7 Ways You Should Be Prepping Your Kitchen for Winter
Winter is coming! Here's how to get your kitchen ready so it's a safe, cozy place to cook up all your favorite cool-weather foods.
Get Ready for Winter!
As the days are getting shorter and the nights colder, our thoughts turn to cinnamon, bonfires and pumpkin spice fill-in-the-blank. The kitchen is about to get busier, what with baking, stews, soups and roasts. Take some time to transition your summer kitchen to make sure you’re safe, warm and ready for the cold.
There’s no more delicious or budget-friendly way to get your kitchen primed for the cold months ahead than by preserving late summer produce in your pantry. Turn September’s abundance of tomatoes and October’s bumper crop of apples into jams, sauces and spreads. The work is simpler than you’d think (here’s a guide to canning for beginners). Nothing beats opening up a can of preserves in the middle of January and getting to taste peak-season produce.
Inspect and Insulate Water Pipes
Winter can pose a risk to interior water pipes. Take a look beneath your sink, especially if it faces an outdoor wall, to make sure that the area is properly insulated from the exterior wall.
During the winter, be alert to extremely low temperatures (like another polar vortex). When it’s particularly cold, leave the under-sink cabinet door ajar so that the heat in your house will circulate into that space and keep the pipes from getting too cold. If your tap is far away from the water intake coming into your house, consider turning on the faucet slightly (a slow drip) overnight, to keep the water moving and preventing the pipes freezing.
Stock up on Pantry Items
Now’s the time to inventory the pantry and head to the store to stock up on shelf stable foods. Think canned or boxed broths, soups, tuna and vegetables, and dry goods like pastas, rice and snacks. You’ll thank yourself when there’s a foot of snow on the ground and you don’t feel like (or can’t safely make) a shopping run. Stock up on items that you’d need in an emergency, too: matches, candles, flashlights and batteries. (Find out if your kitchen is ready for a power outage.)
Find the Warm Spots
If you’re a bread baker, you’ll want to identify the nice, warm spaces in your kitchen where dough will proof best—because, let’s face it, a buttery slice of warm bread is exactly what everyone needs on a chilly day. Use your oven, a proofing box or these other ways to help bread dough rise when the temps are low.
Tune up the Stove
Now that the grill is going into hibernation, it’s time to give your stove a good cleaning and tuneup. Remove all of the stovetop grates and burner covers (make sure first that the gas knob is turned off!) and get in those cracks with a soapy dishrag. Old bits of food and other burned on debris can affect your range’s performance. Get ready for cozy baking by running the self-cleaning feature on your oven. You may want to test your oven temperature with an oven thermometer as well—some ovens can be off by as much as 50ºF.
Have an electric stove? Here’s how to clean it.
Practice Safe Poultry Preparation
Turkeys, chickens, ducks and geese are the centerpiece of many holiday meals. Undercooked poultry, or improper poultry prep, can spread E. coli and make your family (or your guests) sick. Read up on the common mistakes people make with raw chicken. In brief: make sure to wash your hands and any tools or countertops that come into contact with raw poultry. Use a digital meat thermometer to confirm that the interior temperature is safe.
Winterize Your Grill
Don’t grill over the winter? Put your grill away to extend its life. If your grill has cast iron grates, remove them and give them a scrub in soapy water. Dry completely, and wipe with Crisco or other fat with a high flash point. Rolling your grill into a garage or shed offers the most protection from moisture; at the very least, make sure to cover it. Tackle these other fall cleaning tasks, too.