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July 2001 Issue
by Ronda L. Halpin
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With summer here, many people are spending a lot of time entertaining guests with backyard barbeques, picnics and other fun events. So it seems like the perfect time to remind everyone how important it is to keep your kitchen and food preparation and cooking areas clean. The last thing you want to send your guests home with is an infection!

Here are a few important general rules about keeping everything clean and safe:

  • Before you prepare, serve or eat any food:
    • Wash your hands with soap and warm water, scrubbing for 10 -15 seconds.
    • Wash fresh vegetables and fruits thoroughly.
    • Clean and disinfect cutting boards and countertops.

  • After handling raw meat, fish or poultry:
    • Use paper towels to wipe up raw meat, fish or poultry juices. Discard the paper towels, then clean and disinfect any soiled surfaces, such as cutting boards and countertops.
    • Wash your hands with soap and warm water, scrubbing for 10 -15 seconds.
    • Disinfect dish cloths and sponges used to wipe up raw meat, fish or poultry.
    • Thoroughly wash forks, knives, plates, platters, containers.

  • Frequently:
    • Launder dish cloths and sponges.
    • Clean and disinfect sinks and often-touched kitchen surfaces, like the handles on refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, microwaves, faucets, drawers and cabinets.
    • Clean the insides of refrigerators and microwave ovens.

For those who love kitchen tips that have been passed on through the ages and across the miles, these are for you:

  • To keep steel wool pads from rusting in humid climates, store in sealed plastic bag in the freezer after using. The next time you have to use it, just run it under hot water and it is "thawed" out and ready to use. The pads will wear out before they ever rust.

  • Easily remove burnt-on food from a skillet by adding a drop or two of liquid dish soap and enough water to cover bottom of pan, and bring to a boil on the stove top. Allow to cool and clean should be a breeze!

  • Spray plastic-ware with nonstick cooking spray before pouring in tomato-based sauces. No more stains!

  • To aid in washing dishes, add a tablespoon of baking soda to your soapy water, it softens hands while cutting through grease.

  • To remove the odor of garlic from hands, wet hands with water and then rub them with a spoonful of salt and rinse. Repeat, if needed.

  • When stacking non-stick skillets on cupboard shelves, place a paper plate between each to prevent scratches. This prolongs the life of the skillet.

  • Never put a cover on anything that is cooked in milk, unless you want to spend time cleaning up the stove when it boils over!

  • After chopping garlic or onions, rub a fresh lemon wedge over both the knife blade and the cutting board to help remove the odor.

  • For quick wipe-ups of small spills, keep a box of plain white tissues near the stove and use them instead of paper towels.

  • Never wash a rolling pin, or it may warp...and never let dough dry on it. Immediately after rolling out dough, wipe the rolling pin clean with a towel.

  • To safely clean coffee makers, enameled cast-iron pots, and similar equipment, put 1 to 2 teaspoons of baking soda in the pot and pour boiling water over it. A baking powder solution is also great for scrubbing butcher blocks.

  • After zesting and juicing an orange, lemon or lime, grind the remains in your garbage disposal for their refreshing scent.

  • For easy cleanup, fill your blender container with warm water, add a few drops of liquid detergent, and blend 30 seconds; rinse well.

  • To deodorize plastic storage containers in which onions or garlic were stored, wash thoroughly, then stuff a crumpled piece of newspaper in the container, and snap on the lid. In a few days the smell will disappear.

  • If something spills over in your oven, first sprinkle it with salt and remove with a metal spatula, then wipe with a damp sponge.

  • Never pour water on flaming fat or oil — you'll spread the fire. If the fire's inside a pan, slap on the lid. If outside, turn off the heat and douse the flames by tossing on a handful of baking soda or salt.

  • It's easier to clean a grill right after you've used it. While still hot, scrape off food bits with a metal bristle brush to keep them from hardening and charring next time you cook out. A little work a head of time saves a lot of work later!
Before I leave you to attend to your summer entertaining, I'd encourage you to visit the Food and Drug Administration's web site to take their Kitchen Food Safety Test. With that said, have a happy, healthy and safe summer!



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