Food Safety – Not Just for Professionals

Growing up I suspect that we are all taught about basic food safety. Washing your hands, keeping things in the fridge, washing up utensils after use and so forth. It really is an incredibly important thing to consider, especially in a professional kitchen or cafe. It really does bother me how often there is a story in the news about food poisoning because a cafe or restaurant has dropped its vigilance on cleanliness and food safety. I have often gone in search of answers to questions, using google to find out the answers to food safety questions so the latest book released by the CSIRO, Make it Safe: A Guide to Food Safety, is a fantastic resource. While it is targeted at small to medium businesses in food I believe that it is a fantastic resource for the home as well.

Make It Safe provides practical guidance on how to control food safety hazards, with a specific focus on controls suitable for implementation by small-scale businesses.

The book is available at book stores and online at the CSIRO publishing site. It is a great resource and should find a home with your cook books.

Apps for Foodies and the Three S Rule

It is a definite sign of the global interest in food and cooking, the iTunes store has launched a portal to group together food apps for the iPhone and Touch as well as the iPad. The Apps For Foodies portal contains a myriad of apps useful to food lovers from all around the world. Everything from restaurant guides, recipes, cheese, wine and cocktails and beyond.

But there is a serious lack of apps in the ethics department. This is a bit of a cause for me. I love the fact that TV and TV Chefs have turned us all into food concious consumers and we are all starting to get back into cooking for ourselves rather than take out. However I really hope that the next step is that these TV formats act in our best interests and take us to the next steps. The three S rule, Source, Season and Supplier.

Source is where does the food come from. Are you eating locally or are you eating produce that has been cold stored, shipped in from overseas and then gas ripened? Buying from a local producer or farmers market ensures quality, freshness and better taste.

Season is pretty obvious. Food is cheaper in season, getting fruit and vegetables at the wrong time of the year normally means that they have been cold stored and shipped in. However be cautious. Strawberries for example can be purchase all year round in Australia because of our unique climate spread. Check the labels and ask where the produce comes from.

Supplier is the one I get most worked up over. Did you know that brands like Thomas Dux are actually Woolworths? Don’t you think that retailers like that should be forced to display their corporate ownership. Let me get one thing straight I have no problem buying toilet paper and deodorant and Wollies. However the market domination in this country is responsible for Australia paying the highest grocery prices ever. Find a local green grocer, introduce yourself and then start shopping locally. The big chains are crucifying our growers and producers. It is embarrassing.

So next time you shop remember these three simple S words and you will save money and get a better tasting bit of fruit and veg.

Perfect Portions to Save Money

I would argue that the most difficult issue faced by anyone who cooks is to calculate the correct amount of food to buy and then prepare for a meal. The problem with portion control is that just about every recipe book and food site has recipes for 4 people, sometimes even more. And what about single people because I have found cooking for one a  monstrous challenge. But stop to think about the amount of money you waste every week on cooking too much food. Portion control is one of the most important skills you can learn.

In recent years there has been a lot of interest and activity in this space and there have been some incredibly clever uses of web based technology to help. I stumbled accross the Perfect Portions web site by accident, researching for something else. It is part of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign supported by UK organisation WRAP who are also responsible for encouraging recycling and home composting. What a fantastic idea. You click on the foods you are going to cook and then tell it how many people and it figures out how much of each item you need.

Have a think about this the next time you are shopping for yourself or for a group and here are a few tips to help you:

  • Think Logically: when you are buying potatoes for mash as an example how many would each person need? They don’t grow or shrink in size when they are mashed so consider the total amount.
  • Single Living: make enough for two and take the other half for lunch the next day.
  • Buy Bulk and Freeze: take note of bulk deals on meat and poultry and place single portions into freezer bags so that you only have to defrost what you need.
  • Left Overs: keep the discarded vegetable pieces like carrot tops and the woody parts of asparagus to make stock. And the bones and remaining meat from Chicken makes great stock too. I use left over pork and shred it to make Vietnamese style Pho.

Portion control plus using leftovers will not only save you money it will also inspire you to try dishes that you may not normally think of.

Do you have tips for using left overs? Why not leave a comment and tell us all.