Life's delicious messes


Indexed blog Food52 posted that we should "give up on clean hands and clean shirts" because it's cherry season. Contemplating the delicious mess of cherry pitting got us to thinking about other ingredients and foods that made messes in the kitchen but are so good they're worth it. The first task that came to mind was seeding a pomegranate, another messy yet delicious red fruit. Before we found a cleaner way to seed pomegranates, we could count on finding red specks all over the kitchen for days after working with them.

Moving away from fruit, but keeping it sweet, we turn to molasses and its cousins honey and corn syrup. These sticky ingredients cling tenaciously to every surface, from the measuring cup to the spatula to the bowl and the inevitable drips on the countertop. Even the bottles in which they are stored seem to seep liquid when no one is watching. But there is no substitute for molasses in gingerbread cookies or honey in baklava.

Another sticky sweet is chocolate, and anything dipped in it leaves a mess behind. But we are generally willing to overlook that, because, well, it's chocolate. There are countless tips that range from which utensil is best to how to shake and flip to remove excess chocolate. Despite all this, the mess still seems to find its way onto the counter (at least for me).

Flour and cornstarch are notoriously difficult to contain, especially when a mixer is involved. One tidy trick is to cut a hole in a piece of waxed paper and put your beater(s) through the hole to keep the flour from flying. You can also drape a towel over your stand mixer--easy peasy. A more difficult feat is remembering either trick before the flour is airborne.

Finally, chicken can be messy in general, but two types of chicken dishes are the worst offenders: fried chicken and high-heat roast chicken. One leaves a frightful greasy mess on your stovetop; the other a frightful greasy mess in your oven.

What recipe or ingredient makes the biggest mess in your kitchen? And what do you do to contain the mess?

Photo by Darcie Boschee

1 Comment

  • hillsboroks  on  7/13/2014 at 12:50 PM

    I just finished what used to be a tedious messy project - cleaning fresh picked raspberries and boysenberries. We have a small row of boysenberries and a large patch of raspberries in the backyard and frequently go out to pick wild mountain blackberries and huckleberries in the summer so I have tried many methods to clean berries through the years. Now to clean the berries all I do is fill a clean sink half full with cold water and pour 1 box (1 pint) of berries into a colander and set it in the water. The leaves, bugs and debris usually float to the top when I gently swish the berries with my hand in the water. Then I use a small strainer (I think it was for tea but looks like a tiny version of a big strainer) to skim the all the debris off the top of the water in the colander. Then I lift the colander full of clean berries out of the water to drain. To measure them for jam or packing in bags for the freezer I found a great measuring colander by Chef's Planet several years ago. It is made of a very durable non-staining plastic and has a great handle on the side and small holes on the sides and bottom. The holes on the sides are all in lines and are marked for easy measuring. One side goes in 1/4 pint intervals up to 1 1/2 pint and other side is marked in 1/2 cup intervals up to 3 cups. This little gadget has made working with berries a breeze. If I just have a few berries I can rinse and measure them without much handling and for bigger amounts I do the colander in the sink trick and then pour them into this measuring colander to measure them and let more water drain off. I got the measuring colander at TJ Maxx and found more at Home Goods and Marshalls several years ago. I bought bunches of them and gave them to all my friends and relatives because they are such a great kitchen tool. They came in red, white or blue. I am sure they must still be available online. One more quick tip for working with berries - getting rid of berry juice stains. Many years ago when my children were young they were continually staining their clothes with berry juice. In some old stain removal guide I found the solution to saving their clothes. It said to simply put the garment over the sink and pour boiling water from a tea kettle through the stain and it would disappear. It does and it is magic! I was able to amaze a whole kitchen full of women at a party we had when my sister accidentally dropped her plastic glass of boysenberry-lime rum punch on the deck and it splashed all over her new pair of white capri pants. She thought her pants were ruined forever and so did everyone else. I just filled the tea kettle and told everyone to relax. We loaned her a clean pair of pants and I did the boiling water trick while everyone oohed and aahed as the boysenberry juice stains just went away. After a quick trip through the washer with a little Oxyclean just to be sure, my sister had her sparkling white capris back again by the end of the party.

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