My wife saves everything in sight when it comes to the kitchen and claims to be recycling to save the planet.

Sorry, Charlie, you are recycling me out of the kitchen. It’s a matter of me in the kitchen or all her stuff!

I know many of you reading this article are saying what in the world is the chef ranting about? There also is a group of you out there that know exactly what I’m talking about and are trying to hide stuff as we speak.

Here are a few warning signs to look for. When opening a kitchen cabinet does a bunch of those plastic food containers fall out? Check them. Half of them don’t match or have tops or bottoms. There are also a few odd ball containers.

Let me tell you what they are. They are containers from some fast-food order you ate in the past. Oh, there also should be some plastic spoons, forks, sporks and knives as well. You’ll probably find them in the dish washer mixed in with the regular silverware. Starting to get the picture?

Also, have you noticed new glass containers with lids sitting around the kitchen. Those are left over jam or condiment containers. You can’t throw those away, they are made of glass – great for storage, right? Wrong!

Now that we are all on the same page, some of us are saying, “Oh yeah, I was wondering why we had so much stuff being reused sometimes” … and the rest of you are saying, “What’s wrong with recycling in the house.”

Because you're not a recycle center! You just collect and never redistribute!

Sorry, I got carried away. Let me explain my chef training.

In food-service operations, you are not allowed to reuse food containers of any kind. It is against the health department sanitation standards. Now, at home, is it safe to reuse glass containers for storage? Yes, but the lids will sometimes leak. How about plastic? You know those great food containers that hold whipped topping, cottage cheese and sour cream; I call them Eve's Plasticware.

Now that’s a different story.

I am sure she learned it from her mother, who learned it from her mother. It’s called generational recycling. Bet you thought recycling is fairly new to save the environment, but I say “no, no!” It’s been around a long time. Just ask any mother. Now where were we.

Many plastics are used in food storage. You can usually find a label on the bottom of the container. If the container is made with #1(PET) it is recommended you should not reuse it, but should just recycle the normal way. Also #3 and #6 (Styrofoam) should just be thrown away and not recycled. There is also a #7 plastic that many agencies recommend not to reuse because it has BPA, which is not recommended for good health.

I hope that answers all your questions, because I have to go now. My wife wants to know if she can store left over pies in a glass container. Just remember, recycling at home is fine. But watch out for the tell-tale signs I warned you about. It could be a serious case of mother’s recycling training. Now I have to make something you can store in glass. Try this recipe:

Quick Dill Pickles


½ cup rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon mustard seed

1 teaspoon salt

2 cloves cracked garlic (mash with a knife)

2 teaspoon dried dill

1 bay leave

4 Kirby cucumbers cut into 1-inch slices


In a small saucepan over medium high heat add vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, salt and garlic to the pan, and cook until it begins to simmer and sugar dissolves. Toss the dill, bay leaf and sliced cucumbers together in a heat-proof bowl.

Pour the simmering liquid over the cucumbers and stir to evenly coat. Allow to cool to room temperature or chill before serving. Store in one of those glass containers you are saving.

Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or

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