Chatelaine Kitchen

10 tips on how to cook without making a mess

Love to cook and bake during the holidays, but hate the mess it creates? Here are our kitchen clean-up tricks to keep time at the sink to a minimum.

Cutting board, recipe holder and chopped vegetables

In the Chatelaine Kitchen, an important part of our recipe development plan is to minimize the amount of mess we make in our space. This includes how many pots, pans, kitchen utensils and appliances we use when testing recipes. We feel strongly that our time and effort should go into the cooking — not into the clean up.

Here are some tricks and tips to make your clean up easier, and that may help prevent the mess before it begins:

1. Electric hand mixer: Beating cream or a cake mix? When using your electric mixer, place your bowl in the sink. Let any splatter land inside the sink and then wash it away.

2. Roasting and baking: Cook items on parchment or foil. Roasting vegetables on parchment paper or foil will still allow for browning while saving you a pan to scrub. When baking, you can often reuse the same piece of parchment three or four more times. By lining and reusing the paper, you will save yourself time, elbow grease and money.

3. Stove top splatter: Searing meat or frying anything on the stove top can result in a greasy splatter-y mess. There are grease guards that apparently work well — although I’ve never tried one. Short of that, make sure that what you add to a hot pan is neither cold or wet — both will cause extra splatter. Second, if you plan to fry in a stainless steel pan, try a deep, wide stainless pot — this will help keep the grease splatter to a minimum.

4. Organic bowl: Chopping fruit or vegetables, peeling garlic or onions? Keep a bowl on your counter so that you can quickly sweep in the organic waste. This will centralize and separate all the organic scraps in one place, preventing you from dumping everything in the garbage in a hurry.

Related: 10 ways to make holiday baking easier

5. Start with an empty dishwasher: Take the time to empty it out first. Then load the dirty dishes as you go. And when it comes to loading . . .

6. Load it right: Your dishwasher comes with a user’s manual indicating the proper way to load it. And I know . . . you will never read it. So at least consider these tips: Alternate utensil tips up and tips down. This helps separate them allowing the water to get in between them. It’s worth the extra minute spent on pre-scrubbing sticky items such as melted chocolate, peanut butter, cream cheese and baked-on spaghetti sauce — otherwise they will leave a film on the rest of your dishes. Small particles like grain and rice will stick and become baked on to everything, so be sure to wipe them off. Finally, the ‘piece de resistance’. . . don’t overload it!

7. Wrap it: Making something that is particularity messy? (Sometimes it’s unavoidable.) If you’re cooking using a recipe from a laptop or cookbook, place a piece of plastic wrap over top to protect it.

8. Sticky utensils: Short of having a spoon rest, keep a large mug on your counter while cooking. Keep utensils and measuring spoons in the mug — and the sticky stuff off the counter.

9. Baking pans: As soon as your cake is turned out onto a rack, hold the hot cake pans with an oven mitt and wipe it out with a paper towel. The crusty residue should easily come off when the pan is still hot. Then just wash as usual with soapy water.

10. Measuring the sticky stuff: Give your measuring spoons or cups a quick zap with cooking spray before measuring out honey, molasses or syrup — and they will glide right out with no mess.

And there you have it, 10 easy kitchen cleaning tips to get you through the holidays with a little less mess.

Originally published November 23rd, 2015. 

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