Food is our body’s main fuel. On one hand, if we give it what it needs, it will heal itself, but on the other hand, if we don’t pay attention to different signals, we might be slowly poisoning ourselves.
Here are 8 hints that will help you prepare food safely, both in the comfort of your own kitchen, but also if you’re out in the wilds. Just follow these simple steps, and your food will be blessing for your body.
#1. Wash your hands
More than ever, our hands are full of bacteria and germs that we would want anywhere, but on our plates. Washing your hands with warm water (and soap, if available) for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw food is enough to prevent any contamination pre- or post-cooking.
#2. Know how to pick your ingredients
When it comes to choosing the raw foods you will later cook, there are a few aspects you might want to take into consideration:
- Fruits and vegetables should be fresh (or frozen), without any weird-colored spots. That guarantees you the highest quantity of nutrients, but it also helps you avoid buying rotten products.
- They should have no signs of damage, as germs and bacteria can enter through the bruise and contaminate the fruit
- Meat, poultry and fish should also be fresh. If you sense any weird color or smell coming from the packaging, don’t buy it!
- When buying eggs, make sure their shell is clean and compact, with no cracks in it.
- If you use canned foods, make sure you avoid any rusty or teared can. Aim for the ermetic closed ones, with no leaks.
#3. Clean, separate, cook, chill
These are the 4 rules when it comes to actual food prepping:
Clean – sanitize often the surfaces and tools you’re using, but also your hands.
Separate – meaning avoid cross-contamination. Use different tools for meat and vegetables, as well as for any source of raw protein (egg yolk or egg white, meat). For instance, if you placed an egg yolk in a cup, wash it with warm water and dish drops before reuse.
Cook – use the right temperature. And this applies especially to meat, as temperature is the key factor in killing the germs, bacteria and other possible threats.
While fresh pork, lamb, beef and veal should have an internal temperature of at least 145°F, when ground meat, you should raise it to 160°F. Also, poultry requires a 165°F heat level to be well prepared.
Chill – refrigerate any leftover within 2 hours and consume them in max. 4 days.
#4. Be aware of “the danger zone”
“The danger zone” refers to the maximum time food is safe at room temperature. Do not exceed 120 minutes, or, if outside temperature is 90°F or higher, maximum 60 minutes.
If you’re out in the nature, dig a hole for any leftovers, but make sure you wrap them in a bag, foil or any fabric that will keep them safe.
#5. Sanitize your cooking space
Vinegar and lemon make a hell of a team when talking about cleaning and sanitizing. Use them in your kitchen, or to clean the cutting boards and knives by the river. They will also prevent rust, if any of your kitchen tools are prone to it.
#6. Don’t wash the meat
Because germs and bacteria that are found in meat react only to high temperatures, washing raw chicken might actually worsen the situation and help cross-contaminating, as it will spread the bacteria to all the surfaces that meat and water contacted.
#7. Wash (and peel) the fruits and vegetables
The botanical counterparts are not as fastidious. The germs are usually found on the skin, and are quickly scared by warm water and a thorough cleansing (without soap or chemicals, which are not edible).
If it feels like it is not enough, just peel the fruit (but use it as a last resort, as many nutrients are also found in the skin)
#8. Cook the meat thoroughly
As long as you pay attention to the 4 golden words, cooking the meat at the right temperature should not be an issue.
Cut it with a knife and check for any pink spots (if there are any, it isn’t well cooked). Also, avoid blood leaks (or any other fluid, for that matter), and try switching it from one side to another every 5 minutes, to ensure a proper degree of cooking.
What other tricks do you use to prepare food safely? Share your thoughts and leave your message in the comment section below!