Learning to cook is a valuable skill that will save you money and help improve your health compared to eating out regularly. However, it’s crucial to know some safety tips before working in the kitchen.
When you don’t follow proper procedures or techniques, your food won’t just turn out subpar. You also risk harming yourself or becoming ill.
Are you ready to learn about kitchen safety but are unsure where to begin? We’ve put together a few basic rules to get you started in the kitchen safely.
Keep Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold
If you aren’t stringent about keeping foods at their proper temperatures, you’re creating an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, which could make you ill.
When you need to keep food frozen or cold, such as raw meat, make sure they stay at 40°F or lower. Foods served warm, should stay above 140°F.
Any food with a temperature that falls within this range (40°F – 140°F) is in the “danger zone.” Even food that has already been cooked can enter the danger zone if left sitting out too long. Be sure to store your leftovers safely and promptly to avoid any issues.
Cook Meats to Their Proper Temperature
Likewise, if meat isn’t cooked to the correct temperature, it can cause serious illness. Plus, no one wants to eat raw chicken!
Be sure to cook poultry to an internal temperature of 165°F, while ground beef should be cooked to 160°F. For regular cuts of beef, like steak, you can get away with a little bit of a lower temperature, depending on how you like it cooked. Just make sure you’re reaching at least 145°F.
Not sure whether or not your food is hot enough? Get yourself a meat thermometer! It’s cheap, and it offers a safe way to check if you’re reaching the required temperature when cooking any type of meat.
Proper handling of raw foods is an essential part of food safety. For instance, if you’ve just used a cutting board for raw meat, you must thoroughly wash it before using it for another item.
Many cooks actually keep separate cutting boards for their different food groups just to ensure that no cross-contamination will occur. Similarly, make sure you’re wiping down all surfaces between steps, but don’t use a kitchen towel that might be soiled with germs or bacteria.
Use Proper Knife Skills
Although it may seem counterintuitive, having a sharp knife to use in the kitchen drastically reduces the risk that you’ll cut yourself.
Sharp knives glide more easily through food, which means you have to apply less pressure that may cause your hand to slip. Learn to sharpen your knives, and maintain them regularly to keep them in good shape.
Additionally, be sure you’re using the right size knife for the task. Keep your fingers curled under as you slice so that you don’t lose a fingertip!
Practice Stove Safety
When cooking on a stovetop, it’s easy to forget that things can go wrong instantly if you’re not careful. Keep the handles on your pots and pans pointed inward at all times. This reduces the risk of someone bumping it as they move around the kitchen.
Furthermore, keep any oven mitts or kitchen towels away from the stove, as they could easily ignite. Lastly, don’t ever leave an empty pan on a hot burner or leave a burner on when it’s not in use.
Learn to Safely Extinguish Fires
Despite your best efforts, you may sometimes find yourself with a kitchen fire on your hands. Remembering the proper protocol in this situation can save your life.
Do not ever put water on a grease fire, as this will feed it even more and cause it to spread. Instead, turn off the burner immediately and move the pot to a different part of the stove if you have. Then, throw some baking soda on top of it and cover it with a metal lid to smother the flames.
If the fire becomes too big to contain with these methods, be sure you know where the fire extinguisher is located in your home.
Although this may seem a lot to remember, most of these tips will become second nature after you’ve whipped up a couple recipes. And even if your first few creations turn out to be culinary disasters, you can rest easy knowing that you’re at least honing your safety skills.