Leave it to a fifth grader to invent one of today's most-used kitchen tools: In 1957, Robert LeJeune showed that zippered plastic pencil-case bags also slowed the rate at which food spoils. This discovery (which earned him a National Science Fair prize and a place in food-storage aficionados' hearts) led the way for brands like Ziploc® and Glad®. Half a century later, fifth graders still march off to school each day, zip-top bag of PB&J in tow. But these go-to bags aren't just for snack storage anymore: Here are five more ways to use zipper storage bags in your kitchen.
DIY pastry bag. Unless you're a dedicated home baker, chances are you don't have a supply of specialized pastry bags. With a plastic bag and a pair of scissors, you can whip one up in a flash. Plus, the trick is customizable to whatever baking feat you're aiming to accomplish. Filling cupcake molds? Cut half the bag off. Piping a long-winded birthday message? Just snip off the corner.
Streamline the freezer. Instead of using a hard plastic container, save freezer space by freezing food flat in plastic bags for easy stacking. This even works for soup—just don't put anything heavy on top before it sets. Plus, since food cools down faster when more surface area is exposed in the freezer, this is also useful for making an ice cream base. And the sooner it chills, the sooner you'll be sitting on the couch with a bowl of freshly churned ice cream.
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Contain your crush. The best pies are often found atop a graham cracker crust. But the process of going from cracker to crust can often leave you with a counter (and floor) full of crumbs. To avoid this, zip full sheets of graham crackers inside a bag and roll (or smash) away. This trick is also useful when breaking up candy canes, which can get sticky.
Keep it green. Okay, so plastic bags are not the most ecofriendly containers. We mean the other type of green: fresh herbs. If not properly stored, herbs tend to brown quickly, especially fragile ones like basil. Wrap each bunch in a moist paper towel, bag 'em up and leave the top slightly unzipped to let the herbs breathe.
Make it fit like a glove. One of the great things about cooking is feeling your food, but some tasks can either leave you with a semipermanent scent (hello, onions) or just make you a bit squeamish. Enter: the original fingerless glove. Maybe it's not the most fashionable use of a plastic bag, but your hands will make it to the dinner table without smelling like the inside of a chicken.
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