Help! How can I revive my stained kitchen utensils?
My chopping boards, pans and wooden spoons have taken a battering over the past few months. What’s the best way to eliminate smells and stains?
As someone currently engaged in a battle against a turmeric-stained food processor, you have my sympathies, James. Salvation comes in the form of Rachel Roddy – or, rather, her partner: washing-up enthusiast Vincenzo. “He does all of it and has all of these systems,” Roddy says. “He doesn’t believe I can wash up properly.”
First, you’re going to need lemons – and lots of them. “Vincenzo always has two halves on the side of the sink,” Roddy says. “It drives me mad, because they look like dead things.” Aesthetics aside, Roddy’s partner uses them to wipe residue off plates and into the bin (the acid cuts through the fat); often leaves a lemon bobbing in the sink; and has form for rubbing the citrus over clean dishes. “He’s very keen on squeaking,” she says. “Apparently my dishes don’t squeak enough.”
Sanjay Gour, co-owner with Nand Kishor of Dastaan in Surrey (they previously ran the kitchens at London’s Gymkhana), also keeps lemons in his cleaning arsenal. They are, he says, particularly good for removing stains and smells (hello, alliums) from anything porous, such as chopping boards and wooden spoons. Prevention is, of course, the best form of defence: “If you’re making a curry, a wooden spoon is a no-no,” Gour says. “Spices such as turmeric will stick around for a long time, so the best thing to use is a steel spoon or heatproof, rubber spatula.” If, however, this advice is coming too late and hot, soapy water is proving fruitless, a lemon juice (or white wine vinegar) and hot water solution is your next port of call. “We soak our boards overnight in the solution and scrub them in the morning,” he says. At home, however, 10-15 minutes should do the trick.
As for my poor food processor, its future remains, um, bright. “Turmeric is tricky,” Gour says, “so the best thing is always to clean it straight away. If you’ve left it, it’s going to stain.” All is not lost, however: “We use a deep-fat fryer cleaner to soak things in, but you can use oven cleaner, too. Obviously, you use a very diluted version with hot water, and you need to make sure you’ve washed it all off … You don’t want to be feeding someone oven cleaner.”
We all know that pasta cooking water is liquid gold in a recipe, but it has cleaning powers too. “Once I’ve served the pasta,” Roddy says, “Vincenzo pours half the pasta water into the pan I’ve made the sauce in.” The starch and salt break down fat, making it a good precursor to those lemons. Burned pans, however, require heat: “Add some water and bring it very slowly to a boil, simmer, then turn off and leave it sitting there overnight.”
Vincenzo soaks troublesome plastic containers with bicarbonate of soda, while Roddy washes them in hot, soapy water, rubs with – you’ve guessed it – a lemon half, then leaves to drip dry on a window ledge in the sun. “Yellow is a theme here,” she says. Well, as Coldplay said: “Look how they shine for you … It was all yellow.”