slicing experience.
Proper Knife for the Job
One of the most important steps to proper knife-wielding is identifying the correct knife for the task at hand. Here is a breakdown of some essential kitchen knives:
This knife is general-purpose and overall efficient. When in doubt, this is the knife to use. The blade is longer than the handle and angles upward to a point.
Specific sizes range, though the metal part will almost never be less than six inches long. Use this for difficult cutting tasks such as dense fruits.
Use this knife to separate bone from meat. Whether you are dealing with fish or chicken (or another type of meat), this is the proper tool to get these two tissues apart. The blade is small and sharply angled upward.
These are handy tools that look just like they sound. The serrated part shows like a saw, leaving this tool easy to identify.
The jagged edges slice through bread without pressing down and cut through fleshy veggies and fruits like tomatoes. Avoid pressing down on food with this handy tool.
Knives of this sort are generally small and sharp. Use this tool to do all peeling tasks. Remove the exterior of potatoes and apples with efficient ease. While this item can cut through other foodstuffs, it stays sharpest when used for its exact purpose.
This useful tool is one of the items that is used on cooked food as well as raw. For best results, keep to the namesake. Use this knife to cut through cooked meats once served.
Similar to the broad blade, there are small indents along with the metal of the knife.
This tool is best when cutting vegetables and fruits. Implement the item when dicing and mincing your vegetables. This tool is ideal for preparation before cooking.
Maintaining your Tools
Knives are wonderful tools. They are essential for taking the whole and breaking it into smaller, maneuverable pieces. That said, unless properly maintained, they will damage and decay quickly.
It is imperative to always clean your knife after use. If you know that it will take some time to get to the dishes, wipe off the surface with a towel. Properly wash down the surface and the handle with soapy water. Rinse thoroughly every time.
While many knives are ceramic, the larger amount of them is metal. This means that they are subject to rust and corrosion.
It goes without saying that once rust takes hold, the knife is no longer valuable. Prevent this by drying the item thoroughly after use each and every time.
Stay safe by properly storing your knives. Most often, this is in a knife block. If you do not use this tool, find a special part for us to isolate them from other tools. Always keep the blade facing inwards so that your hand does not contact the blade.
This step is absolutely essential to proper knife handling. There is no use for a dull knife. In fact, it is dangerous to use a blunted blade.
In your knife drawer (or beside your knife block), keep a high-quality knife sharpener. There are different types, from metal to stone.
Find the one that works best for your individual needs.
Sharpen your knives regularly. Each time you go to use these utility instruments, check if they are sharp. If not, spend a few minutes bringing them up to par. This will make a huge difference in cooking quality and ease of use.
Using the Knife
Now that you know what knife to use for which purpose, and how to properly maintain these tools, it is time to move on to handling. The first step is to identify your dominant hand.
Are you right-handed? Or left? Figure out which of your hands has the proper level of focus and strength.
When it comes down to it, the best hand is that with more control rather than strength. Ultimately, a sharp, high-quality knife will manage the need for force.
Once you are set up (you have the item to cut and proper knife), it is time to grip the tool. Take your dominant hand and grab the handle. Ensure that you are holding the blade at the correct angle.
You should be able to move the knife with your arm, not your wrist. Your hand and the grip it holds on the knife must stay firmly in place.
Lock your wrist in place when holding the blade. Before you begin cutting, ensure that you have a firm, correct grip on the tool.
Now that you have a grip on your knife, use your other hand to place the food item in front of the blade. Use this hand to hold steady the item you plan to cut.
Keep your thumb inwards to avoid the blade altogether (this will prevent injury). Depending on the knife and what you are cutting, the motion will differ.
- Serrated Knives: Use a sawing motion. Do not apply downward pressure.
- Boning Knives: Use firm, lightweight motions directed away from you.
- Vegetable Knives: Angle the point downward and lower, firmly the back of the knife to make a clean cut. Repeat the process slowly, adding speed as you grow more comfortable.
- Paring Knife: Hold the item in your hand; and, using your thumb to direct the blade, slice between the peel and the flesh. Repeat this process until you have removed the peel.
Now you know the tricks of the knife-wielding trade. Use these tips to ensure that you have a positive experience handling these utility instruments.
Ultimately, the best way to gain expertise is through diligent practice. Keep up with proper maintenance and always make sure that you sharpen your blade.
Safety must be your key focus when handling knives. So long as you use the right tool for the job and ensure that you have a firm grip on the item, your experience cutting and slicing will be ideal.
Now that you know the cooking basics, it is time to start experimenting with flavors and recipes. Chances are, you may burn a few dishes, but they will all be in the spirit of learning.
The best way to gain cooking experience is by actually cooking. Acquaint yourself with boiling, baking, and frying.
This trifecta provides you with the necessary basics so that you are free to discover your taste palette’s passion.