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12 Cooking Hacks Culinary School Students Swear By

Consider this your culinary schooling.

Hannah Wong/BuzzFeed

We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share their best cooking tips they learned in culinary school.

Here are a few of their best tips — along with some of our own tricks from BuzzFeed writers and producers who attended culinary school — to help you cook like a pro:

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1. To keep your greens fresh, store them in a container with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture.

thekitchn.com

"Lining the bottom of containers for greens and lettuces helps absorb moisture and keep them fresh longer."

stephaniev23

Learn more: See how to properly store your greens with paper towels.

2. Don't be afraid to generously salt your food...

Instagram: @nusr_et

"On the first day of culinary school the teacher asked us what we thought a pinch of salt looked like — and then, to our surprise, showed us how much salt we should actually be seasoning our food with. Everyone was in shock, and he simply responded, 'this is why restaurant food tastes good.' Salt everything!'"

Alexis deBoshnek

Learn more: Read more about properly salting your food.

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3. And remember to season with acid, too.

Gorodenkoff / Getty Images

"A lot of people don't season their food with acid, but it's super important! A splash of lemon juice or vinegar can help elevate flat flavors. If your recipe ends up tasting bland, season it with both salt and acid to help it shine. Think of it this way: Have you ever tasted avocado without lime or lemon juice? It tastes pretty flat — but a touch of acid makes the flavors pop and taste wonderful."

Jesse Szewczyk

Learn more: Check out eight other ways to help elevate a bland dish.

4. To prevent your cutting board for sliding around, place a damp paper towel underneath it.

Emily Fleischaker/BuzzFeed

"Putting a damp paper towel under your cutting board before you start chopping will prevent it from spinning around and moving."

mollygeo

Learn more: See how to properly secure a cutting board with a paper towel.

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5. Quickly crush nuts, peppercorns, or other whole spices by gently smashing them underneath a saucepan in either a bag or skillet.

youtube.com

"I learned that instead of blending or cutting your nuts, you can place them in a bag and smash them with a saucepan. It was a revelation."

Malou Kleist

Learn more: See how to crush peppercorns using this method.

6. Brining is the secret to making the juiciest steaks, pork chops, and chicken.

Haha21 / Getty Images

"Brining is one of those cheffy techniques that not a lot of people do at home — but they should. It's just a fancy name for soaking a piece of protein in a salt water solution. You can add flavors — such as spices — or keep it simple and stick to a neutral brine. Soaking the proteins in the mixture for a few hours helps them retain moisture while cooking and prevents them from drying out — something that's especially important for things like chicken and turkey."

Jesse Szewczyk

Learn more: Read more about how to make a brine, and when you should use it.

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7. Instead of throwing away fresh vanilla beans after scraping out the seeds, stash them in a container filled with sugar.

Olgakr / Getty Images

"Save fresh, scraped vanilla beans and store them in sugar. The beans are perfectly useable for several months and infuse your sugar with a wonderful vanilla flavor. It tastes great in drinks and desserts."

—Joe Davis, Facebook

Learn more: Get a recipe for vanilla sugar using leftover vanilla pods.

8. Pat your proteins dry before searing them...

Lisovskaya / Getty Images

"Drying proteins before you sear them is key. It's the only way you'll get a nice, dark sear. It's also one of my biggest pet peeves when people don't do it!"

Alexis deBoshnek

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9. And let your pan heat up for at least five minutes before adding your meat to it.

Lemneiphoto / Getty Images

"When it comes to getting a proper sear on meats, the two most important things are using a heavy-bottomed pan that can withstand the heat (like a nice cast-iron skillet), and letting it heat up for long enough. For most things, allowing your pan to preheat for five minutes is long enough to develop a nice, dark crust. It may feel like a long time, but the extra five minutes are seriously worth it!"

Jesse Szewczyk

Learn more: See how to properly sear meat.

10. Keep your mixing bowls in place by setting them in a cake pan or nestling them in a rolled up towel.

youtube.com

"Place a cake pan underneath your mixing bowl to keep it tilted at an angle. It makes mixing and scooping dough so much easier for us shorties."

—Erica Sullivan, Facebook

"An easy trick to keep your mixing bowls secure is to place a rolled up towel underneath them. It helps keep them in place and prevents them from moving around."

Jesse Szewczyk

Learn more: See how to secure a mixing bowl using a towel.

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11. Save all of your usable veggie and meat scraps in Ziploc baggies stashed in the freezer. This way, when you have enough saved up, you can make homemade stocks and soups.

Ilbusca / Getty Images

"Store meat and poultry bones, seafood/shrimp shells, and veggie scraps in freezer bags to make sauces, stocks, and soups with."

stephaniev23

Learn more: See how to make vegetable broth out of vegetable scraps.

12. Find a restaurant supply store near your house and invest in professional tools.

Jesse Szewczyk/BuzzFeed

"Having the right tools for the job makes life so much easier. Sharp, quality knives are easy to use and will prevent you from cutting yourself — and good pots and pans will help evenly distribute heat and last a lifetime. Go ahead and buy yourself some quality staple pieces, and most of all, don't go to the fancy (aka expensive) cooking stores! Restaurant supply stores are usually significantly cheaper and sell the cooking equipment pro chefs actually use! Research if there's one by your house and go!"

Jesse Szewczyk

Learn more: Learn how to properly take care of your knives.

Responses have been lightly edited for length/clarity.

Looking for more genius cooking hacks? Check out these posts:

26 Cooking Hacks Everyone Should Know About

16 Time-Saving Cooking Hacks That Actually Work

21 Kitchen Hacks That Will Make Your Life Easier

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