Betty’s Spring-Cleaning Series
Clean Out Your Kitchen in Just One Hour
–Francine Segan, Betty Food+Home Editor
Ah, Spring. Pretty flower buds and little green shoots are popping up everywhere. Time to take a cue from nature and get rid of all that old brown yucky stuff in your kitchen and replace it with nice, new, fresh stuff.
Sure, it’d be nice if you cleaned the oven, changed the box of baking soda in the fridge and wiped down all the appliances, but if you’ve only got an hour, then the best spring cleaning you can do for your kitchen is to clear it out.
The goal is to work for only one hour and create more space in your kitchen. If you’ve got more space, it’ll be easier to be neat and easier to clean.
Pantry, Freezer and Fridge
Grab a big plastic garbage bag and fill it. Yep, to the top … you may even need a second bag. Throw in anything you haven’t used in a year. Yes, anything. Look, statistics show that if you haven’t used it in the past 12 months, chances are you aren’t going to use it in the next 12. It’s just taking up space. That half empty jar of molasses, hard as a rock brown sugar, cocktail olives from your Millennium New Year’s party … all in the bag.
Maybe you bought a bunch of ingredients for a recipe you never made (or will make) but they’re still good, and you hate throwing them away-think about bringing them to a local food bank or seeing if a neighbor could use them. Just get them out of your house!
Another way to make room is to combine things in the same category into one container. Got three different BBQ sauces each one-third full? Pour them all into one of the bottles. Those six different kinds of herbal tea? Put them all into one of the boxes or into one Tupperware container.
Now that the fridge, pantry and freezer aren’t jammed full of stuff maybe next week you can wash them, but for now, pat yourself on the back on move on to the spice rack.
I’ve never been to your house, but, trust me, I’m pretty confident you have too many spices. How did they all get in there? Most of them expired long ago. Fossils have more flavor than the spices you’ve got.
Let’s get rid of them in 3 ways:
1. Throw some out. If it was once green and now it’s only sort of beige, either throw it out or give it to your kids to use instead of glitter.
2. Use it or lose it. If you didn’t throw it out like I asked you to, then use it! Seriously. Make a big spring herb soup, then save it to use in gravy, stews or other soups.
To do so: Saute an onion in some olive oil and add all those jars of herbs you really can’t even remember why you bought. Toss in the celery leaves, sage, lemon grass … come on, you know the ones I mean. Then add a little stock and simmer for a few minutes. Puree and freeze in little zip lock baggies to use as stock over the next few months.
3. Combine spices. If you can’t do either of the above, then at least reduce the number of spice jars by combining them. When you cook you probably combine a few different herbs and spices. So why bother opening a bunch of different spices? Instead, combine a few spices and herbs to make your own personal seasoning mixes. Use an old mason jar or clean glass jar that sill has its lid and toss together your favorites. You can do an Italian mix – parsley, sage, oregano, garlic powder – or a Tex-Mex mix, or dry rub combo, or even a sweet mix – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice.