Prepping your kitchen for summer produce

Prepping your kitchen for purchasing quantities of fresh Michigan produce.

With the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available in local grocery stores and at farmer’s markets, you want to be sure that your kitchen is ready to safely store all of this produce.

Michigan State University Extension recommends that you follow these suggestions for a market fresh ready kitchen:

  • Clean, clean, clean. Clear off counter tops and wipe them down with a good kitchen cleanser or a mixture of baking soda and water. If you haven’t cleaned for a while it’s also good idea to rinse off counters with a mixture of one tablespoon chlorine bleach in one gallon of water.
  • While you’re bleaching the counters tops, disinfect your cutting boards. Leave the bleach mixture on wooden cutting boards for five minutes and then rinse.
  • Check to see that cutting boards are clean and free of cracks or chips where bacteria can hide. Check your knives at the same time to make sure they are clean and sharp.
  • Clean out your refrigerator. Remove old, outdated food and toss. Also toss all of those left-overs you never got around to eating. Check crisper drawers for no longer fresh fruits and veggies and toss them. Once your drawers and refrigerator are empty, clean them with baking soda and water. You want to have lots of clean, empty space to store the produce you’ll be bringing home.
  • If you’ll be freezing your produce, clean out the freezer by tossing old or outdated packages and defrosting, if necessary. Check that you have plenty of freezer bags or containers in pint, quart and gallon sizes. Freezer containers need to be designed for freezing food. Never use old, left-over plastic containers that once held other foods like margarine or whipped toppings.
  • If you’ll be canning produce, check your canning equipment to make sure it works properly. Canning can be done by water bath or pressure canner. Once you know which method you’ll use, make a list of canning supplies you’ll need to purchase at the store. Also, clear space for storage of filled canning jars.

Once your cooking area is clean and uncluttered and you have all of the supplies that you’ll need, it’s time to visit those farmer’s markets. Happy shopping!

For more information on buying Michigan fresh fruits and vegetables and for preserving your summer bounty, contact your local MSU Extension.

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