Summer produce is a beautiful thing, overflowing in the supermarkets and practically falling off fruit trees. Now enter the summer kitchen, where already hot temperatures are increased by sizzling frying pans and scorching baking trays. Yowza!
Cooking produces heat, and sometimes the thought of heating something up in 95-degree weather just doesn't sound appealing. Sure you can eat snacks, or get take-out, but most cooking at home requires prep work that can leave you sweating in your sauna-like kitchen. And the smaller your kitchen, the hotter it gets, which can make cooking become an exhausting chore instead of a pleasant task.
There are several easy ways to cool down your kitchen, even if you don't have air conditioning and are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Don't worry - you aren't doomed for a summer inside of a culinary torture chamber. You just need a few tips to get you through the hot months.
Let's cool this kitchen down!
1.) Turn Off the Lights
Extra lights in your kitchen can feel like you're baking under the hot sun and can bring unnecessary heat into a room that is one of the hardest to keep cool in the summer. Modern kitchens typically feature an abundance of lights, from overhead lighting to under-cabinet lighting and everything in between. To keep your kitchen free of heat from light sources, pick just one source and keep the rest turned off. If you can manage with just one light source, you'll cool down your kitchen and save money on utility bills.
2.) Close the Blinds
If you cover your kitchen windows with blinds or curtains, you'll want to keep them drawn during the daytime or while you're cooking so that the sunlight doesn't add extra heat. Drawing the blinds can keep the sun from beaming inside and warming up your kitchen significantly, so this is an important step to keep the temperature down. If you're using your kitchen windows as a source of light, try to keep the blinds drawn slightly, making sure they're aimed so that the sunbeams point upward toward the ceiling and not down onto your counters.
3.) Stay Hydrated
Might sound simple, but staying hydrated is one of the key steps to staying cool in a kitchen that is blazing hot. Any chef that works in a restaurant or kitchen daily can attest to how important it is to pour yourself a big glass (or jug) of ice water to keep your body temperature down while you work. Before your next summer culinary masterpiece, pour yourself a glass of something cold before you get to cooking. You can also try adding lemon and a pinch of sea salt to your water for extra electrolytes. Or try freezing fruit in an ice cube tray for a sweet treat.
4.) DIY Air Conditioner
With many modern homes being equipped with air conditioners and various cooling techniques, using something as simple as a fan can seem unnecessary. Trust us, it isn't, and can cool your kitchen down significantly if it's coated with a cool wet towel. Even the smallest of countertop fans can blow some much needed ice cold air on a cook in a hot kitchen. Simply drape the fan with a cool wet rag or towel, or position it so the air blows through the towel and onto you. You can also freeze bottles of water and tie them to the fan like makeshift ice blocks. You'll have cold air instantly and be a much happier chef.
Simple tip - If you live in an area where the summer days are hot but the nights are cool, position your fan in front of an open window to bring fresh air into your hot kitchen.
5.) Use Small Appliances
Unlike your oven or stove, a microwave emits almost no heat when it's running. Your kitchen will be much cooler in the summer if you can avoid running your oven frequently, making the microwave a summer-friendly cooking companion. There are plenty of healthy foods that can be cooked in the microwave, including steamed veggies, quinoa, or brown rice.
If you have a toaster oven, consider using it in the summer to avoid turning on the stove. That way, the kitchen won't be absolutely roasting when you're done.
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6.) Do Prep Work in the Morning
If possible, try to do most of the prep work for your nightly meal early in the day while temperatures are still cool. If you know you've got a meal to cook, assemble the ingredients that can be prepped in the morning. While making breakfast, set aside some time to chop vegetables or herbs and keep them cool in the fridge until you need them later. Or while you make your morning coffee, throw on a pot of plain pasta, toss with oil, and keep it in the refrigerator for that night's dinner. The kitchen temperatures will stay lower this way and will cool down before kitchen traffic is high.
7.) Cool Down with a Cold Towel
This is an old-school trick that really works. Storing clean damp towels in the refrigerator or freezer can really come in handy when kitchen temperatures are high. Simply wet a small towel, roll it up, and stick it in a bowl or Tupperware to store in the fridge. Feeling hot and overwhelmed? Not to worry. Now take the cold towel and wrap it around your neck. Ahhhh, instant relief.
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