Over the next couple of weeks, you’re going to face a lot of new stresses and joys. Some of you may be used to looking after yourselves, but many will be much like I was a year ago: willing to learn but failing miserably. Like it or not, when the hype of Freshers’ Week is over, and you can no longer order in from takeaways, you will need to cook for yourself.
Here are some things to consider:
A song of rice and fire
Rice is filling, cheap, and certain types don’t go out of date, it’s a staple part of any student meal. Now, some of you may have heard that reheating rice can cause food poisoning and let me tell you, this is not just an old wives’ tale.
According to the NHS, “uncooked rice can contain a bacterium that can cause food poisoning.” This bacterium can survive the cooking, however, if the rice is eaten straight away there won’t be a problem.
Leaving the rice stand at room temperature and then reheating the rice inadequately is the actual problem. So make sure that you only reheat rice once and when you do, make sure that it’s piping hot.
How do you like your eggs?
Preferably not out of date. One way to ensure this is to keep your eggs away from constant temperature changes! Many people have been brought up with the thought that cold equals fresh. This is not true when it comes to eggs. A consistent temperature is what will keep your eggs fresh – no matter, if that’s outside or inside of the fridge.
If eggs have been kept on a shelf in a shop at roughly 18°C and you put them in the fridge at home, the sudden temperature drop speeds up the eggs’ ageing process. This can lead to rather disgusting scrambled eggs when you take the first bite and realise that they are out of date. However, many have their own preference on where to keep their eggs! Further reading here.
At home, fruit was in plentiful supply; however, I never wanted it. As a student buying fruit is a luxury, as stocking up on a variety of fresh fruit can cost a lot. So, when you do splash out and treat yourself, you’ll want to make sure that they last as long as possible.
One great tip for this is to split your bananas from your other fruit. The main reason for this is that fruit lets off a gas called ethylene which can cause them to ripen. Bananas do this the most. If you keep bananas and apples together they will release more ethylene and they’ll ripen and rot quicker.
“It’s so easy to forget but your diet and how you cook your food has a direct effect on your health…”
Therefore, if you wish to make them last a couple of extra days, make sure that you don’t mix your bananas with your other fruit.
Why did the chicken take a bath?
Because it could cause the spread of food poisoning! Okay, so it’s not my best joke, but when it comes to raw chicken there is nothing to laugh at. Something all aspiring chefs should know, but many don’t, is that washing chicken is a huge risk not worth taking.
The NHS states that “splashing water from washing chicken under a tap can spread bacteria on to hands, work surfaces, clothing, and cooking equipment,” and these germs can spread up to “50cm in every direction.”
Therefore, when one considers that the high temperature needed to cook chicken properly kills off campylobacter (a bacterium that is one of the biggest causes of food poisoning), it’s obvious that washing chicken causes more problems than it prevents.
THE FOUR PIECES of advice I have given you should help avoid some of the more needless kitchen mishaps that come from lack of experience. And I have one last nugget of wisdom for you: look after yourself! It’s so easy to forget but your diet and how you cook your food has a direct effect on your health and energy to perform well. So, stay healthy and make good choices.
Words by Sadie Bennett