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The Top 10 Things We Learned from the Southern Living Test Kitchen in 2014

Drumroll, please! And now, the best culinary tips and tricks from our friends down south

When you’re lucky enough to get a peek inside the Southern Living Test Kitchen, you take notes. Copious notes. Here are the top 10 kitchen hacks we learned, straight from the pros.

1. SOS = Save Our Soup!

To freeze soup safely, speed up the cooling process by placing the pot of soup in a bath of ice water. Stir it often to help release heat.

2. A Good Egg?

To test the freshness of an egg, place it in a glass of water. If it sinks, it’s good to go. If it floats, it’s time to toss it.

3. Sizzlin’ Secrets.

When it comes to frying, not all oils are created equal. Opt for corn, canola, safflower or peanut oil, and skip the shortening.

4. Get It Gone. For Good.

To remove oily residue from plastic storage containers, scrub them with a paste of baking soda and water.

5. Give That Bird a Bath.

Before frying or baking chicken, soak it in buttermilk. Not only will it boost the flavor and tenderize the meat, but it will make the breading process easier, too.

6. Follow Your Nose.

When choosing a tomato, that is. Fragrance is a better indicator of ripeness than color.

7. Solve a Salty Situation.

Tone down too much salt or spice in soups and stews by adding several large pieces of raw potato. Don’t forget to remove it before serving, though!

8. You Go, Grill.

Grills clean up best when slightly warm, so after cooking always scrub the gates with a wire brush or a ball of heavy-duty aluminum foil held between tongs.

9. Got (Unexpected) Guests?

To quickly chill wine or Champagne, submerge the bottle in a sink filled with cold water and ice. This will cool it faster than the freezer or an ice bucket.

10. Embrace the #HappiMess.

When you’re cooking up a storm and your hands are ooey-gooey, it helps to have a Touch2O faucet