Top Worst-Smelling Food - Whole Home Scenting

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Prepping the Worst-Smelling Food: Top 5 Worst Odors and How To Eliminate Them

What do you think of when you think of the worst-smelling food to prepare? Is it the worst tasting, or is it an enjoyable dish? Foods like bacon, broccoli and cabbage may be delicious on the plate, but when you warm them up, their odor continues to permeate your home long after you want to smell it. No matter how good your dinner was last night, you don’t want to experience it throughout the next day.

Don’t worry; you don’t have to keep avoiding your favorite foods to preserve your home’s fragrance. We’ll give you our worst offenders and some tried and true solutions to keep your house fresh and clean.

Why Do Some Foods Smell Bad but Taste Good?

Smelly food.

Your food’s flavor is dependent on its taste and smell. While your nose and tongue use chemical receptors for smell and taste, they do not always respond to the same chemicals. There may be foul-smelling odors in the air that do not affect the flavor when eaten. All of our picks for the smelliest foods cannot be judged by their smell.

Our Top 8 Worst-Smelling Foods

Most savory smells become less appetizing after cooking. However, some foods begin offending as soon as they start heating up. We’ve compiled a list of our top picks for the worst aromas while cooking.

1. Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the most versatile vegetables. It stands alone as a side, or you can cook it into casseroles, salads, and stir frys. Unfortunately, when cooking, it doesn’t smell very kind. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable.

Cruciferous vegetables contain sulfurous compounds and release glucosinolates while cooking. These compounds are responsible for the smell. In addition to broccoli, you may find that cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale produce the same odor.

2. Fish

Fish often holds the reputation for being the worst-smelling food. Did you know that two-thirds of Americans prefer to eat fish in restaurants due to the aroma? When you cook fish in the winter, you’re likely to smell your meal for days. The odor lingers on the rug and curtains, especially when you can’t open your home to air it out.

If you do not cook your fish right away, trimethylamine oxide begins to break down. As it breaks down, it smells like ammonia. The longer you wait to cook the fish, the more likely it is to smell when you cook it.

3. Curry

Curry is one of those delicious dishes when you take your first bite, but the smell may be off-putting to you and your family. Even Indian takeaway can leave your home smelling pungent. When you cook curry, the spices release a fat-soluble oil responsible for the aroma. Your home’s porous surfaces absorb the scent and can be difficult to remove.

4. Microwave Popcorn

Microwave popcorn is a quick, buttery alternative to stovetop popcorn. The decision to make popcorn during a Netflix binge-watching session or family movie night may turn your home’s fragrance sour. For some people, microwave popcorn always has a foul smell to it. The flavorings responsible for the oil and buttery taste begin to smell when cooked. If you leave the popcorn in the microwave for a few seconds too long, it becomes a burnt, smoky smell.

5. Boiled Eggs

Boiled eggs make a healthy snack. Whether you choose to include hard-boiled eggs as part of your lunch or deviled eggs as an appetizer for a get-together, boiled eggs have a lot of versatility. Unfortunately, cooking deviled eggs can also leave your kitchen with an odor not unlike rotten eggs. Don’t worry; your eggs are not rotten, but they may be overcooked. When you cook egg yolk, it releases iron, and the whites release sulfur and hydrogen. As the egg cooks, the hydrogen, sulfur and iron react to one another and create a compound known as hydrogen sulfide.

6. Bacon

The smell of bacon frying in your home may make your stomach growl, but after a few hours, the stale bacon smell can be downright nauseating. One of the reasons bacon makes the list is because of the oil. As oil sits, it becomes rancid. During cooking, grease may splatter on the stove and other surfaces.

7. Cabbage

When it comes to foods with an offensive smell, cabbage is one of the worst. In fact, despite how healthy it is and delicious it can be in soups, entrees and more, many cooks avoid it because of the odor. Cabbage contains sulfur, and when you cook it, the sulfur multiplies. The longer you cook it, the worse it smells. For those making a soup, the smell can be downright unbearable. Cooking small amounts of vegetables may help reduce some of the odor, but there are other ways to keep your home smelling fresh, even after cooking cabbage.

8. Reheated Chicken

Using leftovers is a good way to save money and limit your waste. Reheated chicken can taste fabulous in various meals. If you feel like your chicken smells different the next day, you aren’t wrong. This is known as the warmed-over flavor. After refrigerating chicken for 24 hours, the exposure to oxygen causes the polyunsaturated fatty acids to deteriorate. The deterioration may affect the taste and smell of the meat.

To avoid the warmed-over flavor, use a sauce as a barrier. For example, curry, rosemary, and oregano protect against oxidation. Likewise, avoid the microwave when reheating chicken.

How Do Other Smells Invade Your Kitchen?

Sometimes, the odor culprit is not the worst-smelling food. Instead, the reason for the foul odor could be an old sponge, a stinky trash can, or garbage disposal. Maybe the food in the fridge is responsible for what you’re smelling. Worse, the smell of your fridge could affect the taste of your other food. To avoid a stinky fridge, place a box of baking soda to absorb foul particles.

For garbage bins, charcoal trash bags may neutralize odors. Additionally, place a dryer sheet in the bottom of the can to counter the smells. If you have something particularly stinky to put into the garbage, take it out promptly instead of letting it linger in the kitchen.

How Can You Improve Your Home’s Odor?

Open windows in your home.

Everything you do in your home contributes to its signature scent. The foods you cook, the detergents, perfumes and soaps you use all contribute to the overall smell. Most of us aren’t aware of what our homes smell like until there is an odor out of the ordinary. If you’ve ever cooked eggs and bacon in the morning, you know how a scent can permeate and make you aware of the smells within your home.

What others smell when they come into your home isn’t beyond your control. Your curtains and rugs don’t have to smell like last night’s curry. There are various ways to eliminate foul odors and increase pleasant smells.

Simmer Potpourri

Use herbs and fruit to create natural potpourri to combat the worst-smelling food. Cloves, cinnamon, lemon rinds and other citrus peels can be simmered for a natural air freshener. Potpourri may be strong enough to mask most cooking smells. Additionally, simmering potpourri can add moisture to the air during the colder and dryer months.

Open Windows

If you want to remove an odor, circulation and ventilation are critical. While it may be difficult to open all your windows in the middle of winter, you should strive to at other times of the year. Open a window before you start cooking and point a fan at the open window to draw the odor from your home at the start. Additionally, turn on your range hood fan as soon as possible. If you have an HVAC system, the air conditioner may filter some of the stenches.

Clean the Kitchen

Do not leave dishes on the counter after dinner. While it may be tempting to leave your pans for later, the pot filled with oil is only going to make the smell worse overnight. Wipe down the counters of all food particles, clean the garbage disposal and take the trash out.

Bake Dessert

Following dinner, start on dessert. This isn’t just an excuse to make sweets, either. Cookies, brownies or pies can make your home warm and comforting. Try to bake goodies with cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg for the smell to permeate. Once you finish cooking your main course, pop some cookies in the oven and fill your home with the scent of freshly baked goods.

Clean Vents and Filters

How long has it been since you checked your HVAC vents? Oil and other compounds stick to the inside of the vents and spread smells through your home. Make sure you have your ducts cleaned regularly.

Additionally, check the filters on your HVAC system and your range hood. Consider installing a charcoal filter for the range hood to trap dirt and grease and to neutralize the air.

Place Plants Indoors

House plants absorb odors and purify indoor air. House plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen but also remove volatile organic compounds from the air. Adding greenery to your home makes it feel more lively and keeps terrible odors from the worst-smelling food to a minimum.

Some plants also provide their own pleasant fragrances. Gardenias, eucalyptus, and jasmine beautify your home and improve the overall scent.

Brew a Pot of Coffee

Coffee tends to overpower most odors with its delicious aroma. In addition to its natural fragrance, coffee also absorbs other smells in the environment. While cooking or shortly after cooking a meal, consider brewing coffee.

Also, use recycled coffee grounds to deodorize your fridge. To absorb odors throughout the home, use pantyhose or mesh bags to hold coffee grounds and place the bags within gym bags, linen closets, or dresser drawers.

Place Candles Inside

Candles are one of the most common options when battling foul odors. Scented candles provide a flexible option. You have various scents to choose from, and strategic placement can increase their efficiency throughout your house. While lighting candles can fill your home with the fragrance of your choice, you do not have to burn them. For example, line your linen closet with unlit candles. Sheets and towels absorb the scent, and you will be pleasantly surprised by the smell whenever you open the pantry.

Freshen Up Your Carpets

Food odors can stick to your carpets, couches and other upholstery. You may clean and air out your home, but if the carpet absorbs the smell, you need to focus on the ground. Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet and let it rest for a few hours before you vacuum it. Use the same method on your couches, pet beds, and mattresses to rid yourself of other odor hot spots.

Use an Oil Diffuser

If you do not want to spend time lighting candles or plugging in air fresheners to attempt to counter bad smells after dinner, a whole house oil diffuser makes a difference.

A whole-house system fills the entire home with fragrance on command. When you have an oil diffuser, you don’t have to give your home’s scent your constant attention. Once installed in your HVAC system, the diffuser does the work to keep your home smelling fresh. Additionally, you can choose between a wide variety of fragrances and essential oils.

Fight the Worst-Smelling Food With Whole Home Scenting

You do not have to avoid the foods you love in fear they’ll fill your home with foul odors. Be proactive and fight the fragrance with the use of a fragrance diffuser. Essential oil fragrances that may help reduce bad smells include bergamot, lemon, mandarin, grapefruit, lavender and cinnamon. In addition to releasing fresh fragrance into the air, essential oils may have a calming or relaxing effect on you and your family.

Just because the worst-smelling food tastes incredible doesn’t mean you want the odor living in your home for days after cooking the meal. At Whole Home Scenting, we want to help you eliminate odors.

Contact us today to determine which diffusers and fragrances may be suitable for your home.

Photo credit: Lisa Fotios (pasta), cottonbro (woman opening window)
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Don't Fragrance Your Home Until You've Eliminated These Five Common Odor Areas.

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