It's Friday night, you're in the kitchen, and your guests are arriving way sooner than you want them to. The soup is not thickening like it's supposed to, the salad still needs dressing, and the pine nuts for the salad are... wait, what's that smell? Crap, the pine nuts!
It's easy to get distracted in the kitchen—especially if you're multitasking. But believe it or not, there is a way to save burned food from the trash can. (Disclaimer: the picture above is not salvageable, and neither are other things that are burnt to a crisp.)
According to Katherine of Epicurious, almost-burnt food can be saved by utilizing the freezer. When you realize the scent from the oven is nutty and the food inside of the oven has become a deep brown instead of a crisp caramel, immediately remove the food from the oven and put it in the freezer.
Much like blanching for vegetables, freezing over-toasted items halts the cooking process by dramatically changing the external temperature around the food. If you detect the scent or color of the almost-burning food and manage to toss it into the freezer, you stand a very good chance of saving your food from becoming black and burnt.
Elizabeth mentions that this handy trick served her well in a commercial kitchen and will work for anything toasted—nuts, baked goods, bread, and so on. If she managed to make this work in a high-stress setting like that, I'd imagine this tip will be more than helpful in a home kitchen like mine.
And—well, if you don't manage to take those cookies or that bread out in time and your cookies look like the ones above... there's always the cheese grater.
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