It's the ultimate catch 22: peak season produce is filling up the supermarket shelves and we can't wait to cook some up, but the thought of heating things up in the kitchen in 90+ degree heat is just too much to bear. Cooking produces heat and when it's warmer than you want outside, being inside at dinnertime can be just as uncomfortable as being outside. And the smaller your kitchen, the hotter it gets. Which means summer can be a no-kitchen zone for some of us.
If you want to change that, though, there are a few kitchen hacks to arm yourself with to ensure you have a great and hot meal without overheating.
1. Make a DIY Air Conditioner
With all the advances in air conditioners and cooling techniques, something as simple as using a fan seems like primitive measures. There is a reason this is our number one tip.
Even the smallest countertop fan can blow some great cooling air on a cook in a hot kitchen when it's coated with a cool wet rag. Have some extra bottled water? Freeze them and tie them to the fan like ice blocks. Cold air instantly.
2. Cook Early
Early to mid-morning is when the day is at its coolest so if you know you've got a meal to cook, do it then. The kitchen won't heat up as much and will cool down before it hits high kitchen traffic time. All you'll have to do later is reheat.
3. Go Small
You know all those appliances you bought and never really got to use? Well, it's time to start digging them out. We're talking about the air fryer, toaster oven, electric grill and all-in-ones that do it all from sauté, to slow cook to roast.
Your oven is where most of the heat will come from. Not only do these gadgets take up less space than the oven, they emit less heat. Most new models are even energy-efficient so they will save you time, sweat, and money.
4. Leave the Lights Off
If you've got a kitchen equipped with multiple light sources, don't use them. Instead, choose one source of light to keep things cool.
5. Cook Outdoors
If you have the opportunity to do your main cooking outside, do it. Grill up your proteins and veggies outside and bring them in to assemble and serve.
6. Use Fans
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Keeping a constant flow of air in the kitchen will help to cool things down.
Try one up on the counter and another on the floor to keep the flow moving and the kitchen cool. If you've got a ceiling fan, use it .
7. Close the Curtains
If you've got a kitchen window, keep the curtains drawn while you're cooking so that sunlight doesn't add any extra heat.
If that's your source of light, be sure to stick to those electric appliances instead of the stove.
8. Pressure Cooking
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We love that the pressure cooker has made a comeback. Pressure cooking is one of the fastest methods of cooking and it produces really flavorful meals that taste like they have been cooking all day.
With some models, you can cook two or three different food items at a time, too, so not only do you keep cool, you save time.
9. Slow Cooking
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Slow cooking is already your go-to in winter, so there is no reason it shouldn't be for summer.
You can start the cooker in the morning and it will cook and keep warm in time for dinner. The machine doesn't emit a lot of heat and gets the job done.
10. Use Oven Infrequently
Obviously, you have to eat. If you know it is going to be hot, though, opt for cold meals. The oven is one of the main sources of heat generation.
Frequent baking and cooking will keep the area hot all day, as will opening the oven door to check on food. Opt for hearty summer salads, cold soups, rice bowls and other dishes a few nights a week to take the heat out of the kitchen.