How to Slice a Tomato Without Crushing It

iStock/anandaBGD
iStock/anandaBGD

Tomatoes are one of the most common vegetable garden plants in the U.S. If you're devoting energy this summer to caring for a tomato plant, don't waste your hard work by cutting the ripe vegetables with the wrong tools. Using the first knife you find in your kitchen to slice a tomato can leave you with a misshapen, pulpy mess, or worse—an injured finger. But if you know what you're doing, you'll end up with even tomato slices that look just as good as they taste.

According to The Kitchn, the best way to slice a tomato is with a serrated knife. Tomatoes are firm on the outside and soft on the inside, so if you try cutting them with a chef's knife, especially one that isn't very sharp, you risk crushing the fruit instead of slicing through that outer layer right way. Serrated knives are designed to "bite" into the surface of foods, which makes them the perfect match for tomatoes. They're also the best knives for slicing bread, another food with an exterior that's tougher than its interior.

In addition to being tough, tomato skins are also smooth—a.k.a. slippery. If your knife isn't sharp enough to penetrate a tomato when you apply pressure, it could slip and potentially slice open your finger. That means a serrated knife is also the safest choice for the job.

To cut a tomato into slices, place it on on a cutting board and hold it on its side. With your fingertips curled under to protect them, sink the serrated blade into the tomato, making gentle back-and-forth motions to saw all the way through it. Repeat until you've prepared the tomato into slices of your desired thickness.

Once you have perfect tomato slices, you can add them to burgers, sandwiches, or dress them with a little salt and olive oil and eat them raw. Here are more tips for optimizing your skills in the kitchen.

[h/t The Kitchn]

What's the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?

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iStock

For carbohydrate lovers, nothing completes a Thanksgiving meal quite like stuffing—shovelfuls of bread, celery, mushrooms, and other ingredients that complement all of that turkey protein.

Some people don’t say stuffing, though. They say dressing. In these calamitous times, knowing how to properly refer to the giant glob of insulin-spiking bread seems necessary. So what's the difference?

Let’s dismiss one theory off the bat: Dressing and stuffing do not correlate with how the side dish is prepared. A turkey can be stuffed with dressing, and stuffing can be served in a casserole dish. Whether it’s ever seen the inside of a bird is irrelevant, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong and should be met with suspicion, if not outright derision.

The terms are actually separated due to regional dialects. Dressing seems to be the favored descriptor for southern states like Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, while stuffing is preferred by Maine, New York, and other northern areas. (Some parts of Pennsylvania call it filling, which is a bit too on the nose, but to each their own.)

If stuffing stemmed from the common practice of filling a turkey with carbs, why the division? According to HuffPost, it may have been because Southerners considered the word stuffing impolite, and therefore never embraced it.

While you should experience no material difference in asking for stuffing or dressing, when visiting relatives it might be helpful to keep to their regionally-preferred word to avoid confusion. Enjoy stuffing yourselves.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

The Reason You Should Never Rinse a Turkey

jax10289/iStock via Getty Images
jax10289/iStock via Getty Images

There are many misconceptions surrounding your Thanksgiving turkey, but none is more dangerous than the turkey-washing myth. Raw poultry can contain dangerous microbes like Salmonella, and it's not uncommon for home cooks to rinse their meat under cool water in an effort to wash away these pathogens. The intention may be admirable, but this is a worse turkey sin than overcooking your bird or carving it before letting it rest. According to AOL, rinsing a raw turkey with water is more likely to make you and your dinner guests sick than not cleaning it at all.

When you wash a turkey in the sink, there's no guarantee that all of the nasty stuff on the outside of it is going down the drain. In fact, the only thing rinsing does is spread potentially harmful microbes around. In addition to getting bacteria on you hands and clothes, rinsing can contaminate countertops, sink handles, and even the surrounding air.

There are three main ways to lower your chances of contracting Salmonella when dealing with raw turkey: Thaw your bird in the fridge, minimize contact with it before it goes into the oven, and give it plenty of time to cook once it's in there. For the second part, that means setting aside time to pat your turkey dry, remove the excess fat and skin, and season it without handling anything else. To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, wash your hands frequently and wash the plates, knives, and other tools that touched the turkey before using them again. You should also cook your stuffing outside the turkey rather than shoving it inside the cavity and creating a Salmonella bomb.

Once the safety aspect is taken care of, you can focus on making your turkey taste as delicious as possible. Here are some tips from professional chefs on making your starring dish shine this Thanksgiving.

[h/t AOL]

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