We’ve all got our dirty little home kitchen secrets that we wouldn’t want anyone to find out about. From not washing the cooking utensils to pretending that our legendary secret recipes are anything but store-bought dressings in a jar. And anyone who pretends that they don’t cut at least one corner in the kitchen is most likely keeping up appearances. God forbid someone found out they don’t wash their bread knife!
In a very candid and thoroughly fun thread, the anonymous home cooks of Reddit opened up about the things that they do in the kitchen that they wouldn’t want others to find out. It’s an honest look at the fact that nobody’s perfect (not even the saints!) and that just because you don’t follow the rules 100% at home doesn’t mean that the world will end.
Scroll down for some of the best-kept kitchen secrets and let us know which ones sounded eerily familiar, dear Pandas. And remember… keep your kitchens clean, but don’t spend every moment of your day polishing the oven dials with a toothbrush. However, for food-related businesses, tip-top hygiene is non-negotiable.
Bored Panda had a wonderful chat about hygiene in the kitchen, how pathogens thrive, the worst things that you can do while prepping food, and erring on the side of caution with Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin.
Jessica is a talented pie artist, food expert, and author of the book ‘Pies Are Awesome.’ She went into a lot of detail with us about the food safety acronym ‘FATTOM’ and when cutting corners starts becoming dangerous, whether you’re cooking at home or professionally.
If I drop a piece of vegetable or meat on the ground that is still to be fried I’ll happily throw it back in the pan if it doesn’t look icky.
“I’m sure even classically trained chefs have the odd habit or foible that would raise an eyebrow or two outside of their kitchen… I would hope that professional chefs have put to bed any habits that would violate food safety regulations, but I’ve certainly observed eccentric techniques from pros that make me cringe, like cutting towards their thumb when peeling fruit (ugh! seen that go wrong a few times!) if not actual unsafe techniques that would lead to cross-contamination or pathogen growth,” pie artist Jessica shared with Bored Panda.
The pie artist was candid that she still has a few whacky habits that she hasn’t corrected yet. “I often make a mess when I crack eggs, and my batter-stirring technique could be a lot more efficient!”
However, when it comes to actual safety, she always errs on the side of caution and takes cleanliness very seriously. “When I cook with my son, I go over the location of the extinguishers and fire blanket and correct knife handling every time. And I am a (not-so-closeted) germaphobe so I use dozens of flexible cutting mats that I can wash on high heat in the dishwasher to cover every surface I work on.”
It’s just me and my husband. When I cook for the two of us, for example, I love making homemade sauces and gravy and sometimes I will do a taste test and lick the spoon then stir it right back into the pot. He knows I do it and he doesn’t mind. We already kiss each other so why not? Lol
Jessica admitted that she doesn’t actually work directly on the counter. “I just don’t trust anything that can’t be fully sterilized. So I guess my dirty little kitchen secret is actually an excessively clean little kitchen secret,” she quipped. “To be clear, there is nothing wrong with working directly on your counter if you clean it properly, I’m just a weirdo!”
Bored Panda also wanted to get Jessica’s take on the dangers present in the kitchen and what we should always avoid doing, at all costs.
“The worst thing that can be done in the kitchen in terms of hygiene is treating the ‘dangerous’ ingredients in the same fashion as all the other ingredients in your food prep. Pathogens (the little things in food that can make us sick like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and microorganisms) thrive in certain foods more than others,” she said.
Measuring spoons immediately go back into their place if they were used to scoop salt or sugar…and maybe flour and perhaps cornstarch after a gentle wipe out.
Did I use this measuring cup for water? Great! Wipe it down and stick it back in the drawer. Whatcha gonna do – use water to wash the water off?
“Raw chicken, raw egg, unpasteurized milk, seafood, and raw flour (people often forget that one!) in particular are fertile breeding ground for nasties and need to be treated differently than other foods.”
Jessica told us all about the food safety acronym ‘FATTOM’ that stands for “Food supply (protein), low acidity, time, temperature, oxygen, and moisture.” She told us that it’s used as a guide to determine which foods are more likely to go bad quickly.
“You can use this as a quick rule of thumb to determine how dangerous the ingredients you are working with are. For example, if you are working with something with a very high acid content like lemons, jam, or pickles, or something with a very low moisture content like crackers or rice cakes, you really don’t have to worry about them sitting out on the counter for hours or touching other food. They just don’t have enough of what the pathogens need to grow.”
She continued: “On the other hand, something like raw shrimp which has a high moisture content and lots of protein for pathogens to eat really needs to be carefully monitored for how long it is left out in the open air in ‘danger zone’ temperatures and kept far away from other food and utensils.” Jessica added that temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees F (4 to 60 degrees C) are the danger zone for pathogen growth.
One thing to keep in mind while running your kitchen is how you’d feel if you were a guest at someone’s home and they’d do (or fail to do) the same things in their kitchen as you did in yours.
Would you feel disgusted if someone invited you over for dinner and you found out that they didn’t wash their cast-iron pans? If so, you might want to reconsider how you wash your own dishes. It’s a two-way street after all when you’ve got people over.
On the flip side, if you’re cooking just for yourself and your cleaning habits (or lack thereof) haven’t landed you in the hospital over the past couple of decades, well, keep doing what you’re doing.
When I am wiping down the counters at the end of the day, all the crumbs or whatever just go straight to the floor. I figure the dog or the rumba will get it, not my problem.
Objectively, I know fresh garlic is always better, but I am lazy and my garlic press is difficult to clean, so 90% of the time I use the jarred minced stuff and just double it to make up for the lower potency.
Officially, we’re all for maximum hygiene and effort. Unofficially, we completely understand that not everyone has the willpower reserves to wash a teaspoon they used for salt after a mentally exhausting and emotionally draining week at work or school. Just give it a quick rub with a kitchen towel and hide it in the cutlery drawer. It’ll be our dirty little secret.
Things are very different when you’re running a catering business or a restaurant. When you’re cooking for others, you’re responsible for their health. If you don’t adhere to hygiene rules, you’ll get shut down in a flash.
When a food inspector comes over, they’ll check your permits, see what temperatures you’re keeping your ingredients at. They’ll also check to see if there are any pests in the restaurant and if you’re keeping everything as clean as needed. One thing to definitely look out for is cross-contamination: it is imperative that you avoid keeping cooked and raw meat next to each other.
I use MSG for soups, stews, stir fry sauce, and other times I want to add more “savory” to a dish. Siblings know and they don’t mind. Parents would probably say “Oh ok” and keep eating. Grandma would kill me.
I put what is left on plates back in with the leftovers. Especially my kids plates because they randomly eat it all, but usually not.
Well, I always try to reuse paper towels as much as possible. So this leads me to leave a used paper towel on the counter. I have no problem with this, but I feel like most people would think I’m being a slob.
I do not always wash my non-stick pan. Especially if I fried something in it like eggs or bacon. I use the “residual” flavouring in my next dish the next day.
Almost everything in the kitchen is treated as dishwasher safe. Anything that turns out not to be dishwasher safe (i.e. falls apart) is replaced by something that is.
(“almost” because the cast iron pan and wooden chopping boards are not going into the dishwasher – and obviously anything electrical doesn’t, though I’ll tend to prefer ones where the bits that need washing can be separated nicely)
I don’t wash my wok, or other pans I want to keep seasoned. Used to be a breakfast line cook for years, and this may make you a little leery about going out for breakfast, but on the line, we never ever washed our egg pans after they were seasoned and the eggs didn’t stick. At the end of the shift just add some oil and a good bit of salt and scrub it out with a clean kitchen towel. Get all the food bits off, flip the towel and wipe out anything into the trash.
When I mince garlic I like to take a chunk of hard cheese and when I’ve scraped what I need off the cutting board, I use the cheese as Velcro to pick up any stray pieces of raw garlic and eat it. Disgusting snack? Probably. Delicious? To me, yes
I’ve completely given up on making broth and just cheat with bouillon 100% of the time
When testing baked goods with a knife, if they are not done yet I wipe the gooey batter off with my finger to eat, knife is “clean” for the next poke 5 min later
I’m an outstanding baker and 90% of the time I make everything from scratch, but sometimes I just don’t have the time o or energy so I’ll use some shortcuts and make something “semi-homemade” and still pass it off as my own.
I will often put food in the fridge before it has cooled to room temp because I want to go the hell to bed… I also eat dinner right before bed a lot.
Mine is that I’ve read all the advice on how to clean, use, store, maintain and re-season my cast iron pans. I ignore it all. I’m not doing anything I’m supposed to, but they just keep working.
I make sushi from “regular fish” (e.g salmon, tuna) and have never had an issue, in twenty years doing it.
The concept of “sushi grade” is nothing but hype from the sushi industry; the way fish is made “safe” to eat raw is by freezing it, then using math to work out how long and how cold, to ensure all parasites in it are dead or inactive.
I don’t care what the fish is – if you buy it rock-hard frozen and keep it rock-hard frozen for at least two months, you have nothing to worry about, in terms of eating it raw.
Then it’s just a matter of thawing it just above freezing, so it can be sliced and eaten.
I lived on the Pacific Rim for a decade and discussed this with countless sushi chefs: they all agreed and found it amusing that the USA sees sushi as an almost-mythical thing…which isn’t uncommon, in American perceptions of Asia/Asians.
Like the number of Asian women cast in shows as “mystical herbalist healer” types – like Sun, the ultra-rich spoiled Korean lady who somehow knew every plant on the LOST island.
I regularly drink protein shakes and smoothies and things like that. After every use, I rinse out the blender. There’s a little silicone gasket that seals between the blender container and the blade assembly. It gets cleaned maybe once every 2-3 months.
Me, skiing with my cousin:
Me: What’s this white stuff on your poles, road salt?
Cousin: Oh nah it’s just flour, I was hanging some linguini on them.
Most of my “legendary marinades” at family BBQ/grill time are store brand salad dressing + 1 herb or a dash of worscht.
I’m taking that one to the grave.
I’m a working chef. During the summer I cook on the grill as much as possible. Everyone raves about my kabobs and is convinced it’s some secret chef knowledge. It’s Italian dressing. Not even the good kind, the cheapest one will do.
There is one tasting spoon when I’m cooking for my SO/family. It goes from the pot to my mouth and back to the pot, no washing.
My dirtier secret is using a knife to open a bag of something and then using it for other stuff without washing e.g. slicing open a bag of broccoli and then chopping it with the same knife.
Mine is that I have several good quality knives including Japanese double bevel knives. Heck, I even have sharpening stones. But I just use the el cheapo sharpening wheel that all knife enthusiasts disapprove of.
Well, guess what? There is no better solution that lets me sharpen knives in 15 seconds. And it hasn’t “ruined” my knives either. Sure, it gives a much rougher edge but the sharpness is acceptable to me – I’m not trying to shave with my knives, I just need it to cut things without slipping.
This has worked for me for many years now.
I use the same cup for tea every day and I hardly ever wash it. If I feel up to it it will do a quick rinse after I’m done with it but even then I’ll usually just use the hot water to rinse before I brew my tea in it.
I toast bread to warm it before placing in a buttered pan to make grilled cheese. Seems to help the cheese melt.
I only use soap to clean something overly oily or that had raw meat.
I rinse everything immediately after using and 99% of it comes off. Then the sponge gets anything that remains. Soap absolutely unnecessary. Makes dishes take less than 2 minutes.
I’m definitely the guy who drinks straight from the milk jug and I have no shame about it.
My husband and I will use a plate a day. As in, we eat our breakfast off the same plate, don’t wash it, repeat for lunch and dinner. Depending on the meals this could last multiple days. It’s too much of a waste to use new dishes all the time, waste the water to clean it, just not worth it.
I have a biology degree so I’m super conscious of microbes but I’m guilty of not washing the inside of my air fryer between uses! I know it’s bad and terrible and a potential source of illness yet I continue to do it
I recently started rinsing stuff that wasn’t in contact with something that needs to get washed.
I’ve used the same cutting boards for years, and don’t have specific ones for meat, fish, and vegetables. They do get washed for cross-contamination, but I usually cut up whatever needs to be before any meat goes on it.
The counter by the coffee/tea area always has sugar on it. Always.
Probs my toaster I just brush the crumbs on the top of it from when my toast pops up into the toaster. Everything else I keep spotless
I rarely use soap on my knives. I clean them immediately after using, as such I just rinse them well with hot water and use a dishwashing brush. My tapwater goes up to 80 °C which is enough to kill bacteria. Even after cutting raw meats etc this is the only way I clean it.
For those who say it’s dangerous, I’ve had food poisoning only twice in my life, one time on holiday from bad pineapple, one time some very mild food poisoning because I kept some leftovers in the fridge too long.
I buy expensive frozen finely chopped onions because I can’t for the life of me cut onions without my eyes turning into waterfalls within seconds.
I literally never thought of putting my oven mitts in a washer. I saw that in a commercial and thought.. “huh..wash oven mitts…”. Mine really only ever touch the bottom or side of a baking tray or dish. Never even occurred to me.
Stick of salted butter on the counter at all times for cooking. (Keep butter with canola oil in the fridge during winter for easy spreading)
I’ll just rinse some utensils and place them on the drying rack if they only touched food for a second or two. Like I used a knife to cut up a couple of cherry tomatoes or used a new spoon for salsa if my eating utensil was already in the bowl. I figure it doesn’t really need the full wash treatment.
Oddly the bread knife gets washed every time because we rarely use it, so I feel it should get a full clean before going back in the block for months.
I leave condiments out on the counter 24/7 ketchup, mustard, BBQ Sauce, Pickles, Honey, and of course butter which is not a condiment. We have never gotten sick from doing so. Now if I could get my daughter-in-law from refrigerating tomatoes all would be well.
I don’t wash the toast tongs. They are little bamboo tongs I use to get toast out of my toaster. I love my toaster, but it doesn’t pop up the toast well any longer. So I have toast tongs. But I just give them a quick wipe off and put them back.
Use half and half in anything that calls for milk. Additionally, skim milk is not permitted in the house.
I only sharpen the knives I actually use for cooking (3 knives) everything else comes as you are. The knife block is just for “show” the real knives are hanging on the magnet behind the range.
I do not wash my coffee cups. I rinse them, wipe them with a paper towel, and put I back in the cabinet. No one else uses my coffee cups and I hate getting my hands wet in the morning because I get cold hands very easily.
I have a pair of kitchen tweezers that I use to get stuff from jars etc. I eat from them all the time and only ever wash them if I can see something on them.
I completely rinse and even scrub out pans and dishes until I have enough to make a sink of soapy water (and thank goodness my husband now does that too)
I have an $1800 dishwasher that I haven’t used in probably 6 months. I don’t like dishes piling up, so I wash them by hand every day so I don’t have much to put away. It keeps the sink and dishwasher empty and makes for less work in the end.
I’ve had an Instapot for more than a year now, and the drip container has only been emptied once.
I hardly ever clean the cheese slicer. It just goes back in the cheese container for use tomorrow.
I once left the oven running for nearly 2 days…
People are wondering about the scorch marks.
I have never cleaned my acti fryer! I’ve had it 7 years and the grease residue is unreal but them chips be coming out crispy and delish so why the hell not.