Allow your kids in to the kitchen

A family preparing lunch together. Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
A family preparing lunch together. Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
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Today’s Jamie Oliver generation of children are learning to cook much younger than their parents did. Here are a few ideas for budding chefs to try.

Whether it’s chopping, stirring, cracking an egg or simply tasting, kids love ‘helping’ in the kitchen.

21st Century Whippy recipe, Ice Cream & Other Frozen Delights by Ben Vear, published by Absolute Press, priced �20. Picture: PA Photo/Mike Cooper.

21st Century Whippy recipe, Ice Cream & Other Frozen Delights by Ben Vear, published by Absolute Press, priced �20. Picture: PA Photo/Mike Cooper.

While most of today’s parents learned to cook at an average age of 10, new research suggests many children now learn from the age of six, trying everything from cooking an omelette to making a white sauce.

Half of today’s parents view cooking as an essential life skill, with three quarters (of those questioned) saying it also means quality time with children.

Children’s cookery expert Annabel Karmel, who has written a new book Kids in the Kitchen, says children can start mixing food, rolling out dough and cutting out pastry shapes from as young as three years.

Because children have a short attention span, she says parents should encourage them to make things like Rice Krispie cakes, cupcakes or wraps. For fussy eaters, cooking has the added benefit of getting them interested in food they might not otherwise eat.

Karmel says children as young as six or seven can be taught to use utensils safely: “If you don’t teach children to use knives, then one day they’ll use one without instruction and they’ll cut themselves,” she warns. It’s important to teach the right way.

She suggests children try grating cheese, cracking eggs, using a sieve, kneading dough, squeezing oranges and whisking egg whites.

“They could use the egg whites to make a meringue, or the orange juice to make a smoothie,” she says.

Other suggestions include rubbing butter and flour together to make a crumble, crushing biscuits in a plastic bag to make a cheesecake base, and making pizzas.