This summer was super hot and filled with lots of sunny days. We lived on salads, fruit, smoothies, watermelon and icy cool drinks. But, today is the first official day of autumn and it’s crisp and cool outside and our minds are on warm foods and drinks. Our Thanksgiving is not too far away so it’s time to get our kitchens ready for fall canning and some cozy festive baking. The kitchen is a high traffic area, so you can never start cleaning too early.
Kitchen Ready for the Holiday Season
There is nothing like the aroma of pumpkin, spices, apple cider, and hearty foods to warm the soul. But, before we can experience these ambrosial scents, we need to prepare the way for the ingredients.
Clean the Refrigerator
The refrigerator is opened a lot during the day. It’s usually overfilled with stackable food containers, ziplock bags, dishes and copious bottles. There’s always a spill to clean up and food that’s gone past the expiration date. I like to pull everything out, dump old food, remove the shelves and scrub them and the interior of the fridge down with warm sudsy water. With the items that go back in, I try to organize them into convenient groups. Having a clean and open space in the fridge for fresh hearty foods will inspire you to bake and create ahead of time.
Clean the Freezer
If you decide to bake ahead for the holidays, you’ll need plenty of space in your freezer. The freezer, however, is one of those appliances that is often neglected. Most freezers are self-defrosting, but they still need to be cleaned out regularly and wiped down. According to some experts, cleaning your freezer once a year is fine unless you have lots of spills or experience a power outage. I clean mine out every 6 months and it’s amazing what you can find under the piles of frozen veggies. A soft cloth and warm sudsy water should clean any residue left from food.
Declutter Your Countertops
It’s so easy for our countertops to become a dumping ground for whatever we happen to have in our hands that day. Keys, books, mail, pet toys, gadgets, seasonings, books, electronics, and you name it. Everything has a place so it’s a matter of putting them where they belong or purging them. How many of you leave out an appliance because you know you’re going to use it later in the week? Put it back in the pantry so you have room to bake. Make sure all your surfaces are squeaky clean as well, like your backsplash, counters, and don’t forget your floors.
Clean Your Oven
Most ovens today have a self-cleaning mode, but they don’t always loosen all the grime and grease caked on over the past 6 months or so. I end up pulling out the racks and scrubbing them with SOS pads. I do the same to the interior of the oven so it’s sparkling clean and ready for the holiday season.
Clean and Organize Your Pantry
Cleaning and organizing your pantry is an overwhelming job. What was once an organized system has become another dumping ground for a mishmash of cereal, packages, cans, paper towels, and pet food. Take everything out and first check for expiration dates, toss old products, and then reorganize into appropriate food groups. I also wash down all the shelves and doors too. Then create a list of groceries you will need to stock up on for the busy season ahead. Keep your guests in mind as well. Your groceries may have to include any specialty items like gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and vegan foods.
Disinfect Your Garbage Can
When was the last time you disinfected your kitchen garbage can? Some people never sanitize them. Gross huh! I disinfect my garbage can once a month and always clean up any mishaps or spills. I hose it down outside during the warmer months or in my shower in cold months. I fill it with warm water and a mild detergent and clean inside and out and then rinse well. I also put a box of baking soda at the bottom to absorb odors. Some people have their garbage cans in a drawer that slides in and out and hides them from view. I used to have this, but I found that the inside of the drawer always smelled bad, even when I cleaned and put baking soda boxes in the area.
Taking these necessary steps now to organize and get your kitchen glowing clean, will make baking and entertaining for autumn and the holiday season so much easier.