Kitchen safety is a multifaceted subject with which even home chefs should be familiar. Imagine it like getting ready to dive into a pool. You know it is very safe, as long as you have done all of your preparation, are following safety protocols, and taking precautions when necessary. The next time you are getting ready to make something that requires a bit of prep, take a deep breath and remember these tips.
Use Pinch Bowls
You know that preparing a salad after your hands have been contaminated with raw meat is likely to make you sick. Although it may be time consuming, this can be avoided. For example, you are making flank steak pinwheels and you have just pounded out all the meat. Your hands have blood all over them and you need a pinch from your jar of minced garlic. Now, you have to wash your hands to keep from contaminating your jar and the garlic within.
Skip this comedy of errors and put all of the ingredients you need in pinch bowls. This eliminates cross contamination. Of course, still wash your hands between food that needs cooking and food that you will serve raw.
Proper knife use is one of the most important aspects of kitchen safety. If you do not want part of your finger deep-fried along with the chicken or a knife pinning your foot to the floor, you should always be aware of your knife, how to use it, and what to use it for. Here are a few considerations:
- Know your knives and whether they are for the job you are doing (check out the infographic below for specific knife safety tips)
- When you put your knife down between knife use, place it horizontally near the back of your work surface
- Keep your knives sharp
- If you must walk with your knife, keep it down by your side with the point facing the floor
- When you are using different knives, learn how to handle each knife properly. This means pinching the bolster between thumb and pointer while curling the rest of the fingers around the handle.
Defrosting meat is not as straightforward as leaving it out until it does not feel like a bowling ball. If you do not defrost safely, you run the risk of letting microorganisms flourish inside your food. According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are only three ways to defrost meat safely:
- In cold water
- In the refrigerator
- In your microwave on the defrost cycle
If you have hot leftovers or are prepping something hot that needs to be chilled and stored, you have to quickly cool the food. Quick cooling can be done a number of ways, but the most common methods include adding ice to too-hot soup or putting overheated food in the freezer for three minutes. It is a common habit to leave food out until it cools or put it in the fridge hot. Neither of these methods is safe. With foods like pasta and vegetables that will not suffer from contact with water, run them under cold water before storing. Foods that cannot get wet should be placed in a container or wrapped and then submerged in an ice bath—typically 50% water and 50% ice.
Burns are just as commonplace as cuts in the kitchen but you can avoid the worst of them. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Water and hot oil do not ever mix
- Handles on hot stoves should always face in when you walk away
- Wet towels conduct heat, so use dry towels to move hot items
- Pour hot water out slowly, as it can splash
This article was written by Audrey Clark, a writer who loves to travel and stay fit. She’s always looking for her next adventure. You can find Audrey on Google+.