Be safe, not sorry: Keep that kitchen clean
My house and especially my kitchen have never been cleaner than during this COVID-19 pandemic. I think we are all looking at cleaning in a whole new light and the CDC's Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations are a great resource for how to clean to prevent coronavirus in our homes.
I came upon an article recently in which the CDC identified the six filthiest places in the kitchen which should be cleaned everyday and how to clean them properly.
First they noted there is a difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing. Cleaning uses soap or detergent and water to physically remove germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces and objects. It doesn't necessarily kill germs, but lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection, but cleaning is more aesthetically driven than disinfecting and sanitizing.
Disinfecting actually kills germs on surfaces using chemicals. It doesn't necessarily clean the surface so it should be done after cleaning to be more effective in eliminating germs.
Sanitizing uses cleaning or disinfecting to reduce the number of germs to a safe level determined by public health standards and requirements. Sanitizing is typically used for surfaces that come in contact with food — for example your dishwasher is a sanitizing method of dishes and silverware.
The six spots the CDC recommends cleaning daily are:
Door knobs and drawer handles and pulls: These surfaces are high touch areas. Take a minute or two to wipe down the kitchen drawers, appliance handles and doorknobs as you clean up after a meal. Don't forget the microwave touchpad, too.
Sinks: Sinks come in contact with all sorts of stuff teeming with bacteria: raw meat, unwashed produce, sponges and more. To get sinks squeaky clean they should be cleaned, disinfected and sanitized. According to the CDC, daily faucet cleaning can be as simple as scrubbing with soap and water, but you will want to clean and sanitize the faucet aerator every few months.
Kitchen counters and island: These are deemed two of the most important place to keep clean. The CDC advises cleaning and disinfecting your kitchen counters and wearing disposable gloves when you do so.
First clean the counters with soap (or detergent) and water. Then use a diluted bleach solution, alcohol solution (with at least 70% alcohol) or an EPA-approved disinfectant cleaner to finish the job.
Don't use a windshield wiper motion; that only spreads the germs from one section to the next. Wipe straight down the counter space, then start again at the top moving over the length of your sponge.
Kitchen table and hard-backed chairs: The CDC recommends cleaning your table and chairs regularly. Make sure you use EPA-approved cleaning and disinfecting products that are safe for your furniture's material, such as Murphy's Oil Soap.
Sponges and dishcloths: Change your sponges once a week. You want to sanitize sponges and clean dish towels and dishcloths. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says dishcloths need to be washed in a hot cycle and thoroughly dried on a hot setting.
The organization advises keeping dish towels for separate purposes: one for hand drying, one for dish drying and one for cleaning. You might consider color-coding your towels for that purpose.
Reusable water bottles: Clean these frequently, as they get lugged from office to the gym and back home. You can clean the exterior with an all-purpose cleaner, and the interior, lid and mouth can be cleaned with soap and water.
Clean in this manner daily and you can cook with peace of mind that all is safe in your kitchen. That should grant you time to so fun experimenting, perhaps even some pickling.
Spring vegetables make delicious pickles. I recently ate pickled turnips for the first time — they are delightful! These recipes came from my friend Sandra Nelson Miller, one of my Nordic Northwest Cook & Eat committee members. She demonstrated how to make these Swedish pickles during a recent Cook & Eat class.
They are quick pickles meaning you don't have to process them in a water bath. Just store them in the refrigerator. Give them a try.
Bon Appetit! Stay home, save lives.
Faroese Pickled Turnips
2 pounds turnips
2 cups distilled white vinegar
2½ cups sugar
Aromatics of your choice: bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon sticks, slices of fresh ginger
Peel the turnips and cut into wedges or slices.
Place all ingredients in a pot. Add 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer and cook until turnips are tender but not soft.
Spoon in to sterilized glass jars, leaving about a half-inch of head space. You can process them in a water bath, or simply cover, seal and cool to room temperature.
Store in cool, dark place or in refrigerator for two to three days before using.
Makes four quarts
4 quarts of beets, small size preferred
3 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups water
2½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons allspice
1 to 2 whole cinnamon sticks
½ to 1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon salt
Cook beats until just tender (takes about 35 to 45 minutes). Cool, then remove skins and slice into ¼-inch slices. Baby beets can be left whole.
Combine vinegar, water, sugar and spices in a medium sized pot. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add beets.
Cool a bit, then refrigerate in the brine. The beets will last in the fridge for up to a month. It is easy to cut the recipe in half for smaller batches.
You can also pack hot beets in hot sterilized jars. Bring brine to boil and pour over beets to completely cover. Seal immediately.
Recipes courtesy of Sandra Nelson Miller.
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