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Old 04-08-2008, 03:35 PM   #1
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How long to cool food before refrigerating?

I have been wondering this lately as the boy and I think differently. The boy tends to leave cooked food out for a long time before refrigerating. I often wonder how long is too long...

Let's say I've cooked a bunch of vegetables (tonight was a batch of ratatouille) how long does it need to cool before sticking in the fridge? And is it the same for meat/chicken/eggs etc?

Thank you!

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Old 04-08-2008, 03:48 PM   #2
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Food that needs to be refrigerated should not sit out for longer than 2 hours.
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Old 04-08-2008, 03:51 PM   #3
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I usually let the extra sit on the counter until after dinner. Then when we're cleaning up the food is cool enough to pack into bags or containers.
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Old 04-08-2008, 03:52 PM   #4
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They should be left somewhere cool and refrigerated as soon as they are cool enough not to upset the fridge's temperature. As GB says, this should be within 2 hours.
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Old 04-08-2008, 04:01 PM   #5
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Ok, thanks!
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Old 04-08-2008, 04:10 PM   #6
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For general leftovers, there's not a huge quantity of super hot food to upset the refrigerator temperature. Pack it up and put it in the fridge as soon as it is convenient. Right after dinner as Jeekins suggested.

If you are making a large batch of stock, then it should be cooled before refrigerating. However, cool it with cold water and or ice in plastic bags or bottles. Leaving it out for hours to cool at room temperature will cause it to sour or worse.

I believe the rule to cool it off before refrigerating was the conventional wisdom when refrigeration was not up to modern standards, or maybe even related to ice boxes where hot food would cause the blok of ice to melt too quickly.
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Old 04-08-2008, 04:12 PM   #7
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With some foods I spread out to cool. With others, like soups and stews, I fill a ziploc with ice and stick right in the middle. Katie E. keeps some plastic soda bottles in her freezer (leave about 3" of head room) to place right in the center of her pots. It's the middle of foods that you have to be careful of. An occasional stir while the food is naturally cooling also helps. If a food is still warm when I put it in the fridge I will poke a few holes in the foil or plastic wrap to release the heat.
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Old 04-08-2008, 04:14 PM   #8
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Thank you Andy, that makes sense. :)
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Old 04-08-2008, 04:39 PM   #9
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I asked this a while back and was told right away. I have to agree with that lately.
Sometimes I will let something sit out, put it out of sight and smelling distance of my dogs, get to watching a movie, go online, go to bed..... SHOOT! Here it is the next day and there's my leftovers sitting in the microwave "cooling down".
Yep. Right away for me now.
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Old 04-08-2008, 04:41 PM   #10
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I almost did that last night pacanis. I made risotto for dinner. While we were eating I had the remaining cooling on the counter out of sight. I am not sure how long it had been sitting out (2 or 3 hours) before I happened to walk over there and see it. I lucked out this time around.
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