1. Keep bananas ripe for longer…
Give bananas a longer life by wrapping the stalk ends (as a bunch is fine, individual is better) with cling film – this will stop ethylene gasses being released from the stems, which ripens the fruit too quickly.
2. Easy peel shallots…
Peeling small shallots is fiddly. Instead, put them in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 10sec, and then lift out. The skins should peel off much more easily.
3. Dry your own herbs… Did you know you can dry herbs in the microwave to make them last much longer – parsley and rosemary work particularly well. Pick the leaves off the stems and spread on a microwave-safe plate lined with kitchen paper. Cover with another layer of kitchen paper and microwave on full power (800W) until crisp: about 1min followed by a few 20sec bursts for woody herbs, or 40sec followed by a few 20sec bursts for delicate herbs. Store dried herbs in an airtight container as they are, or grind them, and then store.
4. Make a sauce in seconds… Making a béchamel isn't too tricky, but sometimes time (or inclination!) gets in the way. Reach for the full-fat cream cheese instead. Add straight to the pan, thin to desired consistency with water and flavour with mustard, herbs or grated cheese.
5.Impress with grapes… Not only do frozen grapes make an easy healthy snack, but they're also ideal dropped into a glass of wine to chill it without diluting.