Spring Clean Your Kitchen Pantry | The Heart of the Farm is the Family

Spring has something that makes me clean, especially my kitchen cabinets. Unfortunately, that feeling only lingers in the first two or three cabinets, and then I wonder why I started the project in the first place. However, if you do take spring cleaning to heart, there are a few tips you should keep in mind as you undertake this task.

Start your spring cleaning by removing any items from the pantry or closet so you can thoroughly clean and sanitize the shelves. To clean, use a mild detergent mixed with warm water appropriately, and then rinse with clean warm water. At this point, you may want to sanitize the shelves. If you are using commercially available disinfectant wipes, be sure to read the usage label. If you are making your own disinfectant using chlorine bleach, re-read the label on the bottle containing the bleach to make sure it is safe to use on kitchen and food surfaces. The bleach should be odorless.

When mixing the disinfectant, be sure to follow the University of Minnesota Extension guidelines for the correct concentration of chlorine bleach to water. If you are using an ultra chlorine bleach (6% sodium hypochlorite) mix 3/4 teaspoon per quart or 2-1 / 2 teaspoons per gallon of warm water. Regular chlorine bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) should be mixed at a concentration of 1 teaspoon per liter or 1 tablespoon per gallon of warm water. Spray or wipe off the solution and allow the shelves to air dry completely before returning groceries.

Check food freshness

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Next, check the expiration date or best before date of the foods in your cupboards. This date is set by the manufacturer and is the last recommended date for the product to be used for best quality. Most people wonder if the product can be used after that date and the answer is, it depends. It depends on the product itself, how it has been handled, how it has been stored and how it is intended to be used. For example, the shelf life of baking soda and baking soda is 12 to 18 months. This is vital for these items, otherwise the desired effects of the sourdough or the assistance in raising a dough may not occur. To test the freshness of the baking soda, mix 1 teaspoon with 1/3 cup of hot water. Vigorous foaming means that it still has an increasing force. Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. If it bubbles, it will still rise a meal.

Spices and herbs tend to be other products that stay in our cabinets for many years and lose their effectiveness in flavoring foods. In general, ground spices and herbs are best for one year and whole spices for two years when stored in a cool, dry place. If you are of an unknown age, you can use the “sniff test” to determine their freshness. Ground spices should have a strong aroma and a tangy smell when opened. Break, crush, or scrape whole spices in search of that strong, flavorful smell. Herbs that have a fresh aroma when crushed between your fingers are still fine to use. Don’t smell like pepper or chili powder, however, as these can irritate your nose.

For information about the shelf life of other items, see the Washington State University Extension publication “Cleaning Out the Kitchen Cupboard” for additional tips. The USDA FoodKeeper app provides detailed information on the safe storage and shelf life of all food.

Now determine what you want to discard. Of course, any canned food that is rusted, dented, or warped should be thrown away. Look for signs of pests such as egg shells or small holes in the packaging and discard them as well. This is also a good time to inspect and wipe down jars and cans with any build-up of dust, dirt, or other debris. By using food of the highest quality, we can avoid food waste. If you are unsure about an item, remember to throw it away when in doubt.

When preparing to refill your closet, be sure to check the expiration date or best buy date and place older dated items on the front to make sure they are used first. This is the first in, first out (FIFO) storage method. Michigan State University suggests using a permanent marker on future items to mark the date of purchase and then using FIFO when you store the shelf. This is much easier to read than the manufacturer’s data. Remember that the ideal storage temperature for non-perishable foods is between 50 and 70 F.

If possible, avoid storing food in cupboards by the stove, in the dishwasher or under the sink, or in places with extreme temperature fluctuations such as the garage or basement.

A clean and well-organized pantry helps make food preparation more efficient and enjoyable, and is also important for food safety.

Now that your pantry is cleaned, it’s time to take on the next spring cleaning project.

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