Food: Kitchen safety strategies for home chefs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 6, 2024

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Metro Creative Connection

There are many benefits to cooking at home. Preparing meals at home enables people to have greater control over the ingredients they use, reducing the risk of allergic reactions or food intolerances.

Cooking skills can be passed from parents to children at an early age, helping kids be more well-rounded as they age. Making meals at home also can be more cost-effective, as meals can be prepared at a fraction of the cost per person than similar meals purchased from restaurants.

As important as knowing one’s way around a whole chicken or a pot roast can be, it’s equally important to be knowledgeable about overall kitchen safety. Kitchens may be the heart of the home, but they’re also potentially dangerous. Burns, fires and lacerations are some common kitchen injuries. But some simple kitchen safety techniques can make cooking at home less risky.

• Wipe up spills. Avoid slips and falls by promptly mopping up spills. If you can’t clean it up immediately because of a boiling pot of sauce or a smoking oven, toss a dishrag into the spill to remind yourself to clean it when you have a free moment.

• Stay close to the action. Always remain in the kitchen while cooking. It can take mere minutes for a fire to start or some other emergency to occur.

• Extinguish the fire. All fires need oxygen to burn. Placing a lid on a pan can snuff out most fires. Baking soda also can stifle flames. If that doesn’t work, use a fire extinguisher or call the fire department. Never pour water on a grease fire, as doing so will only cause the flames to spread. Fires inside the oven can be put out by turning off the heat and leaving the door closed.

• Cut out cuts. Dull knives can be more dangerous to use than sharp ones, so keep all knives sharpened. Use a slip-resistant cutting board and always cut away from the body and keep the fingers of the hand holding the food curled toward the palm. Store knives in a block rather than in a drawer. Exercise caution when using food processors or high-speed blenders, especially when cleaning the blades.

• Banish burns. Use oven mitts to remove hot foods from the oven, the stovetop or the microwave. Don’t use fingers to test food temperatures. Also, let grease and cooking oil cool before moving it.