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Food hacks: Why we’re obsessed with kitchen tricks

Eat | Drink | Explore

Nothing sets the internet alight quite like a food hack and 2019 has been ripe with them, from speed-peeling garlic to juicing a lemon – without cutting it open.

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There’s an intangible popularity to food hacks (basically anything you do in the kitchen that makes the process quicker or easier or better) that sees videos of the hacks at work spread across the web.

Melbourne-based food commentator Alice Zaslavsky found herself at the centre of a viral hack storm earlier this year, when she filmed herself trying (and proving) the pineapple hack.

Zaslavsky says content that makes an impression on social media is consistently educational and inspiring.

“I think food hacks hit both of those things, then there’s the novelty factor, so it’s like tick, tick, tick,” Zaslavsky tells The New Daily.

“People want to do things better, but also more efficiently.”

For decades in kitchens all over the world, people have been finding better ways of doing things – like peeling garlic – but the internet has made a phenomenon out of it.

It’s not necessarily that they are new hacks it’s just that through social media, they’re able to be shared, Zaslavsky says.

“If you think about steaming something en papillote – which is fish in paper in the oven – it’s a ‘food hack’ from our first peoples, who would steam fish in paperbark from a tree,” she says.

“So if someone were to steam fish in paperbark and put that on social media now … people would be like, wow, what, head explode! It would blow up.”

The Country Women’s Association could arguably claim the title of the original home of kitchen hacks: its books are littered with tips and tricks from Australian kitchens.

Association national president Tanya Cameron says kitchen hacks of old were born out of necessity. And many of them have since died out.

While she doesn’t count herself as an outstanding cook – “It’s a myth that you have to be a great cook to be in the CWA” – there are tips and tricks Cameron uses to make her kitchen life easier.

To keep lettuce from going brown, she wraps it in aluminium foil – and never cuts it with a metal knife. Potatoes should always start in cold water before boiling. Oh, and for the best boiled egg, don’t use an egg that’s too fresh.

As for Zaslavsky, her trick of the moment comes from chef George Calombaris. And it’s for frying an egg: heat butter in a saucepan over heat, crack the egg in, and then turn the heat off and leave it to cook in the residual heat. Voila, perfect fried egg.

While some hacks have their merits, some exist purely for the novelty factor, Zaslavsky says.

“Like shelling an egg. That doesn’t take that long really.

“But you can put it in a glass with water and shake it around and boom, your egg is shelled.

“But you don’t see that you’ve then got to clean up the glass and all the shell, and fill the glass with water in the first place – so does it really save time?

“The garlic hack – (the person in the original video) has peeled a tonne of garlic this way so it looks easy. When you try to do it for the first time, all you do is waste a clove of garlic.”

So some hacks might be skills or flops rather than revolutions, but Zaslavsky still loves food hacks.

“They show that everybody eats food … it gets people excited about cooking and whole ingredients.”

This article was first published on The New Daily.


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