How Bad Are Your Kitchen Habits?

The Kitchen weighs in on some common faux pas.

The Kitchen is letting you know just how bad some common kitchen habits really are, and offering some easy solutions. These faux pas fall into one of three categories: "Not So Bad," "Pretty Bad," or "Really Bad." It's another addition of "How Bad Is It?"

How bad is it… to use wax paper instead of parchment paper?

Our verdict is that this is… Really Bad! If it's going in the oven, then using wax paper instead of parchment paper is really bad. Wax paper melts when it has direct contact with heat and can even catch fire, so it shouldn't be used interchangeably with parchment paper, which can be used for oven temperatures up to 420 degrees F. Some good replacements for parchment paper in the oven are aluminum foil or silicone baking mats.

How bad is it… to put frozen meat into a slow cooker?

Our verdict is… it's Really Bad! Putting frozen meat directly into a slow cooker without thawing it can be unsafe because the meat won't come to the correct temperature quickly enough, which can encourage bacteria growth. If you put cold meat in the warm slow cooker, it could also crack the porcelain basin and the texture of the meat could be mealy or mushy. And, in this case, it may be a good idea to check the internal temperature of your meat, once it is cooked, to make sure it has come to a safe temperature (e.g., chicken should be above 165 degrees F before consumption). Some safe ways to thaw food are putting it in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave.

How bad is it… to eat brown avocados?

The final verdict is… Not So Bad! Avocados turn brown when exposed to air, but the brown part is perfectly safe to eat (assuming you haven't left it out for more than a few hours). The brown parts of the avocado may be unappetizing or even bitter, so just slice that part off and you're good to go. To save an avocado after cutting it open, rub a little lemon juice on it, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge for up to 4 days.

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