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Thread: Before putting something in frig, do you cool 100%?

  1. #1

    Before putting something in frig, do you cool 100%?

    Just wondering on what the proper way is.....

    I just made some Sloppy Joe (haven't had that in over 25 years ). Anyway, made me think was is the proper way to handle the leftovers.

    Of course, you can't put it in the frig hot, but do you let it cool 100% before putting it in frig?

    Some food cools quicker than other, but if I have a small container of something and its almost cooled off, but still a bit warm, I put it in frig (but loosely covered) that way.

    If I have a lot of something, I often divide into smaller containters to cool out of the frig first. I of course wouldn't put a pretty warm pot of sauce in the frig since that would raise the temp of the frig overall.

    I always hear about be careful on how long you leave some foods out, so was wondering what the proper way is.

    Thanks,
    Last edited by applecrisp; 01-19-2008 at 06:59 PM.

  2. #2
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    According to the USDA, you shouldn't let food completely cool off before putting it into the refrigerator. Bacteria grow rapidly in the "danger zone" which are temperatures between 40 and 140 F. If the temperature of the food is between these two temps, it needs to go into the refrigerator.
    Last edited by Gumbeaux; 01-19-2008 at 07:45 PM.

  3. #3
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    I always put leftovers in the fridge while they are still hot. Most of the time, especially if we are not eating what I've just made right away, I just don't have the patience or time to wait for it to cool off. We're still doing just fine.

  4. #4
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    I rarely wait for anything to cool off--I figure the quicker it cools down, the better off I'll be--so straight into the fridge it goes.
    Life finds a way to amaze and amuse me everyday.

  5. #5
    When placing hot foods in fridge....you raise the temperatures within it for a little while (meantime risking bacteria growth to foods therein because temps fluctuate) until thermostat kicks motor on to cool interior cabin back to safe temperatures. This causes compressor motor to work harder unnecessarily --(and why any attempt to cool a room opening refrigerator doors in hot weather actually generates more heat because of the heat compressor motors generate - yes, I have heard of people doing this!).

    For that reason, I cool my food completely....so that I do not overwork my refrigerator in order to extend it's life - in addition to saving energy since my motor does not work as hard.
    Dolores
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  6. #6
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    I have been known to set a potholder in the frig and put a pot of hot food on it! Usually I let the food cool while I am cleaning up from the meal, then into the frig it goes. If it is still warm, I lay the lid or foil loosely over it and cover it tightly later (sometimes in the morning!). Probably doesn't meet any Food and Safety standards, but I have never had a problem either.
    kathyb


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  7. #7
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    Applecrisp,

    You're doing it correctly by cooling it a bit first, or putting the food in smaller containers.

    Other methods to cool foods quickly include spreading the food out, say on a sheet pan, to increase the surface area; placing the food in a clean, cool container and then that container in an ice bath; or submerging an ice paddle (or a frozen water bottle) in a hot liquid, such as a sauce or soup, and stirring.

    Ideally, potentially hazardous hot foods should be cooled as quickly as possible, from 135 to 70 degrees in 2 hours (using methods above) and then from 70 to 41 degrees in 4 hours or less (at this point, I put the food in the fridge).
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  8. #8
    Memartha,

    Thanks for the additional tips. I've never used the ice bath tip, but I do often pour (say its soup) into individual Pyrex storage bowls (with lids off) so it cools off quicker, plus the pot seems to hold in the heat and slows down the cooling.

    I'm a bit confused, could you elaborate on this...
    Ideally, potentially hazardous hot foods should be cooled as quickly as possible, from 135 to 70 degrees in 2 hours (using methods above) and then from 70 to 41 degrees in 4 hours or less (at this point, I put the food in the fridge).

    Are you saying that a potentially hazardous hot food should be at no more than 70 degrees within two hours of completion? At what time time mark do you approximately put food in the frig?

    And as far as potentially hazardous food --- of course if it contains meat/poultry, dairy ..... I am careful about that. But if it doesn't, say its a black bean soup (with just beans and veggies), or a tomato sauce --- I would think there is more leeway. In the case of the tomato sauce, all the ingredients don't need to be refrigerated before cooking. Am I wrong to think that? I tend not to leave anything out more than 1 hour after cooking. And if its meat/dairy tend to go by the hour mark, and often earlier if its small and almost cool.

    I don't often make big amounts ot things. But say I made a big dish of lasagna -- that makes me wonder on how best to handle that, since its so large. If I am planning on freezing it into portions, I might divide it up while cooling. But if I wanted to keep it in one...

    Thanks,

  9. #9
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    Piping hot, no. Hot, probably.
    Also depends on how much other stuff I have in the fridge and what it is.
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  10. #10
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    According to the food safety course I took as a Kitchen Manager for the restaurant, you're suppose to use an ice bath to cool hot foods quickly. So I put the pot in a very large stainless steel bowl that has some ice and water and then depending on the displacement add more as needed. It takes about 15-30 minutes(depends on how much stuff there is) of stirring to cool the ingredients enough so that it won't raise the temperature of the rest of the fridge. The added benefit is if there is any tomato product in the mix it won't discolor my storage containers.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by applecrisp View Post
    Ideally, potentially hazardous hot foods should be cooled as quickly as possible, from 135 to 70 degrees in 2 hours (using methods above) and then from 70 to 41 degrees in 4 hours or less (at this point, I put the food in the fridge).
    According to SafeServ any food that is out of the fridge or off the stove/oven for 4 hours is to be tossed. I don't know of anyone who would actually take most of the under 4 hours to get the food into the fridge/cooler. Using the ice bath will speed the process and you should be at the 70 degree mark within 30 minutes. Things like casserole can be tricky but a roaster is a good pan to use for ice baths.
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  12. #12
    Sneezles,

    Thanks for the info. I don't have a thermometer (probably should get one) so the temps that you and memartha were mentioning don't mean much to me.

    It looks like I am on the right track, if its a big item like soup, I divide into smaller containers to cool down/then refrig. Transfer items to a different container etc. I've never put hot food in the frig since that would warm up things around it.

    I seem to do the ... in the frig within an hour or so of cooking. Again, I don't do big items like roasts etc so not a huge deal. In the rare case I make something like lasagna, wasn't sure how best to handle that.

    I do like the tip of using an ice bath to cool soup down, and large casseroles. I will definitely try that next time I make soup or chili.

    Thanks,

  13. #13
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    A thermometer is a good tool to have for all types of cooking and one for your fridge (top shelf and at the front of the shelf) so you can see how the food you put in there affects the temperature.
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  14. #14
    Sneezles,

    One more question.... If I made something with meat/poutry or dairy, I think of that as more "fragile". Wrong word, but you know what I mean. So I would like to get that cooled down quick and in frig within hour or less.

    I know that you don't want to leave food out too long since its a breeding ground for bacteria, spoilage etc.

    But if its a food item say made with just veggies and olive oil, or perhaps black bean soup (neither has meat, cheese etc). And all the ingredients don't need prior refrigeration --- in the food safety eyes, is that the same as if it was chicken soup?

    I definitely err on the side of caution. When people often ask on the BB if "is that still good" -- I often chuckle. I am so a product of my father, when in doubt throw it out is our mantra.

    Many thanks,

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by applecrisp View Post

    But if its a food item say made with just veggies and olive oil, or perhaps black bean soup (neither has meat, cheese etc). And all the ingredients don't need prior refrigeration --- in the food safety eyes, is that the same as if it was chicken soup?
    Absolutely the same as a meat and/or dairy dish. It's the heat that is the culprit, or rather the lack of, when it's cooling off that allows the bacteria to grow. So the rule is for any dish regardless of ingredients.
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  16. #16
    Thanks for that info. I wasn't sure. That quick cooling method will come in handy next time I make a big pot of black bean soup or chili.

  17. #17
    One advantage to living in a climate that is cold in the winter is you can set a pot outside or in the unheated garage to cool. Yesterday (the high temp was 20) I set a bowl of cranberries on a snowy bench on the front porch to cool for an hour before refrigerating.
    Dorothy aka Martha

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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorothyntototoo View Post
    One advantage to living in a climate that is cold in the winter is you can set a pot outside or in the unheated garage to cool. Yesterday (the high temp was 20) I set a bowl of cranberries on a snowy bench on the front porch to cool for an hour before refrigerating.
    Okay, totally not helpful but my mom did this with the remainder of a Thanksgiving turkey one year in Alaska. She put it out on our second story deck that had steps up from the yard. Safe bet that it would cool off quickly. Except that we let the dog out the front at some point and he promptly came up the back steps and stole the whole thing which by that time had frozen to the plate so he took the plate as well. We didn't find that plate until the spring when all the snow melted. We still laugh about that one!

    On topic, I let things cool for a bit, usually an hour or two then put it in the fridge.


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