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Oct 3, 2012 06:10 PM

Kitchen habits you stopped after you realized they were questionable

Growing up we had a Crisco can on the stove with recycled grease that was used for weeks. It had about five inches of sludge at the bottom. (Yuck!) When I moved out on my own I continued this habit until I realized that the weird taste in fried foods was rancid oil. So I started straining and refrigerating used oil. Made a big difference. Now I may reuse a couple of times before discarding. Anyone else?

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  1. Great topic!

    Stopped using non-stick cookware/bakeware because of off-gassing.

    Stopped using olive oil for actual cooking due to low smoking point and chemical changes upon heating. I now only use it as a finish/garnish and cook with mostly coconut oil instead.

    Stopped cutting the visibly moldy part off of fruit, veggies, cheese. I just toss the whole thing. Mold has hyphae that extend beyond what's visible.

    Stopped storing espresso grounds in the freezer. Apparently this creates condensation, which reduces freshness.

    7 Replies
    1. re: topbanana

      I don't cut the mold off fruits or vegetables but I absolutely do off cheese.

      1. re: biondanonima

        I agree. I vaguely remember reading why it's OK when you're talking about cheese, but not OK when it's bread. Of course, the science escapes me now.

        1. re: danna

          as long as it's green or white, trim it off and eat the rest.

          If it's pink or orange (and these strains are flourescent/day-glo pink and orange) -- chuck the whole thing -- those are the nasties that have long "roots" and produce some pretty nasty toxins.

        2. re: biondanonima

          Ditto. Hard Cheese gets trimmed, produce gets tossed.

          1. re: biondanonima

            I used to toss moldy fruit, but now I just cut around the moldy spots, toss that, and eat the rest. A lot of produce is at its very best right before it goes over.

            1. re: EWSflash

              That's when i think fruit is best. There are some exceptions. Apples, melons, berries.

          2. re: topbanana

            Insightful post, topbanana. Learned new terms: “off-gassing” and “hyphae.”

          3. I stopped storing garlic confit (garlic slow-cooked in olive oil) in the fridge for ages. There's a lot of debate, but supposedly the low-oxygen, low-acid environment makes botulism a possibility, and even though I haven't died yet, it's probably not worth the risk. I store it in the freezer instead now!

            1 Reply
            1. re: biondanonima

              I made the exact same change - garlic/olive oil in the freezer.

            2. Years ago I'd think nothing of pulling frozen meat out of the freezer, placing on a plate and defrosting at room temperature while I was at work for the day.

              18 Replies
              1. re: meatn3

                My mom did that all the time too. My sister in-law still does it, drives me crazy!

                1. re: Jpan99

                  I do that all the time - my workday is on the short side, though, and my kitchen is generally cool. The meat is usually still cold and often still frozen in the center when I get home.

                  1. re: biondanonima

                    +1 I do this with most of my meat though often if I remember to take it out of the freezer in the morning I will put it in a bowl of cool water. I have never suffered any consequences, so it seems to be OK at least for me. Also, the meat is generally always still cold, and most often still partially frozen which is highly frustrating :)

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      I have to say I second the meat on the counter thing. Food borne illness can be a nasty thing but if our mothers and sisters in law have been doing it for years and no one suffered any ill consequences the risks can't really be that high.

                      1. re: delys77

                        Count me in, too. I wouldn't leave out meat long-term if the room temp was in the 80s, but "normal" temp and frozen meat--yes.

                        1. re: pine time

                          Me too. Kind of drives my wife crazy, but since I'm the cook, I have the final say.

                          1. re: pine time

                            I'm in the south - room temp in the summer is often in the '80's!

                            1. re: meatn3

                              Yeah, I only do that in the winter. On the other hand, I don't think that having it sit out frozen for two hours will poison you. Unless maybe it's chicken or other poultry, which brings another question- are duck, goose, turkey, et al as prone to poisoning you as chicken?

                              1. re: EWSflash

                                The point I stopped doing this I was cooking for a few people with compromised immune systems. One of those things where it is probably fine in most cases...In this case once I became aware of the possibility I stopped. Never really took it up again. Basically just got in the habit of putting it in the fridge a day or so prior depending upon the size of the item.

                                I would imagine grinds to have the most potential for problems. No idea about the other varieties of poultry.

                    1. re: meatn3

                      I defrost on the counter as well but mostly overnight when the kitchen is cooler. Of course you only need to plan before hand.

                      1. re: letsindulge

                        Generally if I take out something the night before and put it in the fridge it need less time when I get home from work.

                          1. re: letsindulge

                            Take it out of the freezer, transfer to a zip lock bag, and put it in a pot of cold water (on the counter or in the fridge)

                            This method will defrost a 1lb frozen brick of ground meat in two hours or less.

                            My only trick is to separate everything into servings before freezing - i.e. 2-4 chicken thighs, 2-4 pork chops, etc

                            1. re: mcap

                              That's what I do. Out of the freezer, into a bowl of cold water in the fridge. Usually I remember to do it when I get home from work and before I go to the gym, so the meat is thawed by the time I'm home for good. I'm cooking for one, so everything is single serve. If I'm pressed for time or the portion is larger, I will leave the faucet on slightly, so the water is constantly circulating and the meat thaws faster.

                      2. re: meatn3

                        I've defrosted many solidly frozen meat packs in the sink during the day. Still do from time to time, but prefer putting the meat in the fridge for a day or two.

                        1. re: meatn3

                          I use Alton Brown's method: put frozen meat in a ziploc bag (tightly sealed) and put in a sink with cold water just to cover. Weight it with something (I use a marble cheese-board/cutter) and then turn the water to its loooooowwwwest setting (barely dribbling). The motion (convection I think?) of the water that is dribbling DRAMATICALLY reduces the amount of time it takes to defrost the meat, and while it's defrosting the item keeps the surrounding water cold enough that it doesn't fall into the "danger zone" (where the outside is warm enough for beasties to grow).

                          Last night I defrosted a frozen-solid block of three boneless pork chops in about 45 minutes.

                          Only warning: don't let the sink overflow! Not that I've done that....

                          Oh -- and if you let the water run down the inside of the sink surface, you won't get that annoying, I-have-to-pee!-inducing dribbling sound.

                        2. Switched from teflon to ceramic and cast iron when I learned about the toxins non-stick cookware releases

                          For similar reasons, stopped using plastic containers and utensils which come into contact with hot liquids and in the microwave

                          Stopped putting bread in the fridge when I realized that caused it to dry out. Now when I buy bread, I freeze half the loaf and keep the other half at room temperature

                          Stopped putting all fruits and vegetables together. Separated ethylene producing and sensitive produce and separated those that require high and low humidity.

                          Stopped using a garlic press to mince garlic which tends to turn cloves into garlic juice. A microplane does the job better and faster than a knife.

                          Stopped using aluminum cookware. Alzheimer's concerns aside, they overheat quicker and impact a metallic taste to the food.

                          Stopped using pre-ground spices and grind whole as needed.

                          Stopped sauteeing garlic with onions. Now I throw in the garlic just before the onions are done so it doesn't burn and overpower the dish.

                          Stopped buying shredded cheese and shred my own now after having cream cheese sauces separate on me.

                          Stopped buying ground coffee. Instead I buy freshly roasted whole beans and grind the amount I need before brewing.

                          Stopped keeping dairy and perishables on the door shelves of the fridge where they would go rancid quicker. The coldest part of the fridge, the bottom shelf towards the back is where I put them and they last a lot longer.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Chi_Guy

                            Chi_Guy, I second many habits you stopped. Especially non-stick, plastic, and garlic cooking time.

                          2. This is going to sound horrible, but before I developed severe food allergies, I definitely applied the 5-second rule at least once in a while to things that had fallen on the floor.

                            Now, I am a pretty smart person. I realized then, as well as now, that the 5-second rule (or any second rule) has no actual basis in scientific fact. I just didn't worry about it. I still probably worry less about bacterial contamination than the average person who is immunocompromised (I'm on immunosupressants). But using an epi pen and having to go to the ER is just way to much of a pain for me.