What The Hell Is That Smell - 5 Kitchen Mysteries And How To Fix Them

July 19, 2011

We have all experienced it: Your kitchen suddenly starts wafting strange scents, and there are some downright mysterious things brewing in the coffee mug that you forgot by the stove. Here are 5 mysteries that can go wrong in the kitchen, and how to fix them. 

An unholy odor in the pantry - Dollars to doughnuts, it's the potatoes. If your pantry suddenly smells like something beyond recognition, check  them first. The smell of potatoes going bad is something that can not be put into words, but it is worse than a rotten egg. If you find the offending spud , wrap it in a bag to contain both the rotting veg and the fluid it created and throw away. You will have to dispose of the whole bag of garbage, to truly be rid of the stench though. I do not compost frothy potatoes. They freak me out. HOW TO AVOID: Buy firm potatoes without visible bruising, be sure there is no musty odor to the bag. Avoid bags with moisture in them. If you must buy a bag like this, remove the potatoes and store in a dry container as soon as you get home. Potatoes spoiling before you can use them up? Buy a smaller bag or work them into your meal plan so you can  use them up promptly. 

Bugs - Fruit flies are those tiny gnats that hover around the fruit bowl. Bananas are a major culprit. To avoid fruit flies, eat your fruit before it has a chance to attract them! Set up a trap to capture them by cutting off the curved part of a soda bottle (just above the label) and add about 1/2 inch of water and an apple core . Press the curved part upside down, into the open bottom part. Tape it to seal the edge if desired. The flies will fly in and drown. This works best after you remove the fruit that is going bad from the fruit bowl. HOW TO AVOID: Keep fruit fresh and moving out of that fruit bowl. Keep fruit in the refrigerator if necessary and of course, buy less fruit at a time if needed. 

Another bug you may find, is a teeny  moth. These pantry moths or Indianmeal moths, love to eat just about anything in the cupboard. To avoid them, bring all your bulk products home and freeze overnight, before storing in an airtight container. I use 5 gallon food grade buckets to store my flour,oats, and sugar in. These pests come in as larva in your dry goods and are difficult to get rid of (due to sheer numbers), so try to avoid them in the first place. HOW TO AVOID: Freeze any bulk foods when you first get them home. Keep all packaging closed tightly and check for spillage that may attract the moths, in the cupboard. 

Stale food odor- Dishes are probably to blame. If you are a diehard fan of waiting until all the dishes are dirty before washing, at least cultivate a rinsing habit. Don't think your dishwasher is the answer either. My mother in law likes to wait until the dishwasher is packed, before running it. This is a stinky decision. HOW TO AVOID:  Do not emulate my mother in law. 

Spoiled food in the fridge - If your refrigerator is a catch all of take out containers and bowls with no lids, you are going to have a smelly fridge. This is not appetizing and the idea of throwing away food is just plain nuts. HOW TO AVOID: Make smaller portions. Try cooking a larger meal earlier in the day, and using the leftovers as a planned lunch for the next day. Never place anything in the fridge that is not sealed. Make friends with shower cap-style bowl lids. These stretch to accommodate any size bowl and can be reused. Or start collecting Tupperware. There is no shame in a healthy Tupperware addiction. There isn't! Label leftovers and use them. 

Cooked food has lingering taste from previous  meal - In a word: Soap. Use hot water and soap to properly wash your dishes. Especially with the big push to eat spicy foods lately, if your morning eggs taste like last night's taco meat, your pan is the blame. It needs a little more elbow grease, and some hot water. A tip that might seem annoying, but is worth it's weight in dish soap, is to wash your pans while they are still hot. Yes, it seems like a pain, but there will be no more sticking or smelling or residual anything. HOW TO AVOID: Wash dishes with enough hot water and soap to remove all the leftover flavors. A rubber scraper wouldn't hurt either. 

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