Clean While You Work: Keeping A Clean, Safe Kitchen

A guest post by Karoline

One in ten of us becomes ill each year as a result of eating contaminated food, according to the World Health Organization. In order to keep foodborne illness to a minimum, good hygiene practice must be employed at every stage in a food item’s journey… and that includes in our kitchens. Good kitchen hygiene is important whatever we’re cooking, but it’s especially important to keep our kitchens clean when we’re dealing with meat and poultry, as cross-contamination is a common cause of illness.

Before You Begin 

Apart from the fact that cooking in an untidy kitchen is tricky and annoying, cleaning up before you start preparing a meal is a good idea if you want to avoid food contamination. Clean down the counter top, wash any dirty dishes that might be hanging around and empty the bin: you’re going to be creating more washing up and more rubbish, so you need to make sure your space is ready for that, and you don’t want to find yourself needing to wash up the whisk just as your recipe calls for some egg-beating. It can be helpful to prepare a container of hot soapy water to soak your utensils in as you go – that way they’ll be quick to clean if you need to use them twice while you’re cooking.

Clean As You Go

It can be a good idea to prepare all your ingredients before you start cooking, both for the sake of the recipe, and for the sake of a clean kitchen. Chopping all your vegetables and weighing out dry ingredients before you start enables you to immediately clear up any food you might drop on the floor and get rid of dirty knives and chopping boards before food has time to dry on them. It also means you’ll have all your ingredients to hand as you need them, enabling you to focus on the cooking. Keep a clean, damp cloth handy to clean up any spills as they happen, and rest dirty spoons and on a plate or a spoon rest to keep all the residue in one place. Keep an empty bowl on hand for vegetable peel and other items you’re going to throw away to save constant trips to the bin: tipping the whole lot away at once will ensure you keep the kitchen as clean as possible.

Make The Most Of The Cooking Time

As soon as your meal’s in the oven or bubbling away in the pot, start clearing up the mess. Don’t be tempted to leave it all until after you’ve eaten: it will be a lot quicker and easier to clean up while everything’s fresh. Wipe down the counter top again, empty the bowl of rubbish, stack the dishwasher and wash up utensils. If anything needs some time to soak, now’s the moment to fill it with hot soapy water (adding some salt will help with really stubborn dirt).

Cleaning as you go keeps the potential for food contamination to a minimum, and also reduces the amount of time you ultimately have to spend cleaning, so you can focus on what you’re in the kitchen to do: create something wonderful.

About the author, Shawn

Chef Shawn has worked in almost every segment of the foodservice industry. He holds business degrees and certificates in Culinary Arts, Hospitality & Tourism Management, Accounting and Professional Sales. He is Certified Executive Chef (CEC) and a Certified Culinary Educator (CCE) through The American Culinary Federation. A Certified Culinary Professional (CCP) through the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He is the author of The First Timer’s Cookbook and The First Timer’s Bakebook. His work has been recognized nationwide as well as being a regular contributor to numerous food service publications and outlets and is the recipient of numerous awards-most recently the 2015 Culinary Educator of the Year through the local American Culinary Federation’s chapter-Beehive State Chef’s Association.

He the owner of multiple food service businesses and currently the host of the Business Chef Podcast.

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