How long should things last in the fridge? In the cupboard? What about cutting boards and wooden spoons? Do you throw them away? How do you know if they are still safe or if they are bacteria laden?
Here are the things you should do weekly, monthly and yearly to keep your kitchen safe and tidy.
• Clean out the fridge and toss any leftovers that have been there more than 5 days.
• Rotate your vegetable bin and roast whatever is left in there.
• Chop all fruits and either freeze for smoothies, cook for compote or make into a fruit salad. They will be more likely to be consumed and enjoyed.
• Label all containers in the freezer with dates & use up anything that has been there more than 3 months
• Toss anything more than 6 months old or anything that has freezer damage.
• Go through the spice drawer and throw away any that have been there for a year (or more, yikes!)
• And since it is Mabel's birthday month, March is your "deal with scary dishes" month
Pull out all your plastics and have the gang match up lids. If they don't have a cover, toss them. Any with cracks or discolouring should go too.
If you are a yogurt tub re-user, know that the plastics used are not intended to handle the heat of the dishwasher or repeated washings as they can leach toxic substances. Buy decent dishes with lids and label them so they don't go missing and you will be further ahead.
Water bottles and sippy cups need to be paired and managed just like the other plastics. Then, scrub a sink clean and fill w soapy hot water and a capful of bleach. Soak bottles for 10 min to kill bacteria they may have formed in cracks and let air dry.
Wooden cutting boards can harbour bacteria and mold. They shouldn’t go in the dishwasher as that can cause splintering and drying. Instead, wipe down with vinegar after each use, rub with cooking oil and get a new one if you start to see black spots of rot or mold.
Plastic cutting boards can go in the dishwasher and, even though, they can look rough and discolored, they should be soaked in a sink of hot water with a cap of bleach on occasion.
I am not a big fan of anti-bacterial washes, soaps and sprays, they tend to do more toxic harm than good but a good old fashioned annual rotation of attention to a kitchen is in order.
About the Author
Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com