Your oven racks need cleaning. No, really, take a look – we'd like to bet we're right. Unless you've used our guide to how to clean an oven recently, it's likely your oven racks have summer and autumn's dinners caked on to them – which means just one thing: a Christmas dinner that doesn't taste as good as it could.
Why? Because if your oven racks are cooking caked on food at the same time as your oven's cooking your festive feast, the flavours will inevitably mix. So, if you want your oven in its best possible state before Christmas, get those racks cleaned this weekend – even if you ignore the rest of the oven. Here are three quick ways to do so (four, if you count the oven cleaners). Little elbow grease and no harsh chemicals required in the first three.
1. Clean your oven racks in a bin liner
Split a bin liner down one side to create a pocket. Put your first oven rack inside and coat it on both sides with a paste made of baking soda and white vinegar (you can mix this yourself – it just needs to be thick enough to cling on to the oven racks, so experiment with quanitites). Repeat the process on the other racks, then just tuck the bag shut on the two open sides. Leave overnight, then rinse off the next morning in the kitchen sink. Putting them through the dishwasher will make it more effortless still.
2. Clean oven racks in the bath
Fill the bath with enough hot, soapy water to cover the racks. Leave them to soak overnight, then let the water out and use a brush or cloth to work off any grime that's clinging to them in the morning. Run clean water over them to rinse the soap off.
Then clean the bath...
3. Use steam, in the oven
Fill an oven proof dish with water and a couple of cut lemons. Put it into the oven and turn up the heat (as high as you can). Keeping an eye on the water levels, let the water begin to evaporate – the lemon will help cut through the grease.
Remove the bowl and the racks at the end of the process, once they've cooled a little, and use a plastic spatula to remove any clinging grime. Then just rinse the racks clean.