Cooking can be mastered by attending classes, learning from the net or by experience. When individuals complain that cooking is boring its mostly not the actual process of cooking that makes it a painful chore but the preparations that go before it and the cleaning up that’s required after it that intimidates many. Every chore requires planning and cooking is no exception. It all starts with ‘what’ to cook, procuring the ingredients, storing them rightly, washing the ingredients, chopping the vegetables, putting up spices together and finally cooking it on fire. Once the dishes are ready you are again expected to clean the kitchen counter, sort the dishes and tidy the space.
Experimenting with Produce
Food poisoning often happens when we eat outside and neither are our kitchens free from its attack. The way we handle ingredient, use kitchen stuff and wash things are determining factors of food poisoning in the kitchen. Washing is a critical step towards eliminating food poisoning-right from our hands to the utensils. But there are a couple of misunderstandings and controversies surrounding washing foods. Its human nature to wash any of the foods before using them to cook. While its recommended to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly there are a few foods that should NOT be washed to retain their health and avoid spreading bacteria. Its better to know them and act accordingly.
Fruits & veggies: It is necessary to wash all kinds of produce whatever way they might have been grown before using them. Never use soap as tiny particles might stick onto the produce’s surface and always dry them with a cloth or paper towel before using. Many have the conviction that its only fruits and veggies with edible skin that need to go through this drill but what we miss out is the fact that any produce (edible/inedible skin) must be washed before consumption as bacteria or dirt might be transferred to the inside of it while slicing or peeling.
Lids: Canned or frozen produce are becoming popular and people look forward to buying it as these are the ones that are available during any part of the year irrespective of its growing season. Its necessary to wash the lids of these products before opening them to avoid dust or other unwanted particles from falling inside. Ensure to wash all cans/tins before opening including those of beverages, soups and desserts.
Rice: The rice that we use is mostly polished and goes through different processed before being sold in the market. Arsenic is a harmful compound that is likely to remain in rice. Some recommend soaking rice in water overnight and then rinsing it the next day to reduce arsenic presence, but rinsing reduces the amount of folate, niacin and thiamin by 50-70% as well which is not good news. Risk of arsenic exposure is more for those who consume rice several times daily.
Raw chicken or meat: Washing raw chicken is not the way to clean it but the way to spread harmful bacteria all around the kitchen. The proper way to clean your chicken is to cook it. It is essential to use a food thermometer and check the internal temperature of the cooked chicken (it must denote 165°F) to confirm the absence of bacteria. The same holds good for other meat varieties as well. Read more about food thermometer and ways to handle the same from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Fish: Never wash raw fish as this doesn’t clean the fish but only increases chances of cross-contamination to other foods, utensils and surfaces.
Eggs: Its common for people to wash eggs before using. But washing eggs might remove the coating that protects the egg from bacteria that is applied while processing the egg.
Just like meat, mushrooms can also taste different when they are in contact with water for a long time. Even chefs don’t suggest soaking the mushrooms for a long time as these are excellent absorbers and might make the dish soggy. Its better to clean mushrooms with a damp cloth or rinse them quickly in water and dry them with a clean towel.
Before or after washing anything its mandatory to wash your hands with soap and hot water to kill the germs in your hands. Cooking healthy food and preparing delectable dishes are important. But above all is protecting yourself from harmful germs and bacteria that might transfer into your body due to inappropriate handling and cooking.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.