Talk to any experienced chef and they’ll tell you that keeping your kitchen clean and tidy is one of the keys to creating the most scrumptious dishes. When your workspace is messy and unsanitary, it makes for a pretty dangerous cooking environment. Not only that, but messy spaces tend to make us feel uneasy, which gets in the way of our creativity. The following 10 tips will get your kitchen whipped into shape in no time!
1. Dedicate a Space to Each Task. Whether you’re chopping, boiling, sautéing or peeling, give each kitchen task it’s own space. Not only does this promote organization, but it also ensures that there’s no cross contamination. Cross contamination is the process by which harmful bacteria are transferred from one substance, object or surface to another (i.e. raw chicken touching raw vegetables).
2. Spray and Measure Over the Sink. This tip is especially important when measuring messy ingredients, like oil, honey and flour. If you spill or drip something while measuring, it’ll just fall right into the sink and can be rinsed down the drain (as long as you have a disposal, that is). When spraying oil onto a pan, do this over the sink, too. This helps you avoid getting other appliances, equipment, counter tops, and ingredients greasy.
3. Do the Dishes as You Go. No-one enjoys this part of cooking, but trust us, your future self will thank you. It’s not fun to be left with a sink piled high with dishes and utensils. Instead, rinse them and toss them in the dishwasher immediately after using them. This way, when the cooking is complete, so is the cleanup!
4. Have a Trash/Scraps Bowl. This is a helpful tip for any recipe calling for lots of chopping and peeling. Rather than running back and forth to the garbage can with handfuls of scraps each time, throw them in the scraps bowl instead. Make sure to keep this bowl right on the counter within arms reach. Once you’re finished cooking, throw all of the scraps out (or compost them) at once! This saves time and prevents a messy floor full of scraps that fell through your fingers on the way to the garbage.
5. Go In Order. When you glance through an extra complex recipe, it’s easy to be pulled into completing multiple tasks at once. But unless you’re a super experienced chef, this can just cause havoc. Juggling many steps all at once is stressful and might result in frustration… and cooking should be fun! Not only that, but if you’re not giving your full attention to the job at hand, you might make a blunder or miss a step entirely. Instead, be patient and enjoy the process. Even if it takes a bit of time!
6. Wipe Up Spills Right Away. It’s tempting to leave the mess for later, but that can be dangerous. That little spill could result in slips and falls, cross contamination, or stains on your kitchen surfaces. When it comes to harmless little messes here and there, don’t worry too much. But the larger ones should have your attention sooner rather than later!
7. Use Utensils Wisely. Speaking of cross contamination, using the same utensil for various cooking tasks can be dangerous if you’re not careful. For example, if you use a knife to slice up raw meat, don’t use it on anything else until it’s been properly sanitized. However, when moving between harmless ingredients (like raw veggies), it’s okay to use the same utensil without washing in between tasks. Consider chopping produce before raw meat to save time spent washing and sanitizing dishes.
8. Start With a Clean Slate. Before you even get started, make sure your kitchen isn’t already a mess. A mistake that should be avoided is creating a new mess on top of an old one. Cooking is meant to be fun, not stressful! So give yourself a few minutes to make sure counters are wiped down, old dishes are put away, and the garbage is taken out.
We sure hope you learned something new about keeping your cooking space clean and tidy! Now go get creative in the kitchen!