Do you use these items to clean your meat, poultry and seafood in the kitchen?
What do you use to clean meat, poultry, and seafood?
Do you use these items to clean your meat, poultry, and seafood in the kitchen?
Cleaning meat, poultry or seafood is a tradition in the Caribbean. There are many reasons why Caribbean people prefer to clean their meat, poultry, and seafood. Some of the reasons are:
- To reduce bacteria count
- Taste is better
- Eliminate Odor
When analyzing the first reason, “reduce bacteria count,” it is almost like a myth. But is it a myth? We are told that meat in the supermarket is clean and we should not worry about how our food is handled. Now can you answer this question? Can you spend 60 days or 1 month without hearing about food recalls? Or better yet, can you spend 60 days or 1 month without hearing about foodborne illnesses? If we can answer those questions positively than I will trust my food handlers more. But for now, I will continue cleaning my meat the way I was taught.
We often read about the risk of contamination. How can you increase the risk of contamination when rinsing your meat? I rinse my meat to remove any “weird stuff” (I call it) that are stuck on my meat. I clean my meat with an acidic agent such as vinegar or lemon or lime juice to remove any unwanted bacteria and for taste. Cross-contamination only happens when proper measures are not followed. I will never dump my vegetables in my kitchen sink after cleaning my meat. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service say not to rinse your raw beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, or veal before cooking it because cooking will remove foodborne bacteria and reduce moisture.
There are different options when cleaning meat. Many people use lemon or lime, vinegar or sour orange juice. Others also add salt to their cleaning bath which is a something that I stopped doing many moons ago. I have stopped doing it because hypertension runs in my family and lowering sodium in our food has been and is now a healthy thing to do. I also stopped because salt breaks down the texture of the meat more.
Lemon, lime or sour orange is used to clean by rubbing the meat while squeezing out the juice. When using vinegar, a soaking bath is created with water. The meat is soaked for a few minutes and then rinsed. I have not seen or heard that a Caribbean person only soaks their meat in plain water. It probably does not exist, or many people will do it out of laziness or have made changes in their own culture.
To summarize the different acidic agents, I use when cleaning meat I use the following:
- Real lemon or lime, or store-bought lemon juice. Both lemon and lime are used in marinades and also to clean meat, poultry, and seafood. A lemon or lime bath is usually for seafood.
- White vinegar is used as a cleanser for mostly meat and poultry.
- Real sour or bitter oranges or store-bought bottled sour orange. Bitter or sour oranges have thicker skin and are smaller than regular oranges. It is mostly used in marinades and pairs perfectly with pork and goat – Griot and Tassot Cabrit (Tassot de Chevre (Goat)). Bottled sour/bitter orange juice are easier to find in a supermarket if you cannot find the fruit.
I am aware of the recommendations from the USDA regarding meat cleaning. I am not telling anyone to change their ways. This article is merely sharing a culture, a cuisine of another part of the world. Do we have any proof of any danger from cleaning meat? Not that I am aware of. I have to say that my meat tastes much better when cleaned or maybe it might be psychological. But for now, I will not change my ways and will still use preventive measures to avoid cross-contamination.
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