There's a lot to love about summer, but the food is definitely near the top of the list. Corn on the cob, barbecue, ice cream, lemonade, watermelon ... it's the stuff you dream about on cold January nights. The summer food season is short, so make it count. Squeeze every bit of flavor out of your favorite summer foods before the leaves start to turn.
1. Make Flavored Ice Cubes
On a hot day, it may take just minutes for the ice in your drink to melt. If you don't drink quickly, your flavored beverage will be watered down by your third sip. Freeze iced tea, lemonade, juice or coffee – whatever you like to drink in summer – into individual cubes to use in these drinks. Freeze whole berries in water to make attractive cubes for ice water.
2. Shuck Corn in the Microwave
Removing the husk and silk is by far the most aggravating part of preparing fresh corn on the cob. It takes forever to peel away all those stubborn silky strands. Using the microwave makes this step so much easier. Cut off the stalk end of each cob (not the silk end) and microwave the corn a few cobs at a time on a microwave-safe plate for 30 seconds. Hold each cob by the uncut end and the corn should slide out. If not, nuke the corn for another 30 seconds.
3. Use Cupcake Liners Everywhere
Sticky fingers, bees in soda, messy barbecue cleanup – they're all summer food problems that can be avoided with the help of simple cupcake liners. Put a liner upside down over an open drink, rubber band it in place and stick a straw through the paper to keep insects out of sugary drinks. Make a slit in a liner and slide the stick of a frozen treat through it, creating a little cup to catch any drips as the snack melts. Stack a few liners in each cup of a muffin tin and fill each compartment with condiments before a barbecue. Dump everything in the trash at the end of the day and the muffin tin should only need a quick wash.
4. Try Frozen Watermelon Popsicles
If you've never had frozen watermelon, it's time to rectify your mistake. Stick a popsicle stick through a spear of melon and freeze it for 30 minutes or so. You have a sweet treat that will instantly cool you down on a hot day. Unlike traditional popsicles, frozen watermelon won't melt as you nibble away at it.
5. Keep Food Cold With Foil Pans
Keeping food cold is a perennial problem at outdoor summer gatherings. Two disposable aluminum foil roasting pans is all you need to create a portable cooling tray. Pour about an inch of water into one pan and freeze it. Then, set the second pan on top. Food served in this dish will stay cool even as the water starts to melt.
6. Grill Burgers With Ice
If you're going to go to the effort of grilling your own burgers, they'd better be delicious, right? Get a juicy burger every time by tucking a small ice cube (or several large ice chips) into the center of every burger. As the meat cooks, the melting ice keeps it moist.
7. Hack a DIY Smoker
No smoker? No problem. Infuse your grilled food with smoky flavor by making your own smoker with aluminum foil and wood chips. There are a few ways to do this, but the easiest is probably to make foil pouches filled with chips. Seal the pouch and poke a few holes in the foil. Then, close the pouch inside the hot grill for about 10 minutes or until smoke starts to rise through the holes. Add food to the grill and cook with the cover closed.
8. Freeze Yogurt Cups
Your favorite yogurt becomes a protein-packed alternative to sugary popsicles when it's frozen on a stick. Make yogurt pops in special ice pop molds or pour yogurt into paper cups and stand up a wooden craft stick in the center of each cup. Blend yogurt with berries to make a smooth mixture or layer yogurt with whole berries and honey. Freeze the cups for about six hours or until they're hard.
9. Use Candy to Keep Cones From Dripping
Here's a solution to messy, dripping ice cream that anyone with a sweet tooth can get behind. Tuck mini marshmallows, chocolate candies or a tiny bit of peanut butter into the bottom of the cone before scooping in ice cream. That barrier should keep melting ice cream from dripping through the bottom of the cone, and it makes a delicious final bite.
10. Hull Strawberries Quickly
The faster you can remove the stems, the sooner you'll be enjoying fresh strawberries. Pushing a straw up through the center of the berry is a quick way to separate the green stem from the sweet fruit. It's an easy alternative to carving out the stem with a paring knife.