Clean it up

Protect your family from unwanted diseases in the summer with this guide to a spotless kitchen.
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Updated on Apr 30, 2009 05:19 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByNikhil Chib, Mumbai

You’ve finished reorganising the closets and the shelves at home, so why not add the kitchen to your spring cleaning list? A safe kitchen guards against food-borne illness.

As a restaurateur and chef, I am responsible for what my customers eats, how fresh my vegetables are and whether they are being stored perfectly, whether the fish was fileted, scaled, gutted and cleaned properly and then maintnained at FDA approved temperatures, the daily cleanliness of my kitchen and workers, the storage of sauces.. the list goes on. so being anal whether at home or in a restaurant is always expected.

In the details
I check the expiry on the all tins, packets and cartons that come into my restaurant. Are there labels like date, time and signature of the packer on your portions of chicken and prawns or tomato ketchup or garlic pickle? Practice the ‘First In First Out’ rule that means older cans or products should be in front so that they are used first. Keeping canned foods on hand is smart and practical, but make sure to rotate your stock.

Keep it cool
Storing non-refrigerated foods in the cupboard between 10 degrees C to 20 degrees C is the smartest way to keep the bugs away. The safest place for a can that is leaking, bulging or cracked is in the garbage.

Once you’ve opened a package, make sure to store the leftovers in containers that are dry and airtight—this keeps insects out and the flavor of the food in. Store food safely or else you could be paying a visit to your doctor more frequently especially in these hot months. Also make sure to keep chemicals and cleaning agents far away from food.

Most Indians have no idea what the actual temperature is in their refrigerator. Since harmful bacteria thrive in warmer temperatures, keep your refrigerator temperature below 4 degrees celsius.

If your refrigerator is overloaded, get rid of the unnecessary items. Any fridge can benefit from a thorough wipe-down. Make sure to get rid of any splatters.

Get into the habit of dating your leftovers and get rid of anything that’s been around for more than four days. If you’re not sure if an item is safe— throw it out. If there is any sign of mold, that’s another reason to toss it.
Inside the freezer, buy all your meat and fish perishables and once a week and clean them. Stored in the freeze, it will stay perfectly and taste just as fresh. Keep all raw meats safely contained and on the lowest shelf. The seafood should be packed, cleaned and put on the higher shelf. The FIFO method works in the freezer too.

Emergency sake
Stock a supply of non-perishable foods for unexpected needs. Canned fruits, soups and vegetables, jam, cheese, peanut butter and nuts are simple staples. Make sure your emergency stash gets a regular review.

Clean kitchen storage isn’t the only way to make sure bacteria are held at bay. Dish towels and sponges can be a haven for unsafe bacteria. Make sure to wash your dishtowels often in your washing machine’s hot cycle. So add these tips to your spring cleaning list and make a healthy andsafe kitchen part of your routine, once a week at least, all year round! Happy cleaning

(The author is the chef and owner of the Pan-Asian restaurant Busaba in Colaba)

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