Kitchen Cure Week 1: Clean Fridge, Freezer & Pantry

Fall 2010 Kitchen Cure

This Week: Clean the refrigerator, freezer, and pantryTime Left: Lift-off! Four weeks to go! • Cure Takers: 1,900 and counting... (newbies, sign up here)

Welcome, everyone! There are almost 2,000 of you signed up! Don't worry, it's going to be very cozy here at The Kitchen Cure, with lots of one-on-one attention. If you participate and submit, the community will help you along. Each week you'll have an opportunity to submit your progress. Also, get active in the Flickr pool. The more imagery you all share, the more helpful you are to each other. I may even show up in your inbox with some advice if you ask me point-blank for help (email me!) If you're shy and want to watch from afar, that's okay too.

This week we start you on the path toward a completely clean kitchen. You'll clean out and clean the fridge, freezer and pantry or cabinets (wherever you keep your dry-goods.) Read on for the week's assignments.

Week 1 Assignment

  1. Take "before" photos.
  2. Get out your digital camera. If you have natural light, pick a time when the light in the kitchen is bright but not full of glare.If you have any tables, plants, etc that might get in the way, scoot them to the side.

    Now open every cabinet and every drawer. Open the fridge and freezer too. Snap away. Get one overall shot, but also a few detail shots. And of course, do not clean anything up before photographing. No cheating!

    Submit your photos to the Flickr group. The reason we do the Cure as a group is to help and inspire each other.

  3. De-clutter and purge old food.
  4. Go through your refrigerator, cupboards, counter-tops and pantry and clean up your food clutter. The food you have in your kitchens should be fresh and replenished frequently. Take a long hard look at that tin of wasabi powder you got on your trip to Japan three years ago; it's dusty and has absorbed the odors of in the cabinet. Re-consider the jar of preserved lemons you got as a wedding favor who knows how long ago; it's brown, you have no idea how to use it, and it takes up energetic space in your kitchen. Here are some basic guidelines for de-cluttering your food:

    • In the case of fresh foods or foods with an expiration date - toss or compost it if it has expired.
    • In the case of frozen foods, get rid of anything with freezer burn. Foods that have been stored for more than 12 months are generally still safe to eat, but their quality has been compromised. In other words, time to make a big pot of soup.
    • In the case of spices and canned foods that have not expired but have not been used in the last 6-12 months, really consider if you'll ever use it. Those saffron threads from your cousin's vacation in Spain, the chunks of star anise you bought once for a recipe but haven't used since... you get the picture. Some ingredients are expensive and may be difficult to part with. If you really think you might use them someday, make a list of these items then put them into a box in the back of a cabinet or under the sink.
    • In the case of duplicates (I often have two jars of capers and two boxes of cocoa open at once, not sure why) combine containers and toss one. Or jump ahead and begin to consolidate dry goods into stack-able jars
    • Here is a very helpful post specifically about condiments and expiration dates.

  5. Clean the refrigerator, freezer and pantry.
  6. Remove all the food from your fridge, freezer and pantry and clean all the surfaces. Yes, this means if you have a frost-filled freezer, it's time to defrost. Clean all the surfaces in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry and/or cabinets. Obviously, this is best done in steps. Have a few boxes ready (or a cooler) to hold your food while you work.

    Before putting your food back, wipe any containers with a warm, moist cloth and a natural cleanser before putting it back. For containers of oil, for example, that may have a film, you might need to use a cleanser to cut through the grease. Vinegar and water works nicely, too. Condiment and jam jars almost always need to be rinsed off (don't forget to dry them too) before returning them to the fridge.

    This might seem like a ton of work but believe me, it'll feel so good.

Participate & Inspire!

Here are three ways you can participate in the online dialogue as you Cure your kitchen. Please do pitch in one or more ways — it is wonderful to be encouraged by other Cure-takers' progress and inspiration!

Share photos! - We want to see your progress!
Upload photos on the Kitchen Cure Flickr page and please be sure to caption them. (Remember, by uploading them to Flickr you are granting us permission to use them in a post. Your kitchen just might be our next star!)

Discuss your progress - We set up a discussion board just for the Cure. If you're blogging the Kitchen Cure, this is a great place to post links and share them.
Discuss your progress and share blog links here.

Send us questions - Got a really specific question about one of the Cure assignments?
Send us a question and we'll post it as a Good Question.

Finally, a note on participation: Do your best, and pace yourself. You will have a week to complete each assignment. Each assignment will be given on a Friday so you have the weekend to dive in deep, although they can also be done in short bursts throughout the week, so don't panic if you're heading out of town for the weekend or would just prefer to laze about. Many assignments can be on-going throughout the duration of the Cure, so if you don't finish one week's work by the following Friday, just keep going.

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2010, The Kitchn Cure

Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. She is most recently the co-author of The Kitchn Cookbook, to be published in October 2014 by Clarkson Potter.

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