Healthy cooking starts with a clean kitchen
Before slaving over your stove, make sure your kitchen is clean and healthy. You can have the best organic ingredients in the world, but for a healthy meal you need good kitchen hygiene. Here’s a checklist to run through before you get started.
1) Wash your hands
The first step is to wash your hands. According to hygiene specialist Dr Saldmann, “If everyone washed their hands properly, the number of infections around would drop significantly.” It’s also very important to dry your hands thoroughly, because bacteria thrive in damp conditions.
2) Clean your kitchen
Your work surfaces should be spotless. This sounds like common sense, but we dump handbags, shopping and gym bags on surfaces all the time. These come into contact with all kinds of dirt during the day, so never leave them in your kitchen and always wipe down surfaces before cooking.
“Sponges are often breeding grounds for bacteria, even though they’re intended for cleaning. Change them regularly and dry them out properly after use,” says Dr. Saldmann. Don’t forget tea towels too — these should be washed regularly. Use glass chopping boards, as germs can get trapped in the grooves of wooden boards.
Finally, make sure your fridge is clean. “Just because germs aren’t visible, doesn’t mean they aren't there. You need to clean out your fridge every 15 days using disinfectant or water with a little vinegar.”
3) Wash and peel vegetables
Once your kitchen is pristine, you can get your ingredients out. Peeling fruit and vegetables “actually helps to reduce pesticides in fruit by up to 10 times. Most of the vitamins in fruit are found in the skin, however, so only take off the outmost layer,” says Dr Saldman.
For pregnant women who haven’t been immunised against toxoplasmosis, it’s especially important to wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating. Pregnant women should also avoid raw meat and unpasteurised cheese.
4) Cook meat properly
One of the many pleasures of summer is having a BBQ. Grilling meat is healthy, but you need to slice off any burnt parts. According to Dr Saldman: “Eating a 3cm long piece of burnt meat is like smoking 10 packets of cigarettes.” He also recommends freezing meat and fish if you want to eat it raw, to avoid getting tapeworm or anisakis, a parasite caught from fish which can seriously upset your digestive system.
5) Store food properly
Airtight containers mean you can avoid wasting food and keep it fresh. However, there’s one golden rule you should always stick to: “Know when to throw food away and when to keep it. The longer you keep food the more germs it will contain. Some products, like fresh mayonnaise, can be the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive in,” says Dr Saldman.
Interview with Dr Frédéric Saldmann, hygiene specialist and author of On s’en lave les mains (We wash our hands), Flammarion
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