Too much salt?

If you’ve over salted a meal, it’s probably one of the easiest cooking mistakes to reverse. My first go to is to add an acid. I typically go for lemon or apple cider, but really any vinegar will do depending on what your flavor base is for your meal. Another method to use would be to add a low sodium broth or water if your recipe allows it! I’ve also seen people use potatoes to soak up the salt, which could work. But if it’s super salty the potatoes won’t absorb enough to balance your meal back out.

Too spicy?

I’m pretty sensitive to spice so this is one I often avoid at restaurants and even cooking at home. I ordered chilaquiles from my favorite Mexican restaurant down the street last weekend for brunch and I had to go immediately home because it was over spiced and sent my stomach into a cramp spiral from the heat. However, if you’re served an overly spicy meal or you accidentally get heavy-handed at home, there’s a pretty quick fix that could save you either way!

Too sweet?

I’m someone who has a huge sweet tooth, but even sweets can sometimes be too much for me. If you’ve ordered sweets out, there’s really no saving someone else’s recipe. But if you’re cooking from home it’s a pretty simple fix! Just like salt, add either lemon or vinegar to balance out the sweetness.

Too sour, tart or bitter?

These are little less likely if you’re cooking from home but it still happens and there’s a quick way to reverse it!

Overcooked or under cooked pasta?

Overcooked pasta makes me really sad. I’ve learned my lesson by now, but when I first switched to gluten free pastas, finding the right boil time was going to be the death of me. Each gluten free pasta is so different and super picky with its boil time. However, there are a few tricks that can be done to try to reverse it.

Burnt or under cooked meat?

This reversal is a little tricky because you can’t necessarily reverse it, but technically just try to fix it. Most of the time I love a nice burn layer or char layer. I like my hot dogs burnt and I like a good char on my steak, but sometimes it can be too charred which produces a super bitter flavor and more than likely, super dry meat.

Soup too thin?

It’s a bit too hot for soup in the south right now but these will be good tips for the fall and winter! If you’re following along with a recipe or free handing your soup and it’s a little too thin for your liking, turn the heat up and let it boil to reduce it. Unfortunately, if you have vegetables in your soup, you should remove them so that they don’t get too mushy but that’s totally up to you! Let it reduce without stirring it too much. You will see the line of the side of the pot of where the soup was as it reduces and wait for it to be the consistency you like!

Sauce or gravy too lumpy?

Removing lumps from sauces and gravies is easy. If you have any veggies or meat in your gravy/sauce, strain them out and set them to the side. In your pot, use an immersion blender to help smooth everything out. Once it’s the consistency you like, add your other ingredients back in!

Got wilted greens?

Wilted greens is another easy fix, assuming their not too far gone. Grab a bowl (I prefer glass or stainless) and fill it with ice and water. Submerge your greens for 30min to an hour in the ice water. Once they’ve perked back up, dry them out in a salad spinner to remove any excess water!

Overcooked veggies?

This is a trickier one because if your veggies are way too overcooked there’s not much you can do to save them, but you can reuse them. For super overcooked veggies you can place them in a blender and turn them into a soup or sauce!

Got soggy fries?

If you’re frying your fries in oil and they’re ending up soggy your oil is more than likely not hot enough. It’s best to get a thermometer so that you can make sure your oil is at the perfect temp to avoid soggy fries. If your temp is right, you’re probably overcrowding them in the oil!

Too bland?

Eating bland food can be the worst. The best way to avoid this is to taste your food along the way! Check it every once in a while to make sure there’s enough salt. Or if there’s too much, remember your acids to balance it out. And if it’s too spicy, don’t forget to try adding something sweet like honey.

Food stuck to the bottom of the pan?

So this isn’t really a reversal of food but it happens to the best of us. Don’t try dry scraping it and don’t just toss it in the trash. There is a way to fix it! If you have burnt food or stuck food on the bottom of your pot or pan, simply fill it with 1–2 inches of water and a dash of Dawn. Put it back on the stove on high heat to bring it to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Grab a wooden spoon (or silicone) and stir the watery soap while gently scraping the bottom of the pan. Eventually the residue will start to lift from the heat and soap and you can then pour it out into your sink! Let the pot/pan cool before washing.

General rule of thumb ?

None of us are perfect and mistakes happen but here are a few general rules of thumb to try to avoid any future cooking mistakes!

  • Follow the recipe! It’s fun to go off the written path sometimes, but recipes are there for a reason. There’s a science to measurements and someone put the time in to figure out the perfect balance for you. So read the recipe all the way through before you start cooking to make sure you have everything you need laid out and there won’t be any surprises!
  • Taste your food as you go. Like I said under bland, all pro chefs taste along the way (with disposable tasting spoons of course). This will help you to balance out your food if it’s leaning to be too salty, too spicy, too sweet or too bland.
  • No over crowding! Whether you’re frying, sautéing or roasting leave some space. We don’t like to be overcrowded and neither does your food.
  • Don’t try to save a bad dish. I know a lot of us are on a budget so if a meal goes bad it can be pretty dang frustrating. But if it’s too far gone, take a deep breath and let it be. It’s not worth it and it’ll only make your hanger worse. Instead, rummage through your pantry and I bet you can whip something up. One of my favorite go-to’s is a simple rice bowl or an Asian peanut pasta. Peep the recipes below! And if you’ve got nothing and you can swing it, there’s always delivery!

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Mental health advocate. Dabbler of poetry. Lover of food. Traveler. Cat mom. 🏳️‍🌈 @halesjales on IG/FB

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Haley Jones

Haley Jones

Mental health advocate. Dabbler of poetry. Lover of food. Traveler. Cat mom. 🏳️‍🌈 @halesjales on IG/FB

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