One of the easiest ways to refresh your kitchen is to walk through it and ask yourself, honestly, “When was the last time I used this condiment?”
Doing a thorough cleaning of your kitchen spices can yield small culinary pleasures, brightening your kitchen by ridding it of stale items and replacing them with fresher products.
Start with what is visible: oils, sauces and vinegars that sit around your stovetop like books you haven’t read since college. Toss that bottle of olive oil you haven’t used for two years. You know, the one that is musty from its proximity to the oven, being heated and reheated with very little actual use? Do the same with the vinegar and tabasco hot sauce. Even the salt and pepper.
After a while, all these items accumulate dust, grease and germs. It’s not a bad idea to scrap them and rebuild your condiment and spice sections. Apply this to old tea bags as well.
Once you inventory and trash these old items (don’t feel guilty—chuck ‘em), find your way to the local markets and pick up some new ones, mixing in fresh olive oil, local honey and all manner of creative hot sauces that are popping everywhere—often in beautiful red and green bottles that will look colorful on your counters. Hit the co-op if you can, where you can pour honey directly from a vat and discover local hot sauces probably made by your neighbor.
Once you’ve finished with the exterior of your kitchen, aim for the inside of your fridge next. If you can’t remember when you bought it, toss it. That goes for ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and anything else in there that sometimes remains for over a year. Do you really want to keep eating mayonnaise that’s been in there for more than twelve months? Er. We hope not.
Overall you can replace a lot of these kitchen items for minimal costs at places like Trader Joe’s, which has a wonderful olive oil section, but it will transform how you feel about cooking and remind you that the condiments are there for a reason—to spice it up! If these bottles are molding under grease dust in the corner, it defeats the purpose of a living, breathing kitchen. You may find yourself changing out that 14-year-old spice rack and adding some classy dry and sweet Vermouth to your collection.
This is an addictive cleaning process. You can even apply it to your bathroom by replacing soaps, lotions and cleaners while adding bath salts and candles. Your kitchen and bathroom absorb the most germs, so on the most basic sanitary level you should do this kind of swapping every six months. You’ll be elated at how these small touches brighten up these areas!
By Mark Damon Puckett