We live in a world of instant gratification, where 24/7 connectivity breeds the need for instant results at your fingertips. The rapid exchange of information has shaped our daily lives, right down to what and how we cook – gone are the days where aspiring cooks read bible-sized cookbooks from cover to cover. Instead, they look to the internet for bite-sized kitchen tips.
Not surprisingly, social media foodies, particularly those on Tiktok and Instagram, have found ways to garner fame and followings through so-called kitchen hacks, which are meant to make food prep easy for people who have never cooked anything from scratch in their lives.
But do these kitchen hacks even work? Or have they been staged to work just that one time, for the sake of social media validation? Love Wholesome tries out 8 viral kitchen hacks to separate the duds from the hits.
1. Squeezing the juice from a lemon without a knife
In this hack, a skewer is used to poke a hole through the lemon to squeeze the juice out. It is meant to keep your lemon fresh if you are after just a little juice, as sliced lemons dry out in the fridge.
Simply roll the lemon with your hand on the kitchen top, poke a hole in it with a skewer, toothpick, or a screwdriver, and gather whatever wrist strength you have to squeeze the juice out.
Did it work?
In short, this trick works, but it requires a lot of force to extract the juice. Besides, a knife is easier to access in one’s kitchen than say, a toothpick. If the seeds falling into your dish is a problem, use your other hand to catch them while you squeeze the lemon. If you want to keep the lemon fresh for use later, use cling wrap to seal it before putting it in the fridge.
Not worth a try. The old-fashioned way of squeezing lemon juice worked for centuries for good reason. Or get a handheld lemon juicer if seeds are a concern.
2. Using a glass to peel a mango
This hack claims that you could use a glass to peel a mango, by wedging the flesh into the edge of the glass. You can do it in seconds, as compared with slicing it lengthwise and using the tip of a knife to score the flesh into cubes.
Did it work?
Truth be told, we didn’t attempt this trick as we didn’t have the right sized glass for it. All we had were flimsy water glasses, or whiskey-sized glasses too small to accommodate the flesh of our large Thai mangos. We didn’t want to break anything and risk chips of glass in the mango.
Instead, we used a knife to cube the flesh, pushed the flesh out by turning the mango inside out, and we ate it in half the time it would take to find a suitable glass for this hack.
This glass method may work for you if you want to slice the flesh into wedges instead. Otherwise, using the cubing method is sufficient.
3. Halving many cherry tomatoes in a go
In this hack, you place the cherry tomatoes between two plastic container lids. You press on the top lid to keep the tomatoes in place, while using a large, sharp knife to saw the tomatoes lengthwise, all at once.
Did it work?
This works if you have many tomatoes to slice, and only if you are confident with a sharp knife.
Sure, if you want to shave seconds off your prep-time. For us, we’ll continue using a good old sharp knife to slice them, one by one. It is safer, and you could even quarter the cherry tomato if it is still too big even after you halve it.
4. No-yeast bagels
Anyone who has had some New York-style bagels will attest that the authentic way of making them – which includes mixing the dough, shaping it proofing it and boiling it before baking – trumps other shortcut methods by far.
But if you are pressed for time and can’t be bothered to make an authentic bagel from scratch, then a no yeast bagel with self-raising flour and Greek Yoghurt, just like the one in this recipe, may suffice. Good enough for those who are not fussy, but not the real deal in any way at all.
Worth trying for fun, but it’s probably more worthwhile to get real bagels.
5. Using a butter knife to open stuck jars
Everyone has tried and failed to open a jar at some point. This method, which comprises using a butter knife to pry the lid open just enough to release the pressure in the jar, went viral in recent times. In truth, it is an age-old method passed down through the years. In fact, our contributor Jo-ann Huang says her mother taught her this method, which she claims, is 99 per cent successful.
There are many methods to open stubborn jars, including using rubber bands to introduce some grip, or hot water to expand the lid. The butter knife method is the most fuss-free and effective so far.
6. Garlic peeling hack
There has been a series of viral garlic peeling hacks. Perhaps the most famous one is the shaking of the cloves in a jar vigorously for at least 20 seconds. But many have reported failures with that particular trick, with none of the cloves shedding their skins at all.
The latest hack involves using a small paring knife to dislodge the cloves from the bulb one by one, by poking the tip of the knife into the clove and using it to “scoop” the clove out.
Did it work?
This was somewhat successful, with some of the cloves coming out of their skins whole, while the stubborn ones refused to come out of their skins. The remaining cloves had holes bored into them so deeply that they were rendered useless. For it to work, you would need a knife with a wide enough tip, so that you could sink it deeply enough for leverage to loosen up the clove.
You could rub the clove on the chopping board to loosen up the skins before sliding them off. Other than that, there isn’t really a 10-second method to peeling garlic.