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Spring clean your way to a safer kitchen

By Staff | Apr 4, 2014

As the green grass begins to pop up outdoors, we often feel energized to do some projects. After a long winter, tackling a “spring cleaning” of our refrigerators and kitchen cupboards might be a good place to start.

1. Check out the foods in your refrigerator. Could some of the foods become your dinner? If any of the foods are moldy or well past their “use by” date, toss them!

Check out the “Pinchin’ Pennies in the Kitchen” series at www.ag.ndsu.edu/foodwise/smart-shopping to learn how to make soup, casseroles, omelets and other foods with the leftovers in your kitchen.

2. Sort the foods in you cupboards. Are you cupboards arranged in “first-in, first-out” order? Are similar items (tomatoes, canned fruit) group together? Do you write the date of purchase on the foods you buy?

Check out the new “What’s in Your Home Food Pantry?” handout at www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn1706.pdf for some ideas for foods to keep on hand.

3. Try these kitchen cleaning tips. Harmful bacteria such as salmonella, staphylococcus, E. coli and listeria can lurk in our kitchens. Try these tips from the national Fight BAC campaign:

Clean surfaces. Wash countertops and cutting boards with hot, soapy water, then sanitize them. You can use a commercial disinfecting kitchen cleaner or make your own “sanitizer” with 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of water. Put the bleach mixture in a spray bottle or wipe it on with a clean rag. Finally, blot dry with a clean paper towel or allow to air-dry.

Disinfect dishcloths. Bacteria love to grow on dishcloths because they often are moist and provide some “food.” Replace daily. Use the hot-water cycle of the washing machine and dry them in the dryer.

Clean your refrigerator. Wash the refrigerator surfaces with hot, soapy water and rinse with a damp cloth. Do not use a chlorine-based sanitizer in your refrigerator because it can damage seals, gaskets, and linings.

Disinfect your veggie-cleaning brushes. Wash them with hot, soapy water, then rinse and place in the top rack of the dishwasher. Run the brushes through on a sanitizing cycle with the rest of your dishes, or soak in a bleach mixture (see above).

BY: Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Fresh Salsa

1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 c. onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 medium onion)

1/2 large green bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 to 1 whole jalapeno pepper, finely chopped*

4 large Roma (paste) tomatoes, chopped

1 small bunch of cilantro leaves, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. lemon juice or lime juice (freshly squeezed)

Mix ingredients together and serve. Store covered in the refrigerator and use within a few days. Serve with whole-grain crackers or chips.

*Note: Be cautious when handling jalapeno peppers. Wear plastic gloves if possible and wash your hands thoroughly. The “heat” is in the seeds and veins.

This salsa recipe is not suitable for canning.

Makes 4 servings. Per Serving: about 35 calories, 0 grams (g) of fat, 8 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 2 g fiber, 25% of the daily value for vitamin A and 70% of the daily value for vitamin C.

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