Cooking is easy to some and complicated to many others, however, it should never be dangerous!
Unfortunately, many things can go wrong while you’re preparing food, from burns and cuts to foodborne illnesses. And with the flooding information everywhere, it can be quite difficult to tell what’s true and what’s not.
Cooking can be artistic and fun, but even if it’s just another chore to you, you need to stay safe while doing it, mainly by avoiding the most common dangerous cooking mistakes that both beginners and chefs can make.
#1 – Ignoring basic knife skills
The first thing you should learn before preparing your first meal is how to use knives properly and safely. If you don’t know basic kitchen knife skills, now is the perfect time to learn, whether you’re a beginner or a professional.
It’s important to keep in mind that good knife skills are meant to keep you safe and have nothing to do with showing off!
When chopping ingredients for a recipe, make sure to curl the fingers of your non-dominant hand under your knuckles to guide the knife and avoid losing a finger.
As for the hand that does the chopping, you should keep the pinky, ring, and middle fingers tucked under the knife’s handle, while your thumb is extended and resting firmly but lightly against the blade.
This way, you’ll get more control and avoid any bloody accidents.
#2 – Using dull knives
Every kitchen needs a knife sharpener. Although it may seem risky to have neatly sharp knives around, they’re actually safer. Dull knives require more pressure to chop, which means you’ll have less control and put yourself at a high risk of cutting your finger.
Apparently, the most common cause of knife dullness is abuse. In fact, the Society of American Silversmiths reports that abuse can be dishwashing, storing the knife in the wrong place, dropping it into the kitchen sink… etc.
To prevent dullness, always clean your knives with water and soap, dry them immediately, and store them in a knife block or any other suitable container.
#3 – Wearing the wrong clothes while cooking
No one wants to accidentally catch on fire while cooking, but only a few of us actually pay attention to the type of clothes we wear in the kitchen. This doesn’t mean you need to wear a chef’s uniform, but rather just follow some guidelines so you can stay safe.
You should never wear long or too loose sleeves while cooking and pay attention to your feet should you drop a knife or a sharp object. Opt for shoes with a hardcover and that’s both comfortable and slip-resistant.
Also, make sure to always pull your hair back, especially if it’s long. Hair is highly flammable and the last thing you want is walking out of the kitchen bald and burnt.
#4 – Replacing an oven mitt with a wet cloth
I bet you can think of so many ways you can get burned in the kitchen but none of them involve a wet cloth or towel. Dishrags or cloths can clean, hold, and perform endless duties, however, if you didn’t use them properly, you can easily end up with a terrible burn.
Grabbing a hot surface with a wet cloth, towel, or mitt can only lead to a burn because heat can travel so fast through the water, turning the dampness into hot steam. This may lead you to burn yourself and throw your food on the floor. Just make sure to use dry oven mitts.
#5 – Leaving the kitchen while cooking
It may be tempting to do something else while cooking, which is totally safe unless you leave the kitchen unattended.
You should never leave your food alone, especially if you’re broiling, boiling, grilling, or frying it. These cooking methods can change faster than you might think and need instant assistance.
Even with other methods, such as roasting, baking, and simmering, you should stay in the kitchen should an emergency arise or at least use a timer so you can be reminded to check on your food every now and then.
Also, it’s important not to leave any flammable objects anywhere near the stovetop. To stay safe, keep a lid nearby and always have a fire extinguisher within reach.
#6 – Not replacing dish rags and sponges
Never let your sponges live for too long, and more importantly, do not wait until the sponge or dish rag starts to disintegrate to replace it with a new one.
What makes a sponge great for cleaning and absorbing also makes it a nice home for bacteria and germs.
Getting a new sponge is the only way to ensure your current one isn’t spreading germs around. According to experts, you should replace your sponge on a weekly basis so you won’t allow bacteria to form. This can be super easy to do if you buy a pack of sponges.
#7 – Quickly changing the temperature of glass cookware
It can be hard to know which type of cookware to use, but it can be even harder to keep track of how to properly maintain each one of them. To make this easier for you, there are a few maintenance rules that are most important since neglecting them can be very dangerous.
For example, glass cookware can shatter into sharp pieces if the temperature switched from hot to cold or vice-versa too quickly. So you should never take a dish from the fridge and place it immediately into the oven, wash hot glass cookware without allowing it to cool down, or take it out of the oven and place it on a cold surface. This also applies to glass pot lids.
In short, always let hot glassware cool down before freezing, refrigerating, or washing.
#8 – Cross-contaminating cooked and raw meats
Breaking cross-contamination rules can shut down restaurants while doing it at home can make you terribly sick.
Cross-contamination happens as a result of the accidental transmission of bacteria from uncooked meat to cooked food. If ingested, the bacteria can cause life-threatening foodborne illnesses.
To avoid all this mess, never touch raw meat and then cooked food without properly washing your hands between the two actions. This also applies to your kitchen countertops and cutting boards, which need to be thoroughly washed before making the risky switch.
#9 – Not storing leftovers properly
Who hasn’t done it before? You finish eating, put the leftovers in a Tupperware, and store it in the fridge for later use. Although it seems safe, the mistake lies in the timing!
Food left in a temperature range between 41 and 140 degrees for more than a couple of hours becomes a perfect home for bacteria that can double in numbers in less than half an hour. If ingested, this bacteria can cause dangerous foodborne illnesses.
Remember that you should never place hot food directly into the refrigerator to avoid heating up the fridge and making all other foods unsafe. Instead, wait until it’s 90° or less. Also, make sure to leave more surface area when storing your food so it can cool down faster.
#10 – Not washing cloth tote bags before reusing them
While opting for reusable shopping bags is wonderful for the environment, it may not be so wonderful for your health.
When you buy raw meat, seafood, or poultry and transport it with your tote bag, which can easily absorb the meat juices, the bacteria can form easily and contaminate other things you carry in the bag.
To avoid contamination and illnesses, wash all your tote bags after use, especially if you used them to transport meat. This way, you’ll go green safely.
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