Cooking with Tan Chef Tan Mackay

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Chef Tan Cooking with Tan

Home    Introduction    Basics 

Recipes    Contact


Cooking with Tan

Home    Introduction    Basics 

Recipes    Contact

Basics for the Novice Cook

Kitchen Hygiene

This is a vast and highly important subject area, especially for those of us that work in commercial kitchens. I'm only going to cover some of the more problematic areas as I’m sure some of you will want to start cooking as soon as possible but, if you get the chance, it’s worth going on the internet to find out more.

The topic areas covered here are:

Food Storage ,   Expired Foods,   Allergens ,   Defrosting,   Cleanliness,   Raw Meat ,   Cooking Versus Heating Up,   Temperature Danger Zone ,   Washing Up Afterwards


Food Storage: - You’ve been food shopping and you have some high risk foods in your bags, so get home straight away, and put the frozen stuff in the freezer and the cold stuff in the fridge, even before you put the kettle on. Any low risk foods (vegetables, rice, breakfast cereals, etc) should be stored somewhere clean and dry. Arrange how you store your food so that the older items are used before the newer items.

Expired Foods: - Don’t use foodstuffs that are past their “use by” dates. Foodstuffs that are past their “best before” dates may be safe to eat but the quality may have deteriorated. In any event, don’t use any foodstuffs that look suspect or have a suspect odour.

Allergens: - Some people have very serious reactions to certain types of foodstuffs even if in tiny quantities. Establish if your diners have allergies and ensure you don’t serve them food or drink that contain substances that they are allergic to, whether directly or indirectly through cross contamination. Ingredients and allergen information should normally be found on the packaging of processed foods.

Defrosting:- Some frozen foods can be cooked straight from the freezer – but only if the packaging expressly states this. Raw meats should be thoroughly defrosted before cooking. Items that have a high mass such as a whole chicken or beef joint will take considerably longer to defrost than say bacon rashers and may need removing from the freezer 24 hours or longer, before cooking.

Cleanliness:- Don’t let foodstuffs become contaminated with germs, chemicals such as disinfects, or foreign objects such as hair or pieces of packaging. Before you start to prepare food for cooking, wash your hands and make sure your clothing and working environment are clean too. Wash your hands regularly throughout food preparation to avoid cross contamination.

Raw Meat:- Consider raw meat to be a major hazard. It will harbour serious germs. Don’t let it come into contact with other foodstuffs (including cooked meats); avoid other forms of cross contamination so don’t use the same knife and chopping board for other foodstuffs; don’t bother to wash chicken (washing chicken under a running tap will splash water droplets and will spread dangerous germs even further). When you’ve finished preparing raw meat, get rid of any packaging and wash your hands before touching anything else.

Cooking Versus Heating Up:- We cook food to kill germs and also to alter the texture of the food. For example, if we bring a potato to boiling point, we will have killed the germs, but the potato will still be too hard to eat and will need perhaps a further 20 minutes before it is soft enough to be edible. Meats such as chicken can have harmful bacteria throughout, so it's not sufficient just to kill the bacteria on the exposed area - the temperature at the core will also need to be sufficient to kill bacteria. Food that has been previously cooked, should only need heating up again to the point that all the germs are killed.

Temperature Danger Zone:- Don’t leave cooked food lying around. Either keep it hot and covered, or otherwise cool it down as quickly as possible and put it in the fridge. Bacteria will thrive and multiply in temperatures between 5 and 63 degrees centigrade (the danger zone).

Washing Up Afterwards: - Scrape food waste into a bin. Use a dishwasher if you have access to one, otherwise wash pots, pans, crockery and cutlery thoroughly in hot water and washing up liquid. Leave to drain dry. If you want to dry with a tea towel then make sure it is a clean one – tea towels, scourers, dishcloths, etc are notorious for harbouring bacteria.


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