5 Safe Holiday Baking Tips That Could Save Your Life

cookiesThe holidays are not just a good time for baking: They're the best time for baking. Cookies, cakes, and other festive treats fill the house with warmth and mouthwatering aromas. But -- cue ominous music here -- danger lurks in your kitchen: holiday-ruining germs and bacteria that may turn your family's ho-ho-hos into oh-oh-nos! 

Here are few safe-baking tips to keep you and your family healthy and heartily celebrating this holiday season:

1. Don't taste raw batter or dough: Raw ready-to-bake cookie dough was found to be the culprit in a recent E. coli outbreak that sickened 77 people across the country (35 of them got so sick they had to be hospitalized!), prompting the CDC to warn people against eating dough before cooking it.

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In that case, the experts think the flour might have been to blame. But even if you're making your own dough or batter from scratch, you may run into problems. (Raw eggs! Salmonella!) I know, that dough, so darn good -- but you don't want to spend the holidays horizontal in the hospital, do you?

2. Keep your hands clean: It's important to wash hands with soap and warm water before handling food and to wash frequency as you bake, as well, especially when you're handling raw eggs. This will help prevent bacteria from cross-contaminating other foods. And don't just keep your mitts clean -- keep your oven mitts, potholders, hot pads, dishtowels, and sponges clean, too, with regular washing and replacing.

3. Use clean utensils and bowls: Make sure you wash anything that will hold, stir, or otherwise come into contact with food either in a dishwasher or in hot, soapy water (and rinse thoroughly) to kill germs. Yes, after every single use.

4. Keep kitchen counters and sinks clean: Your kitchen surfaces can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Before (and after) you roll out that cookie dough and have at it with your holiday cookie cutters, be sure to scrub counters down with an antibacterial cleaner. A bleach and water mixture will also do the trick. Just be sure to rinse thoroughly and wash your hands after sanitizing your counters.

5. Check expiration dates: Make sure you're using fresh ingredients. Milk is generally OK until about a week after its sell-by date. Eggs are usually fine until about three to five weeks after you buy them in the store. But be sure to keep ingredients properly refrigerated until you're ready to use them.

Do you worry about health and safety when baking for the holidays?

 

Image via lexicon10055805/Flickr

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