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Old 01-03-2009, 02:54 PM   #1
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Cooling food down and reheating

After reading Pacanis' 80 degree fridge thread (so sorry to hear for your chili loss), I am a bit confused about when things should go in the fridge and for that matter, what temp they should be around before you heat them back up (and what you should heat them back up to).

How long do you let things cool before you pop them in the fridge? For example: Lasagna (in a big fat pyrex casserole dish), minestrone/chili/other tomato or stock-based soups, cream-based soups, meat dishes (chicken, beef)? I was thinking that if they cool to room temp they may not be safe, but on the other hand, if you put a hot pan or dish in the fridge it raises the overall fridge temp and you put other items and your original item at risk of spoiling... ?? Plus, don't you run the risk of breaking your glass casserole dish?

Also I remember hearing on an Emeril show that you should let food come up to room temp before you reheat it. Is that true?

I hope I asked this in a way that makes sense I am totally paranoid about food safety.

BTW, I did not know until I joined this forum that poultry was the meat that was most likely to cause contamination. I always figured it would be beef. I'm paranoid though so no matter what meat I am cooking with I clean, clean, clean and use a separate cutting board (glass) for meat.

Katie

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Old 01-03-2009, 03:24 PM   #2
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If you take a lasagna or casserole out of the oven, you should let it cool for a couple of hours (2) before putting it in the fridge. Then put in in the fridge uncovered so it will cool down faster. Then, when it's cold, cover it and continue to refrigerate or freeze.

Uncooked meats can be kept at room temperature for an hour or two so they warm up a little before cooking. This results in more even cooking inside and out. Same for reheating.

The danger zone for foods is the range of temperatures from 40 F to 140 F. Foods that are in that range of temperatures can grow bacteria if they are not chilled or cooked.
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Old 01-03-2009, 03:33 PM   #3
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Often I will quickly ice them down (it is an old pro trick to use an ice bath or ice water bath--just be sure not to get water in the food) and then, stick them in the refrigerator. This way, one does not have to worry about bacteria growing.
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Old 01-03-2009, 07:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PieSusan View Post
Often I will quickly ice them down (it is an old pro trick to use an ice bath or ice water bath--just be sure not to get water in the food) and then, stick them in the refrigerator. This way, one does not have to worry about bacteria growing.
I agree with PieSusan in that cooling food down faster is a good idea. Where I live, it is very cold (-10 c) right now so I throw hot dishes into my BBQ (with heat off) to cool down. The BBQ is right outside of my kitchen and with the lid down, the critters can't get in.
What many people don't consider about putting food into the refrigerator is that it will affect the fridge temperature. You could put hot food into the fridge, but it may break glass shelves/melt plastic and the fridge temp will go up. My rule of thumb is if I can pick the dish up with my hands, then it is cool enough to go in the fridge.
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Old 01-03-2009, 08:00 PM   #5
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I always let the foods cool down before putting in the fridge for that same reason, don't want it driving the temp in the fridge up to far. As for re-heating, we no longer have a microwave so I re-heat everything in the stove. I set the stove to 300 degrees and just check every five minutes or so until the dish feels nice and warm again.
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Old 01-03-2009, 08:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PieSusan View Post
Often I will quickly ice them down (it is an old pro trick to use an ice bath or ice water bath--just be sure not to get water in the food) and then, stick them in the refrigerator. This way, one does not have to worry about bacteria growing.
I mentioned this in a thread a couple of years ago but it bears repeating. I keep a couple of washed out 1 liter soda bottles filled with water in the freezer. When I want to chill, soups/broths or stews, I plunge one of the bottles into the pot and stir it around. In addition to cooling the food, the cold bottle collects/attracts fat.
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Old 01-03-2009, 08:36 PM   #7
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Cool, that does bear repeating, thanks!
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:50 PM   #8
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katie that is a great idea.... way better than my sink ice-water bath method which is messy and space hogging.
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:59 AM   #9
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Chilling/retherming

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie E View Post
I mentioned this in a thread a couple of years ago but it bears repeating. I keep a couple of washed out 1 liter soda bottles filled with water in the freezer. When I want to chill, soups/broths or stews, I plunge one of the bottles into the pot and stir it around. In addition to cooling the food, the cold bottle collects/attracts fat.
Great way to quickly chill soups and sauces! I never thought of using a two liter, it sure beats all the ice and water to fill the sink.

I usually let the food cool until it gets down to 140 or 150 degrees. If you want to quickly chill it in the fridge from there, pour it into a shallow pan (less than two inches deep). The HD tells us restaurant people we have three hours to get food out of the danger zone (chill from 140 - below 40), I try to keep that standard up at home.

As far as heating goes, get it above 140 as quickly as possible (without scorching or breaking the product). Direct heat with regular stirring works best.
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Old 01-04-2009, 02:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie E View Post
I mentioned this in a thread a couple of years ago but it bears repeating. I keep a couple of washed out 1 liter soda bottles filled with water in the freezer. When I want to chill, soups/broths or stews, I plunge one of the bottles into the pot and stir it around. In addition to cooling the food, the cold bottle collects/attracts fat.
Katie, that tip is BRILLIANT!
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