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