Food preparation is the process of food, typically raw food such as meat or vegetables, that involves cutting up food into pieces and cooking it. Preparation can also be done by pickling food in salt water to preserve it. Food preparation may involve peeling produce, slicing food on a mandoline or with a knife, chopping food using an electric chopper or blender, simmering food in pots over low heat for hours at a time.
Food preparation can refer to a variety of actions, from cooking raw ingredients to ensuring that the food consumed by customers is safe. For purposes of this article, we’ll narrow our definition down to the latter— ensuring that food served at a restaurant is safe.
If food preparation is considered from a safety standpoint, the dividing line can be drawn into four categories— cleaning of preparation equipment, separation of ingredients (including cooking to the right temperature), storage of prepared foods, and using spoilage indicators.
In order to clean food for consumption, it is essential to first understand what needs to be removed. There are a lot of materials that need to be taken away from the surface of your dish before you consider it “ready” for someone else’s use.
Washing your hands, utensils, and surfaces properly is not just for staff to take care of the food they’re preparing— everyone working in the kitchen needs to follow the rules.
Reduce: Additionally, food preparation that fails to clean adequately can result in cross-contamination on surfaces or dirty equipment from dirt, bacteria, and other foods taking care of the ingredients you’ll be using— it also includes washing their hands, utensils, and all work surfaces on a regular basis.
The staff preparation should be appropriately segregated to avoid cross-contact. For instance, the chicken should not be cutting on the same board as fresh vegetables. Likewise, a utensil or other preparation equipment can’t spread from one to the other in contact with both raw and cooked ingredients. Some ingredients also need store separately.
One of the most integral components of preparing food is ensuring that staff understands the importance of cooking to exact temperatures. This will help protect diners from food poisoning since bacteria cannot survive at these high levels. Additionally, dishes must be kept in a heated area until served or adequately reheated.
In the first three pieces of this article, we have explained the different ways that food can be prepared. These are cooking, chilling, and freezing. However, a fourth element is necessary: proper storage of prepared foods, which should remain chilled or frozen until you eat them again. According to foodsafety.gov, bacteria responsible for most cases of food poisoning reproduce fastest at 40-140 ° Fahrenheit.
To prevent this, one solution is to use a thermometer and know that your refrigerators are set below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and your freezers are at 0 degrees or lower. The freezing does not destroy the bacteria, but it keeps them stable until you heat the food up to a level that will kill them.
Why Is Food Preparation Important?
Food poisoning – from food preparation is the result of improperly handled food, and it can be deadly. This will include cases where food was not appropriately cleaned or was left out at high heat, which can be used for a short period of time to kill bacteria, yeast, and moulds in food. Extended periods of high temperature can dry out the food or change it chemically— leading to bacterial growth that may have been killed if proper steps had been taken.
Food allergies – food preparation is essential for food allergies because it can lead to cross-contact. This happens most commonly when food ingredients are prepared on the same surface or with utensils that have already come into contact with another food product in a different category from what’s being prepared (for example, cutting boards used for raw meat and then touching cooked vegetables or other food items). This may not be noticeable at first glance–but these steps will help you avoid potential complications down the road by helping your food stay as safe as possible before serving if there are guests who might react adversely to certain products like nuts, fish, peanuts, shellfish, soybeans or eggs.
Higher food quality – food quality is also more likely to be higher when food preparation has been done correctly. This will include cleanliness as well as food storage— which can only mean that your food is fresher, tastes better and is excellent for your health in the long run.
Emergency preparedness – food preparation can help with emergency preparedness by stocking up on foods before an event takes place or before hurricane season starts so that the food supply isn’t exhausted during a time of need. This includes storing some essential items like water, flour, sugar, dry milk powder (of course, this list varies depending on what types of ingredients are available), canned vegetables, and fruits which have a longer shelf life than fresh produce). Preparedness plans should take into account how much food preparation will be needed in the event of a food shortage— and as always, food safety is paramount.
Fewer issues – with the state of food – food preparation can help with the form of food by taking steps towards food safety. This will include things like cleaning and storing food properly to avoid cross-contamination, as well as being mindful about ingredients that may not be suited for mixed cooking (like nuts or eggs) so they don’t come into contact with raw meat products before serving them in a dish.
Lower risk of illness/food poisoning – food preparation is essential because it lowers the risk of illness or food poisoning— including sepsis caused by bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and shigella, which have all been known to cause gastrointestinal distress, including bloody diarrhoea which could lead on to kidney failure if untreated… or even death if left untreated for too long.
Environmental health – one of the ways to make sure that your food stays clean all the way from food preparation to your plate is by using food safety practices like food washing and cooking.
Do’s and Don’t of Food Preparation
As a business owner of a growing food service establishment, you may not be aware of all the intricacies when it comes to preparing food. Generally, these are things your general manager or other qualified employees should know. Even still, it’s essential for you to keep up with some basic rules that will help guide the overall success of your company. Here are eight must-know points:
- You should avoid rinsing meat before cooking it- The bacteria that usually cause food poisoning can’t be eliminated. It’s cooked away. Pork, chicken, and beef have different internal temperatures to which they need to be cooked. And if the meat is rinsed, it is possible that the water will splash out of the sink onto nearby surfaces and utensils and cause cross-contamination.
- Do not soak the meat in saltwater. The salty water will not remove bacteria, and it won’t help anything either. You can refrigerate both the beef and the saltwater to prevent bacterial growth, but you may choose to just skip this step altogether.
- Raw meat handling should be followed by handwashing- including after handling poultry, pork, and beef as well as their wrappings. Hand washing is essential for at least 20 seconds with warm running water and soap.
- To prevent cross-contamination between raw and other food, surfaces, and utensils, immediately wash all impacted surfaces if contact is made with raw meat, clean thoroughly with hot soapy water. Surfaces should be sanitized on a regular basis for the same reason.
- You should throw away meat packages from raw meats straightaway- this includes boxes for beef, poultry, and pork regardless of what they’re made from. All eggs should be thrown away immediately, including the spare eggshells and plastic wrap around each individual egg. You can also add food preparation definition for a recipe that starts with an R – Receitas de Comida em Portuguese since it has an explanation for this in English already
- Always use separate utensils when preparing, cooking, and serving both raw foods and cooked foods- this helps prevent cross-contamination. Keep essential ingredients (meats & eggs) away from other prepared food items, as well!
- DO NOT RINSE EGGS – Commercial eggs are washed before shipping, but if the egg has a crack in it or is dirty, then wash them. You don’t want any egg residue to get on surfaces since this could lead to cross-contamination.
- Do rinse all produce in water before preparing it – All fruits and vegetables need to be flushed with water before they’re ready. A good quality product does not need to be washed. Water alone can remove dirt, pesticides, and bacteria from the produce. Soap and detergents are not safe for human consumption. To prepare your product for cooking, any bruised areas should first be removed. Once cut, your produce should then go all the way into the fridge where it will stay as fresh as possible AND be more food safe!
How to Properly Prepare Eggs
Eggs are a food staple for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They’re also an essential food when it comes to baking. One of the more challenging ingredients to prepare is an egg. Before you can cook them, there are some safety precautions to take:
- Use cold water from the tap – If your eggs were out on refrigeration, run them below cold water for a few seconds until just cool enough to touch. Do not use hot water or boiling water as this will cook the egg, which may cause it to crack open during cooking time.
- Don’t add salt or any other seasoning – There’s no need for adding anything else because if you do, then those ingredients might come off onto your hands while you’re cooking, and then this food-safe surface will get contaminated.
- Do not put the eggs in a bowl – Rather, use one or two cups of cold water to cover them with at least an inch deep. This is because bowls can be used for many purposes making it more difficult to rinse clean after you have cooked your egg(s).
- Don’t peel raw eggs before cracking into the pot – The shell’s natural protein coating protects the egg from contamination which makes peeling unnecessary! Crack your eggs on a food-safe surface, such as stainless steel or glass, so that any bacteria gets killed by contact with other food items. Then, turn off the heat source under your saucepan and add about half a cup of cold water before adding cracked eggs. This will allow the heat from your food to bring up the temperature of the water before you add it into your saucepan so that there is no danger in cooking an egg without its shell (make sure this container has a lid!).
- Cook on low-medium for about four minutes – Make sure to stir occasionally and use three cups of cold water with two eggs per pot or pan. When they’re done, remove them using a slotted spoon while still submerged in their liquid!
How to Properly Prepare Pork
When it comes to food preparation, pork is tricky. It needs special care because only certain kinds of food can be cooked together so as not to contaminate one another with bacteria.
- Pork should always be handled using a separate set of utensils from other foods and meats during food preparations – Raw eggs or any food containing raw eggs must also use different utensil sets
- Do not cut fresh meat on the same surface that was used for cutting seafood – Cutting surfaces need to have time in between uses before they’re safe again!
- Wash your hands after touching uncooked pork products – This will help keep contamination at bay since you’ll have less contact with this type of food. The same goes when handling food items like eggs or seafood.
- Follow food preparation instructions on the packaging – These will be especially important for food safety and food handling guidelines which are meant to protect you when food is being prepared!
How to Properly Prepare Beef
Many diners enjoy rare and medium-rare beef dishes. However, undercooked beef has risks associated with it, including the possibility of food poisoning. In order to avoid these dangers, you’ll need to check your state’s guidelines for how best to handle requests from customers in the hope that they will be more likely to eat well-done meat instead. From a food preparation standpoint, correctly preparing a cut of beef can help prevent cross-contaminations which may stop food illness.
To prepare beef products for cooking, thaw them in a refrigerator. Other items should not come into contact with it. Separate your workspace and avoid touching other ingredients while handling the beef to be cooked.
All kitchen utensils, surfaces, and cutting boards should be cleaned by hand in hot soapy water. Cutting boards should be sanitized on a routine basis by the employees that prepare food to ensure bacteria is not present.
The temperature that beef is cooked at varies depending on personal preference. Rare meat is heated to 125 degrees F, medium-rare beef ranges from 130 to 135 F, medium meat ranges between 135 and 140 F, while well-done meat is heated to 175+ degrees F.
The best way to determine the proper internal temperature of meats is by using a digital meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part or corner of the meat without touching the bone. (To prevent cross-contamination), after you finish cooking and once you are done removing your cores from heat sources, make sure to wash your digital thermometer with hot soapy water before using it again.
How to Properly Prepare Poultry
Keep these food handling tips in mind when you’re ready to start cooking with poultry that is already cooked and safe.
- Keep it clean. To reduce the spread of bacteria, it’s necessary to wash your hands, surfaces, and utensils with soap after handling raw poultry.
- When cutting raw chicken, use a plastic cutting board; it’s easier to clean and disinfect than a wooden one.
- Don’t put the stuffing on before cooking.
- If you’re going to stuff a whole bird, do it just before cook time. Never allow uncooked stuffing and raw poultry to touch while preparing both dishes together unless you want them both cooked at once.
- Prevent cross-contamination by never using the same plates or utensils for raw and cooked poultry unless they have been thoroughly washed first. This applies to basting brushes as well: when you are going to baste the bird, wash the brush each time.
- It is also essential to remove any marinade or basting sauce that has been in contact with the raw poultry. Otherwise, spices like these may have bacteria on them from being near uncooked poultry. Or, before you start basting, set some of the sauce aside and serve it alongside the cooked meat when the serving time comes around.
- Poultry must be served fast after it has been cooked. Do not let the dish stand at room temperature for more than two hours, or bacteria will multiply rapidly, especially if you live in a warm climate. Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible to minimize bacterial growth.
- Reheat leftover gravy to ensure food safety. Heat the meat sauce in a covered pot on medium heat, occasionally stirring, for approximately ten minutes until it reaches boiling point.
How to Properly Prepare Produce
It’s not necessary to store all vegetables in the refrigerator. This will depend on each individual food type. Perishable produce (vegetables and fruits) should be kept below 40 degrees F by storing them in a refrigerator but are safe to consume if not held at this temperature. Canning is an exception when perishable foods are preserved through boiling water, leaving the food shelf-stable until they are ready for consumption.
When purchasing produce, make sure to wash it in cold water for 20 seconds or longer. You only need soap if the ingredients are dirty and should not be consumed. Rinse off any dirt that may have been transferred from growing media when harvesting. Some pre-bagged produce has been washed with detergent and is ready to drink without further processing, but make sure this type of product does not come into contact with other foods you are preparing – like raw meat – as they will contaminate each other.
A clean and sterilized cutting board, utensil, or surface should be used to prepare any produce. Never prepare to produce on a surface where raw meat of any kind was prepared. This results in cross-contamination.
How to Organize Your Food Preparation Station
Well-organized food preparation stations will keep the kitchen running more smoothly and also make it easier to ensure good food preparation practices. Ideally, every food prep station should have a cutting board, knives that are safely stored away or only accessible when needed–preferably with speed in mind— and easy access to a nearby sink for wiping up any messes as well as sterilizing tools at the start of each shift.
Additional necessary items besides the cabinet, sink, and countertops are a decent-sized scrap bin to scrape scraps from the cutting board into. Trash receptacles near each food prep station are equally important.
You can also designate stations for common food preparations, like a poultry station where you’d have a plastic cutting board, metal sheet to catch any poultry drippings, disposable gloves, paper towels, and a trash container.
For produce, there should be either a fruit and veggie washer or a scrubber along with an area for cleaning the produce. The crop is to be stored in an airtight container away from any raw food to prevent contamination.
I hope you have found this blog post to be helpful. Please feel free to leave me any comments or questions about food preparation, and I’ll get back to you promptly!