Did you know that there are unclean items in your kitchen that could be spreading bacteria and other germs around on kitchen surfaces and on the food you prepare? I'm not trying to freak you out. We obviously use our kitchens every day and we haven't ended up in the emergency room, so things can't be that bad, right? Of course, you're right.
We do hear of salmonella outbreaks on things like romaine lettuce, poultry and other types of meat and produce. If you unknowingly bring some of that home then you have a problem. But there are easy and effective ways of being sure your kitchen is clean and bad bacteria-free.
Here are some examples of what I'm talking about. Probably the most important item, that we use every day, is the cutting board. We use it to cut up meat, chicken, fish, slice bread, rolls or buns and even cut cheese or butter and use it for a serving tray for snacks. We may wipe it off with a damp cloth or wash it with the dishes and never give it another thought.
The wooden cutting board is really the most versatile surface in your kitchen and it requires special attention after using. As you can imagine, the wood is porous and will harbor bacteria, mold spores and other germs if not cleaned properly. DON'T put wood cutting boards in the dishwasher! This will cause the board to warp or crack. Here's the way to clean them:
- wash thoroughly with hot water and soap
- dry with clean towel
- stand board up so it can air dry completely
- for odor sprinkle with coarse salt and rub with a half lemon
- to remove stains, sprinkle with baking soda and rub with lemon
If you use the wooden board regularly and it begins to look worn and maybe not as smooth as it was, just wet the board, sprinkle with coarse salt and rub with lemon. Dry thoroughly and add a thin coating of mineral oil and let it absorb. It will look almost as good as new.
It is important, also, to always have more than one cutting board so you can specify one board for meat, one for vegetables and fruit and one for bread, cheese and other foods. This prevents bacteria from poultry from getting on vegetables and fruits and vice versa. If the bacteria is prevented from cross contaminating other foods, then you have a chance of eliminating contamination all together.
There are many types of boards out there, silicone, bamboo, plastic, stone, etc. No matter what they are made of they need to be cleaned after every use. The boards that are man-made can be washed in the dishwasher and that will kill 99% of the bacteria on the board. Letting the board dry thoroughly instead of wiping down with a towel then laying it flat let it air dry then store it away. When the board is laid flat while still damp, mold spores can grow.
So there are a few tips about cutting boards. If you also wonder about can openers, blenders, anything with a blade that can be taken apart, they can all be cleaned in the dishwasher and you can be sure they are safe for repeated use.