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I love a good spring cleaning. Cleaning is cathartic for me. I’m one of those people who’s especially enthusiastic about weeding through closets and making sure they’re spic and span. In the kitchen, I love to make sure everything is really organized and cleaned up before a new season starts. For example, now that spring is here, I want to be at the ready with everything I need to take advantage of the abundance of fresh food arriving in our markets. Here are a few things I do to get my kitchen ready for the new season. If I’m missing anything, please do share!
1. Deep clean cupboards. The first places I start are my kitchen cupboards. I go through each one and wipe it down with a kitchen towel. I also pick through the odd glasses and whatnot we’ve collected over the winter. Little things like token kids cups from birthday parties and to-go mugs with missing lids take up a lot of space and are immediately discarded. I am ruthless as I clean, tossing anything that doesn’t suit our needs.
2. Check expiration dates. In the pantry the first thing I check are the expiration dates on canned goods. I am not a hoarder, but I am a sucker for gorgeous looking packaged food that I may or may not end up eating. Some items end up sitting on our shelves for years! Anything that is expired, or just appears kind of limp or dead, I chuck. I also check all the expiration dates on the sauces and jams in the fridge. Once the outdated food has been disposed of, I wash the jam jars in the dishwasher and save them for arts and crafts projects.
3. Stock up on canning supplies. I love canning season. I can’t wait to relish the flavors of summer and preserve as much as it as possible for next winter. This is the perfect time of year to reunite jars with errant lids and assess how many full sets of jars/lids/rims you have on hand. If, like me, you gave away a lot of jam last year, there’s a good chance you’ll need to restock your canning pantry. Put that on your list for April so you can get any shape or size jar you want before they run out.
4. Sharpen knives. Sharpening your knives seasonally is a good idea. I take our knives to a local kitchen store and they sharpen my whole set for $16. Such a bargain! I also sharpen them at home from time to time, but nothing beats the professional touch. I love having my knives especially sharp in the summer because the produce requires a lot of skinning and chopping. Using a sharp blade on things like tomatoes or eggplant definitely reduces the risk of knife slippage and subsequent stitches!
5. Check spring hours for your farmer’s market/CSA/U-Pick. We source most of our summer produce outside the supermarket. April is a great month to start looking up the times and locations of farmer’s market. Summer hours and locations can differ greatly depending on where you live! This is also time to research local CSAs and U-Pick farms. Crops will be in bloom before you know it and you’ll want to be prepared!