We’ve all got our dirty little home kitchen secrets that we wouldn’t want anyone to find out about. From not washing the cooking utensils to pretending that our legendary secret recipes are anything but store-bought dressings in a jar. And anyone who pretends that they don’t cut at least one corner in the kitchen is most likely keeping up appearances. God forbid someone found out they don’t wash their bread knife!
In a very candid and thoroughly fun thread, the anonymous home cooks of Reddit opened up about the things that they do in the kitchen that they wouldn’t want others to find out. It’s an honest look at the fact that nobody’s perfect (not even the saints!) and that just because you don’t follow the rules 100% at home doesn’t mean that the world will end.
Scroll down for some of the best-kept kitchen secrets and let us know which ones sounded eerily familiar, dear Pandas. And remember… keep your kitchens clean, but don’t spend every moment of your day polishing the oven dials with a toothbrush. However, for food-related businesses, tip-top hygiene is non-negotiable.
Bored Panda had a wonderful chat about hygiene in the kitchen, how pathogens thrive, the worst things that you can do while prepping food, and erring on the side of caution with Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin.
Jessica is a talented pie artist, food expert, and author of the book ‘Pies Are Awesome.’ She went into a lot of detail with us about the food safety acronym ‘FATTOM’ and when cutting corners starts becoming dangerous, whether you’re cooking at home or professionally.
Did I use this measuring cup for water? Great! Wipe it down and stick it back in the drawer. Whatcha gonna do – use water to wash the water off?
“I’m sure even classically trained chefs have the odd habit or foible that would raise an eyebrow or two outside of their kitchen… I would hope that professional chefs have put to bed any habits that would violate food safety regulations, but I’ve certainly observed eccentric techniques from pros that make me cringe, like cutting towards their thumb when peeling fruit (ugh! seen that go wrong a few times!) if not actual unsafe techniques that would lead to cross-contamination or pathogen growth,” pie artist Jessica shared with Bored Panda.
The pie artist was candid that she still has a few whacky habits that she hasn’t corrected yet. “I often make a mess when I crack eggs, and my batter-stirring technique could be a lot more efficient!”
However, when it comes to actual safety, she always errs on the side of caution and takes cleanliness very seriously. “When I cook with my son, I go over the location of the extinguishers and fire blanket and correct knife handling every time. And I am a (not-so-closeted) germaphobe so I use dozens of flexible cutting mats that I can wash on high heat in the dishwasher to cover every surface I work on.”
It’s just me and my husband. When I cook for the two of us, for example, I love making homemade sauces and gravy and sometimes I will do a taste test and lick the spoon then stir it right back into the pot. He knows I do it and he doesn’t mind. We already kiss each other so why not? Lol
Jessica admitted that she doesn’t actually work directly on the counter. “I just don’t trust anything that can’t be fully sterilized. So I guess my dirty little kitchen secret is actually an excessively clean little kitchen secret,” she quipped. “To be clear, there is nothing wrong with working directly on your counter if you clean it properly, I’m just a weirdo!”
Bored Panda also wanted to get Jessica’s take on the dangers present in the kitchen and what we should always avoid doing, at all costs.
“The worst thing that can be done in the kitchen in terms of hygiene is treating the ‘dangerous’ ingredients in the same fashion as all the other ingredients in your food prep. Pathogens (the little things in food that can make us sick like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and microorganisms) thrive in certain foods more than others,” she said.
Objectively, I know fresh garlic is always better, but I am lazy and my garlic press is difficult to clean, so 90% of the time I use the jarred minced stuff and just double it to make up for the lower potency.
“Raw chicken, raw egg, unpasteurized milk, seafood, and raw flour (people often forget that one!) in particular are fertile breeding ground for nasties and need to be treated differently than other foods.”
Jessica told us all about the food safety acronym ‘FATTOM’ that stands for “Food supply (protein), low acidity, time, temperature, oxygen, and moisture.” She told us that it’s used as a guide to determine which foods are more likely to go bad quickly.
“You can use this as a quick rule of thumb to determine how dangerous the ingredients you are working with are. For example, if you are working with something with a very high acid content like lemons, jam, or pickles, or something with a very low moisture content like crackers or rice cakes, you really don’t have to worry about them sitting out on the counter for hours or touching other food. They just don’t have enough of what the pathogens need to grow.”
She continued: “On the other hand, something like raw shrimp which has a high moisture content and lots of protein for pathogens to eat really needs to be carefully monitored for how long it is left out in the open air in ‘danger zone’ temperatures and kept far away from other food and utensils.” Jessica added that temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees F (4 to 60 degrees C) are the danger zone for pathogen growth.
Measuring spoons immediately go back into their place if they were used to scoop salt or sugar…and maybe flour and perhaps cornstarch after a gentle wipe out.
I will often put food in the fridge before it has cooled to room temp because I want to go the hell to bed… I also eat dinner right before bed a lot.
One thing to keep in mind while running your kitchen is how you’d feel if you were a guest at someone’s home and they’d do (or fail to do) the same things in their kitchen as you did in yours.
Would you feel disgusted if someone invited you over for dinner and you found out that they didn’t wash their cast-iron pans? If so, you might want to reconsider how you wash your own dishes. It’s a two-way street after all when you’ve got people over.
On the flip side, if you’re cooking just for yourself and your cleaning habits (or lack thereof) haven’t landed you in the hospital over the past couple of decades, well, keep doing what you’re doing.
If I drop a piece of vegetable or meat on the ground that is still to be fried I’ll happily throw it back in the pan if it doesn’t look icky.
Almost everything in the kitchen is treated as dishwasher safe. Anything that turns out not to be dishwasher safe (i.e. falls apart) is replaced by something that is.
(“almost” because the cast iron pan and wooden chopping boards are not going into the dishwasher – and obviously anything electrical doesn’t, though I’ll tend to prefer ones where the bits that need washing can be separated nicely)
Officially, we’re all for maximum hygiene and effort. Unofficially, we completely understand that not everyone has the willpower reserves to wash a teaspoon they used for salt after a mentally exhausting and emotionally draining week at work or school. Just give it a quick rub with a kitchen towel and hide it in the cutlery drawer. It’ll be our dirty little secret.
Things are very different when you’re running a catering business or a restaurant. When you’re cooking for others, you’re responsible for their health. If you don’t adhere to hygiene rules, you’ll get shut down in a flash.
When a food inspector comes over, they’ll check your permits, see what temperatures you’re keeping your ingredients at. They’ll also check to see if there are any pests in the restaurant and if you’re keeping everything as clean as needed. One thing to definitely look out for is cross-contamination: it is imperative that you avoid keeping cooked and raw meat next to each other.
I do not always wash my non-stick pan. Especially if I fried something in it like eggs or bacon. I use the “residual” flavouring in my next dish the next day.
When I mince garlic I like to take a chunk of hard cheese and when I’ve scraped what I need off the cutting board, I use the cheese as Velcro to pick up any stray pieces of raw garlic and eat it. Disgusting snack? Probably. Delicious? To me, yes
I’ve completely given up on making broth and just cheat with bouillon 100% of the time
I use the same cup for tea every day and I hardly ever wash it. If I feel up to it it will do a quick rinse after I’m done with it but even then I’ll usually just use the hot water to rinse before I brew my tea in it.
When testing baked goods with a knife, if they are not done yet I wipe the gooey batter off with my finger to eat, knife is “clean” for the next poke 5 min later
Well, I always try to reuse paper towels as much as possible. So this leads me to leave a used paper towel on the counter. I have no problem with this, but I feel like most people would think I’m being a slob.
I’m a working chef. During the summer I cook on the grill as much as possible. Everyone raves about my kabobs and is convinced it’s some secret chef knowledge. It’s Italian dressing. Not even the good kind, the cheapest one will do.
I don’t wash my wok, or other pans I want to keep seasoned. Used to be a breakfast line cook for years, and this may make you a little leery about going out for breakfast, but on the line, we never ever washed our egg pans after they were seasoned and the eggs didn’t stick. At the end of the shift just add some oil and a good bit of salt and scrub it out with a clean kitchen towel. Get all the food bits off, flip the towel and wipe out anything into the trash.
When I am wiping down the counters at the end of the day, all the crumbs or whatever just go straight to the floor. I figure the dog or the rumba will get it, not my problem.
I use MSG for soups, stews, stir fry sauce, and other times I want to add more “savory” to a dish. Siblings know and they don’t mind. Parents would probably say “Oh ok” and keep eating. Grandma would kill me.
My dirtier secret is using a knife to open a bag of something and then using it for other stuff without washing e.g. slicing open a bag of broccoli and then chopping it with the same knife.
Me, skiing with my cousin:
Me: What’s this white stuff on your poles, road salt?
Cousin: Oh nah it’s just flour, I was hanging some linguini on them.
Mine is that I have several good quality knives including Japanese double bevel knives. Heck, I even have sharpening stones. But I just use the el cheapo sharpening wheel that all knife enthusiasts disapprove of.
Well, guess what? There is no better solution that lets me sharpen knives in 15 seconds. And it hasn’t “ruined” my knives either. Sure, it gives a much rougher edge but the sharpness is acceptable to me – I’m not trying to shave with my knives, I just need it to cut things without slipping.
This has worked for me for many years now.
I put what is left on plates back in with the leftovers. Especially my kids plates because they randomly eat it all, but usually not.
I’ve never washed my coffee cup…ever. I tell my wife the hotness of the coffee cleans it. It has a brown crust.
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