If you regularly cook at home, you already know that having a smoky kitchen is often part of the experience. Whether it’s a result of frying certain foods or accidentally burning your cooking, smoke creates a strong and unpleasant odor that can spread through the rest of your home. Additionally, it degrades indoor air quality and can potentially cause respiratory distress in your family.
From your cooking methods to the ingredients that you use, there are various reasons why smoke occurs during cooking. Still, there are ways to keep your home smoke-free even when you need to do some serious deep-frying. With that in mind, here’s how to reduce smoke and maintain clean and healthy air inside your home.
Ensure Proper Ventilation
Ventilation is one of the first things you need to prioritize when cooking. Frying foods in oil and cooking fatty pieces of meat tend to produce lots of smoke, so you need to make sure that your kitchen has adequate ventilation for redirecting smoke and replacing the air. You’ll also have a much easier time cooking, as smoke can obstruct your vision and cause difficulty in breathing.
If you haven’t done so yet, invest in appliances that help eliminate cooking smoke. You can explore options on the internet and buy range hood online, preferably one that can handle thick smoke from stovetops. If your place permits it, consider installing an exhaust fan or opening the doors and windows to let the air out while you cook.
Mind Your Smoke Points
As mentioned above, oils are often the cause of the unsavory smoke you experience while cooking. However, this doesn’t mean that you should ban this ingredient from your kitchen. Cooking oils have varying levels of smoke points, or the temperature at which oil or fat starts to smoke until it burns. Making sure that you use the right type of oil can reduce the amount of smoke that is produced when it is heated.
As a general rule, you need to match your oil with the cooking method you intend to use. When deep-frying, it’s best to use oils with a high smoke point, such as avocado, sunflower, canola, sesame, and peanut (all above 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 204 degrees Celsius). Similarly, you should reserve oils with a lower smoke point for colder dishes like salads or for brief heating such as sautés.
Keeping the temperature too high while cooking can cause large amounts of smoke and burnt food. To prevent this from happening, make sure to avoid overcooking food and constantly monitor the heat. Generally, it’s best to cook between medium and medium-high heat to avoid producing smoke and burning food. It might also be a good idea to cook with a timer and always follow cooking instructions to prevent overheating.
Prepare Your Cookware and Appliances
Some types of cookware and appliances produce less smoke than others, which makes them ideal for avoiding a smoky kitchen. Non-stick frying pans, for example, eliminate the need for excess oil, which then prevents the production of smoke. Using a lid for skillets, pots, and pans is also advisable since lids prevent smoke and steam from escaping. And since the lid traps the heat, food will cook faster.
If you’re using cookware such as cast iron pans, woks, or regular frying pans, you should consider seasoning them to create a layer that’s similar to non-stick pans. Creating that non-stick surface keeps the pan from rusting and encourages polymerization—a process in which fat is heated at a high temperature until it forms a hard surface on the pan that serves as a protective coating.
As a rule of thumb, you should season your cookware with oils that have a higher smoke point than the temperature you intend to cook at. If you absolutely must use low smoke-point oils, make sure that you keep cooling the pan to mitigate extra heat. Some experts also suggest adding water to the pan before grilling high-fat ingredients to cool it down.
Consider Other Cooking Methods
In general, grilling and frying food are more likely to result in kitchen smoke compared to other cooking methods. When possible, consider other methods of cooking. Boiling, steaming, and baking don’t produce smoke as a normal part of the cooking process, and these techniques are generally regarded as better for your health. If grilling and frying can’t be avoided, it’s best to cook outdoors so that the smoke can easily disperse and won’t collect inside your home.
Keep Your Equipment Clean
Apart from being a good hygienic practice, cleaning your kitchen, cookware, appliances, and other cooking surfaces after use will help prevent excess smoke the next time you need to cook. Food residue and gunk could build up and get stuck in your cookware and appliances, which can cause further smoking when exposed to high heat.
With this in mind, you may want to check your appliance manual to know how to properly clean kitchen equipment and appliances. When cleaning cookware such as pans, make sure to use dish brushes or a non-abrasive sponge to thoroughly remove debris without damaging the coating. Additionally, it would be ideal to regularly check your appliances and invest in their maintenance to prevent them from breaking down and becoming a fire hazard.
Final Word: Pay Attention While Cooking
At its core, cooking is a methodical process that requires careful attention and mindfulness. Hazards pervade the kitchen no matter what you intend to cook, whether it’s fried noodles or sirloin steak. Smoke is one such pervasive hazard that can have a negative effect on your home furnishings as well as your health. By being more mindful of how you cook and what you use for cooking, you can ensure a pleasant cooking environment and an overall better-smelling kitchen.