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Why You Should Run Your Kitchen Like a Test Kitchen

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Our Test Kitchen Manager shares some tricks of the trade for keeping a tidy kitchen.


When your day's to-do list includes two chocolate beet cakes (frosted and photo shoot-ready, of course), a quart of ice cream, a batch each of salsa and scones, and a banana leaf-wrapped fish—not to mention all of the daily maintenance and tidying tasks it takes to run a kitchen—you'd better have some magic up your white chef's coat sleeves. And our Test Kitchen Manager Derek Laughren does.

Derek runs a tight ship, churning out Sugar Steak with Bourbon and eggplant bhartha on any given day for our contests, cookbooks, and photo shoots. An efficient kitchen is a clean one, and while Derek, like many of us, is a student of the School of Clean as You Go, he's picked up some handy tricks, too. Today, he shares some of his best for keeping the kitchen—and yourself—clean:


How to get smells off your hands:

"If you spend any length of time cleaning and breaking down fish, you can get the smell out of your hands by scrubbing them with spent coffee grounds and lemon juice," he says. It's a good way to upcycle materials bound for the compost, too. 


How to keep your fridge drawers pristine:

"Tired of the gunk that builds up in the bottom of your vegetable crisper and herb drawer? You can make clean-up faster and easier by laying a tea towel in the base of the drawer," says Derek. "When you're ready to clean up, just pull the towel out (bits and crumbs included) and replace it. This will also keep your produce fresher longer, since the towel wicks excess moisture."  

Egg whites

How to make sure your egg whites always whip up properly:

When you're done using your mixer bowl and whip attachment, clean them with white vinegar before putting them away. This will remove any traces of lipids (that is, fats) which can prevent egg whites from whipping properly the next time you use the equipment.

Photo of beaters by Erin McDowell; all others by James Ransom

What are your best tips and tricks for keeping your kitchen a well-oiled machine?

Tags: Kitchen Hacks, Tips & Techniques, Food52 Life