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Are you ready to throw in the towel after stubborn peeling, chopping or sloppy slicing? Don’t despair! This guide to genius food-preparation hacks will help you get the job(s) done and become a safer, tidier, more efficient cook.

Peel Without Peril It can be tough to peel away the coarse brown skin from fresh ginger with a knife—so don’t! Use a spoon instead: Place the spoon’s edge against the skin’s surface and use it to gently scrape away the skin.

To peel fresh garlic easily, remove the cloves from the bulb then place them on a cutting board with a wooden spoon on top of them; carefully whack the spoon with the base of your outstretched palm—the skin from the clove will fall off and it will be easier to chop or mince.

Soften Rock-Hard Brown Sugar Place the hardened brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl with a dampened paper towel on top. Heat for 20 seconds. If it still isn’t soft enough, try to break up the big pieces with a fork, then give it another 20 seconds. (To keep it soft when you put it back in the bag or box, slip in a marshmallow or two.)

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Similarly, you can rejuvenate crystallized honey by placing the container in a bowl of hot water for five to 10 minutes.

Stop Crying Onions can make even the toughest cook cry. If time allows and you’ll be cooking the onion, freeze it for 15 minutes prior to chopping; the theory is that the cold inhibits the release of the chemicals in the onion that cause your eyes to tear.

Scoop out Seeds with Ease Use an ice cream scoop to remove seeds from squash and pumpkin. The sharp edge of the scoop will cut right through the gooey fibers inside the squash to get at the seeds so you can yank them out.

Beat the Fresh Beet The rough outer skin isn’t as tough as it looks. Rinse the beets, trim off the leafy tops, then wrap each one loosely in foil. Roast them in the oven (at 375°) until they’re tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven, take off the foil and let the beets cool. When they’re cool enough to handle, slice off the stalk end and push the beet skin off under cool running water, using your thumbs.

Unstick the Stickiest Ingredients First, spray your measuring cup or spoon with cooking spray, then add honey, molasses or whatever sticky ingredient you’ll be using. With this approach, the right amount of the sticky stuff will slide right out of the cup or spoon and into whatever you’re making.

Floss Your Cakes Believe it or not, dental floss can be a useful tool for cutting sticky or soft ingredients. You can use a long strand of unflavored dental floss to slice a frosted birthday cake or cheesecake in half across, then into evenly sized pieces. You can also use floss to cleanly cut soft cheeses like goat cheese and fresh mozzarella and ready-to-bake cookie logs.