Cooking and eating flavorful foods at home, safely

Food safety goes beyond public food establishments. Keep the food you prepare at home fresh and safe.

Cooking healthy and flavorful meals and snacks should be the goal for people who prepare home cooked meals. Keep home food safety in mind to avoid spreading foodborne illness by following basic home food safety tips. You can prepare home cooked meals and snacks that are both healthy and tasty by using the following food safety recommendations:

Handwashing before food preparation

  • Always wash hands before handling and cooking food this will help to prevent transferring bacteria from your hands to your food.

Clean and sanitize

Preparing produce with nutrition, flavor and safety in mind

  • Whether your produce is organic or conventionally grown, wash all fresh fruits and vegetables with cool tap water.
  • Leave edible skins on vegetables and fruits such as carrots, potatoes or pears, and trim away as little skin as possible. Most vitamins and minerals are found in the outer leaves, skin and areas just below the skin, not in the center.
  • Cook vegetables that need to be cooked longer into larger pieces. With fewer surfaces exposed, fewer vitamins are lost.

Cooking for nutrition, flavor and safety

  • Overcooking meat can detract from its flavor. Use a food thermometer to determine when meat and other food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature and to prevent overcooking. 
  • Cook vegetables or fruits in a small amount of water, or steam them in a vegetable steamer, covered pot or a microwave oven. Steaming retains nutrients and there’s a flavor advantage, too: Unless they are overcooked, vegetables retain the color and tender-crisp qualities that make them appealing.

Storing foods for safety and flavor

  • Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below to slow bacteria growth that spoils food and ruins flavor.
  • When freezing, pack food items in freezer bags or airtight containers. Squeeze air from bags before sealing and leave some space in containers in case foods expands.
  • Incorporating food safety when preparing and cooking homemade meals will ensure that the food you cooked is not only flavorful but safe to eat.

Michigan State University Extension recommends people follow food safety recommendations when preparing food.

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