Spring Clean and Reorganize Your Kitchen
Posted: April 1, 2013
Karen Blakeslee, Kansas State University food scientist, provides the following tips for spring cleaning and reorganizing your kitchen.
1. Remove all items from one or two cupboards at a time before washing the cupboard, inside and outside. Allow time for the cupboards to air dry and check them for cracks or holes which should be caulked to protect foods from insect damage. Re-usable washable shelf-liners should be washed and air-dried or replaced, too.
2. Discard food products with signs of insect or other damage, such as a dented can or a cracked glass jar.
3. Sort products by type and date. Non-perishable foods like canned fruits, vegetables or soups, and dried food products such as fruit or packaged pastas, usually have a “Use-By” date to indicate a date to which the product is expected to retain food quality, flavor and texture.
4. Evaluate spices and flavorings that typically lose food quality after opening. Spices should be stored in a cool, dry place, and used within six months and replaced yearly.
5. When returning food to the clean cupboard – or restocking – practice FIFO (First-In-First-Out). Place the newest foods behind older foods that should be used first. This will help ensure that you are consuming food prior to expiration date/spoilage and will save you money by reducing the amount of food to discard.
6. Store pots, pans, or dishes, rather than food, near warm locations like heating vents. Store seldom-used items, such as holiday cookie cutters, in out-of-the way or seldom-used cupboards, such as the small cupboard over the refrigerator. Organize smaller gadgets by type in baskets or boxes within a drawer. Designate a cupboard close to the sink and dishwasher to store dishes, table and glassware.
7. Sort utensils and choose one or two favorites of each type; pass still usable items on to students, or others who are setting up a household, or donate to a thrift shop.
8. Empty the refrigerator periodically and discard leftovers or other foods that are past their prime. Make sure foods are either wrapped or in covered containers and dated to help with rotation. If possible, remove shelves and drawers for cleaning. Clean the exterior with warm, soapy water and vacuum dust and dirt from under the appliance. Set the refrigerator so that the ambient temperature is 38 degrees F. Don’t overload it since it is important to allow cool air to circulate.
9. Check labels on both commercially packaged frozen food and food prepared at home for best used by dates and/or the date frozen. Make sure stored food is wrapped sufficiently. It is recommended that foods purchased frozen should be stored in original packaging. Check the temperature of your freezer. For proper food storage, a temperature of zero degrees F or less should always be maintained.
Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State Extension in Lackawanna County.