My Eight Steps to Food Preparation Success
A guide to those things we take for granted….Cooking is fun as well as a necessity. But to keep a clean kitchen takes time and effort. Its all about habits. You could have learned them growing up helping in the kitchen, learned them in a cooking course, or just figured them out yourself. Usually they are not written down since it is just assumed you wash your hands and produce, just like washing the dishes when you are done. Your kitchen is your temple. Treat it with respect. A clean kitchen, especially a well used one, is a delight.
1. Wash your hands. Lavez los manos.
Not just at the start of food preparation. Wash them after you finish handling raw meat, poultry, or fish of any type. Wash after working with a new part of the meal, such as finished chopping vegetables and ready to go make a sauce after cutting poultry to prevent cross contamination. Be sure to wash your hands after a trip to the bathroom, handling boxes and jars to use in a recipe, a trip to the garage fridge, or putting away groceries.
2. Wash produce immediately before preparing, not before storage unless really gritty. Do not store mushrooms in plastic.
3. Think about what type of cleaners you clean your kitchen with.
If you clean with any chemicals that leave a residue, this can get into your food. It’s generally a very small thing, but there nonetheless. There are all sorts of safe green cleaners now especially for the kitchen. A favorite cleaner is white vinegar. It’s acidic enough to kill most bacteria, germs and mold, yet obviously safe enough to consume. Baking soda also helps, reacts nicely with vinegar, and provides that bit of scrubbing power the kitchen sometimes needs, as well as a few tablespoons down the sink and pour in the vinegar. Stand back. Rinse with hot water. Wipe down cabinets and all door handles.
4. Clean up as you go along.
Pay attention to dish towels and sponges. If you use the same towel to do the counter wipe downs as you do to dry dishes after washing them, you’re just spreading things around. My sister always uses paper towels to clean up after cutting meat and poultry. Mop up or wipe up spills on the floor. Replace a clean cloth dish towel daily or every other day, or when soiled. Replace sponges often as well, or else disinfect them. I just buy a couple of packs of sponges and replace them, then use the old ones for funky jobs like cleaning the legs of the table or the water crock or behind the fridge. I also like those plastic scrubbies and replace them when they get clogged with food.
5. Absolutely consider using more than one cutting board.
I always use a different cutting board for meat and other foods. Plastic is good, as is bamboo. Scrub after every use. If it can go in the dishwasher, that is the best for boards used for meat preparation.
6. Put leftovers away promptly. The rule of thumb is within two hours to allow for a cool down so as not to drastically lower the overall refrigerator temperature. Remove from the heat and transfer to storage containers (keep a selection—glass with plastic lids is great or Tupperware in many sizes).
7. Keep a thermometer both in the refrigerator and freezer. I keep one in the oven as well. You always know spot right on what is the condition of the storage unit. This is important in the hot summer months.
8. Wash any pot, pan, platter, dishes, utensils or measuring cups that have not been used in a while or if you cant remember the last time you used them. Wipe down waffle makers, toasters, food processors, and other counter top appliances if they are not used regularly.
Text copyright Beth Hensperger 2015
Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.