Cooking Safely After A Storm…

August 26, 2011

With bad weather predicted for the East Coast this weekend from Hurricane Irene, we are reminded

Irene's Projected Patch Up the Eastern Seaboard

that many people depend on electricity to cook.  If your power is out for several days, here are some reminders and ideas about how food can be prepared:

  • Modern gas ranges’ autoigniters won’t work.  Keep a box of kitchen matches to light the burners on your gas cooktop and/or oven.
  • Don’t cook using charcoal inside.  Burning charcoal produces deadly carbon monoxide.
  • A small generator won’t run an electric stove.  Stoves require 220 volt circuits and it takes a good size generator to produce that voltage and amperage.  An average sized generator should power an electric skillet or an electric griddles designed for indoor use.
  • Do make use of your outdoor grill. Make sure you have plenty of propane before the storm comes.
  • Keep the freezer door of your refrigerator closed.  It will keep the cold in longer. However, most experts say that food that thaws should be immediately cooked or discarded.  For many home freezers food can only be kept unthawed for about one to two days after the power goes out.
  • Listen to radio broadcasts for warnings.  If power is out at water treatment plants, it may be necessary to boil drinking water.  Stock up on bottled water for drinking and cooking prior to the storm’s arrival.
  • Stock up on canned goods.  You can also consider using an alcohol warmer such as those made by Sterno to heat food directly in a can.


When You Can Use Your Cookware in Your Oven…

August 4, 2011

A consumer writes, worried that cooking a dish under their oven’s broiler, using a skillet, has released dangerous fumes into their home.

While we are confident that no poisons were emitted in this ten minute long exposure under the broiler, it is a cautionary tale.

It may look like cookware, but this cornbread pan is specially designed for oven use. Note the all metal, cast-iron construction

Unless the cookware has all metal construction, it should not be placed under a broiler. Many pieces of cookware with thermoset plastic handles can withstand 350 degree oven temperatures, but temperatures directly under a broiler are typically too high to safely expose anything other than metal to. The risk is not poisonous fumes but setting fire, or melting the handle itself.

There’s a reason that very few bakeware pieces are anything other than metal, and any handles or grips on bakeware are typically made using silicone which can handle very high temperatures without igniting or smoking.

The best advice is to use bakeware in the oven and cookware on top of the stove unless the cookware is solidly construction of ONLY metal.