Cooking: for some people it comes naturally, for others it’s a skill that must be learned and practiced. No matter how adept you are in the practice of food preparation, there are some helpful tips and tricks that can help guide you through the process and make the whole experience a lot smoother. Try out some of these cooking tips and see how much they can improve your culinary skills.

Invest in a microplane

Also referred to as a cheese grater or just a grater in general, microplanes are a fantastic way to help you break down hard or difficult-to-mince items for your recipe. Popular ingredients like ginger and garlic are notoriously difficult to chop and peel, but using a microplane can help you grate the garlic and the ginger down just like you would if it were cheese. Microplanes are also fantastic for grating chocolate for garnish or for breaking down whole spices.

Preparation, preparation, preparation

Have you ever been in the middle of cooking a dish when you realize you still need to chop, cut, mince, or otherwise prepare an ingredient in your dish? Instead of trying to course correct as you’re cooking, get all of the prep work out of the way first. Make sure you have all of your ingredients sliced accordingly, and also make sure you have everything measured out as well. Spending a few extra minutes beforehand getting everything ready and portioning out your wet and dry ingredients will help you out in the long run.

Season every step of the way

No matter what dish you’re preparing, nothing ruins a great meal like having to over-salt your food from lack of flavor. Protect yourself against the embarrassment by seasoning your meal throughout the entire process at every step. Don’t forget to taste the food as you go! You can always add more salt later, but it’s hard to take out extra salt. Pro tip: if you do add too much salt to whatever you’re cooking, quartering a potato and adding it to the dish for 10 minutes can help absorb some of the excess salt and tone down the dish.

Keep ingredients fresh with cold water

When chopping up ingredients, particularly apples and potatoes, you might notice that after a little while they begin to turn brown where the flesh is exposed to the air. To prevent this oxidation and keep your fruits and vegetables fresh, store the cut pieces in cold water to keep them from being exposed to the air.