In many ways, 2017 was the year of the hack. Who can blame us? We’re busy and looking for ways to make things just a bit easier—shortcuts, if you will. What makes a hack a hack and not, say, advice, a suggestion, or a tried and true cooking tip? There’s no definitive answer. However, when scouring the web for ideas, I keep a few criteria in mind: A hack should reduce time; a hack should make something difficult, easier; a hack should force you to think outside the box, to approach a task in a way you never thought to before.
As this year draws to a close, I peeked back at some of the most popular hacks we featured on our site. Some are useful gamechangers; others, not so much. Check them out below:
I may or may not be guilty of attempting this hack at a recent birthday party. The good news: It worked! Cutting a cake can be stressful and overly emotional. This hack is here to make that process just a bit easier.
This one is less of a time-saver and more of an extremely useful tidbit of knowledge. I’d call it a hack nonetheless. Sourdough starters are tricky business, so any help we can get is worth sharing—and knowing.
Here’s a hack for fuller, richer, sweeter sweets from dessert genius, Stella Parks. Apparently, popping your sugar in the oven to achieve a light caramel color transforms the way you bake. The easiest part? Her recipe only calls for a single ingredient: sugar.
This is my personal favorite. Sometimes, it’s not so much about the hack, but the conversation it begets. This particular suggestion features peanut butter frozen into Kraft single-like slices, a hack that more than doubles your time in the kitchen, and a Twitter conversation that raged harder than Merill Stubb’s holiday stovetop fire. Enjoy!
Peeling hard boiled eggs is both tedious and annoying, so this hack is one I reference often. It’s all about the ice bath. Throwing those puppies into a cold pool will make them all the much easier to shell. Cheers to that.
This one appeared right in the thick of potato season, and we're definitely glad it did. It's simple, refined, and fool proof. Put down that peeler and say goodbye to those pesky skins!
This one had me confounded. I thought we had pasta draining down pat. Apparently not.
Sometimes a hack can be as simple as adding an unexpected ingredient to a well known recipe. This one does just that. Cream cheese in banana bread? This recipe (and our community) says it works!
When you’re baking in a crunch, a stick of butter forgotten in the freezer can be a serious impediment. But what’s a hack if not something to make cooking, or baking, a cinch? This video advises putting a frozen stick of butter beneath a warm cup. It seems to work.
This Japanese method for brewing iced coffee turned cold brew on its head. Brewing directly onto ice chills coffee without any bitter taste. I’ll be using this come summer, no doubt.
So there you have it, the hacks that changed the way we cook in 2017. Some of these are definitely worth carrying into 2018. Others... not so much.
What kitchen tricks did you learn this year? Let us know about them in the comments.