Tasting Table | Jolene Bouchon
Plastic wrap: It isn't just for (barely) covering casseroles anymore. In fact, the stretchy stuff can be more useful when put to work in other, more unexpected ways. Try one of these tricks:
Controlled ripening: Some fruits, like apples, avocados, cantaloupes and bananas, give off ethylene gas as they ripen. This gas can also jump-start the ripening of other fruits in their vicinity--not good news in a fully stocked fruit bowl. If you don't like your bananas mushy and sweet, slow them down by wrapping the stem, which emits the most ethylene, in plastic, essentially blocking much of the gas. (This is why you sometimes buy bananas that have their stems wrapped.)
On the other hand, plastic wrap can help you encourage ripening, too. Next time you have rock-hard peaches you're dying to tuck into, simply place them in a bowl with some avocados and cover with plastic wrap. It works much like the paper bag trick, trapping the ethylene gases in an enclosed area and thus concentrating them.
Decork wine: Woe is the unfortunate soul who is about to savor a glass of wine, only to find it corked. The culprit? Trichloroanisole (TCA), a.k.a. cork taint, which tastes gross but won't actually hurt you. Fortunately, The Los Angeles Times came up with a simple fix for skunked wine: Simply wad up a length of plastic wrap, place it in a glass pitcher, pour the wine in and swirl. The claim: The polyethylene in the wrap soaks up the TCA, so you can toss the tainted plastic and enjoy your drink.
Cut it out: It's nice to top a pie with some lovely decorative dough cutouts, but damn it's hard to make one without jagged edges. Whip out a sheet of plastic wrap and place loosely, but smoothly, over your dough. Gently press the cutters down to reveal neat cutouts with smooth, rounded edges. (Remember, though: Always make sure your dough is properly chilled when working with it--warm dough will stick to anything. If it starts getting sticky, simply return it to the fridge until it starts cooperating again.)
Banish freezer burn: We're all for ice cream with a mix of flavors--so long as one of those flavors isn't the freezer. If, for some inexplicable reason, you keep ice cream around long enough for it to crystalize, keep it tasting better longer by simply pressing plastic wrap across the surface of the ice cream, then pop the lid on as usual, forming a barrier against taste invaders.
Poach a Perfect Egg: Use wrap to help achieve the flawlessly round egg of your Benedict dreams. Drape a few inches of it over a ramekin and grease with cooking spray or butter. (Make sure to push the wrap down into the ramekin a bit.) Crack an egg into the depression, gather the corners, twist and tie into a knot, then drop into simmering water. After five minutes, remove and reveal your perfectly poached egg. (Note: A Good Housekeeping clinical test found that it's safe to heat foods in Glad and Saran wraps, so poach on with confidence.)
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