All about cooking and serving – alternative utensils to use
Peeps, do not use plastic to cook, store, or serve food. I cannot emphasize it more. Plastic is everywhere, even where we least expect them to be. We are often not aware of their presence in our packaged and processed foods parcels. The best we can do is to remove it from our homes so that we can prevent inhaling or consuming any toxic fume or remnants of it through our food. And everytime we throw away our milk cartons (yes, they are lined with plastic), disposable water bottles, soda cans, plastic bags, plastic spoons or cutleries, they end up in our landfills to be burnt or to decay. And since they are not bio-degradable, either ways they keep producing toxic fumes and gases that we unknowingly and continuously inhale. No doubt the incidences of cancer and various other lungs-related diseases have increased so much. Plastic is composed of major toxic pollutants, and it causes great harm to the environment in the form of air, water and land pollution.
When it comes to cooking, serving, or storing food, plastic often reacts with the food they hold. You might often find the taste and flavor of food stored in plastic containers change over time. This is more prominent when you store water in plastic bottles. The toxins in the plastic gets into the food or water and enters our bodies. Do you think these toxins do us any good?
Now replacing your plastic kitchen utensils, containers and disposable items with eco-friendly and sustainable ones are not that difficult or expensive. Go slow, in small phases, if you want but there are various options available ready at hand. Let me share some with you here.
Disposable cutleries: There are various interesting and innovative green alternatives to your disposable spoons, plates, bowls, and glasses and they are not any more pricier than the plastic ones. For example, several Indian ngos and social enterprises are manufacturing compostable cutlery and utensils – that are made from agricultural wastes such as sugarcane bagasse, birch wood, or bamboo fibres and that decomposes within three to four months. Then there are edible spoons and cutleries made from the flours of jowar, rice and wheat, or corn starch, which can be fed to stray animals or immediately decomposes when mixed with water. If at all, carry your old friend – the steel spoon and plates – like old times and once you grow the right mind, you would not find them so much of a hassle.
Glass Straws: Straws -- to drink our juices and smoothies are the most strayed ones, you might often find. We tend to use them mindlessly and they can hardly be reused. We tend to throw them even if we didn’t use them and they block our landfills and drains like worriesome troublemakers. What can be an alternative? I once saw steel straws at a friend’s place but then that’s a rarity. I don’t know if you can procure them and from where, but glass straws are much more affordable, easily available, and trust me, quite easily manageable.
Clay pots: Instead of storing water in plastic bottles, especially discarded soda containers, use glass ones or the highly stylized clay ones you find right in some nooks in your city. Or, try the old-world clay pitchers. Not only do these keep the water cool and delicious, they take care of your health and especially, your throat and sinus.
I use clay pots for cooking rice, dal and curries as well as Pulav and biryanis. You can cook any dish in these. They not only contributes to the taste of t he food, but are also awesome to use. It is best to set curd in clay pots. Remember not to use detergent and soaps while cleaning clay pots as they are porus and holds the soap in their pores. They are best cleaned with lime or ashes.
Copper vessels: Our ancient scriptures recommend drinking water stored for around eight hours in a copper vessel, once in the morning. This gets a very small amount of copper ions into our body, which helps balance the three doshas mentioned in Ayurveda (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) and destroys harmful microbes, molds, and fungi etc. It’s also said to improve digestion, cardiac health, weight management, and thyroid functioning, apart from other benefits.
Glass containers: Mason jars with wooden lids look so neat in an well organized or an open kitchen. Use them if you are fine with making a little investment.
Ceramic containers: Ceramic containers look
Wooden utensils and cutleries: These pretty choices not only look fashionable in your kitchen, they are also good for our health. Research suggests that wood may have natural germ-killing properties. Also, since it is an inert material, it doesn’t react to corrosive food (vinegar, strong chili), and won’t leach harmful chemicals into the food. It, of course, is an eco-friendly choice. Moreover, since they don’t conduct the heat, wooden spoons won’t burn your hand like the metal ones do if you forgetfully leave them in the cooking pot for long.
Practical Tips for Cleaning and Maintenance
· Wooden utensils and containers: Wooden containers should not be left wet. Wash them with a mild natural soap as soon as you use them and towel dry before putting aside.
· Glass straws: Wash them with a thin brush as soon as you are done using them with plain water, water mixed with a little vinegar, or soapnut water. Don’t let them dry with the food choked inside them.
· Copper vessels: Use a lemon dipped generously in salt or a solution of salt and vinegar to sparkle your copper vessels.
· Clay pots: Don’t use detergent and soaps as clay pots are porus and soap stays in them. It is best to use a little lime to clean or ashes are good too.