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15 Ways You Might Be Using Kitchen Items Wrong

These everyday kitchen tasks just became quicker, safer and more effective.

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Frozen pumpkin soup in the microwave. Frozen food. Frozen soup.Qwart/Getty Images

Food storage containers

Glass vs. plastic aside, not all food containers are ideal for the microwave. The corners of rectangular containers usually attract more energy than other areas, potentially leaving the food in those spots overcooked. A round container will allow food to reheat more uniformly.

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Fresh bananas and milk in blender on tableWestend61/Getty Images

Blender

There’s a reason your blender keeps stalling after every few seconds—the order of your ingredients makes a huge difference. Start with your liquid base or yogurt, then layer ingredients from smallest to largest, keeping the toughest pieces, such as ice, at the top. The liquids will let the blades run smoothly without catching on the hard ingredients. Make sure you know these foods that you shouldn’t put in a blender.

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Toaster with toast in ittakepicsforfun/Getty Images

Toaster

The type of bread you’re toasting affects how hot you should set your toaster. While white and sweet breads heat quickly, heavier ones like rye take more time. Even slices from the same loaf might need a different setting after a few days. Once bread starts to dry out, you might need lower heat for the less fresh slices, which don’t take as long to toast. Here are some more common toaster mistakes you might be making.

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Oven with Roast broiling mitchellpictures/Getty Images

Broiler

Leaving the door of your oven closed when broiling can make heat and steam build up. Venting the steam lets your food develop the crustiness you’re going for, and letting the hot air out ensures the heat stays concentrated on the top instead of effectively baking the entire dish. You’ll want to browse this list of other broiler mistakes.

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Kitchen home appliances cooking reheating plate bowl dish meal dinner of cooked spaghetti pasta with Bolognese tomato meat sauce in microwave ovensolarisimages/Getty Images

Microwaved food

Microwave energy is drawn to salt, so a seasoned top will send too much heat to the outer layer of your food, leaving it dry. Add salt after heating or mix it into your dish beforehand to avoid dryness. Find out which foods shouldn’t be reheated in the microwave.

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Slow Cookerpowerofforever/Getty Images

Slow cooker

Opening the lid of your slow cooker lets the heat out and can mess around the cooking time. So, resist the temptation to take a quick look or give it a stir until there’s less than an hour left of cook time. As long as your pot is between half and three-quarters of the way full, your dish should cook up just fine. Learn how to fix these slow cooker mistakes almost everyone makes.

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Green sugar in a blender. Cooking Mint SugarQwart/Getty Images

Food processor

Blenders have dull blades but powerful motors, while food processors have sharper blades and weaker motors. So when should you use a food processor vs. a blender? Use a blender for anything that needs to be super smooth with an even consistency, like smoothies, drinks and creamy soups. But when working with hard foods like nuts and garlic, pull out a food processor, which is ideal for recipes with a chunkier texture, such as pesto. Make sure you know these kitchen shortcuts you can’t get away with.

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Dishwasher

A University of Birmingham study found that the best spot in your dishwasher depends on the type of mess your plate has. The middle of the machine gets the strongest spray of water, which makes it best for carb-based stains like potatoes or tomatoes. On the other hand, the detergent is at its highest concentration at the edges, where it flows back down like a waterfall, making it the most effective spot for protein-based messes like eggs, which need more time to soak. Here are other common mistakes you make when loading a dishwasher.

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Red standing mixer on wooden tableDmitry_Evs/Getty Images

Stand mixer

Stand mixers are built at the right height, but during delivery or after normal use, their beaters might end up out of place. There should be a space about the thickness of two sheets of paper between the beater and the bottom of the bowl. If yours is misaligned, lift the head and turn the screw on the neck to the left to raise the beater, or to the right to lower it. If you’ve made a mistake when baking, don’t worry. Here are the KitchenAid mixer mistakes everyone has made.

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Kitchen sink garbage disposal-Oxford-/Getty Images

Garbage disposal

Garbage disposals aren’t as tough as you might think. The hot water in your sink can get up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Water that hot can cause food being put down the disposal to melt and turn into a thick paste. This will cause the garbage disposal to clog up. When rinsing the food off of your plates and into the garbage disposal, use cold water. Then, when it’s time to wash your dishes, switch the water to hot. Read on to find the things you shouldn’t put down the garbage disposal.

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Modern Condo KitchenDigiStu/Getty Images

Oven drawer

You know that oven drawer where you’ve been stashing baking pans? In some models, it isn’t meant for storage—it’s a warming drawer where that keeps cooked food at a nice temperature until you’re ready to eat. Check your oven manual to see what yours is for.

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crisper drawer in fridgeamriphoto/Getty Images

Crisper drawer

You probably had an idea that produce should go in your fridge’s bottom drawers, but a few tiny tweaks can help them do their job of keeping your fruits and veggies fresh. Most fridges let you adjust the humidity for a reason. In general, the fruits and vegetables that rot quickest will fare better with low humidity, which lets out the gases they give off as they ripen. Use high humidity for foods that are more likely to wilt, like herbs and leafy greens. Find out more about the right way to use a fridge’s crisper drawer.

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Kitchen knives setfortyforks/Getty Images

Knives

Big kitchen knives are scary enough without having to focus on how you hold them. Many people just wrap their hand around the handle. However, you’re supposed to hold your thumb and pointer finger on the sides of the blade. This grip will help you get more precise cuts. This is the simple way to keep your knives sharp.

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Stretch wrapping film; Shutterstock ID 148334534Swapan Photography/shutterstock

Plastic wrap

Isn’t it annoying when saran wrap folds on itself and you need to rip out a new sheet? Keeping the tube still will help. Turn that box to the side and you should see a tab that you can press inwards, holding the tube in place. Aluminum foil has the same feature on its box.

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Tomato KetchupEducation Images/Getty Images

Ketchup bottles

Instead of furiously shaking the bottle until way too much ketchup pours out, a Heinz spokesperson told Today a better trick: Hit the bottle where the neck starts to narrow. It will come out quicker and smoother. Here’s why there’s a 57 on your ketchup bottle.

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Close-Up Of Coffee In Filter On TableKoh Jaehong/Getty Images

Coffee filters

Disposable cone-shaped coffee filters have a bad habit of closing in on themselves when you put them in the coffee maker. Well, that’s because you’ve missed an important step: Before unfolding the filter, fold it by the creases on the bottom and side. Now your filter has a flat bottom to sit on and a strengthened side to hold it in place.

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Spicy pickled ginger and chopsticks on white wooden table, top viewLiudmila Chernetska/Getty Images

Sushi ginger

Most people use ginger as a topping, but—surprise!—that’s not its real purpose. It’s meant to be eaten alone as a palate cleanser between sushi pieces. Next, read up on these other kitchen mistakes you might be making.