Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Steps to Keeping Your Kitchen Safe: Cutting Boards



I've decided to start a little series about food hygiene and food safety in the kitchen. There are lots of myths and misinformation out there, so I'll hopefully be able to give you some facts about how to keep your kitchen safe and clean.

Today I am going to talk about cutting boards. The most important thing to remember about cutting boards is to keep raw meats away from everything else. Raw meat carries bacteria, viruses and basically every icky thing that you end up killing when you cook and heat food. Therefore, it's a really terrible idea to, for example, chop some raw beef and then chop a tomato on the same board without washing it carefully in between uses.

A common myth is that hot soapy water is enough to kill germs and bacteria. Hot soapy water is not enough!! If you have raw meat on your cutting board, you not only need to wash it with hot soapy water, but you also need to sanitize it by either running it through the dishwasher or rinsing it in a solution of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach to one quart of water.

The easiest way to keep food safe and tasting it's best is to own two cutting boards. Each side of each cutting board has a different use. It's easy to mark them either with nail polish or a permanent marker so that you can know which side is which.

One cutting board should have one side for raw meat, and the other side for cooked meat and dairy. The second cutting board should be for veggies, fruits and breads. One side should be used for savory foods such as onions, garlic and scallions, and the other side should be for sweet foods such as grapefruit or strawberries. Nobody likes strawberries with the essence of garlic!

Using simple steps to keep your cutting boards clean and separated for specific ingredients should help keep food borne illness at bay and maintain the quality of the food you eat.