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Old 08-16-2008, 11:13 PM   #1
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Putting hot food in the refrigerator

When I was a kid (many, many years ago) my mom always told me not to put hot food in the refrigerator until it cooled down some. I've always followed this rule, but I've started to wonder if I'm chancing the safety of the food by allowing it to sit out. Has anyone ever heard of this, and what guidelines do you follow for refrigerating hot food?

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Old 08-17-2008, 12:27 AM   #2
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You need to allow it to cool down slightly - putting very hot food in the fridge raises the fridge temperature and therefore puts the rest of your food at risk. If you read othre posts, you have up to two hours in the danger zone.

Cover the food and leave it out for a while - this need only be from serving to the end of clean up, the food should be cool enough then.
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Old 08-17-2008, 01:14 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sedagive View Post
When I was a kid (many, many years ago) my mom always told me not to put hot food in the refrigerator until it cooled down some. I've always followed this rule, but I've started to wonder if I'm chancing the safety of the food by allowing it to sit out. Has anyone ever heard of this, and what guidelines do you follow for refrigerating hot food?

Sedagive
Seda, if you're in a hurry to get hot food cooled down, pack your sink with ice and water, and put the pot in. The contents will cool pretty quickly and you can then jar it and refrigerate.

Mom was right. If you put HOT food directly into the refrigerator, you will mess with the cooling system. It heats up the whole fridge.
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Old 08-17-2008, 05:12 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by miniman View Post
You need to allow it to cool down slightly - putting very hot food in the fridge raises the fridge temperature and therefore puts the rest of your food at risk. If you read othre posts, you have up to two hours in the danger zone.

Cover the food and leave it out for a while - this need only be from serving to the end of clean up, the food should be cool enough then.

Don't cover it...it will prevent the heat from escaping.
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Old 08-17-2008, 05:21 PM   #5
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it's a toss up - letting it sit out will gather bacterial and putting it in the fridge is bad for the fridge.
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Old 08-17-2008, 05:58 PM   #6
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It depends on the size and density of the food.

A stockpot full of boiling hot soup should not go directly into the fridge. It should be cooled first. This can be done a variety of ways. You could divvy the soup up into smaller containers. You could put the stockpot in a sink full of cold water and stir every once in a while. You could put cold packs directly into the soup (sealed of course).

Something small with or with a lot of surface area can usually go directly into the fridge. If you cooked up a pound of ground beef and wanted to use it later then that could go from stove top directly to fridge without worrying that it will do anything bad to the fridge or the food inside it.

If you have something like in my first example then it is very important that you find a way to cool it down and get it in the fridge within an hour or two.
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Old 08-17-2008, 06:05 PM   #7
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It's the interior part of the food you need to worry about. Some things can be left out and stirred occasionally with success...then cover with plastic or foil and poke some holes in it just in case it's still a bit warm. It's the interior that can stay in the danger zone. If it's a stockpot of soup, or spaghetti sauce, or something like that you can easily fill a baggie with ice, zip it, and insert into the center. Or do what Katie E and I do...fill an empty soda bottle and leave about 2" or 3" of head space, cap it, and freeze it. When you need it just place the bottle in the center of the pot. It doesn't take long at ALL to do it this way.

Yes, it does heat up your refrigerator but it's mostly about the interior of that pot/dish where the heat will be held.

If cooling on the counter place in several dishes, if possible. Or, if it's a hunk of meat i.e., roast, cut into smaller chunks/pieces. When you go to cover it still poke some holes for the rest of the heat to escape.
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Old 08-17-2008, 08:22 PM   #8
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Refrigerating hot foods
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Old 08-17-2008, 09:07 PM   #9
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I have a small fan I use when I need to cool down food quickly. Divvy it up in smaller containers and point the fan in on them to cool quickly.
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Old 08-17-2008, 09:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnerd View Post
Well, they are mostly talking about cheesecake...sometimes not though.

I can agree with some of what they say but they are leaving some VERY important steps out - steps that affect the quality and stability of the food. For instance, ok, if you want to put hot foods in the refrigerator, for whatever reason, DO NOT PUT A LID ON IT and if you do leave it offset so heat can escape OR, poke holes in the plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Like I said, it's not so much about heating up the refrigerator - it's about the food you are putting in there.
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