Often, the first thing to inspire our
tastebuds is not what we see or what we taste, it is what we smell. But
food does not always deliver mouth-watering aroma. Think fish, garlic,
or anything charred. Whatever the offender, odors can permeate your
hands, your equipment, you kitchen, and your entire home. Here's how to
minimize and eliminate odors.
Yourself : Cooking is a hands-on task, so
your hands absorb the odor of whatever you are working with. A little
soap and hot water will remedy this most of the time. For more stubborn
odors, rub your hands with vinegar or lemon juice (make sure that you
have no cuts on your hands or they will sting). Then, wash with soap and
hot water. Repeat if necessary. To remove garlic odors from your hands
or fingers, rub them in the bowl of a stainless steel spoon (or any
other stainless steel utensil) under running water. Follow by washing
your hands with soap.
Your Equipment : When working with
strong-smelling foods, use glass or stainless steel bowls. Avoid using
plastic, which is more porous and thus more absorbent. To get rid of
odors in plastic containers, ball up a piece of newspaper and seal it
inside the container for a few days. When it comes to pots and pans,
submerge them in hot, soapy water as soon as they are cool enough to go
into the sink. Immediate soaking helps prevent odors, particularly
strong ones, such as fish odors, from becoming embedded in the pan. If
the odor is still present after washing, scrub with a paste of baking
soda and water. As with pans, countertops and cutting boards should be
cleaned immediately; but if time passes, these surfaces also respond
well to lemon juice or a paste of baking soda and water.
The Fridge : If your refrigerator
smells, the first step is to identify the source of the odor and throw
it out. To help prevent future odors, clean out the fridge at least once
a week. You can also use the old trick of storing an open box of baking
soda in the fridge. Change the box every 4 months to maintain
effectiveness. Here are a few other odor eaters that work well in the
refrigerator: coffee grounds, charcoal, or a cotton ball soaked with
vanilla extract. Take your pick.
The Room : When a kitchen or an
entire home picks up an insistent odor, open a window or turn on the
exhaust fan to freshen the air. Then, you can either absorb the odors or
cover them up. To absorb them, set out a baking sheet scattered with
baking soda (the more surface area the baking soda has, the more odor it
can absorb). To replace the foul odors with pleasant aromas, bake an
apple or a few orange peels. Or bake a pie plate sprinkled with
cinnamon. Burn a scented candle. Or toast coffee beans in a small, dry
skillet over medium heat.
The Drain : Often, it happens that
whatever stinks up your kitchen ends up down the drain. Then, it's the
sink that stinks. If you have a garbage disposal, throw a lemon in it.
If not, pour 1 cup baking soda and 1 cup salt down the drain; follow it
up with 1 to 2 quarts of boiling water to flush out the smells. To clean
the sink basin itself, dampen a paper towel with bleach and thoroughly
wipe it out.