The kitchen is the heart of the home, no matter how big or small it is. After all, it’s where meals are prepared and, in some houses, a part of it even serves as the dining room due to lack of space. Home owners are usually pretty confident in the cleanliness of their kitchen – and the same goes for restaurant owners.
However, dirt sometimes goes beyond what the eyes can see; whether it’s on your counter top at home, or that food warmer at a corner cafe, microbes can still be lurking around. The thing is, kitchen cleanliness starts as early as the food handling and preparation stage. So how do you make sure you’re not spreading anything in the kitchen that you shouldn’t?
- Wash everything. It’s true you wash your meat, but do you wash all your produce? Those with inedible rinds such as melons and squash need to be washed before they’re cut. That way, any bacteria on the rinds are removed before they get transferred to the fleshy part. Speaking of washing, you should make sure to wash your hands as well, paying attention to your palms and the spaces between your fingers. The same goes for your prep tables – this helps make sure any dirt doesn’t get into already-cleaned food.
- Clean certain tools right after using them. Strainers, microplanes (a type of grater), and knives are the top three tools to wash right after use. That’s because they’re harder to clean if left alone for some time, and that can lead to residue being left on the surface. You know, of course, that that’s not the best recipe for sanitation.
- Use stainless steel. If you don’t already use it, that is. The ‘stainless’ in its name doesn’t refer to it being virtually stainless – you can still see fingerprints on it, among other things. Rather, it refers to its resistance to rust, and even to its tendency to not react to acidic foods. Both were potential hazards of using steel cooking tools and equipment in the kitchen.
- Check the temperature. Playing it by ear, so to speak, has worked for many people, so they don’t usually use food thermometers. However, you could be putting others and yourself at risk if certain meats aren’t hot enough. Poultry, for example, typically isn’t safe to eat until it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit; pork and lamb needs less heat, around 145 degrees. You can find food thermometers at most housewares store; a digital one is best, so you don’t misread the display.
- Use separate cutting boards for meat and produce. The same goes for knives (again, stainless steel is the best choice for cutting tools). This way, any bacteria that was in your uncooked meat doesn’t transfer to your veggies, and vice versa. As to the kind of cutting boards, go for wooden rather than plastic; the latter is harder to clean once it becomes knife-scarred.
- Clean the fridge. Not just the outside, either; without you knowing, something nasty could be growing on the inside. You don’t have to do it every day, let alone every week; you just have to sanitize both inside and outside of the fridge every two weeks or so. Use hot water and soap to wipe down refrigerator drawers, then rinse with warm water and dry using a dishcloth. These drawers should receive special attention, since you usually use those to hold cheese, meats, vegetables, and other food that quickly goes bad.
- Store it. It’s not just the food you should store properly – even your food service equipment Philippines should be stored well, to keep exposure to a minimum. If you typically hang your pans and saucepans from racks, make sure you at least rinse them before using.