Category Archives: Food Prep

Let’s Get Serious About Tea

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BS 6008:1980 specifies the appropriate dimensions for tea pots and bowls.

The English are experts on tea and they feel such a responsibility for it that, in 1980, the British Standards Institute issued a 6-page paper on the results of some extremely important tea-related research.

The paper, British Standard BS 6008:1980, was later adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (the member body of Ireland dissenting) as International Standard ISO 3103:1980 “Tea — Preparation of liquor for use in sensory tests.” The entire document can be downloaded from the ISO for a little less than $45.00 and, while there are some key tips the lay person can apply to brewing tea at home, the method was really created for use in taste-testing by tea producers who require flavor consistency across blends, harvests, etc.

But don’t think the English are any less serious about brewing tea at home! Anyone who is serious about tea—and that must be everyone who drinks tea—respects the way it’s been done for centuries and, first, must master a traditional English black tea, like an Earl Grey loose leaf.

Steps for Brewing Black Tea

  1. Put fresh, cold, filtered water into a tea kettle and heat on the stove top—NEVER a microwave!
  2. Pre-heat your teapot with hot water.
  3. Add 1 tsp. of loose leaf tea to the teapot (or about 1 bag) for each cup.
  4. Add one extra teaspoon of tea (or 1 extra bag) “for the pot!”
  5. As soon as the water reaches a rolling boil, pour it into the teapot, cover, and steep according to taste (3 to 5 minutes is standard).
  6. Pre-heat your tea cups with hot water.
  7. If you take your tea with milk, add a splash to your cup and then pour in the tea.
  8. If desired, add 1 lump or 2 of sugar (or 1 or 2 sugar cubes).

Once this method has been mastered, move on to green teas, white teas, or herbal teas. Each requires different handling, but brewing charts are available on the websites of nearly every major tea manufacturer.

What 62% Of Restaurant Workers Do Could Make Them Sick

It’s the time of year where sickness runs rampant, and for many, that doesn’t prevent people from eating out at restaurants. Even worse, many of your employees may try to not miss a shift, despite being unfit for work due to everything from a runny nose to much more serious sicknesses that might prevent them from keeping their own meals down.

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Mother Jones has taken a look at some of the ways illnesses and disease can and do spread at restaurants nationwide, A look at these numbers can show you where you might want to focus your attentions when it comes to staying clean in your kitchen and beyond.

Nearly two-thirds of restaurant workers who handle raw beef aren’t washing their hands afterward”

Touching raw beef and then moving on to other foods allows for the easy spread of E. Coli, especially when going from raw ground beef to cooked dishes. Any customers that eat a dish that’s been contaminated with raw beef are at risk, and beyond that, vegetarians and those who don’t eat beef would not be pleased to find out that raw beef had effectively touched the food they’ve eaten.

About 40 percent of restaurants don’t usually use separate cutting boards for raw chicken”

Raw chicken is particularly prime at spreading salmonella, and cutting carrots, celery, and such right after chicken breasts, thighs, and wings can just expedite illness. Beyond that, disposable gloves can help prevent the spread and keep employee’s hands clean.

Most managers don’t know the safe cooking temperature for chicken”

165 degrees Fahrenheit. Memorize it, write it down, post it on a board in the kitchen. All chicken leaving the kitchen must meet this temperature at the minimum by a thermometer.

“Almost half of chefs don’t use a thermometer to make sure a burger is cooked… and as a result, a bunch of burgers are coming out raw”

Color and feel could be good indicators of how well a hamburger is done, but it’s not the be-all end-all. A burger is undercooked when it is less than 155 degrees Fahrenheit, and when a customer requests a medium-rare one, it’s significantly more likely that a the meal would be in this danger zone.

40 percent of sick food workers didn’t go home because they have no sick leave. Seriously. The cook is vomiting.”

To be blunt, vomiting and diarrhea are instant reasons to be taken off of a shift. Various reasons, such as limited or no sick pay or sick time available to simply not desiring to leave their coworkers without their help. In any case, if a coworker reports they particularly have one of those symptoms, they need to be removed from work. A simple promise that they’ll have a job when they feel better might be all it takes to assure them that it’s important for them to heal at home and not spread illness at work.

Vegetarians aren’t off the hook”

Vegetables still have a particular safe temperature, with 41 degrees Fahrenheit being the highest you’ll want to receive a shipment.

With the new year, you may want to go down your list of safety guidelines and make sure you are following many of these. People are more likely to get sick when their bodies are already weakened by the stress of the holidays and the cold  of the season, so if anything, reviewing these with your staff may ensure you don’t spread any illnesses from your restaurant.

Dumping Grease May Be Bad For Your Health

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The health of your pipes, business, and local community, to be precise, could be in danger if you pour grease down the drain.

There’s a litany of things you can do with leftover grease from a kitchen, and many restaurants will end up with an overabundance of it, especially if they frequently fry dishes. The one thing you should never do is dispose of it down the drain, especially when there are other options.

The New York City Department of Environment Protection is urging their citizens to not dump liquified fat, oils, and grease (FOG) down the drain, according to The Huffington Post. When grease goes down the drain, it can cause blockages; notably, London has had issues with “fatbergs” down in the sewers, large chunks of fat that combine and collect debris. The backages, backups, and blockages caused from grease are something they’d like to avoid, as costs of clearing up such messes are more expenses that can be avoided.

The DEP suggests allowing grease to cool and harden before being put into non-recyclable containers in the trash. This allows it to be disposed of at proper waste sites and doesn’t waste otherwise-fine recyclable containers.

If you don’t want to do this, you might want to look at one of these alternative measures in safely removing grease from the equation.

  • Look into local regulations regarding oil disposal; you might be in a location where you need to have a private company come and dispose of oil saved outside. If not, you may want to combine your forces with local businesses that also have to dispose of oil. You can split costs and efforts if you work with nearby businesses.
  • Allow customers that use converted oil in their cars to take it, or even possibly buy it from you. There are cars that have been modified to run on cooking oil, and drivers of them are constantly looking for new sources of the disposable waste.
  • Get as much use out of the oil as you can. After drained, strained and filter the oil, and depending on what had been fried in it (fish proves to be particularly tricky), you might be able to get a few more frying trips out of it.

If you don’t dispose of fats, oils, and grease appropriately, you may be setting yourself up for fines alongside the general trouble for your community and business.

Beyond the appropriate ways of disposing of the fats, oils, and grease, you may just generally want to look into alternate ways to make sure you don’t even need to dispose of much. Baking, steaming, and other ways to cooking may prove to be more heart-healthy, less expensive in production costs, and don’t have the problems associated for the environment as fats, oil, and grease do.

Do you have any plans or alternatives to using these slick cooking materials in your restaurant?