Food safety tips to keep in mind in the kitchen

Food safety is important in any kitchen, no matter how novice of a cook or professional you are.  Food safety falls under the category of everything from meat prep to handling of knives and everything in between.  Here are five food safety tips to keep in mind when handling or cooking any type of food.

• Wash each item you use for food preparation such as cutting boards, dishes, utensils and even the counter tops whether the food touched them or not. This is important before moving onto handling other food items thereafter. A half a slice of lemon rubbed on cutting boards after you wash and dry them will help cut out bacteria as well.
• Never thaw or defrost foods at room temperature in your sink or your counter top. Thawing foods should be kept in the refrigerator or thawed under cold running water. And never ever marinate foods at room temperature. Always marinate foods in a refrigerator due to bacteria setting in.

• Regardless of the expiration date, never use cans that are bulging or badly dented. Air leaks can happen with these dents and bulges and allow bacterial growth to take place.

• When using sponges and dish rags be sure to wash them regularly and dry them on hot in the dryer. The heat from the dryer will kill any additional bacteria that was missed when washed in hot soapy water.

• Always place your leftovers in shallow containers when placing in the refrigerator. Shallow containers will allow for quicker cooling that can reduce bacteria growth while stored.

• Additional, always check the expiration of your spices and seasonings. Some spices can be frozen while others that you use regularly need to be watched. Never use spices that are more than a month old.

Follow these and other quick kitchen tips can help reduce the bacteria and illnesses that come with cooking.  Sanitize often and always clean up as you go when preparing foods.  Cooking is fun but, safety is a must!

As the temperatures dip a bit this weekend, give this comfort food recipe a try!

• Potato and Onion Chowder
Makes 8 Cups

1 tbs. vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen asparagus, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 can (15 ounces) cream-style corn
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

1.  Heat the oil in a medium pot and saute the onion, asparagus and the potatoes over medium high heat for about 10 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and corn to the mix and cook until the potatoes are tender.

2.  Add the frozen peas and simmer for an additional 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and ladle into serving bowls.  Sprinkle tops with cheese and serve!

Eco-Tip:  Before the weather turns cold, raining, and windy take advantage of nature's clothes dryer while you still can.  For this and other tips on going green visit, The Earth and Me Go Green.


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