5 Bad Cooking Habits You Need To Break

Get out of these habits so you can be a better cook.

IMAGE Dorling Kindersley

Admit it. You are probably guilty of one or even a few of these bad cooking habits. From not waiting for the pan to heat up to still using a dull knife, bad cooking habits are not only going to make your cooking a problematic task but it can also be the cause of an accident, too. 

Don't be a victim of these bad cooking habits and listen to our advice about what we think should be the better way to be a good cook

This pan is coated in a slick, nonstick surface that won't let any food stick to it.
Photo by Pixabay
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1 You don't allow your pan to heat up properly. 

Being in a hurry can be the beginning of a cooking failure. Many of us are guilty of this bad cooking habit. You were in a hurry to get the food on the table or just plain hungry, so instead of doing the right thing and waiting, you rushed on. You didn't let the pan get hot enough, and you ended up with several things that you could have avoided by being a little more patient: 

  1. 1. Your food didn't sear or brown, its juices seeped and started to sweat instead. 
  2. 2. You ended up waiting longer than you needed to for the pan to heat up. 
  3. 3. Your food got stuck to the pan.  

What you should do instead: Wait those extra two or three minutes for the pan to get properly hot. To easily test, a water droplet should dance on the surface of a hot pan. Doing this means that your pan is hot enough so that all three of the above situations will not happen. Instead, you'll have food that sears, turns a golden brown at the right time, and won't get stuck to the pan, even if it doesn't have a nonstick coating. 

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2 You overcrowd the pan. 

Hurrying can also lead to you adding more than you should into a hot pan. While you may have properly heated your pan to the right temperature, you totally negate the ability of the hot pan to do its job: sear your food. It's not bad but what happens is that you end up with soggy, unappetizing-looking food instead of beautifully browned and delicious dishes. As they say, all those browned bits on the bottom of your pan is where the flavor is and without this, you have a less flavorful dish.  

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What you should do instead: Cook in batches. You may not cook in record time but you will have a more delicious dish to look forward to. 

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3 You added frozen food to a hot pan. 

Busy people are the worst offenders when it comes to bad cooking habits. Our patience are tried and tested, we know, but if you place food that is still frozen into a hot pot, one or two things may happen: 

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  1. 1. You end up with food that's cooked on the outside but still cold and raw (possibly still half frozen) on the inside. 
  2. 2. You drop the temperature of your pan so you have to cook it for longer and run the risk of steaming it rather than searing it.   

What you should do instead: Place it in the microwave if you have it and thaw it out properly. You can even use this handy tool. As a last resort, you can also place your food in a sealed container (a plastic bag works wonders for this tip) and place it in a container of water until it's thawed out. You may have to wait at least 20 minutes or so but that's better than the alternative: half-cooked food. 

Photo by Bianca Laxamana
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4 You don't sharpen your knives. 

Dull knives, we believe, are the cause of many kitchen injuries. Many home cooks neglect their knives, choosing to instead put with a dull knife. Since the knife's edge isn't as sharp anymore, you have to apply more pressure to slice or cut through the food you're preparing. This can lead to injury when something slips. A sharp knife will always be the tool that does the job for you and not the other way around.    

What you should do instead: Learn to sharpen and hone your own knives with a whetstone and honing steel. You can also take your knives to be professionally sharpened at the knife store where you bought your knives or to a specialty store like Hortaleza. Visit this Facebook page post to find out where the branches of Hortaleza are located.  

Photo from Lazada
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5 You don't clean as you go. 

Cleanliness has many benefits and when you forego cleaning, you can end up with more than just a food-borne illness. There are few instances where many cooks forget to clean as they continue to work on their preparation: 

  1. 1. You forget to wash your hands before you start.
  2. 2. You don't wipe down the countertop before and after you use it. 
  3. 3. You wait until you are done cooking before wiping up the food that spilled from your pan and onto the stovetop.    

Why are all three of these instances a bad cooking habit? Bad cooking habits can lead to cross-contamination when you don't wash up or wipe down your area. If you were careful when cutting up a chicken but didn't wipe down the area as well as your cutting board, you can still be cross-contaminating your work area. As for washing your hands, this is the best kitchen practice to learn no matter what. If you spilled even a little of that sauce onto the stovetop while stirring, you'll have a harder time after cooking because that would have dried up already. 

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What you should do instead: Always wash your hands before starting a recipe. Grab a kitchen towel or a sponge and start wiping. You should wipe down your area before prepping so your food doesn't become contaminated and as soon as you're done prepping so you don't spread anything afterward. Finally, wipe up spills as soon as it happens so you don't have a harder time scrubbing it off later. 

Are you guilty of any (or all!) of these bad cooking habits? If you are, make it your goal this year to break these habits and develop new ones. Better yet, develop the good cooking habits that will make cooking easier and better, too. After all, the best cooking habits are the ones that make your life easier in the kitchen as well as making food taste delicious. 

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