Learning to cook will not only give youngsters a sense of independence, it also opens their eyes to new cultures, helps them understand nutrition and builds their confidence. To make cooking with kids fun and accident-free, follow these key kitchen safety tips.
1. Clean Hands
Hands carry lots of germs, especially when coming from the playground or the bathroom. So before bringing the kids in the kitchen, young chefs should lather hands with warm, soapy water, front and back, and under fingernails. A good trick to know when hands are clean: Sing the Happy Birthday song from beginning to end.
2. Practice with Plastic
Probably one of the biggest fears for parents cooking with kids is letting them handle sharp knives. Let your child practice first by using plastic knives, which are less likely to cause injuries. Instruct kids to hold the knife in one hand while the free hand acts as a “claw,” gripping the item with their nails. Knuckles should be facing the blade with fingers tucked under.
Have them test out their cutting skills on easy-to-slice bananas and gradually working up to apples, carrots and peppers.
3. Handling Heat
Besides learning how to use the stove and oven, kids need to be aware that any equipment that’s been heated can be dangerously hot to touch with bare hands. That includes pots, pans, lids and handles, as well as utensils — all of which can stay warm well after they’ve been removed from direct heat. Toasters and microwaves are no exception — bowls and containers that have been put in the microwave should never be picked up without a potholder or oven mitt. Hot liquids, oil and steam are more likely to cause injury than actual flames, so lifting or pouring should be done slowly and only on stable surfaces.
4. To Taste or Not to Taste
It’s tempting to want to lick that cake batter, but raw ingredients carry the risk of foodborne illnesses. Uncooked eggs and raw meat or poultry (including the marinade they sat in) should never be taste-tested. Remind kids to let hot things cool before tasting and not to lick their fingers when cooking, as they may have come into contact with harmful bacteria.
5. Proper Attire
With kids in the kitchen, it can quickly become a messy place, so be ready for spills and splatters galore. To keep them clean, kids should dress accordingly: an apron or old clothes and comfortable, non-skid shoes. Avoid dangling jewellery that could catch on drawer handles or knobs on the stove. (Make your young cook feel really special by topping off his outfit with a kid-sized chef’s hat!)