Spring has us feeling a fever, and the only cure is to get cleaning. And because abs are made in the kitchen + we’re a fitness studio, we figured the most relevant place to start is there. So here we go: Six Things In Your Kitchen You Should Toss Right Now.
Used for washing those dishes that just don’t fit into the dishwasher, how many scrub-a-dub-dubs can your kitchen sponge be responsible for before it’s time to retire it? It’s common to clean a sponge by microwaving it or boiling it to remove the germs, but think about it: all those holes. Is it really getting clean?
Researchers in Germany found that icky RG2-related bacteria (the kind that can cause foodborne disease) stays on your sponge even if you clean it in the microwave or boiling water. “From a long-term perspective, sponge sanitation methods appear not sufficient to effectively reduce the bacterial load in kitchen sponges and might even increase the shares of RG2-related bacteria,” the researchers wrote in the paper. (via Today.)
So what’s the appropriate lifespan to give you kitchen sponge? These researchers went on to make a solid point: sponges are cheap, so why risk it? Buy a Cosco-sized supply of sponges and swap them out weekly, at minimum. If they start to smell, you’ve waited too long. Additional tip: wipe down your countertops with antibacterial wipes, instead of that sponge.
Your Scratched-Up Cutting Board.
The USDA suggests that all plastic and wooden cutting boards wear out over time. Once cutting boards become excessively worn or develop hard-to-clean grooves, they should be discarded.
Other advice they offer for avoiding food contamination from cutting boards:
- Avoid Cross-Contamination The Meat and Poultry Hotline says that consumers may use wood or a nonporous surface for cutting raw meat and poultry. However, consider using one cutting board for fresh produce and bread and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. This will prevent bacteria on a cutting board that is used for raw meat, poultry, or seafood from contaminating a food that requires no further cooking.
- Cleaning Cutting Boards To keep all cutting boards clean, the Hotline recommends washing them with hot, soapy water after each use; then rinse with clear water and air dry or pat dry with clean paper towels. Nonporous acrylic, plastic, or glass boards and solid wood boards can be washed in a dishwasher (laminated boards may crack and split).
- Both wooden and plastic cutting boards can be sanitized with a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Flood the surface with the bleach solution and allow it to stand for several minutes. Rinse with clear water and air dry or pat dry with clean paper towels. (via USDA.)
Your Scratched Nonstick Pans.
Once a nonstick pan has a deep scratch, it’s no longer nonstick. If pans are scratched, chipped or flake, they may be more likely to release toxic compounds, says Kannan of the New York State Department of Health. Kannan advises replacing your nonstick cookware every couple of years. What should you do if the pan does become damaged? A clear answer, from Kannan: Throw it out. (via Good Housekeeping.)
Spot leftovers in the back of the fridge that you don’t remember putting there? Hmmm… it’s safe to say your best bet is to toss them. Leftovers can be kept for three to four days in the refrigerator. Be sure to eat them within that time. After that, the risk of food poisoning increases. If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat leftovers within four days, freeze them immediately. (via Mayo Clinic.)
Your Expired or Separated Condiments.
Real estate in the refrigerator is precious, we get it. So, if you find a bottle that fits, it’s tempting to keep it there until it either runs out, or… Here’s the facts: You might want to check the expiration date of your sauces and toppings before your first picnic this season. Here’s a cheatsheet for how long the Food Safety and Inspection Service says you can safely refrigerate certain things after they’ve been opened:
- Ketchup, cocktail or chili sauce: 6 months;
- Chutney: 1 to 2 months;
- Horseradish: 3 to 4 months;
- Mustard: 12 months;
- Pickles and olives: 2 weeks;
- Mayonnaise and salad dressing: Up to 2 months;
- Barbecue sauce: 4 months;
- Worchestershire sauce: 12 months;
- Jams and jellies: 6 months.
Your Snowy Freezer Items.
You might be surprised to learn that while all foods in your freezer remain safe to eat as long as your freezer is cold enough (zero degrees), regardless of storage time… however the taste, texture and flavor all decline with time in the freezer. Check out these recommended national health guidelines for frozen food storage to maintain optimal taste, texture and freshness. (via Today.)
- Ground Beef — 3-4 months
- Uncooked roasts — 8-12 months
- Uncooked poultry — 9-12 months
- Soups/Stews — 2-3 months
- Casseroles — 2-3 months
- Meat Balls/Meatloaf — 2-3 months
- Bread — 1-2 months
- Hot Dogs/Lunch Meat (opened or unopened) — 1-2 months
- Bacon/Sausage (opened or unopened) — 1-2 months
- Ice Cream (opened) — 1-2 months
- Fresh Vegetables/Fruits* — 5-6 months
(*fresh produce loses original texture with freezing for any amount of time. Best used for soups, stews, or in blended mixtures.)
So there you have it. Let the Spring Cleaning begin! And for more blog posts like this one, be sure to check out the Burst Blog.