Q&A

Your curly kitchen ques­tions an­swered by our team, such as roast­ing chick­peas and how to keep herbs fresh.

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Michelle

How do I store nuts so they stay fresh? Nuts con­tain a lot of oil and, over time, it be­comes ran­cid and tastes nasty and bit­ter. To keep your nuts fresh for longer, store them in sep­a­rate air­tight con­tain­ers or seal­able plas­tic bags in the freezer. La­bel and date them – they’ll keep for up to 6 months. The best part is there’s no need to thaw them be­fore cook­ing – just use them straight from the freezer.

Ka­t­rina

Or­ganic and free-range chicken – what’s the dif­fer­ence? While both free-range and or­ganic chick­ens have out­door ac­cess to for­age, there are a few key dif­fer­ences. Cer­ti­fied or­ganic chick­ens gen­er­ally have higher an­i­mal wel­fare con­di­tions, in or­der to foster nat­u­ral be­hav­iours, and a fo­cus on en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity. There’s no use of chem­i­cal fer­tilis­ers, pes­ti­cides or her­bi­cides in or­ganic chicken feed, and no an­tibi­otics or rou­tine vac­ci­na­tions may be used. When choos­ing ei­ther free-range or or­ganic, check the la­belling. Be sure to buy chick­ens that have ac­cred­ited freerange lo­gos or cer­ti­fied or­ganic lo­gos.

Mi­randa

How do I get fresh herbs to last longer? With the grow­ing em­pha­sis on re­duc­ing food waste, I’m al­ways look­ing for ways to make my pro­duce and fresh herbs last longer. And cor­rect stor­age is the key. Most herbs, such as pars­ley, dill, mint, co­rian­der, chives, thyme and rose­mary, are best stored in the fridge. Wrap them in damp pa­per towel and place in a seal­able plas­tic bag away from the cold­est part of the fridge. Basil leaves, how­ever, will blacken if wet, so trim their stems slightly and stand bunches in a jar filled with a lit­tle wa­ter. Cover with a plas­tic bag and keep out of direct sun­light on your kitchen bench. And it’s al­ways best to use fresh herbs as soon as pos­si­ble.

Matt

Is there a sub­sti­tute for wine in cook­ing? Wine adds flavour com­plex­ity and liq­uid, so you will need to re­place these in other ways. It’s great if these ad­di­tions can deglaze the pan and also bring some sweet­ness or acid­ity, like a wine would. If you don’t want booze, think of other liq­uids that add flavour, such as a mix of fresh vegie juice or stock with some­thing acidic like ver­juice, le­mon juice or a lit­tle vine­gar. Fruit juices (like grape or di­luted or­ange) could also be em­ployed. Boost the base flavours of the dish, too. You could add an­chovies or Worces­ter­shire sauce to a lamb or beef stew, or use pineap­ple juice spiked with soy sauce, vine­gar and brown su­gar to slow-braise pork, beef or lamb.

Louise

How do I roast chick­peas? Crispy chick­peas are an easy, de­li­cious snack. Rinse and drain canned chick­peas. Dry re­ally well with pa­per towel. Spread them out on a bak­ing tray, lightly coat with olive oil and roast at 180°C/160°C fan forced for about 45 min­utes or un­til golden and crunchy. Toss through your favourite spices and some salt for the fi­nal 10 min­utes of cook­ing time. For ex­tra crispi­ness, leave to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar. They also make a great ad­di­tion to roast din­ner – toss drained chick­peas in a roast­ing pan with your ve­gies.

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