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When culinary can be a bit on the nose

Part of living in strata communities is accepting that at some stage you will inevitably annoy and be annoyed by living in such close confines to your neighbours.

Whether it’s the fact that they play loud music at the very same time you’re trying to sleep or issues arise because they don’t have the same appetite for well-cooked toast as you do, there will be times you’ll struggle to appreciate each other’s style of living.

Strata buildings bring together a melting pot of different age groups, cultures and belief systems, and the kitchen is usually the site of the most heat when it comes to neighbourly disputes.

Some cooking smells can be a little overwhelming, particularly the strong spices used in such as curry, ginger, cayenne or cumin are used, while onions, cabbage, bacon and certain fats can also permeate small spaces, leaving lingering smells that spread well beyond the site where they were first created.

So what can you and your neighbours do to minimise cooking odours and maintain harmony?

No matter how tempting it may be, opening your front door to let odours escape into common area is not an option in strata living.

Former chef and food writer Anjali Prasertong regularly writes for home cooking blog The Kitchn. Prasertong suggests one of the best ways to stop pungent smells from spreading is to close bedroom and closet doors while you are cooking.

Fabric readily absorbs grease and odours and can’t be cleaned in the same way hard surfaces can, she says, while closing relevant doors before cooking anything aromatic or greasy ensures that the smell is contained to the kitchen.

Prasertong says it’s also wise to ensure you ventilate however you can while cooking.

However for those times when opening a window and letting nature take its course is not really an option, try instead simmering a pot of water with lemon and orange peels; lighting an aromatherapy candle or burning oils or saturating cotton balls with vanilla extract and letting it sit in a dish overnight.

“If you have a vent over your stove, use it. Otherwise, an air conditioner or air filter can remove greasy cooking smells from the air. Even just opening a window helps, especially if you can set up a fan pointing out the window, to push odours outside.”

Cleaning up immediately can also reduce the chances of unpleasant odours while cooking, she says, as can simmering your favourite spices to reduce their aromatic impact.

Lastly, Prasertong recommends turning to your pantry for items that will help absorb stubborn odours.

“Leave a small bowl on the counter filled with white vinegar, baking soda or coffee grounds before you go to bed. Any of the three will naturally dissipate any remaining cooking smells by morning.”

Few of these tips will assist if it’s your neighbour doing the cooking and you being confronted with the smell.

To this end, each Australian state has its own laws relating to smells and odours however in essence they must not interfere with your right under the law to enjoy your property.

If this is a common issue in your strata scheme, speak with your strata community manager for further advice.

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