With news of rising deaths and sicknesses in the cantaloupe-listeria outbreak, we have been reminded that keeping knives, surfaces, and even our food clean is of utmost importance. From washing those fruits and veggies to using homemade cleaners, here are our top tips for keeping contaminants out of the kitchen. Some of these steps may seem overly cautious, but we're big believers in putting clean things in our bodies. And really, following these tips doesn't slow down our cooking routines at all; but it does give us peace of mind to know we are taking simple steps to protect our family in our own kitchen.
• Wash your produce—even if it's organic.
• Utilize separate cutting boards for meats, and only meats.
• Be sure to wash your produce well, even if you plan to peel it. Bacteria and other icky stuff that resides on the skin of fruit (like cantaloupe) and vegetables will be pulled all the way through the fruit from the skin via the knife.
• Make your own fruit and veggie wash by combining three parts water with one part vinegar. This will get your produce just as clean as any commercially-available product and will cost mere pennies to make. And no, the vinegar taste doesn't stick around to ruin that crunchy bite of apple.
• Always wash your hands before and after preparing foods.
• When working with raw meats, be sure not to cross-contaminate your kitchen by touching the meat and then touching a surface; if you do, sanitize handles, countertops, and jars before the next meal.
• Remember to keep your reusable bags clean! Run them through the washing machine every few trips.
Have any other tips to keep contaminants in our kitchens at bay? Do share!
• Simple Green: Wash Your Produce, Even If It's Organic
• Survey: Do You Clean Your Reusable Shopping Bags?
• Product Guide: BPA-Free Canned Foods
(Image: Amber Byfield for Re-Nest.)