5 viral kitchen hacks that are actually dangerous

Kitchen hacks may save time and energy, but not all of them are great ideas.
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/ Source: TODAY
By Erica Chayes Wida

It's all fun and cooking — until someone gets hurt.

Celebrity chefs and cookbook authors like Ina Garten and Chrissy Teigen have taught us a lot about how to be self-made pros in the kitchen. Sometimes, however, they share tips and tricks that might not be a great idea for every novice to try.

While some of these viral hacks have received a professional stamp of approval (like Kourtney Kardashian's trick to preserve lettuce or Martha Stewart's no-knife-needed garlic-peeling technique), others have not.

If you're desperate to avoid the dreaded avocado hand, check out some popular cooking hacks that are probably best left in the kitchen drawer.

1. This trick for chunky guacamole is risky business

We’re all for chunky guacamole that hasn't been pulverized into an unsavory mash, but Garten once recommended a chopping technique that may not be good for people just starting out in the kitchen.

In an old "Barefoot Contessa" episode, Garten uses a small chef's knife to chop and hack away at the various ingredients in the classic dip.

"I don't puree it," she explained. "All I do is cut into it just like this so it's really chunky. It mixes the ingredients together, and it stays really chunky."

She maintained that her little trick "is the secret to really good guacamole.” However, she admits her technique could certainly damage a beloved bowl. And it could also potentially damage some fingers.

In April, Frank Proto, a chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, said that he thought Garten's trick "seems like a lot of work." Also, while someone is hacking away at the guac, a knife blade could easily slip sideways.

2. Garlic-peeling gone wrong

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In June, Chrissy Teigen took to Twitter to share an impressive -looking technique for peeling garlic. In the video, someone is seen holding an entire garlic bulb in one hand, then they rotate it and carefully jab each section to remove the individual cloves.

Proto confirmed that while the hack worked successfully, he did not advise it for people who aren't well practiced with a kitchen knife.

"It doesn’t take a ton of pressure to get the clove out, so I don’t see slipping as too much of a problem. Maybe inserting the knife too far and stabbing yourself could be," he told TODAY.

3. Reminder: Boiling water is very, very hot

Who remembers when this purportedly brilliant hack to drain pasta circulated Twitter? And, more importantly, how many out there actually tried it?

Hopefully not too many.

A post from 2017 showing photos of a colander being placed over a boiling pot of pasta, which is then inverted over the sink to drain cooking water had many questioning how they ever drained pasta without this seemingly awesome trick.

To state the obvious, this method does not save dishes or time and, according to Food Network's premier pasta expert Giada De Laurentiis, it's also dangerous.

De Laurentiis told TODAY Food she thought it was a "clever trick," but added, "[It's] a tad bit risky and dangerous if you don't have a perfectly fitting strainer and pot combination. Plus, it makes me sad to see that beautiful pasta water go down the drain!"

So, unless you're 110% positive that your colander and pot are the exact same size — and don't mind forfeiting all that precious pasta water (which many pros advise saving) — please don't try this it home.

4. Beware of opening a can with this common method

In case some people weren't aware, newly opened aluminum cans have very sharp lids. A viral Youtube video from September 2018 brought a widespread misconception to many people's attention. The video showed what it reported to be the "correct way" to use a manual can opener.

In the clip, the user places the handle that is used to turn the already-cut lid on the top of the can instead of on the side, as is traditionally done by many. Then, the person magically lifts the lid off of the can without it falling inside.

Although Lisa McManus, executive tasting and testing editor for America’s Test Kitchen, explained that while it is OK to use a traditional can opener vertically, removing the detached lid from the can be a frightening task if not done carefully with a separate utensil like a fork or spoon. Sharp or raggedy edges left behind by a traditional often can opener make it pretty dangerous to stick your fingers inside to remove the detached lid.

5. Dishwashers are meant to wash dishes, not cook food

This groundbreaking method of cooking salmon in a dishwasher stunned people back in 2005 when Food Network star Bob Blumer first crafted a recipe for a little something he called "Dishwasher Salmon with a Piquant Dill Sauce."

While that sounds fancy (and Blumer has plenty of dishwasher-loving devotes across the internet who say they've tried his recipe with success), if cooked incorrectly, this dish could potentially make you sick.

Most dishwashers are supposed to reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees, which is technically hot enough to cook proteins like fish and poultry to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended temperature of 165 degrees (this prevents food borne illnesses). However, a representative for the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) told TODAY Food via email that using a dishwasher is not "an advisable method" for cooking salmon — or any food — since most dishwashers are not programmed to report accurate temperatures, which makes it difficult to gauge how hot your food is actually getting inside. Further, if the fish is not wrapped correctly, leftover food debris or soap could potentially get into the foil packet and contaminate your dinner.

TODAY tried a version of the dishwasher-cooking hack in 2017 but, after a two-hour cycle, the salmon was basically still raw.

While the idea of cleaning dishes and cooking dinner simultaneously sounds enticing, please refrain if you're pretty new to cooking. Ovens, stoves and grills are all able to function quite well while the dishwasher is running.

Editor's note: A version of this story published on Aug. 19, 2019 indicated Bob Blumer's original "Dishwasher Salmon" recipe included potatoes. It does not. While cooking salmon in a dishwasher did not work for TODAY staff members who tried the recipe in 2017, several factors — including the type of dishwasher used and settings available — will affect individual outcomes.