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Basic Kitchen Protocol
Follow safe approaches for dressing to cook,
handling knives, preventing burns, and using electrical appliances.
Proper Food Handling
Wash hands and toss expired food, yes. Also
know how to taste correctly, prevent contamination, and freeze,
refrigerate and thaw your meals.
Also, how to dry fresh vegetables and fruits
and when NOT to wash.
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Cooking Kitchen Safety
Answers to commonly asked cooking questions. For instance, how many teaspoons
in a tablespoon? (3). At what temperature should we keep our fridges? (Between
36 - 38 degrees Fahrenheit). See more answers in the simple reference guides
Dress for safety:
Handle your knives properly:
- Wear shoes with flat soles to minimize falls and help you stand in a
balanced position. Leather uppers with closed toes protect from burns; cloth
shoes absorb spilled liquids and prolong burning.
- Keep arms and legs covered for protection, and don't wear leggings; they
absorb hot liquids spilled on them. It is important to wear clothes that are
comfortable and easily cleaned. If you wear a favorite outfit, you won't
relax and will find yourself in awkward positions trying to protect your
- Be careful of long dangling jewelry, it can get stuck in kitchen
- It is also important to keep your hair contained, not just to keep it
out of prepared foods, but also for your own safety - hair is flammable.
- Long nails are dangerous in a kitchen; they harbor germs and interfere
with proper knife skills.
- Avoid reaching over the stovetop when cooking and watch your sleeves.
- Keep knives sharp.
- Be alert when using a knife; don't get careless or distracted.
- Never cut towards yourself; always cut away from yourself.
- Don't hold food in your hand to cut it - keep it on a cutting board.
- Use the correct knife for the job; i.e. Chef's knife for chopping, bread
knife for breads and tomatoes, paring knife for peeling and small work.
- Never put your guiding hand on the end of the knife blade for extra
leverage; some people might do this when cutting cheese.
- Never leave knives in the sink.
- Never put knives in the dishwasher.
- When walking with a knife, hold it with the side loosely pressed against
- Don't store knives loose in drawer.
- Don't try to catch falling knives.
- Always have kitchen towels, hot pads, or oven mitts readily accessible.
- Never use a damp towel to hold a hot pot or pan.
- Be cautious with steam; don't look into a hot pot when opening the lid,
and let steam subside first.
- Saute or fry foods with high water content carefully; step back
when submerging pieces into oil as the water content will cause the oil to
spit and splatter.
- When sauteing, put item in slowly, starting with end nearest yourself
and slowly lower the item away from you.
- Keep pan handles turned in and out of the path of people walking by.
- Don't carry pots with hot oil; let oil return to room temperature before
- Have a small fire extinguisher and a first aid kit readily accessible.
Also make sure that smoke detectors are placed throughout your house.
- Keep curtains, potholders, towels, and any other combustibles away from
- Dry hands before unplugging appliances.
- Don't pull on cords to unplug.
- Don't keep appliances next to a water source.
- Have all frayed cords repaired by an electrician.
- Keep appliance cords as short as possible to avoid accidents such as
tripping or knocking the appliance over.
- Don't plug too many items into one outlet.
- When processing hot liquids in a blender (such as sauces and soups),
make sure the blender's lid is back on, then cover the lid with a towel and
your hand, before proceeding to blend. Also, do not fill the blender more
Proper food handling is essential. The main concerns are cleanliness, preventing
cross-contamination, and keeping foods at safe temperatures. With just a little
knowledge, you can save yourself a lot of misery.
1. Washing hands
Wash hands thoroughly with hot soapy water, for a minimum of 20 seconds.
Remember to lather up to the elbow. Pay special attention to nails and
fingertips, one of the easiest and most crucial steps in food safety. Rings and
bracelets can harbor germs, so either remove them or wash them carefully. It is
important to wash hands in the following situations:
2. Tasting food
- Before the start of food preparation
- Between handling different food items, such as raw meat, poultry, or
fish and vegetables. (Don't forget to wipe off the faucet!)
- After using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
- After touching a pet.
- After tending to a sick person, blowing your nose, sneezing, or
- After handling garbage.
- After touching your face or hair.
3. Handling injuries
- When tasting food while cooking, always use a separate tasting spoon,
and get a new one each time. Do not double dip and do not eat off the
utensil you are using to stir.
- Do not use your fingers to taste. It is not sanitary and can cause a
burn if the food is very hot.
- Always handle a tasting spoon by the stem, never by the scoop.
4. Preventing cross-contamination
- If you get cut, quickly put pressure on the cut and clean and bandage
accordingly. Clean knife and cutting board accordingly.
- Always wear latex or rubber gloves when you have bandages on your hands.
Change bandage often.
Bacteria from raw meats that is spread to other foods, utensils, or surfaces is
called "cross-contamination". Mixing raw meats with ready to eat foods is the
primary source of cross-contamination. This important and multi-faceted category
includes the following components:
Raw meats, poultry, and fish
- Always separate raw meats away from produce and ready to eat foods.
- At the store, have the cashier bag raw meats separately.
- At home, always store raw meats on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator,
so meat juices won't drip on other foods.
- Wash well with hot soapy water and then use a disinfectant.
- Do not let pets walk on work surfaces and don't sit on work surfaces.
- Whenever you have finished working with one food, clean the counters
well before introducing a new food.
Kitchen dishcloths, sponges and aprons
- It is a good idea to have separate cutting boards, one for meat, fish,
poultry, and one for foods that will be served raw.
- Plastic cutting boards should be sanitized with a bleach solution or by
washing in the dishwasher. To make a bleach solution, mix 1 tablespoon of
bleach with one quart of cool water. Discard solution daily.
- Sanitize wooden cutting boards by rubbing with distilled grain vinegar,
then air-dry or microwave for ten minutes.
- Cutting boards, especially wooden ones, should be regularly inspected to
ensure that food is not getting imbedded in cracks or crevices.
- Throw out cutting boards when they get excessively worn or hard-to-clean
- Wash cutting boards with hot soapy water after each use.
Utensils and serving pieces for cooked and raw food
- Repeatedly using the same cloth or sponge to wipe counters spreads
germs. Remember to wash towels in the washing machine daily and put sponges
in the dishwasher.
- Avoid wiping your hands on your apron, as you will pick up bacteria from
the last time you wiped your hands.
- When hand washing dishes, allow them to air-dry. Don't use towels to dry
them, as this will spread germs.
- If you take raw meat, poultry, or fish to the outdoor grill, also bring
a new container to put food in after it is cooked.
- Wash or replace cutlery and utensils that were used while product was
- If your meat, poultry or seafood was in a marinade, bring marinade to a
boil for at least 3 minutes before using as a sauce. However, it's usually
better to discard marinade altogether.
- Wash lettuce well, even pre-washed produce, by soaking in a bowl of
cool, fresh, drinkable water.
- Clean berries and other fruits with running water; the friction of the
water will brush off bacteria.
- Wash melons and other large fruits and vegetables that are not going to
be cooked. Remember they came from a farm, grew on dirt, and have been
handled by numerous people. If you cut an unwashed melon, bacteria from the
surface will be pushed inside by the knife.
- To prevent cross-contamination, always wash foods in a bowl, not in a
- If you wash raw chicken, meat, or fish, be sure to wash out the sink
well to prevent cross-contamination.
- When using a food thermometer, always wash it between probes.
- Frequent hand washing is crucial in preventing cross contamination.
Bacteria grows rapidly between the temperatures of 40 and 140 degrees
Fahrenheit. This temperature range is known as the "Danger Zone". To properly
store, hold, and cook foods, it is imperative to minimize the amount of time
foods are at these temperatures. Pathogenic bacteria thrive in the Danger Zone;
certain strains can double in number every 20 minutes. These are the bacteria
that cause food borne illnesses, but do not affect taste, smell, or appearance of
- Any foods that have been in this temperature range for two hours or more
should be discarded; they might taste all right, but can make you very sick.
- Don't marinate food at room temperature for longer than 1 hour.
Your refrigerator is one of the most important items in your kitchen for keeping
7. Thawing frozen foods
- Always refrigerate perishable items immediately to minimize reproduction
of pathogenic bacteria. Refrigeration will not, however, completely protect
foods from spoilage bacteria. This family of bacteria can multiply at low
temperatures, and diminish the quality of foods, contributing to off-flavors
- It is important to maintain the temperature of your refrigerator below
40 degrees F. Ideal refrigerator temperature is between 36 and 38 degrees F.
- Frequently check the temperature with an appliance thermometer. If your
refrigerator exceeds 40 degrees F for over two hours, dispose of all
- When refrigerating cooked foods, divide food into smaller portions so
they will chill faster.
- It is also important not to overfill your refrigerator, as cold air
circulation is necessary to keep foods chilled.
- The door areas of the refrigerator have frequent temperature
fluctuations from opening and closing, so don't store perishable foods on
the door. Keep eggs in the carton inside the refrigerator instead of the egg
rack, and don't store milk in the door racks.
- If food spills in your refrigerator, wipe up the spill immediately and
sanitize if necessary.
- Do weekly checks to assure that food is not spoiling, and occasionally
wash all surfaces with warm, soapy water. To keep odors from forming, leave
opened box of baking soda on a shelf and change every few months.
There are three safe ways to thaw frozen food: in the refrigerator, in cold
water, and in the microwave. Leaving food on a counter or thawing in hot water
will cause food to be in the Danger Zone.
8. Cooling soups, stocks, and hot liquids quickly
- Refrigerator thawing can take a long time, but it is the safest method.
Plan ahead, as large food items, such as a turkey, may take 24 hours for
every 5 pounds. For smaller items, such as chicken breasts, put in the
refrigerator in the morning for dinner that evening. Foods that are thawed
in the refrigerator can be refrozen safely, with some loss in aesthetic
- Cold-water thawing is faster, but can be more complicated. Meat should
be wrapped in a leak-proof bag or else it will absorb the water. Keep water
cold by changing it every 30 minutes. A bag of chicken breasts that weighs
under a pound will defrost in less than an hour, and a large turkey takes 2
to 3 hours for every 5 pounds. Foods thawed in cold water must be cooked
- If food is thawed with a microwave, it must be cooked immediately
following the thawing. During this process, some of the surface areas might
start cooking and are in the danger zone. For this reason, we don't
recommend microwave defrosting. Foods thawed in the microwave must be cooked
When making a large batch of soup or stew, it can often take a long time to
cool. Since foods should not be in the Danger Zone for more than 2 hours, here
are some pointers to cool foods down quickly:
9. Storage instructions and "use by" dates
- Liquids are best cooled in metal containers. Plastic insulates heat and
cools more slowly.
- Set container in an ice-water bath that reaches the same level as the
liquid in the container.
- Stir ice-water bath occasionally to accelerate cooling.
Pay attention to storage instructions, such as "Refrigerate after opening" and
dates on containers. If items have been stored improperly, it is safest to
discard them instead of risking illness.
You’ve just brought home the freshest fruit and veggies —
and now you want to make sure they stay that way before you’re ready to eat
them! Washing and storing produce is an art in itself that can be made much,
much easier with a few simple tips.
Wash nearly any produce that comes through your door as even organic products
will still likely be covered with fertilizer, dust, soil, bacteria, fungi and
pesticides. There’s no need to panic as it’s rare to get sick from contaminants
on fruit and vegetables, but it’s definitely a good habit to wash most things as
soon as you bring them home. It will save time later.
Most produce actually benefits from a little added moisture when it won’t be
stored for too long. Too much dampness will eventually cause mold and other
funky microorganisms to grow, so don’t plan on keeping washed items for more
than a couple of days — or make sure to dry them out thoroughly.
Tips for Washing
One way to wash a lot of produce is to fill up a large bowl with cool water and
dunk it all, scrubbing or swirling as you go. You may need to change the water a
couple times. Warm water will actually bring out the flavor in items that you’re
ready to serve, but never go above lukewarm — you don’t want to cook the food!
Cool water is best for crisping limp produce — wilted lettuce and limp carrots
will revive with 30 minutes to an hour in a cold water bath. Always wash bagged
lettuce, even if it is labeled pre-washed.
You can get a vegetable scrubber for root vegetables or anything with a rind.
New potatoes and baby carrots will require little else than a gentle scrub
before cooking. Even items you’re planning on peeling with a peeler, though,
should be washed as any contaminants on the outside will spread to the peeler
and the food inside.
By the way, you won’t get the wax coating off of things like apples by scrubbing
— you need to actually peel the fruit to remove it.
Never use any detergent or bleach solutions to wash with as fruit and vegetables
can absorb these solutions and they’re not meant for human consumption. You can
use special produce sprays to wash, but water alone will also do the trick.
Dry all fruit and vegetables immediately after washing unless they’re going
right in the pot. Most of the time, water is the enemy of flavor, so drying
foods properly is critical to allow sauces or dressings to stick to the food and
to keep your seasonings undiluted. Plus, if you’re going to store items after
washing, it helps to keep them as dry as possible.
Gently dry delicate items with dish or paper towels and use a salad spinner for
leafy greens. For berries, herbs or greens, you can also layer your produce with
strips of paper towels in a large bowl — the paper towels will absorb the
Tougher herbs such as parsley can actually be placed in a dish towel and rung
out to dry after they’ve been chopped, something which is critical if you want
to be able to sprinkle them for garnish later.
Handle with Care
Delicate herbs or soft fruit you should immerse in a bowl of water, swish them
around, pour the water out, and repeat until the water runs clean. Sandy herbs
or greens such as cilantro or arugula require this as holding them under a
running tap will move the dirt around instead of lifting and letting the dirt
sink to the bottom of the bowl.
Very ripe fruit and berries can also be gently splashed with water and turned in
a colander with your hand.
Washing Root Vegetables
All root veggies should be given a good scrub before peeling, then rinsed again
after removing the peel. Contaminants from the peel will make their way to the
flesh while you’re peeling, which is why a second rinse is a good idea.
Citrus fruit and melons that you’ll be cutting should be washed. Otherwise, the
knife will bring any contaminants into the center of the fruit. They should be
really scrubbed if you want to use the zest for cooking.
Grapes can be washed in a colander and stored in the refrigerator. Strawberries,
raspberries and figs are better off getting a quick wash just before eating,
although if you won’t be storing them for long. You can also wash in advance as
long as you’re gentle and dry them well.
Cukes, salad greens and scallions will crisp up if they are soaked in ice water
for at least 30 minutes, which you can do after you wash them. Many cucumbers
have a wax coating that you can’t wash off, so these should be peeled as well.
With leeks, you should cut their root ends and green tops off, slice them in
half lengthwise, and rinse thoroughly while fanning the layers out in lukewarm
There’s a big debate about how to wash mushrooms. Some people prefer to simply
dab at the dirt with a damp paper towel to avoid the mushroom getting soggy.
Still, if there’s a lot of dirt, you really should wash them under a stream of
water in a colander and check every one to make sure you get all the mud out.
What Not to Wash
You can definitely skip washing certain items where the peel really barely
touches the inside — onions, garlic, winter squash, and citrus fruit (unless
you’re zesting), can all be peeled and eaten as is.
ADVICE TO THE COOK
Source: Boston Fish Pier Sea
Food Cookbook (1913)
Great cleanliness, as well as care and attention, is
required from a cook. Keep your hands very clean; try to prevent your nails from
getting black or discolored; don't "scatter" in your kitchen; clean up as you
go; put cold water into each saucepan or stew pan as you finish using it. Dry
your sauce- pans before you put them on the shelf. Scour tins with good mineral
soap and rinse thoroughly in hot water. In cleaning a frying-pan, scour the
outside as well as the inside. In cleaning greasy utensils, such as the soup-pot
and frying-pan, wipe off the worst of the grease with soft paper (which can be
burned), then soak in warm water to which soap-powder or a little ammonia has
been added, finishing with mineral soap. Wash your pudding-cloths, scald and
hang them to dry directly after using them; air them before you put them away,
or they will be musty; keep in dry place. Be careful not to use a knife that has
cut onions till it has been cleaned. Keep sink and sink-brush very clean; be
careful never to throw anything but water down sink. Do not throw cabbage water
down it; throw it away out of doors; its smell is very bad. Never have sticky
plates or dishes; use very hot water for washing them; when greasy, change it.
Take care that you look at the meat the butcher brings, to see that it is good.
Let there be no waste in the kitchen.
TIPS FOR KITCHEN
Source: Boston Fish Pier Sea Food Cookbook (1913)
Without cleanliness and punctuality good cooking
Leave nothing dirty—clean and clear as you go.
A time for everything and everything in time.
A good cook wastes nothing.
An hour lost in the morning has to be run after
Strong fire for roasting. Clear fire for
Wash vegetables in three waters.
Boil fish quickly; meat slowly.
Throw flour on kerosene flames.
Slamming door of oven makes cake fall.
A few drops of lemon juice makes cake frosting
Try sprinkling powdered cloves about places
infected with red ants.
Salt in the oven under baking tins will prevent
scorching on the bottom.
Salt and vinegar will remove stains from
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