As part of your ongoing experiments with food, you will become more and more comfortable in the kitchen. However, a sense of ease doesn’t translate into safety. Being sure that your kitchen is as safe as possible requires not only a mastery of recipes and American cooking techniques, but also of safety protocol. Especially if you share a living space with someone else, following guidelines for kitchen safety can be very important. Even if you live by yourself, it’s better for you to get in the habit of keeping your kitchen and cooking space as safe as possible, so as to minimize the chance of accidents.
Food storage and preparation
The most important elements of food safety are in how it is stored. Raw meats and other temperature-sensitive products should be kept refrigerated at all times. Even though it may seem like a hassle, it is necessary to put food away in the fridge as soon as it is brought home from the grocery store. Similarly, meats and poultry need to be kept separately from other foods within the fridge. This prevents the risk of contamination for the bacteria that lives within these foods.
As a rule of thumb, all leftovers should be eaten within three to four days, unless they are frozen. Cooked meat or poultry can last for between two to six months frozen, while chicken nuggets and patties can last between one and three. Frozen pizza generally keeps for about a month.
The most common cause of fires in the U.S. is unattended cooking, according to the National Fire Protection Association. It’s important to keep an eye on any food that is on the stovetop, including frying, grilling, boiling and broiling. Foods that you are baking or roasting need to be checked on regularly so that you can keep an eye on their progress. Leaving the house for any reason while food is cooking is strongly discouraged.
Be sure that your knives are securely kept within a knife block or sharps drawer to prevent any accidental cutting. On a similar note, make sure that anything that might easily catch fire, including oven mitts, wooden utensils and food packaging, is kept away from the stovetop.
Finally, be sure that your kitchen contains a fire extinguisher. It doesn’t have much use for the actual process of cooking, but it is very necessary to prevent any fire from getting out of hand.