10 Russian kitchen life hacks that will ease your cooking

Legion Media
How to make perfect buckwheat, get rid of bad smells and what is the most needed substance in every Russian kitchen.

1. Soda to clean an old dirty pan

The main substance in any Russian cuisine is soda! It perfectly cleanses fat and you can wash dishes and even clean an old frying pan with it. Put 1-2 tablespoons on the dirty surface of a pan and add the same amount of 9% strength vinegar. Wait one hour and then scrub it with a hard sponge. 

If you have a pan with a non-stick coating, this trick should only be used on the exterior side!

2. Lemon vs. scum 

An eco-friendly way to clean a greasy tile or a kettle from scum. Just wipe the surface with lemon and let the juice flow. In 10 minutes, wash the tile or kettle with warm water and dry it with a paper towel.

Citric acid is also useful for general cleaning. Dissolve 15 ml of citric acid in 1 liter of water and add a little detergent. This fluid helps to clean kitchen furniture very well.

3. Cooking buckwheat without... cooking

You’ve probably heard that Russians are very fond of buckwheat and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner (if not, read this article). According to the instructions, buckwheat should be boiled, but it is not necessary to do this. This method is called steaming (zaparivanie): take the washed buckwheat, fill it with the same amount of boiling water, wrap the dish in a towel and leave for an hour or two (depending on the amount). If there is a lot of buckwheat, then you can also leave it overnight. You can do this with your favorite spices. After all, you’ll get the same as boiled buckwheat. 

4. Water to refresh bread

Traditional Russian bread usually becomes hard in just two days. But to make it soft again, you just need water. Take the bread, cut it and sprinkle it a little with water. Then microwave for 30 seconds or leave in a preheated to 150 degrees oven for 5 minutes. Another way is to keep dry bread in a water bath for 5 minutes.

5. Newspapers for fruits and heat conserving 

An ordinary newspaper will speed up the ripeness of any fruit: just wrap an apple or avocado and leave it in a cold, dark place for a day. 

The newspaper also helps to keep any dish warm: just wrap a pan with two layers of paper. This will create a thermos effect.

6. Getting rid of the smell in the refrigerator

Thrown out the spoiled products, but the bad smell is still there? Try these Russian ways to refresh your refrigerator. If you put a glass of coffee beans, soda or crushed activated carbon inside, then the unpleasant smell will disappear in 1-2 days. Among good adsorbents are also rye bread (put several pieces for 2 days), used tea bags (for a week) or slices of any citrus fruit (also for 1-2 days).

In the fruit compartment, put down some old newspapers, as they too will absorb the smell. You can change it once a week.

7. Butter to save salami

Sliced salami winds up very quickly in the refrigerator and it should not be stored in polyethylene, it’s better to wrap it in paper or foil. And the sliced side is recommended to wipe with a piece of butter.

8. Wine cork lid assistant

Enameled or aluminum lids from pots and pans have a significant minus: when heated, they become very hot and to remove them, you have to use kitchen mittens or a towel. However, Russians have found a solution: insert a standard wine cork into a lid’s handle and you will never get burned.

9. Vodka instead of baking powder

You’ll be surprised, but Russian vodka can replace the baking powder in dough. Pancakes and pies will turn out to be airy if you add 1-2 teaspoons of vodka to 1 kg of dough.

Another well-known way to replace baking powder is slaked soda: a teaspoon of soda with a little 9% strength table vinegar or half a lemon juice.

10. Ice for perfect mincemeat

Burgers patties will be juicy and tender with ice. When you beat the minced meat, add crushed ice (about 10 small pieces of ice per 1 kg of minced meat); then make the patties and quickly fry in a pan or grill them until the ice begins to melt.

The easiest way to form cutlets is with your hands soaked in cold water, so that the minced meat does not stick to your fingers.

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