Most times when people get food poisoning it isn’t from a restaurant. In most cases, they get it from food they’ve cooked themselves. And that is because they didn’t follow the proper food handling rules to make sure the food is safe to eat.
The problem is elevated in the summer when people start cooking outside. Between the less than clean conditions to the fact that food sits out in the heat, there are a number of ways that we put ourselves at risk during the summer season.
In this article, I will go over exactly how to keep yourself safe from food borne illnesses specific to when you cook in your outdoor kitchen.
1 – Wash everything
You should wash all of your veggies before eating as well as your hands and all work surfaces. And your hands and work surfaces should be washed often. Cross contamination is very easy to pass along when you aren’t keeping everything clean.
Which is why you need to have a working outdoor sink station to make your life easier and the area cleaner. In this sink you can wash all of your vegetables and fruit and your hands every time you touch some meat or other items that haven’t been sanitized.
Any cutting board needs to be washed with warm soapy water anytime you cut meat or chicken before you use it for your vegetables or fruit. Your grilling tools should be cleaned before you use them especially if you tend to leave them out since your last cooking session.
2 – Keep it chilled
If you don’t have an outdoor fridge then you need to invest in a cooler big enough to hold everything that you’re going to be cooking that day. In the summer, it doesn’t take long for foods to reach the danger zone temperature in which bad bacteria can grow and pose a problem.
Be aware of the temperature outside as well as the timing of the cooking so you can keep them cool until the time they need to be cooked. If they sit out for too long you’re in trouble. The same goes for when they are done cooking as they can sit for too long before eating.
Keep raw meat at the bottom of the cooler as the cold air will settle there making it the coolest spot. The things you plan to cook first should be on top as well.
3 – Cook it enough
It’s very tempting to eat that medium rare burger, but it is best to cook the meat enough to kill any potential contamination that may be lurking. Despite your best efforts, cooking outside is still not exactly a sterile area.
Burgers should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F to kill any bacteria that may have been on the surface of the meat before it was ground. Likewise any type of pork product like chops. Of course chicken needs to be cooked through so look for an internal temperature of 165° F before taking it off of the grill.