5 Common Mistakes Amateur Home Cooks Often Make
We’re all amateur cooks. Whether you’re cooking fresh dinners or making simple PB&J sandwiches, you’re regularly making meals for you and your family.
And, if we’re being honest, you’re probably getting pretty mediocre results. The question is, why?
Avoid These 5 Mistakes to Improve Your Cooking
Professional chefs have skills and talents that set them apart from 99.9 percent of people who cook meals on a regular basis.
However, it’s not always the complicated cooking processes and proprietary recipes that make the biggest difference.
It’s often the simplest techniques that make their culinary creations taste superior.
If you’re looking for a way to improve your cooking skills without investing a ton of time and resources into classes and training, you must do the little things right.
This means avoiding common mistakes like:
1. Not Tasting When Cooking
Few amateur cooks take the time to taste their meals as they’re prepared, despite the fact that the taste profile of food changes on a minute-by-minute basis.
Simply learning how to taste and identify flavors will help you achieve richer and more flavorful dishes.
“When tasting your food, consider the five basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami,” food blogger Elizabeth Laseter suggests.
“Every food or beverage you consume relies on one—or a combination—of these tastes.
For example, a pineapple tastes sweet, while arugula tastes bitter.
On the other hand, pickles are salty-sweet, dark chocolate is bittersweet, and olives are bitter-salty.”
Once you’re able to differentiate between these five basic tastes, you can optimize, tweak, and neutralize your dishes when they become unbalanced.
2. Using Hard Water
Did you know that hard water impacts the taste and quality of your cooking?
The minerals that produce hard water – such as magnesium and calcium – are especially detrimental in baking.
Hard water changes the composition of gluten and yeast, leading to tough and rubbery dough.
If you’ve never tested your water, now’s a good time to do so.
And if you discover that your water is harder than it should be, a good water treatment solution can soften your home’s water supply and leave you with better tasting food.
3. Under Seasoning
Ever wondered why your meals lack the same rich flavor profile that you get in restaurants?
In many cases, it’s a lack of proper seasoning.
Don’t be afraid of salts, spices, and seasonings. As long as you’re tasting as you go, you don’t have to worry about over seasoning.
Chefs like to use their fingers to apply seasoning, as it allows them to get a sense of how much they’re using.
Start with small amounts and evenly spread around the dish.
4. Not Resting Meat
After grilling a savory piece of meat, the first thing you want to do is cut into it and eat.
But immediately slicing meat is one of the surest ways to ruin your meal.
“If you slice meat too soon, the juices will escape, leaving your dish dry.
Give your meat time to rest (five minutes for small cuts and up to 20 for a whole bird or roast),” Brian Trinh writes for HuffPost.
“This allows the juices to migrate back to the center of the meat and distribute more evenly.”
5. Using Low Quality Ingredients
You don’t need to purchase the most expensive cuts of meat to prepare tasty meals, but do your best to avoid using low quality ingredients.
Always opt for fresh over frozen and look for ingredients that are in-season.
If you’re uncertain of where to shop for high quality ingredients, ask a local chef or cook whom you admire.
They’ll know all the right spots.
Learn to Love Cooking
It’s frustrating to invest a lot of time, resources, and creative energy into something only to get sub-par results.
This is why so many people don’t enjoy cooking.
They’ve had bad experiences where they burned, overcooked, or under-seasoned an important dish and then vowed to never do it again.
And instead of learning from their mistakes and trying a second time, they stick to takeout, delivery, and pre-prepared meals from the supermarket’s frozen food section.
The good news is that it’s never too late to learn how to cook.
By simply avoiding the mistakes outlined in this article, you can significantly increase your cooking prowess and learn to love the kitchen all over again.
Are you willing to give it a try?