Aluminum foil is a staple in most (if not all) kitchens. I know when I run out, it’s a major inconvenience. Wrapping leftovers in plastic wrap just doesn’t cut it.
I find myself reaching for foil for many more purposes than simply storing leftover pizza:
1. Sharpen scissors: Fold a sheet of foil over a few times to make eight layers total. Take your dull scissors, and make about 10 cuts to sharpen the blades.
2. Prevent quick breads from over-browning: Tops of quick breads, like banana bread or zucchini bread, have a tendency to over-brown before the middle is cooked through. If your bread is getting too dark (or burning!) before it’s done, loosely tent the loaf with foil about half-way through baking time.
3. Cut even dessert squares (pictured above): When making a bar cookie or brownies, cutting these desserts inside your pan is difficult and often results in less-than-perfect bites. Fix that by lining the pan with two criss-crossed sheets of foil (make sure there’s an overhang) so you can easily lift the baked (and cooled!) batch of treats out of the pan.
Then, place the foil and baked treats on a cutting board. Cut down the middle, and then cut each half in half or thirds (depending on the size and shape of your pan). Then, rotate the cutting board by 90 degrees and repeat with the uncut sides. Voila! Pro tip: Chilled bars or brownies are easier to cut, too.
4. Cook an entire meal: Many recipes call for cooking a protein and veggies in a parchment paper sack. No parchment paper on-hand? Use two sheets of aluminum foil with the same results. Here’s how:
Place veggies (I like spinach, thinly sliced mushrooms, and scallions) in the middle of two 12 inch by 16 inch sheets of foil sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Place a fish fillet or boneless chicken breast (pounded a bit if thick) on top, drizzle with a little olive oil and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.
Wrap tightly by first folding the two short sides in, then the longer sides, and then rolling tightly together so you have a compact sack. Bake on a cookie sheet at 400 F for 25 minutes.
5. Cut down on oven cleaning: Prevent messy bits and drips from collecting on the bottom of your oven by placing a sheet of foil on the bottom rack (if your oven has two racks, place the rack you cook on in the middle of the oven and the bottom rack on the lowest tier). Be sure to periodically check and replace the foil.
6. Steel wool stand-in: In lieu of steel wool, use a ball of aluminum foil to scrub off caked-on food from pots, pans and dishes. You can also use this substitute to scrub caked-on bits from outdoor grill grates.
7. Save on cleanup: Line baking pans and cookie sheets with aluminum foil to cut your cleanup later. This works with just about anything you bake in the oven, from lasagna to chicken breasts. For messier dishes, like bacon, line with two or three foil sheets. Be sure to spray with non-stick cooking spray for easy food removal when serving.
8. Make your own toaster oven baking sheet: When baking a small batch of french fries or roasting a smaller serving of veggies like asparagus or broccoli, it’s easier to use the toaster oven rather than your larger oven.
There is no need to dig out the special toaster oven sheet that came with the appliance – just fold a piece of foil in half and form sides to make your own disposable baking sheet.
9. Grilled cheese sammie melter: There’s nothing worse than biting into a grilled cheese when the cheese isn’t melted. For a perfectly melt-y sandwich every time, try this: When you flip the sammie, turn the heat to low and cover the sandwich loosely with a piece of foil until the second side is golden brown. Melted cheese, guaranteed!
10. Pie crust protector: Avoid burnt pie crust edges by crimping foil around the edges prior to placing the pie in the oven.
Like these tips? Try these 10 Handy Uses for Parchment Paper, too!